Day 5 is bivouac day! Arguably, it is the day of the Lanzarote Training Camp that the runners dread but learn the most.
It’s quite simple – we simulate many of the feelings and experiences that you will encounter in your chosen multi-day self-sufficient race.
Runners leave with their race packs including sleeping bag, sleeping mat, food for the dinner, snacks, food for breakfast, a minimum 1.5ltr of water and clothes such as down jacket!
The attendees run or walk in guided groups to the bivouac taking a minimum of 2.5 hours. They then pitch a tent (transported for them) and then they are rationed water. Our bivouac is extra special – it is inside a volcano!
We provide hot water but many runners test and try their own cooking skills using Esbit and then they eat a dehydrated meal. It happens every year… “Oh wow, I love this meal!” to the opposite, “Oh my word, that is disgusting!”
It’s invaluable what can be learnt with a simulation night.
We get a roaring fire going and chat into the night – it is special!
The following morning, our camp attendees are welcomed to ‘rise’ with crow of a cockerel around 0630/ 0645. They then must prepare their own breakfast and prepare for another run; again, a minimum 2-hours.
A night under the stars and an opportunity to test sleeping bag, sleeping mat and all other aspects of self-sufficiency makes everyone realise what is good and what is bad.
Back at Club La Santa we have a 2-hour debrief talk and discussion, from here, all our attendees go away armed with the knowledge that will help them achieve the finish line of their next multi-day race.
No pain, no gain – well, that is what they say! Today, was ‘pain’ morning at the Lanzarote Training Camp when all the participants did at least 6 reps of a volcano.
It’s a challenging morning and the vertical gain is designed to replicate the largest jebel that has appeared in all the latest editions of Marathon des Sables.
Steep with lose gravel for the climb and the descent is a mixture of stone, lose rocks and sharp lava – a gravel road section allows some recovery before a repeating.
It was a hot day and although the session was tough – everyone loved it!
A break for lunch and then Elisabet Barnes did a practical workshop of foot care. It’s an essential session that prepares everyone with all the relevant skills to allow them the flexibility to be self-sufficient when racing. Elisabet also showed and demonstrated foot taping as a preventive measure against blisters.
At 6pm, the day concluded with an easy 5 or 10km shake-outrun to loosen the legs!
A long day on the trails this morning with our 40-participants split into 5 groups moving along the stunning coastline on Lanzarote. The technical trails are a challenge and it is fair to say, they are a much greater challenge than those encountered at say, MDS.
Reassuringly, our run/ walk group covered 25km in less than 4-hours. Perfect and a great confidence boost for the race.
The sun was shining, the skies were blue and the ever present wind that is always in Lanzarote, blew in off the sea to help make perfect running conditions.
It was a hot day though and that could be seen on one or two red faces after the run… Remember the sun cream folks!
A break for lunch and then at 4pm a talk/ discussion by MDS 2017 3rd place, Tom Evans.
Tom talked about nutrition and the differences and requirements of each participant. No two runners are the same. For example, the simple calorie needs and differences between a ‘fast’ runner. ‘mid’ runner or ‘walker.’
The type of food you will eat and how it is made up – carbs, protein and fats. For example, 1 to 1.5g of carbs per KG of body weight is considered ideal, 1.5g per KG of protein and 1g of fat per KG – but is that possible in a multi-day race?
As the question: What is normal for you? YOU need to know what you need! All valuable lessons and questions.
The first full day on Lanzarote for our 40-clients turned out to be quite the day with a triple whammy.
At 0900, five groups ventured out on the coastal trail to the seaside of resort of Famara. Tom Evans, Sondre Amdahl and Elisabet Barnes guiding three groups of runners, arguably described as fast, medium-fast and medium based. Yours truly guided a run/ walk group and ~Marie Paule Pierson guided a walking group.
Tom’s group managed an incredible 34km in 3-hours over some really challenging terrain. By contrast, Marie Paule was out for 5-hours covering approximately 26km with her walking group.
It was a great first session!
