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…

Episode 107 – Lizzy Hawker, Ryan Sandes

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This is Episode 107 of Talk Ultra. This show has so much content, we speak with Lizzy Hawker about her amazing 200km Kathmandu Valley FKT, Ryan Sandes talks about his 2015 and his new book, Trail Blazer. Gavin Sandford tells us about his amazing double Marathon des Sables challenge. Niandi catches up with past participants of the Big Red Run in Australia who will return in 2016 and Speedgoat is back from the AT.

00:01:30 Show Start

00:21:26 Niandi talks injured foot and Big Red Run

00:28:02 INTERVIEW Jamie Hildage, Big Red Run

Jamie Hildage ran the Big Red Run in Australia in a past edition and will return in 2016, Niandi caught up and had a chat about the unique challenges this race brings

01:00:51 NEWS

TRANSGRANCANARIA

1 – Didrik Hermansen 13:41:48

2 – Gediminas Grinius 13:45:08

3 – Pau Capell and Diego Pazos 14:11:02

1 – Caroline Chaverot 15:23:40

2 – Andrea Huser 17:21:43

2 – Uxue Fraile 17:28:05

WAY TO COOL 50K

David Roche 3:19

Jorge Maravilla 3:22

Dylan Bowman 3:23

Megan Roche 3:42

Yiou Wang 3:43

Anne Mae Flynn 3:59

UTMB line up announced for 2016 – wow! See HERE

01:26:11 INTERVIEW LIZZY HAWKER is back with an incredible 200km run around Kathmandu and 15000m of vertical gain. I caught up with Lizzy after 3-years in the run wilderness.

Lizzy’s race, Ultra Tour Monte Rosa has a few places available and you can enter HERE

02:00:19 INTERVIEW RYAN SANDES has a new book out called Trail Blazer. We caught up with Ryan, discussed his troubled 2015, what 2016 has in store and of course we found out about the book. Ryan asked a question in his interview, if you like to win a signed copy, you need to comment on these show note with the correct answer

03:11:56 INTERVIEW Gavin Sandford will attempt two Marathon des Sables in 2016 – a world first, all in the name of charity. You can donate HERE and contribute to his funding at Crowdfunder HERE. Talk Ultra have offered a place on the Lanzarote 2017 Training Camp (worth £800) to Gavin as a pledge to help him raise additional funds. This place will be available for £500 (saving the lucky person £300). It’s first come, first served!

UP & COMING RACES

Australia

Queensland

Wildhorse Criterium 50 km | 50 kilometers | March 27, 2016 | website

Wildhorse Criterium 70 km | 70 kilometers | March 27, 2016 | website

Croatia

Istratrek Trail Race | 60 kilometers | March 26, 2016 | website

France

Ariège

Trail des Citadelles – 70 km | 73 kilometers | March 27, 2016 | website

Eure

11km | 110 kilometers | March 20, 2016 | website

Haut-Rhin

Trail du Petit Ballon | 52 kilometers | March 20, 2016 | website

Morbihan

Trail du Kreiz Breizh Bras | 55 kilometers | March 27, 2016 | website

Puy-de-Dôme

52 km | 52 kilometers | March 27, 2016 | website

Yvelines

50 km | 50 kilometers | March 19, 2016 | website

80 km | 80 kilometers | March 19, 2016 | website

Germany

Hesse

Eschollbrücker Ultra-Marathon 50 km | 50 kilometers | March 20, 2016 | website

North Rhine-Westphalia

Nord Eifel Ultra | 56 kilometers | March 26, 2016 | website

Greece

100k | 100 kilometers | March 26, 2016 | website

50k | 50 kilometers | March 26, 2016 | website

Guadeloupe

GUADARUN : ultra-marathon des îles de Guadeloupe | 136 kilometers | March 26, 2016 | website

Hungary

BSI Half Lake Balaton Supermarathon | 95 kilometers | March 19, 2016 | website

BSI Lake Balaton Marathon+ Balatonfüred – Siófok | 51 kilometers | March 20, 2016 | website

BSI Lake Balaton Marathon+ Fonyód – Szigliget | 52 kilometers | March 18, 2016 | website

Ireland

Dublin

Wicklow Way Ultra | 51 kilometers | March 26, 2016 | website

Italy

Tuscany

Ultratrail delle Valli Etrusche | 50 kilometers | March 20, 2016 | website

Veneto

Ultrabericus | 65 kilometers | March 19, 2016 | website

Malaysia

TITI 100KM | 100 kilometers | March 19, 2016 | website

TITI 200KM | 200 kilometers | March 18, 2016 | website

TITI 50KM | 50 kilometers | March 20, 2016 | website

Morocco

Morocco Tizi N’Trail | 120 kilometers | March 25, 2016 | website

Nepal

Annapurna Mandala Trail | 250 kilometers | April 01, 2016 | website

Kathmandu West Valley Rim 50km | 50 kilometers | March 19, 2016 | website

New Zealand

50 km Mountain Run | 50 kilometers | March 19, 2016 | website

Northburn Station 100 km Mountain Run | 100 kilometers | March 19, 2016 | website

Triple Peaks Challenge | 50 kilometers | March 19, 2016 | website

Peru

ASIA Eco Trail 65K | 65 kilometers | March 19, 2016 | website

Philippines

CEBU50 Trail Ultramarathon – Aspirant | 54 kilometers | March 26, 2016 | website

TRD80 Ultramarathon | 80 kilometers | March 19, 2016 | website

Réunion

Caldeira Trail | 74 kilometers | March 19, 2016 | website

Semi Transrun | 75 kilometers | March 26, 2016 | website

Ultra | 140 kilometers | March 25, 2016 | website

South Africa

Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon | 56 kilometers | March 26, 2016 | website

Spain

Catalonia

Half | 60 kilometers | March 26, 2016 | website

Ultra | 87 kilometers | March 26, 2016 | website

Sweden

Silva Ursvik Ultra – 75 km | 75 kilometers | March 20, 2016 | website

United Kingdom

Andhra Pradesh

Oldham Way Ultra | 40 miles | March 20, 2016 | website

Dorset

Jurassic Coast Challenge | 78 miles | March 18, 2016 | website

East Sussex

Coastal Trail Series – Sussex – Ultra | 34 miles | March 19, 2016 | website

Highland

2XU Jogle | 860 miles | April 01, 2016 | website

Lancashire

The Canalathon 100 km | 100 kilometers | March 27, 2016 | website

The Canalathon 50 km | 50 kilometers | March 27, 2016 | website

The Canalathon 75 km | 75 kilometers | March 27, 2016 | website

Liverpool

Liverpool to Manchester Ultra | 47 miles | March 26, 2016 | website

North Yorkshire

Hardmoors 55 Ultramarathon | 55 miles | March 19, 2016 | website

USA

Alabama

Lake Martin 100 Mile Trail Race | 100 miles | March 19, 2016 | website

Lake Martin 50 Mile Trail Race | 50 miles | March 19, 2016 | website

Oak Moutain 50+ | 50 kilometers | March 19, 2016 | website

Alaska

White Mountains 100 | 100 miles | March 27, 2016 | website

Arizona

Old Man 52K | 52 kilometers | March 19, 2016 | website

Ultra Adventures Monument Valley 100 Mile | 100 miles | March 19, 2016 | website

Ultra Adventures Monument Valley 50K | 50 kilometers | March 19, 2016 | website

Ultra Adventures Monument Valley 50 Mile | 50 miles | March 20, 2016 | website

Arkansas

3 days of Syllamo | 150 kilometers | March 18, 2016 | website

California

Beyond Limits Ultra and BLU Relentless 100 Miler | 100 miles | March 31, 2016 | website

