inov 8 X-TALON 210 Shoe Review

The inov 8 X-TALON range for 2018 has had a reworking. Always a tricky subject, especially with such a classic shoe in the inov 8 line-up. But as history shows, this shoe is 10-years old and has had many incarnations.

So, what is different for 2018?

Well, first and foremost, STICKY GRIP. This new outsole compound is inov 8’s new secret weapon for holding a runner on the ground when conditions are challenging, in particular, wet and slippery rocks.

The second key aspect is the reworking of the shoes upper. Now depending which X-TALON you have, the upper will be different. For example, I have just reviewed the X-TALON 230 HERE and the upper on the 230 is a world away from the upper on the 210.

So, here goes!

THE SHOE

Orange! Whoa, yep, you are going to be seen coming in these babies on your first outing. I strongly suggest, going in the garden and rubbing them in the soil before venturing out. I wore sunglasses for the first day of testing. I joke obviously, but the 210 is a bright shoe, one could easily be put off by the colour, but let’s face it, if you are using the shoe in the place it is intended for, they are only bright for one outing!

In comparison to the X-TALON 230 (here) the 210 appears super light and airy – funny as there is only 20g difference between the shoes. The upper is light, very breathable and has the now traditional inov 8 overlays that gives the upper its structure. They are light and fast and gladly they have a gusseted tongue to give a slipper like feel. They feel very different to the 230’s – I would go as far to say that they are not comparable. They are completely two different shoes. So, whereas in the past you may have two pairs of X-Talon’s with different drops and have a similar feel between the two, now that is not the case. So, if you fancy 230’s with more cushioning, 6mm drop and a tough upper, make sure you try them first.

The 210 is 1 arrow, so, 3mm drop. Fit is scaled as 2, so, they are at the narrow end of inov 8’s fit gauge but not as narrow as the 230’s which scale as 1. Have to say, I prefer the fit of the 2.

The outsole, like the 230’s, is STICKY GRIP with classic 8mm lugs – a winning combo!

Cushioning is pretty minimal with 6mm at the front and 9mm at the rear.

This is a shoe that has racing written all over it.

MORE DETAIL

The fit is slipper like and the 2-grade fit is pretty sweet allowing a little room for toe splay but not at the loss of control or precision when running. Of course, fit is all relative and based on an individual’s foot. However, I keep saying this, if you want a shoe for fast and technical running, it can’t be sloppy. It must fit and hold the foot – the 210’s does this perfectly.

The upper is very soft and flexible. The fit and security all comes from the overlays and in particular the 5 that lead to the lace eyelets.

The overlay extends round to the front of the shoe and the outsole extends up to provide a little toe protection. Toe protection is minimal, especially when one compares to the 230’s!

The upper is very breathable and there is method to this! inov 8 are recommending this shoe for the obvious fell, mountain, trail, obstacle course running but with the new addition of swim/run – a fast growing sport! Cleverly, the upper does not absorb or retain water and it has been Designed to actively encourage water (or sweat even) to escape. Obviously, this is key for swim/run but I can also see this being a great feature for any races or courses where one may be in and out of water. For example, the 210 would be a great shoe for the multi-stage race in Costa Rica, The Coastal Challenge – here participants on certain stages are in and out of water all the time. The heal box is snug, comfortable, holds the foot perfectly and caused no issues .

The outsole is a key feature of the 210 just as in the 230. STICKY GRIP is the new secret weapon. Basically, it’s a new compound of outsole that is softer and stickier than previous inov 8 outsoles. In mud, on trails, on fells etc there is little noticeable difference as the 8mm lugs do the job they have all done. What is noticeable is the additional grip on rock, particularly when wet. This is a great USP and maybe even more so for this shoe with a possible swim/run audience. 

IN USE

Unlike the 230, I slipped the 210 on and they immediately felt great – slipper like and definitely no breaking in required. I wore them around my home and soon didn’t notice them.

The 2 fit is as mentioned is narrow/ precision but not super narrow and I really liked the feel – this was helped by the soft upper and the gusseted tongue. The shoes upper combination works really well and once I adjusted the laces to personal feel and preference, I just knew that I was going to be happy in them.

With minimal cushioning and 3mm drop, this is not a shoe for everyone, or maybe I should clarify and say, that for some people, it is a shoe they should use sparingly. It’s a fast and light shoe designed for an efficient runner. The shoe is very flexible and just urges you to push on with the META FLEX on the outsole really helping with the propulsive phase.

Although cushioning is relatively minimal, the EVA FUSION works really well and providing excellent comfort. The shoes are so low to the ground, they are a little like taking a F1 car out for a drive. Hoka One One shoes for example would be a double decker bus.

A mile of road had me clipping along, right on my toes and then I suddenly realized I didn’t have the fitness for the pace the shoes made me want to run. So, racers out there are going to love this feel! On a muddy tow path, the 8mm studs gripped as they have always done and I had 100% confidence, the low-drop adding to that secure feel.

The 210 certainly gets you on your toes. I purposely tried to run slower and heal strike to get a feel of how the shoe would respond – it just felt all wrong. So, I speeded back up and got back on my toes.

On a wet grassy bank, the outsole gripped away and in the really thick mud that followed, I was over my ankles with soft, wet, brown stuff. Here I noticed two things, the 8mm lugs were trying to gain purchase in the harder ground below, at times they did, at times they didn’t – that is the nature of thick mud. One thing is for sure, in most other shoes I would have hit the deck! The second thing I noticed was how the shoes filled with mud but noticeably on the harder trail that followed, the shoes squelched and squelched, and I could see the mud escape from the uppers! I normally miss a small river on my run, yes, to avoid getting my feet wet, but I had to test the swim/ run capability. Apart from the water being bloody freezing, the shoes and uppers worked a treat. I was really impressed to see the water escape as I ran down the follow-on trails.

Wet rocks have been a hit and miss affair with inov 8 in the past but I can confirm, just as I found in the 230’s (here) that the new STICKY GRIP is a huge step forward for the inov 8 outsole. It is definitely getting more purchase and thus providing more security which in turn allows one the confidence to run at speed.

Most of my runs in the 210 have been between 5-12 miles. I haven’t gone past 100 minutes in any one run and in all honesty, for me, I would probably say 2-hours would be the max I would want to run in such a light, minimal and low-drop shoe. But that is me! My preferred drop is 6 or 8mm and most scenarios I prefer a little more cushioning. A light, fast and efficient runner I am sure could run longer in them!

Nearly all my runs have 1 mile of road at the start and end. With 108 miles in the 210 I can see the impact of the road sections, but it is not worrying. In all honesty, the 210 should only be used off-road and if I could, that is what I would do. The reality for most of us though is that a little road will always appear in our runs, so it is good to get a feel of the durability of the new STICKY GRIP. It’s still too early to say what that life is.

With extensive experience in Skyrunning races, I see the 210 being a perfect match for VK’s and SKY races (typically 20-30km) – in particular, the STICKY GRIP outsole would be most welcome on the technical, rocky and often wet ridges that can be encountered say in the Dolomites or the Alps.

CONCLUSION

The 210 is a winning shoe for efficient runners who want to be low to the ground feeling the terrain as though running barefoot without the discomfort. The combination of the light upper, precision fit and new sticky outsole makes them really stand out as a shoe distance racing shoe for fell, mountain and OC races. The upper certainly works really well at expelling water, so, if swim/run is your thing, they will be worth a look.

