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.
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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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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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Marathon des Sables 2017 #MDS – Registration Day

It’s hot… I know it’s the Sahara but today has been hot!

After a day of travel, some 1200 runners arrived in bivouac yesterday and settled to a first night in the Sahara. A meal, some admin and it was an early night. The winds increased with darkness and the general comment in camp the following morning was, “Wow, it got cold last night!”

It caused some last minute anxiety as today is bag drop day and therefore after registration all runners are wearing and carrying everything they need for the week. I could see a few warm layers being taken from cases and added to packs… they can always be thrown away later!

Today is a long day as everyone just wants to run. However, all admin procedures must be undertaken at specified time slots.

Firstly luggage is left and it will not be seen till after the race. Passport and identity is checked and then an overview of medical forms. Packs are weighed for a minimum 6.5kg and in some scenarios checked for mandatory kit. A Spot tracker is added to the runners packs, numbers are collected, timing chips activated and that’s it. The process takes about 2-hours in the heat of the day.

Bivouac is spread over a large area and in each tent, which hold 8-people there is carnage as last minute planning takes place.

As the evening approaches, the last full meal is provided. On waking, self-sufficiency takes over and the runners will start, well and truly, the 32nd edition of Marathon des Sables.

Day 1 is 30.03km with a 10-hour cut-off time.

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The 2017 32nd Marathon des Sables Preview #MDS

The 32nd MARATHON DES SABLES draws near and as usual, we take a look at several of the main contenders who will toe the line looking to place on the podium of this iconic race. We look at some of the impressive statistics and we preview at the route the runners will need to cover.

Since 1986, over 20,000 participants have raced at the Marathon des Sables and over 1200 are registered for 2017. Of the 52 Nationalities represented, the British are the largest contingent followed by the French.

2017 ROUTE SUMMARY

The 32nd edition will cover 250km in five timed stages and one compulsory charity stage. Daily distances will vary from 30km to 90km. The only provision to runners is rationed water and a bivouac each night which must be shared with seven other runners. The race requires self-sufficiency and everything a runner needs must be carried for the duration of the race.

Day 1 – A relatively flat stage with small dunes, lots of sand and a slight climb to the finish. It’s a day when many runners go too fast. Tip: Ease into the race.

Day 2 – Will be a tough stage that is long with a great deal of sand. You will climb a gorge and run down a very steep descent. Tip: Tough day, keep focused, watch your pace and keep hydrated.

Day 3 – A climb starts the day and it is followed by rollercoaster terrain taking runners up and down. One section is very steep with technical passages. If that wasn’t enough, this stage contains the first ‘real’ dunes of the 32nd edition. Tip: One foot in-front of the other and remember the big day is tomorrow.

Day 4 – The long one: a feared and formidable stage. A lot of sand and some pitfalls for the feet. Two start times: 8.15 a.m. for most people and 11.15 a.m. for the first 50 men and the first 5 women. It’s a day of much sand and difficult terrain underfoot – be careful not to fall! Two passages through small gorges, a climb up a djebel, a roller coaster through the sand, and a technical descent add to a tough day. Tip: Watch out for the heat and manage the night carefully! Get your head in the right place.

Day 5 – Two start times: 7 a.m. for the majority and 8.30 a.m. for the first 200 runners. Dunes at the start and then no major difficulties, however, be prepared for a hot stretch over a long plateau… Tip: If you finished the long day, the race is in the bag. Smile!

Day 6 – Compulsory charity stage.

 

THE TOP MEN AND WOMEN

Rachid El Morabity returns and is without doubt, once again, the host favorite for male victory. Russian Natalia Sedyh, who won the race in 2016 has decided not to return in 2017 and this leaves the door open for 2015 MDS champion Elisabet Barnes but it will be no easy run – 2017 is arguably one of the strongest female line-ups the race has seen.

THE WOMEN RACE

Nathalie Mauclair placed 2nd in 2016 and Fernanda Maciel placed 3rd, with Natalya not returning, could victory go to one of these very strong ladies? Of course, yes! They both now know the race better, they will have adjusted their training and equipment and will arrive prepared. Nathalie has won Diagonale des Fous twice and has been trail World Champion twice – this combination of speed and endurance is just what is required in the Sahara.

Fernanda Maciel, like Nathalie, is a powerhouse on trails. A regular competitor on the UTWT she brings incredible experience to the race and a tenacity to push to the line.

Elisabet Barnes won MDS in 2015 and what has followed is a string of world-class performances in multi-day races all over the world – Australia, South Africa, Costa Rica, USA and so on. Elisabet loves the Sahara and this year has stepped up her training and prepared meticulously for the 32nd edition.

Emilie Lecomte will run MDS for the first time in 2017 but last year, pipped Elisabet Barnes to victory at the Grand To Grand in the USA. Emilie is a specialist in long races and the multi-day format suits her. She still holds the FKT for the GR20 in Corsica and like Nathalie has won the Diagonale des Fous.

 

Ester Alves from Portugal won The Coastal Challenge in 2016 and this year placed 3rd. Like the ladies’ above she is a fierce competitor and although this is her first foray into the Sahara, I have a feeling we will see her contend for the top 5, if not the podium.

