Episode 147 – Felix Weber and Everest Trail Race 2017

Episode 147 of Talk Ultra brings you an interview with the amazing running nomad, Felix Weber. We also bring you a selection of interviews from the 2017 Everest Trail Race with Elisabet Barnes, Paul Allum, Becks Ferry, Sondre Amdahl and Ester Alves. We also have the Godfather of Trail, Kurt Decker, co-host the show.
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00:11:07 NEWS
TNF 50
Tim Freriks and Ida Nilsson do the Transvulcania / TNF 50 double, In the ladies race, Clare Gallagher 2nd and Megan Kimmel 3rd, times 7:07, 7:12 and 7:19. For the men, Zach Miller and Hayden Hawks placed 2nd/ 3rd in 6:15 and 6:20 to Tim’s 6:02.
EVEREST TRAIL RACE
What a race! Sumun Kulung and Chhechee Sherpa took Nepali victories in a super competitive 6-day race through the Himalayas. Luis Alberto Hernando lead the race throughout until the last day…. Sondre Amdahl placed 3rd. For the ladies, Ester Alves and Elisabet Barnes placed 2nd and 3rd behind the Nepali. Full results and images HERE.
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00:22:11 Interview with ETR Participants – Elisabet Barnes, Sondre Amdahl, Ester Alves, Becks Ferry and Paul Allum
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JFK 50
Eric Senseman took a big win ahead of Michael Owen and Anthony Kunkel – 5:46, 6:03 and 6:05 respectively. Emily Torrence took the ladies top slot in 6:27 ahead of ~Jackie Merritt and Sabrina Little, 6:57 and 7:01.
Camille Herron
Wow, what a 100 at TunnelHill. New WR. 12:42:39
SKYRUN South Africa
Lucky Miya took the win in 12:58 ahead of Sange Sherpa and Christiaan Greyling. Tracey Campbell took the ladies top slot in 19:26 ahead of Misty Weyers and Kate Swarbeck.
Cat Bradleyset a new FKT in the Grand Canyon, rim-to-rim-to-rim in 7:52:20 and Alicia Vargo did a one-way crossing in 3:19:23.
Kelvin T Reid : Hi Ian, I want to ask you a favor. I was always my hope to run Western States. I run qualifying races but never got in. Travis McWhorter after following my story on Facebook he sent me is Western States buckle. I was hoping you could give him a shout out on your podcast.
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02:06:57 Interview with FELIX WEBER
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UP & COMING RACES

Australia

Victoria

Alpine Challenge 100 km | 100 kilometers | November 25, 2017 | website
Alpine Challenge 100 Mile | 100 miles | November 25, 2017 | website
Alpine Challenge 60 km | 60 kilometers | November 25, 2017 | website

Belgium

Wallonia

Olne-Spa-Olne | 67 kilometers | November 26, 2017 | website

Cambodia

The Ancient Khmer Path | 220 kilometers | November 24, 2017 | website

Cape Verde

Boavista Salt Marathon | 71 kilometers | December 02, 2017 | website
Boavista Ultramarathon – 150 km | 150 kilometers | December 02, 2017 | website

France

Aveyron

L’astragale Trail | 61 kilometers | December 03, 2017 | website

Côtes-d’Armor

Le Grand Menestrail | 53 kilometers | December 02, 2017 | website

Haute-Garonne

Trail Toulouse Métropole | 50 kilometers | November 26, 2017 | website

Loire

La Saintélyon | 72 kilometers | December 03, 2017 | website

Manche

50 km | 50 kilometers | November 25, 2017 | website

Vendée

Corrida mothaise | 100 kilometers | November 26, 2017 | website

Germany

Lower Saxony

3. Lauf PSV Winterlaufserie 100 KM | 100 kilometers | December 02, 2017 | website
3. Lauf PSV Winterlaufserie 50 KM | 50 kilometers | December 02, 2017 | website
4. Lauf PSV Winterlaufserie 100 KM | 100 kilometers | December 03, 2017 | website
4. Lauf PSV Winterlaufserie 50 KM | 50 kilometers | December 03, 2017 | website

Rhineland-Palatinate

Kleiner KoBoLT | 106 kilometers | November 25, 2017 | website
KoBoLT | 140 kilometers | November 25, 2017 | website

Greece

Feat in the Footsteps of Minos | 70 kilometers | December 03, 2017 | website

Hong-Kong

50 km | 50 kilometers | December 03, 2017 | website

India

Maharashtra

Oxfam Trailwalker India – Mumbai | 100 kilometers | December 08, 2017 | website

Tamil Nadu

Nilgiris 100 km Men-Only Ultra | 100 kilometers | December 02, 2017 | website
Nilgiris 100 km Women-Only Ultra | 100 kilometers | December 03, 2017 | website
Nilgiris 50 km Men-Only Ultra | 50 kilometers | December 02, 2017 | website
Nilgiris 50 km Women-Only Ultra | 50 kilometers | December 03, 2017 | website

Indonesia

Gede Pangrango 100K | 100 kilometers | December 08, 2017 | website
Gede Pangrango 300 | 300 kilometers | December 08, 2017 | website
Gede Pangrango 50K | 50 kilometers | December 08, 2017 | website
Gede Pangrango 75K | 75 kilometers | December 08, 2017 | website

Kenya

TsavoEkiden84 | 84 kilometers | December 02, 2017 | website
TsavoRide | 120 kilometers | December 02, 2017 | website
TsavoRun84 | 84 kilometers | December 02, 2017 | website

Mexico

130 km | 130 kilometers | December 01, 2017 | website
50 km | 50 kilometers | December 02, 2017 | website

Namibia

100 km of Namib Desert | 100 kilometers | December 03, 2017 | website

New Zealand

Kepler Challenge Mountain Run | 60 kilometers | December 02, 2017 | website

Peru

250 km | 250 kilometers | November 26, 2017 | website

Réunion

Mafate Trail Tour | 75 kilometers | November 25, 2017 | website

South Africa

Ultra-Trail® Cape Town – 100 km | 100 kilometers | December 02, 2017 | website
Ultra-Trail® Cape Town – 62 km | 62 kilometers | December 02, 2017 | website

Spain

Region of Murcia

Ultra 100Km | 100 kilometers | December 02, 2017 | website

Turkey

Kaz Dağları Ultra | 78 kilometers | December 02, 2017 | website

United Kingdom

Buckinghamshire

50 Miles | 50 miles | November 25, 2017 | website

Dorset

Coastal Trail Series – Dorset – Ultra | 34 miles | December 02, 2017 | website

Kent

Gatliff 50 km | 50 kilometers | November 26, 2017 | website

USA

California

50 Mile | 50 miles | November 25, 2017 | website
High Desert 50K Ultramarathon | 50 kilometers | December 03, 2017 | website

Florida

100 Miles | 100 miles | November 25, 2017 | website
50 Miles | 50 miles | November 25, 2017 | website
Caloosahatchee Ultra 50K | 50 kilometers | December 02, 2017 | website

Indiana

50k | 50 kilometers | December 02, 2017 | website
50mi | 50 miles | December 02, 2017 | website

Kentucky

Redbird Crest 100K | 100 kilometers | December 02, 2017 | website

Massachusetts

32M | 32 miles | December 02, 2017 | website
40M | 40 miles | December 02, 2017 | website

North Carolina

Derby 50k Ultra Run | 50 kilometers | November 25, 2017 | website

South Carolina

50K | 50 kilometers | December 02, 2017 | website

Washington

Ghost of Seattle 50K | 50 kilometers | November 25, 2017 | website
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02:43:30 CLOSE
02:50:53
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I’m Ian Corless and he is Speedgoat Karl Meltzer.
Keep running
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Website – talkultra.com

Limone Extreme 2017 Preview – Migu Run Skyrunner World Series

The 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series draws to a conclusion on the stunning shores of Lake Garda for the Limone Extreme weekend of racing. The mountains that back onto this iconic location provide a wonderful playground to Friday’s VK (VK World Circuit) and Sunday’s Classic SkyRace.

