TOM EVANS – Marathon des Sables #MDS 2017 Part One

Captain Tom Evans, placed third at the 2017 Marathon Des Sables in April, it was a complete surprise. Prior to the race, it’s fair to say, Tom had well and truly kept himself under the radar, a skill no doubt honed whilst in the army. British runners have a long history with the MDS and finally, we have one on the male podium!

I caught up with Tom post MDS to find out a little more about his remarkable story.

Ian: Who’s Tom Evans and tell me how this all came about?

Tom: It’s a very surreal experience. I went out with a few small ambitions. My main goal was to go out unknown and see what I could do. There was no pressure on my running so I could just focus on myself, focus on the race. There were no expectations which I think it’s safe to say I managed to achieve. Absolutely no one had any idea who I was on day one.

Ian: [laughs] Well, you achieved that completely. I remember, on day one, I was scooting around the dunes in a jeep, trying to find the runners because you were ahead of schedule. I saw this shadow in the distance. I told my driver to stop. I’m running through the dunes. Then, you come past me. I look and I think, “Who is this? I don’t know who this is.” Then behind was Rachid and Mohamed, the duo were working together, a little like they do in cycling taking turns to set the pace.

They were holding you at 100, maybe 200-meters which they did to the end of stage one but we’ll come on to the actual race and how it panned out later. I called you Captain, you’re obviously in the army. You were out with a whole bunch of soldiers and Walking with the Wounded. You had Duncan Slater out there with you. Just from that perspective, with your performance, Walking with the Wounded, Duncan Slater – it has been an epic Marathon Des Sables, hasn’t it?

Tom: Yes, it’s been amazing. The support that the whole team has received, not just from Walking with the Wounded and serving members of the British Armed Forces, but from so many across the world. We’ve been incredibly lucky this year; the Walking with the Wounded team had raised a lot of money. Like you say, the likes of Duncan Slater for the first double amputee to complete the race – amazing.

Then also we had Oscar who’s 16 years old, he competed with his father. Everyone helps during the race. That was very encouraging throughout. But then also, everyone back home really got behind the team which then led to the successes that Walking with the Wounded had in the race.

Ian: Let’s go back because there’s got to be a starting point. Let’s start with you and your running and then the MDS prep. To prepare for Marathon Des Sables and be non-Moroccan and do well, it normally requires all sorts of specific types of training, whether that is being really anal about kit, working out what type of food you’re going to eat, heat adaptation, how you handle dehydration, and all those things. I’d like to talk to you about that. But first, when did you start running?

Tom: My sister was a good athlete at school. I got slightly jealous of her so I decided that signing up to the Athletics Club was a good idea. That was when I was 13. I raced on the track all throughout school – anything from 70, 100 meters to 5k on the track. I realized that I was a decent, good English runner so I just got pulled in to the cross-country teams. Since being in the army, I’ve had an incredibly busy career and running took a back seat.

However, during 2015, I was based at a posting in Kenya for 10-months. I was lucky and spent a week training at the high-altitude training centre which really got me focused again on my running. Getting back to the UK, I carried on as much as I could but with work commitments, it’s always been difficult to be able to plan out a couple of months in advance of which races I wanted to do.

I’ve always been keen on my fitness and played as much sport as I can. But my running has only been specific for the last six months. I was squeezing everything in as much as I could – my preparations have been fairly rushed. I still see myself as relatively untrained…

Ian: I’ve got a feeling that there’s a lot of runners around the world saying to themselves, “If Tom’s really untrained, what’s going to happen?”

Tom: I think I have to find my distance and to find my passion, for now ultra-trail, that’s where I’ll stick. Hopefully, specific training will then lead on to more great results.

Ian: Like I said, you were a complete unknown but there was a great deal of conversations at MDS about you being a 2;18 marathon runner, aiming for an England vest, wanting to run at the Olympics – what is the truth in that story though? What are the aspirations outside? What you’d like to achieve in ultra and trail? What is your marathon time? What are your objectives, maybe in terms of a GB or an Olympian vest?

Tom: I think for the time being, I’m really going to focus on ultras. Certainly, the next 18-months. It’s always been my ambition to race in the Olympics. My marathon is currently at 2:20, but that was a while ago. I’m hoping with the experience that I’m going to gain in the next 6, 12 and 18-months, that my running will really start to improve. For the moment, I’m doing it because I love the sport.

It’s more than running, It’s the whole community, the preparation. It’s being self-sufficient throughout the race and then also, mixing with the other competitors. It’s a very competitive sport but on the start line, you’re mixing with other people from all over the world – Rachid and Mohamed for example. It’s just that relationship that you can forge over a week-long period which really draws me into ultras, especially multi-day.

Having said that, my ultra-running experience is so limited and I’m sure a lot of the followers will be fairly surprised to read that the MDS was my first multi-day race, so it was completely uncharted territory for me. The long stage of MDS was the farthest I’d ever run by 12-kilometers, ity was all so new.

Ian: Wow.

Tom: It’s just such a huge learning project. I’m so new to that. I’ve got so much to learn and will just be learning as much and as much as I can in the sport.

Ian: Yes, okay. I’m getting a sense that maybe the multi-day type experience is where you will place an emphasis but obviously single-day ultras are also going to figure. Being in the army and the way that Marathon des Sables is organised, is the race just like another army training exercise – Is it just like another military campaign?

Tom: There are certain similarities, I think that’s why Marathon des Sables attracts a great deal of serving and ex-military personnel not only from the UK but also from all across the world. It’s self-sufficient element is classic military and replicates doing something hard – be it a long insertion march or similar, plus you must carry weight. Post the run, it’s about getting yourself back into your tent and then starting to look after yourself, looking after your body, doing all of that, the basic administrations, sorting out your feet, stretching, making sure you’re fully hydrated again, getting your nutrition on – classic army!

