Episode 181 – Gordy Ainsleigh, Kilian Jornet and Timothy Olson

Episode 181 of Talk Ultra brings you three interviews from the Talk Ultra back catalogue to launch the new show, ’theINTERVIEWS.’ We go back to 2012 and 2013 of Talk Ultra and we have interviews with Gordy Ainsleigh, Kilian Jornet and Timothy Olson.
 
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the INTERVIEWS

 
00:05:10 Gordy Ainsleigh
In 1974 Gordy Ainsleigh was the first to run the Western States Endurance Run in under twenty-four hours. Ainsleigh had finished the Western States (WSER) in 71 and 72 on horseback, but in 73 his new horse was pulled with lameness at the 29-mile checkpoint. With the inspiration and encouragement of Drucilla Barner, the first woman to win the Tevis Cup and Secretary of the Western States Trail Foundation, Gordy, in 1974,  joined the horses of the Western States Trail Ride to see if he could complete the course on foot in under twenty-four hours. Twenty-three hours and forty-two minutes later Gordy arrived in Auburn, proving that a runner could indeed, travel the 100 miles in one day. History was made…!
First recorded in February, 2012.
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01:06:20 Kilian Jornet
It’s the day after the Matterhorn Ultraks and just four days after Kilian Jornet’s successful attempt on the Matterhorn Summit record attempt from Cervinia. It has been quite a few days for this iconic mountain and although Kilian has excelled on both occasions, we all know, the mountain is still the boss.
Kilian arrives with Emelie Forsberg looking relaxed and fresh after a late breakfast. I congratulate him (and Emelie) once again on topping the podium at the Skyrunning Matterhorn Ultraks race and ask him how he feels, ‘I am a little tired but feel good. I was certainly tired in the race but I didn’t push too hard. I just did what I needed to do to win the race’.
Our conversation turns the TNF UTMB and we discuss how the race will unfold for the men and women. Kilian and Emelie are animated at the prospect of Julien Chorier, Miguel Heras, Anton Krupicka and the other contenders going head-to-head. Emelie gets excited at the thought of Nuria Picas in the ladies race, it’s her first 100-mile race and of course Emelie knows the Catalan well. We could talk all day but eventually I settle down with Kilian in a quiet corner and we discuss the Matterhorn.
First recorded in September 2013.
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01:43:16 Timothy Olson
 
Timothy Olson had won the 39th annual Western States 100 race in the record time of 14:46:44, trimming the course record of 15:07:04, set by Geoff Roes two years earlier, by over twenty minutes. In this interview, we found out about the demons of Tim’s life, drugs, alcohol and a road to ruin. Ultra-running quite literally saved his life… It still stands as one of my all-time favourite Talk Ultra interviews. 
First recorded in 2012.
 
Show Length 02:39:17
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Information for the INTERVIEWS – please follow the show
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Hosted on ANCHOR (HERE) the INTERVIEWS will also be available to listen on many other players, including SPOTIFY (HERE).
ANCHOR app on Apple HERE and Google HERE
Download links will be added in due course.
Apple Podcasts HERE
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Google Podcasts HERE
Overcast HERE
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Spotify HERE
Stitcher
 
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TALK ULTRA podcast will be released as normal providing you long shows as it has always done with ideally two shows per month. The back catalogue will be released randomly via the INTERVIEWS and not chronologically.
 
 
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the INTERVIEWS Season 1-Episode 2 : KILIAN JORNET – The Matterhorn SOML

Recorded in September 2013, this interview was undertaken in a hotel in Zermatt just days after Kilian set a new FKT for the Matterhorn.

It’s the day after the Matterhorn Ultraks and just four days after Kilian Jornet’s successful attempt on the Matterhorn Summit record attempt from Cervinia. It has been quite a few days for this iconic mountain and although Kilian has excelled on both occasions, we all know, the mountain is still the boss.
Kilian arrives with Emelie Forsberg looking relaxed and fresh after a late breakfast. I congratulate him (and Emelie) once again on topping the podium at the Skyrunning Matterhorn Ultraks race and ask him how he feels, ‘I am a little tired but feel good. I was certainly tired in the race but I didn’t push too hard. I just did what I needed to do to win the race’.
Our conversation turns the TNF UTMB and we discuss how the race will unfold for the men and women. Kilian and Emelie are animated at the prospect of Julien Chorier, Miguel Heras, Anton Krupicka and the other contenders going head-to-head. Emelie gets excited at the thought of Nuria Picas in the ladies race, it’s her first 100-mile race and of course Emelie knows the Catalan well. We could talk all day but eventually I settle down with Kilian in a quiet corner and we discuss the Matterhorn.