At 3mm drop and minimal cushioning, the 210 is definitely not for everyone. Certainly, I could not run in a shoe like this every day, but I think it’s fair to say that inov 8 don’t intent that to be the case. By way of clarity, the 210’s are a 2-seater car that sits in the garage, only to be used every now and again, whereas normally every day you drive around, say in a Ford Focus. Maybe the X-Talon 230’s are the Ford Focus and the X-Talon 210 is the Porsche 911?

inov 8 X-TALON 230 Shoe Review

The inov 8 X-TALON 230 may well be the most interesting shoe the UK based brand has released in many year’s. That is not to say that they have had dull shoes for the last 24-months, on the contrary, however, the X-TALON 230 feels like the next step!

The X-TALON is well established in the inov-8 line-up, as inov 8 say, it’s the ‘original!’ So, what is difference?

Well, two things stand out!

The upper

The outsole

Inov 8 may not me like me mentioning the VJ Sport IRock 2 but last year, that shoe stepped up the mark and blew my socks off in terms of upper, outsole, comfort and grip.

The X-TALON 230 is now a rival.

The upper is unlike any other shoe in the inov 8 range – it is bullet proof! This will be music to the ears of many inov 8 users who have wanted a shoe that is more durable to the rigours of fell, mountain, trail, obstacle racing and orienteering. At first glance, the shoe looks heavy and then you pick it up and suddenly you realise it is not!

 The toe area is well protected with a good solid bumper but it’s the upper material and the overlays that stand out. There is a great deal of protection going on here. It has the Met-Cradle as seen on other inov shoes, this version is beefier.

The heal box is classic inov 8 providing a snug and secure hold. The upper is non-water absorbing which combined with the fitted gusset tongue should mean dry socks providing you don’t go ankle deep in mud or water.

A reinforced area goes all the way around the shoe and above this, reinforced sections lead to the lace loops which again, add more security and hold to the shoe.

At the rear, the shoes have the inov 8 gaiter loop and the All-Terrain Gaiter can be added to add to the overall protection and comfort of the shoe.

 It is a precision fit shoe classed as scale 1* – this means the narrowest shoe that inov 8 do. For example, a 5 is wide (2E fit). So, if you are a Hobbit, this is not for you! To clarify though, when one is running on challenging, muddy and technical trail, a shoe should be close fitting with a precision feel. I don’t consider myself to be a ‘1’ fit but the control a tight-fitting shoe is worth it. For me, the comports would come with how long I could run in such a precision shoe before having any discomfort, for others this is not a problem. I certainly had no issue with the X-Talon 230 for 4 hours on the trails. Drop is ‘2 arrow’ which is 6mm and the cushioning is 7mm at the front and 13mm at the rear. So, for many, this is not a shoe for ultras – again though, this is so dependent on experience and conditioning.

There is certainly enough cushioning for many hours. Comfort comes from POWERFLOW+ which has better shock absorption and energy return.

The STICKY GRIP is arguably the second big talking point on the shoe. The classic 8mm lug has been retained and as we all know, the X-Talon grip has long excelled in the mud or on fells. However, grip has been compromised in the past on wet rock…

Now inov 8 have a compound that sticks and grabs rock like a good climbing shoe. It’s a huge improvement and one that increases confidence dramatically. It’s a winner over the old outsole.

The usual Meta Flex is present at the front which allows the foot to bend easily, aiding the propulsive phase of the run. A Fascia Band and Meta Plate add protection from rocks and harder objects – something that inov 8 users have been asking for some time. 

IN USE 

Slipping the 230 on it felt different. I have to say, I have been using inov 8 shoes for years and in any model, I am a UK9.5, in the 230 I questioned if I had the correct size? They somehow felt too long?

I held them against the new X-Talon 210 (review *HERE *to follow) and they may be just a ‘little’ larger – nothing to worry about. I walked around in them looking for them to settle.

The shoe has a gusseted tongue so holding the foot is really secure and the heal box has the usual comfort and feel I would expect. But something was niggling me?

I left the shoes on all day and as the time past and the more I flexed and moved my foot, the better the 230 started to feel. I concluded it was all down to the new upper being considerably more durable and less flexible than other models I have used before. So, keep this in mind. I have never had to break an inov 8 shoe in before, but I did with the 230. 

I wore the shoes for a good 8 hours before going for a run – an 8-mile loop that includes a little of everything. A 1-mile road start, canal towpath and then open fields, fell, and rocky sections before returning back to the road for a finishing 1.5 mile of the hard stuff.

Grip was noticeable on the road with the 230 making that classic sucking noise as I lifted each foot – reassuring! Think it’s fair to say, you want to avoid roads and tarmac in these shoes if you can, they are for off-road and while they handle the hard stuff well, that new STICKY GRIP will soon start to wear away.

Off road they had classic X-TALON feel with the 8mm lugs gripping just as my favourite X-Talon 212’s had done in the past. The noticeable difference came from the additional protection – I was feeling less stones digging into my foot and when I went on wet rocks, the grip continued to hold. The STICKY GRIP is a big improvement.

The upper will be a winner in the long-term but does feel different and I have to say, makes the shoe feel more inflexible. Less slipper like. But it will mean that the upper will last for considerably longer. The question will be, can the STICKY GRIP last as long as the upper? It’s too early to say.

Providing you don’t get mud or water coming over the top of the shoe, your feet will remain dry. The new upper along with the gusseted tongue certainly keeps everything out. To be honest, I only think this becomes really important on long runs when you may be worried about looking after your feet. For runs of 1-2 hours I am more than happy if my feet get wet. I did notice my feet got hotter than normal when running in Lanzarote, so, I would say the upper is less breathable.

I now have 164 miles in the 230’s and I would say that they are now feeling really great. They definitely need breaking in and getting wet, covered in mud multiple times to ‘soften’ up. The support, hold and security is excellent. You feel really safe in the 230’s especially on wet rock, a place I felt compromised before, say in the 212. 

CONCLUSION

 The X-Talon 230 as I said at the start, is a new venture for inov 8. They are bullet proof shoes that should last-and-last providing the STICKY GRIP has long life? Certainly, based on my use up to know, the upper will keep going long after the outer sole gives out… But I don’t know when that is yet? With 6mm drop, a little more cushioning and the durable upper, I see the 230’s being the perfect long-distance race shoe or training shoe. As the name suggests, at 230g (for a standard size) they are light shoes but they don’t necessarily feel light and I think that is quite simply down to the durability of the new upper. So, for shorter sessions the new X-Talon 210 may well be a better option. I have a review to follow on these so please be patient.

The X-Talon 230 is narrow but after say 6-8 runs I didn’t think about this anymore. My foot never felt stifled by the shoe so that is a good thing.

The new added protection and STICKY GRIP is most certainly a winner – extra grip is always good, especially on wet rock.

FINALLY

I need to come back with a follow-on review of the 230’s as they reach their last days of use. Currently I feel I have unanswered questions that can only truly be answered with the passing of time.

 The X-Talon 230 on inov 8 website HERE 

*inov 8 shoe grading:

We have graded the fit of all our shoes from 1 to 5 to make it easy for you to find the perfect fitting shoe. All our shoes are designed with Met-Cradle technology to lock down the mid-foot for a stable hold. Where they differ is in the toe box. Grade 1 represents our closest, most precise fit. At the other end of the scale, Grade 5 has the widest fitting toe box.

We have meticulously studied the foot and its function during the gait cycle and also the interaction between the foot and the terrain. We have used this knowledge to develop our fitting scale. For technical footwear a good fit is essential to enhance your performance.

