Lavaredo Ultra Trail 2021 Summary

Elisa Desco on her way to victory and CR.

3500 participants, representing 50 nations, gave life back to Cortina d’Ampezzo and the Dolomites for a stunning four days of racing, Thursday 24 to Sunday 27 June, after the coronavirus pandemic brought a halt to the 2020 edition of the Lavaredo Ultra Trail. It was good to be back!

Taking place in a UNESCO World Heritage location, the SkyMarathon, Cortina trail, the Ultra Dolomites 80km and the main event, the 120km Lavaredo Ultra Trail which represented the Italian stage of the Spartan Trail World Championship 2021.

UNESCO World Heritage location

Cortina d’Ampezzo (Belluno), hosted the 14th edition of the Lavaredo Ultra Trail and while it was not easy for Cristina Murgia and Simone Brogioni to return after a difficult year, they rallied and with a team of 600+ volunteers, the 2021 edition can be deemed a great success. It is obviously hoped that the 2022 edition can be a ‘normal’ edition with more participants and more nations.

The 2021 La Sportiva Lavaredo Ultra Trail, kicked off on Thursday evening with the Cortina SkyRace which 20 kilometers and 1000m of vertical gain that started and concluded in Cortina taking in a picturesque root with stunning views and trails.

Marta Fabris

Spaniard, Alex Garcia Carrillo won the men’s race setting a new course record and the Italian, Marta Fabris, took home the crown for the women.

Alex Garcia Carrillo

The Cortina Trail started the following morning at 0900, once again starting and concluding on Cortina, with a distance 48 kilometers and 2,600 meters of elevation gain, the route contained much of the final section of the 120km main event.

Elisa Desco in the early stages of the Cortina Trail

1200 competitors competed that led around the Tofane, touching Col Rosà and going up the Val Travenanzes, up to Col dei Bos. In the second half in the shadow of Averau and Nuvolau, the Giau pass, Forcella Ambrizzola, Croda da Lago refuge and then the finish in Cortina. Antonio Martínez Perez from Spain won for the men in 4:17:14 (new CR) ahead of Norwegian, Jo Forseth Indgaard and Fin, Mårten Boström, the duo completing in 4:23:41 and 4:26:31 respectively. Skyrunner, Elisa Desco from Italy, won for the women’s race with a new CR of 5:06:57 breaking the 2018 mark, set by Hillary Allen by almost 12-minutes. Ursula Paprocka 5:24:19, and Katarzyna Wilk 5:25:43 completed the podium.

Antonio Martínez Perez
Jo Forseth Indgaard

The main event, the La Sportiva Lavaredo Ultra Trail now in its 14th edition) started at 2300hrs on Friday evening and as mentioned, represented Spartan Trail World Championship for 2021. With 5800m of vertical gain and 120km’s, the task is arduous and hard for all who toe the line. A night of running is broken with the arrival of dawn at the stunning Tres Comes of Lavaredo welcomes the front runners. What follows are stunning trails in an amphitheater of rock and amazing views. The ever present and unique Dolomite mountains providing the most amazing background to modern day gladiators battling for their own personal victories.

Tres Cimes de Lavaredo
Hannes Namberger leading Andreu Simon Aymerich at Giau.
Sebastien Krogvig

Hannes Namberger, from Giau to Forcella Ambrizzola, changed gear and in the closing 6km he opened gap of almost three minutes after a long battle with Andreu Simon Aymerich to gain victory with a new course record in 12h 02m 12s. Sebastian Krogvig completed the podium, repeating his third place in 2017. For the women, Camille Bruyas from France, clinched a solid victory in 14:06:16 ahead of Katie Schide and Mimi Kotka, 14:28:21 and 14:51:09 respectively.

Camille Bruyas
Katie Schide

While the Lavaredo Ultra Trail 120km event passed through its 9th hour, the Ultra Dolomites, now in in its 2nd edition started, with 4100 meters of elevation gain and 80km waiting from Sesto (Bolzano). Czech, Marek Causidis clinched victory in 8:10:26 and Martina Valmassoi won for the women in 9:21:11.

Stunning landscape

The Lavaredo Ultra Trail had a title sponsor of La Sportiva and was supported by other important brands – Parmigiano Reggiano, Buff, Petzl, La Cooperativa di Cortina, Rudy Project, Garmin, San Benedetto, Elleerre, Fabbrica di Pedavena, Eolo, Cortinabanca, Astoria, Reflexallen and Cortina Hospital.

Please support this website. I believe everyone deserves to read quality, independent and factual articles – that’s why this website is open to all. Free press has never been so vital. I hope I can keep providing independent articles with your help. Any contribution, however big or small, is so valuable to help finance regular content. Please support me on Patreon HERE.

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Mandatory Kit for Ultra Trail, Ultra Running and Ultra Marathon

I was notified of the horrific incident in China over breakfast whilst on location in the mountains of Norway.

I immediately typed ‘China’ into a Google search and the headline was everywhere:

Twenty-one dead as extreme weather hits ultramarathon in China”

The Yellow River Stone Forest 100k, held at Yellow River Stone Forest Park in Gansu Province in northwestern China was organized by the Baiyin Municipal Committee, Sports Bureau, and local branches of the Communist Party of China.

It was clear that a horrific tragedy had occurred and I, like everyone else asked, ‘How could this happen on such a huge scale?’

On the start line 172 participants toed the line, ahead 100km. Reports outlined cool and breezy conditions at the start. But by 1pm in the afternoon, conditions had changed considerably, and the race was hit by freezing rain, gale-force winds and dropping temperatures. With most participants somewhere between 20 and 32km, the weather continued to become more severe, runners were ill prepared and defenseless against the conditions resulting in the death of 21 souls, the main cause hypothermia.

‘The runners were racing along a very narrow mountain path at an altitude of about 2,000-3,000 meters.’

GT

The race was halted at 2pm after messages were sent out by emergency trackers, cell phones and some runner’s posting on social media. Search and rescue efforts were put in place and somewhere between 700 and 1200 rescuers were called in to action – the exact figures vary depending on which news outlets one uses. Using state-of-the-art technology such as drones, thermal imaging, and radar, 151 runners were eventually confirmed safe despite harsh conditions and delays due to landslides.

There has been much debate, many questions asked, and a great deal of blame fired around on all media platforms. The deaths prompted outrage in China, with many questioning the preparedness of the Baiyin Municipal Committee.

In ultra-running circles, worldwide, Twitter, Facebook and other social outlets had continuing heated debates that pointed blame, questioned mandatory kit and the overall experience level of runners, and organising team. To clarify, Jing Liang was one of the poor souls to lose his life, an experienced athlete who has raced at UTMB and Hong Kong 100, so, not a novice. And the Baiyin Municipal Committee had organized previous editions of the race without problem.

“The tragedy in China has weighed on me heavily. It could have been any of us out there pushing through with the ultrarunner mindset,” said Camille Herron. “Part of being an ultra-runner is being able to trouble shoot.”

The Global Times on May 24th published an article titled Deadly cross-country race exposes hidden yet common safety problems in China’s red-hot marathon pursuit – It was an article that did not hold back.

‘While it’s the hypothermia that directly caused their death, several insiders in China’s marathon business said the organising committee should shoulder the main responsibility for failing to provide enough organisational, tactical, rescue, and security support for the event.’

Global Times

It is only correct questions are asked, and without doubt there is much to learn here, not only by those who organise races but also for those who run them.