Beyond Limits Ultra and BLU Relentless 50K | 50 kilometers | March 31, 2016 | website

Beyond Limits Ultra and BLU Relentless 50 Miler | 50 miles | March 31, 2016 | website

Canyon Meadow 50 Km Trail Run (March) | 50 kilometers | March 20, 2016 | website

Nine Trails 35 Mile Endurance Run | 35 miles | March 26, 2016 | website

Old Goats 50K Trail Race | 50 kilometers | March 26, 2016 | website

Old Goats 50 Mile Trail Race | 50 miles | March 26, 2016 | website

Old West Trails 50K Ultra | 50 kilometers | March 19, 2016 | website

Ragnar Relay So Cal | 200 miles | April 01, 2016 | website

Colorado

High Line Canal 100K | 100 kilometers | March 19, 2016 | website

Florida

Cross Florida Route 40 Romp | 116 miles | March 19, 2016 | website

Cross Florida Route 40 Romp – 2 Person Relay | 116 miles | March 19, 2016 | website

Fort Clinch 100M | 100 miles | March 19, 2016 | website

Fort Clinch 50M | 50 miles | March 19, 2016 | website

Georgia

Georgia Death Race | 60 miles | March 19, 2016 | website

Idaho

Pickled Feet 100 Mile Run | 100 miles | March 25, 2016 | website

Maryland

50K HAT Run | 50 kilometers | March 19, 2016 | website

Hat Trail Run 50K | 50 kilometers | March 19, 2016 | website

Mississippi

Spring Equinox 50K | 50 kilometers | March 19, 2016 | website

Spring Equinox 50 Miler | 50 miles | March 19, 2016 | website

Nevada

Vegas Moonlight Ultra 100 Mile Run | 100 miles | March 19, 2016 | website

North Carolina

Badwater Cape Fear 50 km | 50 kilometers | March 19, 2016 | website

Badwater Cape Fear 51.4 Mile | 51 miles | March 19, 2016 | website

North Dakota

Extreme North Dakota Sandhills Ultra Run Experience 100K | 100 kilometers | March 19, 2016 | website

Extreme North Dakota Sandhills Ultra Run Experience 50K | 50 kilometers | March 19, 2016 | website

Pacific

Sac River Ultramarathon | 50 miles | March 23, 2016 | website

Pennsylvania

Lt. J. C. Stone 50K UltraMarathon | 50 kilometers | March 19, 2016 | website

Mt. Tammany 10 | 40 miles | March 19, 2016 | website

South Carolina

XTERRA Hickory Knob Trail 50K | 50 kilometers | March 19, 2016 | website

Tennessee

Music City Trail Ultra 50K | 50 kilometers | March 19, 2016 | website

Texas

Prickly Pear 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | March 19, 2016 | website

The Grasslands 50-Mile | 50 miles | March 19, 2016 | website

Utah

Antelope Island 100 Mile | 100 miles | March 18, 2016 | website

Antelope Island 50K | 50 kilometers | March 19, 2016 | website

Antelope Island 50 Mile | 50 miles | March 19, 2016 | website

Vermont

PEAK Snowshoe 100 Mile Race | 100 miles | March 18, 2016 | website

Virginia

Elizabeth’s Furnace Fat Ass 50K | 50 kilometers | March 19, 2016 | website

Terrapin Mountain 50km | 50 kilometers | March 19, 2016 | website

Washington

Badger Mountain Challenge 100 Mile Endurance Run | 100 miles | March 25, 2016 | website

Badger Mountain Challenge 50k Ultramarathon | 50 kilometers | March 26, 2016 | website

Badger Mountain Challenge 50 Mile Ultramarathon | 50 miles | March 25, 2016 | website

Chuckanut 50 K | 50 kilometers | March 19, 2016 | website

West Virginia

Haulin’ in the Holler 50K Trail Race | 50 kilometers | March 26, 2016 | website

Vietnam

50k | 50 kilometers | March 19, 2016 | website

Ultra ASIA Race | 160 kilometers | March 20, 2016 | website

03:41:13 CLOSE

Ian will be at UTAX HERE

03:43:29

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

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

Website – talkultra.com

Ultra Tour de Monte Rosa 2015 #UTMR gets underway

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All images ©LloydBelcherVisuals – no reproduction, sharing or distribution

Inaugural stage of the Ultra Tour de Monte Rosa.

Cervinia, Val d’Aosta 20 August 2015

119 runners from 17 countries started the inaugural Ultra Tour de Monte Rosa (UTMR), a 106km trail race in three-stages, from Cervinia (Italy) to Grächen (Switzerland).

Lizzy Hawker, five-times Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB) winner and UTMR Race Director, launched her zero-edition three-stage trail race in the shadow of Cervino.

“These mountains have held my curiosity and passion since I was a child. I realised that these are the trails that I wanted to share with other runners. It is something special to create a race here,” said Hawker.

31% of the participants are women at UTMR, which is unusually high for a long distance trail race.

“It’s great to have increasing numbers of women entering into this sport,” said Hawker.

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“There were so many happy people out there”, said Anna Troup, from the flatlands of London.

The race was started by Hervé Barmasse, Alpine Mountain Guide Instructor and Tourism Ambassador for Val D’Aosta.

“It’s very exciting to have a new trail running concept starting in Cervinia on the region’s premier hiking trails.”

Stage one saw a close competition between Matthias Ihler from Germany who pipped Austrian Martin Gansterer by less than a minute. The first female runner Katie Roby came in ranked seventh overall and takes a 14 minute advantage into day two over Krissy Moehl (US).

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The second stage begins tomorrow morning at 6am and will be started by the oldest Mountain Guide in Gressoney. The second stage runs from Staffal to Macugnaga, a 36.5km route with a positive elevation of 2673m. It crosses the Col de Turlo, an ancient road, rebuilt by prisoners of war in World War II.

