Hardrock 100 2017 Preview

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read HERE

Listen HERE and HERE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

REVIEW of 2016 in Trail, Mountain, Ultra and Skyrunning

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As a year comes to end, it’s always nice to be able to look back and appreciate some of the highlights that all come together that allows one to decide if it was a good or bad year. For me personally, 2016 was a cracker and I am truly thankful for all the opportunities that came up.

Looking back and deciding on what a highlight is, is of course a tricky thing. It’s very personal and it also requires a great memory. So, I will declare right from the off that these are ‘my’ highlights and yes, I am going to miss some key performances, runners, experiences and so on that should be in the list. So, please feel free to comment and remind me.

It would make sense to start in January and move through to December in a logical way… I am not going to do that, I am writing this off the cuff.

Jim Walmsley has been on fire in 2016 and ironically, despite an amazing run and course record at JFK50, FKT’s for the Rim-to-Rim and Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim in the Grand Canyon and countless other victories, it will be his Western States performance that well and truly cements Jim as one of the most exciting runners to rise in 2016. He said pre Western States that he was there to win and win with a course record. He flew along the trails and at one point was almost 30-minutes under the record. As he passed 90-miles everyone was re-writing the history books and then boom! Jim went off course. I caught up with a full and in-depth interview with Jim and you can listen to that HERE and read it HERE. Jim for many is the male Ultra-runner of the Year with victories at Stagecoach Line 55km, Franklin Mountains Trail Run, Lake Sonoma, Mesquite Canyon, Moab Red Hot 55k, Bandera 100k and the recent JFK50. 2017 is going to be a very exciting one.

Rob Young set off on a journey Across the USA looking for a new record, fame, glory and an opportunity to raise a load of money for charity. Somewhere along the way he lost a grasp of reality, perspective and ruined what was a remarkable story be cheating and deceiving the whole ultra running community. Ultimately, Rob is a story of an individual who tried to do good and maybe we should ask what went wrong rather than preach about his morals.

That brings me on to Mark Vaz. What is it with FKT’s and delusional behaviour? Mark seemed to think that running from Land’s End to John O’Groats 31-hours quicker than anyone else for the 860-mile journey was a good idea. It’s not even a convincing lie. As many pointed out, the god of ultra -running, Yiannis Kouros, couldn’t have done it as quick as Mr. Vaz claimed… oh dear!

Pete Kostelnick by contrast embraced the FKT concept and showed the world that the claims made by Rob Young are possible by smashing a 30+ year old Guinness record out of the ether by running Across the USA a full 4-days quicker than anyone else. As records go, this is an absolute doozy and when you look deep and hard into this 40+ day journey, you soon start to understand the difficulty and complexity of running 70+ miles a day. You can listen to an in-depth interview with Pete HERE and read the story HERE. In addition, we must also add to this story, Pete’s incredible and record breaking run at Badwater 135. This achievement has been overshadowed by the USA run but as a stand alone run, it’s also a cracker.

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Karl Meltzer did it, he finally completed the Appalachian Trail in a new record breaking time after failing on two previous occasions.  His time was some 10-hours quicker than Scott Jurek’s set in 2015, however, Karl did run in the opposite direction and has said, post run, he feels that they are two records. Notably, Karl helped Scott in 2015 and Scott helped Karl in 2016. It’s a remarkable story and one that truly reflects our sport of ultra-running. Karl’s record of 45-days, 22-hours and 38-minutes now sits in the record books and well and truly establishes Karl as one of ‘the’ greatest ultra-runners in the world. This is also backed up with his 38 100-mile victories and 5 victories at Hardrock 100. Listen to the in-depth interview HERE and read HERE

Talking of Hardrock 100, Kilian Jornet and Jason Schlarb held hands and crossed the line together in 2016. It was a wonderful moment that split the ultra-running audience in two. Some would have preferred a race to the line while others discussed the wonderful gesture and statement this moment made. Whichever camp you sit in, it was back-to-back victories for Kilian and a career defining moment for Jason Schlarb. Something he discussed in my in-depth interview HERE. For equality, we also need to mention Anna Frost nailing a back-to-back ladies victory. As I understand it, these three Musketeers will all return in 2017.

Aaron Denberg got a bee in his bonnet about Hardrock 100 lottery and decided to create a law suit. Many believe Mr. Denberg makes some good points but questioned if his approach was the correct one? Hardrock 100 released statements and have since removed the payment of a fee by each runner to enter the lottery, something which was apparently illegal! This will run and run (pardon the pun) but ultimately, is Hardrock a victim of it’s own success?

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Caroline Chaverot for me, without doubt, female ultra-runner of the year. This French lady has been on fire all the way from victory in Transgrancanaria early in the year to a most recent win in Hong Kong on December 2nd. Along the way, Caroline won UTMB, became Skyrunning World Champion for the ultra distance and won the IAU World Trail Championships in Portugal. Add to these incredible results, victories at Madirea Island Ultra Trail, Mont-Blanc 80km and the UTWT world title for 2016 and I lower my head and bow to Queen Caroline. Plus she has made the lottery for Hardrock in 2017… exciting!

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Adam Campbell survives a horrific fall and not only lives to tell the tale but has a remarkable recovery, listen to the interview HERE and read HERE

Lizzy Hawker sneaked from under the radar and once again picked up the gauntlet testing her personal boundaries and voyage of self-discovery. After years of injury, Lizzy completed the GHT (Great Himalayan Trail). A 1600km, east to west journey across Nepal. It was, as Lizzy promised, a “beautiful, rough, hard and unforgettable journey”. It was about many things, but also about trying to raise money to give opportunities to Nepali runners, particularly girls, for whom one chance can be a catalyst for much wider change.

Damian Hall set a new FKT on the UK’s South West Coast Path 10-hours, 15-minutes and 18-seconds for the 630-mile jaunt.

Jeff Browning, what a year…! Winner Hurt 100, 3rd at Western States, 4th at Hardrock 100 and 4th at Run Rabbit Run – that is some year, the WSER/Hardrock double a stand out and fastest combined time.

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Kilian Jornet won Hardrock 100 and attempted to summit Everest. The Summits Of My Life project continues on into 2017 after Kilian and his team decided to pull the plug on a 2016 attempt as weather detonated.

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Emelie Forsberg was quiet in 2016 after damaging her ACL and having an operation, she did however return to Trofeo Kima and put the record straight with a victory… she hopes the course record will come in 2018 when the race will take place once again. Emelie discussed her injury HERE

Beth Pascall went from strength-to-strength in 2016 and elevated the Lakeland 100 (UK) record to a whole new level by placing 4th overall. Listen to her interview HERE

Zach Miller did what he always does and lead from the front. At UTMB many predicted, me included, that it was going to be a story of glorious victory with a stunning ‘off-the-front’ performance or carnage with a monumental blow-up! In reality it was both, the blow-up came and he somehow managed to hold on for grim death to still get a top-10 place, he will win this race one day! Jump forward to December and Zach did it again at San Francisco 50. This time he had company and many are saying that ‘this’ race was one of the highlights of the year as Zach and Hayden Hawks traded blows at the front. Zach won with a course record and he took home the $10,000 prize. Hayden finished just 2-minutes back. Note that name! If you want to know what it’s like to put it ALL on the line, take a look at Zach’s final 2-minutes of that incredible 5:56:03 run.

Andrew Miller became the youngest winner of the iconic Western States and today, myself and so many others still know very little about this 20-year old. Certainly, Jim Walmsley had an impact on the kudos and plaudits that Andrew should have received. Running 15:39:36 at WSER takes some doing but I can’t help but think that Biology and chemistry are a priority as Andrew starts his sophomore year at Northern Arizona University. He will be back at WSER in 2017!