Hosted on ANCHOR (HERE) the INTERVIEWS will also be available to listen on many other players, including SPOTIFY (HERE).

ANCHOR app on Apple HERE and Google HERE

Download links will be added in due course.

Apple Podcasts HERE
Breaker HERE
Castbox
Google Podcasts HERE
Overcast HERE
Pocket Casts  HERE
RadioPublic HERE
Spotify HERE
Stitcher
TALK ULTRA podcast will be released as normal providing you long shows as it has always done with ideally two shows per month. The back catalogue will be released randomly via the INTERVIEWS and not chronologically.

Kilian Jornet in Nepal – Autumn 2019

Kilian Jornet returns to Nepal, little news is available of what Kilian plans but the Nepalese/ south side will most likely be the Catalan’s objective.

In my in-depth interview with Kilian (HERE) he eluded to the frustrations of media attention and how in the future, he may well go on projects and expeditions and only provide information of the undertaking after the event. Well, it looks like such a project is now underway.

Laura Font Sentís who has represented Kilian for many years via the Barcelona-based Lymbus agency confirmed to Canadian Running Magazine:

“Kilian will spend some time in the Himalayas with his family and he will take advantage to explore the terrain. If he does any relevant activity he will communicate after he has completed it.”

Everest will receive a dozen attempts this season after the monsoons – after a lull of 8 to 9 years.

According to the Department of Tourism, the last time Everest was climbed in the autumn season was in 2010, when American Eric Larsen achieved the feat.

“It’s difficult to climb Everest during the autumn because of post-monsoon and fresh snow,” said Rameshwor Niroula

I had wondered if Kilian would try to resurrect the project of Ueli Steck before his death in 2017? Confirmation has been received that Kilian does have permission to climb Lhotse but in what capacity and for what purpose is unknown – could it be a speed record or to resurrect Steck’s project?

“Steck died on 30 April 2017 while acclimatizing for an attempt of the Hornbein route on the West Ridge of Everest without supplemental oxygen. This route had been climbed only a few times, the last of which was in 1991. His plan was to climb the Hornbein Couloir to the summit, then proceed with a traverse to the peak of Lhotse, the world’s fourth highest mountain. This combination had not been achieved.”

François Lebeau and Jon Glassberg are with Kilian and this would suggest that they will document the project…? Again, this is speculation but one would assume Kilian will undertake any project with a small team and move fast and light, as one would expect!

The Himalayan Times have confirmed much activity for Autumn and I quote;

‘….besides, Spanish climber Kilian Jornet would also attempt to climb Mt Everest after leading a three-member team on Mt Lhotse in the autumn season, Murari Sharma, Managing Director at Everest Pariwar Treks informed.’

Sources said that there would be two teams on Mt Everest this season, also taken from The Himalayan Times:

“Jornet will be using a single permit while others would share another Everest climbing permit. Renowned photographers including Francois Lebeau and Jon Glassberg will be documenting their climbs on Mt Everest.”

                       Article reference HERE

Whatever the project, it’s great to see Kilian fulfil his dreams and personal ambitions once again in Nepal. We wish good weather and a safe time on the mountains.

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Monte Rosa Skymarathon 2019 Preview

“If you build it, they will come”

– the famous line from the movie ‘Field of Dreams’ with Kevin Costner.

The term has been used time and time again as a metaphor for reaching out, taking a risk and fulfilling a dream. Well, in 2018, Marino Giacometti and Lauri van Houten did just that! They harked back to the roots and the glory days of skyrunning and the race and mountain that created the sport that we all now know today.

It was in Alagna, on the slopes and summit of Monte Rosa that Marino pioneered the approach of ‘fast and light!’ It’s a simple concept, start in the town, go to the summit as fast as possible, turnaround and then run back.