In the afternoon, Elisabet and Sondre delivered a 2-hour workshop on the ‘Pack and its Contents’ for multi-day racing, in particular a self-sufficient race such as Marathon des Sables.
They discussed all aspects going through each item of equipment, why they took it and what it weighed. They discussed the pros and cons of each piece of kit and if they considered it to be essential. All valuable information.
At 5pm, we all ventured out to one of the many volcanoes in this area taking a very easy group pace. Once there, we explored climbed, descended and run on the many technical trails that make up this area.
We also had the first outing of ‘The Storm Trooper!’ – Chris Sparrow, who plans to run the 2018 MDS in full Star Wars Storm Trooper dress!
It was a fun few hours before everyone was back in Club La Santa, suitably tired, after a very full day one!
The day ended with a few drinks and a great meal to replenish ahead of a busy day two!
Today was arrival day at Club La Santa in Lanzarote. Early starts from a snowy and icy UK saw our first clients arrive midday and then a steady trickle of runners arrived culminating in our last runners arriving at 1630. In total, the 2018 Lanzarote Training Camp has 46-attendees.
We have the best coaches on hand to guide our clients through the rigours, both physical and mental, for preparing for a multi-day adventure in 2018 or onwards into 2019.
Arguably, day 1 is a relaxing day as it is all about travel. However, to ease everyone into a challenging week, we started with an easy 1-hour run as the day came to an end. Clear skies, the glow of a disappearing sun and the smell of the ‘sea’ in the air – what better way to start a training camp?
Tom Evans, 3rd place at the 2017 Marathon des Sables led the speedy runners. Sondre Amdahl, experienced single-stage and multi-day runner, lead the 2nd group. Two times MDS champion and experienced multi-day race expert, Elisabet Barnes, guided group 3 and then group 4 was lead by our walking specialist, Marie Paule Pierson.
It was s stunning start to the 2018 camp!
Early evening drinks, a group meal and briefing finished the day. Tomorrow, Friday, the participants embark on a lengthy coastal run of sand, rocks, single-track and dunes. It is going to be a great day and one that is eagerly anticipated by all.
Fred Streatfield has been running all his life. You could say that running defines him. However, Fred is so much more than a runner, he’s a husband, a father, a grandfather, great grandfather a builder and in April 2017, he has set himself the challenge of running the Marathon des Sables.
‘MDS’ as it is known within the running community, is for many a dream goal. It’s been billed as the ‘Toughest Race on Earth’ and while we all know that it’s not, the multi-day Saharan adventure does bring its own set of unique problems and difficulties to encounter.
The race is over 30-years old and has without doubt paved the way for all modern day, multi-stage races. It’s format of self-sufficiency has been copied time and time again. In the early days, it was tens of runners who toed the line. Now it’s 100’s of runners and in recent years, with the growth of ultra-running, more than 1000 stand within the dunes of Morocco every April for what will be, for them, the ultimate experience
When you’ve been running for as long as Fred, you’d think this Moroccan adventure would be a walk in the park, or should I say, the dunes for him. But no, despite 49-years of running, Fred is intimidated for this new venture in his life.
A race like this is intimidating, it should be, after all it’s why you do it, no? Fred is no different than any other when signing on the line and paying the deposit. He wanted his run experience to be made whole, with something alien to him, something that would completely take him out of his comfort zone. Little did he know that when he signed up, his challenge would become something so much more than running…
Niandi Carmont caught up with Fred after a training camp in Lanzarote. It was a camp specifically tailored for those undertaking a multi-day race of any type. Among the 40-participants on the camp, Fred became somewhat of hero.
It’s a simple way to start any conversation about a future race, direct is best sometimes, “Do you feel prepared Fred?’
“Well, yes. Yes and no really. I feel I now need to do more training but in all honesty, I don’t stop – I do need to do more long runs though.”
Fred had arrived in Lanzarote feeling a little worried that he would be isolated, little did he know that he was leaving one family behind to be joined by another.
“The training camp was absolutely just beyond belief really. The volume of running we did and the guys I ran with… It was amazing, they were all young whippersnappers, and me, I’m an old boy! But I did keep up with them.”