A 150km single-stage edition of the race is planned for August 2016. UTMR Leaders after Day 1

TOP 5 MEN

Matthias Ihler (DEU) 03:30:04

Martin Gansterer (AUT) 03:30:29

José Luis Arnal (ESP) 03:39:55

Andrea Zangarini (ITA) 03:43:15

Adam Stirk (GBR) 03:52:34

TOP 5 WOMEN

Katie Roby (GBR) 04:07:51

Krissy Moehl (USA) 04:22:55

Jennifer Bradley (GBR) 04:37:11

Denise Janin (ITA) 04:37:39

Elisabeth Blanc (FRA) 04:39:29

All images ©LloydBelcherVisuals – no reproduction, sharing or distribution

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Follow the UTMR on Facebook HERE

Episode 71 – Frosty, Hawker, Draney, Warburton, Robson

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This is episode 71 of Talk Ultra and on this weeks show we speak to Frosty who not only ran her first 100-miler but won it with a new CR. Ty Draney talks about his career and we discuss running the Bear 100… twice! Caine Warburton discusses running in the Southern Hemisphere and the comparisons with Europe. Lizzy Hawker announces a race and Sam Robson tells us what it’s like being the first Brit at the iconic Spartathlon. The New, a Blog, Up and Coming races and Speedgoat.

NEWS

BEAR 100

Brian Peterson 18:59:24
Luke Nelson 19:51:21
Jason Koop 20:06:58

Anna Frost 20:59:24
Sarah Vlach 24:47:32
Petra McDowell 25:45:51
 
INTERVIEW with ANNA FROST

SPARTATHLON

Ivan Cudin 22:29:29
Florian Reus 23:57:13
Andrzej Radzikowski 25:49:05

Szilvia Lubics 26:53:40
Katalin Nagy 28:55:03
Esnaola Eva 30:52:41

Sam Robson 51st and 1st Brit 32:04:48

INTERVIEW with SAM ROBSON
·
LIZZY HAWKER announces new race – HERE

INTERVIEW with LIZZY HAWKER
 
ULTRA PIRINEU (Cavalls del Vent)

Luis Alberto Hernando
Francesc Sole Duocastella
Jessed Hernandez Gispert

Nuria Picas
Raquel Rivero Delgado
Angels Llobera Vicens
 
BLOG
 
‘Most of us will never forego mountain boots for trail running shoes or just a pack of gel and 40cl of water for a 20-hour day on the hill, but at the uber light end of the game, this is exactly what the elite are doing. To travel in this fashion imagines a mountain day without mishaps, bad weather, a slip or twisted ankle. The lightweight rucksacks are filled with immense self-belief and partnered with sure-footedness over difficult ground now branded as ‘sky running.’ TREK & MOUNTAIN magazine

 
INTERVIEW

CAINE WARBURTON tells us all about running in the Southern Hemisphere and how it contrasts to his European experiences in 2014

 
INTERVIEW
 
TY DRANEY has been running ultras for a looooong time. Just this last weekend he ran the Bear 100 for the 4th time…. and the 5th! We catch up and discuss his career

 
UP & COMING RACES

Argentina
La Pachamama 100 km | 100 kilometers | October 12, 2014 | website
La Pachamama 50 km | 50 kilometers | October 12, 2014 | website

Australia
Queensland
Bribie Beach Bash 50 km | 50 kilometers | October 12, 2014 | website
Victoria
Great Ocean Walk 100 km Trail Run | 100 kilometers | October 11, 2014 | website
Great Ocean Walk 100 mile Trail Run | 100 miles | October 11, 2014 | website
Western Australia
Oxfam Trailwalker Australia – Perth | 100 kilometers | October 10, 2014 | website

Canada
Alberta
Iron Horse Ultra 100 Km (CAN) | 100 kilometers | October 04, 2014 | website
Iron Horse Ultra 100 Miles (CAN) | 100 miles | October 04, 2014 | website
Nova Scotia
Valley Harvest Ultra Marathon | 50 kilometers | October 12, 2014 | website
Ontario
Run for the Toad 50K | 50 kilometers | October 04, 2014 | website

Chile
Atacama Crossing | 250 kilometers | October 05, 2014 | website
Rapa Nui GrandTrail – 80 K | 80 kilometers | October 12, 2014 | website

Croatia
Valamar Trail 53 | 53 kilometers | October 04, 2014 | website
Valamar Trail 73 | 73 kilometers | October 04, 2014 | website

Finland
Eastern Finland
Vaarojen Ultramaraton | 84 kilometers | October 04, 2014 | website
Western Finland
Wihan kilometrit – 100 km | 100 kilometers | October 11, 2014 | website
Wihan kilometrit – 50 km | 50 kilometers | October 11, 2014 | website

France
Alpes-de-Haute-Provence
Trail Gapen’Cimes Edelweiss | 52 kilometers | October 05, 2014 | website
Charente-Maritime
100 km de Royan | 100 kilometers | October 04, 2014 | website
50 km de Royan | 50 kilometers | October 04, 2014 | website
Essonne
Trail du Viaduc des Fauvettes 50 km | 50 kilometers | October 12, 2014 | website
Haute-Corse
A Paolina | 70 kilometers | October 04, 2014 | website
Loire-Atlantique
Trail de Mauves en Vert – 50 km | 53 kilometers | October 05, 2014 | website
Pyrénées-Orientales
100 Miles Sud de France | 100 miles | October 10, 2014 | website
Grande Traversée Mer Montagne | 110 kilometers | October 11, 2014 | website
Somme
100 km de la Somme | 100 kilometers | October 11, 2014 | website

Germany
Bavaria
Herbstlauf Schloss Thurn Hobbylauf | 87 kilometers | October 11, 2014 | website
North Rhine-Westphalia
50 km von Hitdorf | 50 kilometers | October 03, 2014 | website

Greece
Rodopi Advendurun 100 miles | 100 miles | October 17, 2014 | website

Hong-Kong
Challenger – Whole Course | 78 kilometers | October 11, 2014 | website
Prohiker – Round-trip Course | 156 kilometers | October 10, 2014 | website

India
Bhatti Lakes 100 Mile | 100 miles | October 11, 2014 | website
Bhatti Lakes 220 km | 220 kilometers | October 10, 2014 | website
Bhatti Lakes 50 Mile | 50 miles | October 10, 2014 | website

Italy
Friuli-Venezia Giulia
Magredi Mountain Trail 100 Mile | 100 miles | October 03, 2014 | website
Magredi Mountain Trail 40 Mile | 40 miles | October 04, 2014 | website
Piedmont
100 km delle Alpi | 100 kilometers | October 11, 2014 | website
Morenic Trail | 109 kilometers | October 04, 2014 | website
Puglia
Run & Go 100 km | 100 kilometers | October 04, 2014 | website
Run & Go 100 Miglia | 100 miles | October 04, 2014 | website
Umbria
Ultra Trail le vie di San Francesco Long Way | 100 miles | October 11, 2014 | website
Ultra Trail le vie di San Francesco Short Way | 100 kilometers | October 11, 2014 | website