Kaci Lickteig has been nailing it and nailing it and finally got the Western States victory that she has longed for and then contrasted it with victory at the Bear 100. You can listen to Kaci’s post Western States interview HERE

Andrea Huser runs and races it would appear ‘every’ weekend. She is relentless. As I understand it, Andrea raced on thirteen occasions but I may have missed some/ She had victories at Raid de La Reunion Swiss Irontrail T201 Eiger Ultratrail 101km, Lavaredo, Trail d’Albertville, Trail Des Allobroges and Maxi-Race Annecy. Phew… any other year and the lack of Caroline Chaverot and Andrea would be female ultra-runner of the year.

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Luis Alberto Hernando won Transvulcania, became Skyrunning World Champion for the ultra distance and became IAU World Trail Champion. That is a solid year and Luis has raced less having become a Dad. Had his feet not fallen apart at UTMB, he may well have been in the running with Jim for male ultra-runner of the year.

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Diego Pazos is a name to watch and has surprised many in 2016. He’s my heads-up for the future. He had a notable result at Transgrancanaria early in 2016 but what followed was quite incredible, his victory at Mont-Blanc 80km a highlight!

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Didrik Hermansen won Transgrancanaria and then placed 2nd at Western States. That is solid and shows real diversity. What will 2017 hold for him? Listen HERE and as Sondre corrects me, Didrik ran 6:45 and 6:38 for 100k.

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Running Beyond Book was released in October and November to a worldwide audience and has been translated into Spanish, Italian, German, Swedish and of course is available in English. Containing 240-pages, this large coffee table books documents the sport of trail, ultra, mountain and skyrunning in images and words, HERE

Dan Lawson (UK) won the IAU 24 Hour European Championships in 2016 with a distance of 261.843 kilometres (162.702 mi).

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Jasmin Paris has elevated herself to a whole new level in 2016. This quiet and shy fell runner set new records for the UK’s ‘Rounds’ and in the process placed 6th at UTMB (her first 100) won Tromso SkyRace, won Glencoe Skyline, became the Skyrunner World Series Extreme Champion 2016 and in addition to countless other races, also placed on the podium at the Skyrunning World Championships for the ultra distance behind Caroline Chaverot. Interviews with Jasmin Paris HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE

Joe Grant set a new record on the 14’ers in 31-days by cycling between trailheads and then summiting all the 14’ers (50+ of them) on foot to then return back to his cycle and then continue on his journey. He was self-sufficient for the whole trip. “I did set a speed record, but that wasn’t my goal,” says Grant, 33, an accomplished ultrarunner who finished second at the 2012 Hardrock 100. “The goal was to challenge myself and see the state, although the previous record served as a reference for how long I could take.” taken from trailrunningmag.

Megan Hicks also completed a ’14’ journey, the Nolans 14 in Colorado. She completed the journey in 57:19:19 to the summit of the 14th peak and then completed the journey back to the Fish Hatchery Trailhead in under 60-hours – 59:36. Her time is the fastest ever completed by a woman.

Nicky Spinks continues to inspire and while she may have lost her ‘Round’ records to Jasmin Paris, she went on to set a new benchmark with a record for a double Bob Graham Round – Nick is an inspiration! You can listen to an interview with her HERE

Ludovic Pommeret ran the most controlled and impressive UTMB ever moving from not being in contention to slowly but surely ticking off the runners ahead and taking the crown at the largest ultra in the world. Add to this victory four other victories and Ludovic is one to keep an eye on in ’17.’

Caroline Boller set new American Trail 50-mile record 5:48:01

Gina Slaby set new female 100-mile WR 13:45:49 for ‘any’ surface, Anne Trason had the previous record of  13:47:41 set in the early 90’s.

Skyline Scotland achieved a first with Glencoe Skyline achieving Skyrunner World Status in the Extreme category and as such, the 2016 edition of the race had arguably one of the best fields assembled on UK soil for a mountain race. HERE

Jon Albon transitioned from obstacle racing (something he still does and excels at) to Skyrunning and won the 2016 Skyrunner World Series Extreme category. We are going to see more of him in 2017! HERE

Samantha Gash ran across India in a project called ‘Run India’ as a means to create awareness and raise money. Covering over 3000km you can listen to her story in episode 125 of Talk Ultra out on Friday 16th December.

Ida Nilsson started the year with a win in Transvulcania, she took victory at The Rut and then in early December won San Francisco 50. Without doubt, Ida is a star of the future. Listen to Ida talk about Transvulcania HERE

Stu Leaney breaks Michael Wardian’s 50km treadmill record by just 7-seconds

Mina Guli ran 40-marathons across 7 deserts on 7 continents in 7 weeks to raise awareness for water, listen to the interview HERE

Jason Schlarb started his year by prepping for Hardrock 100 by skiing the course, listen to the interview HERE

Skyrunning and the world series (SWS) elevated to new heights with an increased circuit that traveled the globe and the addition of the new Extreme series.

And finally (maybe), Donnie Campbell just recently set a new Winter Ramsay Round record to finish a very solid year!

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So what have I missed? 

I am well aware that I will have missed some key performances in 2016 and I welcome you commenting and letting me know. Of course, many performances, races or experiences will resonate on a personal level for you. I can think of many British performances that are worthy of a nod – Jo Meek’s 2nd at the CCC, Paul Giblin 5th at Western States, Joasia Zakrzewski’s medal at the 100k World Champs for example.

Be great to hear from you…

Hardrock 100 2016 Preview

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Hardrock 100 2016 in many respects is all about two returning champions, Kilian Jornet and Anna Frost.

Kilian has won the last two editions and in the process has set two course records, 22:41 in 2014 being the fastest. Many, me included, wonder why he is returning… I think it’s simple; he just loves the race and the course.

Kilian has done little running this year but I don’t think it will make much difference, he always pulls a great result out of the bag and I see no difference for 2016. Long races of 100 miles plus though are difficult to nail time and time again, so Kilian may have a below par or bad year? If he does, Xavier Thevenard may be one to take over the charge.

Xavier winning TNFUTMB

Xavier winning TNFUTMB

Xavier is the only runner to win CCC, TDS and UTMB – an impressive thing! However, he does blow hot and cold and can be quite unpredictable. In all honesty, he is most unpredictable when the pressure is on him. Although Hardrock is a key race, it doesn’t have the high media profile of races such as UTMB and therefore, Xavier may well have a great race.

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Jason Schlarb did Hardrock on skis over the winter and I think he will find running the race easier… He has all the potential to do well on this course as his 4th at UTMB has proven. As is always is the case, Jason will need the Hardrock gods on his side.

Jeff Browning has been on fire as of late and the 100 mile distance and the Hardrock course are made for him. However, he just made the podium at Western States! On the plus side, he will have had 19 days recovery post WSER and that is a good block of RnR. I don’t see Jeff beating an inform Kilian but if Kilian falters, watch this space!

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Nick Clark did the WSER and Hardrock double way back in 2011. At the time he was a beast who trounced 100 milers and intimidated those around him. Don’t get me wrong, you couldn’t meet a nicer guy! Nick has had a tough couple of years, directly attributable to the head-to-head with Ian Sharman going for the Grand Slam – Nick has never been the same since. Hardrock suits ‘Clarky’ though and I wouldn’t rule him out… I hope he finds some of that 2011 form when he placed 3rd and set the WSER/ Hardrock double record.

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Timothy Olson, Transvulcania La Palma 2013 ©iancorless.com

Timothy Olson leaves me with a question mark. The ‘American Tarzan’ (see here) has had a tough time in the last 12 to 24 months. Like so many runners, he nailed it, had huge success and then faded. Timmy loves to run and I actually think in many respects it contributed to his lack of form. He just got tired… ask Geoff Roes about this. I remember sitting on the beach in La Palma after Transvulcania a year or so back. Timmy had been on the island for a month and racked up the miles and hours, he couldn’t resist going out. When the race came, he didn’t have the energy to race. He then went to Hardrock and gritted out a suffer fest for a finish. But he has been quiet since and I am pleased about this. With luck he has recharged his batteries and he will toe the line fighting fit. I really do hope so – he could win it, no doubt.