Our women’s top ten to watch:

Aziza Raji is the Moroccan hope. She won the race in 2008 and 2009 but the speed of the race has increased and she is unlikely to contend with the other top elites.

Lizzie Wraith from the UK is a strong runner who will be under the radar here in the Sahara – watch out, she may surprise many people! Lizzie made the podium at the UK’s tough, Dragons Back Race.

Mélanie Rousset is attempting MDS for the first time but has a string of top-10 results at Diagonale des Fous and UTMB.

Nahila Hernandez San Juan from Mexico placed 8th at MDS in 2009 and was 5th at Badwater 135 in 2013.

Marie Eve Trudel a newcomer to ultra but placed 4th at the Grand To Grand in 2015.

Amy Costa winner of the Badwater 135 in 2013.

Kerri Kanuga 6th at Badwater in 2016.

THE MEN RACE

Rachid El Morabity, Samir Akhdar, Aziz El Akad and Abdelkader El Mouaziz are the strong men on this 32nd MARATHON DES SABLES. Rachid has won the race in 2011, 2014, 2015 and 2016 – do you want to bet against him?

Samir Akhdar is a MDS regular but his best result came in 2015 when he placed 4th. In 2017, he has the potential for 2nd or 3rd. Equally, Aliza El Akad although he is getting on in years, his seven completions at MDS and all within the top-5 would suggest he will continue that consistency.

This year the race does not have Chema Martinez from Spain or Danny Kendall from the UK. Therefore, the great European hope comes with a trio of Brits.

Andy Symonds is a world-class runner who has made the podium all over the world in iconic ultras. Although this is his first MDS he has the running skill to be up there! It all depends if he has adapted to the pack and the additional weight.

Nathan Montague is coming to the race with clear intentions to do well and ideally be the first Brit and hopefully that highest placed Brit ever. He’s a fast runner with some impressive times for 50km and 100km.

Damian Hall has been top-20 at UTMB and placed on the podium at The Spine. He raced in Costa Rica in 2016 with an excellent performance against a world-class field. Like Andy, Damian is on a MDS learning curve but he has the potential to do well.

Moroccans may well provide the competition for the other Moroccans. Abdelkader El Mouaziz is a 2:06 marathon runner and has won London Marathon in 1999 and 2001. He may well be slower now with the passing of the years but class is permanent. His highest placing at MDS is 2nd – one to watch!

Miguel Capo Soler was 3rd at MDS in 2013 and is the most experienced non-Moroccan who will potentially contend the top-10 placing. In recent years, he has run at The Coastal Challenge and Everest Trail Race.

Our men’s top ten to watch:

Mustapha Ait Amar finished MDS 13-times and was 12th in 2012.

Andrew Fargus placed 11th at MDS in 2013.

Luca Papi is a novice MDS runner but brings a wealth of experience.

Marco Olmo is a legend of ultra-trail and MDS – he will not contend the podium but he will be up around the top-20. Not bad for a 68-year old!

Notable mentions for blind runner Didier Benguigu who aged 67 will participate in his 13th MDS.

Also, Duncan Slater from the UK who lost both legs during a mission in Afghanistan. He did not complete in 2016 due to medical complications – he’s back this year for the medal!

Finally…

1216 runners will toe the line and the youngest male is Oscar Daglish from the UK who is just 16-years old. He will be running with his father who has already completed MDS.

The youngest female is Emily Rolfe, also from the UK. Emily will also run with her father.

Claude Leonardi from France is the oldest male runner. The 32nd edition will be his 5th time on the race, not bad for 80-years old!

Edda Hanna Bauer got into sport late, she ran her first marathon and 60. Now aged 72 she has made up for it clocking up 26 marathons and 63 ultra-marathons.

Crazy Statistics of the MDS

“The logistics are a big headache and we organize every detail in advance! We’re a village of 2,000 people that must be set up and dismantled every day. We need to be self-sufficient in energy, food, water and fuel. As one of my friends says, ‘Let’s expect the worst because the best will never surprise us!’ We also benefit from the infallible support of the Royal Moroccan Army, which makes available about 25 6WD military trucks to transport all of our equipment.” – Patrick Bauer

You must see Marathon des Sables t appreciate the size and scale of the event. It’s like the largest moving circus you will ever see and it’s impressive to witness.

Following statistics provided by the Marathon des Sables office:

▪      150 volunteers to supervise the race,

▪      450 general support staff,

▪      120,000 liters of bottled mineral water,

▪      300 Berber and Saharan tents,

▪      120 all-terrain vehicles and trucks,

▪      2 Squirrel helicopters and 1 Cessna plane,

▪      8 Transavia ‘MDS special’ commercial planes,

▪      30 buses,

▪      4 dromedaries,

▪      1 incinerator lorry for burning waste,

▪      5 quad bikes to monitor race environment and safety,

▪      72 medical staff,

▪      2.3kms of Elastoplast,

▪      12,200 compresses,

▪      6,000 painkillers,

▪      150 liters of disinfectant,

▪      1 editing bus,

▪      5 cameras,

▪      1 satellite image station,

▪      10 satellite telephones,

▪      30 computers, fax and internet,

▪      20,000 competitors since 1986

▪      3 runners aged 10-20, 108 aged 20-30, 314 aged 30-40, 491 aged 40-50, 299 aged 50-60, 66 aged 60-70 and 13 aged 70-80 years.

