Western States Endurance Run #WSER 2015 – Race Preview

WSER logo ©westernstatesendurancerun

WSER logo ©westernstatesendurancerun

The stories been told many times, 1974, lame horse, decided to do it on foot and Gordy Ainsleigh pretty much invented modern day 100-mile trail running. I have never seen or witnessed the Western States course and that does frustrate me. However, we have many stories, videos and race reports to fill the gap. It’s not the toughest course out there but it has the history and it’s fair to say that if you are going to Western States to do well, you need to be a runner!

Looking at the top contenders, the female race all looks relatively simple. We have a host of past stars turning up and therefore it’s relatively easy to look on predict where the action will come from.

Stephanie Howe as the past champion is a hot favourite. Steph doesn’t race a great deal but when she does she makes it count: 3rd at TNF50, 2nd at Way To Cool 50k and most recently victory at Lake Sonoma – all looks good!

Larisa Dannis was 2nd last year and has had a 2nd at Overlook 50k, and 2 victories at Berkley Trail 50k and Door Country Fall 50 but what about results in 2015? I can’t find any which leaves me with a question mark.

However, expect curve balls from Magdalena Boulet and Michele Yates. Stephanie Howe may well be the defending champion and Larisa Dannis may well have placed 2nd in 2014 but I see the Boulet/ Yates duo rocking the front of the field and potentially winning and taking 2 of the top 3 podium places. In particular I see Yates as a hot favourite for the win!

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Emma Roca from Spain is an interesting inclusion to the race with an entry via the UTWT. Emma is an all round tough lady from an adventure racing background who has excelled at mountain races, I wonder if WSER will be too much of a running race?

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One lady who has to be watched even though she openly admitted to me that her form is not 100% is Nikki Kimball. Nikki has won the race 3 times, placed top 5 another 6 times and this year returns for her 10th race. Irrespective of the finish time or position, it’s going to be a special year for Nikki.

Aliza Lapierre was 3rd in 2012, 6th in 2013 and in 2014 won Bandera 100k. A fast lady, if she is on form. I certainly expect her to make her presence known amongst the top 5 but no results for 2015?

2009 winner, Anita Ortiz is returning after extensive injury and although 5 years have passed since the golden feeling of a WSER victory, one has to assume that if Anita is toeing the line, then she feels ready to race.

Pam Smith was 4th last year and won WSER in 2013. It certainly seems that Pam can blow hot or cold. Ask Speedgoat Karl, he dismissed her in ‘13’ and she smoked him on the course. If she is feeling good and not too tired from training, she may well win again. However, she could quite easily just scrape in under 24 hours?

My last shout goes to Kaci Lickteig, who placed 6th last year. She had a win at Javelina Jundred (100 mile) in late 2014 and a 2nd and 5th over the 50-mile distance in 2015. I think this year we will see a different run from Kaci

Ones to watch:

Denise Bourassa 7th last year

Meghan Arbogast 8th in 2014

Nicole Struder Rocky Raccoon win

Joelle Vaught 8th at Tarawera

Claire Price UTWT entrant

 

The men’s race to coin a phrase is stacked! It’s an interesting mix of talent with a couple or maybe even a triple of potential winners but also several runners who have all the potential to shake things up and mess the podium party.

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It may come as no surprise that Rob Krar is the out-and-out favourite. Rob has become one of the most impressive runners to watch and follow in the past couple of years and his rise has been incredible. 100-mile wins in 2014 at WSER, Leadville and Run Rabbit Run absolutely make him the man to beat.

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Francois d’Haene like Krar was unbeatable in 2014. He too had 3 100-mile victories but on completely different courses to Krar: UTMF, UTMB and Raid de la Reunion (Diagonale des Fous). Notice the difference? Mountain races! Francois can run but I just don’t think WSER will be lumpy or hard enough for the Frenchman.

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Ryan Sandes by contrast has placed 2nd at WSER before and although he does well on tough, challenging and mountainous courses, he can also run fast with the best of them. He told me in the latter half of 2014 that WSER would be a priority this year and he has spent a month in the area preparing. We must point out that it has been a rocky road for him recently and dropping at Transvulcania was not ideal preparation. However, we can all have bad days!

Dylan Bowman placed 3rd last year and I have to say has been on fire recently. He is the man in form and may well be the one who pushes Krar and possibly passes him? However, Dylan has already got plenty of racing and victories in his legs whereas Krar is fresh. It may well be the difference between 1st and 2nd.

Seth Swanson placed 2nd last year and won Cascade Crest 100. In 2015, he was 2nd at Sean O’Brien and 6th at Sonoma. I have to be honest, I know little about him and just he surprised others and me in 2014, he may well do the same again!

Ian Sharman is rock solid at WSER. Over the years he improved year-on-year with 2014 being an exception. He has been quiet recently which is a great sign. It almost certainly means that he has been preparing meticulously, I really hope that he makes the podium.

Okay, now it gets tricky.

Brendan Davies had a great run last year, he is a runner and as such, WSER suits him and he should do well.

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Julien Chorier is meticulous, an incredible runner and if this race was full of mountains he’d be my top tip along with Francois. However, the course is not lumpy and as such I don’t think it’s a race for Julien to shine. I still expect a top 10 from him though.

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Gediminas Grinius is a new star with an incredible history. Like Francois and Julien I think he needs mountains to excel. One plus for him is the distance, he certainly likes to run longer and his recent victory at Transgrancanaria is proof that if he is feeling good in the latter stages, you better watch out!

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Sondre Amdahl is another newbie revelation. An incredibly nice guy, he moved out to the US to prepare meticulously for WSER. He did the same for Transgrancanaria and although he had a great result, I do wonder if he wanted the win too much! This may apply at WSER but I have a feeling that we will see Sondre shine. I expect good things from him.

Ones to watch:

Alex Varner 7th in 2014 and recent victory at Lake Sonoma 50

Andrew Tuckey 6th at UTMB and 3rd at TNF 100. I can’t help but think that Andrew may well be a surprise package and a dark horse in this race.

Thomas Lorblanchet Leadville winner 2012

David Laney 19th in 2014 and 2 victories in 2015 at Bandera 100k and Chuckanut 50k

Joe Grant

“Last year was a pretty remarkable day – we had temperatures that weren’t bad (89 degrees was the high), Rob and Stephanie ran remarkably strong races, and we had 296 finishers, including 129 silver buckles (for sub-24-hour finishes),” – race director Craig Thornley said. “This year has the potential to be even better. The men’s race will be exciting with Rob and a host of talented runners running to beat him. And our women’s race may very well go into the books as our deepest and most competitive field ever.” – ©wser website

Race day is Saturday June 27th

Race website HERE

2015 entry list HERE

Latest news HERE

Recent Printed Publications for iancorless.com

TCC Lead Page

The first few months of 2015 have been very rewarding and I have had several articles and features printed worldwide in a series of top ranking magazines.

From the rainforests of Costa Rica, to heat of the Sahara. Anton Krupicka looking broken at Transgrancanaria, Joe Grant between a rock and a hard place at The Coastal Challenge and Sir Ranulph Fiennes beating the heat at the Marathon des Sables.

Here are the magazines with links

Like The Wind HERE

Runners World HERE

Trail Running Magazine HERE

Competitor HERE

Outdoor Fitness HERE

Here is a selection of the printed articles. All my tear sheets can be viewed HERE

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MDS 2015 Darren Outoor Fitness UTLD Runners World 2015 TCC 2015 Trail Running Mag MDS Sir Ranulph Fiennes captured_spread

The North Face Transgrancanaria 2015 – Race Summary

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Some times you just need to throw the script out of the window… Forget who may and who may not be race favourite and just let things play out like a piece of impromptu art. The 2015 Transgrancanaria certainly threw some curve balls! 