1993, starting at 1192m in Alagna and reaching the Margherita Hut at 4554m and on the way passing Bochetta delle Pisse at 2396m, Indren Cable Car 3260m. Gnifetti Hut 3647m and finally the Colle del Lys at 4250m before the lung bursting summit.

It is pure skyrunning.

And today, the Monte Rosa Skymarathon retraces that pioneering route to spend time in less cloud and more sky.

It’s a route for the experienced only and unlike 1993, the race now requires teams of two, pioneered last year in the 1st edition. Snow fields, glaciers, exposed landscape the steep climb and descent of a couloir and all the time pushing the body and mind to the limit.

In the individual records date back to 1994 when skyrunning legends Fabio Meraldi and Gisella Bendotti completed the outa and back journey in 4:24 and 5:34 respectively.

 

Last year, 2018, the team of Franco Collé / William Boffelli completed in a stunning 4:39:59. The mixed pair team of Kilian Jornet and Emelie Forsberg completed in 5:03:56 – in the process, Emelie set the fastest time for woman.

The stage is now set for 2019 and the 2nd edition of the Monte Rosa Skymarathon, the route as in 2018 will be a full recreation of the 1993 original race with a total distance of 35km and 3500m+ and 3500m-.

From the Indren cable car station, teams (2-people) must be roped with: UIAA 105 approved harness, UIAA 101 approved 8 mm diameter dynamic rope 10m long, UIAA 128 approved rope with two carabiners, micro metal crampons must be worn and ski or cross country poles must be carried.

Top international athletes including skyrunning stars – past and present – and ski mountaineering champions will arrive in Alagna aiming to challenge the incredible records set by those before them. But records only tell part of the story, for a skyrunner or ski mountaineer, this race is more than a race, it’s a journey through time, it’s the purest form of the sport, a hark back to the roots and just toeing the line is a great achievement.

New for 2019 is the AMA VK2 – The course starts and finishes in Alagna Valsesia, 1,192m. It passes by the Bocchetta delle Pisse, 2,396m and summits at the Indren cable car station, 3,260m for a distance of 11 km and a total 2,080m vertical climb. The race takes place on mountain trails with demanding uphill sections, exposed areas, steep pastures and scree and snow fields, possibly subject to severe environmental and weather conditions.

A list of entrants for both races can be found HERE

Due to the nature of the events, equipment requirements are strict HERE

PROGRAM

FRIDAY 21 JUNE, PALAZZETTO DELLO SPORT, ALAGNA

10.00 Race Office opens

Registration, bib and race pack collection

18.00 Mandatory Briefing

19.00 Race Office closes

SATURDAY 22 JUNE, PIAZZA GROBER

6.00 Monte Rosa Skymarathon race start

In case of unfavourable weather conditions the race may be shortened to finish at Colle del Lys or postponed to Sunday, 23 June

08:30 AMA VK2 starts

10.30 Arrival of first athletes of Monte Rosa Skymarathon in Alagna.

On-site podium ceremony of first three men and first three women

16.00 Award ceremony – Palazzetto dello Sport

RACE WEBSITE HERE

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Monte Rosa SkyMarathon – 2019 date announced – 22 June 2019, Alagna Valsesia, Italy

After the successful relaunch in 2018 of the historic Monte Rosa SkyMarathon in the Italian Alps, the next edition will take place on June 22, 2019.

The 2018 event attracted some of the world’s top athletes in a field of 300 participants from 23 countries. They included skyrunning superstars Kilian Jornet and Emelie Forsberg, the men’s winners Franco Collé and William Boffelli and women’s winners Hillary Gerardi and Holly Page.

It is Europe’s highest race reaching the Margherita Hut at 4,554m altitude.  A “mere” 35 kilometres long, it boasts a gruelling 7,000m ascent and descent over moraine, snow fields and glaciers. Due to the high altitude and challenging conditions, the event is open only to athletes with mountaineering experience. Above the snow line, they must wear harnesses, rope up and wear crampons.

Incredibly spectacular scenery is one of the attractions of the race, where from the summit of Europe’s second highest mountain, Monte Rosa, the 360° view takes in the major 4,000m peaks, including the Matterhorn.