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Joe Grant has a love affair with Hardrock and ultimately I do believe that Joe was made for this course. Despite solid results elsewhere, Hardrock is where Joe shines. His 2012 2nd place is still a career highlight. Can he do it again? Well the answer has to be yes, can he beat Kilian – no? But with the KJ factor removed, Joe could come up with something special. The only stumbling block may be that Joe only just got is HR100 place as he was on the waitlist.

Other contenders for the top 10 are Scott Jaime, Ben Lewis, Nick Coury and Ryan Kaiser amongst others. I also have a sneaky feeling that a certain Bryon Powell will do well this year. He has been committed and focused on the goal.

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Anna Frost is back. I did wonder if she would return but I guess, like Kilian, the Hardrock bug has taken hold. Last year Frosty had a head-to-head battle with Darcy Piceu and she came out on top not only with victory but a 2nd fastest time of 28:22. I do think that Anna is winding down her ‘racing’ days (not participation I must add) and running is becoming not only an extension of her life but a vehicle for other things. Post Transvulcania this year she said, ‘I can’t believe I ran THAT fast last year!’ Hardrock though is a different beast and I think it suits Frosty’s current mindset. She has been out on the course training and for me, and many others, she is the odds on favourite for victory.

Bethany Lewis has a great set of results at the 100 mile distance and at races that draw great parallels with Hardrock. Victory at Bear 100 and Wasatch 100. Recent exploits with FKT’s have had success and this is why Hardrock will suit her, it’s a big day out in the mountains and it’s one she will embrace.

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Emma Roca may well be the lady who stirs things up. This lady needs know introduction, she has been there and done it time and time again and her variety of results are impressive. Western States, UTMB, Leadville and so on and so on. Emma has every chance to win this race!

Two third places and one second certainly means that Darla Askew knows how to run and hike the HR100 course. In all honesty, she is likely to place somewhere between 2nd and 5th, it just depends on how the race pans out and how the top contenders run – victory is a possibility but unlikely.

Betsy Kalmeyer placed 2nd in 2014 but she would do well to repeat that with the ladies listed above. However, the contenders for the top 3 is always a small pool from which to take water, it only needs a slip and Betsy will be waiting.

Other ladies who will have an impact on the top 5 (top 10) are: Liz Bauer, Betsy Nye, Tina Ure and Megan Hicks.

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Race Website HERE

Course Description – ©hardrock100

The HARDROCK 100 is a mountain run that passes through some of the most beautiful and rugged mountains in the world.

The course is closed. That means that runners are required to follow the specified route.

Four legs, linking the Lake City, Ouray, Telluride, and Silverton areas. The finish is in Silverton, the same location as the start. The course is 100 miles long, has a cumulative vertical gain of 33,050 feet of climb and 33,050 feet of descent for a total elevation change of 66,100 feet, and takes place at an average elevation of about 11,000 feet. The high point is 14,048 feet.

This is a test of runners against the mountains. The course is on trails as much as possible. There are 13 aid stations; major aid stations will be located in the towns with less well-equipped aid stations in between. Runners are expected to be largely self-supporting between the towns.

This is not an orienteering event. We intend that you be able to concentrate primarily on running. However, remoteness, weather, animals, and people problems on the course make this problematic at best. We will mark the entire course before the run. However, long road sections and maintained trails may not be marked at all. Cross-country sections will be marked more intensely. We shall continue our trend over the past few years of less intense course marking with fewer flags along all course sections. The flags should be readily visible, even to those with red/green color blindness. The markers have reflective tags for night visibility. On some portions of the route we may place colored engineer tape. Chalk may be used to mark other sections, particularly roads in towns. Runners are responsible for knowing the prescribed course and following it whether or not markers are present.

The altitude range of this run (7,700 to 14,000+ feet) takes the runner through several climate zones. At the lower altitude, forests of aspen, pine, and spruce are common. Timberline is locally at about 11,800 feet, though this can vary greatly. Above timberline is alpine tundra and low vegetation interspersed with krummholz (low, stunted spruce, fir, and willow).

In the summer, animal life is abundant. You will almost certainly see elk in the high meadows, possibly with their young. Stay clear of elk: they can be ornery at times. Bears (black, not grizzlies) are present, though seldom seen. Mountain lions may also be encountered.

The run is a salute to the toughness and perseverance of the hardrock miners who lived and worked in the area.

Refer to the current Runners Manual for a full, accurate, and detailed course description.

Course Descriptions:

Order a copy of the Drake Mountain Map (official course map) from San Juan Mountains AssociationBuckskin Bookstore in Ouray, Maria’s Bookshop in Durango, or Rigs Adventure Coin Ridgway.
*Just the base map; does not include the Hardrock course specifically marked

Weather

The weather is a dominant factor for this run and can be at least as formidable as the terrain, remoteness, or high altitude. The run date is a compromise among competing weather factors. There is usually a period of a few days to weeks each year when the snow is generally gone, but the summer “monsoon” has not yet gotten into full swing – we’ve tried to hit this window. The usual “monsoon” pattern is a daily weather cycle, starting in the morning with blue skies. As the day warms up, thunderheads build up and around noon intense electrical thunderstorms may commence, continuing until late afternoon or evening, at which time the thunderstorms abate until the next morning.

The Colorado Mountain Club advises climbers in Colorado’s mountains to be off the peaks by noon. Since this may not fit in with your position on the course, you must use extreme caution. Always remember that the time limit is 48 hours. The long time limit is not only in recognition of the difficult terrain, but also allows runners to wait out thunderstorms or other life-threatening weather. You can hunker down in a valley for 2-4 hours and still finish; but, if you get fried by lightning your running career may end on the spot. Discretion is the better part of valor.

Take comfort in the fact that these thunderstorms are widespread. If you are pinned down, chances are that other runners are, too. Your position in the field will probably not change. Use the time wisely – eat, drink, stay warm, and rest. You will be able to run faster when the storm has passed. At the RD’s discretion, Aid Station Captains can hold runners if weather conditions are considered too dangerous and prevent runners from continuing if not carrying gear appropriate for conditions.

It is our general opinion that the first fatality we may have will be from lightning! Several runners in past years have had direct contact with lightning and there have been several more near misses. We would rather that there never be a fatality or injury. We will continually be giving you warnings, cautions, updates, and suggestions regarding the exposure you must face when attempting this run.

Prepare for any amount of snow! We could even have snowfall just before the run. In 1992 we went back to Handies Peak in August, just a month after the run, and found six inches of new snow on the ground! In 1997 we had an ice and snowstorm during the run. Remember, there have been avalanche fatalities in Colorado in every month of the year except September.

Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc® #UTMB 2015 In-Depth RACE PREVIEW

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It’s the end of August and that can only mean one thing, UTMB. 

UTMB has become one of if not THE mountain races to do. In many respects it is almost a victim of its own success. More and more runners want to participate in the big circular dance around the Mont-Blanc but the trails can only take so many people.

I could enter into a debate about the points system but I won’t. I actually think it’s a solution to an ever increasing problem that UTMB organisation face and as such we all know the score, we know what we need to run the race and ultimately we have a choice.

Should points come from qualifying races? Yes, why not!

Should races pay a fee to supply those points? Yes, why not!

I know my last comment will create some debate but to be honest, the fee to ITRA is relatively small and the cost per head is minimal and the races that offer points gain entries. However, I do think another option exists for points.

Why not let all races provide points? Say 0.5 points for an easy trail race of say 50km and then points increase by 0.5 up to a maximum 4-points for a big mountain ultra. If you then want the points, you the runner pay for each 0.5 point you receive. That way, the person who wants/ needs the points pays and the race and other runners don’t pay. Seems logical to me and in actual fact, I think it would generate even more money for ITRA and the UTMB. I welcome your thoughts on that and boy oh boy what a way for me to start a preview on the 2015 race.

UTMB is part of the Ultra Trail World Tour (UTWT) and as such offers points to a larger circuit. Francois D’Haene and Nuria Picas were 2014 champions.

