Mike Wardian #FKTIsrael 2019 – Day Four

Last night was a late finish and normally, the priority would be all about getting off the trail, eating, getting clean and sleeping. However, Mike’s finish was in the middle of nowhere and that required a lengthy drive out. The plus side, the team had dinner with a Bedouin family (quite an experience) and then a night in a ‘real’ bed with a shower – luxury!

The following morning, we had the lengthy drive back to Mike’s day 3 finish point before he could start day 4. Time is precious in a FKT and this was eating in to Mike’s run time.

A cloudy and dull start soon cleared though to reveal blue skies with patchy white and fluffy clouds.

 I am continually blown away by Mike’s attitude. He never seems tired, always positive, gives continual thanks to the team helping and is always prepared to add 1 extra mile to his day if he can. Barring injury, I am convinced Mike will get this FKT! Quite simply, if he needs to move for 24-hours towards the end, he will!

 The first three days of this journey really have been truly spectacular. I spent a long time on the trail with Mike today (37km actually) and we discussed how we had both been surprised and impressed by the daily surprises Israel has provided. It’s fair to say, we knew very little before this FKT and our eyes have been opened.

 Mike was once again metronomic in his running, however, a troublesome stomach in the first hour or so irritated him and also a pair of shorts was just not working out! Once he solved both of those issues, the miles clicked along.

There were two incredible highlights today and both involved technical challenges, Hod Akev and Karbolet. The first had a steep climb and wonderful single-track descent with ladders and via Ferrata.

The latter, Karbolet, is known as the hardest and most challenging section of the whole Israel National Trail – it was stunning. It involved a long technical climb with rungs, exposure and technical sections. Once at the summit, the trail went up and down, mostly on angled slabs of rock. To the left, a drop to the valley below.

Karbolet was brutal. Both myself and a pacer ‘Avi’ joined Mike for this long, almost 20km section and it took us almost 5-hours – the latter hours in complete darkness. A highlight though, without doubt, was sunset on the ridge.

Once down, Mike then continued on for another 5km with ‘Uri’ to conclude his day at 2130 in the evening, over 13-hours on the trail.

 Tomorrow will be an 0600 start and will be our last day in the desert. From day-6 we head north with new scenery and experiences.

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Friendly Negev Desert

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Mike Wardian #FKTIsrael 2019 – Day Three

Mike had a sleepless night. He woke often and found the need to stretch his legs, surf on his phone and hope that the morning would come quickly. I am convinced that he is a freak of nature? The rest of the crew were desperate for sleep, slept like babies and didn’t wake up – especially at the 0430 alarm.

The winds came in last night and sand was blowing everywhere. We were expecting a really tough day and yes, rain was possible.  

At 0620 Mike was moving and early on he said he was, ‘feeling great!’

 With 10km covered, the fog like sand disappeared and the sun started to burst through the clouds and then disappear. It would remain that way all day. The wind however persisted, at times this was a blessing keeping Mike cool. At other times it was a pain as it made running difficult and, on the ridges, potentially dangerous.

The stage was stunner, with incredible terrain and majestic views. Trust me folks, this is one of the most remarkable deserts I have visited. It is a spectacular wonder of surprises.

Early on, the region of En Rahel provided a stunning backdrop as Mike climbed and the sky cleared with bursts of sunlight. Later Har Yahav was spectacular providing a stunning climb, exposed ridges and wonderful descent to the riverbed. Har Sharonim was void of sunlight but no less spectacular and then later in the day, as darkness started to approach, the climb from the Ramon River, up to the ‘The Green Backpackers’ and then Mitspe Ramon was a great way to almost bring a day to a close.

 Mispe Ramon towards Mahmal Fort brought a conclusion to the day at  1900 hours. Mike, as the previous day, was robot like. He maintained a consistent pace. At no point did he say he was tired, on the contrary, at all times, he said, ‘I feel so good!’

He clicked the miles off, and go the day done!

Despite the early morning predictions of bad weather, the day was a good one. Cooler than the previous days and intermittent sun, but this all helped Mike. It was a tough day for crewing as access is limited and the easiest way to capture images was to run along on key sections.

There were little changes to Mike’s nutrition today. He seems to have found a strategy that works for him, but a huge salad sandwich was a welcome kick late in the afternoon. Another change came with Pitta filled with Pringles – have to say, they are good!