The lower the number on our scale, the narrower the fit, which ensures minimal internal movement of the foot when running fast on technical terrain. Shoes with the higher numbers on our scale will suit athletes with a wider foot and those wanting that extra comfort in the toe box. This wider toe box allows the toes to splay for increased stability when lifting heavy weights. It’s also perfect for longer runs and races when toes begin to swell.

As a rough guide, Grade 1 represents an industry B fit, while Grade 5 equates to a 2E fit in the forefoot.

 

Mountain, Ultra, Trail and Skyrunning Review of 2017

As a year comes to a close, I always like to look back and consider the highlights of the year, not only personal highlights but global highlights of the running world.

It is a daunting task at times.

The running year is now so full that it can be difficult to remember what happened just weeks ago, never mind months ago. So, with this in mind, please consider that this article is my thoughts and not a definitive highlight of 2017.

Having said that, I am going to make some huge mistakes and I am going to miss some key people, races and performances.

I welcome you, the reader, reminding me of what they are – please, just be nice!

So, let us look at 2017.

I was considering going through chronologically and in all honesty, it may have been the better solution to the task at hand, however, I have just gone on impulse! 

Western States was won by Ryan Sandes and I have to say, it was a sweet victory for the South African who over the years I have considered a great friend. Ryan was my first ever interview on Talk Ultra podcast and I love his story. The non-runner who became a runner who eventually won Western States. It’s a dream story. While on the subject of Western, we also need to mention the ladies champ, Cat Bradley. While all the top contenders faded, Cat ran a sound and solid race to take the biggest win of her life. It was no one-off, something she has proven recently by setting a FKT in the Grand Canyon – Rim – to – Rim – to – Rim fastest known time in 7:52:20

Francois D’Haene racing in China, April 2017

Francois D’Haene is the best 100-mile mountain runner in the world – end of the story. The dude has been nailing it for years and when Rob Krar won 3 100’s in one year, so did Francois. The Frenchman has consistently dominated the distance and when the trail has vertical, he is almost unbeatable. In 2017, he elevated himself to a new level firstly beating the ‘unbeatable’ Kilian Jornet at UTMB and then setting (obliterating) the FKT for the John Muir Trail. He also ripped MIUT (Madeira Island Ultra Trail) apart, and the previous CR set by Zach Miller. Without doubt, Francois is the male ultra-runner of the year in my eyes. We just need to see him at Hardrock 100 now!

Andrea Huser blows my mind constantly. She is the most impressive and consistent runner in the ultra-world and I often ask the question, if she raced less, would she win more? She has a string of top results but often has missed the big win. But when you race as much as she does, you can’t help but just nod in respect.

Caroline Chaverot was unbeatable in 2016 and 2017 started with some issues, issues that she has battled with throughout 2017. Despite this, she won Hardrock 100. It was a great victory and not one without controversy… she left her bleeding pacer on the trail for others to help. Just recently she rounded out her year with a win at Saint E Lyon in France – the classic November night race.

Ida Nilsson and Tim Freriks kicked off their seasons with victory at Transvulcania. Ida’s win was to be expected, but Tim’s win was a revelation. The ‘cowboy’ then went on to set a FKT in the Grand Canyon. Ida continued her great running throughout 2017 and then the duo turned up at San Francisco 50 and both won again – they topped and tailed the year and we can expect big things in 2018!

Jim Walmsley and the PR machine in many ways signified a new era in the sport of ultra-running and not all for the better in my opinion. The hype around the 2017 Western States before the race pretty much had Jim with his buckle, the Cougar and a new CR. The reality was very different. Jim then went to UTMB and showed signs of learning the craft. He watched Francois and Kilian and paced his day. It eventually went wrong but he rallied and closed out strong. A definitive moment for Jim and I was well aware that this would be a turning point for his 100-mile future. He then confirmed he would run on Reunion Island at Raid de la Reunion! While I can admire the decision, for me, it was always going to be a questionable decision in regard to his ‘professional’ development. But I am being judgmental and I hope not in a negative way. I ‘get’ that Jim wanted to run on the island but the step-up from UTMB was huge and despite leading the race, he eventually dropped around the 100km mark. It has been a huge learning year for the fast man and I still hold true that up to 100km, the guy is pretty much un-matched. I am looking forward to seeing him nail 100-miles in 2018 (maybe 2019) and when he does, watch out, it will almost certainly be super-fast and mind blowing. 

Kilian Jornet pretty much was missing from the mountain, ultra and trail calendar for the past 18-months and rightly so. He had set targets on the final summit of his Summits of my Life – Everest. A failed attempt in previous year and then Nepal earthquakes had put things on hold. No bad thing. Kilian learned, progressed and then finally summited Everest twice in one week which blew the minds of the whole world. Of course, anything so amazing has questions raised over it and rightly so. Just recently an article appeared and Kilian responded. Read HERE. More will come to light in regard to Everest and ultimately one has to assume the Everest film will answer all questions. Post Everest, Kilian started running again and won a super-fast Sierre Zinal, he won Hardrock 100 with a dislocated shoulder, placed 2nd behind Francois at UTMB and won Glen Coe Skyline. In the winter, he has had operations on his shoulders and now is in recovery and waiting to get back into the SkiMo season. Kilian has nothing to prove in my eyes. What does 2018 hold? Who knows really, ultimately, Kilian is at the top of his game and he will go where his heart takes him… expect a Zegama appearance, a Hardrock appearance, maybe the Bob Graham will be on the cards and maybe he will be back in Scotland for Glen Coe. Who knows? Whatever the path, he will inspire.

Camille Herron won Comrades, wow, it is the holy grail of road ultra-running. She then followed with a DNF at Western States and Leadville and I, and others, was left wondering what had happened. Oh, my word has she put the record straight. In recent weeks Camille has set a 100-mile world record 12:42:39, a 100km USA track record 7:36:39 at Desert Solstice and then went on to run for 12-hours and set a 12hr All-Surface World Record 92.708 miles. She is the new Ann Trason and arguably, she will be in for a shout as ultra-runner of the year.

Courtney Dewaulter can push Camille close. This lady won Run Rabbit Run (again) this time losing her vision in the final 10km. She then went on to win Moab 200 (actually 238-miles) outright and then recently ran 250.079km / 155.391 miles in 24-hours setting an American record. Wow!

Nuria Picas came out of the wilderness of 2016 and quite rightly, finally won UTMB. Nuria was unstoppable for many years but the big loop around Chamonix had eluded her, I firmly believe she can consider her career complete with this win!

The UK’s Dan Lawson flew around the Gobi Desert to win with a new CR at the 400km Ultra Gobi. Dan is the UK’s hottest prospect at the long game, particularly when you consider past runs on the Grand Union Canal and 2nd at the iconic Spartathlon.

Marco De Gasperi pioneered the way for Skyrunning on Monte Rosa in the early 90’s and has had incredible journey as one of the most respected mountain runners in the world. Finally, in 2017, Marco became the Skyrunner World Series (SWS) champion after an incredible season of consistent running and podium places – a true inspiration.

Maite Maiora moved up several notches in 2017 and was a dominant force on the Skyrunning circuit with a string of victories and podium places. 2017 was her year in the sky! But let us not forget Ragna Debats, she had an amazing full season and triumphed over multiple distances in addition to a great run at the IAU World Trail Champs. Also, Sheila Aviles came of age… a name to watch in future years! For the guys, keep an eye on Jan Maragarit.

UTMB had arguably the greatest male line-up of elite runners ever and it turned out to be great show down and we saw the confirmation that US runners are getting UTMB. Tim Tollefson was again flying the flag with a 3rd place. It is only a matter of time until we see an American win the big dance around France, Italy and Switzerland – will it be 2018? It could well be if Francois d’Haene and Kilian Jornet don’t run.