It’s been a long season of Skyrunning all around the world. Recently, Jonathan Albon and Maite Maiora were crowned EXTREME champions in Scotland at the Skyline Scotland and at Ultra Pirineu, Ragna Debats and Luis Alberto Hernando were crowned champions for the ULTRA category.

This weekend in Limone we will have two champions crowned for the CLASSIC sky distance and in addition, we will have COMBINED champions. The combined champions having scored points in the 2017 season over different race distances.

Over the years, Limone Extreme has grown to be a pinnacle event on the calendar and as the last race of the Skyrunner World Series, it is often a crouch race for points, therefore, fast and aggressive racing is guaranteed over the 27km course with 2450m of vertical gain.

Marco De Gasperi will go head-to-head with Aritz Egea and young gun, Jan Margarit for the Sky Classic title, it is et to be an epic battle with nine out of the top ten male runners toeing the line.

Limone gives a 20% bonus, so, it’s all to fight for!

The ladies’ race may be even more exciting than the men’s, it is wide open! Ragna Debats has already won the Ultra title and she would need an incredible run in Limone to pull off the overall tittle – it is possible though! In reality, Laura Orgue is the favourite with a strong threet coming from Sheila Aviles. These two have fought each other in the mountains in 2017 and now it comes down to who will perform in Italy! Hillary Gerardi and Oihana Azkorbebeitia will also figure.

Joining the line-up for the SWS title is a host of world-class talent who will not only impact on the results of the race but they will more than likely impact on how the SWS points are allocated and therefore influencing who are the champions for 2017.

Remi Bonnet and Stian Angermund-Vik are likely winners of the race, Bonnet has won here in the past and Angermund-Vik has been unbeatable in 2017. Joining these two is Eugeni Gil. Hector Haines and Pascal Egli – all theree have had their fair share of podium places. Marc and Oscar Casal Mir, Kiril Nikolov, Eduard Hernandez and Julien Martinez round out the top contenders.

The combined titles are also at stake and here there is a very interesting prospect with Maite Maiora not racing and Ragna Debats toeing the line. Should Debats place first or second, she will take the title from Maiora. For the men, Jonathan Albon has an untouchable lead.

Michael Wardian returns to The Coastal Challenge #TCC2018

Michael Wardian never stops…. He is a real life Forest Gump. Just recently he ran 400km in the Gobi Desert, a first for him! Wardian though started the year with a world record running 7 marathons in 7 days on 7 continents, you can listen to an in-depth interviewer with him HERE about this incredible feat.

It’s a dangerous question asking Wardian, ‘So, what is next?’

It is never a one word answer.

For example, in a few days, October 14th, he will toe the line at Hartford Marathon Charity Chase. Followed by the Marine Corps Marathon on the 22nd. November brings NYC Marathon, JFK 50 Miler, Flanigan’s 10km… do I need to go on? You get the picture!

In 2014, Wardian toed the line at The Coastal Challenge and had a great race winning and at the time setting a new CR ahead of quality runners such Philipp Reiter, Martin Gaffuri and Nick Clark.

Wardian promised he would return and in 2018, he will once again arrive on Costa Rican soil for a race that he loves.

 1. Michael, you run and run, race and race. It seems a weekend never passes without you racing at least one race and more often than not, two or three… How do you keep the enthusiasm to race/ run so much? 

MRW: I definitely enjoy toeing the line and throwing down.  The thrill of racing is this something that is internal and I believe keeps me fresh and focused.  I love seeing what I am capable of and I hope I inspire people to do a bit more than they think they can. 

2. This amount of racing and running must take a toll on you and your body – how do you avoid injury?

MRW:  I do race a lot and ask my body and mind  to perform at the highest levels repeatedly but I think instead of causing injury it actually avoids injury a bit because my body is continually adapting and evolving and always improving. That said since my injuries in 2012, I am super mindful to error on the side of less miles and more recovery if something seems off. I also take massage often, foam roll, stretch and work with a personal trainer to get strong and avoid imbalances and injuries. 

3. You have had an incredible 2017 with a full calendar – what are the highlights?

MRW:  2017, has definitely been a banner year, some events that comes to mind are:

1) 7 marathons in 7 days on 7 continents, average pace of 2:45, new World Record

2) Big Sur Marathon Champion 

3) Kauai Marathon Champion

4) Leadville 100 miler/ Pikes Peak Marathon double break Marshall Ulrich record from 1993

5) Ultragobi 400k finish, new personal record for distance and time. 

4. You have raced TCC before, you won it! What is bringing you back to Costa Rica?

MRW: I loved TCC, when I won it a few years ago and have been wanting to come back since but with scheduling it didn’t work out but as soon as the schedule permitted I knew I would come back if the opportunity was there. I loved the organization, culture and nature. 

5. When you won the race, at times you struggled with some of the technical terrain. You used your run speed to close gaps and seize an advantage – any new plans or strategies for 2018?

MRW: I think I got pretty lucky last time to win the TCC, I was was just getting my fitness back and used what has always been my strength faster road running but since 2014, I have really focused on trails and feel much improved so looking forward to putting those earned skills to use in 2018. 

6. You placed 3rd at Marathon des Sables some year’s ago and this year, Tom Evans matched this. Are you excited to race toe-to-toe and see who is the better on Costa Rican soil?

MRW:  I am very excited to race Tom Evans but even more excited to get to run with and know the guys and girls racing. I love connecting with people and making new friends so hoping we get to push each other during the race and become friendly after. I am also excited for my family to meet some of the top athletes in the sport on a personal level and see who is causing me to suffer everyday. 

7. Chema Martinez will return to TCC and the UK’s Marcus Scotney will run, do you know much about them and do you have any strategies to get the edge for victory?

MRW: I just heard of Chema Martinez from my buddy Paul during the 400k UltraGobi, he sounds strong and exciting to get to race with him. I don’t know Marcus Scotney but I am sitting with some English guys and they said he is very strong and on the English 100k World Team…I think I just need to stay in the hunt and run hard when I sense an opportunity. 

8. Heat, humidity, a variety of terrain and stunning views – what excites you most about coming back to TCC and for those new to the race, what three tips can you provide that will make the 2018 experience a special one?

MRW:  I definitely think you should be ready for heat, humidity mixed terrain, the views are spectacular and I am super excited about them. A few tips are be ready to run hard because the pace can be fast especially for early in the year, there are legit climbs and some parts can get technical. Also, there is a little altitude that I didn’t expect the first time. 

9. You are bringing family to TCC this year, does this make it extra special?

MRW: I am definitely excited to share TCC with Jennifer, Pierce and Grant and it will be super special as none of my family have gotten to experience the Tica hospitality. I think they will be as blown away as I have been by the nature, beauty and landscape but most particularly the people. 

10. Finally, TCC is in February, dare I ask what the rest of 2018 holds for you?

MRW: 2018, should be super interesting, I am trying to decide exactly where to race right now and would like to do some new events in different and unique places. If you know anything cool please let me know or your audience. 

The 2018 edition of TCC is already looking like a stunning race. Two-time MDS champion Elisabet Barnes will return to Costa Rica and the UK’s Marcus Scotney who won the Cape Wrath Ultra and the Dragons Back Race has his first TCC experience ahead of him. – read HERE.