Macedonia
Krali Marko Trails 60 km | 64 kilometers | October 12, 2014 | website

Nepal
Royal Penguin Ultra Marathon | 60 kilometers | October 05, 2014 | website

Netherlands
Gelderland
Herfst Ultraloop Berg en Dal | 60 kilometers | October 11, 2014 | website

Philippines
Olango Island Ultramarathon Eco Adventure 50K | 50 kilometers | October 04, 2014 | website

Poland
Beskidy Ultra Trail – 150K | 150 kilometers | October 03, 2014 | website
Beskidy Ultra Trail – 220K | 220 kilometers | October 03, 2014 | website
Beskidy Ultra Trail – 55K | 55 kilometers | October 04, 2014 | website
Beskidy Ultra Trail – 85K | 85 kilometers | October 04, 2014 | website

South Africa
Legends 68km Ultra Marathon | 68 kilometers | October 05, 2014 | website
The Hobbit 100 | 100 kilometers | October 10, 2014 | website

Spain
Aragon
Long Trail Guara Somontano | 50 kilometers | October 04, 2014 | website
Ultra Trail Guara Somontano | 98 kilometers | October 04, 2014 | website
Madrid
Sunrise Trail Ultra International | 68 kilometers | October 11, 2014 | website
Valencian Community
Ultra Trail Del Rincon 100 km | 100 kilometers | October 11, 2014 | website
Ultra Trail Del Rincon 170 km | 170 kilometers | October 10, 2014 | website

Sweden
Sörmland Ultra Marathon | 50 kilometers | October 11, 2014 | website

Switzerland
Valais
Les Défis du Jubilé – 52 km | 52 kilometers | October 11, 2014 | website
Les Défis du Jubilé – 68 km | 68 kilometers | October 11, 2014 | website
Les Défis du Jubilé – 71 km | 71 kilometers | October 11, 2014 | website

United Kingdom
Cornwall
Atlantic Coast 3-Day Challenge | 78 miles | October 03, 2014 | website
Cumbria
3×3000 Ultra Trail | 80 kilometers | October 04, 2014 | website
Devon
Bideford Bay 50km | 50 kilometers | October 11, 2014 | website
Greater London
Royal Parks Foundation Ultra | 50 kilometers | October 12, 2014 | website
North Yorkshire
“Round Ripon” Ultra Studley Roger | 35 miles | October 04, 2014 | website
Shropshire
The Longmynd Hike | 50 miles | October 04, 2014 | website
Surrey
Downslink Ultra | 38 miles | October 05, 2014 | website

USA
Arizona
Canyon De Chelly Ultra | 55 kilometers | October 11, 2014 | website
Flagstaff 56K Endurance Run | 56 kilometers | October 04, 2014 | website
Arkansas
Arkansas Traveller 100 | 100 miles | October 04, 2014 | website
California
Boggs Mountain Boogie 50k | 50 kilometers | October 12, 2014 | website
Cuyamaca 100K Endurance Run | 100 kilometers | October 04, 2014 | website
Dick Collins Firetrails 50 | 50 miles | October 11, 2014 | website
Euchre Bar Massacre 50 M | 50 miles | October 11, 2014 | website
Owen’s Peak Man vs Horse 50K Trail Adventure | 50 kilometers | October 11, 2014 | website
Pioneer Spirit 50M | 50 miles | October 11, 2014 | website
Skyline to the Sea 50km | 50 kilometers | October 11, 2014 | website
Weaver Basin 50K | 50 kilometers | October 04, 2014 | website
Weaver Basin Trails 50K | 50 kilometers | October 04, 2014 | website
Whoos in El Moro 50k | 50 kilometers | October 11, 2014 | website
Colorado
24 Hrs of Boulder – 100 K | 100 kilometers | October 11, 2014 | website
24 Hrs of Boulder – 100 Mile | 100 miles | October 11, 2014 | website
24 Hrs of Boulder – 50 K | 50 kilometers | October 12, 2014 | website
Animas Surgical Hospital Durango 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | October 11, 2014 | website
Florida
John Holmes 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | October 11, 2014 | website
Hawaii
Peacock Ultramarathons 100K | 100 kilometers | October 11, 2014 | website
Peacock Ultramarathons 50K | 50 kilometers | October 11, 2014 | website
Idaho
Foothills 50K Frenzy | 50 kilometers | October 04, 2014 | website
Illinois
Farmdale 33 Mile Trail Runs | 33 miles | October 11, 2014 | website
Farmdale 50 Mile Ultra Trail Run | 50 miles | October 11, 2014 | website
Iowa
The Runner’s Flat 50K | 50 kilometers | October 11, 2014 | website
Kansas
Heartland 100 Mile Race | 100 miles | October 11, 2014 | website
Heartland 50 Mile Race | 50 miles | October 11, 2014 | website
Lake Perry Rocks! 50K | 50 kilometers | October 04, 2014 | website
Kentucky
Cloudsplitter 100K | 100 kilometers | October 04, 2014 | website
Cloudsplitter 100 Mile | 100 miles | October 04, 2014 | website
Cloudsplitter 50K | 50 kilometers | October 04, 2014 | website
Maine
Farm To Farm Ultra 50K Run | 50 kilometers | October 13, 2014 | website
Farm To Farm Ultra 50 Mile Run | 50 miles | October 13, 2014 | website
Maryland
Ragnar Relay Washington D.C. | 200 miles | October 03, 2014 | website
Montana
Le Grizz Ultramarathon | 50 miles | October 11, 2014 | website
Nebraska
Market to Market 50K | 50 kilometers | October 11, 2014 | website
Market to Market Relay | Nebraska | 78 miles | October 11, 2014 | website
New Hampshire
Pinnacle Ultra Challenge 50K | 50 kilometers | October 05, 2014 | website
New York
Can Lake 50 K | 50 kilometers | October 11, 2014 | website
Can Lake 50 Mile | 50 miles | October 11, 2014 | website
Tesla Hertz 100K Run | 100 kilometers | October 11, 2014 | website
Tesla Hertz 100 Mile Run | 100 miles | October 11, 2014 | website
Tesla Hertz 50K Run | 50 kilometers | October 11, 2014 | website
Tesla Hertz 50 Mile Run | 50 miles | October 11, 2014 | website
North Carolina
Pilot Mountain to Hanging Rock Ultra 50K Run | 50 kilometers | October 11, 2014 | website
Pilot Mountain to Hanging Rock Ultra 50- Mile Run | 50 miles | October 11, 2014 | website
Pennsylvania
Blues Cruise 50k Trail Ultra | 50 kilometers | October 05, 2014 | website
Green Monster 50K Trail Challenge | 50 kilometers | October 12, 2014 | website
Oil Creek Trail Runs 100 Miles | 100 miles | October 11, 2014 | website
Oil Creek Trail Runs 50K | 50 kilometers | October 11, 2014 | website
Oil Creek Trail Runs 50 Miles | 50 miles | October 11, 2014 | website
South Carolina
Swamp Rabbit Urban Ultra 50K | 50 kilometers | October 04, 2014 | website
Tennessee
Cumberland Trail 50 km | 50 kilometers | October 11, 2014 | website
Rock/Creek StumpJump 50K Ultra | 50 kilometers | October 04, 2014 | website
Texas
Hunter Gatherer 50K | 50 kilometers | October 04, 2014 | website
Survival Run: Hunter Gatherer | 50 kilometers | October 04, 2014 | website
Utah
Antelope Island 100K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | October 11, 2014 | website
Antelope Island 50K Trail Run | 100 kilometers | October 11, 2014 | website
Pony Express Trail 100 | 100 miles | October 17, 2014 | website
Pony Express Trail 50 | 50 miles | October 17, 2014 | website
Red Rock Relay Park City Edition | 65 miles | October 11, 2014 | website
The North Face Endurance Challenge Series Utah 50K | 50 kilometers | October 04, 2014 | website
The North Face Endurance Challenge Series Utah Gore-Tex® 50 Mile | 50 miles | October 04, 2014 | website
Virginia
GrindStone 100 | 101 miles | October 03, 2014 | website
New River Trail 50K | 50 kilometers | October 11, 2014 | website
The Wild Oak Trail 100 “Hot” TWOT | 100 miles | October 11, 2014 | website
Washington
Baker Lake 50k | 50 kilometers | October 04, 2014 | website
Defiance 50K | 50 kilometers | October 11, 2014 | website
West Virginia
West Virginia Trilogy – Day One 50 km | 50 kilometers | October 10, 2014 | website
West Virginia Trilogy – Day Two 50 Mile | 50 miles | October 11, 2014 | website
Wisconsin
Glacial 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | October 12, 2014 | website
Glacial 50M Trail Run | 50 miles | October 12, 2014 | website