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Well, I was supposed to be in Chamonix for this race but at the 11th hour I have decided not to attend. It was a tough decision and one that I didn’t take lightly. Particularly now that I am seeing all the social media posts of all the runners and spectators arriving in the endurance capital of the world.

The reality is I have been on the road since January with little or no break and next week I travel to the USA for over a week which is then followed by a succession of weekends travelling and providing photography and writing for a succession of races. I personally had great potential to break )ver training one may say), so, home I am staying and for once a relaxing weekend.

The main event starts at 1800 Friday 28th August. I always feel a little ashamed when I say the main event as a whole series of tough and challenging races take place during UTMB week. For example, the ridiculous PTL, the tough TDS, the challenging CCC and the OCC but I only have so much time and the UTMB draws the crowd and the most stacked field. For the first year, UTMB will not be a TNF event and the new sponsor Columbia, Mountain Hardwear and Montrail has a tough act to follow, I wonder if we will notice any difference?

One thing is for sure, the men’s and ladies’ races are stacked. Darn it, I used that word again! Let’s try again – A plethora of talent has arrived in Chamonix to do battle on this super tough and iconic 100+ mile course that circles Mont-Blanc.

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Tofol Castanyer made the podium last year and with no Francois D’Haene he for me has the nod for victory. He has been quiet lately no doubt keeping the powder dry and although not very experienced over 100-miles he is a super savvy and experienced mountain runner with the solid Salomon team who can offer support and backup.

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Luis Alberto Hernando should win UTMB but he won’t. Nothing would please me more to see Luis top the podium in Chamonix but the reality is, he is not a 100-mile runner (not yet anyway). Put him on a course from 50km-80km and he is unstoppable. Put him on a 100km course and he may or may not win but will podium. Put him on 100m route and he will go great for the first 80km and then fade. This is not helped by entering UTMB tired. He won Transvulcania, placed 2nd at the IAU World Trail Champs, won Ice Trail Tarentaise and then placed 2nd at Tromso Skyrace looking distinctly whacked at the end. That was only a few weeks ago and I just don’t see the recovery and training working in Luis’s favour. I hope I am wrong!

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Miguel Heras, well who knows? If he is fit and on fire he could win and almost certainly podium. However, he is extremely injury prone and his performances could come with a flick of a coin. In 2015, Miguel has been much more low key, he has raced but without any pomp and circumstance and that was intentionally so. Placing 2nd behind Thevenard in 2013, Miguel WANTS to win the UTMB and this may well just be the year!

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The Salomon trio is rounded out with Ryan Sandes. This is a really interesting inclusion into the UTMB mix. Ryan can climb, can run fast and is endurant (Drakensberg Traverse) and therefore may well have the essential credentials to podium at the least and may well just win. Certainly, Salomon could repeat the trio of results that we have seen in pervious years. Ryan has had a mixed 6-months with injury, a last minute withdrawal from Western States and I therefore think he is going to be super focussed on this race. One to watch!

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Sage Canaday enters the 100-mile distance for the first time and as great a runner as he is, I don’t see him making the podium. Controversial I know. He has the speed for sure. He has the climbing and descending but I have no reason to think he has the race plan or strategy for what will be at best a 20-hour race. Like Luis Alberto I would expect strength and dominance over the first 100km and then a fade. But he has been in Chamonix preparing and he is a student of the sport. He may very well have hidden himself away, changed everything about his training and come up with the perfect 100-mile training plan? A 5k track session (in 16min) just 3-days before the race suggest otherwise though.

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Xavier Thevenard won the race (surprisingly) in 2013 and then seemed to implode with the pressure. Last year he took the attention of himself and ran the TDS and won it. In doing so, he became the only runner to have won the CCC, TDS and UTMB; impressive! So the facts speak for themselves, super talented and obviously can perform with the best if the pressure is off. Will the pressure be on for 2015 is the question? I think it will but less than in previous years and that may just allow him to run his own race and find his 2013 legs and head. Good luck.

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Julien Chorier impressed the hell out of me a couple of years ago at Ronda dels Cims with a consummate performance. He loves the mountains and he can run fast too. He was 2nd to Ryan Sandes at Transgrancanaria in 2014 and 2nd to Kilian at Hardrock 100. A recent 6th at Western States shows us that all is in place for a great run and that’s why I give him a nudge over Gediminas.

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Gediminas Grinius has been a revelation. His rise in the sport over the last 18-months has been remarkable and you know what, he could win UTMB. He ran a great UTMB last year (5th), won Transgrancanaria and placed 4th at Western States. Expect him to be out of the mix early on and then he will close out super hard and fast.

Stephan Hugenschmidt is my dark horse and potential big surprise of the 2015 UTMB. He had a breakthrough 5th at Transvulcania, won Zugspitz and had a great result at Transalpine.

We are now in the territory of surprise packages and believe me, some of the fellas mentioned below will figure highly in the run for the podium and top-10.

Seth Swanson has been 2nd at Western States 2-years on the run and I still know very little about him. My head says he will need a UTMB run to find his legs before he can comeback and mix it up at the very front. However, nobody expected him to place 2nd at WSER and then go back and do it again!

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Sebastien Chaigneau is the old guard of the race, the wily old fox that everyone loves. Seb has had a tough couple of years and as time has passed, the competition has got faster. I’d love him to find some of that old form, that 100-mile sparkle and dish out to the newbies.

Jeff Browning may well be the best prospect from an American perspective as he is a true mountain man. But he may well lack some of the essential European speed.

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Franco Colle won Tor des Geants and then earlier this year placed 2nd at Mont-Blanc 80km. In addition, he has been at the IAU World Trail Championships, ran (and won) a Skyrunning exhibition event in Cervinia and recently ran Tromso Skyrace. Potential dark horse for UTMB!

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Sondre Amdahl like Gediminas has been a revelation. He is committed, sometimes too committed but I love his passion. He prepared meticulously for Transgrancanaria and placed 4th, went out to the USA to prepare for WSER and placed 15th and has spent recent months preparing in Chamonix for UTMB. Top-10 potential and maybe around 5th if he has a great day.

 

Best of the rest

 

Francois Faivre – 7th at UTMB last year.

Carlos Sa – He could win it but more than likely a top-10.

Pascal Giguet – Top-10 at Mont-Blanc 80km.

Ryan Smith – a Brit who may well be a real dark horse.

Robbie Britton – local lad, 3rd at the 24-hour and 7th at Tarawera. Placed just outside top-50 at UTMB last year but has been in Chamonix for months which will either mean he is in fine form or broken. I think the former. Good luck Robbie.

Yeray Duran – Always strong at Transgrancanaria.

Paul Giblin – another Brit with all the potential to spring a surprise.

Kim Collison – Another multi talented Brit who has speed and endurance.

Joe Grant – We all know Joe and what he can do.

Danny Kendall – The UK’s top MDS performer, not new to UTMB and this may well be his best year.

Jesse Haynes – Great at WSER but in Europe, who knows?

John Tidd – Won’t win but absolutely solid performer.

Stone Tsang – Every chance for a stunning or latter ‘teens’ performance.

Yoshikazu Hara – same as Stone?

 

I could go on….

 

LADIES 

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Neck on the line, this race is for Nuria Picas and I personally think she is going to have the race of her life and win it with a consummate performance. This is no way a reflection on the competition, just an observation of Nuria and an understanding of how this lady ticks. For the past 2-years, Nuria has raced a ridiculous schedule and still placed 2nd twice behind Rory Bosio. This year, Nuria has been quiet. Very quiet. A win at Transgrancanaria and then what? I will tell you, training and preparation. She will be on fire!

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Caroline Chaverot though has also been on fire! In the last 18-months Caroline has exploded with a series of remarkable performances that would suggest a solid UTMB is on the cards. Her victories at Lavaredo and the Eiger confirm that she can perform on the big days out.

Nathalie Mauclair beat Caroline at the IAU Word Trail Championships but that really draws no comparison to UTMB. However, Caroline beat Nathalie at Lavaredo. Take your pick! On paper, I would say Nathalie will be better over the longer distance and time that UTMB will offer and her victories at Diagonale des Fous will put her in a great place both physically and mentally for that.

