Israel National Trail FKT #FKTIsrael on SIDETRACKED

“…Word on the trail was getting out and Mike was being met by more and more runners who cheered him on. As the hours passed so did the miles – Mike was like a machine. He pushed into the night to the ancient city of Tel Arad. The rain poured down and the wind gusted and buffeted. Mike ran 91km today.”

Read the full story of Michael Wardian’s epic journey running from the south to the north of Israel setting a new fastest known time of 10-days, 16-hours and 36-minutes.


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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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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!

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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.

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Mike Wardian #FKTIsrael T-1 Day

Ultra-runner, Mike Wardian discusses his thoughts 1-day ahead of his 631-mile Israel National Trail ‘Fastest Known Time’ challenge.

Zoli Bihari of Canaan Running Adventures is the mind behind #fktisrael – With just one day to go, I chat with Zoli about his thoughts on the journey ahead.

Mike’s adventure will start on Tuesday morning with first light, estimated at 0530. The day will conclude at Shaharut. This will be 80km +/- for day one.

Interactive Israel National Trail map HERE

For the first four day’s, the FKT must respect the rules of the National Park – this restricts any movement after a certain time in the evening.

Read an in-depth interview and view photos HERE

The journey will be documented here on this website and various social media platforms. Importantly, Mike openly encourages that you join him on the trails. You can find information on Facebook on the page HERE.

It takes detailed planning to make a journey like this happen and two 4×4 vehicles will leap-frog each other to make sure that Mike is supported throughout his attempt. Each night, we all will sleep on the trail – we have enough food to feed an army!

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Michael Wardian #FKTIsrael – Pre FKT Interview and Photos

We are here in Israel ahead of Michael Wardian‘s #fktisrael attempt, a 631-miles in Israel running the Israel National Trail.

The team arrived in Eilat March, 9th and 12th to prepare. Zoli Bihar and Erez Ganescu are providing planning and essential back up and support for this record attempt.

The Israel National Trail, is a hiking path that was inaugurated in 1995. The trail crosses the entire country of Israel. Its northern end is at Dan, near the Lebanese border in the far north of the country, and it extends to Eilat at the southernmost tip of Israel on the Red Sea, a length of 1,015 km (631 mi).

The idea for this FKT was created by Zoli Bihari of Canaan Running Adventures @CanaanRunning on FB and IG

The Israel National Trail has been listed in National Geographic’s 20 most “epic trails.” It is described as a trail that “delves into the grand scale of biblical landscapes as well as the everyday lives of the modern Israeli.”

Michael will start his FKT attempt on Tuesday March 12th at sunrise. Ahead of his departure, I caught up with him to find more about this epic challenge.

IanMichael we have been out there to do a little bit of recce on the course, it’s stunning so far, really incredible! What is it that fired you up about running over 600 miles from one end of Israel to the other?

Michael: I met a guy named Zoli at a race that you’re very familiar with (The Coastal Challenge) and I love, last year in Costa Rica. At first what fired me up about it was just Zoli’s passion for Israel and the trail running there and I have to say I knew nothing about that. I didn’t even have that on my radar. It was something that just wasn’t even a thing for me. My sister has been a few times….

She has some Israeli friends that she’s visited, and I remember freaking out like the first time she went just because of the media here in the US. When she returned, I said,” Wow” – It opened my eyes.! She told me how great the food was, the people were so interesting and the countryside sobeautiful.

It peeked my curiosity. Ithen met Zoli and he told me that there is a re al trail running scene.

I visited in December and I ran a few days. Weird really, I didn’t even know they had ultra-marathons there. It was just like a blank spot on my consciousness. It was something else, I had listened to the media, “That place is dangerous, that place is somewhere that if you are an American you want to avoid.” I’m sure Iran is amazing and there’s probably beautiful parts -for example!I went to Cuba a couple of years ago and that was the same thing. I was like, “This place is incredible,” It’s too bad we don’t get to explore that part of the world and so when Zoli mentioned Israel, I was like, “Wow that’s really interesting”.