CLOSE

LINKS

http://traffic.libsyn.com/talkultra/Episode_71_-_Frost_Hawker_Draney_Warburton_Robson.mp3

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

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

Website – talkultra.com

RUNNER by Lizzy Hawker

Lizzy Hawker, 2012 UTMB copyright Ian Corless

Lizzy Hawker, 2012 UTMB copyright Ian Corless

The Aurum Publishing Group are delighted to announce the acquisition of RUNNER by Lizzy Hawker, one of the world’s best endurance athletes.

Lizzy Hawker is one of the greatest ultra-distance runners this country has ever produced. She is the first woman to finish on the overall podium of the Spartathlon, one of the world toughest footraces, and has won the legendary The North Face Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc five times in its ten year history, the only person, man or woman, to achieve this. She came to the sport almost by accident – she had run a marathon or two, but tried her first ultra, a 40 mile track race, when invited to stay with friends in Wales. One month later she was representing England. Within eighteen months she was the women’s world champion for 100km. Not bad for someone who started life in Upminster, has no coach, no gym, no physio and was finishing her PhD.

Runner is the story of her journey and will get inside the head of the physical, mental and emotional challenges that runners go through at the edge of human endurance, in much the same way as Aurum’s classic running story Feet in the Clouds by Richard Askwith did nearly ten years ago. Her story, as a self- taught champion, will be an inspiration for anyone who has dreamt of lacing up a pair of trainers and wondering how far they could run.

Robin Harvie, Aurum Press Senior Commissioning Editor says: ‘Lizzy Hawker is something of a heroine of mine. Not only did she destroy all her rivals in the searing heat of the Spartathlon, but she is modest, self- deprecating and hugely inspirational. I am extremely proud to be publishing her on the Aurum list.’

In Lizzy’s words, ‘It’s not about the records. It’s not about the medals. It’s not about winning the race or making the podium. It’s about the fears and the tears, the laughs and the smiles. It’s about the shared experiences and raw emotions. Find your challenge, reach for your dream. Do what you do for the love of it, because more is then possible than you might imagine’. 

The book is expected to be released in April 2015. Lizzy has posted on her website:

I am very happy to be working with Aurum Press towards publication of Runner planned for April 2015.

Have you ever been curious to know how someone can run a long way, or what goes on in their mind and emotions when they do? This is my story of competing in a 100 mile mountain race, the 2005 edition of The North Face Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc, my first mountain race. The story is told from the perspective of the runner in a one-way ‘thought’ conversation. The narrative explores from the physical impact of an ultra to the emotional and mental challenges. Through and beyond this story it also looks at the wider questions that we face during an ultra and during life. The reader is challenged to be bold, to dream and to realise that there is no destination, only the journey.

Press Release by Aurum Publishing Group

The North Face FL Race Vest

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The North Face FL Race Vest is a race vest that has been well over 12-months in the making. I first had a look at this pack in November 2012. It was a prototype that had been created in preparation for Jez Bragg‘s epic run on the Te Araroa Trail in New Zealand.

FL prototype 2012

FL prototype 2012

FL prototype 2012

FL prototype 2012

You will see the above images are a more minimalist version of the current FL Race Vest, however, lessons were learnt from the prototype and with feedback from Jez Bragg and Lizzy Hawker, the current model has been developed and tweaked with the TNFUTMB and similar long distance races primarily in mind.

I picked up my current vest just days before the 2013 edition of the TNFUTMB and it was reassuring to see that my vest was exactly the same as the ones being used by Rory Bosio, Jez Bragg and the rest of the TNF team.

Rory Bosio wearing the FL Race Vest after dominating the 2013 TNFUTMB.

Rory Bosio wearing the FL Race Vest after dominating the 2013 TNFUTMB.

Race vests have become the ‘norm’ in regard to race packs. All the leading brands are developing new systems, new sizes and new designs in the quest for the ultimate product. Certainly, Salomon have very much paved the way recently with S-Lab 5lt and 12ltr. In addition, my recent review of the inov-8 Race Ultra Vest had me 99% convinced that in my opinion, this new product by the UK brand was currently the ‘best’ available of its type.

The North Face FL Race Vest sits between the inov-8 Race Ultra and Salomon S-Lab products. Although the inov-8 product is supremely comfortable and perfectly designed, it may just not be big enough for a tough or long race when mandatory kit will stress a packs capacity. By contrast, the Salomon S-Lab 12ltr has been designed with long racing in mind and offers an excellent form fitting pack that many swear by. At 8ltr capacity, the FL Race Vest sits nicely in the middle ground and actually may very well be the perfect size for a mountain 100-mile race like TNFUTMB or similar.