The upset may well come from Stephanie Howe and I am sure that TNF and the USA would like nothing more than Steph picking up where Rory Bosio left off. Stephanie’s 3rd at WSER left her feeling tired but by all accounts, she has prepared well for the circle of the big white mountain. She has the speed, I just wonder if she has the legs for the climbs and descents and a 24+ hour run in her?

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Francesca Canepa may make the podium? I have always been impressed how Francesca can race UTMB and then just a week later race Tor des Geants. One thing is for sure, I don’t think we will see Francesca at Tor this year after last years’ controversy. 2014 was a great year for the Italian (until Tor) and then it all seemed to go to bits. Understandable really. So coming into UTMB we have little to go on, other than 3rd at the Eiger but she was 30min of the winning time. UTMB may well be a redemption year!

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Uxue Fraille has always impressed with her patience and calculated running. She is a diesel. Expect her off the pace early on and close well. She placed 5th last year and a repeat performance is a distinct possibility.

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Fernanda Maciel is solid on the UTWT circuit and although I don’t see her taking the top slot on the podium, top-5 is a distinct possibility and if she has a great day, the podium may well be hers. Fernanda spent a great deal of time at altitude over Christmas (too long) and this tired her. Let’s hope she is recovered and ready to race hard in Chamonix.

Darcy Piceu is an interesting addition and after that ding-dong with Frosty at Hardrock I am really eager to see what she can do here in France. She placed 3rd in 2011 in just under 29-hours, she will need to run much faster than that this year! One thing is for sure, the distance and time on feet will be no issue, the question mark will be recovery post Hardrock?

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Ester Alves from Portugal has already raced a great deal in 2015 with a string of top placing’s and I have no reason to think that a strong performance is a distinct possibility here. But by strong I mean top-10. A recent tumble at Ice Trail Tarentaise won’t have helped her preparation but she is strong and committed.

Lisa Borzani races and races and races. At TDS in 2015 she placed 2nd. I see her a consistent performance for a top-10 but not victory or the podium.

Nicole Struder ran 14:22 at Rocky Raccoon 100-mile. That’s fast! But she will need to add 10-hours of running to that Rocky time at a minimum for UTMB and through in some serious mountains. So although I see her potentially having a good race, I don’t think that those USA trail legs will handle the European mountains.

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My dark horse for the ladies is Veronica Bravo. She is a super strong adventure racer, has the mind for the long game and 100% commitment. She may not win but I expect she may turn a few heads and UTMB race day looks like it will be a hot one; she loves the heat! Earlier this year she won The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica.

Amy Sproston is a tough one to call. She won Hurt 100 but UTMB is a faster race with tougher competition.

Sally McRae may well offer the best prospects of a top USA performance outside those of Howe. Sally has been top-10 at WSER twice and although UTMB is a big step up from Western, she may well have the race to mix it up.

Gill Fowler from Australia may well rock the apple cart. She was 4th at Lavaredo, yes somewhat off the front pace but a top-10 at UTMB is on the cards.

 

Ones to watch

 

Shona Stephenson – Top-10 at UTMB before.

Sarah Morwood – 11th at UTMB previously.

Manu Vilaseca

Caroline McKay

Denise Bourassa

 

And so many more….

RACE WEBSITE HERE

Schedule HERE

Ultratrail TV HERE

Follow LIVE HERE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The North Face® Transgrancanaria® 2015 – Race Preview

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Transgrancanaria kicks off the first race of an ever growing European calendar and just as has happened in previous years, a stellar field will assemble on the island for what is always a tough and challenging series of races.

For the men, we have some of the 2014 big hitters missing: Ryan Sandes, Julien Chorier, Timothy Olson and Sebastien Chaigneau. That leaves the podium wide open… you’ll soon see though, Transgrancanaria has no shortage of male talent gunning for the top slot.

For the ladies, 2014 champion Nuria Picas returns along with Fernanda Maciel who placed 3rd. The only significant name not starting is Francesca Canepa.

The third race of the 2015 Ultra Trail World Tour (UTWT) looks all set for an epic battle.

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The competition among male runners will be tough and exciting. Many elite runners already know the race but we need to watch out for several names that are racing for the first time who stand a great chance to contest the podium.

Iker Karrera, Anton Krupicka, Pau Bartoló, Sondre Amdahl, Carlos Sa, Gediminas Grinius, Yeray Durán, Antoine Guillon and Javier Domínguez arguably head up the elite field but there are no guarantees of victory…

Experience always provides an advantage; previous editions of Transgrancanaria have shown that this course offers many surprises due the tough and challenging terrain. Joe Grant, Brendan Davies, Sebastien Buffard, Anthony Gay, Sylvain Couchaud, Cyril Cointre, Christophe Le Saux and Yan Longfei will all ensure that the ‘hot’ contenders will have to fight hard for victory.

Who’s shooting for the podium?

Iker Karrera ©iancorless.comIker Karrera has all the potential to be an unstoppable force at Transgrancanaria. He has a great combination of strength, speed and endurance; Ail essential ingredients for success at Transgrancanaria. Iker’s 2013 Tor des Geants and Eiger Ultra Trail performances and arguably, he would have been a potential 2014 UTMB winner had an unstoppable Francois d’Haene not turned up.

©copyright .iancorless.com._1080340Anton Krupicka had a couple of low-key successes in 2014 with Jemez 50 and the Dirty 30; both great comeback races that precluded a strong and impressive Lavaredo. This had us all thinking Anton is back! Unfortunately, it all went pear shaped at UTMB when his body shut down. If Anton is ‘on’ then he will push at the front and contesting the win. The distance suits his racing style and the technicality will play into his hands.

Gediminas Grinius had a stunning 2014 with 3rd, 4th and 5th places at Lavaredo, UTMB and Raid de la Reunion. Three tough races! Based on these performances, Gediminas has all the potential to podium once again and should all things align, he may even win.

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Carlos Sa is an ever-consistent performer who performs exceptionally well on a multitude of surfaces, distances and temperatures. Think: Badwater, UTMB and Marathon des Sables. Without doubt Carlos will be in the mix, definite top-10 material and if he has a great day, the top-5 is not beyond him.

Sondre Amdahl like Gediminas Grinius had a great 2014. He placed 6th at Transgrancanaria last year and then 7th at UTMB. His recent 2nd at HK100 is a sure sign that he is in form. He has prepared meticulously for Transgrancanaria… he even moved to the island! 2015 may very well provide an opportunity for a breakthrough performance?

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Pau Bartoló won the 2014 CCC and a tough and challenging Transgrancanaria course will play into his skill set. He’s going to need a great day to make an impression on the podium but this island has a habit of jawing runners up. A little patience early on may well pay dividends later.

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Brendan Davies is a guy who likes to run, a win at TNF100 and top-10 at Western States proves this. However, he always seems less positive on technical courses and as we all know, Transgrancanaria has plenty of this. If Brendan can find his legs and get in a rhythm, he will be a contender.

Javi Dominguez was 7th last year and followed that up with a solid 5th Raid de le Reunion. He’s a shoe in for top-10 but the podium will likely elude him unless several other runners crumble (possible on this course) and he as a great day!

Antoine Guillon is part of the unstoppable WAA team who somehow seems to manage racing almost every race in the UTWT calendar and still come out with great results as his 3rd, 4th and 5th at Tor des Geants, UTMF and Transgrancanaria show. I see no reason why Antoine wouldn’t make top-5 again!

©iancorless.com.IMG_1749Yeray Duran was 4th last year and is always fired up for what is his ‘home’ race. His form however can be little unpredictable, so, I’m going to sit on the fence; he could very well have a brilliant day or a disappointing day. Let’s go for the former… top-5!