View race images HERE

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In the ladies race, it was business as usual for the 2014 champion, Nuria Picas. Biding her time in the early stages, Nuria took over the front of the race with approximately 90km to go and never really looked back. Running through the night the Catalan felt good but commented on how hard the trail was. As she ran to Roqué Nublio and to El Garañón she looked tired and weak. Post race Nuria went on to say, ‘I felt weak because of a lack of meal but luckily I could overcome it.’ And overcome it she did but it was no easy victory. With dawn came the heat of the day and a ‘calima’ that dried the throats of each and every runner. Crossing the line, Nuria saluted the crowd with another high quality victory and following on from a podium place at HK100, the stage looks set for another great year in the UTWT series.

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Nikki Kimball and Fernanda Maciel were expected to take up the remaining podium places but delayed travel and fatigue ruined Nikki’s race and Fernanda had no power and strength after her extended time (45-days) at Aconcagua. This opened the doorway for Caroline Chaverot who ran a strong race, maybe a little too strong at times as she certainly went through some bad patches, ultimately though she crossed the line in 17:16:48 for a quality second place.

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Andrea Huser was all set for the third place on the podium but a revitalized Dong Li closed the gap, passed the Swiss runner and swept up third place; ’I enjoyed the altitude and I enjoyed the technical trails but this race was tough. It is the longest I have run both in time and distance.’

The men’s race had all the makings of a classic and boy-oh-boy it did not disappoint. The race had everything… broken femurs, dehydration, heat exhaustion, stomach issues and basic good old fatigue. At the line it was all about the ‘new’ guard and how, the best in the world had been beaten by supposedly unknown (unknown to those who don’t follow the sport) runners!

©iancorless.com_Transgrancanaria15-6082Sondre Amdahl after a great 2014 and second place at HK100 had relocated to Transgrancanaria so that he could train specifically for the 2015 edition. Looking strong before the race, it was no surprise that he took the front early and pushed hard… maybe too hard? Leading over the first 30km’s, Sondre was executing the perfect race and behind it was wide open.

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Yan Long Fei was certainly the surprise (for me anyway) runner in the early stages. I obviously don’t doubt the ability of the 2:14 marathon runner but from past experiences I felt that the technical terrain wouldn’t suit him. Not so! He has obviously been working hard and it showed. Running in second place over the most technical part of the course he finally cruised past Sondre to take the lead and it was looking like that Yan may follow up victory at HK100 with a back-to-back win with Transgrancanaria. It was not to be. Unfortunately as he pulled out at Garanon whilst still in first place. He was complaining of headaches: a sure sign of severe dehydration.

©iancorless.com_Transgrancanaria15-6040The door was open and pre race favourites Iker Karrera and Anton Krupicka were closing the gaps despite having their own issues. Anton had gone of course a couple of times and Iker was complaining of stomach issues… Iker’s problems persisted and eventually resulted with his withdrawal from the race when a podium place looked likely.

©iancorless.com_Transgrancanaria15-6165 Gediminas Grinius produced the race of his life. After biding his time in the early stages, he slowly moved up the field and then as Yan Long Fei withdrew, the front of the race was his. He covered the last 25km with great from and running into the finish he looked incredibly fresh. It was a breakthrough run that several of us had anticipated… me included! His time of 14:23:37 a new course record beating Ryan Sandes time from 2014. Post race, Gediminas said, ‘at the beginning I only wanted to improve on my 11th place of 2014 but step-by-step I gained positions and I felt really encouraged when I was second after Yan Long Fei. It was after the aid station El Garañón when I realized I could be among the winners because my legs felt great and I had no stomach issues.’

©iancorless.com_Transgrancanaria15-6747 Johan Lantz and Didrik Hermansen had prepared on Gran Canaria pre race with Amdahl. Amdahl had gone on the record to say that both could cause a stir within the race and he was right! Didrik and Johan had run the early stages together easing themselves into the race and ignoring the faster running at the front. Johan however had been struggling with back pain from early on, it didn’t stop him though and he eventually closed to third place behind Yan Long Fei and Sondre Amdahl. What followed is quite remarkable… without warning while running a section of road his femur broke! Yes, he broke his leg!

©iancorless.com_Transgrancanaria15-6137Didrik Hermansen like Johan was executing a perfectly paced race and after Cruz de Tejeda he moved into second place and he held on to this place to arguably create the biggest surprise of the race crossing the line in 14:30:07. Antoine Guillon from the ever-present WAA Team completed the podium ahead of the early race leader, Sondre Amdahl who had done extremely well to recover from his early efforts.

Anton Krupicka finally crossed the line in sixth place looking a little broken from his efforts. Certainly the heat of the day and the final 25km’s had pushed him to breaking point. On the line the effort showed, ‘It’s been a tough day but the heat really got to me. I was good for 100km but the final 25km was tough!’

The 2015 race has been called the toughest edition of the race because of the wind, cold temperatures during the night, the heat of the following day and the calima. However, I can’t help but think that the 2013 edition with torrential rain was harder? Certainly conditions and the combination of a tough 125km’s of trails took it’s toll; Nikki Kimball, Fernanda Maciel, Iker Karrera, Joe Grant, Pau Bortolo, Yeray Duran and so many more were forced to withdraw.

The 2015 edition will be remembered though for the rise of Gediminas Grinius, Didrik Hermansen and Sondre Amdahl. Lets not forget Dong Li and Yan Long Fei too. It’s a great time for lovers of trail, mountain and ultra running.

View race images HERE

The next race in the UTWT series is Marathon des Sables and I will be working on that race each day providing daily images and reports to keep you all up to date.

 

RESULTS:

  1. Nuria Picas 16:53:27
  2. Carole Chaverot 17:16:48
  3. Dong Li 18:15:55
  4. Andrea Huser 18:37:53
  5. Manu Vilaseca 18:42:59
  6. Ester Alves 19:11:45
  7. Lucinda Souza 19:25:46
  8. Aliza Lapierre 19:58:48
  9. Raquel Delgado 20:24:16
  10. Silvia Trigueros 20:38:18
  1. Gedminas Grinius 14:23:27
  2. Didrik Hermansen 14:30:07
  3. Antoine Guillon 14:39:35
  4. Sondre Amdahl 15:06:37
  5. Cyril Cointr 15:28:22
  6. Anton Krupicka 15:29:49
  7. Remi Queral 15:59:11
  8. Freddy Thevenin 16:07:06
  9. Marco Zanchi 16:25:13
  10. Piotr Hercog 16:30:45

The North Face Transgrancanaria Pre Race Images

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Athletes from all over the world have arrived in Gran Canaria for the TNF Transgrancanaria. Today, registrations took place and a presentation of the key athletes for the 125km event. With less than 1-day to go, excitement is high for the 2015 running of this event.

You can read my race preview HERE

The races starts Friday March 6th at 2300 hours (local time)

Who are your picks for the respective podiums?

The 2015 11th edition of The Coastal Challenge on RUNULTRA

TCC 2015

“Anything can happen in a race that lasts multiple days and believe me, The Coastal Challenge provided more than its fair share of excitement. But as a battle raged at the front, behind, the story was one of survival, perseverance and enjoyment in equal measure.”