Like all current vests, the FL comes with a bladder that sits inside a mesh pocket within the main compartment of the pack. However, if you are like me, you may very well prefer bottles or soft flasks? The front of the FL has two upper drawstring pockets that can accommodate bottles/small soft flasks or other items. I initially tried two 500ml bottles but found the ‘balance’ all wrong. When running they would feel far too close to my face and noticeable bounce from the weight was annoying. However, replacing the bottles with two smaller soft flasks that could accommodate 250ml each, this irradiated bounce and made the whole system not only infinitely more comfortable but also more practical.

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On the outside of the upper pockets are small stretchy mesh pockets that would hold gels or similar products.

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The lower part of the front vest has two Velcro closure pockets that may be useful in holding valuable items such as phone, keys, gps, camera and so on. Equally, you could add any food products for easy access on the go.

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Behind the Velcro pockets are two larger mesh stretch pockets. They are capacious and ideal for gloves, hat or buff type products. In actual fact, they are so spacious you can add soft flasks to increase liquid capacity.

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The rear of the pack has an upper zipper pocket that can hold a phone, keys, camera or any other item of value .

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Directly below the upper zip pocket is a capacious stretchy open pocket that can be accessed from the top or the left/ right side. This pocket has been designed so that you may add or remove essential items while still moving… gloves, hat or jacket!

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Two smaller zipper products have been added to the left and right hand sides of the larger rear mesh pocket. These pockets may also be accessed without removing the pack. They are small but ideal for money, keys or similar sized items.

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On the upper right hand side of the rear of the pack, is a blue bungee cord designed to hold ‘poles’ when not in use. Equally, at the bottom of pack on the rear is another blue bungee to hold the opposite end of the poles.

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A key feature of the pack is the adjustability on the side and the front. Underneath the arms are two independent straps that may be lengthened or shortened to get just the correct fit.

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On the front are two adjustable straps that have quick release buckles. The straps may be moved up and down independently to get the correct fit based on your morphology.

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A key point, particularly for ladies, above the pockets on the front are soft panels that stretch and adjust dependent on the size of your boobs/chest. When testing the pack, we ensured that we cross referenced everything with a female perspective. The feedback? ‘The best and most comfortable pack I have used for the female form’.

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One of the key elements of the pack is the inside of the main compartment. Instead of one large space, it has been compartmentalized to provide storage space for specific items. Of course, this is open to personal taste but as you will see fromm the photographs, this is a great help for a long race when one needs to carry a jacket, over trousers, space blanket, elastic bandages, cup and so on.

The zipper for the main compartment is full size, allowing the pack to be opened completely. This makes access very easy. On the back panel is a large mesh pocket that would hold the ‘bladder’ if this was your chosen method of hydration. I personally use this for space blanket, elastic bandages, cup, first aid and other mandatory items.

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The other side has a larger mesh pocket that is open ended, I add my hat and over trousers here and above is an internal zipper pocket.

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The open space between the front panel and back panel is roomy and ideal for a bulkier item such as a fully waterproof jacket.

This FL has been thought out to minute detail. It has perfect storage space built around the needs and desires of a long race when mandatory kit is required. It has also been designed to make access easy and stress free. The added combination of ‘on the go’ access to key areas of the pack while running makes this a serious and top contender for those looking for a fast, light and responsive pack that will allow the user to run stress free.

IN USE and TESTING

The FL has been on many runs and tested over the last 4-5months. On faster sessions of up to 90-mins and long days in the mountains, this pack holds firm against the body and is a pleasure to wear.

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I had no issues on it’s storage capacity. I could fit all my required kit in the pack and it still retained its form and comfort, even when fully loaded.

If I added the bladder to the rear compartment, this certainly did eat into storage space and one had to be a little more creative with packing.

As mentioned previously, I would always prefer to use bottles to a bladder and this may very well be the stumbling block with the FL. Two 250ml soft flasks are not adequate liquid capacity for any long run in the mountains, even when feed stations are on the route. Adding additional soft flasks in the lower stretch pockets on the front of the pack is possible but it feels like a compromise. I did add 500ml flat bottles to these pockets for one run and I thought I had found a solution. However, after an hour my ribs started to hurt with the pressure placed on them. I never did find a full solution for the problem other than, if I was out for a longer time, I used the bladder! Of course this worked and it worked admirably. So, this is very much a personal comment. If you like bladders, this will not be an issue for you.

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Running with the pack is a dream. It fits close to the body and does not move or bounce. Access while ‘on the go’ is excellent and you can certainly get food, gels, gloves, hat and even a jacket without stopping if you pack with those objectives in mind.

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The side adjustable straps offer on the go adjustment and unlike some other vests that are one size, with the FL if you add or remove layers, you can adjust pack tension while on the go to ensure you maintain a comfortable fit.

The front of the pack with two adjustable straps allows for customised tensioning and as mentioned, the upper stretchy mesh panels will be popular with lady users!

CONCLUSION

The FL is a great pack. It addresses many of the problems we all have when mandatory kit is required. The pockets, internal and external allow you to customise the pack for your own personal needs ensuring that you have stress free training and race days. At 8ltrs, the FL is not ‘too’ big that you can’t use it in training but more importantly, it is not too small that you can’t use it for racing. Certainly, if you only wanted to purchase one pack, this may very well be the ideal purchase.

In use it is extremely comfortable and the ‘open sides’ allow increased airflow providing a more breathable and cooler running experience, certainly in comparison to the Salomon S-Lab.

Verdict? – Very highly recommended.

  • Cost – £85 tbc
  • Availability – Feb 2014
  • The North Face HERE

The female perspective… by Niandi Carmont

Niandi is South African born, a former resident of Paris, she now lives in the UK. A runner for over 20-years; Niandi has completed Comrades Marathon 13-times, Washie 100 2-times and has finished well over 100 marathons and ultras  all over the world. Currently residing in the UK, Niandi splits her work life between the UK and France.

Niandi

 

The North Face FL Race Vest

This was my first test run with a race vest. Although no stranger to trials of varying distances ranging from 22km to 160km, I had never found a race vest to my satisfaction and had always resorted to the “safer” choice of race pack. The reasons for this choice are multiple, but basically:

  • Uncomfortable fit and inadaptability to the female morphology
  • Lack of breathability
  • Chafing which can also be linked to female specificity
  • Hydration strategy limited to bladder

In contrast the The North Face FL Race Vest addressed all the above issues:

  • Comfortable fit and perfect adaptability to the female morphology.
  • Very lightweight, breathable mesh back panel and front vest, covering very little surface area but offering maximum storage capacity.
  • No bounce, no uncomfortable rubbing or pull from the straps.
  • The upper front pockets can be used to carry 2 small 250ml bottles with either water or energy drink in addition to a TNF 2L bladder in the back for longer self-sufficiency races. Personally, I find this ideal as I can fill up the bottles on the go at the feed-stations and know exactly how much I am consuming. The bladder can be used in addition to the bottles as a safety measure for races which require more autonomy.