Yan Long Fei won HK100 ahead of Sondre Amdahl arguably to his incredible sub 2:15 marathon speed. Ultimately though, Transgrancanaria is not going to all Yan many opportunities to open the after burners and run… I see Yan having a similar race to Brendan; they could both potentially struggle with the technicality.

©iancorless.com_TCC2015_Day6-2991Plenty of other great male runners in this race and any of them could shine. For example, Joe Grant will like this course, how he performs very much depends on his recovery from The Coastal Challenge, which he raced in early February.

 

LADIES

©iancorless.com.IMG_2858The female field can often lack depth, but not at Transgrancanaria… 2014 champion Núria Picas heads up the ladies race along with 2014 3rd place, Fernanda Maciel. Nikki Kimball fresh from The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica will also be a major contender.

From Europe, Caroline Chaverot, Emilie Lecomte, Denise Zimmerman, Ildiko Wemescher and Elena Polyakova are the main contenders but they will need to suppress competition from American and Canadian: Aliza Lapierre and Stephanie Case. Manuela Vilaseca, Dong Li, Wyan Chow, Nerea Martínez, Xari Adrián, Silvia Trigueros and last but not least, Claire Walton make this arguably one of the strongest female fields we have seen at Transgrancanaria.

Who’s shooting for the podium?

©iancorless.com.IMG_2053Nuria Picas was unstoppable last year winning or making the podium in pretty much every race she ran. Kicking off 2015 with a podium place at UTMF was clear sign that Nuria was running herself in to form. I think she will show the ladies a clean pair of heels at Transgrancanaria and take a strong and decisive victory.

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Fernanda Maciel placed 3rd last year and arguably gave 2nd place away to Francesca Canepa (who has decided not to race) after having a to-and-fro battle with the Italian. Fernanda had a strong 2015 consistently making the podium in UTWT races. Recently, she has had an extended period at Aconcagua and all that altitude must be advantageous.

©iancorless.com_TCC2015_Day4-2099Nikki Kimball needs no introduction, she has been there and done it: from Western States to UTMB. Nikki, like Joe Grant raced The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica and by contrast to Joe, I don’t think TCC will have fatigued her, on the contrary, it will have provided a great kick-start for a potential podium performance in Gran Canaria.

Aliza Lapierre placed 5th at Templiers in 2014 and has won Bandera 100k. I can’t help but think that a ‘running’ course would play into Aliza’s hands more than this course, however, she has loads of class and we can expect that to shine through for a potential top-5.

Emilie Lecomte copyright iancorless.comEmelie Lecomte lacks outright speed but she is a pure mountain lover and she has endurance in abundance. The tougher the better! Emilie has set records on the GR20, excelled at Tor Des Geants, Raid de la Reunion and Ronda dels Cims.

Nerea Martinez and Emelie are made from the same mold and ironically have very similar race histories. Top-10 for sure and don’t expect Emelie and Nerea to finish next to each other in the results.

Wyan Chow won HK100 and may well upset things a little. I don’t see victory coming Wyan’s way but a podium is a possibility. Similarly, Dong Li who placed 2nd at HK100 and Sai Kung 50 will almost certainly make top-10 but the podium is a long shot.

A surprise may come Caroline Chaverot who placed 5th at Mont Blanc 80K in 2014 and my dark horse is Claire Walton and possibly Elena Polyakova.

Stephanie Case gets a nod as a last minute entry.

Follow the race in images and posts on Facebook HERE and on Twitter HERE

 

Note:

Elite runners will not be seen just in the Ultra race but also in the Advanced race of 83 km. The Advanced has been included this year for the first time in the Spain Ultra Cup® Aml Sport HG and will start from Moya town. Furthermore, this race will allow runners score points for the Championship of the Canary Islands. Zaid Ait Malek, from Morocco, Jorge Aubeso, Pau Capell, Judit Franch, Laia Díez, Yolanda Fernández, among a number of local runners from the Canary Islands, are the ones who will keep the level of this race very high.

Additionally, last year winner Nuria Domínguez will participate in the Marathon and the Polish Tomasz Kilsz, winner of Marathon in 2013, will run this year the Starter race. Efrén Segundo, Trail Series, Championship and Cup of the Canary Islands winner, will participate in the Promo race.

 

What is the UTWT? 

The aim of the UTWT is to gather the most important races of the five continents and to offer the runners the opportunity to discover new landscapes while running. These races also show how diverse trail running can be: steep mountains on Gran Canaria, strenuous uphill in the Alps, paths in California, hills and beaches in Hong Kong or the Moroccan desert.

The proposed races are made for runners with high adaptability and each and every of them is unique: The North Face® Transgrancanaria®, Vibram® Hong Kong 100, Tarawera Ultramarathon, Marathon des Sables, The North Face® 100 Australia, The North Face® Lavaredo Ultra-Trail®, Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run, Eiger Ultra-Trail®, Ultra-Trail® du Mont-Blanc, Ultra-Trail® Mt.Fuji® and Le Grand Raid de la Réunion. All these races require different skills in order to win or to be one of the finishers.

The Coastal Challenge #TCC2015 Day 2 Savegre Valley to Dominical Beach

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TCC 2015 Day s Savegre Valley – Dominical Beach

39km

2250+ ascent

Days don’t come much more exciting than day two of The Coastal Challenge… could Frosty pull back the time lost to Veronica Bravo? Could Mike Murphey refocus after going off course on day 1, loosing a chunk of time to Iain Don Wauchope and then going into the red trying to pull back time?

Well the simple answer is yes!

Both Frosty and Mike Murphey showed incredible powers of recovery and lead the race  from the front.

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Frosty took an early lead from Veronica Bravo and slowly but surely extended her lead as day-2 threw everything at her; tough climbs, sections of fire trail, gnarly descents, km’s of fire trail, water crossings and then a long hot stretch of relentless beach.

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“Today was true Costa Rican; jungle, trail, beaches and wonderful people… oh, and darn hot! I felt good for 20km but I didn’t like the fast section of road but I was able to push to the end. A good day” – Anna Frost.

As the finish came, Frosty had clawed back all lost time on day-1 and took the overall lead of the ladies classification. Veronica Bravo didn’t have a bad day… Frosty was just having a great day. Veronica looked strong and relaxed mile-after-mile and always gave a smile.

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Nikki Kimball rounded out the top-3 for the ladies and as we expected, Nikki is just pacing herself. Post race Nikki said, “I am just off ski’s and the heat and humidity is relentless. It’s so different to Marathon des Sables where the heat is dry. But then again, I am not in the shape I was in for the 2014 MDS?”

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Mike Murphey pushed and pushed, slowly pulling away and extended a lead over Joe Grant who he had run with over the first climb and descent. Running so hard in this heat, humidity and with such mixed terrain was a consummate performance. Mike certainly showed his speed, endurance and commitment, so much so it gave Mike a course record for the Savegre Valley – Dominical Beach stage. Mike had said the previous day,

“I love some motivation and to chase, so I plan to go for it. I need to pull back the time I lost from going off course and then gain some time for the lead. I love that.”

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Joe Grant had felt really good and matched Mike step-by-step in the early stages while Iain Don Wauchope (day-1 stage winner) chased some 90-seconds to 2-minutes back. But Joe rolled his ankle and then had to run cautiously.

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Eventually, Joe and Iain joined forces and ran the final stages together but Mike was long gone… they crossed the line almost 30-minutes back confirming Mike as the new race leader with Iain in 2nd and Joe in 3rd.

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1-Mike Murphey – Canada- 4:03:57
2- Joe Grant – UK – 4:32:22
3- Iain Don Wauchope – South Africa – 4:32:22

 

1st – Anna Frost – 4:57:20
2nd – Veronica Bravo – 5:21:05
3rd – Nikki Kimball – 5:35:10

Overall classification to follow (times)

Mike Murphey and Anna Frost are current leaders.