Keep up with them Fred did. He’s an old-school road runner, a little obsessed with running fast. Too fast at times, particularly when you consider his 65-years. We had a phrase when I was younger and you’d see an older runner, ‘fit as a butcher’s dog’ and yes, Fred is as fit as a butcher’s dog. On day 1 it was a shakeout run of just 60-minutes, Fred by his own admission says that he’s not used to technical terrain – too many years running on the road! Forty minutes into the run he hit the deck, it looked a bad fall. His arm was bruised, is elbow bleeding and he was holding his ribs. We imagined the worst. He bounced up, brushed himself off and pushed on. The next day, the first day of the camp was a long run, Fred didn’t hold back and placed himself in the fast group.
”Yes. I went with the first group, with the fast group. Last year I ran The Great North Run with Mark Scott (also on the camp) and I beat him by about three minutes. We were running for Macmillan charity. In the race, Mark came in after me, we exchanged niceties, shook hands and then we met again on the camp. As I was waiting for the run to start, Mark came and said, “Come on, Fred. Come on. Come on. You belong in this group.” which was the fast group. I said, “No, no, Mark, I’ll go with a slower group”. He went, “No, no. You go into this fast group.” Anyway, I stuck with him for 40-minutes, the run was going to be about a 20 to 23 plus miles. I thought to myself, if I continued at this pace I may not finish. It would have done me in. Ian was with me at the time so we eased off with another runner, Paul Allum and then joined your group Niandi.”
Niandi was of course flattered, it was just 1-day into the camp and already Fred was getting a fan club. Niandi’s group was pretty much running all the time but it was a slightly slower pace than the group up front lead by Elisabet Barnes, 2015 Marathon des Sables ladies champion.
Fascinated by stories and people, Niandi knew Fred had a story, we all have a story, but Niandi had that intuition, that sixth sense that told her that there was more than meets the eye. It started simply, ”Tell us a little about what motivated and inspired you to decide to do MDS and how it all started?”
“Well, it goes back quite a way. There is a nice little story attached to this. I saw the race on the internet and how it posed the question of challenging one’s self. I was attracted to it but I dismissed it and moved on. Then a few weeks later, I went on to a website and it popped up again. My initial thoughts were about it looking really tough and I wondered if I could do it, after all, I am getting on!”
Niandi laughed, she’d heard rumors that there was more to the story. She probed, “Tell my how your wife was involved the entry process?”
“I went off into town with my wife. I left her and went to get some information on the desert running. I hadn’t told her though. I bumped into a friend of mine and he said, “What are you doing?” I was on the spot so I told him that I was thinking that I may be tempted to run in the Sahara and I was getting some information. I told him though, whatever you do, don’t tell the wife!”
I am sure you can fill the gaps but the inevitable happened. The following day they bumped into each other once again and how did the friend great Fred?
“How’s the desert coming on?”
“Have you entered?” my wife said. “No, but I’ve been considering it”
The ice was broken. Fred entered the race and never looked back. His wife supported him every step of the way. But elation and excitement turned to loss, sadness and questions if the race would ever happen.
“I think it was December 10th, it was the registration day. That was 2015. We waited for the entry for 2017 to open. I am not computer savvy and she had offered to help me fill out the forms. Technology and me don’t go together. Anyway, we checked in and we paid the deposit and that was the start. At the same time, we were in the process of moving house, always a big thing. The move happened and then 5-weeks later she passed away.”
It’s a moment like this that a life can fall apart, imagine it, married for so many years and then suddenly a void. Fred was all set for throwing in the towel but this is the power of running and the community connected with the sport.
”There was a closed website group just for the people who are running the MDS in 2017,” Fred continued. “They all said, “No, no, no. Don’t give up. She wouldn’t want you to.” So, I decided to carry on. It’s been difficult and it’s still difficult now. That’s one of the reasons I’m running. II am also running for Macmillan Cancer Charity. It’s important to help the charity too.”