▪      14 km/hr.: average maximum speed, 3 km/hr.: average minimum speed,

▪      15 years of age for the youngest competitor and the oldest, 83!

30 Years of the MDS

1986 – Michel GALLIEZ (FRANCE) – Christiane PLUMERE (FRANCE)

1987 – Bernard GAUDIN (FRANCE) – Marie-Ange MALCUIT (FRANCE)

1988 – Bernard GAUDIN (FRANCE) – Marie-Ange MALCUIT (FRANCE)

1989 – Hassan SEBTAOUI (FRANCE) – Marie-Claude BATTISTELLI (FRANCE)

1990 – Hassan SEBTAOUI (FRANCE) – Claire GARNIER (FRANCE)

1991 – Hassan SEBTAOUI (FRANCE) – Monique FRUSSOTE (FRANCE)

1992 – Mohamed BENSALAH (MOROCCO) – Monique FRUSSOTE (FRANCE)

1993 – Mohamed BENSALAH (MOROCCO) – Irina PETROVNA (RUSSIA)

1994 – André DERKSEN (RUSSIA) – Valentina LIAKHOVA (RUSSIA)

1995 – André DERKSEN (RUSSIA) – Béatrice REYMANN (FRANCE)

1996 – André DERKSEN (RUSSIA) – Anke MOLKENTHIN (GERMANY)

1997 – Lahcen AHANSAL (MOROCCO) – Rosanna PELLIZZARI (ITALY)

1998 – Mohamad AHANSAL (MOROCCO) – Rosanna PELLIZZARI (ITALY)

1999 – Lahcen AHANSAL (MOROCCO) – Lisa SMITH (USA)

2000 – Lahcen AHANSAL (MOROCCO) – Pascale MARTIN (FRANCE)

2001 – Lahcen AHANSAL (MOROCCO) – Franca FIACCONI (ITALY)

2002 – Lahcen AHANSAL (MOROCCO) – Simone KAYSER (LUXEMBOURG)

2003 – Lahcen AHANSAL (MOROCCO) – Magali JUVENAL (FRANCE)

2004 – Lahcen AHANSAL (MOROCCO) – Simone KAYSER (LUXEMBOURG)

2005 – Lahcen AHANSAL (MOROCCO) – Simone KAYSER (LUX)

2006 – Lahcen AHANSAL (MOROCCO) – Géraldine COURDESSE (FRANCE)

2007 – Lahcen AHANSAL (MOROCCO) – Laurence KLEIN (FRANCE)

2008 – Mohamad AHANSAL (MOROCCO) – Touda DIDI (MOROCCO)

2009 – Mohamad AHANSAL (MOROCCO) – Touda DIDI (MOROCCO)

2010 – Mohamad AHANSAL (MOROCCO) – Monica AGUILERA (SPAIN)

2011 – Rachid EL MORABITY (MOROCCO) – Laurence KLEIN (FRANCE)

2012 – Salameh AL AQRA (JORDAN) – Laurence KLEIN (FRANCE)

2013 – Mohamad AHANSAL (MOROCCO) – Meghan HICKS (USA)

2014 – Rachid EL MORABITY (MOROCCO) – Nikki KIMBALL (USA)

2015 – Rachid EL MORABITY (MOROCCO) – Elisabet BARNES (SWE)

2016 – Rachid EL MORABITY (MOROCCO) – Natalya SEDYH (RUSSIA)

A brief history of the MDS:

1984: At 28 years of age, Patrick Bauer decided to make for the Sahara to try to traverse a 350km expanse of uninhabited desert, on foot, alone, where he wouldn’t come into contact with a single village, oasis or watering place. Totally self-sufficient, with a rucksack weighing 35kg and containing water and food, he set off on a journey that was to last 12 days. It was the starting point of what was to become the MARATHON DES SABLES.

1986: The creation of the first MDS in the Moroccan Sahara. The 23 pioneers who took the start never imagined that their footprints would mark the start of a legendary event, which has today become a must among the major adventure sport meets. The creation of a non-mechanical competition in the Moroccan sands offers adventure runners a wealth of new prospects.

1987: Creation of the MDS logo: the face of a runner covered by a keffiyeh, the eyes protected by a pair of sunglasses and the pipette from the runner’s water container clenched between the teeth.

1989: 170 competitors take the start of the race.

1991: The gulf drama puts the MDS at a disadvantage and the financial partners withdraw. Fortunately, some runners answer the call. For these competitors, the true victory lies in meeting athletes from different backgrounds and their communion in the desert around the same goal. Sport proves once again that it can bring people together and create bonds.

1992: One and the same regulation for everyone. This year sees the establishing of unexpected draconian tests, to ensure that each participant properly transports all his or her gear from one end of the course to the other. A 30-point charter is drawn up.