Importantly, in my progression as a runner, I want to do some longer, bigger things and I’ve been inspired by people that have run across the country (USA). I work full-time and have a family, so, to disappear for a month or more is not possible. However, the opportunity to sneak away for hopefully 10 to 15 days is a little bit more manageable at this point in my life. The FKT is going to be a bigger undertaking than anything I’ve ever done and its nerve wracking and exciting – it’s something where I’m always looking for the opportunity to evolve as an athlete.

I’ve been really embracing the FKTs and that kind of way to explore what one Is capable of. It is an opportunity to explore a different way of challenging oneself. It’s also a building block to further challenges, “Yes, I definitely want to try to run across the US. Then if that goes well, it’d be fun to run across other continents and maybe ultimately doing a run across Antarctica – that would be amazing.”

Ian: One thing that’s great about running and hiking or just moving via foot is that it’s about the journey. Travelling from one end of a country to the other or travelling across a country or basically travelling on a trail, there’s something really, really satisfying about making that journey in a semi or self-sufficient manner.

I like you was contacted by Zoli and he asked would I document the FKT.

Of course, my initial reaction was yes. Then I thought, “Hold on a minute, Israel. Okay. There’s Syria at one end, there’s Jordan, there’s Egypt, there’s Saudi Arabia, there’s the Gaza Strip. What have I just let myself in for?” [I’ve had a few messages from people since we announced that the FKT was going ahead and they said, “Hey, are you going to be okay? Is it safe?” Of course, my answer was immediately, “Yes of course it is.” Then I thought, “Actually, is it?”

I went on the on the UK embassy website and put in Israel, I asked, “is it safe to travel?”

They basically said, “Yes, there’s nothing to be scared of.” Obviously, as in any of these countries, they say you need to be logical and sensible and don’t do anything silly, but effectively if you’re missing out the Gaza Strip or one or two of the red areas then everything’s fine.

The Israel National Trailwas created by, Avram Tamir, actually, he got the idea because he hiked the Appalachian Trail in the US.

Michael: Yes, that’s true, yes.

Ian: There’s a really nice connection there, the fact that somebody goes to the US, does the Appalachian Trail, and then basically wants to take that concept back to Israel and creates a trail that goes from one end to the other.

It seems as though most people, if they’re going to do this, start in Kibbutz Dan and then go down towards Eilat. We’re actually going do this FKT the opposite way around, we’re going to go from Eilat to Kibbutz Dan.

Michael: Yes, that’s the way that we’ve designed it in. I’ve researched it both ways and it is Zoli’s suggestion to go south to north. I did a recce in December and checked out the terrain and it makes a lot of sense.

The northern end, where you were talking about, Kibbutz Dan, that’s a little bit more urban and it’s less restrictive as far as travel, so, if need be, we can run into the night.

If you start in the north, one is tempted to run bigger miles at the beginning, and I think that’s what a lot of people try to do. Then they end up getting to the desert and they’re more restricted by the night. The south is more challenging too and hence slower.

We’re thinking that it’s better to tackle, the harder part at the beginning when you’re a little fresher. Ialso think that actually having the restrictions of moving at night should be a good thing, it’’s almost like a governor. I cannot get too excited and run too much!

The route finding is maybe a little bit more difficult in the South too from the looks of it. It piggybacks on local trails, so, I need to make sure I don’t get lost. He based it on the Appalachian Trail. The Appalachian Trail does a similar style where there is the Appalachian Trail that’s 2,000 miles or something. Offshoots of that are just local trails that everyone uses. Also, you can jump on the Appalachian Trail for 10 miles or 20 miles or 40k.

You’ve got to make sure you know which marker you’re looking for. You’ve just got to know where to look. I think that’s going to be something – to try to stay on the trail. Luckily, with modern technology I can use GPS for back-up.

As I move forward, I want to try to embrace the Israeli running communion and I think we’ll be able to draw more people out and be part of the journey as we move North rather than South. It’s more populated. It’s easier to get people out on the trails to be a part of it.