This is what really draws everyone closer together, you’re going through that together. You are living in a confined space in a tent with 7 other people and the camaraderie that’s built up over a very short period of time is very similar to the military, which I think is absolutely amazing.

Ian: The process of working out how you were going to spend the week in the desert in terms of your kit selection, your food choices, were they just extensions of what you’ve experienced as a soldier or did you specifically pool information and speak to people to find out what type of equipment to use? It can be a daunting task when you think about this whole self-sufficiency thing and the fact that you’ve got to carry everything that you need. The only thing that you’re being given is water and a shelter for the night and it’s all basic.

Join Tom Evans, Elisabet Barnes and Sondre Amdahl on our Multi-Day Training Camp in Lanzarote – information HERE.

Tom: Yes, I spent a bit of time speaking to lots of people. I was lucky enough to be around for the MDS Expo in London which was excellent. That was my springboard to start my research really – the kit, the foods, the heat training and the hydration strategy that I was going to implement during the race.

I spent a great deal of time testing different kit, my room at home now is full with different backpacks and different pairs of shorts and socks – it can be expensive!

Ian: [laughs]

Tom: It’s important to be specific, my needs are different to others in the race. For example, I completed the whole race quicker than say someone takes to do just the long stage. That is significant! The demands on ones feet, clothing, time on legs, nutrition and so on can’t be underestimated.

Ian: Absolutely.

Tom: It’s very different. It’s a very, very different experience. I started day one with six and a half kilo pack exactly. I had a few comforts, had a nice a nice warm jacket, a good sleeping bag but no roll mat, my food reserves were weighed out and light weight and I probably didn’t carry as many calories as I would have liked and no stove, all my food was cold. But having said that, because I ended up getting in  early during the days, I was able to warm my water up naturally in the sun. It can be a very daunting process, ask a 100-people they’d probably tell you 100 different answers.

It’s important to find out what works for you, what’s comfortable but also assess the race and your goals. Most will walk far more than they anticipate, I was lucky, I ran pretty much the whole race but it’s a very different story once you move out of the top 10%.

Ian: Yes. I’m impressed for a first-timer with the fact that you got your pack down to 6.5kg, that obviously must mean that you weren’t eating much more than two and a half thousand calories per day. You said that you’d been quite a big guy over 80 kgs, I don’t know what you’re racing weight is now, you’ve lost weight so need less calories. Andy Symonds from the UK, he was looking for top-10 and he achieved that but he did say to me that as the week went on, he was just permanently hungry and he wasn’t getting enough calories to function as he wanted.

He could run but he didn’t have the energy to run the pace that he wanted to run. How did you manage that and how did you sustain the pace? Is there anything that you had done pre-race that taught your body to use fat as a fuel?

Tom: I ended up doing a lot of my training early in the mornings before breakfast because I was incredibly busy at work. If I could get 1-2 hours in the morning, it meant that I had more time during the day. I’d have a good meal the previous evening but then 10 hours later, eight hours later I’d be running on an empty stomach, it just got my body used using my fat stores and supply the energy I needed.

During the race you’ve got to make sure you have the right nutrients, the right amount of protein, carbohydrates, and fats in your diet. I’ve got a good friend back home who owns a small supplement company, OG Supplements, who spent a lot of times of going through my diet plan, just looking at the ingredients – I had the right amount of nutrients in my diet.

On the shorter days I would eat 2,300 calories and then on the marathon days, 2,700, and on the long day, 3,100. Lets be clear, you are going to be in a calorie deficit throughout the week but I think it’s being able to space those meal plans out that works. A sizable breakfast in the morning and then throughout the day, every time I got to the checkpoint, I was taking calories on just to try and maintain a level of energy within my body. You need some good calories quickly when you finish, you need to start the repair process asap.

You must make sure that you look after yourself as soon as possible – going back to being serving officer in the British Army, certainly with the Welsh Guard, that is a key lesson that I learned going through my training, it has become second nature.

Ian: I think certainly being in the Army is a huge advantage. It’s that admin, it’s that protocol, it’s that discipline. I often think of a story that a soldier told me of why you make your bed in the morning and you can probably elaborate on this far better than I can but it’s that process of starting the day and having that discipline.

Tom: Yes it is! You can look at it in the short term with the same analogy as making the bed in the morning: Start the day as you mean to go on, exactly the same; start of the week, start of the month. You’ve got to be able to take on that attitude in everything you do. If I’m going to do something, I’m going to do it properly!”

A lot of people say, “Oh, you were very lucky that you get the chances to do these things.” Funny how people who work hard become lucky! Without hard work, none of this is possible. You must delve into the depth of everything and you’ve got to try and cover all bases, looking into to every possible eventuality. I’m a huge believer of visualization and setting goals – short-term, midterm, and long-term.

That brings it much closer to home and making my dreams a reality rather than something that, “Oh, this might be quite nice to do.” It’s the mentality that I use when I go into anything – work, home, training or racing.

Ian: You mentioned about training in the morning and training fasted and the fact that you have a busy working life. What would a typical training week for you look like in the build-up to Marathon Des Sables?

Tom: I have been lucky enough to be training with a group of guys who are training for London Marathon, all guys planning on running a sub 2:20. The majority of my mileage was high-quality miles. I was of the mind-set that I needed to run quality miles. However, when you’re training for ultras, you are doing longer distances, one needs to be specific. If I tried and maintain the same tempo and the same effort in longer sessions I would crumble – all about balance.

I would average 90-miles per week and then in the month before Marathon des Sables, I added two weeks at 120 miles, which was by far the longest that I’d run. My runs would be a real mixture of longer runs, typically back-to-back. I would do a tempo long run on a Saturday and then a slow long run on the Sunday. During the week I’d be on the track once. I woukd join sessions: 4x 8-minutes 10k pace for example, really focusing on speed work and the power. I really think it helped my form for Marathon des Sables.