In addition, the UK’s Tom Evans will also run the 2018 TCC, read HERE.

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, traveling 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

Follow #TCC2018

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The Coastal Challenge

Facebook HERE

Website (UK) HERE

Website (Global) HERE

Salomon Ring of Steall Skyrace 2017 Summary – Migu Run Skyrunner World Series

Uncompromising mountain running, ridges, scrambles, steep ascents, boggy ground and a bucket full of technical running made the 2017 Salomon Ring of Steall Skyrace™ an epic race. The sodden ground was muddy and uncompromising, the weather wet and brutally cold. This race had epic written all over it and it drew comparisons with the Skyrunning classic, Zegama-Aizkorri.

The h finish line post-race was full of praise, many stating that it was a pure classic, a race they would return to and yes, one of the toughest 25km’s they have ever run! A sentiment echoed by race winner Stian Angermund-Vik who won the previous day’s Amores VK and who was the champion of the Ring of Steall in 2016

“A Tough and beautiful race. The weather was harsh today and I didn’t feel great but I rallied in the latter stages. I saw my teammate Tom Owens, he shouted encouragement at me and it spurred me on!”

Stian produced a stunning win in an incredible 3:24, a new course record. In the early stages, the race was all together with the USA’s Andy Wacker leading from the front by a small margin. He was followed though by all the favourites, Marco De Gasperi, Jan Margarit, Kiril Nikolov, Stian Angermund-Vik and many more, As the conditions took hold and the temperatures dropped dramatically with an icy wind, Angermund-Vik pulled away from the race. In-form Pascal Egli pursued and Kris Jones from Wales was paving the way for UK runners. It was all close and anything could happen. Egli held on for second in 3:26, just 1-minute later Jones finished and then young-gun Margarit finished 4th ahead of Kiril Nikolov in 5th,m their times 3:29 and 3:30.

In the ladies’ race, Laura Orgue, like Angermund-Vik, was looking for the double, VK and SKY victories. She lead the race to the top of the first climb but then lost the lead only to regain it and then pull away with a strong and convincing victory in 4:05.

“I loved this race, the terrain, the mountains and the challenge. It was a close race and I had to fight which is good. It feels very different to the other races on the SWS calendar and I think it may be my favourite – Ioved it!”

Sheila Aviles moved up from outside the top-3 as the race progressed, showing her form that gave her victory at Comapedrossa earlier in the year. Once in 2nd she stayed there and crossed the line in 4:05:51 just 40-seconds behind Orgue. The Spanish duo are now head-to-head in the SWS17 ranking with Limone Extreme in October the deciding race.

Oihana Azkorbebeitia finished 3rd, the USA’s Hillary Gerardi continued her strong streak of top performances for 4th and Maite Maiora was 5th after placing 2nd at CCC just 2-weekas ago, their times 4:15, 4:21 and 4:22.

This Skyrunning race route incorporated two lofty ridges within the Mamores, including the Devil’s Ridge, which provides a thrilling and airy traverse with Glen Nevis visible ahead.

Full results HERE

Gallery 2

Seminal UTMB 2017 – The Men’s Race

Francois D’Haene racing in China, April 2017

The 2017 UTMB was billed as the ‘best ever’ and as the weather finally improves in and around Chamonix, life returns to normal for us all and we have an opportunity to step back and look at how important this years race actually was.

I think it may well be a seminal edition and for many reasons.

Yes, I think this years race may well be a great influencer in the later developments not only of ultra-trail but more importantly the runners who participate.

The men’s race featured a known top-10 and I think it’s fair to say there were few surprises. Unlike in previous editions, the main contenders battled throughout and few dropped or faltered resulting in a super exciting edition of the race.

Read about the Ladies race HERE

THE TOP 10 MEN

 

NO1

Francois D’Haene 19:01:32 – Francois is the best 100-mile mountain runner in the world. No question. Coming into the race, it was a coin toss if he or Kilian would win the race. I like everyone else went with Kilian – how can you bet against Kilian? But with reflection, Francois always should have been the hot-favourite for victory. He prepared meticulously for UTMB with victories in ‘warm-up’ races, he ran the UTMB route over 4-days with Salomon teammates and yes, he is the course record holder. He started at the front, closer than I had anticipated and he never relinquished a firm grasp of the race. Experience, fitness and endurance over the final third of the race saw him pull-away from Jim Walmsley and Kilian to confirm that he is the best in the world.

 

NO2

Kilian Jornet 19:16:38 – It’s tough being Kilian, so much pressure. But he shrugs it off on his own way… At the UTMB this year he interviewed runners on the start, filmed the start and continued to film over the opening miles. He surprised me by keeping with the front of the race, an unusual tactic for him. Maybe he thought that if he let Walmsley, D’Haene and the others go, he would never reel them back in. I expected Jornet to win, as did pretty much everyone else but a lack of running in 2017 and the early fast half of the race no doubt took its toll. He finished 2nd and that in itself is incredible, the fact he suffered so much is even more remarkable. He is an incredible ambassador and I know personally that he will be as happy with D’Haene’s victory as if it were his own. Let’s not forget he summited Everest twice in one week, won Hardrock 100 and won a fast Sierre-Zinal in the lead to UTMB.

 

NO3

Tim Tollefson 19:53:00 – Yep, Tollefson signifies why the 2017 UTMB is a seminal edition for US runners. He placed 3rd last-year and backed it up again with third this year. He started steady and let his experience, training and mental strength run a finely paced and well-judged race. It was impressive to follow how he meticulously worked his way through the race. With approximately 50km’s to go, he moved up into third and he remained in that place all the way to the line – impressive!

 

NO4 – Xavier Thevenard 20:03:14 – He’s won all the UTMB races (CCC, TDS, OCC and UTMB multiple times) and yes, of course, he was a favourite for the podium and or victory. Early on he raced with the front but I think he decided the pace was a little hot and he eased off. He knows how to run this loop though and experience counted. His fourth is no disappointment and confirms his ability over the 100-mile distance in the mountains.

 

NO5 – Jim Walmsley 20:11:38 – This was the seminal performance of the whole UTMB and yes, I have been vocal on Walmsley post his 2017 Western States. I have to say, he impressed the hell out of me at this year’s UTMB. He took the front as I and many expected but unlike Western, he understood the task at hand and who was behind him. A naturally fast runner, he obviously struggled to run slower but he restrained himself, often waiting for Jornet, D’Haene and others. I said before the race started that he would find the final 30% tough and he did. He is incredible over the 100km distance or running say 10-14 hours but beyond that is all new ground. From 100km he slowed and struggled dropping to seventh but then rallied to move back to fifth. This was THE learning curve that Walmsley needed and I am convinced that this IS the turning point in his 100-mile running career. He has already proven up to 100km he is incredible, now we will see him harness this learning curve not only in pacing and race management but also how to handle the mind games that this distance brings. I am convinced we will see Walmsley top UTMB and Western States podiums in years to come.

 

NO6 – Pau Capell 20:12:43 – He is a rising star of the sport, he has already had an incredible 2017 with a string of top-10 performances and now sixth at UTMB. He paced well-being a novice at the 100-mile distance but his Transgrancanaria run earlier this year no doubt helped. He was all set for fifth until a flying Walmsley found a late surge to grasp a place from him. A seminal performance.

 

NO7 – Dylan Bowman 20:19:48 – D’Bo nailed his first UTMB finish and confirms that the USA are finally understanding mountain running in Europe and in particular UTMB. I remember a few years back when he finished Transgrancanaria and he was blown away by how difficult and fast that race was. He’s slowly plugged away and learnt the craft.