No words needed. What feels like minutes is only seconds and Niandi picks up the conversation. “That’s a very noble cause, Fred. You’ve had a lot of support from the running community and from the people at the Lanzarote Training Camp, but it’s also due to your personality because you’re very outgoing. You’re very positive. You’re very bubbly. You’re very communicative and you’re really fun to be around.”
There’s silence and then a, “Thank you.”
“I can’t remember my first race. But I was running at school. That’s where it all started but a key moment was when I had started work. Some guy just walked up to me. He went, “You look fit. In the car park, over here, every Saturday morning, be there. You will want to bring some running stuff.” I didn’t get any backing from my parents or anything like that and I really appreciated it so I started to go, I still have those old plimsoles.”
Simple beginnings and picture starts to form of Fred, his background, his history, his dedication to work hard and graft.
“I got some old shoes and some old shorts and then just went running. It just went from strength-to-strength really. I was about 15 or 16 and I have never looked back – I have met some amazing people. Obviously, they were not with us anymore, but they kept me going and helped me and nurtured me through. Even in the early days, the running community helped me.”
Community, bonds, friendship, values, Fred found all these in Lanzarote and it confirmed to him all that is good about running and although the decision to continue after the passing of his wife was a tough one, he now knows it was the correct one.
”Words fail me really, everyone on the training camp has been so incredible. It’s been tough. they’re so nice. It was really tough, II didn’t say anything on the camp but while I was there it coincided with the anniversary of my wife’s funeral.”
“I think there was a very strong bond between everybody and people knew what you’d gone through and I think that they felt the vibes,” Niandi responded. “Family is also very important to you. I also got that impression because you come from a very close family. Well, maybe you could tell about your family, about your daughters.”
”Yes, my daughters have been strong for me. Also, I don’t know how they’ve coped losing their mom. But anything I want, anything, they are there for me. They cook me my food and they take turns to have me as a guest at weekends – just so that I don’t starve. I’ve got four children myself and each of my four children have got four children.”
”That is 16 grandchildren?”
”Yes, 16 grandchildren and one of my granddaughters who is now 20, she’s not the oldest, she’s just had a little baby girl, six months ago!”
“You’re a great-grandfather?”
“I think that shocked some of the guys in Lanzarote. They looked at me and said, “How many grandchildren you got?” I said, “I’ve got one great-granddaughter.” I don’t think they could believe it.”
Married for 44-years, his wife was 18 and he 19. Through thick and thin, as Fred quite rightly says, “It wasn’t all roses.” But who’s story is. They battled the tough times, enjoyed the good times. “She was my best friend. She helped me, she made me who I was and she was a very strong person and a really nice person as well.”
Part man, part robot, Fred has held back some other vital information. “You also have to keep a check on your health,” Niandi asks. “Because you’ve had a few health issues?”
“Yes. I’ve got a pacemaker. It’s all checked, it’s all monitored, and it’s good to go. In 2012, when I had a problem, they said I would never run again. At the time, I was looking at the MDS and I thought my chance had gone. But since then, everything is working out and I am fine. I’ve done just over 200 runs and races. I’m pretty fit.”
The finish line of the 2017 Marathon des Sables will be a special one. Red ribbon will pass through the fingers of race director Patrick Bauer. Attached to the ribbon will be a large disc of gold. As Fred crosses the line and the prize is placed around his neck, I have a real feeling that there will be more than just Fred’s tears shed on the finish line. This simple man embodies the race. He is a personification of the values the race holds true.
Fred’s typical training week:
Monday – Swimming
Tuesday – Run club night which is usually a sat 8km-10km.
Wednesday – Cycling 2-hours indoors.
Thursday – Run club hill sessions or fartlek. Followed by 1-hour swimming.
Friday – Rest.
Saturday – Park Run in the morning and then a 10km to half-marathon run.
Sunday – Usually 9 to 15-miles.