A lot of the race is about speed and about strength – if racing at the front. If you imagine going over the dunes, the quicker that you’re able to get off the dune, the less chance there is for gravity to work against you and the sand to hold you back. I needed to perform at a high level, day-in and day-out. I did a lot of work with my heart rate monitor and I’ve spent time in the lab looking at my VO2 and my lactate threshold.

My training was based on a marathon training program. I have a coach at Lewes Athletics Club and we mixed everything together to try to work it around my schedule at work – it worked well!

In the second part of the interview, we bring you Tom’s thoughts about the race and how his 2017 Marathon des Sables unfolded.

Episode 137 – Camille Herron, Tom Withers and Tania Hodgkinson

Episode 137 of Talk Ultra brings you three interviews – Camille Herron talks about the winning the biggest road ultra in the world, Comrades. We delve into the mind of Tom Withers and how he used his brain to finish the UK’s Dragons Back Race. Niandi Carmont talks with Tania Hodgkinson in her next ‘one-on-one’ interviews and yes, Speedgoat is back.
Talk Ultra is now on Tunein – just another way to make the show available for those who prefer not to use iTunes – HERE  You can download the Tunein APP HERE
Talk Ultra needs your help!
We have set up a Patreon page and we are offering some great benefits for Patrons… you can even join us on the show! This is the easiest way to support Talk Ultra and help us continue to create!
Many thanks to our Patrons who have helped via PATREON
Donate HERE
BIG NEWS – In June we have loads of giveaways that can be won but those listeners who support the show on Patreon. We have two pairs of inov-8 shoes, two Osprey Vest Packs, X-Bionic Compression, Compressport Compression and an Osprey handheld Soft Flask.
00:18:37 NEWS
We spoke about  KJ in the last show Karl but welcome your thoughts…
Then of course in a similar theme we need to mention Alex Honnold who in my opinion has just done one of the most amazing feats not only in climbing but in any sport – El Cap free solo is off the scale.
World Trail Champs
Luis Alberto Hernando proves he really is a class act by winning on a course that he said beforehand, would not suit him as it was too flat and too fast. He won 4:23 and proves he is, the worlds best. Cristofer Clemente ran an incredible waiting game and moved out of the top-30 to finish 2nd in 4:24 and Cedric Fleureton was 3rd in 4:28.
Adeline Roche was a surprise winner in 5:00 just 3-seconds ahead of Amandine Ferrato, also a surprise. Silvia Rampazzo is also a new name on the block after placing 2nd at Zegama a few weeks ago, she is now 3rd at the worlds.
I guess also the worlds is about so many who didn’t perform – it’s a story of bad pacing and fatigue… same old story and will they learn?
Scenic 113km
It was a joint win for this super-tough Skyrunning race in Switzerland. 113k and 7500m of vert saw Stephan Hugenschmidt and Matthias Dippacher cross the line together in 15:40. The ladies winner was Francesca Canepa in 19:43. You can read the race story and get full images HERE
Race to the Tower
Notable as MDS 3rd place runner Tom Evans won this with a convincing victory (7:30) and we also Ironman Legend Chrissie Wellington toe the line of her first ultra. Not only did she win the ladies race but she placed 3rd overall in 8:35.
Comrades
Wow, Camille Herron bridges 20-years and Ann Trason victories to be the next US runner to take the title in 6:27. Incredible. Alexandra Morozova 2nd in 6:31 and Charne Bosman who was defending champ was 3rd in 6:39. Good year for the US with three other ladies in the top-10, Sarah Bard, Colleen De Reuck and Devon Yanko 6th, 7th and 10th.
2014 winner Bongmusa Mthembu ran 5:35 for victory ahead of Hatiwande Nyamade in 5:38 and Gift Kelehe in 5:41. The UK’s Steve Way was 9th in 5:49 – a great gold medal.
00:36:00 Lets go to an interview with CAMILLE HERRON
Ultra SkyMarathon Madeira
The UK’s Jon Albon ran a great and perfectly paced race not only take victory but smash the old course record by 15-minutes in 5:45. Aurelien Dunand-Pallaz had lead the race from the front but faded in the last third of the race, he still made 2nd ahead of Dimitry Mityaev, their times 5:55 aND 6:07.
USA’s Hillary Allen progressed her Skyrunning career with victory after placing 2nd last year, Ekaterina Mityaev was 2nd and Elisabet Masanes 3rd, times 7:06, 7:34 and 8:35 respectively.
Bob Graham Round
The UK’s BGR is certainly becoming popular and although not an official time, Ryan Smith ran 14:17 – as far as we know, this is the second fastest time ever? It seems only a matter of time before the stars align and somebody betters the Billy Bland record – will it be Kilian?
In the last show we discussed the Dragons Back Race and I wanted to include an interview with Tom Withers who placed last almost running and walking twice as long as the male winner Marcus Scotney. He had a story to tell and I think for those ultra-runners who don’t understand how important the mind is, this interview will make it clear.
*Although the sound is generally good for the interview, we did have a few connection issues. I hope it doesn’t disrupt your listening pleasure.
01:36:00 Interview with TOM WITHERS
And finally Niandi brings us a great ‘one-on-one’ interview with Tania Hodgkinson
02:25:29 Interview with TANIA HODGKINSON
UP & COMING RACES
The website was down to provide us with our listings.
Please go to marathons.ahotu.com
03:02:18 CLOSE
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Please support Talk Ultra by becoming a Patron at www.patreon.com/talkultra and THANKS to all our Patrons who support us. Rand Haley and Simon Darmody get a mention on the show here for ‘Becoming 100k Runners’ with a high-tier Patronage.
I’m Ian Corless and he is Karl Meltzer.
Keep running
03:12:36
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Website – talkultra.com

Marathon des Sables 2017 Summary on IRUN4ULTRA

The 2017 Marathon des Sables concluded in April and here on IRUN4ULTRA is a summary of the daily action and a selection of images.