Hillary Allen has represented the USA in Europe for a couple of years now and once again she was doing so in 2017. However, it all fell apart, before my eyes, at Tromso SkyRace in Norway. She fell many meters, bounced on the rocks below and came away with some serious injuries. Thankfully, the recovery process has gone well and I wish Hillary well for 2018.

Ruth Croft has been in the mix for some time and I think it is fair to say that her victory at ‘Templiers’ in France recently has elevated to the New Zealander to a new level for the coming year… what does 2018 hold for this lady?

2017 most certainly has been a FKT year – Iker Karrera, Darcy Piceu, Francois d’Haene, Tim Freriks, Cat Bradley, Alicia Vargo, Rickey Gates and so many more have all taken the Fastest Known Time discipline to new heights but I wonder if ‘Stringbean’s’ FKT on the Appalachian Trail is the one that should have had more press and coverage? He soloed the AT quicker than Karl Meltzer and Scott Jurek and without help, but, relatively slipped under most radars. Read here.

Jeff Browning crushed the 100-mile distance in 2016 and did so again in 2017, he is a great ambassador for the sport.

Luis Alberto Hernando is for me, arguably one of the most talented runners in the world. But he is a quiet guy who in many ways, keeps himself to himself. He races hard and crushes the competition. In 2017, he once again became IAU World Trail Champion on a course that he, and many others said, didn’t suit him. The guy is pure class!

The UK’s Damian Hall came to running late in life (not that he is old) but he has slowly and surely chipped his way through the ultra-ranks and this year just missed the top-10 at UTMB – an incredible result.

Tom Evans broke on the scene by placing 3rd at MDS Morocco and in the process set a new benchmark for UK based runners to aim for. He followed this up with some other solid results in 2017 and I, like many others, wonder what 2018 holds in store.

Rickey Gates ran across America. Nuff said! Read here.

Ueli Steck, the Swiss Machine, died on the mountains and left the mountain world devastated by his passing. Here.

Alex Honold free soloed El Cap in arguably one of the most awe-inspiring and risky climbs in the history of the sport. It is quite literally, off the scale and beyond comprehension. I know it’s not running but it is without doubt worth a mention! Here.

The infamous Barkley once again served up another serving of spine tingling history with John Kelly finishing and Canada’s Gary Robbins left wiped out on the floor in tears. You can’t make stories like this up.

Gary Cantrell (Lazarus Lake of Barkley fame) organised a race that went through his garden, The Big Backyard Ultra. Every 60-minutes, runners set off on a loop. During the night, the loop changed. The principal was simple, you keep going till one man or woman is left Standing. Well, Guiiiaume Calmettes was that man in 2017 running 245.835 pipping Harvey Lewis. 

Rachid Elmorabity once again won Marathon des Sables in Morocco proving that he is the greatest multi-day desert runner in the world at the moment. Elisabet Barnes, 2015 MDS champion once again returned to the sand pit after missing victory in 2016 and was unstoppable with a dominant and impressive force of sand running.

MDS Peru followed on the 32-year traditions of its Moroccan big brother with the first edition in Peru’s Ica Desert. This was the first time any event was allowed permission to take place in this amazing National Park. It was great first event with Morocco’s Rachid Elmorabity and France’s Nathalie Mauclair taking the top honours.

Michael Wardian did what he always does, run and run and run throughout 2017. But he kicked off the year with a world record running 7-marathons on 7-continents in 7-days. The guy just continues to impress.

Best shoes of 2017? Well, this is well and truly a can of worms and I can only answer from a personal perspective. The Nike Air Zoom Wildhorse 4 here blew my socks off and is now my favourite day-to-day trail running shoe. For when it gets technical, gnarly, muddy and I need an aggressive shoe, the VJ Sport iRock2 here has set a new benchmark for me in regard to grip.

Best clothing? inov-8 have continued to impress me with not only excellent run shoes but appeared to match. They now have a really specific line of products (including packs) that make them an excellent one-stop shop for anything that you would need for a messy and muddy 5km fell run to the tough and challenging 100+ mile UTMB.

Best moment of 2017? That is a serious toughie but maybe Ryan Sandes finally taking that WSER top slot. I know how much he wanted it and he didn’t have an easy journey obtaining it. Huge respect! But hey, I have been inspired by so many in 2017.

On a personal note to conclude:

For me, I started travelling in January and I stopped in December. Yes, I have been on the road for 12-months and I consider myself to be truly blessed for the opportunities I have had to follow my dreams and make a living from it. I never take it for granted! While I could go into the details of each trip, I won’t. Every race is documented in words and images on this website and my social channels and you can find out about them should you so wish.

INSTAGRAM here

TWITTER here

FACEBOOK PHOTOGRAPHY here FACEBOOK TALK ULTRA here

PHOTOGRAPHY WEBSITE here IMAGE SALES here

Don’t forget Talk Ultra Podcast which has documented this sport HERE

BUT, and this is a huge BUT. My passion, and my work calendar comes at a price. I have a son, a family and an amazing partner, Niandi. They have all been neglected in 2017 with my travel and race coverage. It’s a dilemma and one that keeps me awake. I struggle for answers but I want to say THANK YOU for the support to all those people who mean the world to me, you know who you are.

 

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.

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

Episode 142 – Damian Hall and Elisabet Barnes

Episode 142 of Talk Ultra brings and we bring you a full and in-depth interview with Damian Hall who was first Brit, first Vet and 12th overall at UTMB. We also speak to Elisabet Barnes about her training and racing at altitude at the 2017 Transrockies. The show is co-hosted by Kurt Decker.
Talk Ultra is now on Tunein – just another way to make the show available for those who prefer not to use iTunes – HERE  You can download the Tunein APP HERE
*****
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*****
00:06:20 NEWS
Superior 100
Neal Collick, Paul Shol and Adam Schwarz-Lowe – 19:31:40, 22:12:46 and 22:14:40
Gretchen Metsa, Tina Johnson and Stephanie Hoff – 25:23:03, 28:19:14 and 28:39:58
*****
Superior 50
Brent Loberg, Forest Tracy and Marc Malinoski – 8:42:53, 9:12:56 and 9:55:20
Kelly Teeselink, Rochelle Wirth and Anna Yurchenko – 10:47:22, 11:42:16 and 12:05:18
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Superior Marathon
Michael Borst, James Sorenson and Kurt Keiser – 3:36:36, 3:49:45 and 3:51:38
Emma Spoon, Ashley Hansen and Stephanie Sathre – 4:49:50
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Run Rabbit Run
Courtney Dauwalter two times in a row and the big pay cheque, nice! 20:38:45 – not an easy run after multiple falls and temporary blindness in the final 10-miles. Emma Rocca 2nd and Becky Kirschenmann 3rd, 22:31 and 22:34 respectively.
Jim Rebenack took the win ahead of Mark Hammond and Charlie Ware – 18:44, 18:53 and 19:35. Notably Alex Nichols, winner last year dropped early. Speedgoat was 9th.
*****
Devils Ridge
Francesca Canepa and Min Qi won the SWS race in China’s Gobi desert – 8:00 and 6:18 respectively.
*****
Wasatch 100
Luzia Butler took the win ahead of Emilee Walker and Jennilyn Eaton – 25:08, 26:55 and 27:29.
Trevor Fuchs ran 20:59 with Jesse Rich and Robert Edminster 22:12 and 22:15.
*****
The RUT
Luis Alberto Hernando and Ragna Debats won the main race of the weekend read reports HERE, HERE and HERE
*****
FKT – Appalachian Trail
Joe McConaughy, covered the 2,189-mile Appalachian Trail in 45 days, 12 hours, and 15 minutes. The time broke supported and self-supported FKTs, ranking ahead of Karl Meltzer’s supported 45:22:38from 2016.
*****
UTMB
Read my analysis reports from the Men’s race and the Ladies race HERE and HERE.
CCC won by Hayden Hawks and Clare Gallagher
TDS won by Michel Lanne and Mimmi Kotka
OCC won by Marc Lauenstein and Eli Rodriguez
*****
01:08:33 Interview with DAMIAN HALL
*****
01:58:25 Interview with ELISABET BARNES
*****
UP & COMING RACES