IanIn terms of logistics Michael, it’s interesting if you look at the distances for the trail because they don’t seem to be some varying distances. I’ve read on one site, it’s 693 miles, I’ve read on another 631. Let’s estimate that it’s going to be somewhere in that ballpark. It seems as though most people like to try and do it in 30 or 40 days, and you’re going to go for 10, which is effectively 100k a day. It’s quite a challenge. How many hours a day early on do you think you’re going to be able to play with? Obviously, should you get behind later on in the attempt, where the flexibility is greater for running during the night, you can obviously extend your time. Originally what sort of time frame are you working on the early days?

Michael: I think that it’ll be interesting because some of the terrain is challenging. You’ve got some climbing, soft sand, I don’t know, people think of the desert and they think it is like beach sand. Most of the time, it’s not really like that. The deserts that I’ve been in so far, like the Gobi or the Sahara or the desert in Israel, it’s more of hard crusty dirt and rocks.

Some sections I should be able to run pretty quick. One section is really interesting that is 50 or 60 kilometers long where one is running between two military training areas. It’s pretty cool, but it’s basically just like this gravel road, almost. I have done my research with runners like Scott Jurek, Karl Meltzer and others – I will look to break my day down with say a marathon, a break for food and then another marathon.I will also add miles depending on time and how I feel.

“I just want to keep moving the whole day,” I have a crew to look after me, so, let’s see! The local run community will be key too.

It’s similar I feel to the community spirit you get in the UK when you’re trying to do like the Bob Graham Round or the Ramsay Round, local runners love to get involved. Or even like here in the USA when you’re doing the Appalachian Trail or the PCT or the Continental Divide Trail – you have trail angels that come out and maybe drop some food, cash, some water for you or just come and run with you for 10 miles…

I was surprised when I did the FKT here in DC. I ran basically a little around 300 kilometers in 36 hours. I had no impromptu aid stations and then groups of like 15 or 20 people that would join with me for a bit. Other sections I was alone, but for the most part, it just became this thing and I’m hoping for something similar in Israel. I just did an FKT on a trail right by my house and I probably had 40 people that came out, it was awesome.

ZoliIs pretty detail oriented and he’s prepared this incredible spreadsheet with estimated times at all the places. It’s nice to have a target each day, but if some days I go more than 100K, we can do that, equally, I may need to do less?

IanYes. The thing is you have to have a time frame to work to otherwise, it just becomes an uncontrolled endeavor. It’s good for you to understand that maybe you need to try and cover X number of miles per day. Also, for myself Zoli and Erez, we need to have an idea of your ETA in places.I’m going to be documenting what’s happening, but also, I’ll be crewing as well, we’re going to double up. We need that timeframe to understand what your objective is and the speed that you’re moving.

Like you say, on something like this, there’s going to be times when you’re clicking along on good hard trail and then other times when moving slow.

Michael: That’s what I was going to say. Just from the little small part that I witnessedin December, some of it it’s like, ‘Wow, you can move pretty quick.” In other parts of it, you’re like, “Huh, this is going to be slow. I’m going to be going like 5k an hour here.”

IanAbsolutely. National Geographic,has listed it as one of THE most epic trails out of a list of 20.

Michael: Totally, yes.

Ian: It seems as though it’s definitely a hidden secret. Of course, you undertaking this FKT is certainly going to open up this trail to a whole new audience, and it will certainly come on people’s radars. I have to admit, I was a little bit like yourself. I was aware of the trail because I interviewed a guy who had done FKTs in the past, who attempted this, an Australian, Richard Bowles.

Michael: He had some issue. I don’t know what happened. I couldn’t figure out. You interviewed him about that?

IanNo. I interviewed him about another FKT that he’d done, but I knew that he tackled the Israel National Trail. I never quite got to the nitty-gritty of what happened. I loved one of the descriptions that I read. It says, “The trail delves into the grand scale of biblical landscape as well as the everyday lives of modern Israel.” I thought, “You know what? If anything made me want to go on this trail, it’s that.”