“It must be noted that the Marathon des Sables is so much more than elite runners going fast. The finish line is one full of stories, emotion, tears and laughter. The example of Louis from Luxembourg, Duncan Slater from the UK and so many more cannot go unnoticed.”

Go HERE to read the full post.

2017 IMAGE GALLERIES HERE

The Market – Morocco

“To visit Morocco is still like turning the pages of some illuminated Persian manuscript all embroidered with bright shapes and subtle lines.”

– Edith Wharton, 1927

 

It’s about escape, my time in a place. Wandering and looking from within. The rich treasures a place holds. The people about daily life – I sneak in, capture a moment and take it away trapped for ever for others to see.

“… I wish I could tell you the wonder of the souks and marketplaces; the brilliant overflowing of spices, olives, fabrics; the witchcraft stalls; the fishmongers; the piles of mint and thyme scenting the air . . . and even more than this is the wonder of its becoming familiar, the sufficiency and contentment in knowing the names of things, the words to tell the taxi drivers, the sense and reason behind the lives of Moroccans …”

– Melissa Manlove, ‘Letter from Morocco’, Travelers’ Tales

Episode 133 – #MDS2017 Marathon des Sables Special w/ Elisabet Barnes and Tom Evans

Episode 133 of Talk Ultra is all about the 32nd edition of the Marathon des Sables. The show is co-hosted by the 2015 and now 2017 ladies’ champion Elisabet Barnes and we have a full and in-depth interview with top Brit and 3rd overall, Tom Evans.
Talk Ultra is now on Tunein – just another way to make the show available for those who prefer not to use iTunes – HERE  You can download the Tunein APP HERE
Talk Ultra needs your help! 
We have set up a Patreon page and we are offering some great benefits for Patrons… you can even join us on the show! This is the easiest way to support Talk Ultra and help us continue to create! 
Many thanks to our Patrons who have helped via PATREON
Donate HERE
Read about the 2017 32nd Marathon des Sables HERE
New races added to the Marathon des Sable brand
Half Marathon des Sables Fuertaventura HERE
Marathon des Sable Peru HERE
Are you dreaming of giant dunes, amazing adventure, sharing, and introspection? Are you fascinated by South America? Do you like feeling the excitement of new adventures? If so, go down in history by being the first to walk or run in the footsteps of the Incas: come and join us at the end of November for the very first MDS PERU!
What: 250 km, 7 days of race, 6 stages, in food self-sufficiency conditions
When: from 24 November to 4 December 2017
Where: in the Ica desert, Peru
Who: YOU!
MDS PERU will be taking place in the Ica desert, 300 km south of Lima. You’ll discover the most beautiful South-American desert and will move about in one of the world’s driest regions, with huge dunes and sandy plateaux perched between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes cordillera.
01:09:46 – INTERVIEW with TOM EVANS
UP & COMING RACES

Australia

Queensland

50 km | 50 kilometers | April 23, 2017 | website

Victoria

Maroondah Dam 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | April 30, 2017 | website

Austria

K65 Panorama Ultra Trail | 60 kilometers | April 29, 2017 | website
K85-SCOTT Heart of the Alps Ultra | 85 kilometers | April 29, 2017 | website

Belgium

Wallonia

57 km | 57 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website
La Bouillonnante – 56 km | 56 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website

Canada

British Columbia

50K | 50 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website

Ontario

Pick Your Poison 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | April 29, 2017 | website

China

Dalian 100 | 100 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website
Dalian 50 | 50 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website

Denmark

Hovedstaden

Salomon Hammer Trail Bornholm -100 Miles | 100 miles | May 05, 2017 | website

France

Alpes-Maritimes

Ultra Trail des Balcons d’Azur (80+25) | 105 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website
Ultra Trail des Balcons d’Azur (UTBA) | 80 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website

Ardèche

57 km | 57 kilometers | April 30, 2017 | website
Ultra Trail l’Ardéchois | 98 kilometers | April 30, 2017 | website

Aveyron

Le Saint-Guiral | 60 kilometers | April 30, 2017 | website
Relais x 4 | 105 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website
Trail du Capuchadou | 50 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website
Ultra du Pas du Diable | 120 kilometers | April 30, 2017 | website
Ultra Trans Aubrac | 105 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website

Bas-Rhin

Trail du Wurzel | 52 kilometers | April 23, 2017 | website

Deux-Sèvres

Course nature | 84 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website

Dordogne

100 km de Belvès en Périgord Noir | 100 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website

Finistère

50 km | 50 kilometers | May 01, 2017 | website

Manche

60 km | 60 kilometers | April 30, 2017 | website

Morbihan

118 km | 118 kilometers | April 29, 2017 | website
64 km | 64 kilometers | April 29, 2017 | website
Relais 65 km | 65 kilometers | April 29, 2017 | website

Rhône

Ultra Beaujolais Villages Trail | 62 kilometers | April 29, 2017 | website

Savoie

Nivolet – Revard | 51 kilometers | April 30, 2017 | website

Seine-et-Marne

Grand Trail du Sonneur | 66 kilometers | April 30, 2017 | website
Ultra Trail de la Brie des Morin | 87 kilometers | April 30, 2017 | website

Seine-Maritime

Le RaDicAtrAil – 110 km | 110 kilometers | April 29, 2017 | website
Le RaDicAtrAil – 57 km | 57 kilometers | April 30, 2017 | website

