Episode 126 – Stevie Kremer, Trails Are Free Movie, Sondre Amdahl

A_GRAVATAR

Episode 126 of Talk Ultra is here, Happy New Year! – We have an interview with Stevie Kremer, we chat with Lindsey Topham about her movie, ‘The Trails Are Free’ and Sondre Amdahl tells us about racing in Hong Kong and how is preparation for The Coastal Challenge is going… Speedgoat is back too!

New Year and Talk Ultra needs your help!

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RUNNING BEYOND BOOK is travelling the world and of course I recommend it as a great Christmas present… we mentioned in the last show about Running Beyond Event which will take place 3, 4 and 5th March in London, plans are progressing for that… in addition, Niandi and myself will now be in Amsterdam on Feb 3rd, 4th and 5th for a Trails in Motion event and Running Beyond book signing with Mud Sweat and Trails and I will be also going to Sofia in Bulgaria on the 17th, 18th and 19th March for a trail, mountain and Skyrunning expo.

00:26:32 NEWS

Across The Years – 24, 48, 72-hours and 6-Days

24: Kelly Agnew and Chavet Breslin ran 124 and 119-miles

48: Karen Bonnett Natraj and Alex Ramset ran 140 and 177-miles

72: Iso Yucra and Anne Lang ran 248 and 200-miles

6-Day: Ed Ettinghausen and Liz Bauer ran 451.4 and 418.9-miles

Ultra-Trail Tai Mo Shan

Gediminas Grinius and Andrea Huser won the 100-mile in 20:04 and 26:01.

Sondre Amdahl and Marie McNaughton won the 115km in 16:15 and 16:20

“TCC will be my main target for the winter/spring of 2017. I have had a couple of easy months after a DNS at the Tor des Géants (due to injury). I have had a good block of training in November, December, I raced at Ultra-Trail Tai Mo Shan in Hong Kong (115km) on New Year’s Eve which I won and then in January I will go to Gran Canaria to prepare for TCC.”

00:53:34 INTERVIEW with Sondre Amdahl

Read a preview of the 2017 The Coastal Challenge HERE

01:20:36 INTERVIEW with Stevie Kremer

02:12:14 INTERVIEW with Lindsey Topham about the film ‘The Trails Are Free’

The Trails are Free tells the story of how Boston based trail running club, the Trail Animals Running Club (TARC), promotes and preserves the culture of ultra running through a series of grassroots, community based races in the greater Boston area. The film captures the history of the club and how it has grown from a few members to over 4000 since its founding in the early 1990’s. From its start TARC has been more focused on camaraderie and community among runners than on competition and winning. The club’s motto “Leave No Animal Behind” exemplifies their welcoming spirit, as well as their humility, level playing field, and love for the outdoors. Trail Animals come from all walks of life and all abilities and there is no pecking order.

The club’s rapid growth has mirrored a nationwide trend in the sport in recent years. Where ultra running used to be considered an oddball sport, it is now the subject of many books and is gaining more mainstream coverage in film and on television. The threat of this community spirit becoming consumed by competition and commercialisation is becoming a realistic, legitimate concern.

In 2011 the club introduced the TARC Trail Series, a group of 10 trail races of varying distances, from 10K to 100 Miles. This film documents the ways these races have become a vehicle for preserving, promoting, and sharing the culture of the sport with new members. Race organisers keep race costs down by organising volunteers to mark courses, maintain trails, and provide support, provisions, and food for potluck-style aid stations. First place finishers win handmade trophies. There is no prize money.

“The Trails Are Free” was shot on location at various TARC races over the years. It is quintessentially New England. There is snow, mud, peepers, rocks, roots, and bright foliage.