So when I tried the FL Race Vest in my training run I was pleasantly surprised to find I actually forgot I had it on. It wasn’t even a question of getting used to the vest. I instantly felt at ease in it. The front vest fitted perfectly over my chest – a sort of stretchy material which meant it never felt too loose and never to tight allowing the diaphragm to expand naturally and not causing any chafing issues.

The 8L back pack has a storage capacity suitable for any trail distance between 30km and 160km. There is absolutely no bounce – it sits comfortably in the middle of your back – no sagging to the waistline or bouncing from side-to-side. Two sets of independent straps underneath the arms and 2 sets of buckles/ straps on the front allow you to adjust the vest to fit perfectly. No unnecessary and complicated irritating, dangling straps you find on so many back-packs.

Another bonus is that the vest and pack covers very little surface area thus ensuring better breathability and less over-heating and chafing should you be a heavy sweater.

Hydration-wise as mentioned above the race vest is multi-purpose and depending on the length of the event and frequency of the feed-stations, you can carry bottles in the upper front pockets and/or bladder.

Speed is less of an issue for me but for runners wishing to waste as little time as possible, reaching around for a rain jacket, gloves, hat, head-lamp, Kleenex, energy bars; there are two lower zipped pockets on the vest and behind each of these two mesh pockets. I like this not only because it’s a time saver on technical terrain. In the dark it is also a stress-free option – nothing worse than groping behind you to get hold of a bar when your body is tired and aching all over or you are slipping around on a rocky, muddy descent in the dark. And it saves begging the runner behind to pull out a bar (or tampon) for you!

The back pack is equipped with a small zipped upper pocket – great for mobile phone and a lower mesh pocket for a jacket or over-trousers.

Inside is the bladder compartment, which can also be used for carrying race kit should you prefer, a central compartment and another pocket – so great for compartmentalizing!

Finally, my last pre-requisite – upper and lower draw strings to attach poles diagonally when not in use and the compulsory whistle on the front, should your navigation skills be as poor as mine!

Conclusion

I want it for my next 55km self-sufficiency event at night AND AT £85 it’s a bargain!

Spartathlon 2013

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SPARTATHLON is a historic ultra-distance foot race that takes place in September of every year in Greece. Arguably, it is one of the most difficult and satisfying ultra-distance races in the world because of its unique history and background.

The Spartathlon revives the footsteps of Pheidippides, an ancient Athenian long distance runner, who in 490 BC, before the battle of Marathon, was sent to Sparta to seek help in the war between the Greeks and the Persians. According to the ancient Greek historian Herodotus, Pheidippides arrived in Sparta the day after his departure from Athens. Inspired by the report of the Greek historian, in 1982 five officers of the British Royal Air Force (RAF), who were also long-distance runners, traveled to Greece, led by Colonel John Foden. Their purpose was to ascertain whether it was possible to cover the 250 kilometers separating the two towns in one and a half days. The enthusiastic British team showed that the report by Herodotus was entirely plausible.

A man is indeed able to cover 250 km in less than two days and in fact in less than 40 hours. After the success of the project, the architect of the feat, John Foden, began to envision the establishment of a race that would bring long distance runners to Greece from around the world to run on the trail of the ancient runner Pheidippides. The next year a multinational team of British, Greek and other enthusiastic supporters of the idea, led by Michael Callaghan, a philhellene, organized the First International Spartathlon (Open International Spartathlon Race), wherein the name for the race combines the Greek words for Sparta and Feat.

The race was held with the approval and supervision of the Athletics Federation with the participation of 45 runners from 11 countries and included the participation of women. The organizational success of this inaugural race and its broad appeal were decisive to the subsequent establishment of the annual race.

Accordingly, in 1984 the International Association “Spartathlon” was founded. Since then a yearly race has been organized each September. Why September? Because that is the time reported by Herodotus for Pheidippides run to Sparta.

Information taken from http://www.spartathlon.gr ©Spartathlon.gr

The Race

The 2013 edition of the race will start on Friday 27th September with 350 participants and for any last minute dropouts; this entry list will be topped up from a waiting list of 160 runners.

UK entrants:

  • Mark Woolley
  • Robert Pinnington
  • Lindley Chambers
  • Claire Shelley
  • James Adams
  • Drew Sheffield
  • Martin Ilott
  • Philip Smith
  • Mathew Mahoney
  • Mimi Anderson *
  • Paul Ali
  • Mike Blamires
  • Cat Lawson
  • Steve Scott
  • Pat Robbins
  • Martin Bacon
  • Mark Hines
  • Laurence Chownsmith
  • Robbie Britton *
  • Jonathan Hall
  • Peter Johnson
  • James Elson

Countries represented:

Sweden, Poland, Australia, Japan, Germany, Italy, Hungary, Denmark, France, Spain, Netherlands, Finland, Argentina, Portugal, China, Malta, United States, Uruguay, Belgium, Austria, Brazil, Mexico, Czech Republic, Faeroe Islands, Switzerland, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Hong Kong, United Kingdom and of course Greece.

Spartathlon, for many is a bucket list race. It has a magic that cannot be found at other races. The distance, strict cut-off times, the heat and so on all add to the drama. The course is conducted point-to-point and elevation ranges from sea level to 1,200 meters (3,937 ft), over tarmac road, trail and mountain footpath. Aid stations are placed every 3 to 5 km and are provisioned with food, water and other refreshments as well as the runners’ personal supplies. The race is run under police and medical supervision with doctors, physiotherapists, and emergency vehicles being on call throughout the 36-hour race duration. The race is very demanding.

The course is not the most spectacular and 153 miles of roads may not appeal to many, particularly if coming from a trail or mountain running background. However, I’ve yet to meet anyone who has run this race and not loved it. For sure, the Greeks, French, Japanese, German and now a growing UK participation love this race and demand is continuing to grow.

Lizzy Hawker raced in 2012 and not only won the ladies race in 27:02:17 but placed third overall. The outright winner was Stu Thoms from Germany in 26:28:19.

For the 2013 edition of the race, all entrants are of interest. For many, Spartathlon is a journey about completion and not competition. However, two people are of interest and for opposite reasons. Firstly, Robbie Britton from the UK is coming to Spartathlon for the first time but he is potentially an exciting prospect for the overall with a solid 100-mile result at the South Downs Way 100 in a time of 15:43:53 and 239.008km at the World 24-hour championships. Robbie has said in his blog, “I’m right excited about getting to Sparta now and can’t wait for the great challenge of this historic race. We’ve got a solid British team heading out there; including a few Grand Union Canal Race winners, one of whom is attempting a double Spartathlon and it should be a great atmosphere out there. After a strong showing from the Brits at UTMB and The Grand Slam of Ultra Running, I guess we best put a bit of effort into Spartathlon now too…” Bog here

Secondly, Mimi Anderson will be doing Spartathlon her own way in 2013… she raced in 2011 and surprised herself with her performance. So much so, this year she is coming back to do it twice! Yes, twice.