 

NO8 – Gediminas Grinius 21:24:19 – He nails the 100-mile distance and his eighth place just proves how consistent he is. He will no doubt be disappointed with his placing after placing second last-year, but this year’s race was as stacked as stacked can be and this is a solid performance.

 

NO9 – Zach Miller 21:28:32 – Has been injured in 2017 and I think this no doubt impacted on his race and strategy. Last-year he ran off the front with what was either going to be a blazing victory or an incredible blow-up. It was the latter but he rallied for sixth. This year, he without doubt respected the distance but maybe he also realised he didn’t have the fitness and endurance to blaze a trail at the front. Either way, his 9th is solid, it confirms his ability for the distance and like Walmsley, he may well understand that a little patience will go a long way. A seminal performance.

 

NO10 – Jordi Gamito 21:44:31 – A revelation in 2017 and while I and others thought a solid race was possible, him rounding out the top-10 is a surprise. This will no doubt rally his enthusiasm and commitment for 2018 – a seminal performance.

 

NOTABLES:

The UK’s Damian Hall had an incredible race finishing 12th and top Brit. He only started racing a few years ago and he must be wishing he started earlier! David Laney was the USA’s prime contender for top-5 after two previous solid performances, he finished 14th. Other notable top-10 contenders such as Jeff Browning, Julien Chorier, Jason Schlarb, Tofol Castanyer, Sage Canaday and Miguel Heras all had mixed days. Most finished but Heras and Castanyer dropped. It is important to note that despite the weather and the high-level of competition, I consider the drop-out rate in the men’s race to be low.

Now we just need to wait one year to see how this year’s seminal race impacts on future editions.

It is a great time for the sport!

Matterhorn Ultraks 2017 Race Summary – Migu Run Skyrunner World Series

The Matterhorn provides a stunning backdrop for Switzerland’s Matterhorn Ultraks race, a 49km Skyrunning race with 3600m of positive and negative gain. Now in it’s 5th edition, the race once again is in the Migu Run  Skyrunner® World Series.

It is a magical race that provides a circular journey that starts and concludes in the picture postcard mountain town of Zermatt with the towing Matterhorn ever-present to inspire the runners.

The day started with rain and cloud. It was an ominous beginning. But by the time the runners had reached the high-point of the course at thee Gornergrat, the rain was easing, the cloud was clearing and suddenly the sun broke through. What followed was a glorious and hot sunny day.

Whispy white clouds penetrating the blue of the sky, we all knew though that it wasn’t going to last… with 2 hours of running the sky turned grey, the rain arrived and low mist enveloped the mountains; the beautiful Matterhorn was gone!

Wild expansive space, high mountains and the 3100m Gornergrat provides the high point of the race and the first indication of how the race would play out. Marco De Gasperi was pushing the pace closely followed by Aritz Egea and Eugeni Gil.

In the ladies’ race, Ragna Debats was already dictating the race and the pace but Sheila Aviles and Laia Andreu were very close and chasing together.

A 1000m drop from the summit is broken by a small climb at Riffelalp and then Furi follows at 24km at 1880m. Two short sharp climbs follow, the first to Schwarzsee at 2583m and approximately 28km covered. Here De Gasperi was leading Gil Ocana, Anthamatten and Egea – it was all too close to call! For the ladies, Debats was still at the front, but like the men, anything could happen.

A drop down to 2200m from Schwarzsee was followed with another 500m+ climb and then what follows is mostly a flat runnable plateau that gently weaves up, down and left to right all the way to Trift. De Gasperi had taken the lead now and was flying, Gil Ocana chased but the Italian was looking too strong – he really wanted this victory, it was clear to see. Anthamatten was now in 3rd and Egea in 4th.

A short kick up of 100 to 200m follows Trift and then a fast and furious drop of almost 1000m over a distance of 6km leads to the finish line in Zermatt and the assembled crowds. De Gasperi sealed victory in a new course record, bettering Kilian Jornet’s time and this 2017 course was 1km longer – an incredible run.

Gil Ocana held on for an excellent 2nd and Anthamatten placed 3rd. Once again Egea ran an excellent 4th place.

We also witnessed the race of a rising star, Petter Engdahl who placed 5th.

Debats finally managed to open a gap in the latter stages taking a convincing victory ahead of Laia Andreu who had shadowed Debats all the way to Trift.

Aviles placed 3rd followed by Laurance Yerly and Michaela Mertova.

Skyrunning is not just about the uphill and more often than not, it’s the downhill that determines the winner. Today was all about patience and consistency. Racing is often a mental journey as much physical, De Gasperi and Debats today proved this at the Matterhorn Ultraks.

A full gallery of images are available at iancorless.photoshelter.com

all images ©iancorless.com

Results:

1. Ragna Debats (NED) 5h52’05”
2. Laia Andreu (SPA) 5h53’22”
3. Sheila Avilés Castaño (SPA) 6h00’17”
4. Laurence Yerly (SUI) 6h15’45”
5. Michaela Mertova (CZE) 6h20’36”

‪1 – Marco De Gasperi (4h42’31”)‬
‪2 – Eugeni Gil Ocaña (4h45’15”)‬
‪3 – Martin Anthamatten (4h48’59”)‬
4 – Aritz Egea (4h53’50”)
5 – Petter Engdahl (5h00’46”)

Episode 141 – Dave Mackey and Kelvin T Reid and a ‘surprise’ Guest

Episode 141 of Talk Ultra is all about inspiration and fighting back! If episode 141 doesn’t make you look at yourself and your running then we have failed as a podcast… We bring you a full and in-depth interview with Dave Mackey who had an accident whilst running and recently made the decision to amputate his leg… We have a surprise guest appearance with Hillary Allen. We also speak with Kelvin T Reid who in 2016 was diagnosed with ALS and continues to run ultras. Speedgoat is also here to co-host!
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*****
00:14:48 NEWS
Sierre-Zinal
The 44th edition of the race in many ways proved that Kilian Jornet is THE best mountain runner in the world, from a one armed victory at Hardrock to a 2:33 victory at this iconic fast race. Robbie Simpson from the UK was 2nd just 14 secs behind and Max King 3rd in 2:34.
For the ladies it was Lucy Wambui Murigi (2015 champ) who beat the 2016 champ Michelle Maier by 6-minutes – 2:58 to 3:05. Ammandine Ferrato 3rd at 3:09.
Bigfoot 200 mile
Jason Kinsella won the men’s race in 55:49 and Van Phan the ladies in 72:22.
Bridger Ridge Run
I am giving this result because next week I am going to be in Bozeman and I want to run this ridge…
Christi Richards and David Sinclair won the 33rd edition of this classic (comparable to Sierre Zinal). It’s 19.65 mile course and the times were 3:06 for the men and 4:10 for the ladies.
Leadville 100
Ian Sharman does it again in 17:34 (his 4th) and I have to say, I think it is time that Ian moved on and picked another race… in past year’s he has sone hard battles but now he is heads and shoulders above the rest… David Tierney was 2nd and Michael Hewitt 3rd, both over an hour back 18:32 and 18:59.
Devon Yanko had a great victory in 20:46, Simona Morbelli 2nd in 21:16 and Christy Burns 3rd in 21:43.
Pikes Peak Ascent
Joe Gray did it again in 2:08 ahead of Touru Miyahara and Seth DeMoor 2:18 and 2:21. Serkalem Biset Abrha won in 2:42 with Anna Mae Flynn and Addie Bracy 2nd and 3rd.
Pikes Peak Marathon
Remi Bonnet had a clear victory in 3:37 – for perspective, Matt Carpenters record is an incredible 3:16. Kristina Mascarenas won the ladies race in 4:09 and Courtney Dauwalter 2nd with Jackie Pirtle-Hall 3rd.
Hillary Allen
Hillary is back home in the USA and recently had another operation on her arm and on her foot. She has a long way to go but the smile is back and she is focussed on recovery. She thanks everyone for all the best wishes and of course, we will support and help Hillary every step of the way.
Ultravasan 90km
Ida Nilsson set a new CR in 6:51 ahead of Johanna Bygdell and the UK’s Jo Meek. Elon Olsson won in 6:07 and Patrick Reagan from the US was 2nd just 1-min back and Henri Ansio 3rd.
Transrockies
Many variations of the race so please check the website for the full results.
Charlie Ware and Catlow Shipeck won the 6-day and for the ladies Amanda Basham and Kelly Henninger, times 16:45 and 19:19.
The solo 6-day race was won by Magdalena Boulet 19:00 and Chad Trammell for the men 15:28.
Squamish 50
Mike Murphy and Lisa Polizzi took top honours in 8:10 and 9:52.
UTMB – wow…
It is going to be one hell of a race! Preview HERE.
*****
00:59:58 Interview with DAVE MACKEY guest appearance w/ Hillary Allen
Dave has been a legend in his own right as an ultra-runner. Check out Ultrasignup, Dave was crushing trails in 2001 and over the years he has had victory upon victory. He has won Way to cool, JFK 50, Zane Grey, Miwok 100k, Vermont 50, Dick Collins Firetrails, Bandera 100k, Waldo 100k and so many more. Add to that 2nd at Western States and string of high-profile top 10’s. But disaster struck whilst out training…
*****
01:54:19 Interview with KELVIN REID 
Kelvin Reid, also known as the UltraCowboy. In October 2016, Kelvin was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease (also called ALS).
*****
UP & COMING RACES