Read the full article  and view a selection of images from the 2015

The Coastal Challenge

HERE

A full selection of images are available HERE

And you can read daily reports with images from the race here:

Day 1 HERE

Day 2 HERE

Day 3 HERE images HERE

Day 4 HERE images HERE

Day 5 HERE images HERE

Day 6 HERE

run-ultra-logo

The Coastal Challenge 2015: Easy on the Eyes, Tough on the Runners

TCC2015 runnersworld.com

 

Justin Mock writes for runnersworld.com about the 2015 The Coastal Challenge and talks with Speedgoat Karl Meltzer and Joe Grant.

“There’s no motel room, no shower, no air conditioning. That would be a lot easier,” Meltzer laughed. “It’s 110 degrees in your tent, you just lie there in a pool of sweat.”

You can read the full article HERE

View The Coastal Challenge 2015 image gallery by iancorless.com

HERE

Entries for the 2016 event, open today, Friday 13th 2015

For full details and to reserve your slot now, contact your region’s agent or email us directly at INFO@TCCCOSTARICA.COM. Pura vida!

North America – Tim Holmstrom: tim@thecoastalchallenge.com – Limited Slots!

USA: Krista Baker: racequesttravel@gmail.com – Limited Slots!

United Kingdom, South Africa – Steve Dietrich: info@thecoastalchallenge.co.uk – Limited Slots!

Spain, Morocco, Portugal – Olivier Sepulchre: oliviersep@gmail.com – Limited Slots!

Canada – Hailey Van Dyk: hailey@runlikeagirl.ca – Limited Slots!

Central America, South America, Caribbean – Rodrigo Carazo & Sergio Sánchez: info@tcccostarica.com – Limited Slots!

Hardrock 100 2015 Lottery Results

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 Hardrock 100 once again created buzz and excitement with its draw on Saturday December 6th.

Two runners had guaranteed entry for 2015 – 2014 victors, Kilian Jornet and Darcy Piceau.

The 2014 edition was arguably one of the most anticipated races on the calendar with a quality line up and ultimately a world-class performance and display by Kilian Jornet not only winning the race but also smashing the old course record.

Hardrock 100 alternates its course each year and therefore Kilian confirmed that he would back in 2015.

So, the 2015 lottery was important. Who would be drawn that could potentially give Kilian a run for his money?

I had 4-5 names in mind that I would love to see toe the line and I am pleased to say three have been drawn.

  • Anton Krupicka
  • Iker Karrera
  • Mike Foote

The addition of Francois d’Haene would have made the race extremely exciting; unfortunately the luck of the draw did not go in the way of Francois.

Adam Campbell made the cut joining Troy Howard, Chris Price, Scott Jaime and a whole string of top-5 potential finishers. So, the 2015 Hardrock 100 may not be quite the field we had in 2014 but if Krupicka, Karrera, Foote and Campbell are all 100% then we are in for an exciting race.

The ladies race for years has played 2nd fiddle to the men’s race and it has had a very familiar format with Darcy Piceau coming from behind (usually 2nd place) to take overall victory. No disrespect to Darcy, she can only race who is in the race!

Anna Frost is drawn along with Meghan Hicks. I have to say, the ladies field potentially has a race on its hands and Frosty is going to relish this opportunity to race in the San Juan Mountains, it has been on the ‘bucket-list’ for some time and her recent victory at Bear 100 has set her up perfectly for the race. Meghan won MDS and recently battled demons at Tor des Geants for a finish proving she has all the mental strength needed for Hardrock podium place.

Darla Askew, Betsy Kahlmeyer, Suzanne Lewis and Leah Fein add depth to the ladies field.

Waitlisted runners with a chance of running:

  • Joe Grant
  • Karl Meltzer
  • Jason Schlarb
  • Diana Finkel
  • Bethany Lewis

Hardrock is as much about who didn’t get in as those that did… the list is endless but some notables are:

  • Nick Clark
  • Francois d’Haene
  • Nick Hollon
  • Travis Macy
  • Luke Nelson
  • Timothy Olson
  • Gary Robbins
  • Carlos Sa
  • Ian Sharman
  • Rory Bosio
  • Kerrie Bruxvoort
  • Francesca Canepa
  • Candice Burt
  • Jenn Shelton

The course ©hardrock100

The HARDROCK 100 is a mountain run that passes through some of the most beautiful and rugged mountains in the world.

The course is closed. That means that runners are required to follow the specified route.

Four legs, linking the Lake City, Ouray, Telluride, and Silverton areas. The finish is in Silverton, the same location as the start. The course is 100 miles long, has a cumulative vertical gain of 33,992 feet of climb and 33,992 feet of descent for a total elevation change of 67,984 feet, and takes place at an average elevation of about 11,000 feet. The high point is 14,048 feet.

This is a test of runners against the mountains. The course is on trails as much as possible. There are 13 aid stations; major aid stations will be located in the towns with less well-equipped aid stations in between. Runners are expected to be largely self-supporting between the towns.

The course will be adequately but minimally marked so the emphasis is on staying alert and using the map and course instructions. However, you should be capable of staying on course without markers, using map, compass, and the course instructions.

The run is a salute to the toughness and perseverance of the Hardrock miners who lived and worked in the area.

 

How the lottery works: ©hardrock100

Each year, we are faced with the difficult problem of how to choose our starters from 1000 applicants, while still respecting the values that make Hardrock Hardrock. The Board feels that our ideal mix of runners would be about 30% first-time Hardrockers, one-quarter or so veterans (i.e. >= 5-time finishers), and up to 50% everyone else. To preserve this rough and fair mix, we have replaced our single weighted lottery with three weighted lottery pools, each with its own wait list:

  • First-timers – 47 slots will be allocated to this lottery, which is for anyone who has never started a Hardrock. The intention is to increase the likelihood for applicants with many DNSs to get into the run. Modeling suggests that giving applicants 2^N tickets, where N is the number of previous DNSs, will ensure that those with the most DNSs will get in, while still giving first-time applicants a chance. “DNS” includes both those who were on the wait list and those who withdrew from either the wait list or start list. 
Additionally, service tickets (Aid Station Captain and/or 2 official Trail Work Days in the previous year’s event, or each 5 years’ of general volunteering for Hardrock) will each count as an additional DNS. This puts a high value on contributions made to Hardrock in your own personal time and labor. 
Examples: 
1) a never-started applicant who applied and did not get in for 2014 has one DNS and would have 2^1=2 tickets. 
2) a never-started applicant who applied and did not get in in 2013 and 2014 and was an aid station captain in 2014 has three DNSs and would have 2^3=8 tickets.
  • Veterans – 35 slots will be allocated to this lottery, which is for anyone who has five or more Hardrock finishes, with the following qualification: an applicant who DNFs in two consecutive attempts beginning in 2012 will be placed into the “Everyone else” pool until they complete the run in a subsequent year. Applicants will get one ticket for each previous Hardrock finish. The number in this pool is about the same as the number of 5-time finishers bypassing the lottery in each of the past few years, and so comes close to preserving this feature.
  • Everyone else – 70 slots will be allocated to this lottery, which is for anyone not in one of the previous two lotteries. The algorithm for ticket allocation will be unchanged from the current one (see below). Modeling suggests that the chances of being selected from this lottery will be better than under the current system.

Runners not selected in the first two lotteries WILL NOT be rolled over into the third lottery. If fewer than 35 “veterans” apply, the unused slots will be added to the “everyone else” pool.

A separate wait list will be maintained for each lottery. When a runner withdraws from the start list, a runner will be taken from the wait list for the lottery from which the withdrawn runner was chosen.

The previous year’s winners will continue to bypass the lottery, but they will count against the lottery pool they would have been in.