As with all the day’s, anything of this length requires a long-term view and recovery is key. Mike has the most amazing powers of recovery – he defies logic. There is still a long way to go, but Mike is getting the job done and he is getting amazing support from the run community, not only in Israel, but worldwide. That really boosts him, so, keep that support coming!

Follow #fktisrael

#thenegevfriendlydesert
#running-vacation
#canaanrunning
#trailrunning

#goarava #arava_way

Friendly Negev Desert

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Mike Wardian #FKTIsrael 2019 – Day One

One year of planning finally came to fruition today, when US based ultra-runner, Michael Wardian departed Eilat at 0546 to head north covering a total of 631-mile on the Israel National Trail in a target goal of 10-days. 

It’s a huge undertaking and the man who came up with this idea, Zoli Bihari of Canaan Running Adventures knows only too well. He did a similar route over 3-years ago, it took him 23-days.

Michael is a legend in the ultra-running world and his reputation precedes his prolific achievements and his desire to run. Just recently he won the World Marathon Majors, running 7-marathons on 7-Continents. He then added 3 additional marathons so that he could set a world-record for the fastest average time for 10-marathons in 10-days.

Never one to refuse an adventure, Michael and Zoli met at the 2018 The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica. The duo chatted and the idea for #fktisrael was created.

It is normal for trekkers to travel from the north and finish in the south. However, there are restrictions on the trails (in terms of movement in darkness) in the south, therefore, Zoli and Mike decided to start in the south and then if required, they could run in to the night later in the challenge and gain extra miles and time.

For a couple of days, Mike and the team explored the trails in advance of the FKT. It allowed some adjustment, planning, photo opportunities and also gain some relaxation time before a huge challenge.

Placing his hand on the metal post with the ‘INT’ markers, he looked eager and motivated for the challenge ahead. For several days he had been saying he felt good. He was off…!

The landscape and scenery on day-1 is truly spectacular. I would go as far to say, that it is some of the most impressive I personally have witnessed. Beauty comes at a price though – the trails are technical, have plenty of climbing and descending and then add some intense heat.

 Mike was always going to play a, ‘Let’s see?’ Scenario on day-1 and he was keen not to get too carried away, starting at a crazy pace. With 50-miles to cover, it seemed a sensible target.

Throughout the day Mike moved steadily, always looking relaxed and in control. However, it was clear from the outset that Mike’s ‘hopeful’ target time for day-1 would be extended. Not a problem! After all, this attempt is going to last 10-days – one needs to think of the long game!

 At each check-point he arrived, smiled, said he felt good and then stocked up on ‘Tailwind,’ drank some Coconut water, snacked on food, re-filled his bottles and off he went. Rarely did he spend longer than 10-minutes at any one stop.

 A highlight of the day came at Timna Park. The trails, the landscape and the views here are truly spectacular – for sure, it is a bucket list location. I joined Mike for a second time in the day to climb over the key mountain, run the technical trails and the descend to our feed point at 51km covered.

 Mike was moving well, using poles when required and maintaining a good pace. At the feed, he went through a similar scenario as with all the other stations and then moved on.

At the final feed point, Beer Matak at 61.5km he was notably looking tired and fatigued from the day’s efforts. He was also feeling the heat from the last big climb of the day. It was time to dig deep and push on for a final 18km.

 It was here, as darkness came that disaster struck. Mike followed the marker of the ‘INT’ but unfortunately missed the turn to our bivouac which was off the INT route. He pushed on, following the markers and it was our support runner who notified us that he was ‘missing’ after hearing from another trekker that he passed some 30-minutes early. Our camp no cellular connection, so, we departed following the approximate route that Mike would take, It was here that technology took over. We managed to liaise with Mike via WhatsApp, we shared ‘live locations’ and we were able to navigate to him a long way down the ‘INT’ route. The route that he should have done on day-2!

 Mike was surprisingly in good spirits, but he had been out on the trail for almost 13-hours and 20-minutes, it was a tough first day! The only plus side coming that he had eaten in to tomorrow’s mileage.

 Back in camp, it was all about recovery. He hydrated, ate some snacks, wiped down and put on fresh clothes. He soon needed a nap. It had been a very long day, both physically and mentally. The priority was good rest, some quality food and then focus the mind for the challenges that day-2 would present.