Looking at the map, you seeJerusalem, Tel Aviv,Bethlehem – they’re all places that have been on my geography radar for such a long time. I get to travel a lot. I’m very, very lucky. But I never thought I would go here! We’re on this epic journey crossing the country. It really, really fascinates me. I’m sure you’ve done a little bit of research. Are there any particular points that you’ve looked at and you thought, “You know what? This is going to be amazing going through this area?”

Michael: I think that that’s a really great description or introduction to your audience. There’s some stuff that’s actually not on the trail that’s actually interesting too. We are going to be running through terrain that I mentioned in the bible. That really excites me. It may feel quite Spiritual, I am not sure, but I am keeping an open mind.

Zoli did a really good job just teasing me with some really cool parts. Canyons, ridges, a section with waterfalls and evenVia Ferrata,

I got this sense of peace and calm while I was out there, and I’d love to get that feeling again at some point. I don’t know if that’s only near Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, but I felt it in the desert.

IanI was just going to say this because I was having a look at the breakdown of the route and some of the places that they talk about and there’s the Naftali Ridge, the Ramim cliffs, these Kadesh Stream.

Michael: Those cliffs are amazing dude.

Ian: Mount Tabor, Tzippori Stream, Shayarot Range, Judean Mountains, Yatir, Dragor quarry, Mamshit stream and then it’s mentioning words like Jerusalem and I’ve already got images in my mind…

Michael: That’s what I was going to say. You’re just like, wow, okay, I hope there’s room for us at the inn!


Michael:It’s like, wow, this is crazy.

Ian:It motivates the mind and of course until you get there and start to experience that you don’t really know what it’s going to be but certainly my anticipation is high.

From an ultra-running community and a trail-running community perspective, most people just seem to naturally think that Michael Wardian is the perfect person to try aFKTlike this, primarily because it seems though you just never stop running Michael.

I have interviewed you many times, but I think back to our interview a few years back when I spoke to you and basically you were just fractured all over from running.

You had stress fractures everywhere, almost to the point that, for a time, you didn’t quite know what running was going to be after. I remember having this chat with you and saying,“I future you’re going to have to run a little bit less and control yourself.”You replied, saying, “Yes, yes, yes, I’m going to be more sensible.” Then it just seemed as though within a couple of months, forget that. You were back to running a marathon one day, running an ultra the next day. Then once you finished an ultra, getting in your car and going running a 17-minute 5k at a park run or something.

What is it that is in your psyche, because you’re a family man, you’ve got kids, you’ve got a busy professional life, what is it that just makes you want to run so much?

Michael: I just love it. I love all aspects of it. I like the hard work that I put into it. I love the training. I love doing the little things. At 5am today I’m heading to my coach to do strength training, mobility and pliability, but I also think that the reward for doing all those little things and putting the time and energy in is the chance to compete against other people and yourself, the opportunity to be out there pushing the boundaries of what I think is possible for myself and the exhilaration you get when you toe the line. I don’t know about you, but when you have that brief moment before the race, when you have the expectation of whatever It is, you’re trying to do, you have this idea and then you actually go and prove it. It’s like solving a scientific problem!

I may say, “Yes, I’m going to run across Israel in 10 days and I’m going to do this and I’m going to do that.” But, to actually have the courage to stand there and try it is what fascinates me. I may fail, but I have to try.

Then once you start, that’s when actually all of the fun starts. I have to decide, “What kind of pace am I going to run?” It’s like playing a game. I have set myself a target of ten days, but I have no idea how I will feel. What the weather will be like. How my legs feel. Will I have stomach issues, and so on, and so on. It’s a complex game and that is what is interesting.

I love that aspect when one is not quite sure. I have a good idea of how I things will go, but who knows? For me, that’s the reason I like to be out there. It’s an opportunity, it’s real, it’s raw. There’s no subjectivity to it, it’s you either do it or you don’t, and it’s very binary.

You’re like, “I’m going to knock this out in a couple hours,” and all of a sudden it gets hard and you have got to decide how to proceed. There’s always that point in a race where you decide, “Am I going to give in? Or am I going to master this? Or am I going to be able to overcome this?” I love that experience that one has. It’s so many little binary decisions that you have to make, “Do I go faster? Do I go slower? Should I eat now? Should I stop? Should I change my shoes? Should I change my socks? Should I take on more water? Should I drink more?