As many running friends have commented to me personally, ‘shit happens’ and sometimes you cannot plan for freak occurrences. After all, this is why they are called freak – An incident, especially one that is harmful, occurring under highly unusual and unlikely circumstances.’

However, the required ‘mandatory’ equipment for the Yellow River Stone Forest 100k was at best minimal – cell phone, whistle, water container, headlamp, race bib, GPS tracker, GPX file (I assume on watch or phone) and timing chip.

A jacket, trekking poles, water, energy supplies, first aid, petroleum jelly and Buff were considered ‘recommended’ but not mandatory.

Anna Cometi at Everest Trail Race, Nepal.

It’s fair to say, that even with the ‘recommended’ items, in the freak weather encountered in China, maybe the outcome would have been no different due to the severity of the storm. However, we will never know the answer to this and at best, we should all use this as a lesson to be better prepared.

Remember though, while we tend to associate danger with cold, wet, wind, altitude, snow and ice, the opposite; heat, humidity and sun can be equally as dangerous and fatal. Take for example, The London Marathon. In 2018 the race was hit with 24-degree temperatures which caused havoc; one runner died after collapsing during the race and 73 were hospitalized. Now for some, 24 degrees may be considered a warm day, however, for many British runners who trained through a UK winter, it was exceptionally hot and something they had not trained for.

While mandatory kit is useful, being specific and training for an event is equally, if not far more important than the equipment you will or not wear. An understanding of the event, the challenges it can bring, and the dangers are all part of the process.

“It is essential to adapt yourself and your equipment to your reality, to test it during training outings in various conditions and to bring everything that will be useful and necessary to you for the race.”

UTMB

The nature of an ultra-running event is to push boundaries, go to the unknown and find a new personal level. Safety, to some extent, is an illusion and to assume that because you have entered something ‘official’ does not mean that you are safe. UTMB sum it up well (and they have a great deal of experience in managing route, runners, and weather):

Choose clothing that really provides good protection in the mountains against cold, wind and snow, and therefore gives better safety and performance. In the event of an incident, your equipment must also allow you to wait for help in sufficient safety conditions.”

UTMB

The above sums it up for me, and quite simply I would summarize:

  1. Know the event.
  2. Understand yourself, your limits, and your expected time on the course.
  3. What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  4. Prepare and plan meticulously with training that simulates the event and conditions.
  5. Don’t compromise.
  6. Imagine the worst conditions possible and then plan for them to deteriorate even more. Remember, shit can happen!

Make educated decisions about risk.

Learn about the equipment you are using, understand layering.

Act quickly and quite simply, be prepared to turnaround and understand (in advance) what exit routes and speedy options exist.

Physically prepare so that you are in the best position possible to achieve your desired goal – be realistic.

Be mentally prepared for the highs and lows and accept that YOU are ultimately responsible for your own safety.

Understand that yes, one day, you may not return from an adventure… And to clarify, there is no guarantee on what day you will die, it could be tomorrow crossing a road, next week through illness or on the top of the mountain in a race – life is a risk we manage daily.

I personally see mandatory kit implemented to protect runners from themselves. The educated, experienced, and knowledgeable know what to bring, I most certainly do, and I usually carry far more than would be required.

However, racing does change the mindset, particularly at the elite level when every gram of additional weight could be seen as a disadvantage.

Jason Schlarb in Costa Rica at The Coastal Challenge, mandatory kit here is liquid and electrolytes.

Good friend and elite runner, Jason Schlarb posted on May 24th, ‘This sounds like something that could happen in many, many races or in my own adventures. I know I go as light as I can in races and don’t really prepare to be able to stand around in the cold… it’s a race… I’m embarrassed it took me realizing how this could totally happen to me,’

Choosing the lightest weight clothing possible to gain a few grams is not always the best option, opting for clothing which really offers good protection in the mountains against the cold, wind, and snow, provides better security and ultimately, a better performance.

Therefore, a no compromise approach to mandatory kit levels the playing field and means that every participant should be carrying the same and therefore carrying similar (+/-) additional weight. As UTMB states, ‘All runners must have the mandatory equipment with them at all times or face a penalty.’

In addition, UTMB go one-step further and have options based around kit lists for heatwaves, cold conditions and finally bad weather scenarios. They would implement the necessary list based on weather forecasts pre-race and it is the responsibility of the runner to have all items available.

Contents for ‘winter’ conditions.

Standard UTMB kit list:

  1. Pack destined to transport obligatory equipment throughout the race.
  2. Mobile/cell phone with international roaming allowing for its use in the three countries (load into its memory the organisation’s security numbers, keep the phone on, don’t mask your number and don’t forget to leave with the battery fully charged)
  3. Personal beaker 15 cl minimum (bottles or flasks with lids are not accepted)
  4. Supply of water of 1 liter minimum
  5. 2 torches in good working order with spare cells/batteries for each torch
  6. Recommendation: 200 lumens or more for the main torch
  7. Survival blanket of 1.40m x 2m minimum
  8. Whistle
  9. Self-adhesive elasticated bandage which can serve as a bandage or strapping (minimum 100 cm x 6 cm)
  10. Food reserve, recommendation: 800kcal (2 gels + 2 energizing bars each of 65g)
  11. Jacket with hood which will withstand bad weather in the mountains and made with a waterproof* and breathable** membrane – the jacket must, imperatively, be fitted with an integrated hood or one which is attached to the jacket by the original system designed for that purpose by the manufacturer – the seams must be sealed – the jacket must not have sections of fabric which are not waterproof, but air vents fitted by the manufacturer (under-arm, in the back), since they do not damage in any obvious way the impermeability, are accepted.
  12. It is the runner’s responsibility to judge, with these criteria, if their jacket fits the regulations stated and so bad weather in the mountains, but, during a check, the judgment is made by the person in charge of the check or the steward.
  13. Long-legged trousers or race leggings OR a combination of legging and socks which cover the legs completely
  14. Cap or bandana or Buff®
  15. Additional warm second layer: a warm second layer top with long sleeves (cotton excluded) of a weight of a minimum of 180g (men’s size medium (M))
  16. OR the combination of a warm long-sleeved underwear (first or second layer, cotton exclude) of a minimum weight of 110g (men’s size medium (M)) and a durable water repellant (DWR protection) windproof jacket*
  17. The wind-proof jacket does not replace the obligatory waterproof jacket, and vice versa
  18. Hat
  19. Warm and water-proof gloves
  20. Waterproof over trousers
  21. ID – passport/ID card

You may read the above and consider the list to be an overkill. I personally do not. On considerably more than one occasion, I have encountered conditions where the above was completely required. Please don’t cut corners, technically compliant does not always equate to useful.

Read an article on ‘What goes in my Winter Pack.

Ultra-distance and mountain races are designed to push boundaries, but personal responsibility and self-awareness goes a long way. The above, without a doubt, can help should a situation turn badly, but ultimately, a good understanding of one’s ability is a great place to start. Maybe (?) to stand on certain start lines in the first place is already a bad decision.

Luis Alberto Hernando at CCC

Will Gadd, a prominent Canadian ice climber, paraglider pilot and mountain guide summed his thoughts up so well in a recent article:

‘If we go into the mountains, we are taking a larger-than-daily-life risk. The only way to totally avoid that is to not go… I’ve spent decades in the mountains and have had three serious accidents in my groups in all that time. Pretty good odds, no? But, to my guest who got hit in the arm by a rock while I was guiding her, and to my partner who I dropped a rock on, that record means very little. I also reviewed the avalanche forecasting where, the next day, an amazing woman, who was very close with my family and deeply loved by hers, died. I didn’t’t think any of those outcomes would happen, but they did. I really can’t keep us—you or me—completely safe. That’s my painfully learned truth after thousands of personal and professional days in the mountains. Days sometimes end badly, even with the best practices and motivations.’