Albania

GlobalLimits Albania 2017 – The Hidden Treasure – | 220 kilometers | September 08, 2017 | website

Australia

New South Wales

100 km | 100 kilometers | August 25, 2017 | website
50 km | 50 kilometers | August 25, 2017 | website

Belgium

Flanders

Oxfam Trailwalker Belgium | 100 kilometers | August 26, 2017 | website

Canada

Alberta

Lost Soul 100 Km Ultra | 100 kilometers | September 08, 2017 | website
Lost Soul 100 Mile Ultra | 100 miles | September 08, 2017 | website

Ontario

Quebec

Chute du Diable 50 km | 50 kilometers | September 02, 2017 | website
Chute du Diable 80 km | 80 kilometers | September 02, 2017 | website

China

SuperRace Inner Mongolia Station 111KM/3Days | 111 kilometers | September 01, 2017 | website

Finland

Eastern Finland

100 km | 100 kilometers | September 02, 2017 | website

France

Alpes-Maritimes

Trail de la Vésubie – 70 km | 68 kilometers | August 26, 2017 | website
Ultra-Trail Côte d’Azur Mercantour | 140 kilometers | August 25, 2017 | website

Bas-Rhin

Ultra Trail du Haut-Koenigsbourg 108 km | 108 kilometers | September 02, 2017 | website

Hautes-Pyrénées

Le Tour des lacs | 80 kilometers | August 26, 2017 | website
Tour des Cirques | 120 kilometers | August 25, 2017 | website

Isère

La Traversée Nord | 85 kilometers | August 25, 2017 | website
L’Echappée Belle Intégrale | 144 kilometers | August 25, 2017 | website

Savoie

Courmayeur Champex Chamonix (CCC) | 98 kilometers | September 01, 2017 | website
North Face Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB) | 166 kilometers | September 01, 2017 | website
Orsières – Champex – Chamonix (OCC) | 53 kilometers | August 31, 2017 | website
Petite Trotte à Léon (PTL) | 290 kilometers | August 28, 2017 | website
Sur les traces des Ducs de Savoie (TDS) | 119 kilometers | August 30, 2017 | website
Tour de la Grande Casse | 63 kilometers | August 26, 2017 | website

Vosges

L’infernal 200 | 204 kilometers | September 08, 2017 | website

Germany

Bavaria

GORE-TEX® Transalpine-Run | 240 kilometers | September 03, 2017 | website

Saarland

RAG-Hartfüßler – Trail 58 km | 58 kilometers | August 27, 2017 | website

Hungary

Hammer 50k Ultra | 50 kilometers | September 02, 2017 | website

Iceland

Fire and Ice | 250 kilometers | August 27, 2017 | website

India

Uttarakhand

Uttarkashi 135 | 135 miles | September 01, 2017 | website

Ireland

Connacht

Back to Back Marathon | 84 kilometers | August 26, 2017 | website
Back to Back Ultra | 78 miles | August 26, 2017 | website
Ultra Marathon | 39 miles | August 26, 2017 | website

Kerry

Kerry Way Ultra | 120 miles | September 01, 2017 | website

Longford

Longford Ultra Marathon | 63 kilometers | August 27, 2017 | website

Mayotte

Mahoraid | 70 kilometers | August 26, 2017 | website

Morocco

65 km | 65 kilometers | August 26, 2017 | website
65 km Relais | 65 kilometers | August 26, 2017 | website

Netherlands

Gelderland

53 km | 53 kilometers | September 03, 2017 | website

New Zealand

Great Naseby Water Race 100 km | 100 kilometers | August 26, 2017 | website
Great Naseby Water Race 160 km | 160 kilometers | August 25, 2017 | website
Great Naseby Water Race 50 km | 50 kilometers | August 26, 2017 | website
Great Naseby Water Race 60 km | 60 kilometers | August 26, 2017 | website
Great Naseby Water Race 80 km | 80 kilometers | August 26, 2017 | website

Norway

Telemark’s Toughest | 81 kilometers | September 02, 2017 | website

Peru

100K | 100 kilometers | August 25, 2017 | website
60 K | 60 kilometers | August 26, 2017 | website

Réunion

Cimasarun | 55 kilometers | August 26, 2017 | website

Slovenia

75 km | 75 kilometers | September 02, 2017 | website

Spain

Catalonia

Pyrenees Stage Run | 240 kilometers | September 03, 2017 | website

Switzerland

Valais

170K | 170 kilometers | September 08, 2017 | website
170 km | 170 kilometers | September 08, 2017 | website
Ultra Tour Monte Rosa | 117 kilometers | September 06, 2017 | website
Ultra Tour Monte Rosa – Stage Race | 117 kilometers | September 06, 2017 | website

United Kingdom

Anglesey

Ring o’ Fire | 131 miles | September 01, 2017 | website

Buckinghamshire

Ridgeway Challenge | 86 miles | August 26, 2017 | website

Cumbria

The La Sportiva Grand Tour of Skiddaw | 44 miles | September 02, 2017 | website

East Sussex

100km | 100 kilometers | August 26, 2017 | website
50 km | 50 kilometers | August 26, 2017 | website

Greater London

T184 | 184 miles | August 25, 2017 | website

Hertfordshire

Chiltern Way Ultra 100k | 100 kilometers | August 27, 2017 | website
Chiltern Way Ultra 200k | 200 kilometers | August 26, 2017 | website