I’m sure I’ve got everything that I need. The Lanzarote trip helped with this, there might be a couple of little bits that I need, but nothing really. I think I need to slow down a little bit when running, think about the long game. I’m under no illusion that it’s going to be tough. Believe it or not, I’ve joined a sauna club. I’m hoping to spend a few hours in the sauna. I don’t know if I’ll be able to take my running stuff, though. I run in Lanzarote with my pack and that worked, I didn’t have full weight in it but it was good. I need to test out my food now and I am good to go.
Would you like to join our 2018 Multi-Day Training Camp, if so, go HERE
Episode 128 of Talk Ultra is here and what a show… we speak in-depth with the incredible Michael Wardian after his record breaking World Marathon Challenge. We speak to star in the making, Hayden Hawks and Niandi Carmont brings us her first female ‘one-to-one’ interviews with Pushpa Chandra. We have the news, chat, gossip and of course Speedgoat co-hosts.
New Year and Talk Ultra needs your help!
We have set up a Patreon page and we are offering some great benefits for Patrons… you can even join us on the show! This is the easiest way to support Talk Ultra and help us continue to create!
Many thanks to our January Patrons
Rene Hess, Daniel Weston, Dan Masters, Kerstin Palmer, Sarah Cameron, Neil Catley, Sam Wilkes, Melissa Bodeau, Lindsay Hamoudi, Aaron Aaker, Simon Darmody, Philippe Lascar, Rohan Aurora, Mathew Melksham, Brian Wolfkamp, Thomas Mueller, Mark Moromisato, Jamie Oliver, Rand Haley, Ron van Liempd, Mike Hewison, Steve Milne and Rupert Hitzenberger.
It was our 2017 Lanzarote Training camp and I have to say what a huge success it was. We had 40-clients who came from as far afield as Canada to take part in our 7-days of fun. It really was special and so great to get so much awesome feedback. I will post a link to images and audio feedback in our show notes.
We had some inspiring people attend and in future shows we will have audio following some of the incredible stories. To kick it off and following on from my discussion with Niandi in our last show. Niandi brings you the very first of female ‘one-to-one’ interviews with Pushpa Chandra.
00:27:30 INTERVIEW with Pushpa Chandra
World Marathon Challenge
Well, the big news is Mike Wardian ran 7-marathons on 7-continents in 7-days. Wow. He ran 2:54 in Antarctica, 2:45 in South America, 2:42 in North America, 2:37 in Europe, 2:45 in Africa, 2:49 in Asia, and 2:45 in Australia. In the process he set a new world record average time of 2:45.
01:22:54 INTERVIEW with Michael Wardian
Women’s winner, Chile’s Silvana Camelio ran 4:14 in Antarctica, 3:45 in South America, 3:58 in North America, 4:08 in Europe, 4:10 in Africa, 4:34 in Asia), and 4:37 in Australia. The last result almost gave away her overall victory but she held on by just 6-minutes That 4:37 in Australia left her just six minutes ahead of China’s Guoping Xie.
Carol Morgan blasted around the tough course in 109-hours 54-minutes – unbelievably, 43-hours quicker than the previous ladies best.
In the men’s race it looked to be a battle between two previous winners, Pavel Paloncy and Eugeni Rosello Sole but Tom Hollins came from behind and clinched victory in 99-hours 25-minutes. Tom won the 2016 edition of The Challenger, the Spines ‘fun run’ race! We hope to have an interview with Tom in the next show.
The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica has a super stacked field with Chema Martinez, Tom Owens, Sondre Amdahl, Jason Schlarb and so many more in the men’s race.
For the ladies we have to previous champions, Veronica Bravo and Ester Alves heading up strong competition from Elisabet Barnes and Anna Cometi.
In the US it’s the Sean O’Brien 100k.
RUNNING BEYOND BOOK
This week I will be in Amsterdam on Feb 3rd, 4th and 5th for a Trails in Motion event and Running Beyond book signing with Mud Sweat and Trails
We are going to have Running Beyond Event which will take place 3, 4 and 5th March in London, plans are progressing for that… watch this space.