Mimi’s press release:

‘Marvellous’ Mimi Anderson, the 51 year-old grandmother from Smarden in Kent who is a triple long distance running Guinness World Record holder and already the legendary finisher of several ‘doubles’ of extreme long distance races for which the one-way normal run would be beyond most mere mortals, is about to attempt probably her most daring double – a two-way run of the iconic Spartathlon race held in Greece each year.

Traditionally there are about 20 runners from the UK each year and Mimi first ran the race in 2011 when she finished 3rd lady overall and the 1st UK finisher in 32 hours 33 minutes 23 seconds. She has decided to return in 2013 and having completed the normal race on her previous visit, she will be attempting the double this year (a distance of 306 miles), which is believed to have only ever been done once before. It has certainly never been done by anyone from Britain and no female has ever attempted it.

Mimi’s plan is to do the race first then, all being well, start the return leg at midnight on Saturday night.  She will be running the race itself to achieve the best time she can and then attempting the return leg in in the same tough 36 hours maximum time allowed for the race.

Her husband Tim and friend Becky Healey will be crewing for her during the event and the reason for starting the return leg at midnight on the Saturday is to enable the crew to get some sleep – otherwise it becomes too dangerous for them to be driving safely!

Mimi will be running to raise money for her usual cause – the 10 Million Metres Campaign, which was set up by Alex Flynn when he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease 4 years ago.  People can donate on the Justgiving site at www.justgiving.com/marvellousmimi1

The 2013 event for sure will be exciting for all involved and for those watching. If you would like more information, please go to the race website.

Links:

All entrants can be viewed here

Live Tracking for race day here

The North Face at UTMB

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Here is a story of how the 2013 The North Face Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc unfolded from behind the scenes for the whole team. Many congratulations to the runners, support crew and all participants who made it a wonderful day, night, day and night.

View the interactive gallery

HERE

all images and content ©iancorless.com – all rights reserved

Sierre-Zinal 2013 Race Summary

©copyright .iancorless.com.iancorless.orgIMGP0638glacierdezinal

What a race the 2013 and 40th edition of Sierre-Zinal proved to be. It was an exciting nail biter in the men’s race with a new star and the old guard shining. For the ladies, we had a new lady on top of the podium, a repeat performance for second and third and the UK showing how to be consistent and perform at the highest level.

Men’s race

Marc Lauenstein (Suisse) 2:32:14 took home the win from Juan Carlos Cardona (Colombia) who was Kilian Jornet’s pre race prediction by just 16 seconds in what proved to be a fitting climax to an incredible race. Cardona looked as though he had the race won but Lauenstein pulled something special out of the bag in the closing stages. Very little is known about Marc, however, he is a Swiss orienteering competitor and he won silver at the 2005 and 2006 World long distance orienteering championships.

Mountain running legend and Sierre-Zinal course record holder, Jonathan Wyatt (NZL) proved that experience and pure class can outwit the competition for a 3rd place in a time of 2:33:44.

Although entered in the race for some time, Kilian Jornet decided to run only in the days before the race. He was already at the Matterhorn and preparing for his next ‘Summit’. The temptation to drive from Italy to Switzerland was too great, and although he may very well have raced for ‘fun’ he placed fourth in 2:33:59. After the race he tweeted, “Super, super, happy today with Sierre-Zinal. I was here to enjoy the race and I feel super good. Finished in an unexpected 4th with my best crono!”

Robbie Simpson from the UK proved what an incredible talent he is, running for inov-8 he placed 5th in 2:35:32. It’s a world-class performance in a world-class field. A star of the future!

As you will see from my pre race summary, the 40th edition of Sierre-Zinal was such a tough race to call. Stars like Tofol Castanyer (7th), Rickey Gates (9th), Sage Canaday (17th); all proved that predictions are a fickle area to delve into, particularly in a relatively short and tough mountain race like Sierre-Zinal.

Sage Canaday runs a 2:16 marathon and has had repeated victories in 2012 and 2013. Many of those victories have come with course records. Just recently he won Speedgoat 50k ahead of runners like Anton Krupicka, Max king and Timothy Olson. Now of course here at Sierre-Zinal he may well have been running on ‘jaded’ legs. It is a distinct possibility. Post race he said, “Total muscle failure. Mountain racing in Europe is totally different from the US ultra-trail scene.” It does beg a question, are some of the top guys racing too much or do they need to be more specific in training? Certainly Rickey Gates has proven here that US male runners can perform in Europe, as did Anton Krupicka at Cavalls del Vent in the latter part of 2012. What are your thoughts?

On a final note, Cesar Costa (Martigny) has placed second at Sierre-Zinal three times before. For sure, many of us thought that 2013 may well have been his opportunity, however, he finished in thirteenth with a time 2:42:11.

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Ladies race

Placing 2nd at Sierre-Zinal in 2012, her first European race, I firmly placed my prediction on Stevie Kremer taking out the win after a stunning twelve months racing. At the finish line, Stevie didn’t disappoint, however, the top spot was not hers. In a repeat of 2012, Stevie placed second, 3:03:12 and Maud Mathys placed third, 3:04:13. It was like déjà vu.

One thing that did change though was the top slot on the podium. Unnoticed by me on the start sheet, Elisa Desco produced a career enhancing performance and she once again proved that after some time away from the sport that good things come to those who wait. Marc De Gasperi (2012 Sierre-Zinal winner) summed it up when he tweeted, “No words enough to say how much YOU deserve this victory! Brava, brava, brava!!!”

Kenyan, Hellen Musyoka set the early pace but in the end placed 4th with a time of 3:04:47 and GB mountain running legend, Angela Mudge proved that experience is what really counts when it comes to Sierre-Zinal with a great fifth place in 3:07:21.

Victoria Wilkinson from Bingley Harries in the UK produced a sterling run to place sixth overall and this was ahead of some sterling competition. For example; 2013 Speedgoat 50k winner, Stephanie Howe placed 11th, Lizzy Hawker 14th (admittedly training for UTMB), Zhana Vokueva 15th and Celine Lafaye 18th.

Without doubt, it was an exceptional weekend of racing and of course, from a UK perspective, it is great to see Robbie Simpson, Angela Mudge and Victoria Wilkinson flying the flag at the front of the top European races.

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You can actually watch all the action from the 2013 Sierre-Zinal here:

http://www.rts.ch/video/sport/athletisme/5125770-revivez-la-40e-edition.html