Vaucluse

95km relais x2 | 95 kilometers | April 29, 2017 | website
95km relais x4 | 95 kilometers | April 29, 2017 | website
95 km solo | 95 kilometers | April 29, 2017 | website

Vendée

80 km | 80 kilometers | April 30, 2017 | website

Vosges

Trail des Roches | 73 kilometers | April 30, 2017 | website

Yvelines

Germany

Baden-Württemberg

Lauf “Rund um Wolfach” | 50 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website

Lower Saxony

HeXenStieg Ultralauf | 219 kilometers | April 28, 2017 | website
Hexentanz | 104 kilometers | April 29, 2017 | website

Rhineland-Palatinate

53 km | 53 kilometers | May 01, 2017 | website

Saxony

Sächsische Mt. Everest Treppenmarathon | 84390 meters | April 22, 2017 | website

Greece

Doliho Ultra-Marathon | 255 kilometers | April 28, 2017 | website
Olympian Race – 180 km | 180 kilometers | April 23, 2017 | website
Olympian Race – 62 km | 62 kilometers | April 23, 2017 | website

Hungary

Mátrabérc Trail | 55 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website

Indonesia

100 km | 100 kilometers | May 05, 2017 | website
60 km | 60 kilometers | May 05, 2017 | website

Ireland

Galway

Connemara Ultramarathon | 39 miles | April 23, 2017 | website

Italy

Emilia-Romagna

50 KM di Romagna | 50 kilometers | April 25, 2017 | website

Lombardy

UMS Ultramaratona Milano Sanremo | 280 kilometers | April 29, 2017 | website

Tuscany

Elba Trail “Eleonoraxvincere” | 54 kilometers | April 23, 2017 | website
The Abbots Way | 125 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website
Tuscany Crossing Val d’Orcia 100 km | 100 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website
Tuscany Crossing Val d’Orcia 50 km | 50 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website

Japan

Challenge Fuji 5 Lakes – 100 km | 100 kilometers | April 23, 2017 | website
Challenge Fuji 5 Lakes – 112 km | 112 kilometers | April 23, 2017 | website
Challenge Fuji 5 Lakes – 72 km | 72 kilometers | April 23, 2017 | website
Fuji Five Lakes 100 km Challenge | 100 kilometers | April 23, 2017 | website
Fuji Five Lakes 118 km Challenge | 118 kilometers | April 23, 2017 | website
Fuji Five Lakes 71 km Challenge | 71 kilometers | April 23, 2017 | website

Madagascar

Semi Trail des Ô Plateaux | 65 kilometers | May 05, 2017 | website
Ultra Trail des Ô Plateaux | 130 kilometers | May 05, 2017 | website

Martinique

Tchimbé Raid | 91 kilometers | May 05, 2017 | website

Mexico

Carrera de Baja Mexican Trail | 100 kilometers | April 23, 2017 | website

Namibia

Sahara Race (Namibia) 2017 | 250 kilometers | April 30, 2017 | website

Norway

KRSUltra 60k | 60 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website

Philippines

100 km | 102 kilometers | April 29, 2017 | website
50 km | 50 kilometers | April 29, 2017 | website

Portugal

Madeira Island Ultra Trail 115 | 116 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website
Madeira Island Ultra Trail 85 | 85 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website

Slovenia

110 km | 106 kilometers | April 29, 2017 | website
50 km | 50 kilometers | April 29, 2017 | website

South Africa

50K | 50 kilometers | April 23, 2017 | website
Loskop Ultra Marathon | 50 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website
The Hobbit Journey 90 km | 100 kilometers | April 28, 2017 | website

Spain

Catalonia

72 km | 72 kilometers | April 29, 2017 | website
Ultra Trail Muntanyes de la Costa Daurada | 90 kilometers | April 29, 2017 | website

Extremadura

LXVII Milhas Romanas | 100 kilometers | April 21, 2017 | website

Valencian Community

CSP-115 | 118 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website
MIM Marató i Mitja | 63 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website

Sweden

100 miles | 100 miles | April 23, 2017 | website
200 Miles | 200 miles | April 22, 2017 | website
50 miles | 50 miles | April 23, 2017 | website
50 Miles Night | 50 miles | April 24, 2017 | website

Turkey

Iznik 130K Ultramarathon | 130 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website
Orhangazi Ultra Marathon 80K | 80 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website

United Kingdom

Aberdeen City

Great Lakeland 3Day | 90 miles | April 29, 2017 | website

County of Pembrokeshire

East Dunbartonshire

Highland ‘Fling’ | 53 miles | April 29, 2017 | website

Greater London

Thames Path 100 | 100 miles | April 29, 2017 | website

Hampshire

XNRG Pony Express Ultra | 60 miles | April 29, 2017 | website

Isle of Wight

Full Island Challenge | 106 kilometers | April 29, 2017 | website
Half Island Challenge | 56 kilometers | April 29, 2017 | website

North Yorkshire

The Fellsman | 60 miles | April 29, 2017 | website

Surrey

58 km | 58 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website
58 km Relay | 58 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website

USA

Alabama

Grand Viduta Stage Race | 43 miles | April 28, 2017 | website

Arizona

Sinister Night 54K Trail Run | 54 kilometers | April 29, 2017 | website

California

100K | 100 kilometers | April 29, 2017 | website
50K | 50 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website
50K | 50 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website
50K | 50 kilometers | April 29, 2017 | website
50 Miles | 50 miles | April 22, 2017 | website
Folsom Lake Trail 50K Run | 50 kilometers | April 29, 2017 | website
Lost Boys 50 Mile Trail Run | 50 miles | April 29, 2017 | website
Razorback 100K Endurance Race | 100 kilometers | April 24, 2017 | website
Razorback 100 Mile Endurance Race | 100 miles | April 24, 2017 | website
Razorback 50K Endurance Race | 50 kilometers | April 24, 2017 | website
Razorback 50 Mile Endurance Race | 50 miles | April 24, 2017 | website
Rodeo Beach Rumble 50K | 50 kilometers | April 29, 2017 | website