The Monte Rosa SkyMarathon retraces the original course dating back to 1993. It was here that the sport of skyrunning was born and here where it will continue to thrive.

Stay tuned for entry dates and join us on June 22, 2019 for the race of the century!

ENTRIES HERE

Read about the 2018 edition on Sidetracked Magazine

For Marino Giacometti, it was a dream come true. The tears in his eyes showed it. It was here in Monte Rosa that a new sport was born just over 25 years ago, and in 2018 it was re-established – the sport of skyrunning. Start low, go high, reach a summit and then return as fast as possible. A sport free from the clutter of mountaineering equipment, a sport that is fast and light.

 

Monte Rosa SkyMarathon lived up to the hype and delivered beyond expectations. The ‘buzz’ in Alagna after the race was incredible. ‘This is a proper skyrunning race,’ was repeated time and time again. ‘Let’s have more of this Marino… let’s get back to the core values of the sport and yes, let’s go back 25-years!’

READ MORE HERE

View images of the 2017 race below – ©iancorless.com

Images to purchase HERE

ISF Skyrunning World Championships 2018 Summary

“Gale force winds, torrential rain, freezing cold and the occasional burst of sunshine tell the story of the 2018 Skyline Scotland series of events. For the first time, the ISF skyrunning world championships were held on UK soil combining of the classic VK, SKY and ULTRA distances. On the 4th day, the event center in Kinlochleven was transformed for the skyrunner world series, Glen Coe Skyline – 4 days, 4 events and 1000’s of runners; a truly memorable experience for running in the UK.”

I wrote a summary of the 2018 World Championships for IRUN4ULTRA

YOU CAN READ THE ARTICLE HERE

You can view image galleries form the VK, SKY, ULTRA and EXTREME races HERE

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Glen Coe Skyline 2018 – Skyrunner World Series

Kilian Jornet and Hillary Gerardi win the 2018 Glen Coe Skyline 2018.

Report via Lauri van Houten, ISF

With wild and windy weather in the Scottish Highlands, the Salomon Glen Coe Skyline was run on a reduced course, but it didn’t take any of the excitement away from the star line-up that battled right to the finish line. The sixth stage of the Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series, valid for the Sky Extra category, was won by Kilian Jornet and Hillary Gerardi.

Probably one of the toughest races on the Series, it was run on the “bad weather route” which is just 32 km long with 2,700m vertical climb avoiding the exposed scrambling terrain. (The original course was 55 km with 4,700m vertical climb). 203 runners from 28 countries participated.

Race winner Kilian Jornet was in his element. “The Scottish Highlands really inspire because you can run everywhere. It’s got good ridges and good elevation and even though it’s not high altitude you can find all the challenges you want. I ran with André [Jonsson] for a big part and then I took the lead to be a bit more relaxed in the last part. He’s a very strong runner. For me it’s more for the participation than winning. These are races that I love.” Jornet closed in 3h40’33” followed in 3h42’33” by Sweden’s André Jonsson. In third in 3h45’03”, a first podium for ItalianDaniel Jung.

I got a good position so I feel good. I pushed myself to the limit. It was a great course, technical. I live in the Alps but here it’s more slippery. I love it when it’s raining,” commented Jung. “When you see Kilian and André Jonsson in front, the world champion and second world champion, what more can you ask? It’s a dream for me to be on the podium and so… I love Scotland!”

With less kilometres, vertical climb and ridges, there was still plenty of action in the stacked field especially in the women’s race where a fierce battle raged concluding in a tight sprint.

Winner Hillary Gerardi from the USA, who closed in 4h17’48”, summed it all up. I was really pleased to be at this race although disappointed not to be able to do the whole ridge but it was the right call on the part of the organisers to cut it short. It was pretty cold and wet and very, very windy at the top. I gave it my best. I was a little faster than Jasmin [Paris] on the uphills but she definitely dominates on the downhills and it was really a pleasure to be out there with her.

“Either of us could have won the race. We were together on the last downhill and I said to her ‘What do you think will happen if I manage to hold on to you and we go through the finish together?’ and she said, ‘Oh no! It will come down to a sprint!’ So I just gave it everything I had and in the last 200m I was able to pull ahead of her.