Stockport

Bullock Smithy | 56 miles | September 02, 2017 | website

USA

California

100 Mile | 100 miles | August 25, 2017 | website
50 Mile | 50 miles | August 26, 2017 | website
Back 50K | 50 kilometers | August 26, 2017 | website
Bulldog 50K Ultra | 50 kilometers | August 26, 2017 | website
Castle Peak 100K | 100 kilometers | August 26, 2017 | website
Diablo Trail 50K Run | 50 kilometers | August 27, 2017 | website
Front 50K | 50 kilometers | August 25, 2017 | website
Tahoe 200 | 200 miles | September 08, 2017 | website
Tamalpa Headlands 50K | 50 kilometers | August 26, 2017 | website

Colorado

Flaming Foilage Relay | 160 miles | September 08, 2017 | website
Ragnar Relay Colorado | 200 miles | August 25, 2017 | website

Florida

The Pinellas Trail Challenge | 46 miles | September 02, 2017 | website

Georgia

Yeti Snakebite 50K | 50 kilometers | August 27, 2017 | website

Maine

Last Man Standing | 100 miles | September 02, 2017 | website
Standard Relay Team (5-8 Person) | 128 miles | September 08, 2017 | website
Ultra Relay Team (4 Person) | 128 miles | September 08, 2017 | website

Massachusetts

The Rock Run | 50 miles | September 02, 2017 | website

Michigan

Hallucination 100 Mile | 100 miles | September 08, 2017 | website
LSD 100K | 100 kilometers | September 08, 2017 | website
Ultra Marathon | 50 miles | August 26, 2017 | website

Minnesota

Superior Sawtooth 100 Mile | 100 miles | September 08, 2017 | website

Missouri

Forrest Gump Challenge 50 Mile Ultra-marathon | 50 miles | September 02, 2017 | website

Montana

The Rut 50K | 50 kilometers | September 02, 2017 | website

New York

100 km Trail Race | 100 kilometers | August 27, 2017 | website
50 km Trail Race | 50 kilometers | August 27, 2017 | website

North Carolina

50K | 50 kilometers | September 07, 2017 | website

Oklahoma

3 Half Marathons in 3 Days | 39 miles | September 02, 2017 | website
3 Marathons in 3 Days | 78 miles | September 02, 2017 | website

Oregon

Hood to Coast Relay | 199 miles | August 25, 2017 | website

Pennsylvania

Baker Trail UltraChallenge | 50 miles | August 26, 2017 | website

Texas

Reveille Peak Ranch – 60km | 60 kilometers | August 26, 2017 | website

Utah

Wasatch Front 100 Mile Endurance Run | 100 miles | September 08, 2017 | website

Virginia

Iron Mountain 50 mile Trail Run | 50 miles | September 02, 2017 | website
The Blude Ridge Relay | 208 miles | September 08, 2017 | website
The Ring – Massanutten Trail Circuit Run | 71 miles | September 02, 2017 | website

Washington

Day Two- (September 7) 50k | 50 kilometers | September 03, 2017 | website

Wisconsin

Lake Michigan Trail 50K | 50 kilometers | September 03, 2017 | website
*****
CLOSE
02:10:59
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I’m Ian Corless and he is Speedgoat Karl
Keep running
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Website – talkultra.com

Dolomites SkyRace Race Summary and Images – 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner World Series

The Migu Run Skyrunner World Series 2017 continued a pace with the 20th edition of the Dolomites SkyRace. It was always going to be a memorable one and the race didn’t disappoint!

Thunderstorms, rain and low cloud resulted in a delayed start by 30-minutes. It was hoped that this delay would allow the weather to clear. The rain did stop but the cloud came lower. Unfortunately, the final section of climb to the summit of Piz Boe at 3252m was pulled from the race for safety reasons. This resulted in less kilometers and less vertical gain and ascent.

Course records of course don’t count in situations like this, the previous bests held by Kilian Jornet and Megan Kimmel. Neither of these stars were running today, however, defending champions Tadei Pivk and Laura Orgue, respective 2016 winners were expected to dictate the race.

Laura Orgue did not disappoint, her 4th from the previous day’s VK soon forgotten, the Spaniard dictated the pace and looked strong throughout. At the new summit of the race her margin of lead was in the minutes and all she needed was a sold descent to Canazei to seal victory once again – she did it! Laura’s time 2:36:29 almost 90-seconds quicker than rising Skyrunning star, Hillary Geraldi from the USA who produced a stunning descent to go past early 2nd placed runner Hilde Alders who held on for 3rd, their times 2:37:55 and 2:39:55.

Silvia Rampazzo placed 4th, Zuzana Krchova 5th, Magdalena Kozielska 6th, Oihana Azkorbebetia 7th, Stephanie Jimenez 8th, Katrine Villumsen 9th and Paola Gelpi rounded out the top-10.

In the men’s race, VK and Sky specialist Remi Bonnet dictated the pace on the climb and has a substantial gab over David Magnani, Martin Anthamatten, Ruy UedaMarco De Gasperi, Jan Margarit and who’s who of Skyrunning talent. Pre-race favourite, Tadei Pivk, was in the latter half of the top-10 and not looking good!

 

At the high-point of the course the wild and rough descent to the line follows. It’s not for the feint hearted and Remi Bonnet was forced to reduce his pace protecting an injury that almost kept him out of the sport in 2016. This opened the doorway for David Magnani and Marco De Gasperi.

However, it was Jan Margarit who seized the bull by the horns and in his own words, “I ran the fastest descent that I could!” Fast it was, he moved from 5th to take the lead. The pressure was now on with a neck-for-neck race to the line, it was so close but Margarit held on by just 22-seconds to beat Magnani to the line, De Gasperi followed in 3rd just 23-seconds later. It was the close! A real race and just 45-seconds separated the top-3 runners – 2:06:20, 2:06:42 and 2:07:05. All credit to Skyrunning legend De Gasperi who is twice the age of the duo ahead of him.

Remi Bonnet held on for 4th, Martin Anthamatten 5th, Pascal Egli 6th, Martin Stofner 7th, Tadei Pivk 8th, Yuy Ueda 9th and Nadir Maguet rounded out the top-10.

It was a day like no other, fast racing, unpredictable weather and the confirmation of Skyrunning legends and the rise of new ones – just how a 20th edition of a race should be.

Attention now turns to this coming weekend and the Comapedrosa SkyRace in Andorra, in addition to a 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner World Series race, the Skyrunning Youth Championships will also take place.

 

Hardrock 100 2017 Preview

As races go, the Hardrock 100 has anticipation and attention way beyond its relatively diminutive size – less than 150 runners will toe the line in 2017! However, as those who have run the race confirm, Colorado’s San Juan Mountains and the Hardrock 100 route is something to embrace. If proof were needed, Kilian Jornet has run and won the race three times and he will be back again in 2017. For Kilian, the course is tough, beautiful, offers a challenge but maybe more importantly, it’s low-key. He can turn up, walk around, race and have little of the media and fan frenzy he would get in Europe, irrespective of the size of the race. Kilian’s Salomon teammate Anna Frost also confirms that this area of the USA is something pretty darn special – so much so she currently calls Durango her home.

It’s a high altitude race, with much of the race taking place above 3000m and the high point coming around 4200m. In total, the runners climb and over 10.000m whilst covering 100 challenging miles.

Last year, Anna Frost topped the ladies podium and Jason Schlarb and Kilian Jornet were the joint male winners, all three therefore are guaranteed an entry for 2017 and all three have confirmed participation but Anna Frost is still unsure if she will toe the line – more on that later.

It’s a constant frustration for me that we never see a fully stacked field at Hardrock. Don’t get me wrong, there is always plenty of class up at the front but it often feels that the winner will come from a small and select group of 4 or 5 runners. I think we all know that so many top elite runners would love to toe the line but the Hardrock lottery is against them – I guess it does add some charm and anticipation to the race.