Colorado

100K | 100 kilometers | April 29, 2017 | website
50K | 50 kilometers | April 29, 2017 | website
50 Mile | 50 miles | April 29, 2017 | website

Connecticut

Jack Bristol Lake Waramaug 100k | 100 kilometers | April 30, 2017 | website
Jack Bristol Lake Waramaug 50k | 50 kilometers | April 30, 2017 | website
Jack Bristol Lake Waramaug 50M | 50 miles | April 30, 2017 | website

Delaware

Trap Pond 50K | 50 kilometers | April 23, 2017 | website

Florida

JWCorbett 50K | 50 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website
JWCorbett 50M | 50 miles | April 22, 2017 | website

Georgia

100k | 100 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website
100M | 100 miles | April 22, 2017 | website
50K | 50 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website
Double Top 100 km | 100 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website
Double Top 100 Mile | 100 miles | April 22, 2017 | website
Double Top 50 km | 50 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website
SweetH20 50K | 50 kilometers | April 29, 2017 | website

Idaho

Weiser 50k Ultra | 50 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website
Weiser 50k Ultra Relay | 50 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website

Indiana

Indiana Trail 100 | 100 miles | April 29, 2017 | website
Indiana Trail 50 | 50 miles | April 29, 2017 | website

Kansas

FlatRock 101K Ultra Trail Race | 101 kilometers | April 29, 2017 | website
Heartland 50 Mile Spring Race | 50 miles | April 29, 2017 | website

Maryland

BRRC Gunpowder Keg Ultra 50K Trail Race | 50 kilometers | April 29, 2017 | website
C&O Canal 100 | 100 miles | April 29, 2017 | website

Massachusetts

TARC Spring Classic 50K | 50 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website

Michigan

Running Fit Trail 50K | 50 kilometers | April 30, 2017 | website
Trail 50K | 50 kilometers | April 30, 2017 | website
Traverse City Trail Running Festival 50k Run | 50 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website

Minnesota

Trail Mix Race MN – 50K Ultra | 50 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website

Missouri

Frisco Railroad Run 50k Ultramarathon | 50 kilometers | April 29, 2017 | website
Frisco Railroad Run 50 Mile Ultramarathon | 50 miles | April 29, 2017 | website

New York

Sybil Ludington 50K Run | 50 kilometers | April 29, 2017 | website

Pennsylvania

3 Person Relay | 50 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website
6 Person Relay | 50 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website
Hyner Ultra Challenge 50K | 50 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website
Solo Run | 50 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website
The Ironmasters Challenge – 50K Ultra | 50 kilometers | April 30, 2017 | website

South Carolina

Blind Pig 100K Ultra Marathon | 100 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website
Blind Pig 100 Mile Ultra Marathon | 100 miles | April 22, 2017 | website
Xterra Myrtle Beach 50 km Trail Run | 50 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website

Texas

Double Marathon | 52 miles | April 29, 2017 | website

Utah

Salt Flats 100 | 100 miles | April 28, 2017 | website
Salt Flats 50K | 50 kilometers | April 28, 2017 | website
Salt Flats 50 Miles | 50 miles | April 28, 2017 | website

Virginia

50K | 50 kilometers | April 29, 2017 | website
50 Mile | 50 miles | April 29, 2017 | website
70 Miles | 70 miles | April 29, 2017 | website
Biffledinked 10 x 5k | 50 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website
Biffledinked 10 x 5k 2 Person Relay | 50 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website
Colonial200 Relay | 200 miles | April 28, 2017 | website
Promise Land 50K | 50 kilometers | April 29, 2017 | website

Washington

50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | April 23, 2017 | website
Capitol Peak 50 miler | 50 miles | April 29, 2017 | website
Mt. Si 50K Relay & Ultra Runs | 50 kilometers | April 23, 2017 | website
Mt. Si 50 Mile Relay & Ultra Runs | 50 miles | April 23, 2017 | website
Snake River Island Hop 100K | 100 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website
Snake River Island Hop 50K | 50 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website
Spokane River Run 50K | 50 kilometers | April 23, 2017 | website
XTERRA Spring Eagle 50K | 50 kilometers | April 29, 2017 | website
Yakima Skyline Rim 50k | 50 kilometers | April 22, 2017 | website

Washington D.C.

Relay | 150 miles | April 29, 2017 | website
02:39:45
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I’m Ian Corless and she is Elisabet Barnes.
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Marathon des Sables 2017 #MDS – Stage Five 42.2km

Rachid El Morabity and Elisabet Barnes are the 2017 Marathon des Sables champions! The displayed consistency, pacing and a strong mental approach to once again top the podium in a race that started multi-day racing an astonishing 32-years ago!

The fifth and final timed stage of the 32nd edition was the ‘classic’ marathon distance. The course started with a short section of rocky plateau and then dunes. At 5.5km a dried Oued with crevasse provided an early challenge and then at11km a small gorge introduced the runners to a stony Oued. From 22km the course alternated dunes and stony plateaus and at 37km the old town of M’fis situated on a hill provided a glimpse of the final bivouac in the distance. It was all downhill from here to close out the 42.2km course.

After a week of pure calm, the winds on the final day arrived causing sandstorms and twisters. Elisabet Barnes lead the early stages of the ladies’ race and then eventually Nathalie Mauclair finally took over the charge, no doubt trying to prove a point on the last day. Barnes kept the French lady in sight and the duo crossed the line in 3:52:17 and 3:54:31 respectively – Elisabet Barnes the champion of 2017.