Website HERE

vimeo trailer HERE

UP & COMING RACES

Australia

Victoria

Two Bays Trail Run 56km | 56 kilometers | January 15, 2017 | website

Brazil

Brazil 135 Ultramarathon | 135 miles | January 12, 2017 | website

Brazil 281 Relay | 281 miles | January 12, 2017 | website

Chile

Ultramaratón Licanray – Villarrica | 70 kilometers | January 08, 2017 | website

Ecuador

100 km Relevos | 100 kilometers | January 07, 2017 | website

150 km Relevos | 150 kilometers | January 07, 2017 | website

Germany

Lower Saxony

  1. Lauf PSV Winterlaufserie 100 KM| 100 kilometers | January 14, 2017 | website
  2. Lauf PSV Winterlaufserie 100 KM| 100 kilometers | January 08, 2017 | website
  3. Lauf PSV Winterlaufserie 100 KM| 100 kilometers | January 07, 2017 | website
  4. Lauf PSV Winterlaufserie 50 KM| 50 kilometers | January 14, 2017 | website
  5. Lauf PSV Winterlaufserie 50 KM| 50 kilometers | January 08, 2017 | website
  6. Lauf PSV Winterlaufserie 50 KM| 50 kilometers | January 07, 2017 | website

North Rhine-Westphalia

Nord Eifel Ultra | 56 kilometers | January 08, 2017 | website

Hong-Kong

Vibram® Hong Kong 100 Ultra Trail® Race | 100 kilometers | January 14, 2017 | website