“I will definitely be back next year to do the full ridge. Last year when I came here I was hitting a low point in my season and I found joy in running again in Scotland.” 

Briton Jasmin Paris lost the sprint by just seven seconds. “It would have been nice to win to be honest. I gave it my best shot but going to the end I couldn’t make up on the downhill and I knew I didn’t have the speed in my legs.”

Third lady was another American, Brittany Peterson. “For me I actually never got cold, it was all a matter of arm sleeves up, arm sleeves down. I was definitely tired by the end just tried to stay strong for third. It was a great race! I love it! I feel like I suddenly got a new element of technical terrain – wet and slippery and mossy which just added a new element of fun. I fell three or four times and just popped right on back. I got really muddy,” she said. “I’ve heard great things about the ridge so I can imagine what the full race would be like. Just doing the Skyrunner World Series I feel it brings a lot of energy!”  

André Jonsson climbs to third on the Sky Extra ranking and is 55 points from leader Dmitry Mityaev while Pere Aurell holds onto second.  Kilian Jornet ties with Jonathan Albon in fourth place.

Hillary Gerardi now leads the women’s ranking with Ragna Debats right behind. Brittany Peterson secures third position while Malene Haukøy and Jasmin Paris rise to fifth and sixth respectively.

There are no significant changes in the Overall ranking except that Jornet is the new leader.

Next stop on the 2018 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series is the Salomon Ultra Pirineu in the Spanish Pyrenees on September 29 where the Ultra specialists will be heading for the longest race on the circuit valid for the Sky Extra category.

Salomon Glen Coe Skyline results
Men

  1. Kilian Jornet (ESP) – 3h40’33”
  2. André Jonsson (SWE) – 3h42’33”
  3. Daniel Jung (ITA) – 3h45’03”
  4. Andy Symonds (GBR) – 3h45’03”
  5. Cody Lind (USA) – 3h45’41”

Women

  1. Hillary Gerardi (USA) – 4h17’48”
  2. Jasmin Paris (GBR) – 4h 17’55”
  3. Brittany Peterson (USA) – 4h25’44”
  4. Malene Blikken Haukøy (NOR) – 4h30’10”
  5. Aitziber Ibarbia Beloki (ESP) – 4h34’40”

Image gallery available HERE

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Ring of Steall SkyRace 2018 – Skyrunning World Championships

Report by Lauri van Houten, ISF

In three days of uncertain and often extreme weather conditions, the 2018 Skyrunning World Championships lit up the sky in the Scottish Highlands with a rainbow of nations and world class competition. Nine countries took medals and 26 National Teams scored points lead by Spain, UK and USA.

The third and final event of the Championships, the Salomon Ring of Steall SkyRace, saw a stacked field with 879 runners from 40 countries. Thanks to the extremely tough competition, records were smashed by new World Champions, Kilian Jornet from Spain and Tove Alexandersson from Sweden. The top ten men and seven women finished below last year’s record. The new records are 3h04’34” and 3h48’28”.

 

It’s a wonderful race, I love coming here to Scotland. It’s technical, the track is beautiful, what I love when I’m racing,” stated Jornet. “Today was a great battle with Nadir. I managed to put 20” on him on the last part of the uphill. It’s great because when we look for racing we look for competition, for a fight, and that’s what it was today. When you think about skyrunning you think about races like this, you need to fight every step.

“What’s particular here is it’s very muddy, very wet, slippery. The terrain is similar to Norway. I fell in the mud on the last downhill. This year it was good for me, such a good field with so many strong people,” he concluded.

 

Second man, Italian Nadir Maguet, closed in 3h06’05” to take the silver medal. “I came here hoping to do well. Obviously when you see a start list with a very high level, you ask yourself how will it go. My dream was to race with Kilian, to feel strong, and that was how it went. I ran the whole race with him, mostly half a minute behind. In the second half of the race and on the last descent I tried to push but you know Kilian is strong on the downhill. It was impossible to catch him, I tried. The important thing is to dream and dream…I’m really happy with my second place.”

 

2016 Vertical, Sky and Combined champion and race record holder of the Vertical and Sky records set here last year was Norwegian Stian Angermund-Vik. He closed the podium to take the bronze in 3h09’05’. 