Albania

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

Argentina

Ultra Marathon 50K | 50 kilometers | September 16, 2017 | website
Ultra Trail 80 | 80 kilometers | September 16, 2017 | website

Australia

New South Wales

Great North Walk 100 km | 100 kilometers | September 09, 2017 | website
Great North Walk 100 Miles | 100 miles | September 09, 2017 | website

Queensland

Glasshouse 100 km | 100 kilometers | September 09, 2017 | website
Glasshouse 100 Mile | 100 miles | September 09, 2017 | website

Victoria

100 km | 100 kilometers | September 09, 2017 | website
50 km | 50 kilometers | September 09, 2017 | website

Western Australia

100 km | 100 kilometers | September 22, 2017 | website
50 km | 50 kilometers | September 22, 2017 | website

Austria

“GRAWE” 50km Lauf | 50 kilometers | September 09, 2017 | website
“NKE Austria” 100km Lauf | 100 kilometers | September 09, 2017 | website
Wörthersee Trail-Maniac 57 K | 57 kilometers | September 16, 2017 | website

Belgium

Brussels Capital Region

80 km | 80 kilometers | September 09, 2017 | website

Wallonia

55 km | 55 kilometers | September 09, 2017 | website
Ultra Hérou | 80 kilometers | September 09, 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
Lost Soul 50 Km Ultra | 50 kilometers | September 09, 2017 | website

British Columbia

Golden Ultra | 80 kilometers | September 22, 2017 | website
Mount Robson 50km Ultra Marathon | 50 kilometers | September 09, 2017 | website

Ontario

100 Mile | 100 miles | September 09, 2017 | website
50 km | 50 kilometers | September 09, 2017 | website
50 Mile | 50 miles | September 09, 2017 | website
50 Mile | 50 miles | September 16, 2017 | website

Quebec

125 km | 125 kilometers | September 09, 2017 | website
65 km | 65 kilometers | September 09, 2017 | website

Saskatchewan

Beaver Flat 50k | 50 kilometers | September 16, 2017 | website

Chile

63K | 63 kilometers | September 09, 2017 | website

Denmark

Nordjylland

100 Miles | 100 miles | September 09, 2017 | website
100 Miles – Around the isle of Mors | 100 miles | September 09, 2017 | website

France

Drôme

74 km | 74 kilometers | September 10, 2017 | website

Hautes-Alpes

Grand Tour des Cerces | 50 kilometers | September 17, 2017 | website

Isère

Ultra Trail du Vercors | 88 kilometers | September 09, 2017 | website

Manche

Relais pédestre normandie bretagne | 70 kilometers | September 17, 2017 | website

Pas-de-Calais

62 km | 62 kilometers | September 10, 2017 | website

Vendée

Bol d’Air – 50 km | 50 kilometers | September 10, 2017 | website

Vosges

L’Infernal 110 | 116 kilometers | September 09, 2017 | website
L’infernal 200 | 204 kilometers | September 08, 2017 | website
L’infernal 60 | 64 kilometers | September 09, 2017 | website

Germany

Bavaria

Mittelbayerische Landkreislauf | 61 kilometers | September 16, 2017 | website

Lower Saxony

Volkslauf ” Gesund beginnt im Mund” – 52.8 km | 52 kilometers | September 16, 2017 | website

North Rhine-Westphalia

P-Weg Ultramarathon | 73 kilometers | September 10, 2017 | website

Rhineland-Palatinate

Dorint-RUN50 | 50 kilometers | September 22, 2017 | website

Iceland

Run Iceland Adventure Trail | 110 kilometers | September 10, 2017 | website

India

Jammu and Kashmir

Khardung La Challenge | 72 kilometers | September 10, 2017 | website

Tamil Nadu

Chennai Trail Ultra Marathon | 50 kilometers | September 10, 2017 | website

Iran

150 km | 150 kilometers | September 17, 2017 | website
250 km | 250 kilometers | September 17, 2017 | website

Ireland

Tipperary

Glen of Aherlow Loop De Loop Ultra Trail Run | 39 miles | September 17, 2017 | website

Italy

Aosta Valley

Tor des Géants | 330 kilometers | September 10, 2017 | website

Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol

Sellaronda Trail Running | 56 kilometers | September 16, 2017 | website

Tuscany

Montanaro Trail | 50 kilometers | September 17, 2017 | website

Japan

100 km | 100 kilometers | September 17, 2017 | website
100 km | 100 kilometers | September 10, 2017 | website
50 km | 50 kilometers | September 10, 2017 | website
60 km | 60 kilometers | September 17, 2017 | website

Luxembourg

112 km | 112 kilometers | September 09, 2017 | website
75 km | 75 kilometers | September 09, 2017 | website

Macedonia

Kozjak Trail | 65 kilometers | September 22, 2017 | website
Krali Marko Ultra Trail | 110 kilometers | September 22, 2017 | website

Malaysia

100K | 100 kilometers | September 16, 2017 | website
50K | 50 kilometers | September 16, 2017 | website

Martinique

Etape 5 | 74 kilometers | September 08, 2017 | website

Mauritius

50 km | 50 kilometers | September 09, 2017 | website

New Zealand

Marton-Wanganui Ultramarathon | 66 kilometers | September 09, 2017 | website

Philippines

100K Champioship | 100 kilometers | September 09, 2017 | website
100K Relay | 100 kilometers | September 09, 2017 | website

Poland

7 Valleys Run Ultramarathon of the Festival | 100 kilometers | September 10, 2017 | website
Bieg 7 Dolin – Ultramaraton – 100 km | 100 kilometers | September 09, 2017 | website
Bieg 7 Dolin – Ultramaraton – 66 km | 66 kilometers | September 09, 2017 | website

Romania

Unicredit Leasing Transmaraton – Double Marathon | 84 kilometers | September 17, 2017 | website

South Africa

Bonitas Sunday Mont-Aux-Sources Challenge | 50 kilometers | September 09, 2017 | website

Spain

Catalonia

RialpMatxicots Extrem | 82 kilometers | September 16, 2017 | website

Sweden

100 Mile Endurance Run | 100 miles | September 16, 2017 | website
50 Mile Endurance Run | 50 miles | September 16, 2017 | website

Switzerland

Fribourg

50 km | 50 kilometers | September 17, 2017 | website

Valais

170K | 170 kilometers | September 08, 2017 | website
170 km | 170 kilometers | September 08, 2017 | website
80K | 80 kilometers | September 09, 2017 | website
80 km | 80 kilometers | September 09, 2017 | website

Vaud

Ultratour du Leman | 175 kilometers | September 16, 2017 | website

Turkey

Frig Vadileri Ultramaratonu 60K | 60 kilometers | September 09, 2017 | website
Kaçkar Ultra Maratonu 64K | 64 kilometers | September 16, 2017 | website