First participation by the Moroccan Lahcen Ahansal

1994: Arrival of the Doc Trotters at the event.

1995: 10th anniversary. Since the start, over 1,500 men and women have left their footprint and their passion in the desert. Installation of water-pump for the inhabitants of the village of Ighef n’rifi (South of Er-Rachidia) – an idea by competitor Gilles Flamant and backed by Rolland Barthes and Patrick Bauer. Its success is to be repeated again and again

1996: First participation by Mohamed, a younger sibling of Ahansal. The two Moroccan brothers set off together and rank 4th and 5th respectively.

1997: This year heralds the start of the Ahansal saga. Morocco is honored with Lahcen’s first victory. He beats his two pursuers by nearly 30 minutes, despite them being international long-distance running champions.

1999: A mobile hospital on the MDS comes into being. There are around thirty practitioners on the ground, with doctors and nurses joining the caravan. A dedicated helicopter and ten all-terrain vehicles track the competitors each day. On- board these vehicles there are doctors of course, as well as high-tech equipment. The village boasts a genuine field hospital.

2000: Internet appears in the large MDS village. The organization decides to broadcast the texts and photos of the race live, day after day. The competitors can communicate with their nearest and dearest and receive messages of encouragement.

2001: For the first time the long leg, traditionally called “The 70”, exceeds the 80km barrier to reach 82km. The threshold of 240km is also surpassed since the 16th MARATHON DES SABLES spans 243km. Another first relates to the fact that there are no Moroccans on the podium this year.

2002: This edition is punctuated by a sandstorm, involving headwinds, which lasts the entire week. The doctors invent a machine for ‘low pressure cleansing’ to rinse out the runners’ eyes. Despite the difficult conditions, there are few retirements to report as the wind considerably reduces the temperature.

2005: The Luxembourg runner Simone Kayser is the first woman to win 3 MARATHON DES SABLES. For this 20th edition, the total number of runners exceeds 700 for the first time, with no fewer than 777 runners taking the start.

2006: A drying wind and very high humidity levels cause damage to the runners’ bodies. Despite additional allocations of water, a whole series of retirements ensues. There is a total of 146 retirements ultimately, which equates to double that of the previous record… Race management decides to shorten the long leg by over 10km given how tired the runners seem.

2008: The Solidarité MDS association is created. The aim: to develop projects to assist children and disadvantaged populations in the domains of health, education and sustainable development in Morocco. 

2009: MDS is disrupted by flooding and the 1st and 6th stages are not able to take place. To avoid the flood zones, the organization is obliged to improvise new legs on a day-to-day basis. In this way, the edition goes down in legend for its 3rd leg, which is the longest ever contested: 92km of sand, loose stones and rocks… The leg even sees the retirement of Lahcen Ahansal… At the prize giving the 2 winners admit to having competed in their hardest MDS. However, it was also the shortest: 202km.

2010: For its 25th edition, the number of participations reaches a record high of 1,013 participants. It is to be the longest MARATHON DES SABLES. It spans 250 kilometers with a course considered by former entrants to be the most difficult ever organized.

2012: A dramatic turn of events on the longest leg as the then leader in the overall standing, Rachid El Morabity (MAR) injures himself one kilometer from the finish. Medical examinations reveal a serious muscular lesion in the quadriceps. After over five years on the 2nd or 3rd step of the podium, Jordanian Salameh Al Aqra secures the title.

2013: 1,027 competitors on the start line make this a new participation record. New feature: a final “Charity” stage sponsored by UNICEF and traversing the Merzouga dunes round off the race. Sports wise, Mohamad Ahansal and Megan Hicks are the champions of the 231.5km event. On a human level, all the finishers pull off their crazy bet.

2014: 2011 winner, Moroccan Rachid El Morabity (MAR) wins the overall ranking and takes Mohamad Ahansal’s crown. In the women’s category, another American stamps her mark, Nikki Kimball. The French revelation is one Michaël Gras, 22 years of age, 8th overall and top Frenchman. A major athletics star, Moroccan Hicham El Guerrouj lines up to take the start of Saturday’s Unicef Charity leg.

You can follow the 2017 Marathon des Sables on this website.

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On Twitter – @talkultra

 

Please remember, communications in the Sahara will be sporadic and we will upload content as and when possible.

Episode 131 – Tom Owens, Jo Meek and Inge Nijkamp

Episode 131 of Talk Ultra and we bring you an interview with TCC winner, Tom Owens. We also speak with Jo Meek who recently placed on the podium in Hong Kong at Translantau 100km. Niandi brings us a ‘one-on-one’ interview with Inge Nijkamp. We have the news and ultra-chat!

Niandi still is injured but back in the pool

Ian has been to Bulgaria w/ Dean Karnazes, Sean Conway and more…

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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! 

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Niandi is joining me and yes, her foot is still in a moon boot. How’s the fracture?