The debate will continue and there are no simple answers, but the situation in China should be a learning curve for all and wake-up to a greater understanding for race organizations and runners. Maybe we will see more in-depth mandatory kits imposed on races worldwide? Also, maybe there will be greater vetting so that races can understand if runner has the required experience to participate.

A good friend, Graham Kelly said recently, ‘I am sitting wondering where personal responsibility, vetting and experience sits in the sport we all love. I am at best mid pack these days (more often chasing cut offs). There are races I won’t enter (that I used to enjoy) knowing the burden on race staff/volunteers could be unacceptable in my mind.’

Hillary Gerardi at Glen Coe Skyline

Vetting in races of an extreme nature, such as Glencoe Skyline already happens, ‘The organisers have an obligation to ensure that the Salomon Glen Coe Skyline® is as safe as possible, but without diminishing the nature of the challenge… The nature of the challenge is very severe and there is a risk of serious injury or death whilst participating in this event… Our route features long and sustained sections of scrambling terrain, which is roughly equivalent to moderate standard rock climbingBe under no illusions that a slip or trip on these serious sections of the route could result in death.’

In the above scenario, equipment alone is not enough, so educate, understand and asses.

I for one, like to think I am prepared for most scenarios when going out. I constantly adapt my pack and its contents for the planned adventure, terrain, anticipated conditions, and my expected time out. I also know, through bitter experience, whatever I have planned for, I can expect it all to go wrong, and I then add additional items for the ‘freak’ scenario that unfortunately our runner friends experienced at the Yellow River Stone Forest 100k. I am also never worried about turning around and going home, it can be frustrating for sure, but the trails and mountains will be there for another day.

We can try to plan for every scenario, we can educate and anticipate the worst-case scenario so that we increase not only our individual opportunity to return home but maybe those around us.

Ultimately though, shit happens, and when it does, I want to be as prepared as I possibly can be, I hope you do too.

Please support this website. I believe everyone deserves to read quality, independent and factual articles – that’s why this website is open to all. Free press has never been so vital. I hope I can keep providing independent articles with your help. Any contribution, however big or small, is so valuable to help finance regular content. Please support me on Patreon HERE.

Follow on:

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La Sportiva VK Boa® Shoe Review

Italian brand, La Sportiva, take running shoe specialization to the next level with the VK Boa®, a shoe that is specifically designed to go mountain as quickly as possible in the lightest package available.

To understand the shoe, you need to understand its purpose.

Dolomites VK, Italy.

The VK in the name refers to Vertical Kilometer® a sport created on the slopes of Monte Rosa in 1994 by Marino Giacometti, the founder and creator of the sport, Skyrunning. Governed by the ISF, the International Skyrunning Federation, the sport is simple in concept – To cover 1000 vertical meters in a course that is less than *5km long with average incline of 20%. Double (2000m) and triple (3000m) VK’s also exist.

Initially created for scientific research the VK concept grew and it has become a staple in the calendar of skyrunning with its own specific calendar and relative world and European champions. Often, a VK would be added on to a race weekend that included another longer race, the Dolomites being a prime example where a VK would take place on Friday and a SkyRace on Sunday. Competitors often do both races. The world record stands at 28-minutes 53-seconds by Philip Goetsch set at one of the steepest VK’s in the world, Fully, which covers the 1000 vertical meters in a course that is only 1.92km long. The finish line is 1500m altitude.

The VK sport was created in Italy and the La Sportiva brand was born in Italy, the synergy between the two is obvious.

To create a specific shoe for VK not only shows the demand, especially in Italy, for such a shoe, but also the enthusiasm for the sport. The 2020 the Vertical Kilometer® World Circuit, managed by SkyMan, was cancelled however, the ISF have confirmed the sport will continue and recently they announced a new 2VK circuit – HERE

La Sportiva VK Boa®

Like track spikes, the VK Boa is a very specific shoe.

It’s all about minimal weight, secure foot hold, grip and a package that turns the eye. I have to say, the classic black/yellow/red of La Sportiva has always appealed and here in the VK Boa® that is taken up a notch to make what I think is a really ‘sexy’ shoe.

The striking look pulls you in and then you pick the shoe up, at sub 200g for a standard UK8 (230g for a UK9.5) this shoe is amazingly light.

The upper is just one seamless sock with a narrow opening from which one inserts the foot. Three wide straps come across the shoe to create the foothold and structure and conventional laces have been removed to be replaced with the Boa® rapid closure system.

A minimal toe bumper offers toe protection.

The outsole is a story of two halves: the front using a black semi-aggressive grip with relatively small lugs (25) the rear has a different configuration in red.

Cushioning, as one would expect is minimal but surprisingly more than I expected.

Drop is 4mm.

The shoe is described as being ‘universal’, but I do feel some support under the arch.

Sizing is true to size.

The Shoe

Firstly, getting one’s foot into the shoe is a little tricky. This shoe is designed like a Formula 1 car and as such, excess is taken away. One you have your foot inside, take time to wiggle your foot, make sure your heel is in the correct place and ensure that you pull the upper up, just like a sock.

There is no tongue. Tightening the shoe is done from the Boa® closure by turning the dial. Do this slowly making sure the laces sit where you want them. Taking time here will ensure a great foothold, particularly on the important Navicular bone.

The heel box is really impressive and rightly so for a shoe that is designed for going uphill. A lack of secure hold at the rear and it would prove really problematic. I’d go as far to say that the VK Boa® has the most secure and tight-fitting heel box of any shoe I have tried.

The toe box area, just like socks, is free of any reinforcement and extremely slipper like. It is not narrow and not wide, but the freedom of movement offered by the bi-elastic mesh would make this shoe work for most people. La Sportiva call it Low Volume which is designed for a tight fit following foot shape.

The outsole is very clever, La Sportiva know that when doing a VK, the front of the shoe is used almost 100% with only occasional use of the shoe rear. The outsole reflects this with two different grips and notably there is ‘rock-guard’ only at the front of the shoe. The outsole is designed to have as many contact points as possible. Frixion Red is a combination of grip, long-lasting wear and shock absorption. VK’s take place on grass, rock, stone, scree, mud and even ice, the outsole does a great job of handling each of the conditions.

The cushioning is compressed EVA and I was surprised how much cushioning was in the shoe, but it is designed for softer ground where the requirement for shock absorption is reduced. Completely understandable for a shoe designed for VK’s.

In Use

This is a very specific shoe and as such will have a very reduced market. It’s not a shoe that can-do multiple tasks, having said that, they VK Boa® may work exceptionally well on a short mountain race but downhill support and comfort would be compromised.

This shoe is designed to go up.

Considering that most VK’s are completed in 30-minutes for the elite men, around 35/40 minutes for the elite women and then 60 to 90-minutes for mortals, you get a picture that this shoe needs to be light.

Light they are; super light! They really do fit like gloves and I am still surprised at how well they hold the foot. I have had mixed experiences with Boa® closure systems previously but on this shoe it all clicks together. The Boa® (L6 type) system is a logical closure step allowing the top of the shoe to be free of seams and additional stitching and the three straps, just like in cycling shoes, comes across the foot to create a really superior hold. It’s all about efficiency and it makes a really nice aesthetic.