Italy

Friuli-Venezia Giulia

S1 TRAIL – LA CORSA DELLA BORA | 57 kilometers | January 06, 2017 | website

Spain

Valencian Community

GR10-Xtrem Valencia Ultra Trail | 93 kilometers | January 14, 2017 | website

Sweden

82 km | 82 kilometers | January 15, 2017 | website

United Kingdom

Buckinghamshire

Country to Capital | 45 miles | January 14, 2017 | website

Derbyshire

Montane Spine Challenger | 108 miles | January 14, 2017 | website

Montane Spine Race | 268 miles | January 14, 2017 | website

USA

Arizona

50K | 50 kilometers | January 07, 2017 | website

California

50 miler | 50 miles | January 14, 2017 | website

Avalon Benefit 50 Mile Run | 50 miles | January 07, 2017 | website

Pacifica Foothills Trail Run 50K | 50 kilometers | January 14, 2017 | website

Steep Ravine 50 km | 50 kilometers | January 14, 2017 | website

Florida

100K | 100 kilometers | January 14, 2017 | website

100M | 100 miles | January 14, 2017 | website

Croom Zoom 100 Km Run | 100 kilometers | January 07, 2017 | website

Croom Zoom 50 Km Run | 50 kilometers | January 07, 2017 | website

Hawaii

H.U.R.T. 100 Mile Endurance Run | 100 miles | January 14, 2017 | website

Idaho

Wilson Creek Frozen 50k | 50 kilometers | January 14, 2017 | website

Illinois

Frozen Gnome 50K | 50 kilometers | January 07, 2017 | website

Iowa

Tripple D Winter Ultramarathon Run | 50 kilometers | January 15, 2017 | website

Louisiana

Wild Azalea Trail Challenge 50 | 50 miles | January 07, 2017 | website

Maryland

PHUNT 50K | 50 kilometers | January 14, 2017 | website

Michigan

Yankee Winter Trail 50K | 50 kilometers | January 07, 2017 | website

New Jersey

Watchung Winter Ultras Trail 50k | 50 kilometers | January 07, 2017 | website

North Carolina

Salem Lakeshore Frosty 50k | 50 kilometers | January 07, 2017 | website

Salem Lakeshore Frosty 50k Relay | 50 kilometers | January 07, 2017 | website

Salem Lake Shore Frosty Fifty | 50 kilometers | January 07, 2017 | website

Weymouth Woods 100k Trail Run | 100 kilometers | January 14, 2017 | website

Oklahoma

Ouachita Switchbacks 50K | 50 kilometers | January 14, 2017 | website

South Carolina

Harbison 50K | 50 kilometers | January 07, 2017 | website

Tennessee

Swampstomper 50k | 50 kilometers | January 15, 2017 | website

Texas

Bandera 100km | 100 kilometers | January 07, 2017 | website

Bandera 50km | 50 kilometers | January 07, 2017 | website

Big Bend 50 | 50 kilometers | January 15, 2017 | website

West Virginia

Frozen Sasquatch Trail 50k | 50 kilometers | January 07, 2017 | website

Wisconsin

Frozen Otter Ultra Trek – 32 Miles | 32 miles | January 14, 2017 | website

Frozen Otter Ultra Trek – 64 Miles | 64 miles | January 14, 2017 | website

Tuscobia Winter Ultramarathon 150 Mile Run | 150 miles | January 06, 2017 | website

Tuscobia Winter Ultramarathon 35 Mile Run | 35 miles | January 07, 2017 | website

Tuscobia Winter Ultramarathon 75 Mile Run | 75 miles | January 07, 2017 | website

02:42:05 Close

02:47:07

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#RunningBeyondBook – Signed Copies

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RUNNING BEYOND BOOK

In advance of the UK release date of #RunningBeyondBook on November 3rd

I have 10- copies that I can sign and personalise. Strictly, fist come, first served.

The cost is £25.00 per copy plus postage and package within the UK

To order, please complete the form below

RunningBeyond_JKT

INOV-8 AT/C STORM SHELL RACE JACKET and AT/C RACE PANT REVIEW

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The days are getting shorter and bad weather is just around the corner. Wet, wind, snow and ice are all part of the norm if you are going to keep training and racing outdoors through the months of November, December, January, February and if you (we) are lucky, the weather may start to improve with the arrival of March.

Getting outdoors when the days are dark and the weather is inclement can be difficult. But if you have the correct apparel, these days can actually provide some of the most inspiring experiences. Pretty sure you have heard the saying, ‘No such thing as bad weather, just bad equipment!’

Although this article is a review of two key items of apparel to keep you warm and dry while out on the trails or in the mountains. I should clarify first and foremost a couple of good protocols that will make any run in winter better.

Layering is key so that you can regulate temperature.

Start with a base layer that will keep you warm but also wick away sweat. Merino wool is a great fabric.

Use 3/4 or full length tights. Some runners like to continue running in shorts through winter. It all comes down to personal preference but keep in mind conditions. For example, snow and ice can burn.

Have gloves, hat and a buff like product and ideally use a specific run sock, again, Merino wool is best.

Depending on conditions, the length of run you are undertaking and how high (altitude) you will go, taking a mid-layer is probably a good idea.

Two options exist:

  1. A ‘down’ filled jacket that will pack small, weigh very little and provide excellent warmth. The main problem with down is that it must not get wet!
  2. A ‘Primaloft’ jacket (or similar) will pack a little larger than down and weigh a little more but the big advantage is that a product with a synthetic filling can get wet and retain warmth. For mountain, trail and fell runners this is a better choice.

With all the above boxes ticked. Any runner who ventures into the fells, mountains and any challenging environment should take a high quality waterproof jacket and over trousers. This is where inov-8 step in with the AT/C Racepant and AT/C Stormshell.

The current trend of moving fast and light has seen runners take less and less to the mountain. Light is great providing you can move fast, the two go hand in hand. I’ve often heard many a runner say, ‘Waterproof jacket, waterproof trousers… pfffff! I don’t need them to race. If I am using them then my race is over!’

And that is exactly the point. Warm layers, waterproof layers are there for when unpredictable conditions hit or when you (the runner) have an unexpected or unplanned incident. A sprained ankle for example can stop you running and result in a slow walk. One thing is guaranteed to happen and that is your core temperature will drop and hypothermia won’t be far away.

With the AT/C Racepant and Stormshell you can still travel light but have the luxury of two excellent products that will keep you dry, warm and protected from the wind.

AT/C RACE PANT

•Colour : BLACK

•Weight : 175g / 6.2oz

•Material : 55% PU / 45% Polyester

•Gender : Unisex

•Specification :

•4-way stretch, super micro soft hand touch.