It was awesome. As I said before this is my favourite race. This year I ran 15’ quicker,” he said. “This race is more technical than most…I love the ridges and the mud and everything. On the second ridge I just had to stop and look around it was so beautiful. I almost cried it was so amazing. I’m so happy to finish third. It was like a big dream for me.”  For many, it was all about sharing a dream.

Tove Alexandersson, a multiple Orienteering World Champion from Sweden cut an incredible 19’ off the previous record to take the gold and the new Skyrunning World Champion title for the Sky category. “It was a bit more muddy and slippery than I expected but otherwise it was just perfect. I felt strong all the way. I didn’t have much time to see the views because it was quite technical. On the downhill you have to be so focussed. I think that’s my biggest strength so I had a good feeling.

 

“This is so much longer than orienteering. I won my first skyrunning race last year and I couldn’t move for an hour. This time I was more prepared to run a bit longer. I really wanted to come here and to be World Champion. Skyrunning is the best thing. I really enjoy the atmosphere and everything. I’m so happy that I came here to run the Sky race.”

Taking the silver was Briton Victoria Wilkinson. “It was hard work because I have not raced for four hours for quite some time and that meant I had to pace myself.  I raced with Laura [Orgue] who won the race last year for some of the first part. She’s a good climber and I learned a lesson or two from her! I hadn’t run the Ring of Steall course before but I won the Ben Nevis race a couple of weeks ago which was good experience. I loved the race and I’m really happy to be second lady.”

 

The bronze went to top skyrunner Holly Page who took the medal for the UK. “I’m absolutely delighted. I wasn’t expecting that at all when I saw who was going to be here. At the top of the first climb I think I was 15th and I felt really unhappy and horrible. But then I got into a downhill and it ‘smelt’ like a fell race, it felt like home. I overtook lots of people on the downhill which gave me quite a confidence boost.

 “It was quite rough and very muddy until the rocky technical bit which is the part I like. It was a great course. I occasionally looked round and thought ‘I’m so glad that the world has come to Scotland and seen these views.’ It was stunning.”

 

The course, 29 km long with 2,500m vertical climb is fast becoming a skyrunning classic in every sense, with steep ascents, scrambling sections, ridges, and…spectacular views.

Individual world titles and a total of 27 medals were awarded in the three disciplines as well as a combined title based on the best results of the Vertical and Sky races.

Marino Giacometti, ISF President awarded the medals after the events and at the final ceremony. “These World Championships was announced as a difficult challenge and I’m obviously extremely happy for the great participation… and to have survived the Scottish weather,” he said. “Now among the new world champions we have not only Kilian, but Jonathan Albon (an Obstacle racing champion), Tove Alexandersson (an Orienteering champion) and Nadir Maguet (a ski-mountaineering champion). I like to think that skyrunning inspires athletes from other sports too!”

 

He also expressed his thanks to SkyLine Scotland for the excellent organisation and for hosting the 2018 Skyrunning World Championships in the Scottish “Skylands”, a new and spectacular international sports arena.

Following ISF protocol, WADA antidoping tests were carried out at the Championships.

Salomon Ring of Steall SkyRace® results


Men

  1. Kilian Jornet (ESP) – 3h04’34”
  2. Nadir Maguet (ITA) – 3h06’05”
  3. Stian Angermund-Vik (NOR) – 3h’09’05”
  4. Alexis Sévennec (FRA) – 3h11’56”
  5. Pascal Egli (SUI) – 3h12’24”

Women

 

  1. Tove Alexandersson (SWE) – 3h48’28”
  2. Victoria Wilkinson (GBR) – 3h54’01”
  3. Holly Page (GBR) – 3h57’57”
  4. Sheila Avilés (ESP) – 4h01’20”
  5. Laura Orgué (ESP) – 4h03’56”

 

Image galleries will be available HERE

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Trofeo Kima 2018 on IRUN4ULTRA

“For over twenty years, ‘Kima’ as it is affectionately known, has blown the minds and the legs of all those lucky enough to toe the line. This is a race that one aspires too; you need to earn a place on the entry line. The challenge comes no greater. The race is like a precious jewel, hidden away for fear of someone stealing it. Kima is not for everyone, but if you have the experience and the courage, the Sentiero Roma rewards each who ventures on to its tough and technical terrain.” – Ian Corless

READ THE STORY HERE

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Salomon S-LAB ULTRA Shoe Review

It has been a while since I slipped on a Salomon shoe for my daily runs. No particular reason, sometimes when testing shoes, I find a real winner and then that becomes my shoe of choice. I wrote last year how I loved the Nike Wildhorse 4, I still love them, and they go everywhere, I would say that they are my ‘go to’ shoe that handles a little of everything with loads of comfort, security and all in a great looking shoe. 