Fernanda Maciel placed 3rd as she has done for much of the week, her time 4:14:32 and Emilie Lecomte 4th in 4:22:09. Aziza Raji placed 5th and the ladies’ top-5 was complete.

Despite an early charge by Thomas Evans, Rachid El Morabity seized the day as he has done most of the week showing a masterclass of running in the Sahara. He pipped his brother Mohamad (a star of the future) by just 7-seconds, 3:10:08 to 3:10:15.

Aziz El Akad and Abdelaziz Baghazza beat Evans to the line 3:11:19 and 3:14:13 to 3:16:20 – the week confirms Evans as a class act and one who has shown great humility to fellow runners.

Of course, the MDS is so much more than just runners going fast.

The finish line is one full of stories, emotion, tears and laughter – race director Patrick Bauer, stays on the line and experiences every single one with each and every runner. Some of the stories and images will follow in the coming weeks! But for now let me leave you with two magical moments…

Congratulations go to all those who completed the 32nd Marathon des Sables and a huge nod is forwarded to those who attempted a tough, challenging and inspiring MDS and did not cross the line!

Final results and stage results HERE

Marathon des Sables 2017 #MDS – Stage Four 86.2km

Two start times, 0815 and 1115, the same distance – a gruelling 82.2km of the best of what the Sahara has to offer, incredible views and at times brutal terrain with intense heat.

The route echoed much of the 2016 edition passing early through the oasis of El Maharch, a flat dried up lake before the first couple of climbs of the day starting at 10km. Cp1 offered some refreshment before the climb of Mhadid Al Elahau followed by a high level plateau traverse before a fast and thrilling sandy descent. Heading south a great deal of soft sand took the runners to Cp2 and then climbing a path, the runners came back on themselves through the nest valley. Cp3 to Cp4 was a long sand passage that eventually crossed a Oued. Cp4 to Cp5 and Cp5 to Cp6 were relentless dunes to sap the mind and energy. The push from Cp6 to bivouac via Cp7 was relatively flat but continually sandy – a tough day in Morocco!

The day in many ways unfolded at the front as one may have anticipated with Rachid El Morabity and Nathalie Mauclair taking stage victories. However, the story was not clear cut.

Mauclair took the race to Elisabet Barnes in a last ditch effort for victory. It was expected by everyone, after all, Mauclair is a long distance specialist. Through half the race the gap between the two hovered around 3-4 minutes. From Cp5, Mauclair extended her lead over Barnes but the 2015 Marathon des Sables champion dug in, used her flat running speed and closed on the French lady. Mauclair took victory in 9:39:58 and Barnes crossed the tape in 9:41:16 – job done! With the marathon stage to follow tomorrow, Barnes is in a strong perdition for a 2nd victory at this iconic race. Fernanda Maciel, also a long distance specialist, followed the duo ahead and she finished in 10:00:58. Emilie Lecomte was 4th.

In the men’s race, Rachid ran behind a lead pack that continually changed for much of the day. He never quite looked his fresh self but he pulled it out of the bag as he has done so many times before. He finished in an impressive 8:16:44.

Man of the day was British runner Thomas Evans who set his stall out on day 1 and has played the Moroccans at their own game. He has impressed day-on-day and on the long stage he didn’t sit back and defend, he attacked. At times leading the race. His efforts were rewarded with 2nd in 8:27:46. The margin of time behind him and El Morabity does not reflect a stunning performance! Rachid’s brother Mohamad placed 3rd and then Abdelaziz Baghazza and Remigio Huaman in 8:28:33, 8:41:42 and 8:43:39 respectively.

As I write this, runners are still out on the course enduring another day that will test them to the limit. Don’t listen to anyone who says ‘this’ is an easy race – it is not! So many are fighting demons, some fail, but the grit and determination is inspiring. For example, two people have inspired me – Duncan from the UK who is participating with two prosthetic legs and Louis from Luxembourg who has no arms – inspiring!

The fifth stage of the 2017 Marathon des Sables if the classic marathon stage of 42.2km and medals will be awarded on the line. The race is Rachid El Morabity and Elisabet Barnes for the taking – four sections of dunes will not make it easy!

Marathon des Sables 2017 #MDS – Stage Three 31.6km

Day 2 of the 32nd Marathon des Sables was a tough one. The general mood in bivouac was one of exhaustion, fatigue, tiredness and the question – ‘How will I do it all again tomorrow?’

On the stroke of 0830, the remaining runners were released on a truly spectacular but tough and challenging day 3.

Just 2km out of camp dunes waited and a sandy passage through two mountains, Running through a Oued, the first challenge of the day came at 7.4km with a sandy passage and steep climb to the summit of Joua Baba Ali jebel and then a technical path lead to Cp1 at 10km. From here a small section of flat running preceded arguably one of the highlights of the 32nd Marathon des Sables – the second section of Joua Baba Ali jebel. This section is ‘skyrunning’ in nature – technical, exposed and a real challenge. A sandy descent lead to the flat valley and a long flat run to Cp2 before the tough and challenging climb to the summit of El Oftal jebel. Descending down a stony gulley, dunes followed and then a flat and expansive run to the bivouac concluded the 31.6km day.

The day started with Rachid El Morabity bidding his time and running a little behind his Moroccan friends. However, the early stages saw a charge from Remigio Human, Andy Symonds and Thomas Evans. Was he El Morabity struggling? The simple answer is no! After Cp2 he regained the front of the race and although he didn’t pull away and gain a huge margin, win the day he did! El Morabity crossed the day 3 finish in a ridiculous 2:33:14, his brother Mohamad was 2nd in 2:34:25 and then Abdelaziz Baghazza, Abdelkader El Mouaziz and Thomas Evans took the remaining top-5 placings in 2:34:26, 2:35:59 and 2:38:53 respectively. I think they were all thinking of the ‘long-day’ of 80km tomorrow!