Lets kick off with Niandi’s next ‘one-on-one’ interviews, this week she talks with Inge Nijkamp who attended our training camp in Lanzarote. In early April, Inge will toe the line at MDS and here Niandi discusses balances life, children and how you fit it all in…

INTERVIEW with INGE NIJKAMP

NEWS

Chuckanut 50k

Max King once again showed his speed ahead of Hayden Hawks. However, both went under to old CR! It was close with Hawks just over 30 seconds back. Max gets an auto qualifier for the IAU Trail World Champs. Sage Canaday placed 3rd.

Ladia Albertson-Junkans (?) won the race in 4:17 and the IAU slot ahead of Yiou Wang and Rachel Jaten

Trail du Ventoux

Marc Lauenstein and Caroline Chaverot too top honours in a race that also gave IAU qualificition. Lauenstein from Switzerland didn’t qulify (obviously) for the French place and this went to UTMB winner Ludovic Pommeret.

Kilian Jornet

Kilian announced his year! Everest figures and an attempt at the Bob Graham Round.

Surprisingly, his run calendar is full, no doubt due to the run series that is currently a little under the radar…. Mont Blanc Marathon, Sierre Zinal, a return to a super stacked UTMB and of course Hardrock 100 and Ultra Pirineu figure. From a UK perspective, KJ will race at Glen Coe which is awesome news.

Antelope Island Buffalo Run

Great to see Sondre Amdahl take the win for the men and Sage Balloock Dixon for the ladies – 6:45 and 8:087 respectively.

Translantau 100km

Harry Jones from the UK took the win ahead of Jacky Leung and Jeremy Ritcey, their times 12:47, 13:28 and 13:44. Marie McNaughton 14:10 once agin won the ladies’ race ahead of Brit Jo Meek 15:05 and  Wei-Ling Tseng 17:42.

I caught up with Jo to hear about the race.

INTERVIEW with JO MEEK

INTERVIEW with TOM OWENS

UP & COMING RACES

Algeria

Ultramarathon des Ziban | 100 kilometers | April 06, 2017 | website

Argentina

50 km | 50 kilometers | April 02, 2017 | website

80 km | 80 kilometers | April 02, 2017 | website

Patagonia Run 130k | 130 kilometers | April 07, 2017 | website

Australia

Victoria

100 km | 100 kilometers | April 01, 2017 | website

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

Down Under 135 | 135 miles | April 07, 2017 | website

Ultra SkyMarathon | 75 kilometers | March 25, 2017 | website

Belgium

Wallonia

55 km | 55 kilometers | March 25, 2017 | website

Chile

Ultra Fiord 100K | 100 kilometers | April 06, 2017 | website

Ultra Fiord 100M | 100 miles | April 05, 2017 | website

Ultra Fiord 70K | 70 kilometers | April 06, 2017 | website

Croatia

100 Miles of Istria | 108 miles | April 07, 2017 | website

100 Miles of Istria – 110 km | 110 kilometers | April 07, 2017 | website

France

Bouches-du-Rhône

58 km | 58 kilometers | April 02, 2017 | website

Essonne

Rendez-vous de la marche nordique | 100 kilometers | April 02, 2017 | website

Jura

Le Savagnin | 58 kilometers | April 02, 2017 | website

Landes

80 km | 80 kilometers | April 03, 2017 | website

La Ronde des Pains | 80 kilometers | April 03, 2017 | website

Morbihan

66 km | 66 kilometers | March 26, 2017 | website

Puy-de-Dôme

52 km | 52 kilometers | March 26, 2017 | website

Germany

Hesse

Eschollbrücker Ultra-Marathon 50 km | 50 kilometers | March 26, 2017 | website

Hungary

BSI Half Lake Balaton Supermarathon | 95 kilometers | March 25, 2017 | website

BSI Lake Balaton Marathon+ Balatonfüred – Siófok | 51 kilometers | March 26, 2017 | website

BSI Lake Balaton Marathon+ Fonyód – Szigliget | 52 kilometers | March 24, 2017 | website

Italy

Lombardy

100 km di Seregno | 100 kilometers | March 26, 2017 | website

60 km di Seregno | 60 kilometers | March 26, 2017 | website

Tuscany

Ultratrail delle Valli Etrusche | 50 kilometers | March 26, 2017 | website

Malaysia

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

70 km | 70 kilometers | April 01, 2017 | website

Mexico

50 km | 50 kilometers | April 02, 2017 | website

Morocco

Marathon des Sables | 250 kilometers | April 07, 2017 | website

Morocco Tizi N’Trail | 120 kilometers | March 24, 2017 | website

New Zealand

Oxfam Trailwalker NZ | 100 kilometers | March 25, 2017 | website

Norway

Bergen Maratonkarusellen no3 – 1 1/2 Marathon | 63 kilometers | April 01, 2017 | website

Bergen Maratonkarusellen no3 – Ultra 100km | 100 kilometers | April 01, 2017 | website

Poland

Beskidzka 160 Na – Long Distance | 84 kilometers | April 01, 2017 | website

Portugal

Inatel Piódão Trail Running – 50 km | 50 kilometers | April 01, 2017 | website

Réunion

62 km | 62 kilometers | March 25, 2017 | website

Spain

Andalusia

TrailRunning BRIMZ “Guzmán el Bueno” X Sierra Morena – 60 km | 60 kilometers | April 01, 2017 | website