United Kingdom

Argyll and Bute

Tiree Ultramarathon | 35 miles | September 10, 2017 | website

Cumbria

Cumbria Way Ultra | 73 miles | September 16, 2017 | website

East Ayrshire

River Ayr Way Challenge | 44 miles | September 16, 2017 | website

Highland

Salomon Glen Coe Skyline | 53 kilometers | September 17, 2017 | website

Oxfordshire

50 miles | 50 miles | September 16, 2017 | website
Thames Path Challenge 100km | 100 kilometers | September 09, 2017 | website
Thames Path Challenge 50km | 50 kilometers | September 09, 2017 | website

Powys

Long Course | 89 kilometers | September 09, 2017 | website
Short Course | 58 kilometers | September 09, 2017 | website

Redcar and Cleveland

Hardmoors 60 | 60 miles | September 16, 2017 | website

Shropshire

34 mile | 34 miles | September 16, 2017 | website

Ulster

Mourne Mountain Marathon Elite 55k | 55 kilometers | September 16, 2017 | website

USA

Alaska

Klondike Trail of ’98 International Road Relay | 175 kilometers | September 08, 2017 | website

Arizona

100 Mile | 100 miles | September 16, 2017 | website
105K | 105 kilometers | September 16, 2017 | website
Javelina Jangover 100K Night Trail Run | 100 kilometers | September 09, 2017 | website
Javelina Jangover 50K Night Trail Run | 50 kilometers | September 09, 2017 | website
Javelina Jangover 75K Night Trail Run | 75 kilometers | September 09, 2017 | website

California

50K | 50 kilometers | September 16, 2017 | website
50 Mile | 50 miles | September 09, 2017 | website
Headlands 100mi | 100 miles | September 09, 2017 | website
Headlands 50mi | 50 miles | September 09, 2017 | website
Headlands 75mi | 75 miles | September 09, 2017 | website
Pacifica Summit Run 50K | 50 kilometers | September 16, 2017 | website
Tahoe 200 | 200 miles | September 08, 2017 | website

Colorado

50K | 50 kilometers | September 09, 2017 | website
50 Mile Ultra | 50 miles | September 09, 2017 | website
Devil on the Divide 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | September 09, 2017 | website
Flaming Foilage Relay | 160 miles | September 08, 2017 | website

Idaho

IMTUF 100 | 100 miles | September 16, 2017 | website
Moscow Mountain Madness | 50 kilometers | September 10, 2017 | website

Illinois

Evergreen Lake Ultra and a Half | 51 miles | September 09, 2017 | website
Evergreen Lake Ultras | 34 miles | September 09, 2017 | website

Kansas

Hawk 100 | 100 miles | September 09, 2017 | website
Hawk 50 | 50 miles | September 09, 2017 | website

Maine

Standard Relay Team (5-8 Person) | 128 miles | September 08, 2017 | website
Ultra Relay Team (4 Person) | 128 miles | September 08, 2017 | website

Maryland

Reebok Ragnar Washington D.C | 200 miles | September 22, 2017 | website

Massachusetts

50K | 50 kilometers | September 17, 2017 | website
50 Mile | 50 miles | September 17, 2017 | website
50 Miler | 50 miles | September 16, 2017 | website

Michigan

Hallucination 100 Mile | 100 miles | September 08, 2017 | website
LSD 100K | 100 kilometers | September 08, 2017 | website

Minnesota

Superior Sawtooth 100 Mile | 100 miles | September 08, 2017 | website
Superior Trail 50 Mile | 50 miles | September 09, 2017 | website

Missouri

Mark Twain 100 Mile Endurance Race | 100 miles | September 16, 2017 | website
Mark Twain 50 Mile Endurance Race | 50 miles | September 16, 2017 | website

New Hampshire

Reebok Ragnar Reach The Beach | 200 miles | September 15, 2017 | website

New Jersey

50K Cruller Crawl | 50 kilometers | September 16, 2017 | website

New York

Chautauqua Ultras 50K | 50 kilometers | September 16, 2017 | website
Chautauqua Ultras 50 Mi | 50 miles | September 16, 2017 | website
Reebok Ragnar Adirondacks | 200 miles | September 22, 2017 | website

Ohio

60K Run | 60 kilometers | September 16, 2017 | website

Oklahoma

DoWackaDo 50 Mile Trail Run | 50 miles | September 09, 2017 | website
DoWackaDo Trail 50K Run | 50 kilometers | September 09, 2017 | website

Pennsylvania

50K | 50 kilometers | September 09, 2017 | website

Tennessee

50K | 50 kilometers | September 10, 2017 | website
Stanky Creek 50K | 50 kilometers | September 10, 2017 | website

Texas

50K | 50 kilometers | September 09, 2017 | website

Utah

50 Miler | 50 miles | September 09, 2017 | website
Wasatch Front 100 Mile Endurance Run | 100 miles | September 08, 2017 | website

Virginia

Odyssey 40 Mile Trail Ultra | 40 miles | September 09, 2017 | website
The Blude Ridge Relay | 208 miles | September 08, 2017 | website

Washington

100K | 100 kilometers | September 16, 2017 | website
100 Mile | 100 miles | September 16, 2017 | website

Wisconsin

Ragnar Trail Northwoods-WI | 120 miles | September 22, 2017 | website
Ragnar Trail Northwoods-WI, Presented by Salomon | 120 miles | September 22, 2017 | website
*****
CLOSE
02:43:14
*****
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I’m Ian Corless and he is Kurt Decker.
Keep running
*****
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Website – talkultra.com

Royal Ultra SkyMarathon® Gran Paradiso Race Summary and Images – 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner World Series

With a course profile that looks like a shark’s dental record and with 10-peaks to ascend and descend over a 55km course, the Migu Run Skyrunner World Series went EXTREME For the first time in 2017! 4287m of vertical gain awaited the runners in the stunning location of Ceresole Reale, Italy, a stunning mountain location towered over by the stunning 4000m peak of Gran Paradiso.

Starting at 0630, a stunning day of blue skies welcomed the runners, the early morning chill soon swept away with the arrival of the sun.

Andre Jonsson who last weekend placed 4th at High Trail Vanoise was showing incredible powers of recovery leading Zaid Ait Malek, Pere Aurell,  Bhim Gurung, Benat Marmisolle, The five ran together over the first high-peak in the National Park and the second peak coming at around 12km with 2-hours 15-minutes elapsed on the clock. They were separated by seconds matching each other’s moves.

By contrast, Zegama-Aizkorri and Livigno SkyMararhon champion Maite Maiora, was showing all the ladies a clean pair of heals. She took a grasp of the race very early on and despite being chased by Katie Schide, Ekaterina Mityaev and Natalia Tomasiak amongst other.

With 4-hours elapsed, the summit of Colle della Porta at 3002m saw a surge from Pere Aurell as he ran fast through the snow fields that followed the tough climb to the summit – Andre Jonsson, Bhim Gurung and Beat Marmisolle all followed with less than a minute separating them. Following and hoping to bridge the gap was Dimitry Mityaev, Zaid Ait Malek and Hector Haines.

Maite Maiora arrived in the same location, her lead was now extended beyond 30-minutes to Katie Schide and Ekaterina Mityaev following over 10-minutes back.

The race was now on in the men’s race, the quartet watching each other and at times changing lead like in a cycling peloton however Andre Jonsson was still pushing but the elastic wouldn’t snap. Passing Colle del Nivole they had a short decent and then climbed to Colle Della Rocca Bianche at 2670m. Again, less than a couple of minutes separated the four front runners but the long descent took its toll and with the final climb to Colle del Nel at 2551m to come, the pressure was on.