Follow #fktisrael

#thenegevfriendlydesert
#running-vacation
#canaanrunning
#trailrunning

Friendly Negev Desert

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Richard Bowles – He’s at it again…

Running the Israel National Trail (INT)

RBowles

Described as a hybrid of Bear Grylls and Forrest Gump, Melbourne based adventure runner Richard Bowles is set to create another record in the world of ultra-distance trail running, in one of the most fascinating countries on the planet.

Just another long distance runner? Hardly. In 2012 Richard ran over 10,500km of trails, the equivalent distance of 249 marathons, but in much different circumstances. Imagine doing Tough Mudder 10 times a week, add in to the mix some crocodile infested river crossings, an avalanche zone and an active volcano and you’re getting some sense of Richards typical week, every week, for a whole year.

Is he a bit nuts? Maybe, because he’s about embark on yet another wild adventure.

Starting on Sunday 14 April 2013 , Richard will run (and climb) atleast 80km each day along the 1009km INT that winds its way from the Red Sea in Eilat in the southernmost part of Israel to Dan in the North, near the border of Lebanon and Syria, where he plans to arrive 12 days later on April 26….or even sooner if all goes well!

The trail, described by National Geographic as one of the worlds most ‘epic trails’, was the vision of Israeli Ori Dvir, and showcases Israels impressive landscape. Traversing the arid and unforgiving Negev, along ancient Roman roads, climbing up and down craters and canyons, past historically significant sites and over mountain passes, along lush river valleys, and through the heart of the bustling Tel Aviv.

richardbowles2

During 2012 Richard became the first person to run the worlds longest marked trail, the rough and remote Bicentennial National Trail of Australia traversing the treacherous and remote dividing range mountains from Melbourne to Cooktown, raising awareness and funds for mental health organisation SANE Australia along the way. Just 3 weeks after completing this incredible feat, Richard flew to New Zealand to tackle their incredibly tough and dangerous 3,054km Te Araroa Trail, and in just 65 days Richard became the first person to run the entire trail.

Combining a passion for adventure, a love for running, and a determination to make a positive contribution to the places through which he runs, Richard and the team will be choosing a worthy charity, one whose work is close to his heart and to which he feels he can offer the most benefit to. The charity partner will be confirmed in the coming weeks. Richard believes in giving back, as these adventures and the people who support him give him so much.

Run INT Project

Running 1009km on Israel’s National Trail, over mountains and deserts….and in just 12 days! Or less!!

Project Website

www.richardbowles.com.au

The Israel National Trail – 1009km winding through this most geographically and historically significant part of the world, from Eilat in the South to Dan in the North.

www.israelnationaltrail.com

WHY?

The question most people ask is why would anyone want to run over 80km each day for 2 weeks? Richard explains, “The trail less travelled offers the best adventures, and I’m all about challenging myself on a daily basis”.

Richard says he is keen to meet with the communities through which the trail passes, and always takes the time to do so…even when running such huge distances each day. “The highlight of the projects in 2012 was meeting people. Being welcomed into their homes, sharing stories over a meal, and enjoying the wonderful adventure that they had now become a part of”.

Who is Richard?

Richard Bowles has many years experience in the discipline of distance running and regularly runs 200km weekly on trails around Melbourne. He is the first person to ever run the worlds longest marked trail (5,330km Bicentennial National Trail, Australia) , and is the Australian Record holder of the 2010 Tenzing Hillary Mt Everest Marathon; Winner of the 2011 Tasmanian 3 Peaks Challenge (sailing and mountain running event) and Record Holder of the Wilsons Prom Ultra Marathon 2010.
For more info go to http://www.richardbowles.com.au

More about the Israel National Trail

Inspiration for the trail came from Avraham Tamir, a well-known children’s book author who, at the age of 78 hiked the Appalachian Trail. Upon returning to Israel he proposed a hiking trail that wove its way from one end to the other. And so, in 1991, the Israel National Trail (INT) was born. Beginning in the far north of the country hugging the border with Lebanon, the tiny Kibbutz Dan marks the starting point. The finishing line is found some 1009km further south, where Israel’s Red Sea coast stops at the border with Egypt. To undertake the entire trail takes seasoned hikers 30 to 45 days maintaining a pace of about 30 kilometres a day.