Catalonia

Long Trail Barcelona | 69 kilometers | March 25, 2017 | website

Marxa dels Castells PLUS | 81 kilometers | March 25, 2017 | website

Oxfam Intermón Spain – Girona | 100 kilometers | April 01, 2017 | website

Ultra Trail Barcelona | 100 kilometers | March 25, 2017 | website

Sweden

Silva Ursvik Ultra – 75 km | 75 kilometers | April 01, 2017 | website

United Kingdom

Calderdale

The Calderdale Hike – Long | 36 miles | April 01, 2017 | website

Cheshire West and Chester

Chester Ultra | 50 miles | March 25, 2017 | website

East Lothian

2x25K Relay | 50 kilometers | April 01, 2017 | website

50K | 50 kilometers | April 01, 2017 | website

Glasgow City

Glasgow – Edinburgh Double Marathon | 55 miles | April 01, 2017 | website

Highland

2XU Jogle | 860 miles | March 24, 2017 | website

Lancashire

The Canalathon 100 km | 100 kilometers | March 26, 2017 | website

The Canalathon 50 km | 50 kilometers | March 26, 2017 | website

The Canalathon 75 km | 75 kilometers | March 26, 2017 | website

USA

Alabama

Oak Moutain 50+ | 50 kilometers | March 25, 2017 | website

Alaska

White Mountains 100 | 100 miles | March 26, 2017 | website

Arizona

100 Mile | 100 miles | March 25, 2017 | website

50K | 50 kilometers | March 25, 2017 | website

50 Mile | 50 miles | March 26, 2017 | website

Crown King Scramble 50 Km Trail Run | 50 kilometers | April 01, 2017 | website

California

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

50K Ultra | 50 kilometers | March 25, 2017 | website

American River 50-mile Endurance Run | 50 miles | April 01, 2017 | website

Beyond Limits Ultra and BLU Relentless 100 Miler | 100 miles | April 06, 2017 | website

Beyond Limits Ultra and BLU Relentless 50K | 50 kilometers | April 06, 2017 | website

Beyond Limits Ultra and BLU Relentless 50 Miler | 50 miles | April 06, 2017 | website

Nine Trails 35 Mile Endurance Run | 35 miles | March 25, 2017 | website

Old Goats 50K Trail Race | 50 kilometers | April 01, 2017 | website

Old Goats 50 Mile Trail Race | 50 miles | April 01, 2017 | website

Ragnar Relay So Cal | 200 miles | April 07, 2017 | website

Florida

Fort Clinch 100M | 100 miles | March 25, 2017 | website

Fort Clinch 50M | 50 miles | March 25, 2017 | website

Georgia

Georgia Death Race | 60 miles | April 01, 2017 | website

Idaho

Pickled Feet 100 Mile Run | 100 miles | March 24, 2017 | website

Kansas

Prairie Spirit Trail 100 Mile Ultra Race | 100 miles | March 25, 2017 | website

Prairie Spirit Trail 50 Mile Ultra Race | 50 miles | March 25, 2017 | website

Rocking K Trail 50 Mile Run | 50 miles | April 01, 2017 | website

Maryland

50K HAT Run | 50 kilometers | March 25, 2017 | website

Minnesota

Zumbro 100M | 100 miles | April 07, 2017 | website

Mississippi

150 miles | 150 miles | March 25, 2017 | website

New Jersey

100K Trail Race | 100 kilometers | April 01, 2017 | website

100M Trail Race | 100 miles | April 01, 2017 | website

50K Trail Race | 50 kilometers | April 01, 2017 | website

50M Trail Race | 50 miles | April 01, 2017 | website

North Carolina

Umstead 100 Mile Endurance Run | 100 miles | April 01, 2017 | website

Umstead 50 Mile Endurance Run | 50 miles | April 01, 2017 | website

Ohio

Fools 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | April 01, 2017 | website

Oregon

Shotgun Trail Blast 50K | 50 kilometers | April 01, 2017 | website

Pennsylvania

Mt. Tammany 10 | 40 miles | March 25, 2017 | website

South Carolina

70 mile | 70 miles | March 25, 2017 | website

Palmetto200 Relay | 200 miles | March 24, 2017 | website

Tennessee

Ragnar Relay Tennessee | 196 miles | March 24, 2017 | website

Texas

Hells Hills 50 km Endurance Trail Run | 50 kilometers | April 01, 2017 | website

Hells Hills 50 Mile Endurance Trail Run | 50 miles | April 01, 2017 | website

Utah

100k | 100 kilometers | April 07, 2017 | website

100 Mile | 100 miles | April 07, 2017 | website

Behind the Rocks 50 K | 50 kilometers | March 25, 2017 | website

Behind the Rocks 50 Mile | 50 miles | March 25, 2017 | website

West Virginia

Haulin’ in the Holler 50K Trail Race | 50 kilometers | March 25, 2017 | website

Vietnam

Ultra ASIA Race | 160 kilometers | March 26, 2017 | website

Close

01:41:21

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.