MEN

I don’t think we will see Kilian Jornet hold hands this year but I do anticipate he will spend much of the race in the company of 1 or 2 runners until beyond the midway point – it’s a big day out for Kilian in an awesome place and he enjoys the company. Of course, he may be enticed by setting a super fast time? If he does, then we can expect him to hit the front alone maybe somewhere around half-way, if not, he may take the race by the horns in the final quarter. Whatever he decides, Kilian will win barring an accident.

Jason Schlarb has dined out on crossing the line at the 2016 Hardrock for one year and who can blame him. He has done something that so few can do, keep up with the Catalan. Earlier this year Jason raced The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica with a solid run and then he recently placed just inside the top-10 at Transvulcania. For the last month or so he’s been in the San Juans preparing and it’s fair to assume he will be ready for battle.

Read HERE

Listen HERE and HERE

Iker Karrera is an interesting addition to the 2017 line-up and after being a ‘one-to-watch’ at so many races in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015, I can’t help but feel Iker’s been a little awol for the last 18-months and that leaves a question mark. Iker on his day is one of the best there is, especially at long distance races with loads of vert – he won Tor des Geants in 2013 for example. If he has the form that provided him with 2nd at UTMB in 2014 then we have an interesting race on our hands.

Karl Meltzer has won Hardrock five times and he’s back. He will be the first to admit he doesn’t have the speed to keep up with Kilian but Speedgoat is a fox. He appears to have recovered well post his Appalachian Trail FKT and he’s been sensible by not rushing things. He won Zane Grey 50 which prompted me and Speedgoat to confirm, ‘there is life in the old dog yet!’ If he’s feeling good, he has the long game to put on a great race and few can keep up with Speedgoat’s hiking pace – an essential skill for Hardrock. The AT HERE

Mike Foote is another mystery for this years race. Not that I or you have to question who he is, the question is more about his form? Ever since he did his FKT project with Mike Wolfe, Foote seems to have raced a little on the back burner. Having said that, mountain races are his thing and he has a long list of impressive results at UTMB and he has been 2nd at Hardrock. He will start slow and then move up making up places and time in the final third.

Nick Pedatella was 4th at Hardrock in 2012 but I know little of his current form. Experience alone and a top-5 performance in the past makes him someone to make a note of.

Adam Campbell was 3rd at Hardrock in 2015 and 2014. As many of you will know, Adam was wiped out of 2016 with a near death accident. Read HERE. No pressure on Adam in 2017 and I’ll make no guesses or predictions, to see Adam toe the line will be a wonderful sight and one that he and many of us thought would not happen. Read HERE

Mr Hardrock, Joe Grant, is back again! The lottery gods love Joe and Joe loves Hardrock. He placed 2nd in 2012 and in many respects, that podium place set Joe up for the runner who he is today. I say runner, but I feel Joe goes beyond the tag of ultra-runner and I see him more of an adventurer. He’s taken on some huge challenges over the years, examples coming with the Iditarod, his Colorado 14ers FKT and expeditions via bike. Pretty sure Joe will treat Hardrock as another awesome adventure in the mountains and if things go well, we can see him in or around the top-5.

Other names to watch to be in and around the top-10 are: Mike Wardian, Coury brothers (Jamil and Nick), Grant Guise and Scott Jaime.

LADIES

Anna Frost has won the race the last 2-years and who would want to bet against her? Frosty when in form is unstoppable and when she is not in form, she can often dig deeper than any other runner I know. I was with Frosty in Costa Rica (Read HERE) and spending much time chatting – I was well aware that she was switching into a new phase of her life. At Zegama-Aizkorri she participated but was way off the top-10 and at Ultra SkyMarathon Madeira she dropped. All things considered, I think Frosty’s prep for this years Hardrock is behind where she would like it to be and therefore she has three choices: 1. She will run because she loves the course and wants to irrespective of placing. 2. She will think that she can win it and be mentally prepared for the pain that will be required or 3. She’s over it and can’t get herself set up for the physical and mental challenge it will bring. Of course, the only descent thing to do was ask Frosty… “I’m doing Hardrock! It’s been a mental and physical battle this year but one I am winning right now. Definitely not on competitive form but I am doing HR because I love it! ….I’ll get it done! It deserves that.” So. it looks like it’s no1.

Caroline Chaverot is probably putting the fear of god in the ladies’ competition. In 2016 this French lady was unstoppable and for me was the stand out runner, male or female, in 2016. The depth of here ability incredible, her range (long or short) her skill (fast or mountainous) was unmatched. 2017 kicked off with a rough patch and an early withdrawal from Transgrancanaria, what followed was some quiet time away and then boom, she was back with victory at Maxi-Race Annecy and most recently, Lavaredo. Her victory at UTMB last year sets her up perfectly for Hardrock and I think she will win the race.

Nathalie Mauclair, also from France, can’t be ruled out of the podium places but her recent form seems a little below recent years. She was 2nd at Marathon des Sables earlier this year. Her record at Diagonale des Fous, champion in 2013 and 2014, is the best indicator of success in the San Juans.

The wild card goes to local girl, Hannah Green who has been training her butt off and is super strong and young. She may lack experience but has heart and if she can hold on and manage herself she could do it and be up on the podium. (Hot tip from Frosty)

Three time winner Darcy Piceu (formerly Africa) gave Frosty a battle in 2015 with a really strong run – Frosty triumphed with a late surge. Missing the race last year, it’s fair to assume that Darcy will be fired up for a great run. She has the experience, no question, not sure she has the speed of an in form Frost, Chaverot or Mauclair.

Darla Askew is the last prime contender for a win and podium – she’s placed 2nd before and that is backed up with two 3rd places.

Ones to watch – Jamie Frink, Betsy Kalmeyer, Tina Ure and Rachel Bucklin.

Jim Walmsley and Lighting the Fire – Western States 2017

Ryan looked at me and asked, “You going for sub-14?” It was a gut check moment where I realized I needed to commit to myself on what my goals were for the day. So, I said “Yeah Baby!” and Ryan pulled back and let me go.”

So, guess what, Jim Walmsley didn’t win Western States. Yes. Who’d have thought it? Well actually, I think a great deal of people thought he wouldn’t win but the pre-race Western States PR machine got rolling and before I knew it and ultra-fans around the world knew it, Jim had got the Cougar and the buckle and the race was over.

Thing was, the race hadn’t even started!

Don’t get me wrong, Jim inspired the ultra-running audience in 2016 with some great racing, stunning FKT’s and an almost fairy tale Western States. Yes, it was an almost fairy tale because as we now all know, he went of course whilst in the lead and then walked it in way off the top-10. 

It was a day of what might have been. 

I interviewed Jim post Western States and you can listen to the audio HERE and read the interview HERE. I like Jim, I like someone who really believes in their ability. Is it arrogance, yes, I think it is. But I didn’t believe then and I don’t believe now that Jim’s arrogance was designed to upset anyone – on the contrary, I think Jim desired to be liked.

Post the 2016 Western States it came as no surprise that the ball started to roll and as expected, Jim got a sponsor (Hoka One One) received invites and gained plenty of air time. It was going to happen, it’s the way the world is. However, in and amongst all this buzz, Andrew Miller, the guy who won Western States was almost forgotten. I tried to interview him but he didn’t reply… his victory was so unexpected that Salomon (who he is sponsored by) who had a photographer following the other Salomon runners had not planned to follow the young gun up front who took victory. Andrew’s victory was remarkable and yes, he was the youngest ever champ! I neglected the story as so many others did because the media and buzz was about Jim. 