All these little things one has to navigate.Even if one does this perfectly, it doesn’t necessarily mean I am going to end up where you I want to be. If I do it poorly, sometimes I can just overcome. The opportunity to be out there and learn something more about myself, that’s what I want to do as an athlete. I want to continue to evolve. I want to be able to do more things and bigger things, but I also want to do the things I do well and hone those and tweak those. I don’t know, it’s a craft to me, it’s part of who I am and what I do. Every time I go out there, I feel I become a little better at what I do.

I definitely like to be out there and racing. already this year I’ve done 13 or 14 events and I set a world record for the 10 marathons in 10 days. Last weekend, I just did an FKT and before that I did probably arguably one of the harder 100 milers in the world, the HURT100. It’s been a pretty big, amazing year already. This FKT will be that next progression for me.

IanAbsolutely. Our journey starts on March 12th. Target is 10 days for the FKT. Obviously, what we’re going to be doing is updating everybody as this happens as much as we possibly can, and the hashtag is going to be #fktisrael. There’s also a Facebook page which is FKT Israel. We’re going to put a link to all these below. Obviously, we’ll get uploads on Mike’s personal Facebook page. There’ll be @talkultra on Twitter. There’ll be @iancorlessphotography on Instagram and my feeds on Facebook.

We’ll put all these links in and of course Zoli and Canaan Running who are behind the organisation of this. There’s going to be hopefully plenty of media, of course folks this is reliant on the wonderful world of 3G 4G andInternet connections. We are going to be in some remote places, so, bear with us if there’s gaps in feeds and getting things out there and of course, to make this all official, Mike is going to be using multiple instruments to track his progress. One will be his Garmin inReach. I think you’re going to use a polar as well. Is that correct Michael?

Michael: Yes. I have a polar vantage. I’m going to try to upload all that data to Strava. That’ll be one way I do it and then I have a Garmin inReach that I’m planning to use, and I think Zoli is actually going to rent another one there just in case we have any issues with mine. But hey, Ian, I am hoping you will join me some days.It would be fun to share some kilometers and miles with you.

IanYes, I think most certainly, I’ll be on the trails with you at some point. We obviously have to balance this with my role to document what you are doing.

Michael: Yes, exactly. We can’t just hang out the whole time.

IanExactly. Running with a camera does take a toll but I’m sure there’s going to be opportunities for myself and Zoli to spend 5K with you, 10K with you. Now the FKT is imminent.

Michael: It has been almost a year ago now since Zoli first mentioned this. It’s been bubbling in the background. We weren’t sure it was going to happen. I have got to give a big shout out to Zoli and his team for helping to put this together and then for you for being able to make it fit your schedule because I know how busy it is.

Lastly, I want to also just put an invitation out there to anyone that’s reading, especially if you’re close to Israel or based in Israel. We are completely open to people coming out on the trail. I’d love for people to be a part of it in any way. If you want to run with me that would be amazing, or if you want to just come in and cheer, or set up an aid station, or just come out and heckle me that’s all welcome. I look forward to a being out there and sharing the amazing trail with everyone and the opportunity to see what is possible.

The entire FKT will be documented here on on Instagram at @iancorlessphotography and on Twitter @talkultra – I will be providing an extensive photographic story that will delve into the entire FKT showing the highs and lows of this epic undertaking. In addition, there will be regular stories and videos to help explain this journey across Israel.

More detail and information will follow every day. #fktisrael will have updates and information.


Friendly Negev Desert

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Twitter – @talkultra

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Michael Wardian to take on Israel National Trail Fastest Known Time – #fktisrael

Ultra-running legend, Mike Wardian, to take on the 631-mile Israel National Trail


Michael Wardian needs no introduction to the running world. For year’s the husband, dad and international ship broker has blazed a trail of incredible running performances that have defied logic.