The shoes are extremely flexible and notably they excel in three areas. 

  1. The hold in the heel area is superb, no, it is brilliant! The lack of slipping in the heel area for a shoe designed for going uphill is absolutely crucial and the VK Boa® may well be the best I have tried.
  2. The soft and flexible upper manages to provide enough structure and support but allows the foot to move and bend in the propulsive phase without restriction. Crucial for a VK when pretty much the entire race or run will be undertaken on the front of the shoe.
  3. The outsole is designed for purpose and I love the specific grip and rock-guard just for the front of the shoe where it is needed.

Precise, reactive, great foot hold, excellent proprioception and extremely flexible, the VK Boa® really is beautifully designed for the task it was created for.

Conclusion

This shoe is not for everyone and I applaud La Sportiva for creating such a specific shoe. Light and minimalist, they excel for the designed purpose and there is little to fault.

They look great, the Boa® system is a superb addition to the shoe that maybe is the best use of this product I have seen in a running shoe.

RRP is 170 euro, so, they are not cheap. However, such a specific shoe will have a long life as they will only be used for VK racing or training. More often than not, VK’s are located close or near cable cars, so, the need to run back down is not required. Having said that, if one does need to run down, the VK Boa® does lack some of the structure a conventional run shoe would have, so, that needs to be considered.

If VK’s and going uphill as fast as possible is your think, the La Sportiva VK Boa® are most definitely worth checking out.

Please support this website. I believe everyone deserves to read quality, independent and factual articles – that’s why this website is open to all. Free press has never been so vital. I hope I can keep providing independent articles with your help. Any contribution, however big or small, is so valuable to help finance regular content. Please support me on Patreon HERE

Follow on:

Instagram – @iancorlessphotography

Twitter – @talkultra

facebook.com/iancorlessphotography

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#IRunAtHome – #YoCorroEnCasa – RUN VIRTUAL

#IRunAtHome / #YoCorroEnCasa

Pau Capell, Tofol Castanyer, Kilian Jornet and journalist, Albert Jorquera thought that it would be a good idea to all get together and run virtually, at home, at the same time with the Spanish run community. Ultra-trail runners love to spend long hours running in the mountains, but they wanted to emphasize that during this quarantine and isolation period, the most important thing is to get out of the house as little as possible and help stop the spread of Covid-19.

Listen to KILIAN JORNET

The four, together with Jordi Saragossa and Maria Fainé, decided to create the #YoCorroEnCasa (IrunAtHome) Challenge. With this challenge they wanted to bring a maximum number of people doing sports together in the home; distance did not matter, it could be 100 metres or maybe a marathon! The important aspect was the social side, the coming together as a community to share an experience.

To participate ‘officially’ in this ‘virtual run’ participants made a donation to #YoMeCorono – The team of doctors and researchers who had started pioneering clinical trials to define which drugs will immediately be used to treat the infected patients, prevent ongoing contagion and look for a vaccine against the virus.

It was a huge success with over 7400 participants.
The total raised was an incredible 82.940 Euros.
Every single euro was donated to charity.

This pandemic has deprived us all of so many privileges, running may seem insignificant now, but getting together to run in the mountains or on trails is not possible for most of us. We, as runners though are not willing to give up, we are going to fight Covid-19 together to stop it and fight to continue doing what we are passionate about.

So, come April 18th we want you to join us with the tag, #IRunatHome and in the process we will race funds for the NHS Charities Covid-19 Appeal.
*****
“Our amazing NHS staff and volunteers are working tirelessly to care for COVID-19 patients. And we want them to know the country has also got their back. We are so proud and in awe of NHS staff and volunteers as they work tirelessly to save lives! This means staying away from their homes and families, working day and night, to treat as many people as possible in need of care.”
*****
We have multiple confirmed elite runners who you can virtually run with.

Jasmin Paris

Damian Hall

Andy Symonds

Tom Evans

Holly Page

Finlay Wild

Tom Owens

Beth Pascall

And more joining daily.

Please help us spread the word and help us raise money by #IRunAtHome

April 18th 2020 starting 0900 GMT till 2100 GMT.

*****

DONATE TO THE NHS CHARITY HERE

REGISTER TO PARTICIPATE HERE

*****

Rules for entry

We appreciate that depending on where you are located, that it ‘may’ be possible to run outside by respecting social distancing. However, this challenge is all about ‘Staying Home’ and self-isolating and joining other runner’s in a challenge of #IRunAtHome

  • You must run in your home and/ or garden/ treadmill.
  • Any distance is acceptable.
  • Start at any time from 0900 and finish before 2100 hours.
  • To enter, please DONATE HERE at a specific charity page, all funds go directly to the charity.
  • Register to run HERE.
  • You will receive an email from Eventbrite, please check as you will be provided a link to download a Run Bib. Be creative with the bib! Add a number, name and decorate.
  • Encourage family members to take part, no age limit. The more runner’s, the better.
  • Spread the word. (Logos HERE)
  • Be creative, this is more about being social and sharing – share videos, photos and tell the world that #IRunAtHome

Luis Alberto Hernando and family shows how to be creative with #IRunAtHome

We thank adidas TERREX who will support with prizes of run shoes for the most creative runs and social media posts. Make sure you tag #IRunAtHome and use our Facebook and Twitter account.

Join us

 FACEBOOK HERE

TWITTER @IRunAtHome1

 
RUN VIRTUAL
#IRunAtHome

The Coastal Challenge 2020 #TCC2020 – Elite Line-Up Announced

The 2020 ‘The Coastal Challenge’ is upon us! Six days, 230.5km of racing and 9543m of vertical gain, 9413m of vertical descent – TCC is more than a challenge!

Over the years, TCC has grown in stature with an ‘A’ list of elite runners from all over the world. The 2019 edition was won by Ida Nilsson with a record time and Pere Aurell for the men. The men’s CR is still held by the UK’s, Tom Evans.

 Hugging the coastline of the tropical Pacific, TCC is the ultimate multi-day experience that weaves in and out of the Talamancas; a coastal mountain range in the Southwest corner of this Central American country.

The terrain is ever-changing from wide, dusty and runnable fire trails to dense and muddy mountain trails. Runners will cross rivers, boulder, swim through rivers, pass under waterfalls, survive long relentless beaches and finally finish in the incredible Corcovado National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site with a stunning final loop around Drake Bay before departing for their journeys home via speedboat.

Irrespective of pace or effort, the Costa Rican coastline never stops providing inspiration. This is so much more than a race, It’s a journey, a running holiday and a voyage of discovery. Friendships made in the rainforests, on the beaches and in the camps are ones to last a lifetime – the race is one of survival, perseverance and enjoyment in equal measure.

 “This has been an incredible journey. It’s a stunning and magnificent part of the world and the course, terrain, views and the racing has been world-class. I have been blown away by everything – the final stage was just stunning, and it managed to compress the whole TCC experience in just 22km. I will be back to TCC and Costa Rica one day, guaranteed!” – Tom Owens, 2017 Champion

THE 2020 ELITE LINE UP

Brittany Peterson

Burst on the global scene in 2016 with a win at Moab Red Hot %%km, placed 3rd at Speedgoat 50km, 2nd at the Rut and then 4th at Transvulcania in 2018. A top-ranked Skyrunner, in 2019 Brittany moved to longer races and won the iconic Bandera 100km. However, all previous results were surpassed in June when she ran the race of her life to finish 2nd at Western States 100.