Ticket Allocation Practices For “Everyone Else” Lottery

The number of tickets an applicant has in the “everyone else” lottery will be determined as follows:

  • All qualified applicants get one ticket “just for applying”.
  • Applicants with 1-4 Hardrock finishes ever will get one additional ticket for each finish.
  • Top-5 male and top-5 female finishers of the previous year’s race get one additional ticket each (except the winners, who are already accepted).
  • Up to ONE additional ticket will be provided to any entrant from the past three years who did not start. This includes runners who were on the wait list or who withdrew from the wait list or accepted list for any reason.
  • Applicants who have performed special services for Hardrock may receive one or two additional tickets. We have generally set a high bar for awarding extra tickets (i.e., simply working an aid station isn’t enough), but those who worked at least two days of last year’s Trail Work Weekend will get an additional ticket. If you think you have performed a special service, please list it on the application for selection board review.
  • Aid Station Captains from the previous year (only) are awarded one additional ticket.
  • Long-time volunteers receive one additional ticket for each 5-year pin you have earned from the Volunteer Coordinator.

Important Changes upcoming for the 2015 Lottery

  • No longer does merely starting Hardrock, regardless the year, count as qualifying.
  • We will reduce the “finished any Hardrock within five years” qualification to three years.

Hardrock itself is and will be a qualifier like any other on the list, except that it counts for an extra year (three instead of two), beginning in 2015.

It is still the case that everyone in any of the lotteries has to have run a qualifier in the appropriate time period.

Hardrock 100 2014 Race Preview

Image copyright ©hardrock100

Image copyright ©hardrock100

Hardrock 100 is a small key race for a select few. However, in its history, Hardrock has always become a highly anticipated race that often plays out like a great boxing match reminiscent of the days of Jake La Motta or Casius Clay.

I am pretty sure you remember the Hardrock draw all those months ago. Name after name was drawn from the hat and for once we had a line-up that was not only going to illuminate the high altitude mountains of Silverton but also potentially (despite its size) was possibly going to be ‘the’ race of the year!

That’s a bold statement considering we have already seen the Hernando and Jornet smack down in La Palma, the Krar master class at WSER, a return to form of Anton Krupicka at Lavaredo and the Skyrunning World Championships in Chamonix. Oh yes, Hardrock 100 has whetted the appetite of every ultra running aficionado worldwide, but why?

Kilian Jornet and the Matterhorn ©iancorless.com

With no disrespect to every other participant in the race, the draw and inclusion of Kilian Jornet has transformed the 2014 edition into arguably the most highly anticipated edition of the race ever. You see, Kilian has ‘that’ list, and that list is almost full. It’s ticked off, ruled out, almost complete but one race has eluded him. A race that he would have run years ago had the lottery been kind. As it happens, the luck of the drawer has finally come through and KJ will get his chance. Hardrock 100 is not just any race though and although we are all eagerly awaiting a legendary performance, it’s no foregone conclusion that Kilian will dominate this race. It’s a course that must be learnt, respected and absorbed. Kilian will come to the race probably with the least running ever in preparation for a 100-mile race. Walking off ski’s and on to the Transvulcania La Palma course was almost a textbook start to Kilian’s running season. However, after a repeat win at Zegama-Aizkorri he threw in a curve ball and departed for Alaska for another successful ‘Summit’ record. Just days later in Chamonix, Kilian wins the Skyrunning World Championships VK and SKY races and then hops on a plane for Colorado with just 7-days to go before the main event. KJ’s preparation is far removed from his competitors but after all, we are talking about Kilian Jornet and I for one would not want to bet against him! Word is that Frosty will be pacing sections of the race and I would assume, Kilian will have additional help from Ricky Gates? However, at this stage I don’t know who that will be. Kilian’s’ race may well come apart if he goes for the course record, pushes out at the front alone and then makes a navigation error. It’s easily done and many repeat Hardrock runners have gone on record to say that the race has several key moments that can make or break a successful Hardrock, so, Kilian will need to be wary of this. In contrast, if Kilian just wants to win the race, a likely scenario will be that he keeps himself in contention at the front of the race, probably keeping close to Dakota Jones and then making a break in the latter stages. It’s anyone’s guess and I for one can’t wait to see how this plays out. It is going to be epic!

Dakota Jones UROC ©iancorless.com

Dakota Jones has been 2nd and 3rd at Hardrock in previous years. Without doubt, Dakota knows the course and will be fired up for this years race, particularly after a below par Transvulcania La Palma. It would be fair to say that in any other year, Dakota would be a hot favourite for the win but the competition at Hardrock this year is stellar. So, Dakota becomes just another hot contender in a remarkable field. However, I do believe that Dakota hasn’t run his best race yet on this course and therefore his odds for victory are high.

Seb Chaigneau

Seb Chaigneau has been on the course for a few weeks now and has covered every inch of it with Hardrock ever present, Joe Grant. Seb ran an incredible race in 2013 setting the 2nd fastest time with 24:25. Paced by Scott Jurek, Seb will repeat the 2013 winning formula and hopefully everything will align once again. 2014 has not been a good year so far with DNF’s at UTMF and Transgrancanaria, but Seb has a great outlook on running and an ability to re-build and re focus.

Julien Chorier

Did I say this race was stacked? 2011 Hardrock champion, Julien Chorier is returning and he will bring meticulous preparation and planning to the mix. Julien’s 2013 Ronda dels Cims performance was a stunning master class of grinding it out for hour-on-hour with 100% focus. Just an element of that commitment and Julien will push all the other contenders to the line and don’t be surprised if he passes them. His 2013 6th place at TNFUTMB doesn’t quite do Julien’s talent justice, I remember post race he just said he was constantly fighting the sleep demons. A solid Transgrancanaria in 2014 where he placed 2nd to Ryan Sandes adds a confidence boost to the impressive Frenchman’s palmares.

Timothy Olson, Transvulcania La Palma 2013 ©iancorless.com

Timothy Olson, Transvulcania La Palma 2013 ©iancorless.com

Timothy Olson rounds out the ‘hot’ contenders for the win and considering WSER happened just days ago, Timmy’s absence puts his Hardrock expectations in perspective. I have to say that I am just a little worried (in the nicest way) by Timmy’s eagerness to train. He has an immense ability to nail preparation and peak for 1-race as his 2012 and 2013 WSER performances confirm. But, and this is a big but, I have almost seen his love for running impact on great performances in some key races. I think I witnessed this in La Palma this year. Timmy just loves the trails out there, loves the mountains and that enthusiasm saw ‘big’ training days pretty much all the way to the main event which made Timmy, in my opinion, look just a little flat and tired during the race! I may be wrong. I hope Timmy pulls off the reigns, allows some recovery before Hardrock and should he toe the line with a taper similar to the examples set at WSER we are in for one major showdown. One thing is for sure, the longer the race goes on, the better Timmy will get.

Joe Grant - Arc'teryxJoe Grant loves this race! It epitomizes for him what is great about our sport… long tough days in the mountains. Last year things did not go to plan but his best time of just over 25-hours is still up there in the all time best list which he set in 2012. In this field, Joe will need a great day and arguably a performance of his life to win. However, a podium place is not out of reach. Joe is a modern day adventurer who mixes up what he does in a constant pursuit to set new boundaries. His Iditarod and Alaska White performances set Joe apart from the competition and in the long run, may well give him and edge. If recovered from Lavaredo Ultra Trail, expect Anton Krupicka on pacing duty.

Jared Campbell - Ronda dels Cims - iancorless.com

Jared Campbell won’t win the race but he’s been there and done it on tough courses. He’s completed Hardrock multiple times, (8 I think) and he is a 2-times finisher of Barkley. He actually won the race this year in some tough and gnarly conditions.