I have always been a fan of the Salomon S-Lab Sense both in normal HERE and SG HERE (soft ground) versions, however, for me, they are just a little too minimalist for everyday running and longer runs.

The S-LAB ULTRA is a shoe that may well be a game changer for Salomon. 

To clarify, Salomon fans are already happy with the Sense shoes and its variants, however, I cannot tell you how many times I have had messages asking me to feedback to Salomon the need for:

  • Wider toe box
  • Higher drop (8mm)
  • More cushioning
  • And all the same goodies that made the Sense such a great shoe.

Well, the S-LAB ULTRA is the shoe! 

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

It’s that classic red colour that Salomon utilize so well and at first glance you know it is a Salomon shoe. It’s a good-looking shoe, the fade between red at the front and a darker colour at the rear is ‘sexy,’ if a shoe can be sexy?  

The first thing you notice are two straps on either side of the outside of the shoe. It makes the shoe look a little heavy and somewhat over engineered. This is a protective Skin guard – more on that later.

 The toe box is visibly wider, beefier and well protected.

 

The cushioning is visibly deeper both at the front and rear. This is, as Salomon says: “Energysave® foam insert in the forefoot adds long-lasting cushioning and protection from rocks and rough ground, while ENERGYCELL+ foam in the bottom unit ensures a smooth, consistent ride.”

The grip looks pretty classic for a Salomon trail shoe. It’s red, with a standard trail lug that is not too aggressive. So, this shoe is obviously not designed for mud, it is a hard trail shoe that can be used on a multitude of surfaces, be that wet or dry. It is, “an all-new Contagrip® outsole, with premium wet traction and reverse lugs on the heel area, delivers confident grip, especially on the downhills.”

At £160 a pair, they aint cheap!

On Salomon’s website, they say the usage is ‘Racing Only’ but I have to disagree, this is a brilliant day-to-day comfy shoe that can handle pretty much anything with comfort, road too! Maybe this advice comes based on the price and they would recommend another similar Salomon shoe for day-to-day and keeping the S-LAB Ultra for special occasions… nah! If they are that good, use them I say! But the Salomon Sense Ride has an 8mm drop with 19/27mm cushioning and a similar outsole and they are £50 per pair (£110) cheaper. So. It is worth considering a training/ racing combo? – HERE

THE SHOE

 

Cushioning is excellent with 18mm at the front and 26mm at the rear, this provides an 8mm drop which for me is the perfect drop for longer runs. It’s a light shoe, but not super-light. A UK8 comes in at just under 300g. In a UK 9.5 (my size) it weighs 340g which is exactly the same as the SCOTT KINABALU HERE – there actually is a great deal of similarity in these shoes. My Nike Wildhorse 4 though are 290g in the same size, so, if I was a weight freak, the Nike’s win hands down!

I always say this about Salomon shoes and two things always stand out:  

The lacing with the storage pocket.

ENDOFIT internal sock liner.

 The ENDOFIT is just so awesome, it hugs the foot, holds it, secures it and keeps it protected. It is perfect. Other shoes come close, but I think Salomon ‘just’ win each time. Nike Wildhorse 4 has something similar, it is awesome and, in all honesty, why I love the Nike shoe so much. The other shoe that is similar is the VJ XTRM HERE. Actually, the ‘new’ reinforcing on the outside of the new S-LAB Ultra does a very similar thing to the Fitlock on the VJ.

 

The new straps on the outer of the shoe are significant, there is four of them, two on each side. Two lower, two higher – the laces pass through them and when you pull the lace tight, they bring the shoe in tighter in four key points, in addition with the sockliner, the foot is held firm in one of the most reassuring and comfortable grips I have experienced. 