Kelly Wolf

Kelly won the 2018 Lavaredo Ultra Trail and in the process, elevated her profile to a whole new level in Europe. She has won at Tarawera, placed 3rd at Transvulcania, 4th at Ultra Trail Capetown and most recently has won Kendall Mountain Run and Deep Creek Trail Half Marathon. Combining speed, endurance and technical running ability, Kelly is going to be one to watch at the 2010 TCC.

Katlyn Gerbin

 Kaytlyn joins the line-up of the 2020 TCC with an extremely solid and consistent resume, known in Canada and the USA for a string of top performances, it was a podium place (2nd) at Transgrancanaria that introduced her to worldwide attention. Winner of the Pine to Palm 100 in 2016, Kaytlyn has mixed races distances for the last 3-years, excelling at 50km and 100km with victories at Gorge Waterfalls and Sun Mountain amongst others. In 2017 she won Cascade Crest 100 but her calling cards are 4th place and 2nd place at the 2017 and 2018 Western States.

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Julien Chorier

Julien is a true ambassador of the sport with a resume that many a runner would love to have just a tenth of. Name any iconic race and Julien will have raced it and most likely place on or around the podium. Career highlights are 1st at Hardrock 100, 1st at UTMF, 2nd at Transgrancanaria, 3rd at UTMB, 1st at MIUT and 6th at Western States. He is no stranger to multi-day racing having raced at Marathon des Sables Morocco and also, MDS Peru. It’s an honor to have Julien at the 2020 TCC. 

Jordi Gamito

Jordi should have toed the line at the 2019 TCC but injury prevented his participation. In 2020, he is back! He is a winner of the tough and challenging Everest Trail Race and has placed 3rd at the 2018 UTMB. In 2014, a 4th place at UTMB showed his potential to the ultra-running world and this was followed with 6th at Raid Ka Reunion. 3rd at the Eiger Ultra and 4th at Transgrancanaria. He is a big smile; infectious personality and he will embrace the challenge of Costa Rica.

Cody Lind

 Cody has been racing for some years but may well have only come on your radar after 2017 with a very committed foray in the Skyrunning circuit – He placed 8th at Tromso in 2017 and then followed the SWS circuit racing on iconic courses throughout the world. Recently he raced them Rut in the USA and came away with victory. Cody manages to mix speed and technical ability, it’s a perfect mix for the trails in Costa Rica

Andy Symonds (tbc)

 Andy is one of the UK’s greatest mountain runners. He has traditions in fell running and has mixed Skyrunning and ultra-running throughout a long and successful career. He recently placed 5th at UTMB after 3 attempts. He has raced Marathon des Sables and placed in the top-10 but Andy will always be considered a mountain specialist. He has won Lavaredo, placed 3rd at Marathon Mont Blanc, 5th at Transgrancanaria and has represented his country at many World Championships. The technical and demanding trails of Costa Rica with plenty of climbing and descending provide Andy a perfect playground.

Mauricio Mendez

Mauricio is a rising star from Mexico who is currently an Xterra World Champion. He joins TCC as somewhat as a dark horse but no doubt he will be the hope of the locals. He started running because of his Father and in his own words, is a dreamer!

The Race: 

  • Stage 1 34.6km 1018m of vert and 886m of descent
  • Stage 2 39.1km 1898m of vert and 1984m of descent
  • Stage 3 47.4km 1781m of vert and 1736m of descent
  • Stage 4 37.1km 2466m of vert and 2424m of descent
  • Stage 5 49.8km 1767m of vert and 1770m of descent
  • Stage 6 22.5km 613m of vert and 613m of descent
  • Total 230.5km
  • Vertical 9543m
  • Descent 9413m

Stage 1

It’s a tough day! Runners depart San Jose early morning (around 0530) for a 3-hour drive to Playa Del Rey, Quepos. It’s the only day that the race starts late and ‘in the sun!’. It’s the toughest day of the race, not because of the terrain or distance, but because of the time of day! The runners are fresh and feel great. That is until about 10km and then they realize the heat and humidity is relentless. It’s a day for caution – mark my words! The 34.6km is very runnable with little vertical and technicality, it welcomes the runners to Costa Rica.

Stage 2

From here on in, it is early breakfast, around 0400 starts with the race starting with the arrival of the sun! The only way is up from the start with a tough and challenging climb to start the day. It’s a tough day with an abundance of climbing and descending and a final tough flat stretch on the beach, just as the heat takes hold.

Stage 3 

It is basically 25km of climbing topping out at 800m followed by a drop to sea and a final kick in the tail before the arrival at camp. For many, this is a key day and maybe one of the most spectacular. Puma Vida.

Stage 4

It’s another tough start to the day with a relentless climb, but once at 900m the route is a roller coaster of relentless small climbs and descents, often littered with technical sections, rain forest, river crossings and boulders. At 30km, it’s a short drop to the line and the finish at 37.1km.

Stage 5 

The long day but what a beauty! This route was tweaked a couple of years ago and now has become iconic with tough trails, plenty of climbing, sandy beaches and yes, even a boat trip. The finish at Drake Bay is iconic.

Stage 6

The victory lap! For many, this stage is the most beautiful and memorable. In just over 20km, the route manages to include a little of all that has gone before. It’s a stage of fun and challenges and one that concludes on the beach as a 2018 medal is placed over your head – job done!

 The 2020 TCC starts in February as runners from all over the world will assemble in San Jose before transferring to the coast for stage 1 of the race starting on Saturday 8th. Year-on-year, the TCC has grown to be one of ‘the’ most iconic multi-day races. Once again, the elite line-up sets the bar, but the race is all about inclusion. Join the 2020 TCC and come experience Pura Vida!

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Episode 176 – SUB2 with Shane Benzie, Andy Symonds on UTMB and The Warriors Ultra Run

Episode 176 of Talk Ultra brings you an interview with Andy Symonds about UTMB. We also talk with Shane Benzie from Running Reborn about Sub2. Speedgoat is back to co-host and we discuss The Warriors Ultra Run.
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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
Talk Ultra needs your help!
We have set up a Patreon page and we are offering some great benefits for Patrons… you can even join us on the show! This is the easiest way to support Talk Ultra and help us continue to create!
Many thanks to our Patrons who have helped via PATREON
Donate HERE
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NEWS
Ian and Karl have a catch up about UTMB and Sub2.
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THE WARRIORS 00:13:28
On September 21st, over 30 ultrarunners, dressed in retro gang attire, travelled to New York City to participate in first-ever ‘The Warriors UltraRun’, an utterly unique race that stands to become one of the most unusual and unexpected events in the sport. Held in the middle of the night, this neon-drenched, 28-mile ultra took runners from the Bronx to Coney Island  ̶  and through two subway stations  ̶  recreating the escape route featured in the iconic 1979 cult film by Walter Hill. – https://thewarriorsultra.com

Read about the first edition HERE on Ultrarunning.com

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ANDY SYMONDS 01:07:28
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SHANE BENZIE 02:14:02
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03:05:58 close
03:10:35
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Please support Talk Ultra by becoming a Patron at www.patreon.com/talkultra and THANKS to all our Patrons who support us. Rand Haley and Simon Darmody get a mention on the show here for ‘Becoming 100k Runners’ with a high-tier Patronage.
Keep running!
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Stitcher You can listen on iOS HERE, Android HERE or via a web player HERE
Website – talkultra.com
UP & COMING RACES go to https://marathons.ahotu.com

Maga Ultra SkyMarathon 2019 – ISF European Skyrunning Championships

In a spectacular downpour that hit the village of Serina, near Bergamo, Italy, spirits were high as the six medals at stake for the Ultra at the 2019 Skyrunning European Championships were awarded to dominant Spanish podiums today at the Maga Ultra SkyMarathon.