Ones to watch:

  • Adam Campbell – Had a great run at UTMF a couple of years ago and then had some tough times. Difficult to say how Adam will go on this tough course but he does have a great pacer in Gary Robbins.
  • Jeff Browning – one Hardrock finish 33:18
  • Stuart Air – Stu won’t win and in reality will not be close to the podium but it’s great to see a Brit work through the ranks and be given the opportunity of a lifetime. Stu is no slouch and the longer and harder the course, the better he becomes. Hardrock will suit him down to the ground providing he has adjusted to the altitude.
  • Tsyuoshi Kaburaki – needs know introduction, RD for UTMF and consistent UTMB performer.
  • Nick Coury – top-10 at Hardrock in the past
  • Ty Draney – Like Jared Campbell, Ty loves big days in the mountains. He’s had success at Hardrock in the past but top-10 would be a good performance.

After that stellar men’s line up, the ladies race of just 18-entrants looks far too formulaic (if a tough 100-miler can be) with two ladies leading the charge for overall victory, Diana Finkel and Darcy Piceu (Africa).

Darcy Africa with Nicky Kimball and Frosty, Transvulcania 2012.

Darcy Africa with Nicky Kimball and Frosty, Transvulcania 2012.

Darcy Piceu has won this race the last 2-times with 2-great performances, however, it has almost been at the faltering of Diana Finkel that has opened the gateway for Darcy to take over the lead and charge on for the finish. Darcy has already run 5-races in 2014 and come away with -4-victories and a 4th place, so, the form looks good! Having run on or around 29-hours previously, it’s fair to assume that Darcy will be looking to repeat that time this year which will set her up for another potential victory. In the past 4-years, Darcy has been Miss Consistent – 30:14 in 2010, 29:46 in 2011, 29:09 in 2012 and 29:54 last year!

Diana Finkel has been the stand out lady on the Hardrock course in recent years. In 2009, Diana ran 27:18 and that is some way quicker than Darcy and many of the men who will toe the line have run! Her most recent victory was 2011 when running 29:27 and in all honesty, 2012 and 2013 looked to be set for repeat performances but medical issues have plagued Diana’s performances. On her day, Diana will win this race, so, let’s hope the medical gods are on her side this year! Diana looks to have good form with a recent win at Jemez Mountain 50m (where Anton Krupicka won) and 3rd at Zane Grey 50.

Ones to watch:

Sarah McCloskey – 4th at Hardrock 2013 and winner of Wasatch 100 and 2nd at Bear 100-miler.

Betsy Kalmeyer – 14 Hardrock finishes and 5th last year.

Betsy Nye – 12 Hardrock finishes and 3rd last year. Best performance in 2014 was 5th at Marin Ultra Challenge 50m.

Kim Gemenez – 7th Hardrock 2013.

Liz Bauer – 9th Hardrock 2013.

******

Course description: (content ©hardrock 100 website)

The Hardrock Hundred Mile Endurance Run is an ultramarathon of 100.5 miles in length, plus 33,992 feet of climb and 33,992 feet of descent for a total elevation change of 67,984 feet, at an average elevation of over 11,000 feet. The race is held on a loop course on 4WD roads, dirt trails, and cross country in Southern Colorado’s San Juan Range, USA.

The run starts and ends in Silverton, Colorado and travels through the towns of Telluride, Ouray, and the ghost town of Sherman, crossing thirteen major passes in the 12,000′ to 13,000′ range. Entrants must travel above 12,000 feet (3,700 m) of elevation a total of 13 times, with the highest point on the course being the 14,048′ summit of Handies Peak. The race has been held in early July of each year beginning in 1992, except for 1995 (too much snow) and 2002 (nearby forest fires). Each year’s race is run in the opposite direction of the previous year’s event (2008 was run in the clockwise direction, 2009 will be counter-clockwise). In order to complete the event, instead of crossing a finish line, runners are required to “kiss the Hardrock”, a picture of a ram’s head painted on a large block of stone mining debris.

This course offers a graduate level challenge for endurance runs. The course is designed to provide extreme challenges in altitude, steepness, and remoteness. Mountaineering, wilderness survival and wilderness navigation skills are as important in this event as your endurance.

Race website HERE

 

 

Ultra Trail Mount Fuji 2014 Preview #UTMF2014

logo

 The UTWT rolls on and Japan will host what will arguably be one of the most competitive 100-mile races we will see this year… certainly over a tough course (Hardrock excluded). I say a 100-miles but actually the course is 105 with approximately 10,000 meters of altitude gain. The fifth race in the UTWT (Ultra Trail World Tour) in reality, UTMF is a follow on race from Transgrancanaria as many of the big hitters will re-assemble in Japan, to do battle once again for key ranking points. Nuria Picas was always going to race on the clockwise loop around Mount Fuji, by contrast, Ryan Sandes after his success in the Canaries has shifted focus from Australia and placed his emphasis and efforts on this tough and challenging race.

utmf_map

Without doubt, at the stroke of 3pm (local time) on Friday 25th April a battle royal will unfold both in the ladies and men’s respective races. Dropout rates are usually around 30% to give an indication of how tough this race is.

utmf_elevation

Race statement:

The ULTRA-TRAIL Mt. FUJI is an unparalleled event that challenges the human spirit through the outdoor sport of trail running. By connecting mountain trails, local footpaths and forest roads around the foothills of Mt. Fuji, this 168km course allows participants to enjoy majestic 360 degree views of Mt. Fuji while experiencing the stunning natural beauty and culture of this region.’

LADIES

Nuria Picas Transgrancanaria ©iancorless.com

Nuria Picas Transgrancanaria ©iancorless.com

Nuria Picas; would you want to bet against her? Nuria has transformed herself in the last 24-months into one of the most competitive and focused female mountain, trail and ultra runners in the world. Her skill, dedication and focused attitude has seen the Catalan excel over every distance and terrain. Her only nemesis has been her good friend, Emelie Forsberg. In 2013, Nuria raced TNFUTMB, her first 100-mile race and placed 2nd behind an unstoppable Rory Bosio. Earlier this year at Transgrancanaria we once again had a master class in how to prepare for, run and win a race! Without doubt, Nuria is a hot favourite for UTMF.

Francesca Canepa Transgrancanaria ©iancorless.com

Francesca Canepa Transgrancanaria ©iancorless.com

Francesca Canepa excels at tough, long and hilly races when the terrain is not too technical. To be honest; the longer, the better. A 100-km race is very much a warm up for Francesca as her impressive victories at Ronda dels Cims and Tor des Geants confirm in 2013. However, Francesca is no one trick pony. She has placed highly at shorter and faster races such as Speedgoat 50k and UROC. UTMF will without doubt suit Francesca’s running style and after her win at HK100 and second at Transgrancanaria earlier this year, Francesca will without doubt be looking for a consistently strong repeat performance and important UTWT points.

Nathalie Mauclair Transvulcania ©iancorless.com

Nathalie Mauclair Transvulcania ©iancorless.com

Nathalie Mauclair burst onto the scene in 2013 with a stunning top placing at Transvulcania La Palma. A relative unknown, Nathalie went on to impress her female competitors (especially Emelie Forsberg) and not only did she become IAU World Trail Champion that required pace, she also was crowned Raid de le Reunion (Diagonale des Fous) champion. Her diversity of pace, endurance and technical ability earmarks Nathalie as ‘one-to-watch’ at UTMF.