Andre Jonsson and Bhim Gurung took the lead but Jonsson started to feel the pressure and although Gurung complained of feeling tired, he unleashed his incredible descending ability on the final 1000m to drop to the line to open a huge gap and take victory just like he did earlier in the year in China at Yading Skyrace. Jonsson earned an incredible 2nd place 10-minutes back, 6:51:37 to Gurung’s 6:41:24. Pere Aurell fought cramps to finish 3rd and Benat Marmisolle held off a charging Cristofer Clemente to finish 4th.

Maite Maiora crossed the line in 8:05:28 having dominated the ladies’ race. It was a stunning victory and confirms her as one of the best female Skyrunners in the world. Katie Schide finished 2nd and Ekaterina Mityaev finished 3rd, 8:37:02 and 8:48:23 respectively.

The 55km course wound through the Gran Paradiso National Park in the royal hunting grounds, hence the ‘Royal’ title, runners will compete with ibex and chamois. Starting at a lake at an altitude of 2000m, participants traversed five passes – the magnificent Gran Paradiso mountain provided a stunning backdrop towering over the race at 4061m. Moraines, rocks, streams and snowfields provide an ultimate extreme challenge.

Next race in the Migu Run Skyrunner World Series is the Dolomites SkyRace that will celebrate its 20th edition – a pure Sky Classic!

all images ©iancorless.com

A full image gallery will be uploaded to iancorless.photoshelter.com HERE

Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race™ 2017 – Day 5

The 2017 Berghaus Dragons Back Race concluded today in Llandeilo – five days of epic mountain racing over. By epic, we mean E P I C!

For those looking for one of the toughest races in the world, Wales and the Dragons Back Race is a perfect starting place. 223 runners toed the line in Conwy, just over 100 finished – yes, 50% of the field didn’t make the journey from the north to the south.

For the first two days the race was very much about 2015 champion Jim Mann dominating the race, for the ladies, Sabrina Varjee also built a very clear lead over her main rivals – Carol Morgan and Caroline McIlroy.

However, on day 3 it was all change for Mann. The 90-minute margin he had built over days 1 and 2 was wiped a way with two navigational errors and a charging Marcus Scotney. On day 4, the heat came and Mann used his 0730 start to press the pace and apply pressure. Scotney had a lead of almost 30-minutes, surely it was too much for Mann to pull back? Well yes, but he came close. The final days race was going to be brutal.

But the ladies race spiced up on day 4 with Verjee suffering in the heat and Carol Morgan having a great day – like the men’s race, it was all to fight for on the last day!

Morning in day 5 camp was one of mixed emotions, the end was in sight but a tough day was ahead and to add to the pressure, forecasts were predicting a scorching 30deg high.

The majority of the field started early at 0600 but all eyes were on the 0800 ‘chase’ starts. Scotney and Verjee would start on the stroke of 0800 and then 2nd placed runners, Mann and Morgan would depart as per their time deficits to the leader. The same applied for 3rd placed lady, McIlroy. Quite simply, the first man or woman across the line would be the 2017 Berghaus Dragons Back winner.

Scotney had complained the previous night of a sore knee and had contemplated not starting day 5, however, on reflection, he decided it was better to fight and run with a chance of victory in comparison to leaving questions unanswered. He was flying, the terrain suited him and allowed him to stretch his legs. By CP2, Scotney was pulling away from Mann and Verjee and Morgan were equally matched with McIlroy losing time.

More good running to CP3 and then the climb to CP4 and the run along the high ground with the impressive Llyn Y Fan Fact to the right saw Scotney extend his lead. When Mann arrived at CP5 he was over 30-minutes back and barring Scotney having any problems, the race was his for the taking. Mann no doubt paying a price for a tough first 3-days and a hard chasing 4th day.

Scotney crossed the line in 6:12:09 1st and Mann came in much later (7:43:40) having eased off the gas knowing that his place for 2nd was secure. Neil Talbott who had started later than the 1st and 2nd placed runners had a long day chasing all in front of him, his 3rd place secure in 7:31:04 placing 2nd on the stage.

In the ladies’ race, Verjee although in the lead to CP5 was struggling with the heat, the fatigue of 4-days of tough racing and being chased by Morgan and McIlroy. She looked agitated, stressed and not her normal self. By contrast, Morgan at CP5 was relaxed and when asked how she felt, “I feel great – fantastic!”

The possible threat of a blazing run from McIlroy didn’t happen and the race was now between Verjee and Morgan.

Morgan hunted Verjee down and by CP6 had caught and passed her. It was all about putting her head down and pushing on. Victory was hers in 7:57:16 and with it, the title of Ladies 2017 Berghaus Dragons Back champion.

Verjee and McIlroy made it to the line, 2nd and 3rd places in 8:52:04 and 9:30:54 respectively. Like Mann, Verjee’s final thoughts maybe ones of disappointment with questions of what might have been…

It’s been a tough race for all concerned but when you race over 5-days with the highs and lows that this type of race can throw at you, it’s about how the runner manages all aspects of the race and not just one day. The 2017 edition will go down in history as one of the most compelling, particularly in the final 2-days.

Attention will now turn to 2019 and the next edition of the race but as Ourea Events rightly say, don’t forget it’s the Cape Wrath Ultra in 2018 for those who need their fix!

  1. Marcus Scotney 37:58:37
  2. Jim Mann 39:38:14
  3. Neil Talbott 41:54:33

 

  1. Carol Morgan 48:41:17
  2. Sabrina Verjee 49:29:42
  3. Caroline McIlroy 50:23:47

Results HERE

Read day 1 report here

Read day 2 report here

Read day 3 report here

Read day 4 report here

All images will be at iancorless.photoshelter.com post race

Taming the Dragon – 2017 Dragons Back Race Preview

Jim Mann – The Berghaus Dragons Back Race

Travelling from the North of Wales to the South via the ‘Dragons Back’ – the 2017 edition of the Berghaus Dragons Back Race looks set to have all the makings of a classic. A gigantic 315km route awaits the runners as they make the journey over multiple days. 

Day 1 in its own right is a tough day in the mountains as the best of Wales provides a stunning backdrop and stage setter for the race. In past editions, the opening day has proved too much for many… will 2017 be the same? It’s expected that 30% of those who start will not begin day 2 – a frightening statistic! 

Jim Mann, winner of the 2015 edition of the race has decided to return and defend his crown. After a tough 2016, Jim has recently returned to form after in ‘Winter Round’ record breaking run. Mann completed the Charlie Ramsay Round, the Paddy Buckley Round and the Bob Graham Round all within 1-month and set a new benchmark for the triple. 

British ultra-running pioneer Jez Bragg toed the line in 2015 but was forced to withdraw through illness, no doubt he will look to put the record straight in 2017. However, Cape Wrath 2016 champion Marcus Scotney will want to make sure he continues a winning streak of Ourea Events multi-day success with a strong performance.

Nickademus Hollon from the USA is well known in the ultra-world but may well fly under the radar of the UK based runners. Hollon was the youngest runner to complete the infamous Barkley and has placed 2nd at the Tor des Geants. He loves a challenge and although the UK mountains may well be new to him, we can anticipate a strong performance.

Alistair Hubbard and Neil Talbot may very well be the other prime contenders to take top honors on this journey through Wales. Hubbard has won the expert category on the Great Lakeland 3-Day – a great build up race to the Welsh multi-day adventure.