Lauri van Houten, ISF, reports on the action from Maga Ultra SkyMarathon

The strong world-class field pushed the pace, smashing the standing records, with the top 13 men and 6 women finishing under the previous time.

The men’s gold medallist, Italian Cristian Minoggio, closed in 6h37’26” slicing an incredible 1h06’ off the previous record. “I still can’t believe it. Until I have the medal in my hand, I won’t believe it,” commented an ecstatic Minoggio. “It was a splendid race, a course I felt in my heart from the first to the last step. Now all I can do is repeat this performance at Veia!”

The silver went to Spain’s Manuel Merillas, who initially led the race, but was overtaken after the first summit halfway through the race by Minoggio. “I didn’t expect such a technical and demanding course, especially on the downhill. I loved it and congratulate Cristian who took the win.”

View the full Image Gallery HERE

Bronze medallist, Italian Daniel Jung, held a steady fourth throughout until third man, Sweden’s André Jonsson had to pull out after 45 km, leaving Jung in third. “I’m very satisfied,” said Jung. “It was a really tough race and spectacular at the same time with a very high level of competition. I hoped to do well, and a medal is the best way to celebrate!”

The women’s podium, all-Spanish, had Ester Casajuana up front from the gun. “The race was as beautiful as it was hard. I pushed from the first to the last meter and I’m really happy with this medal and also because two other Spaniards, two friends, won the other medals!” She finished in 8h19’11”, almost an hour faster than the standing record. The silver went to Sandra Sevillano and the bronze, Silvia Puigarnau. In second until km 30, last year’s winner, Italian Cecilia Pedroni had to settle for fourth, despite knocking 35’ off her own record time.

The race

Today’s Ultra discipline was disputed at the Maga Ultra SkyMarathon, a tough 50 km course with a gruelling 5,000m vertical climb across four mountains topping out at 2,512m altitude. In true skyrunning style, it features stretches with fixed ropes and exposed ridges. 15 nations participated in the race which counted 149 participants.

Race organiser, Davide Scolari, commented, “We’re very proud to have held the first event of the Skyrunning European Championships. We’d like to thank all the athletes, volunteers and sponsors for their enormous support, and we’re thrilled to have had such an important international field.”

Some 150 athletes representing official teams from 19 countries will fight for the 27 medals at stake in the Championships: Andorra, Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Finland, France, United Kingdom, Greece, Hungary, Italy, North Macedonia, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Switzerland and Sweden.

Titles and medals

Individual, national and combined titles are at stake awarding 27 medals. Today’s Ultra awarded six individual medals to the top three men and women finishers from Europe, while the national and combined titles must wait for the conclusion of all three disciplines on September 7.

The National titles are based on the best four results scored by Official National Team members in each race, counting at least one per gender. After today’s Ultra, the country ranking has Spain in the lead with 336 points; Italy 318; Czech Republic 246; Portugal 198; Austria 146.

The Combined title is based on the best results of the top three men and women in the Vertical and Sky races. WADA anti-doping tests will be carried out at the finals where the Vertical and Sky categories will be celebrated on Thursday, September 5 and Saturday, September 7 in Piedmont, Italy at the Veia SkyRace® in a spectacular amphitheater surrounded by the Swiss 4,000m mountains.

View the full Image Gallery HERE

2019 Skyrunning European Championship medallists

Men
Gold: Cristian Minoggio (ITA) – 6h37’26

Silver: Manuel Merillas (ESP) – 6h52’03”

Bronze: Daniel Jung (ITA) – 7h0252″

Women
Gold: Ester Casajuana (ESP) – 8h19’11”

Silver:  Sandra Sevillano (ESP) – 8h33’35”

Bronze: Silvia Puigarnau (ESP) 8h41’11”

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adidas Terrex and the 2019 UTMB Series of Races

I was recently in Chamonix for the UTMB series of events. I have to be honest, I have avoided Chamonix at the end of August for the last few years… The whole UTMB extravaganza just feels too overwhelming, there is no escape. So, I have chose to either have a holiday or work on smaller races.

This year I was asked by adidas to work on the event, documenting the experience of their Terrex Team as they prepared to tackle all of the events the UTMB offer, the exception coming with the crazy long PTL.

Working for a brand brings a whole new perspective and experience to an event like UTMB. Instead of chasing multiple runners over multiple locations, my priority would be to follow the favourites within each of the respective races – OCC, CCC and TDS. The UTMB would also be raced and followed by the whole Terrex Team but due to a prior commitment, I would skip the big loop around France, Italy and Switzerland.

UTMB needs no introduction, the series of races have arguably become a flagship for the sport. As UTMB has grown, so has the demand for people to race and for media to cover the event. This brings a whole set of challenges, especially for media. As a brand, adidas were required to pay a fee to allow myself and the film crew access to certain areas of the race, for example aid stations and finish line, and thus we could capture certain required images and also have the license to use them. UTMB provide live coverage of the event and it must be said, they do an incredible job using a helicopter, runners and mountain bikes to cover much of all the race routes. It is quite an incredible logistical problem and in addition, they provide live commentary with an ever-changing group of people providing on the spot analysis of the race. You can pretty much follow every race, start to finish live.

adidas and the UTMB

The team arrived in Chamonix one week before the UTMB main event and I arrived on the Monday. This meant the YCC started Tuesday, TDS Wednesday, OCC Thursday, CCC and UTMB starting Friday. You can do the math, that means long days, early starts, late nights and little sleep.

As a team, adidas had rented one huge chalet that would host the whole team, the hashtag #oneteam being a very important motto and ethos not only during race week but it is a hashtag that the team is using to bring the whole Terrex ethos together. It is very much ‘all for one, one for all!’ The chalet had two chefs who provided meals for the entire team and in so doing, dietary needs could be looked after and the need to try to find a restaurant in Chamonix was removed.

A team physio, Dave, was literally ‘hands-on’ everyday from morning to evening to keep the whole team in top condition. In the words of Team Manager, Robert, ‘without his immense treatments, day and night, someone like Luis may well have not raced!’

I am fortunate, after years covering races, I was well acquainted with much of the team; Luis Alberto Hernando, Sheila Aviles, Dmitry Mityaev, Ekaterina Mityaeva, Tom Evans and so many more. This always makes my job easier as to work closely with athletes, particularly in race week, there has to be trust and respect.

I was working alongside the adidas film crew who have been working on the Terrex brand for some time. A great group of guys who know how to work hard, laugh hard and find the time for a beer at the end of the day, no matter how long it may be. Big shout for Rapha, Andy, Patrick, Yannick and then man stuck to an editing stool, Bene. We had a separate chalet as the hours we work are not ideal when athletes are trying to sleep. Meal times were a family affair though and the athlete house was our hub for the week starting with an 0800 breakfast as and when applicable.

Behind the scenes is always fascinating. Looking at apparel, shoes and new development it was clear to see that adidas’ commitment to trail and mountain running is huge. They had specifically designed waterproof jackets and trousers for the team that complied with UTMB rules while still being light and packing small.