Shona Stepenson, Chamonix ©iancorless.com

Shona Stepenson, Chamonix ©iancorless.com

Shona Stephenson placed 2nd at UTMF last year but had a very mixed 2013. Shona dropped from TNFUTMB and Ice Trail Tarentaise and just recently placed 6th at Vibram Tarawera Ultramarathon (also a UTWT race) where I expected her to place top-3, so, the jury is out. She will be in the game early on pushing at the front, let’s hope she can hold on and keep the momentum going.

Fernanda Maciel Everest Trail Race ©iancorless.com

Fernanda Maciel Everest Trail Race ©iancorless.com

Fernanda Maciel after a 3rd place at Transgrancanaria is looking for more UTWT points to boost her overall rankings. Her Everest Trail Race win in late November 2013 would appear to have boosted Fernanda’s running after a troubled 2013 season. Certainly Fernanda’s 7th at TNFUTMB and Transgrancanaria win in 2012 shows that she has all the required armory to compete with the best-of-the-best; she will just need a little luck!

Nerea Martinez Ronda dels Cims ©ianccorless.com

Nerea Martinez Ronda dels Cims ©ianccorless.com

Nerea Martinez like Francesca Canepa like races that are long and tough. Winner of the inaugural UTMF, Nerea won’t repeat that performance in 2014. She has all the required abilities but lacks the pace required that Picas, Mauclair and Canepa have in abundance. However, if it comes down to survival and pushing on through to the line, Nerea will be around and ready to mop up the places. Her 2nd place at the 2012 Tor des Geants proves that she cannot be ruled out in any race.

Julia Boettger, Salomon ©iancorless.com

Julia Boettger, Salomon ©iancorless.com

Julia Boettger had a solid start to 2013 placing 2nd behind Jo Meek at the tough multi day race, The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica. However, she was DNS at Transgrancanaria due a potential niggling injury. Recently she has been working on and providing instruction on several training camps. If in form, UTMF will suit Julia’s skill set and we can expect a top-10 performance and if she has ‘one of those days’ we may well see her top-5.

Nora Senn placed 3rd at UTMF in 2012 behind Nerea Martinez. Taking into consideration that result and the ladies previously mentioned, Nora can hope for top-10.

Hitomi Ogawa along with Kumiko Amikura and Akemi Ban may well have the hopes of Japan in their legs, placing 3rd, 4th and 6th respectively in 2013; they all have the knowledge and understanding of what UTMF requires from a race and survival aspect. Top-10 is possible for all-3 and top-5 with this quality of field would be an incredible result.

MEN

Yoshikazu Hara gets the nod first as last years UTMF champ. One could arguably say it was a lucky day… but hold on a minute, you don’t beat Julien Chorier and Seb Chaigneau on luck alone! Had Hara excelled at the 2013 TNFUTMB I would be hailing him as a potential 2014 champ as he does seem able to use some seriously fast 100km speed (6:33) on long courses. However, Hara dropped from Tarawera with injury and this leaves some huge question marks in this quality of field.

Ryan Sandes Transgrancanaria ©iancorless.com

Ryan Sandes Transgrancanaria ©iancorless.com

Ryan Sandes is on a roll… having spent a great deal of time with him on Gran Canaria and getting a great understanding of the man, his training and his thought processes, I’d find it difficult to bet against Ryan at UTMF. As we are all aware, his 2013 season was one to forget but his 2012 season had moments of brilliance and his 2014 victory at Transgrancanaria and then subsequent FKT on the Drakensberg Traverse with Rhyno Griesel will either mean ‘Sandman’ will be in the form of his life or a little jaded. What do you think?

Seb Chaigneau Transgrancanaria ©iancorless.com

Seb Chaigneau Transgrancanaria ©iancorless.com

Seb Chaigneau placed 3rd at UTMF in 2013 so knows the course. A tough competitor with a unique and endearing view of our sport, he is a true champion. His win at Hardrock 100 and CR in 2013 was a popular result and without doubt he would be a popular champion in Japan. His recent drop from Transgrancanaria leaves a couple of question marks but I don’t have the answers… you see, dropping from a race whilst in the lead leaves the door wide open. I think we will see Seb pushing top-3.

Iker Karrera ©iancorless.com

Iker Karrera ©iancorless.com

Iker Karrera is understated and arguably one of the best ultra distance runners out there. His quiet, modest, no nonsense approach of arriving, winning and leaving a race often leaves a void in this media savvy world. However, you would have to have been in an ultra void not to notice his impressive victory at Grand Raid des Pyrenees in 2013 and then his follow on victory at Tor des Geants. Potential winner!

Francois D'Haene ©iancorless.com

Francois D’Haene ©iancorless.com

Francois D’Haene has a vineyard and that has taken a priority. His run season now evolves around seasons, grape picking and bottling, however, it hasn’t affected Francois’s performances. When Francois races, he races in top form. His 2nd at Ice Trail Tarentaise where he raced side-by-side with fellow teammate, Kilian Jornet shows he has all the skill and speed required to win any race. He proved this with a great victory at the tough and technical Raid de la Reunion (Diagonale des Fous). This race amongst all his experiences, even his victory over a shortened UTMB course, will put him in a great place for success at UTMF.

Nick Clark The Coastal Challenge ©iancorless.com

Nick Clark The Coastal Challenge ©iancorless.com

Nick Clark; enough said really! Tough as nails, really competitive and one of the best 100-mile runners out there; his consistent performance over the ‘Grand Slam’ in 2013 was a joy to behold. Nick kicked off 2014 with a tough outing at his first multi day race at The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica, a race that provided Nick with a new perspective on how tough running back-to-back, day-after-day can be. With some solid training behind him and experience on tough courses such as Hardrock 100, one has to give a nod to Nick and put him on the ‘hot’ list for this race.

Mike Foote TNFUTMB ©iancorless.com

Mike Foote TNFUTMB ©iancorless.com

Mike Foote has been super consistent at TNFUTMB with 3rd place at the shortened race when Francois D’Haene won and 5th place in 2013. Don’t expect to see him up front in the early stages… Mike has a canny knack of almost being out of the race and then in the latter third applying the afterburners and moving up through the field. In addition to great climbing ability, he also has speed. This natural speed will be extremely useful on the faster section of the UTMF course.

Gary Robbins TNFUTMB ©iancorless.com

Gary Robbins TNFUTMB ©iancorless.com

Gary Robbins 4th at UTMF in 2013 and recent winner at HURT100 will bring his adventure racing background, the love of the tough and gnarly and some pure old grit back to Japan and armed with knowledge, I can’t help but think that Gary will be a force this year. Of course, one must consider that this field is super stacked and to repeat 4th or move even in higher in 2014 will be a supreme effort, but Gary on his day can do it.

Thomas Lorblanchet looked to be about to break into the big time after winning Leadville 100 and placing highly at Transvulcania whilst running under Salomon colours. However, since moving to a new sponsor, Thomas appears to have been in a running wilderness. Surely a win at the highly competitive ‘Templiers’ was a great result in late 2013 but I have little else to go on… he may well surprise us.

Joe Grant Cavalls del Vent ©iancorless.com

Joe Grant Cavalls del Vent ©iancorless.com

Joe Grant recently won Alaska White Mountains 100 with a new CR; a great result! However, it is extremely difficult to say how this performance will set up Joe for UTMF. Post his impressive Iditarod performance in 2013, Joe struggled to find form (more due to fatigue) and even at his beloved Hardrock 100, he had to drop (whilst in 2nd place) with medical issues. Regularly training with Anton Krupicka, Joe is very much a new breed of ultra runner, inspired by Kilian Jornet, who combines running, climbing and time in the mountains to fulfill his passion. UTMF in principal will suit Joe 100% and if in form, we can expect him to be a main protagonist at the front of the race.