I will be also going to Sofia in Bulgaria on the 17th, 18th and 19th March for a trail, mountain and Skyrunning expo
All good things come to an end and today, unfortunately, was the last full day of the 2017 #multidaytrainingcamp.
It started at 0800 with a run to our hill rep volcano (by popular demand) and after a 30-minute easy run, we then played on one of the most amazing natural obstacle courses that provided everyone with a great workout and stunning views.
A short break and then at 1100 we had a 2-hour talk on nutrition looking at the day-to-day needs of a runner at a typical self-sufficient multi-day race. All aspects were covered and of course a few surprises made many of the camp attendees raise an eyebrow and then quickly write a note to make sure they didn’t forget these pearls of wisdom for the future.
Lunch was followed with our last group runs. By popular demand they were easy, really easy. Elisabet ran 8km at ‘long-stage’ pace to provide an insight for the ‘faster’ runners of how to pace an 80+km stage. Niandi and Ian ran nice and easy for 12-15km and Marie-Paule took the walkers out for a long 5-6 hour hike.
I will update more in the coming days on the many highs of the 2017 camp.
As I write this, the bar is open and many camp attendees are practicing re-hydrating… it would be a shame to miss out!
Day 7 started with two sessions – a tempo/ fartlek run of 5 to 8-miles or a technique session on using poles. Both were valuable sessions. Sondre Amdahl (9th overall at the 2016 Marathon des Sables) lead the fast men in a hard tempo session, Elisabet Barnes (2015 MDS ladies champion) pushed the pace for the second group and then Niandi Carmont lead group three with Marie-Paule leading the walkers. At the run track, Ian Corless provided a technique session on using poles. Many had the question answered, ‘should I take poles?’ Yes! was the unanimous answer. The awkward 20-30minutes of adapting to the technique required was rewarded with a faster pace for less effort.
At 1100, Marie-Paule talked, ‘Zero to Atacama’ where she told the story of how she went from little interest in endurance sport to completing the 2016 Atacama without running a step! The power of walking!
Lunch was followed with arguably one of the highlights of the #multidaytrainingcamp – a walk, run/ walk or run of 20-30km to an overnight bivouac inside a volcano.
It’s this ‘real’ experience that provides everyone on the camp a true understanding of what will lie ahead at future multi-day race. For many, it was the first time running with a pack that had food, sleeping bag, mat, clothing etc. A learning curve. For some the experience was rewarding and a confirmation they had made the correct choice of items. For others, alarm bells were ringing… the wrong pack, the wrong sleeping bag, the wrong sleeping mat, the wrong food and so on! This experience is invaluable in making sure that all the questions marks, all the potential problems are eradicated now so that the race experience is a good one!
A windy but relatively warm night under the stars and it was a self-sufficient breakfast before another 20+km run that included dunes.
As everyone arrived back at Club La Santa, there was a buzz. The last 24-hours had made the future ‘race’ a reality.
Interested in joining out Multi-Day Training Camp in 2018? Go HERE
It was another great day in Lanzarote. The sun shone, the sky was blue and the temperatures were in the 20’s.
It was a long day with a coastal run, some technical trail and stunning views. The walkers covered 24km with Marie-Paule, the ‘mid-pack’ runners covered 28km with Niandi and the faster runners covered 36km with Elisabet.
Lots of smiles, lots of laughs and as this camp progresses, the confidence of each runner is growing; it’s on view to see! One-by-one, they are slowly but surely understanding what it’s going to take to complete, their next multi-day adventure.
The arrival of Sondre Amdahl on the camp (9th at MDS, 6th at Oman Desert Marathon) was a real boost and within hours, Sondre was proactive in a talk/ demonstration of what goes in a typical multi-day pack. This talk was very much directed to Marathon des Sables. Niandi, Elisabet and Sondre all discussed what to, and what not to take to the race. Of course, all three had unique ways of looking at the race and what was and what is and what is not important.
An early evening run of just 20 or 40-minutes with a disappearing sun concluded the day. Tomorrow is a full-on day and tomorrow, the participants of the 2017 training camp will bivouac inside a (dormant) volcano.