 

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Salomon S-Lab Peak 20 Review #Peak20

Packs for a multi-day race or a running multi-day adventure were once the domain of Raidlight. Of course, other brands ventured into the arena but it was only really the arrival of WAA that made everyone start to stop, look and see what else existed.

Packs are personal.

I think a pack becomes even more personal when one requires something to be comfortable for multiple days and also when carrying 6.5kg or more.

Salomon have now extended their ‘vest design’ to the S-LAB PEAK 20 and in doing so, they will turn the head of many a runner and make them question, is this THE pack for them for their next multi-day adventure or race.

Shape, gender, size, height and so many other variables dictate if a pack is comfortable or not and this depends on you, so, when looking at this pack I try to be impartial and when possible I always try to cross reference with a female perspective. The plus of this pack is it comes in S, M, L and XL so no compromising to be made. I am 38/40 chest and I have a medium which fits perfect.

If you are heading to the mountain for an overnight adventure, I am pretty sure the Peak 20 will work for you. However, would the pack work for a race like Marathon des Sables, Grand to Grand, Everest Trail Race or one of the 4 Desert races when one is completely self-sufficient for multiple days?

Let’s look at the packs highlights:

  • 1 main compartment with a full length zip (double slider) that open up allowing easy access and organisation of what is inside.
  • Fabrics that wick and are quick drying.
  • Three sizes – S, M and L.
  • Soft trims so no chafing.
  • Sensifit is a Salomon buzz word that ultimately means it should be the Rolls Royce of bags when coming to fit and comfort.
  • Front hydration pockets x2 (designed for 500ml soft flasks).
  • Adjustable front straps for customized fit.
  • Zipper pockets – It has 2 large pockets on the front, 2 expandable pockets on the shoulder straps and 2 top zipped mesh pockets.
  • Will take a bladder.
  • Ability to carry poles or ice axes.
  • Lightweight at 484g +/-.

THE PACK

This pack will work for an overnight adventure, mountain marathon race or an adventure when an excessive mandatory kit will be required. But, the big question for many will be, can this pack work for a 6-day self-sufficient race?

In a word – Yes!

Simple reasons why:

  • Yes, it can hold 2 x 750ml of liquid at the front
  • Yes, it has 4 pockets on the front that will allow immediate access to anything you will need whilst running a stage.
  • Yes, it can hold another liter to 1.5 liters on the rear in two external pockets.
  • Yes, it can hold everything you need for 6-days self-sufficiency.

OVERVIEW

The pack has a 20L capacity (typical for Marathon des Sables and comparable with the competition from Ultimate Direction, WAA, Raidlight, OMM and others) and has one large external zip on the rear that works two ways so that you can zip down or zip up depending on preference. Once open, it’s possible to access the pack easily and arrange contents. Internally there is a small mesh panel so that you divide the large compartment in two – a good thing for maybe an overnight jaunt but not required for a multi-day adventure.

It’s light, very light! It has a vest style that echoes and follows on from the designs from Salomon’s other models.

The front of the pack has two stretch pockets for soft-flasks or bottles. On top of these pockets sitting a little lower are two large pockets with zips that hold a surprising amount. On top of the shoulder straps are two stretch zip pockets that provide additional storage.

On the sides of the vest are adjustable cords that pull the pack closer to the body or allow the pack to be looser.

On the top of the rear of the pack above the zip, is a central cord pull. Pull this and the yellow cord that wraps around the pack pulls tighter and compresses the contents. Great when the pack is full to make everything tight and secure but especially useful as the days pass when racing and the pack contents become less.

IN DETAIL

The pack tapers and as you can see from this side-view is narrow at the bottom and then opens up wider as one gets closer to the top. On both sides is an open topped stretch pocket that will take a bottle or other items.

The pack has thin blue padding that does not sit inside the pack but on the outside and underneath the mesh back. The is ingenious as it has been designed so that it can be removed.

It is held in place by small metal buckles that attach to web loops. I removed the padding and used my sleeping mat inside the pack as my padding. Ingenious – not only do you save weight but your mat doubles up as protection when running and sleeping.


The two-way external zip is great to allow access to upper items or lower items in the pack without having to un-zip the whole pack. Importantly, when un-zipped it’s easy to access the inside and arrange items. An internal mesh panel can be used to split the pack into two halves. For some this may be useful but if like me you use the sleeping mat inside, you can only have one large compartment. It’s a great space and like any pack, you will want to play around with how you pack your contents to find the correct balance. As a tip I recommend you leave your sleeping bag out when packing. Put all the contents in and then add the sleeping bag filing in all the empty spaces – you will be amazed how a lightweight down bag will compress.

The external cord the wraps around the pack is designed to be pulled tight and compress the contents. This is adjusted on the rear of the pack just above the zip.

Simply hold the buckle and pull the cord. The cords pulls tight and compresses to make the pack smaller and tight – perfect! You can make this even tighter by pulling the cords on the side and then taking up the the slack by the top adjustment. This on days 3, 4, and 5 will be just incredible at making the pack smaller and smaller as contents are used up.
On the shoulder straps, the yellow cord is also present under the two shoulder zip pockets. Pull the cord here and take up the slack and you pull the top of the pack closer to your back.