Athletes such as Yngvild Kaspersen and Tom Evans (Yngvild 2nd at Pikes Peak and Tom 3rd at Western States) were flown into Chamonix to be part of #oneteam even though they would not race. It was clear that adidas’ commitment to bringing everyone together is a high priority.

A signing in the UTMB expo allowed fans to get close, chat and get a signed photo from Tom, Luis, Holly and Sheila. The buzz was incredible.

Post the signings, we took Tom in to the mountains for a photo shoot. The most ransom moment of the whole week… A couple just married saw Tom, recognized him and then came for a wedding photo! The groom was running UTMB.

Over the course of the week, racers and non-racers would each continually give up their time to crew, support, follow and cheer on the team. A prime example being Ekaterina crewing for Dmitry during TDS to a stunning 2nd place. Two days later, Ekaterina would run UTMB and place 4th while Dmitry crewed her.

Filming and photographing brings its own challenges of long drives, big hikes and a relentless pace that leaves one drained and exhausted by the end but high on emotion. It’s always a tough call on who to follow? Many of the races had more than one adidas runner participating but from a story and media perspective, we would have to make decisions in advance. The TDS for example, our emphasis was on Dmitry. For CCC, Luis Alberto Hernando was our primary story. Needless to say, it’s incredible when it all comes together, Dmitry placed 2nd and Luis won CCC. To be able to see the journey unfold at close quarters and tell the story is quite special.

While we raced around with cameras, the remaining crew would chase around providing aid and support. Tom Evan’s quite rightly said, ‘I have raced and won CCC, I have also crewed on big races – I know how hard and tiring crewing is.’

But despite the long hours, the short nights and the relentless fatigue, nobody complained. On the contrary. As the week went on and the results came in, everyone was becoming hyped by the experience and results. It was infectious.

But nothing is perfect. Racing is fickle. While racing went well for Dmitry and Luis for example, others had a tough time. It’s here when the #oneteam ethos kicks in. We are all human, sometimes we are ahead and all is going well, other times, things don’t click, for whatever reason. As an athlete, that can be very hard. It takes months to prepare for an event and then on the day, for it not to come together as expected can be hugely disappointing. As one runner said, ‘I have let the team down…’ But the response was unequivocal, ‘You have let no one down!’

Sheila Aviles had stomach issues in OCC, Timothy Olson struggled at UTMB and finally had to withdraw and all along, the support from adidas and the team was 100%. 

Holly Page made a last minute decision to run CCC, battled through the first half of the race with terrible stomach problems only to come out of the other side and then race strongly over the latter stages for her first 100km finish. It was a story echoed throughout the whole week, ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

Being ‘In the arena’ to quote Roosevelt is what the sport of trail and mountain running is all about, ‘ The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena… who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at the worst if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat.’

Roosevelt in his quote sums up all adidas stand for with the Terrex Team.

A Day at UTMB – Following Luis Alberto Hernando at CCC

Our day started with an early alarm, a quick breakfast and a drive to Courmayeur – the plan to climb to Refuge Bertone and capture early content with Mont Blanc providing a stunning backdrop.

Plans hit a problem from the off with a long wait to get through the Mont Blanc tunnel. Once in Courmayeur it was gps time to navigate a route to the trail head. This was a constant theme of the whole week… Great gps software and gpx route are essential – we could plan to meet the runners as much as possible during a race.

We started our climb later than we would have liked but we pushed the pace – not that easy with a 15kg camera bag! Once there, the weather was perfect, the scenery magical and we knew we were going to get some great content. 

For Luis, we were aware we could capture him on the descent, chase after him and then capture him again after he had visited the aid station.

I positioned myself on the descent knowing that I would get a dynamic shot as Luis dropped in front of me taking a left turn with Mont Blanc behind him.

As Luis approached, disaster struck. A ‘runner’ who was spectating ran ahead of him ruining all my ‘pre’ shots. As I shouted for them to get out of the way, they then stopped directly ahead of me, right in the middle of my shot. I had to compromise… shit happens!

I then raced after Luis on the descent and then got to my second spot. This time all was good with clear shots and I then ran with him capturing more content before he raced off around the mountain.

Being early in the day, we decided to wait and capture the other adidas runners who were participating as the time gaps at this stage would not be too great. Later, it would be impossible if Luis ran the race we anticipated! Abi Hall, Macy were looking good but Holly Page was struggling with a bad stomach.

Dropping bag to the car via the twisty descent, we now had a 2-hour drive to Champex Lac. Luis was motoring and now in the lead. Race projections said he would arrive at 1425. Our navigator said we would arrive 1410.

Once again we used gps software to find an access point pre Champex Lac that would allow us to capture content on steep forest trails. Luis arrived like clockwork powering up the climb using poles to keep the momentum.

At Champex Lac he ran the footpath and roads around the lake allowing more opportunities before we went off-piste on a dirt road allowing for one last shot before we would then lose him only to re-connect at Trient.

Trient provided a shot before the aid station and then we drove out of Switzerland and back in to France before capturing Luis on the climb of the Col des Montets – our last opportunity before his arrival at the finish.

Now Luis was motoring and opening up a gap on the 2nd place.

At the finish, myself and Patrick (film crew) waited for Luis in the press area while the remaining adidas team watched the huge screens in the square.

Finally, Luis achieved his coveted UTMB victory. It was an emotional finish. His wife, Nieves, greeted him with open arms. The Terrex team mobbed him as soon as they could… A post-race drug test delaying that process for some time!

Back at the chalet it was time to download the day’s work and release the content.

#ONETEAM

There is no ‘I’ in team and that was personified during this intense UTMB experience. We all had roles but flexibility is key. Athletes became crew, office workers became car drivers and everyone became a supporter both in a physical and mental capacity. 

It was a real pleasure to be immersed with a brand and follow closely the whole process that make a race and team come together. Certainly, the UTMB and Chamonix experience made team bonds stronger.

On a personal note, to leave on Saturday am while the UTMB was underway was hard, especially with Ekaterina running. I have witnessed her growth in skyrunning over the last year’s and then to see her rise to 4th at UTMB not only made me really proud but also a little jealous and envious that I wasn’t available to capture that journey in images…. Next time!

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Ultra Trail Mugello 2019 – Race Summary

Just 1-hour from Florence, the Ultra Trail Mugello is a perfect Spring race that allows one stunning trails with the option, of a short break to explore the majestic sights of Firenze.

The famous Mugello Race Circuit a great short stopping point, and if lucky, you may well find the track has an open day, allowing free access to see bikes scream around the track at high speed. On the back straight, the machines of pure power driven by men of steel can hit almost 400km before the brakes are slammed on reducing the speed to take the tight right hand bend – the drivers almost lying on the ground. It’s a sight to behold.

Over the Passo del Giogo and then a twisty descent to Moscheta and the Badia di Moscheta, the home of the Ultra Trail Mugello. The restaurant here most certainly a reason to visit in its own right, arguably, the best homemade pasta I have tasted with Ragu sauce to die for. Flanked by the Moscheta Abbey, the start and the finish of the 23 and 60km races, this is a stunning location. On site is a ‘Dormire’ providing limited accommodation for those lucky enough to obtain a room. The area has many notable marks in history, the most interesting for me was the inspiration for ‘Dante’ the author, and his book Inferno.

Nestled in a valley, it feels like one is submerged in verdant vegetation, with every shade of green possible.

The ‘Mugello’ team headed by Piero and Giovanni are warm and welcoming, immediately they make you feel at home and it’s easy to see why this race has grown over the years as a kick-start for many a racing year – it feels like home.