Brendan Davies Chamonix ©iancorless.com

Brendan Davies Chamonix ©iancorless.com

Brendan Davies 5th at UTMF in 2013 has plenty of speed but lacks true mountain experience. He openly said that the 2013 edition of the race was a shock to the system and the time he lost going up, he pulled back on the fast flatter sections. I am sure Brendan will come to UTMF with more vertical training. However, this field is stacked with out-and-out mountain men. It’s going to be a tough race to keep in touch with the top-5 and repeat his 2013 performance.

Antoine Guillon 4th at Reunion and 5th at Transgrancanaria will be hunting UTWT points. I think he will be in the mix but not top-5.

Dave Mackey was one of the first runners to embrace the UTWT and I am sure we will see his presence throughout the series. One of the most respected ultra runners out there, had this been a 100km race he would be a hot favourite. But over the 100-mile distance and on this terrain, I don’t see Dave making top-5 despite his success at Western States. But he is due a big performance…

John Tidd to many will be a complete unknown, I first met him at Transgrancanaria in 2013 when he went on to place 6th running a strong and consistent race. Later in the year he repeated this consistency with 6th at UTMF and then 10th at TNFUTMB. I very much doubt he will make top-5 but top-10 is a distinct possibility.

Emmanuel Gault recently won the Eco Trail de Paris in a quick 5:40, so, he’s in good shape. However, even dating back to 2007, I am not sure he has raced over 100km. So, he may be up front in the early stages but past 80km he may well fade. It’s an unknown? Without doubt, Emmanuel specialises in French races such as Templiers, SainteLyon, CCC and so on, his recent 22bd place at Transvulcania gives us little insight into what may be achieved at the tough UTMF.

Stone Tsang from Hong Kong will potentially be a ‘one-to-watch’ after solid UTMB and HK100 performances, but he will need a great day to break top-5.

Minehiro Yokoyama,

Kenichi Yamamoto,

Koji Yamaya,

Minehiro Yokoyama,

Shougo Mochizuki

And Shinsuke Isomura have all raced UTMF in the past and in reality it is about as much insight as I can provide.

Kenichi Yamamoto Ronda dels Cims ©iancorless.com

Kenichi Yamamoto Ronda dels Cims ©iancorless.com

If I had to pick one runner it would be Kenichi Yamamoto. Kenichi raced against Julien Chorier in 2013 and placed 2nd. A happy and talented guy (expect film crews following him) he has had success with a top-3 at UTMF in 2012 but not against a field of this quality.

The 2014 UTMF will be quite a race. In addition to all the above, several other notable runners are taking part and it almost feels rude not to mention the ever present Christophe Le Saux, Jeremy Ritcey or Timo Meyer. But I have tried to preview who will contend top-5.

UTMF website – http://www.ultratrailmtfuji.com/en/

Runner entry list – http://www.ultratrailmtfuji.com/en/about/entrylist/

Ultra Running Review of the Year 2013

Rob Krar UROC ©iancorless.com

What an amazing time to be involved in the sport of ultra running! The once niche minority sport has exploded to greater heights and distances in 2013. No longer is a long beard and ‘Buff’ a pre requisite of ultra running (unless you’re Rob Krar). Clean cut, young, fast is the new ‘ultra runner’ mixing it up with the old guard.
Just think back to this time last year, had you heard of Zach Miller (not the Zach Miller, but, the Zach Miller; confused?), Michele YatesRob Krar, Magdalena Boulet and Xavier Thevenard.
Racing and the opportunity to race has also increased to the extent that it is now possible to race pretty much week in and week out for 12-months of the year. Of course, this brings pluses and minuses, certainly from an elite level, runners need to be far more savvy and race clever. You can no longer race month on month and expect to win. Races now have much higher quality fields and the pace is going up. The growth of Skyrunning has been instrumental in enticing a world audience to test runners of all abilities on tough, technical and high-terrain and the feedback has been incredible. UTWT have launched a series of races above the 100-km distance and in doing so have created a ‘trail’ circuit that offers multiple terrain in multiple locations all over the world. It will be interesting to see how the inaugural year goes when 2014 comes around.
So, what are the highlights of 2013?
Ultra Runner of the Year – Men and ladies
Rob Krar UROC ©iancorless.com
  • Lets start with Rob Krar. I interviewed Rob just after his incredible ‘FKT’ in the Grand Canyon early in 2013 when he put the Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim record at another level. At the time we discussed Western States, he was intimidated by the ‘Super Bowl’ of ultra and his first 100-miler. “I’ll give it a shot and see what happens”. Well, if you hadn’t noticed Rob pre WSER you did afterwards. Your not supposed to run WSER and get 2nd overall in your first attempt. UROC, Ultra Race of Champions was the final of the Skyrunner Ultra World Series and for some reason they had bestowed upon themselves the title, ‘The Ultra Running World Championship’. Mmmmm well, it certainly had a quality field but ‘World Championship’? I don’t think so. In the end it came down to a head-to-head between Dakota Jones and Rob Krar. Dakota looked as though he had it sewn up but on the final descent, Rob unleashed a pace that Dakota went on to say was ‘just crazy’. Rob took the win and a pattern was forming. We were all a little surprised to see Rob’s name on the start list for JFK50, primarily with TNF50 in San Francisco just two weeks later. As it happened, Rob dropped at around the 41-mile mark and went on to say that it was either ‘a great training run for TNF50 or the worst decision he had made in a while.’ It was a great training run! Rob ran a super calm, collected and mature race in San Francisco and when he took the front in the last fifth of the race he released a pace that was just incredible. Without doubt my ultra runner of the year!
Kilian Jornet and the Matterhorn ©iancorless.com
  • Of course, you can’t talk about male ultra runner and not mention Kilian Jornet. Kilian is a phenomenon. He is the star of our sport. Once again he was crowned Skyrunner World Ultra Series Champion with wins at Transvulcania and Ice Trail Tarentaise. In addition to this, Kilian was also champion of the ‘Sky’ series with 4 wins; ZegamaMont-BlancMatterhorn Ultraks and Limone Extreme. Add this a couple VK’s, a win at Canazei Sky race for the European Championships and a win at Trans D’Havet for the ‘Ultra’ Skyrunning European Championships and you would say the deal is done! But wait-a-minute, we haven’t mentioned his records for his ‘Summits’ project. A stunning new FKT for Chamonix-Mont-Blanc-Chamonix but arguably THE highlight of the year was his Matterhorn Summit. It was a sublime and surreal performance that put going to the mountains light on another level. It was without doubt my ‘moment’ of the year. You can read my ‘Matterhorn Summits Interview’ with Kilian here. Kilian is the most complete athlete I know.
Michele Yates - iancorless.com ©bradclayton