With the absence of Jasmin Paris, the ladies’ race is open but many are tipping Carol Morgan as a potential favorite. Her recent victory at The Spine is a standout result and it confirms that she can keep pushing even when tiredness and sleep deprivation are prevalent.

Sabrina Verjee is a regular Ourea Event competitor and participated in the 2015 Dragons Back Race where she placed 14th overall. It’s fair to say that Verjee has improved since then and she recently won the Great Lakeland 3-Day.

Italian Emanuela Marzotto came to running late in life and has made up for lost time with a sting of back-to-back performances in the world’s biggest ultras and multi-day races. Her experience in the Marathon des Sables was no doubt instrumental in her success in winning the 2016 Cape Wrath Ultra. Without doubt, she will have her hands full racing against Morgan and Varjee in Wales. 

A final nod goes to Canada’s Emily Compton who is a complete unknown on UK soil but she has accumulated a string of top-10 results dating back to 2012. Notable markers being 3rd at Vulcano Ultra Trail in 2013 and 5th at Yakima Skyline Rim 50k in 2016.

Action begins on May 20th when runners will arrive in Wales ahead of the May 21st start.

You can follow the daily action via this website in words and images and on Twitter – @talkultra and on Instagram – @iancorlessphotography

INOV-8 Shoe Review X-TALON 225

‘What shoe shall I use for a muddy race or run?’

It’s a question I get asked a great deal and my answer is always the same –Have you considered inov-8?’

inov-8 has been making shoes for muddy conditions for over 10-years and as such they are my ‘go-to’ brand when I need something to handle ‘off-trail’ conditions such as fell, mountain, open fields, mountain terrain and so on.

I photograph, test and run in many many shoes and no shoes come close to handling thick, sloppy and unpredictable mud like inov-8.

A firm favourite is the Mudclaw 300 which has a 6mm drop. You can read a review from 2016 HERE.

In the last 12-months, inov-8 has tweaked its line of shoes once again and the popular Race Ultra has now become the Trail Talon (one of my favourite trail shoes for dry conditions HERE) and we have the X-Claw 275 (HERE) which is a favourite for me when I want to mix up good trails with mud and rock for longer duration, the 275 version with wider toe box and 8mm drop is perfect.

The X-Talon shoe has been around for sometime as an inov-8 classic and certainly the 212 (6mm drop) is a shoe that I have used time and time again. HERE 

Usually, I prefer 6-8mm drop shoes, however, if I am just running in soft mud, a lower drop of 4mm or 3mm is usually fine and providing I am not running for too long it is preferable as I feel lower to the ground and more connected.

The 225 is a 4mm drop shoe with a 3mm footbed and a stack of 19.5mm at the heel and 15.5mm at the forefoot. The lugs are the same as the Mudclaw 300 with 8mm depth. 

It’s easy to see from the off that the X-Talon 225 is designed for a more efficient runner and having switched between the Mudclaw 300 and the X-Talon 225 the main differences come with a touch more cushioning in the Mudclaw, otherwise, both shoes feel very similar as they have ‘precision’ fit, same lug depth, similar lacing and a similar feel when running. Obviously, the X-Talon is 25% lighter and that does feel different! 

Running off-trail in muddy and sloppy conditions requires control and precision, therefore, the X-Talon 225 is a precision fit shoe. You need your foot to feel controlled and yes, maybe a little tight in the shoe. This is what gives you the control and the security to let yourself go. The only time you would compromise on this precision feel is if you were running for hour upon hour or running a very long race where the fit may cause an issue. Therefore, I see the X-Talon as a perfect shoe for up to say marathon distance – it does depend on the runner?

They are feather light. You pick them up and you know straight away they will be a delight to wear. They are simple and no fuss. Good bumper around the toe with a reinforced section. The upper is durable, lightweight and designed to be breathable and protective. The tongue is lightweight and the laces almost feel inadequate but they really pull the shoe tight and give a wonderful secure feeling around the middle of the foot to offer that security and control that is so essential when running in the sloppy and unpredictable terrain that mountains or fells give us. The heel box is classic inov-8 and wraps around providing a comfortable and secure hold with no rubbing. 

The X-Talon is ultimately what is on the bottom of the shoe and as the name suggests, you have a plethora of 8mm talons to provide maximal grip. The compound is DUAL-C as seen in other inov-8 shoes and this works well in transitioning from mud to rock without a compromise on grip. The configuration is designed to shed mud and debris, however, I have yet to find a shoe that when it’s really muddy sheds the mud as I run. Certainly, transitioning from muddy terrain to harder, firmer or dry trail and the mud falls away quickly.

Another key feature is META-FLEX which allows the shoe to bend just in the correct place to facilitate the propulsive phase. One of the tings I love about inov-8 shoes is this really does work! It’s not some name jargon that doesn’t mean anything.

IN USE

My daily trail run requires me to run a 1-mile of road to the trail and 1-mile home. The X-Talon handles this well and just for kicks, try it yourself – you will here the outsole grip to the pavement and road. It’s quite a feeling! Of course, you want to keep road use to a minimum in a shoe like this – the outsole won’t thank you for rubbing it against such an abrasive surface. Ideally, this is a shoe that you will put on just before you start to run. Rest assured though, the shoe gives a wonderful feeling on hard pack. How wonderful depends on you, your efficiency and your need for cushioning. If you are looking for a shoe that can handle some road, some hardback trail, rocks and some mud – I recommend the X-Claw.

I mix between shoes with a wider toe box such as the Trail Talon and X-Claw and can quite happily use a shoe with a more precision or tighter toe box such as the Roclite, Mudclaw or the X-Talon, so, the precision fit is not a problem for me.

I prefer a higher drop shoe of 6-8mm but the 225 with 4mm felt really great on soft and muddy trails – I didn’t really notice the lower drop and the lightness/ flexibility is a real pleasure.

The shoes are really comfortable and secure. The heel box really grips and the lacing really holds the foot secure. I had no movement or sloppiness.

Toe protection is good. I’ve had a few toe collisions with rocks and had not problems. The 3mm footbed and 15.5/19.5 cushioning is certainly on the minimal side and when running on rocky, dry or stony trails I could certainly feel the ground beneath me. Again, this comes down to choosing a shoe that is fit for purpose and fit for the duration you are running. Again, need more shoe? Look at the Mudclaw 300 or X-Claw 275.

Grip is awesome and few shoes in the marketplace can compare to the grip offered by the 8mm lugs. The compound also works great when transitions from mud to rock – a real winner.

SUMMARY

If you need a low drop, lightweight shoe with loads of grip and a precision fit, look no further than the X-Talon 225. This shoe has very little not to like and actually the negatives for some are what make this shoe great:

  • Low drop
  • Light
  • Minimal
  • Deep lugs

If all of the above is ‘too’ minimal for you, look at the Mudclaw 300 and if you need a higher drop (8mm), a little more toe width, good lugs but not as aggressive and more cushioning, you can’t go wrong with the X-Claw 275. If I was only going to have one pair of shoes for trail, mud and rock then I would go for the X-Claw. However, if I can pick and choose and use shoes shoes like weapons, the X-Talon 225 would be fast and light shoes for racing a fast and furious fell race, Skyrunning race or even a VK.

SPECS

  • Fit
  • Precision
  • Drop
  • 4mm
  • Footbed
  • 3mm
  • Lug Depth
  • 8mm
  • Midsole
  • Injected EVA
  • Midsole Stack
  • Heel 19.5mm / Forefoot 15.5mm
  • Shank
  • DFB™
  • Product Weight
  • 225g / 7.9oz

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