 

 

 

The Coastal Challenge #TCC2015 Day 1 Playa de Ray – Savegre Valley

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TCC 2015 Day 1 Playa de Ray – Savegre Valley

36.4km

850m+ ascent

©iancorless.com_TCC2015_Day1-9696 Day one of The Coastal Challenge is always a tough day. For many, the heat and the humidity are just too great and along with excitement and adrenaline, the early run pace is too fast and the inevitable happens. In past years runners have dropped the ball on the first day and dug so deep in to reserves that they have not been able to recover. It looks like everyone managed to hold back just a little, however, the story in camp post race was one of fatigue, dehydration and intense heat.

After a 0300 start and a three-hour bus drive to the coast, runners departed Playa del Rey at 0800 and within a couple of kilometres the intense heat and high humidity could visible seen as sweat soaked bodies pushed along the strong. Canadian, Mike Murphy was clearly intending to race hard and it was long before he started to open a gap followed by Iain Don Wauchope from South Africa, a couple of local Costa Ricans, Speedgoat Karl Meltzer and Joe Grant.

©iancorless.com_TCC2015_Day1-0642Anna Frost and Veronica Bravo raced neck-and-neck and it was very clear that an interesting battle would develop between the two. Nikki Kimball ran in third, Costa Rican, Maria Guevara and then Samantha Gash.

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At Cp1 a pattern was forming as Mike Murphy and Anna Frost opened up gaps in their respective fields, Frosty just had a couple of minutes over Veronica Bravo but Murphy was extending a lead into double -figures.

In the dense forest section that followed, approximately five kilometres later Iain Don Wauchope had taken the lead in the men’s race followed by Costa Rican Roiny Villegas and Karl Meltzer. Anna Frost held a two-minute lead over Veronica Bravo and the stage looked set for a great battle. As runners passed, no sign of Mike Murphy and I was beginning to wonder what had happened?

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Murphy later appeared on the trail out of the top ten; it turned out he missed a key right turn that took the runners from a fire road and into the dense jungle. Mike complained the signs had not been in place but that was not correct. The turn had been clearly marked well in advance of any runners!

Eyes focused, Mike pushed hard on the trail looking to pull back time and although running with great speed and style he paid a price in the intense heat and eventually slowed. However, he did pull back great junks of time and he is certainly not out of the fight.

Iain Don Wauchope held on for victory but said, “A great deal tougher than I expected, I really suffered in the heat and slowed a great deal. Everyone did! The heat was just so intense.”

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Roiny Villegas placed second, Karl Meltzer placed third, Joe Grant fourth and Mike Murphy closed well to place fifth.

At Cp3 Anna Frost still had a strong lead but at Cp4, Veronica Bravo had closed and passed Frosty. Frosty suffered in the intense heat and had no option but to submerge her self in the river to reduce her core.

©iancorless.com_TCC2015_Day1-9659Veronica pulled away and gained more and more time and eventually gained over seven minutes lead. Post race Veronica said, “I almost didn’t want to pass Anna, but she waved ne through. I couldn’t believe it. I respect her so much. I just held my form, listened to my body and maintained my rhythm.” The coming days are going to be very exciting as Bravo and Frost battle for the lead.

Maria Guevara placed third ahead of Nikki Kimball and Samantha Gash placed fifth.

Day two is going to be a tough day. How will everyone feel, will they have recovered?

inov-8 RACE ELITE 24 pack review

1-Race_Elite_24-845x1024inov-8 continue to push the boundaries and after the successful launch of the original Race Ultra Vest (3L) and the recent launch of two larger capacity and re-designed RACE ULTRA VESTS vets; 5L and 10L, the UK innovators have introduced the RACE ELITE 24.

Grounded in the fells of the UK, inov-8 has long provided mountain marathon runners with the perfect footwear to tackle mud, rock, bog and scree. The addition of very specific race apparel and packs have afforded the discerning runner with a one-stop shop for all that is required to race (not sleeping bags or tents). inov-8 packs have been popular in mountain marathon, fast packing and overnight adventures for some time. However, the introduction of the new RACE ELITE 24 is almost certainly going to turn a few heads.

FIRST LOOKS

If you look at the pack from the rear, it is at first glance a very simple design. Almost duffle bag like in shape, the pack is a long black tube with a two-way zip that splits the pack in two. Adorned with adjustable bungee that moves from the outer edge to the middle in a zigzag shape. The bungee passes at the bottom of the pack and mirrors the opposite side. The two elastics then meet in the middle of the pack at the top (above the zip) and here you pull the elastic tight to compress the pack and remove any excess space and/ or fabric. As you look at the pack from the rear, attachments are available on the left for running poles but most importantly, this pack is ice axe friendly! I can’t tell you how many times I have been asked when doing a pack review, ‘can it hold an ice axe?’ Ice axe compatibility may well make the RACE ELITE 24 the new ‘go to’ pack for those who like to travel fast and light in the mountains without compromising on carrying capacity.

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The front of the pack is the revelation!

inov-8 have taken the ‘vest’ from the Race Ultra Vest and added it to the RACE ELITE 24 potentially making it one of the most form fitting and comfortable 20+L packs on the market. Pretty much all brands now incorporate a vest or vest like system when designing new packs. Why? Well, it works, pure and simple. The design is more comfortable, it distributes the weight of the packs contents and it adds additional storage.

IN USE

Joe Grant running with RACE ELITE 24 ©inov8

Joe Grant running with RACE ELITE 24 ©inov8

The main compartment of the pack is split down the middle with a zip that has two zipper pulls. When open, you have a wide-open space to add contents. The pack has no dividers, pockets or clutter. So, add your kit, zip it up and off you go. This design is particularly good as it provides immediate access to all contents. It’s possible to divide contents in waterproof dry bags or plastic bags and therefore ease of use is a real plus. If you are using the pack with less contents, then all the weight will go to the bottom of the pack. Excess fabric and space can be removed by tightening the adjustable bungee. The pack is long and for me, this may well be a stumbling block for some users. This has nothing to do with a person’s height but torso length. If you have a short torso, the RACE ELITE 24 may well be too long for you? I understand why inov-8 has made the pack the length it is. If you are doing a mountain marathon, you will be carrying a tent and therefore the tent poles will need to fit inside. I guess it may be possible to attach poles to the outer but in my opinion it wouldn’t be ideal.

The front of the pack as mentioned has the vest fitting system with an upper and lower chest strap to retain the pack in place. There are also upper and lower side straps that provide fine tune adjustment so that you can have the pack as tight or as loose as you require against your torso. This system is particularly useful, as it will allow you to wear additional layers and still have the pack fitting. A whistle is provided and the left side mirrors the right with an upper larger stretch pocket, a smaller stretch pocket and then a large zipped pocket. The large zipped pocket will take inov-8 500ml soft flasks with extended straws so that you can drink without having to remove the bottles. The straws fit through an upper and lower elastic loop on either side of the pack.

The multiple front packets provide immediate access to anything I needed whilst running. I had a phone, camera, bars, gels, keys, compass and money all at hand. Perfect. The front zipper pockets add extra security if not used for the soft flasks.

The soft flasks with extended straws are a revelation and make ‘on the go’ drinking a breeze. It also makes refilling very easy.

Fabrics are light and breathable as the original. Of course with any vest, you are going to get a hot spot on your back. You can’t avoid that with this style of product.

The front fastening system has also changed from the original. This pack no longer uses the small quick release system that some found fiddly on the previous vest. Now it has 2-fixed straps, upper and lower and both use the classic male/ female quick release fastening system that is much easier to open and close should you be wearing gloves.

You can attach poles to the rear. I tried but didn’t find this to be a good option for me. More often than not, the new folding poles such as Black Diamond or Leki are shorter in length. This makes fastening more awkward and problematic. To resolve this, I attached two adjustable bungees to the shoulder straps and I store my poles folded across my chest; works for me and makes storing and access to the poles easier. It’s a personal thing. However, you can hold an ice axe on the rear of the pack and as mentioned previously, this will be a huge plus for many!