Elisabet Barnes lead from the front once again and it remained that way all the way to the end. However, the technical terrain allowed Nathalie Mauclair to keep her much closer in sight and at times they were just seconds apart. It was in the flatter final stages that Barnes opened a little time crossing in 3:13:07 to Mauclair’s 3:15:14. Fernanda Maciel one again returned to form finishing 3rd in 3:27:11. However, Barnes took a fall today after being distracted on the course. At the finish she has received an injection and stitches… I have no other information at the moment and will report back after chatting in bivouac. Melanie Rousset, Emilie Lecomte and Aziza Raji took the other top-6 places in 3:28:02, 3:33:44, and 3:47:23.

Attention now turns to the much feared ‘long-day!’ At 86.2km and a 35h cut-off, this day will be a challenge for all. There are two starts with the majority of the race leaving at 08:15 and the top-runners departing at 11:15.

Results available HERE

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Marathon des Sables 2017 #MDS – Stage Two 39km

The mood in bivouac on the second morning of the 32nd edition of the Marathon des Sables was one of mixed emotions. Satisfaction on completing day one, a good nights sleep and then the daunting contrast of a ‘tough’ day two and 39km with some significant technical and sandy terrain.

An 0830 start would allow runners a little more time to complete the stage – the cut-off was 11h 30min.

Heading south the early km’s were full of sand, dunes and climbing – Bou Laadam Jebel a significant marker at 5km. A plateau and then a steady sandy climb at 8.5km would lead to Cp1 at 12.8km. The next 12km would follow a southerly direction of sand, hills and dunes. Cp2 would offer some recovery before the push to Cp3. Dunes would sap the runners energy here and then a tough climb would lead to the highest point of the day via a gulley of rock. Elotfal jebel offered stunning views and then a steep sandy descent before the final Cp3 and a flat run to bivouac.

Day 2 was all about Rachid El Morabity and Elisabet Barnes. The duo dominated the day from the front and have well and truly laid a foundation for potential victory in the 32nd edition of the Marathon des Sables. Of course, there is still a long way to go…

El Morabity ran within himself till Cp1 but then opened up a gap leaving the rest to follow. The men’s field was spread throughout the sand, dunes and plateaus of Morocco – El Morabity was having none of the group running of day 1.

Abdelkader El Mouaziz, Mohamed El Morabity and Thomas Evans followed but they were not match for the MDS master. At the line, the gaps were significant. El Morabity crossed in 3:04:52 and then it was 3:12:15, 3:14:31 and 3:14:35 for El Mouaziz, El Morabity (younger brother) and Evans. Aziz Ek Akad placed 5th and Andy Symonds 6th.

In the ladies race, Elisabet Barnes is showing the form that gained her victory in 2015. She looks relaxed, happy and focussed. Last year’s second place Nathalie Mauclair commented on how strong she was running. Barnes lead from the front and never looked back, just as day 1, a way she like to run. She crossed the line in 3:49:04.

Following behind there was a change with Fernanda Maciel returning to form and pipping Mauclair to 2nd, the times 4:00:42 and 4:04:14 respectively. Emilie Lecomte placed 4th, Aziza Jaji 5th and rising star Jennifer Hill 6th.

FULL RESULTS HERE

The third stage will start 0830 and a distance of 31.6km and a 10h 30m cut-off will be applied.

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Marathon des Sables 2017 #MDS – Stage One 30.3km

 

On the stroke of 0900, the 32nd edition of Marathon des Sables began! The roar of the helicopter followed the runners as they were released from the line with a relatively flat, sandy 30.3km of the Sahara ahead.

Pre race nerves suddenly disappeared and months-upon-months of training and preparation could finally be put to use in the sands of Morocco.

As usual, race director Patrick Bauer warned the runners of how heat, dehydration and the desert brings a very unique challenge.

The route travelled south via a stony plateau and the first 6km were inaccessible by vehicle. A line of dunes followed that took the runners all the way to Cp1. From here, the direction of ESE and the east brought more flat but soft sand. A rolling landscape preceded Cp2 and then small rolling dunes, a rocky plateau and a small sand climb introduced the runners to the highpoint of the day and the sight of bivouac in the distance. A following 2.5km stony plateau resulted in the end of day-1.

The ladies’ race was all about 2015 Marathon des Sables champion Elisabet Barnes. Today she ran strong, confident and looked in incredible shape showing all the ladies a clean pair of heels. As she ran past me she shouted, ‘I feel great and I am loving it!’

Even 2016 second placed lady, Nathalie Mauclair could not keep up. Aziza Raji followed and then Fernanda Maciel, Emilie Lecomte and Melanie Rousset.

At the line, Barnes finished in 02:38:13, Mauclair 2nd in 2:44:57 and Raji 2:54:36.

The mens’ race was all about Brit, Thomas Evans. He but the Moroccan quartet of Rachid El Morabity, Mohamed El Morabity, Abdelkader El Mouaziz and Hammou Moudouji under real pressure as they pursued him through the sand and dunes of the 30.3km stage.

Always holding him in sight, it was like a stage of the Tour de France as the Moroccans took it in turns to pace and hold him at 1-200m. It was in the final kilometre they made a move. 2016 MDS champion Rachid was outsprinted by his brother Mohamad, El Mouaziz placed 3rd and Evans held on for 4th. The times, 2:10:36, 2:10:54, 2:11:17 and 2:11:58 respectively.

The 2017 edition for the race is going to be exciting!

Stage 2 is a tough stage of 39km. The start will be at 0830 and the cut-off is 11h 30mins.

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