Just recently, he broke the world record for 10-marathons in 10-days. He ran the first 7-marathons as part of the World Marathon Challenge, running 7-marathons on 7- continents. An event he has already completed once. However, 2019 was different… Read on Runners World (here) – “I wanted to do it last time I did WMC, but we ended in Australia that year, and I had to go back home to get my family to go to Tarawera 100K, so it didn’t work out,” Wardian told Runner’s World. “This year, we ended in Miami, so I set it up with a guy at Pacers (Running Store in Washington, D.C.), Chris Farley, who had a planned marathon course at Haynes Point in D.C.”

Running The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica 2018.

In March, Michael will take on 631-miles in Israel running the Israel National Trail. Dates are to be confirmed, however, the current scheduled start date will be March 12th (tbc).

The Israel National Trail, is a hiking path that was inaugurated in 1995. The trail crosses the entire country of Israel. Its northern end is at Dan, near the Lebanese border in the far north of the country, and it extends to Eilat at the southernmost tip of Israel on the Red Sea, a length of 1,015 km (631 mi).

The idea was created by Zoli Bihari of Canaan Running Adventures @CanaanRunning on FB and IG

Michael will start his journey in Eilat.

The trail is marked with three stripes (white, blue, and orange), and takes an average of 45-60 days to complete. It does not enter the Golan Heights or the West Bank.

Michael will look to run the entire route in 10-days or less. 

The Israel National Trail has been listed in National Geographic’s 20 most “epic trails.” It is described as a trail that “delves into the grand scale of biblical landscapes as well as the everyday lives of the modern Israeli.”

          Israel Trail Information taken from ©wikipedia

The entire FKT will be documented here on on Instagram at @iancorlessphotography and on Twitter @talkultra – I will be providing an extensive photographic story that will delve into the entire FKT showing the highs and lows of this epic undertaking. In addition, there will be regular stories and videos to help explain this journey across Israel.

More detail and information will follow in the coming weeks. #fktisrael will have updates and information.

Follow on:

Instagram – @iancorlessphotography

Twitter – @talkultra

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Episode 32 – Richard Bowles, Dr Phil Maffetone

Talk Ultra Ep32

Speedgoat makes it no35 out of 60 at Antelope 100… We speak to Richard Bowles who is about to embark on another journey! We have an extended Talk Training with Dr Phil Maffetone. We catch up with Mike Wardian on how his recovery and racing is shaping up. We have a ‘Year in the life of‘, the last episode of our ‘MDS‘ build up, 15 mins of Fame with Tony Di Giovani, the News, Up and Coming Races and a Meltzer Moment.

Show Notes:

00:00:45 Start
00:17:15 Mike Wardian we catch up with TNF athlete Mike Wardian as he gets back into training and racing after a series of injuries.
00:28:25 Back to Karl
00:31:30 A Year in the life of – Tyler has just run a 50km and is now preparing for a 70 miler.
00:38:40 News from around the ultra world
00:53:15 MDS special – as you listen to this we will be in Morocco for the 2013 Marathon des Sables. This episode we catch up with Tobias Mews. You can read a 2013 Race Preview  HERE and an interview with Race Director, Patrick Bauer HERE.
01:07:20 Blog – Ellie Greenwood -I know we have had Ellie Greenwoods blog on the show before but just recently she ran Two Oceans in South Africa as she prepares for Comrades. Many think that ultras are about running slow and comfortable pace… Ellie confirms it’s not! Speed matters – HERE

01:10:05 Talk TrainingDr Phil Maffetone Please check on for an article that will coincide with this podcast HERE
01:49:10 Interview with Richard Bowles. Richard has a taste for adventure and running a long way… check out his website HERE you can also read about his next adventure HERE
02:20:20 Meltzer Moment
02:23:15 15 min of Fame with Tony Di Giovani – I met Tony (and his friends) at The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica. He has an inspiring story…
02:36:15 Races
2:38:50 Close
02:44:14  End
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Richard Bowles – He’s at it again…

Running the Israel National Trail (INT)


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.


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

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.


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

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.