Michele Yates – iancorless.com ©bradclayton

  • Michele Yates hadn’t run an ultra before 2013. Who would have thought that Ms Figure Colorado 2008 would be such an awesome talent? Well her history shows that she is a 2x Olympic Trials Marathon Competitor, she has 9 marathon wins and PB of 2:38:37. To say Michele burst on the ultra scene would be an underestimation. Her win at Indiana Trail 100 (17:35:18) almost went unnoticed but then taking top spot and the $10,000 prize at Run Rabbit Run suddenly made every one stop, look around and take notice. Placing 3rd at UROC was another sign that Michele was no one trick pony but just like Rob Krar, Michele sealed a quality 2013 with a win at TNF50. She started that race from the front and never relinquished the lead until the line. Is Michele female ultra runner of the year? Well, I would have said yes. That is until the weekend of Dec 13th/ 14th(Listen to interview with Michele on the Christmas show of Talk Ultra, Ep51 out Dec 27th)
  • Pam Smith victorious at Western States turned up at the Desert Solstice track meet run by Aravaipa Running and not only took out the win for 12-hours on the track but set a new female record for 100-miles, 14:11:26. Take your pick, Michele or Pam; it’s a tough call.
Emelie Forsberg ©iancorless.com
  • But wait a minute, what about Emelie Forsberg. Emelie arrived on the run scene in 2012 and instantly had success, continually placing top-3 with Anna Frost and Nuria Picas. However the break through moment came ironically this time last year, she won TNF50 in San Francisco. This seemed to change everything, Emelie arrived at Transvulcania in May 2013 and won, she followed this up with a win in ZegamaCanazeiIce Trail TarentaiseMatterhorn UltraksUROC and then went on to run her first 100-miler at the super tough Diagonale de Fous (Raid de la Reunion) and place 2nd. Do you want to vote against Emelie?
Performances of the Year
tnfutmb 2013 ©iancorless.com
  • Rory Bosio blasted around the TNFUTMB course and in the process not only obliterated the female record but placed 7th overall. Her performance was nothing short of miraculous.
  • Jon Olson set a new American record for 100-miles on the track and then just as the year came to a close, Zach Bitter broke the record with an 11:47:21 but maybe even more important, Zach set a new World Record for 12-hours (101.66 miles) beating a Yiannis Kouros record. That does not happen very often! (Zach Bitter will be in the Christmas episode of Talk Ultra, Ep 51 out Dec 27th here)
  • I have already mention Kilian and the Matterhorn but it was so good I am mentioning it twice!
  • Timothy Olson went back to Western States and won again. You can win a race once but going back and doing it again is always a true sign of a champion.
  • Seb Chaigneau took a win and CR at Hardrock 100.
  • Nickademus Hollon became the youngest person ever to not only complete Barkley but also win it. You can listen to his interview on Talk Ultra here.
Julien Chorier Ronda dels Cims ©iancorless.com
  • Julien Chorier produced a sublime and calculated performance at the super tough Ronda dels Cims. It was a joy and a pleasure to watch someone control and dominate a race from the front and look good all the way.
  • Sage Canaday, jeez I missed him out and he definitely deserves a mention for BanderaTarawera, Transvulcania (3rd), Lake Sonoma and Speedgoat 50k.
 
Francesca Canepa ©iancorless.com
  • Francesca Canepa once again had an incredible year with a great performance at Ronda dels Cims but arguably a repeat win at Tor des Geants places her well and truly at the top on ‘endurance’ lady of the year!
  • Iker Karrera nailed Tor des Geants.
  • Ricky Lightfoot went over to South Africa and raced at The Otter and not only won but put the course record at a new level, in addition he won the IAU World Title in Wales.
 
tnfutmb 2013 ©iancorless.com
  • Xavier Thevenard took everyone, including himself, by surprise at TNFUTMB with a controlled and impressive performance against some top competition.
Jez Bragg TNFUTMB ©iancorless.com
  • Jez Bragg completed the Te Araroa in New Zealand. An incredible journey from the northern tip of New Zealand all the way down to the southern tip. Listen here.
  • David Johnston completed the Iditarod trail Invitational in 4 days 19 hours 13 mins.Crazy fast.
  • Ian Sharman and Nick Clark went head-to-head in the Grand Slam of Ultra Running and produced possibly the most exciting competition of 2013. The pair of them produced incredibly consistent performances and showed us all that it is possible to race four 100-milers back-to-back. They didn’t only ‘complete’ but they competed. They both won a race and were never out of the front rankings. Ian Sharman ultimately had the icing on the cake with the overall fastest time and a new Grand Slam record. Respect! Interview with Ian Sharman here.
  • Paul Giblin at the West Highland Way race. 15:07 and good beating of Terry Conway’s previous CR.
Stevie Kremer Limone Extreme ©iancorless.com
  • Stevie Kremer doesn’t do ultras but she is a darn fine trail and mountain runner and what ‘Pocket Rocket’ achieved in 2013 is nothing short of miraculous. Can’t wait to see what 2014 has in store.
  • Ed Catmur has continued to knock out some great 100-mile performances on the GB scene with wins at North Downs Way and the Winter 100.
  • Lizzie Wraith new female CR for the Lakeland 100 in the UK.
  • William Sichel keeps running and running crazy distances and setting new records.
  • Jonas Buud didn’t win Comrades in 2013 but he ran one of the best paced races I’ve ever witnessed. He was way back in the late 30’s and slowly moved up to 3rd. Wow! Notable mention to Brit ladies, Joanna Zakrezewski and Holly Rush who placed top-10.
Surprises of the Year
  • Rob Krar – Just one word sums up the bearded warrior ‘Krarnage’.
  • Zach Miller – no, not Zach Miller, but Zach Miller. Zach rocked up at JFK50, nobody knew him and he didn’t know anyone else. He took over the lead when Rob Krar dropped at mile 41. Not only did he win but also he set the 3rd fastest time ever. Interview with Zach here.
  • Xavier Thevenard – TNFUTMB was going to be won by Anton KrupickaMiguel HerasJulien ChorierSeb Chaigneau or Mike Foote. Somebody should have told them all about CCC winner, Xavier.
  • Michele Yates – wow, what a first year in the ultra world.
Who and what to watch out for in 2014
Cameron Clayton UROC ©iancorless.com
  • Cameron Clayton has found his feet, 2013 had some mixed performances but when everything aligns he races with the best. His TransvulcaniaUROC and TNF50 performances without doubt elevates him to ‘hot’ for 2014.
Luis Alberto Hernando Haria Extreme ©iancorless.com
  • Luis Alberto Hernando pushed Kilian close at Transvulcania, Zegama, finished joint first at Trans D’havet and won at Cavalls del Vent. In 2014 he plans to race TNFUTMB, now that will be interesting.
  • Magdalena Boulet had an ultra debut at TNF50 and placed 2nd. This sub 2:30 marathon runner may turn a few heads in 2014.
  • Brit, Stuart Air may raise a few eyebrows in 2014. He had a solid Ronda dels Cims, Ice Trail Tarentaise and Tor des Geants and for 2014 he has a Hardrock 100 slot!
  • Hardrock 100 had it’s draw and suddenly much of the WSER ‘lottery’ chat shifted focus to the field up at Silverton. The 2014 race is a classic in the making with Kilian JornetSebastian ChaigneauJulien ChorierJoe Grant and more. Excited? Just a little.
  • The Skyrunning World Championships take place in Chamonix with runners from all over the world coming to race VK, SKY and ULTRA in one of the endurance capitals of the world.
  • Beards – the jury is out. Are beards fast or slow? Rob Krar, Timmy Olson and ‘Clarky’ are certainly great advocates for hairy running but Kilian, Cameron, Sage provide a strong counter argument. What are your thoughts?
And finally…
 
A review of any year is going to be personal. Without doubt we will all have our own highlights and favourite moments, so, I would love to read your thoughts.
Please use the form below.
Ian Corless ETR ©iancorless.com
On a personal note, 2013 was an incredible year, I feel blessed with all the opportunities I have had. To witness many of the moments I write about is a great pleasure. Of course, it’s nothing without you folks reading, looking at my photographs or listening to my podcast.
A very BIG thank you from me.
Happy Christmas and a wonderful 2014 awaits us all…
LINKS:
Photography from 2013 races HERE
IMAGES book HERE
Calendar HERE
Podcasts HERE