 On the sides of the pack between the bottom rear and the front lower pockets there is a yellow cord on each side – again this allows you to pull the bottom of the pack as close to your back as you require.

In a nutshell, this level of adjustment is just perfect and is the best of all packs I have tried.

 The front of the pack is classic Salomon vest design but with some differences. Fitting to the torso comes via 3 straps. Two go right to left and one goes left to right. These attach via a black plastic hooks to a yellow cord.

They can be moved up or down and they can also be made tighter or looser. In particular, this will be useful for lady runners who need to adjust the pack to fit around their chest. It’s a method that works and the on-the-go adjustment is welcome.

There are two stretch pockets that are designed for soft-flasks. This for me caused concern as I was under the impression that they would only hold 500ml. Not so! These pockets will take the Hydrapak SF750 soft-flasks and you can drink from these without the need to remove them.

Prefer straws? The Hydrapak 600ml bottles with straws will fit.

Prefer hard bottles? This is where I needed to think outside the box… OMM make very slim 500ml bottles and they fit like a glove.

Have no fears, you can carry enough water up at the front. Also, lets not forget the two external pockets. In my tests, I had 2x 500ml OMM flasks on the rear too. So, at a minimum you could carry 1litre or 2litres with 2 bottles on the rear. At a max you could carry 3litres with 1.5 up front and 1.5 at the rear.

UPDATE on the bottle situation. I finally obtained 2x 750ml Raidlight bottles with straws and they fit like a glove to the front pockets!


The two pockets that sit below the bottles are a real welcome addition. They are easy to get at. They have great capacity, trust me, you need no more additional space up front, especially when one considers the two additional sip pockets on the shoulder straps. These pockets are less spacious but they will take a phone, snacks or other essentials.

 

There is an attachment system for poles that comes over the right shoulder. I personally though would probably attach to bungee cords to the front of the pack so that I can place the poles across my chest when not in use.

Fit is sweet and with all the adjusters you can really get this pack close to your torso. It fits like a piece of clothing and there are no rough edges – all the seams are soft. Salomon actually say that the pack may be worn against the skin and it will feel like apparel.

At 484g it’s light.

INITIAL SUMMARY

This pack is still under test and things such as longevity, strength, weaknesses, durability and so on have not been tested as it’s too early to say.

However, what I can say is that this is the best pack I have tested for running when the contents are heavy and I require 20L capacity.

I have long been a fan of the Ultimate Direction Fastpack as I loved its simplicity and no nonsense approach to the task of carrying many items and weight. The Salomon S-Lab Peak 20 has now become my new favourite.

It’s not without flaws – what pack is? The yellow cord compression works like a dream but it can be a little tricky to set up – it’s a small price to pay though.

The front bottle pockets almost certainly require soft-flask use or using the OMM 500ml bottles. I personally would always caution against soft-flasks for a multi-day, if they puncture, you are screwed. However, the Hydrapak soft-flasks are more durable than much of the competition and they have never let me down. The 600 or 750 versions work with the vest – perfect.

We will follow up with some action shots of the pack and an overall summary from a male and female perspective in the coming weeks, for now, this pack gets an ‘A’ for awesome.

Photo below is copyright Ricky Gates – he’s currently using a prototype Peak 20 with front pack. Interesting!

You can read Ricky’s specs and the contents of the pack on his Facebook page #transamerica 

In use at Everest Trail Race, November 2016

Some comments:

Paul Wilson Used one on the spine race. It was ace. Did most of my training with an ultimate direction fast pack then seen got the Salomon pack. Which proved to be far better.

Jana Studzinska Tested on fully self supported solo running trip across Serra de Tramuntana. Can’t recommend more.

Sito Castello perfecta para la Everest Trail Race.

Robert Kampczyk Cool bag. Like it because my complete Photo Equipment can insert.

What Salomon say:

Ideal for alpine running, superlight mountaineering or fast hiking, the streamlined S-LAB Peak 20 set uses our trail running knowledge to move fast in the mountain, with stretch fit and complete stability. With convenient access to the 20L compartment, both the pack and the load are easily compressed for maximum stability under partial load. It includes front storage solutions for two 500ml soft flasks and essentials and possibility to carry poles, ice axes…

  • Lightweight
  • Comfortable fit
  • Breathability

FEATURES:
Back systems
MotionFit Trail
Sensifit (pack)

Load Management
Soft Twin Link
Compression quick lace
Top and bottom sensi load lifter

Pockets & compartments
2 front soft hydration elastic pockets
2 front zipped large pockets
2 shoulder expandable pockets
2 top zipped mesh pocket

Carrying system
4D Pole holder

Opening & closure
Wide front opening with double sliders

Miscellaneous
Soft trims
Apparel sizing
Patent pending

Fabrics
PVC free
Elastic Power mesh
Fast wicking fabrics
70D Nylon Double Ripstop, Waterproof 500mm
70D Nylon Triple Ripstop – Silicone coating, Waterproof 500mm
Elastic Jersey

Pack weight (lb oz) : 17.073
Pack weight (g) : 484
Pack volume (l) : 20
Pack volume (ci) : 1220