The laces are classic Salomon. You pull them tight, slide the toggle down and then stuff the excess in the little ‘garage’ at the top of the tongue – so simple it is ingenious.

The inner of the shoe is pretty much seamless, so, if you wanted to go soulless you could. 

The heel box is plush, padded, really comfortable and holds the foot firm.

The toe box is wider and has an excellent toe bumper to protect against the terrain.

This shoe has been designed with a great deal of influence from Francois D’Haene and you can see why. He runs long, and he needs a shoe that can handle long hours on his feet, provide comfort, toe splay, cushioning and grip without losing many of the aspects of what has made the ‘Sense’ range so popular. 

The upper of the shoe is a breathable mesh with Ortholite Impressions which add structure and reinforcement to the shoe.

Midsole is cushioned and really is excellent on longer runs. Combined with the 8mm drop this is a great shoe for those who are running 80km and beyond. The combination of compressed EVA and Salomon’s EnergyCell make them very comfortable but not spongy. At all times, the S-LAB Ultra feels firm on the ground, allowing you to feel the ground but still run with precision.

 The outsole is classic Salomon. However, the S-LAB Ultra has a ‘new’ Premium Wet Traction Contagrip that works really well on a multitude of terrain, wet or dry. There is a Profit Film in the chassis of the shoe which protects against rocks and sharp objects – it is rock plate! 

IN USE

Slipping the S-LAB Ultra on you immediately notice how comfortable they are, the ENDOFIT just does its job perfectly and you can use them around the house without laces, they are that comfy and reassuring. Pull the laces and you feel your foot held in one of the most comfortable and tight embraces. It is so reassuring. I do not like sloppy shoes and my foot moving around inside the shoe – no chance of that here. BUT the laces are had to adjust, it’s all or nothing! However, I find this system preferable to the BOA system which adidas are using – at least I can pull my laces really tight in the Salomon. 

At the front end the additional room is very obvious in comparison to a pair of Sense.

The cushioning is also noticeable, you get that wonderful slightly bouncing feel when walking around.

On road they provide great comfort and grip and for sure, if I had to run large road sections in a race or training, I’d have no worries using this shoe. On hard pack trail they do a great job providing feel for the ground but not at the compromise of protection. The outsole is aggressive enough to grip when it is required. In mud they are pretty useless, the lugs are just not aggressive enough so keep that in mind. On grassy banks going up or down, they were great. On wet grassy bank in the wet they did slip once or twice – nothing crazy and I never fell over. On rock, grip is excellent in the dry but just a little compromised in the wet. In comparison to the Nike Wildhorse 4 in the wet, Salomon’s grip is superb, the Nike’s are a liability! 

The S-LAB Ultra is a solid all-rounder – be that road, trail, rocks, sand or whatever. It does nothing brilliantly and nothing bad. It’s a solid shoe for the long game, hence the Ultra title. To provide a scenario, I would say a S-LAB Sense is a Formula 1 car for shorter, faster and more aggressive races, whereas the S-LAB Ultra is better for Le Mans 24-hour race.

CONCLUSION

The S-LAB Ultra is for those who require a shoe that can handle a little of everything in a cushioned 8mm drop shoe that has great looks. ENDOFIT is just brilliant but I am well aware that not everyone likes it; I love it! The laces do the job brilliantly, again, not everyone like this type of lacing because of the lack of adjustment. The lugs are middle of the road and for some, may not be aggressive enough and despite the ‘wet traction’ name, the Contragrip is still not 100% in the wet. For example, inov-8 has the new Graphene and Sticky Rubber outsole and that really works. At £160 they are expensive, which is maybe why Salomon recommend them for racing? There is a great deal to like in the Salomon S-LAB Ultra and they have been used regularly by me as my ‘daily’ shoe for my 8/9 mile run as I have a whole mix of terrain that includes 2-miles of road, canal tow path, forest trail, gravel path and a little mud – the S-LAB Ultra handles all this superbly. I travel a great deal and these shoes provide me a simple solution as to what shoes to take as I know I can pretty much do anything in them. They are solid shoes and recommended. 

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