Cut to 2017 and Jim was back with more great form, fast running and FKT’s. He stuck his neck out early on and said that a ’14’ at Western States was his target and that is what he’d do! 

No keeping the powder dry, no reservations, no question marks – it was clear cut, “I will run 14 -hours.”

We heard it so many times that everyone started to believe it and as the 2017 Western States approached, like I said earlier on, it almost felt that the Cougar and the buckle had been awarded.

I’ll hold my hands up, I said Jim would win but I also clearly stated that I felt that the person to beat Jim on race day was Jim. Running too fast, too hard, not respecting the conditions and not respecting the competition would be the downfall of Jim and it was.

In my opinion, Jim ran a very poorly judged race. He learnt nothing from 2016 and the mistakes made and he went and repeated them. I believe that the PR machine had snowballed so much that maybe Jim had lost perspective?

You see racing is not the same as an FKT. Racing is about being first across the line and that doesn’t need to be a fast time, it just needs to be faster than everyone else.

Everything was against Jim? 

He talked his race up with a level of transparency that the ultra-community embraced. They loved his goals and strategy. In the week before the race a film was released that delved into why Jim runs and how it was an escape from inner demons. We all love an inner-demon story and let’s face it, ultra-running is full of troubled souls. As a community, we could all relate to this story and how the redemptive powers of a long run heals us.

Video here

Jim was on a pedestal and while some would want to see him stumble and fall, the majority were rooting for him – they wanted him to have the moment that was ‘snatched’ away from him in 2016.

On analysis though, Jim losing the Western States in 2016 wasn’t because he went of course, it was because (in my opinion) he ran too fast and too hard and he blew-up. The signs were there with his swim at the Rucky Chucky, his navigation error was no doubt due to a lack of concentration with fatigue.

So, cut to 2017 with 8 of last year’s top-10 returning and some serious new competition, Jim would have to run smart to win. I said pre-race, “I personally think Jim should try and win the race and forget CR’s, especially with the snow. If he does that, I think he will win. However, the only person that is going to beat Jim in my opinion is Jim himself by racing too hard and too fast looking for that time.” 

I went on to say, “The surprises, although not surprises to trail running fans may well come from outside last year’s top-10. Ryan Sandes is back and he’s addicted after placing 2nd in 2012. I don’t think he can beat Walmsley in a toe-for-toe run but if his form and fitness is good, the podium is a possibility. For me though, Alex Nichols and Jonas Buud are the ones to potentially upset the apple cart in what is essentially a runner’s race. Both guys excel at running fast and Nichols gets the nod for handling the vert and snow.”

Listen to the pre-race chat (and post-race chat) from experienced old hands like Ian Sharman, Jeff Browning and so on. They knew it was going to be a day of grinding out a finish. Ryan Sandes has been 2nd at Western States, he knew what was in store, he’s won Leadville, won Transgrancanaria and he is known from coming from behind to take control in the latter third to clinch victory. Alex Nichols, new to the 100-mile distance but with a Run Rabbit Run victory under his belt, all these runners respected what was ahead.

Did Jim respect what was ahead?

Ryan looked at me and asked, “You going for sub-14?” It was a gut check moment where I realized I needed to commit to myself on what my goals were for the day. So, I said “Yeah Baby!” and Ryan pulled back and let me go.”

Credit @mykehphoto Instagram

Jim will be applauded for that commitment, but what was that commitment based on, was it the snow he was running on at the time that was sapping everyone’s strength and causing them to hold back? 

At the top of the escarpment he already had 7-minutes on the competition, a lead that he would extend beyond 30-minutes.

“…but then immediately you get into the high country. What ended up happening is that it was icy, rugged and lots of falling, and pretty slow. I came through the 16-mile split like one minute off the year before, but I was way more efficient in 2016.”

Quote from runnersworld.com interview here.

But all the early efforts would come back to haunt him as the heat of the canyons started to punish an already tired body. The pace Jim had decided to run would give him a course record (note I don’t say victory) but it wasn’t sustainable. He dropped at mile 78. Whereas Sandes and the competition ran smart races and let’s look at the finish times, victory came with a time of 16:19:37, Alex Nichols 2nd in 16:48:23 and Mark Hammond 16:52:57. 

Compare to 2016 when Andrew Miller won in 15:39:36 or Rob Krar’s 2015 time of 14:48:59. As Western States veteran Ian Sharman said, ‘That was the toughest Western States I have ever run.” If perspective were needed, he’s done 8 and finished in the top-10 every time.

It certainly appeared Jim had all the signs and either ignored them believing his own pre-race PR or when he fully realized it was too late…

“I really wanted to slow down and try to maintain a more comfortable, easy pace and take care of myself really well. I would try to take a little more time through aid stations to slow down that rhythm, but I was still clicking good splits. Usually that’s a good thing and nice, but it ended up being the downfall. Not being able to slow down meant I was just overheating. Around Devil’s Thumb [mile 48] things got warm. Michigan Bluff [mile 55] is a hot climb. I was pretty beat up by the time I got to the top of Michigan Bluff.”

Quote from runnersworld.com interview here.

Jim is a great runner. He will win Western States, I am sure of it. But for now, he is a great 100km ‘ish’ runner, he has the results and FKT’s to prove it. However, at the 100-mile distance, thus far, he’s yet to prove he can run the pace he wants for that final 30 or so miles. As Speedgoat Karl Meltzer always says, “The race only begins here!”

If Jim had run slower, could he have won the race? 

I am aware I am going to open myself up for some criticism here but let’s face it, EVERYONE was talking about Jim pre-Western states – post race, it’s all gone a little quiet.

I personally feel somewhat a fraud writing another article about Jim when really, I should be writing about Ryan Sandes and how he has slowly but surely persevered to win the race he has always wanted to win – it has not been an easy journey. The rise of Alex Nichols, arguably one of the most talented runners out there – he’s excelled in Europe, topped podiums in Skyrunning and now has clinched two 100-mile victories. Believe me, the USA has a potential UTMB champion in Alex as he has already laid down the platform with victories at Mont-Blanc 80km. And let’s not forget the ladies, look what happened in that race with a surprise victory from Cat Bradley and how the ‘sure’ podium potential of Magda, Kaci and Steph didn’t pan out the way we expected – Magda placed 2nd and Kaci and Steph fought the ultra-demons for a hard-fought finishes way below their pre-race expectations.

This isn’t an anti-Jim post. It’s a post to generate some debate and analysis on many aspects our sport, not only Jim’s Western States performance.

Placing a runner on a pedestal can only mean that a fall will come, is that fair to that runner? I wonder in retrospect if Jim now thinks all the pre-race PR was a good thing? I also wonder, will Jim race a different way in the future?  

We’ve seen it before with Zach Miller, Hayden Hawks and yes Tim Freriks who have, ‘Gone big or gone home!’ Tim pulled it off at Transvulcania with a stunning win, Zach and Hayden have pulled it off too but by equal measure, but they have also failed. Is the failure part just an occupational risk? You know, ‘you win some, you lose some!’

Jim is an exciting racer and Western States certainly gained some additional PR in 2017 with a fireball on the start line. But as the fireball said post-race, “Sometimes when you’re not careful trying to set off fireworks you light yourself on fire.” 

I love Jim’s style, his enthusiasm and transparency and in the weeks and months to come, Jim will do much self-analysis. He’s surrounded by supporters and they are dedicated to the cause, they don’t want him to run any other way, they want him to go big or to go home!

Jim ran beyond his limits and found his own. He laid this all out for everyone to see and in defeat he has been saluted and humbled. 

A new chapter begins.

Credits:

@mykehphoto Instagram and runnersworld.com interview here.