Organisation is superb with over 200 staff looking after some 700+ runners. It’s the attention to detail that matters. Everyone is important. A superbly marked route, incredible safety with mountain/ medical teams situated throughout the route; the UTM is a race that immediately makes you feel confident.

Runners arrive in Moscheta on Saturday, the day before the race, and a compulsory briefing by Piero and Giovanni sets the scene for the following day’s 0600 start for the 60km and 0900 start for the 23km.

****

The 60km Race

Course record holder, Luca Carrara of team Salomon dictated the early pace forging ahead with Riccardo Montani and the race favourite, Franco Collè winner of the Tor des Geants 2018. The early hours were shrouded in dense mist and rain, a stark contrast to the previous days glorious sunshine.

The trio worked together for much of the first ⅓ of the race and then Franco made his move. He pushed away looking calm and relaxed and soon opened a 7-minute gap on the two chasers.

Passing through Diacci and the impressive waterfall, the writing was on the wall and the question was now, who would place 2nd and 3rd? 

 

As the rain started to fall hard and ice fell from the sky, Riccardo was laying the foundations for the 2nd rung on the podium as he opened a gap on the course record holder, Luca.

But with 5km to go, disaster struck. Franco was plagued by stomach issues causing intense discomfort. He tried to push on but with the finish so close, he was forced to retire in a medical vehicle. This opened the door for the young Riccardo who elevated the new CR to 5:40 (10 minutes quicker) and obtained the cash price for his efforts. Luca came 2nd in 5:45 and in 3rd, Mirko Cocco.

Cecilia Pedroni of Team Serim ignored the reputation of the 2x UTM winner, Cristiana Follador Team La Sportiva, and started the race from the front. She quickly built a 2-minute lead and one wondered if a new champion was in the making?

With 35km of the route covered, Cristiana’s experience and course knowledge started to show. She had reeled in Cecilia and was now forging ahead of all the women and making an impact on the mens race. By Diaci, the lead was extended to 10-minutes and by the arrival at the monastery, her finish time was 6:58, 18-minutes ahead of Cecilia who ran a solid race for 2nd. Giulia Gallo rounded out the podium in 8:27.

The 23km Race

Gabriele Pace Team Salomon won the race in 2:01 with Jacopo Mantovani in 2:10:19 for 2nd and Gheduzzi 3rd just seconds later. The runners a long way off Marco De Gaperi’s course record of 1:51.

Denisa Dragomir of Team Serim was the pre-race favourite and she did not disappoint completing the distance in 2:12 arriving fourth overall. Local favourite, Geneva Cusseau raced hard, rallied by the competition from Denisa. She crossed the line for 2nd in 2:23, bettering her previous best for the route by a large margin.Giulia Marchesoni was 3rd in 2:28.

The race is included in the Skyrunning Italy series circuit and from a score increased by 25%, the winners are Riccardo Montani and Cristiana Follador.

 

UltraTrail 2019 60KM

1.Cristiana Follador (Team La sportiva) – 6:58:59

2.Cecilia Pedroni  (Team Serim) – 7:18:06

3.Giulia Gallo (Team UTR) – 8:27:22

 

1. Riccardo Montani (Team Salomon) – 5:40:20 (record percorso)

2. Luca Carrara (Team Salomon) – 5:45:45

3. Domenico Giosi (Team Columbia) – 6:11:46

 

Mugello Trail 2019 23 KM

1. Denise Dragomir (Team Serim) – 2:12:07 (record percorso)

2. Ginevra Cusseau (Team Prozis-Mugello Outdoor) – 2:23:14

3. Giulia Marchesoni (Atletica Clarina Trento) – 2:28:52

 

1’ Gabriele Pace (Team Salomon) – 2:01:40

2’ Jacopo Mantovani (Team Sasso Marconi) – 2:10:19

3’ Roberto Gheduzzi (Team Hoka One One) – 2:10:44

 

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Ultra Trail Mugello 2019 Preview

Images ©utm/ studiosisti

This weekend, the Ultra Trail Mugello (here) takes place in Italy, close to the stunning Florence. Three races, a ‘Mini Ultra Trail,’ a 22km ‘Mugello Trail‘ and the main event of the weekend, the 60km ‘Ultra Trail‘ all bring a 100% trail experience to the region.

The 60km event is a toughie with 3200 meters of elevation gain with semi-autonomous nature. It departs from the Badia di Moscheta, Firenzuola (FI) with 13-hours to complete the race. The first runner typically takes 6-hours.

Racing starts for the UTM on Sunday, April 28th at 0600. The last runner will need to be at the finish before 1900hrs.

The Ultra Trail del Mugello was the joint brainchild between ultra running enthusiasts and nature lovers proud of their land, and the Mugello Union of Mountain Municipalities. The Union manages 4 forests encompassing 110,000 hectares total. These parts are part of the patrimony of forests of Tuscany, and Italian region which accounts for 20% of all Italy’s forests.

The Union of Mugello Mountain Municipalities manages districts stretching from the outskirts of Florence to the border of Emilia Romagna and the province of Prato. The great ridgeline of the Apennines crosses each, and they are places rich in history, art and abundant nature. From these lands were born some of the greatest artists such as Giotto and Fra Angelico, and Dante drew inspiration from the lands, where he was exiled from Florence.

With this rich history in mind, a permanent trail was created for anyone who wishes to travel it, even outside of this event.

The host site of the Ultra Trail del Mugello is the Giogo-Casaglia district, which encompasses 6,800 hectares of regional forests. These forests house an explosion of colors and scents, with crystal clear waterfalls; it’s practically a one of a kind natural and wild landscape.

The forest fauna, thanks to regulations protecting these lands, is particularly rich both quantitatively and qualitatively. Home to numerous deer and roe deer, wild boar, skunk, weasel, badger, squirrel and many other fauna, it’s also become home again, since 1988, to a wolf population, thanks to reintroduction efforts to bring the environment back as it was in the past. There are also many birds of prey; in particular, in the Rovigo valley there exist Golden Eagle nesting grounds .

100% Trail is the slogan of the racecourse nestled in the heart of the Florentine Apennines; two races UTM and MT, with respective distances of 60km and 23.5km, and respective elevation gains of 3200m and 1280m.

The race only touches asphalt for 300 meters, whereas the bulk is run on single track, mule trails, and forest roads.

The route passes 7 mountain huts and bivouacs, which during the race will host refueling/refreshment points, as well as be the base of operations for safety personnel.

Ones to watch

60k Women
Cristiana Follador TEAM LA SPORTIVA
Cecilia Pedroni TEAM SERIM
60k Men
Franco Collé TEAM HOKA ONE ONE
Luca Carrara TEAM SALOMON ITALIA
Riccardo Montani TEAM SALOMON ITALIA
Michele Tavernaro TEAM LASPORTIVA
Giulio Piana TEAM MUD & SNOW ASD
Mirko Cocco
Michael Dola TEAM SCOTT ITALY
24k Women
Denisa Dragomir Team Serim
Ginevra Cusseau Prozis Team – MugelloOutdoor ASD
Camilla Magliano Team Salomon Italy
Lara Mustat Team Minerva ASD
Giulia Marchesoni Atletica Clarina Trento
24k Men
Mario Poletti Team Scott Italy
Gabriele Pace Team Salomon Italy
Roberto Gheduzzi Team Hoka One one

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Author of RUNNING BEYOND now available in paperback

Running Beyond Paperback