I personally would like inov-8 to design a front pack that could be added as an optional extra. Front packs are a little like Marmite; some love them, some hate them! For me a front pack can often balance the weight of the rear and provide some equilibrium. It also means that you have additional on hand storage for essential items. Looking at the bigger picture, with some tweaks in the design, the RACE ELITE 24 may well be a great pack for multi-day self-sufficient races such as Marathon des Sables.

inov-8 athlete Joe Grant has been using the RACE ELITE 24 during the winter and recently said,

‘I started testing the Race Elite 24 pack last winter, mainly for running and some winter climbing. For these activities, I needed a pack that would be runnable, stable and light, but still able to hold a decent amount of gear.’

 

‘Again, the vest system worked really well at keeping the load stable and allowing me to run on sections of trail that I’d typically have to hike with a conventional style pack. I’d carry a camera, water and food up front for quick access.’

Conclusion

If you are racing long distances, heading to the mountains, fast packing or racing a mountain marathon, the RACE ELITE 24 is without doubt worth checking out. The pack really embraces fast and light with minimal clutter. If you are looking for bells, whistles and multiple pockets in the main compartment, then this pack is not for you. If you like a pack that can hold plenty of kit: clothes, jacket, waterproof trousers, sleeping bag, tent, cooking equipment and food in a space that is easy accessed. Then the RACE ELITE 24 is for you.

The vest fitting system is a revelation for a pack of this size. The multiple pockets provide storage and access for on the go items such as food, gels, camera, phone and the two 500ml soft flasks provide easy on the go hydration.

Recommended!

Pros:

  • Simple design.
  • Very light.
  • Vest fitting.
  • Adjustable bungee.
  • Easy access to main compartment.
  • Soft flasks with straws.
  • Ice axe compatible.

Cons:

  • May be too long for some?
  • Only capacity for 1L of water unless you add a bladder to main compartment.
  • Main compartment has no structure, which may be an issue for some?

Product weight 330g

Price TBC

Availability TBC

Check out inov-8 HERE

inov-8 logo

Joe Grant and Speedgoat Karl prepare for The Coastal Challenge 2015

Karl MeltzerThe 11th edition of The Coastal Challenge 2015 (#TCC2015) is just weeks away. For those in the know, the TCC is a gruelling multi-stage race that takes place along the tropical Pacific coastline of Costa Rica. The 230km route weaves in and out of the Talamancas (a coastal mountain range in the south west corner of the country) providing a true multi terrain experience.

A point-to-point race, the course starts in Quepos and finishes in the stunning Drakes Bay close to the border of Panama. Simple in concept, the TCC provides an extreme challenge that tests each individual runner. Participants will need to balance the distance, severity of the terrain and tropical climate to reach the finish line.

If you enjoy long distance running and adventure then The Coastal Challenge is for you and will prove to be a tremendously rewarding achievement. Jungle and rainforest trails, mountain trail and single track across ridge lines, highlands and coastal ranges; pristine beaches, rocky outcroppings and reefs, river valleys, river and estuary crossings. It’s an amazing course.

Following on from the incredible 10th edition line up (2014) that included Philipp Reiter, Nick Clark, Julia Boettger, Veronica Bravo and men and ladies victors; Michael Wardian and Jo Meek, race director, Rodrigo Carazo has once again provided a stunning line up for 2015.

Two of the male contenders for overall victory in the 2015 edition are Joe Grant and Speedgoat Karl Meltzer. I caught up with them to find out how training has gone in the final build up to the race.

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Speedgoat Karl Melter – Hoka One One, Red Bull

Karl, you have your mojo back! Is the TCC directly attributable for that? 

I definitely have my mojo back.  I am looking at the TCC as a great week of running, with some harder runs, some good runners to run against, and to hopefully not get ‘chicked!’ Which I suspect I will.  The race has motivated me to come to Zion Canyon and run some multi-long days in January which is great.  I also look at it as an interesting test of my fitness.  I’ve had 3 decent months so far, with the exception of a mildly aggravating neuroma, which will never go away, so I will just continue to run and manage it.

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You are no stranger to running day after day having done the AT (Applachian Trail) and Red Bull Pony Express, have you done anything specific in training for TCC? 

The AT and the Pony Express trail, being much longer days than the TCC really aren’t that comparable.  The Pony was a cakewalk because it was not a race. The AT was just about surviving the distance daily.  The TCC is much shorter and faster each day,   The real key is recovery, so I suspect, I’ll be sleeping plenty and resting a great amount after each day to see how that pans out.

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I’ve been toying with recovery the past month after long runs. I will likely take in some Ultragen and remain motionless for about 30 min. Eat more. Take a nap with legs elevated for about 2 hours. Then go for a walk about 1-2 miles to loosen the legs again… then eat again!  At least that’s the plan for now. I”m sure it depends on what’s going on too, but the nap is important as well as the walk later in the day.

Any other tips for all those taking part?

Don’t drink as much beer as I will.  🙂  Enjoy more than anything and try and plan to be the “chaser”, not the “chasee” after day 3.  I’m hoping to be the guy who gains momentum after day 3, rather then going out with the fast guys on day 1 and frying myself.  It’s far more entertaining for me to run that way.

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Joe Grant – Buff, Arc’teryx, inov-8

JoeGrant2

You have been back home training in the snow on skis and the ‘phat’ (fat) bike. Will that all work well for your run legs at TCC?

I find that both the ski and biking help develop a lot of power while minimizing the impact on the body you get from running. I can get a lot of vertical in, have a good long day of training where I feel tired, but not banged up. At this point in the year, I think it’s a very sustainable practice and will set me up nicely for spring/summer racing. TCC will definitely be a bit of a shock to the system, particularly the heat, but that’s partly why I’m interested in the race as it will be a great early season training boost.

Are you doing any specific preparation for the heat of TCC?

I did go down to Arizona to visit my uncle over the New Year. I was hoping to get a bit of heat training in down there in the desert, more of a mental thing really to break out of the winter cycle back home. The weather was surprisingly cold though and I only got one warm day of running in shorts. Heat is certainly my biggest concern for the race.

Joe Grant

Multi day racing will place different demands on you in comparison to one long push (like in a 100-mile) do you have any thoughts or strategy for TCC?

I’m approaching the race like a demanding week of training with slightly longer mileage and more intensity. What I’ve found in multi-day races (in a single push) is that even a small amount of sleep and rest can do wonders for recovery. I’ll just need to remind myself during the race, that even if I’m feeling particularly bad on one day, good food and solid rest can really turn things around on the next. It’s a patience game and being able to spread your effort out evenly over the course of the 6 days.

Any tips for anyone taking part in a similar event?

I’d recommend really paying attention to all the little details that can improve your comfort and recovery during the week. It’s easy to be too tired to clean your shoes or tend blistered feet or chaffing after a strenuous stage, but taking care of those little things will pay off. It’s worth having clean, dry clothes to change into particularly at night to get good rest and feel ready to tackle the next day.

 

The 2015 #TCC2015 starts on January 31st and finishes on February 7th. Daily reports and images will be available on this website and you can follow Facebook and Twitter #TCC2015

The Coastal Challenge Facebook page is HERE and the race website is HERE

Route book and profiles available on PDF Here

 

Episode 77 – Greenwood, King, Grant, Maughan

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Episode 77 of Talk Ultra – It’s our Christmas Special. Ian and Speedgoat Karl Meltzer discuss 2014 and some of our highlights.

We have in depth interviews with Ellie Greenwood, Max King, Joe Grant and .Grant Maughan.

We wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. We thank you for your continued support and look forward to joining you on your ultra journeys in 2015. – Ian & Karl

YOU CAN READ A REVIEW OF 2014 HERE

In the show we mentioned Kilian Jornet’s attempt at a FKT on Aconcagua. Kilian did it! You can read all about his Summit of My Life HERE

Here is a preview of the 2015 The Coastal Challenge – Men HERE, Ladies HERE

 

Links:

ITunes http://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/talk-ultra/id497318073

Libsyn – feed://talkultra.libsyn.com/rss

Website – talkultra.com

TALK ULTRA is now os STITCHER check it out HERE

Stitcher