•Knee length YKK Aquaguard zips with locking zip heads.

•Elasticated front, flat back waist band and hem.

•Ergonomic fit.

•Packs away into pocket.

racpantu

The RACE PANT weighs ****g rolls up small and will fit in any pack and pretty much any waist pack. They are simple in design with a thick waist band, an internal pocket with elastic loop so you don’t loose keys, a tapered leg and a lower leg zip on both legs that allows the pants to be added or removed without removing shoes. In regard to size, they are a streamlined and tapered product and therefore should you have a bigger leg, you may want to check on the appropriate size for you. For example, I wear medium in all inov-8 products but I chose large in the Race Pant.

These pants fit so well that they cause no discomfort or odd feeling when running. This is often a problem with any over trouser as the additional layer can feel claustrophobic. I used the Racepant with shorts, 3/4 tights and full length tights underneath. Without doubt, the Race Pant is more comfortable with 3/4 or full length tights underneath as a layer of fabric stops the Race Pant sticking to your leg.

The AT/C Race Pant is breathable and retains warmth very well. Of course, if conditions improve and the ambient temperature rises, it’s advisable to move the Racepant asap otherwise you will get hot quickly.

racpantu_1

The AT/C Race Pant is a quality product and is comparable to the TNF Storm Trouser (which is very lightweight) and in my opinion is a considerably better product than the OMM Kamleika Race Pant which I found too hot and a little heavier.

Recommended!

AT/C STORM SHELL RACE JACKET

stormshellm-red

•Colour : RED

•Weight : 150g / 5.5oz

•Material : 100% Nylon ripstop face, PU Laminate

•Gender : MENS

•Specification :

•Deep centre front YKK Aquaguard 2 way front zip with internal storm flap and locking zip heads.

•Roll-away hood with wired peak and single hand adjustment.

•YKK Aquaguard chest pocket zip with fully taped seams.

•Lycra bound cuffs with integrated thumb hole.

•Includes stuffsac.

The Stormshell is a pullover product with a two-way zip that stops mid-chest. The hood is fully adjustable, zips high and has a peak to protect from wind and rain. The sleeves are longer in length and include a thumb hole, so, should you need extra hand warmth or protection, you call pull your hand inside the sleeve. At ***g it’s seriously lightweight and it also packs small. It’s a product that really personifies fast and light without a compromise on quality or protection from the elements.

The Race Jacket has become my ‘go to’ waterproof layer when running or working. It’s so light and small there really is no reason NOT to take it! The benefits it brings when the weather changes are huge and although looks shouldn’t come into the equation, it’s a fine looking jacket too!

It’s minimalist in design so you wont find many pockets. A chest pocket is the only addition.

Fully taped seams guarantee that the jacket remains waterproof. A pull cord around the waist allows you to adjust the fit. The hood has adjustment on the front  left and right sides and on the rear of the hood is a pull cord so you can tighten up any excess fabric. The peak has a flexible reinforced section that allows you to bend the peak to your preferred fit. This reinforcement also stops the hood collapsing. The hood can also be rolled up and secured inside the jacket by a fabric loop with velcro fastening. As mentioned, the zip is two-way which will allow you to have the jacket fastened under your chin but with the zip open should you require some ventilation. The zip goes up high, almost to nose height and if you have the hood adjusted correctly, you rally can protect yourself from the elements with just your eyes showing. The chest pocket is big enough for a phone or similar sized product and it also include a drawstring bag (the size of my hand) that the jacket can fold into.

Like the trousers, the jacket fits snugly and you may want to check sizing based on your intended use, particularly if you may want to use an insulating layer between the base layer and the outer layer.

The jacket for me is a real winner. I’d go as far as saying that it’s one of the best products of its type that I have tried and tested. The combination of weight, size and features is incredible. It has so many pluses that it’s difficult to find a negative. The only negative may well come in durability? However, I have nothing to base this question on. For 6-months this jacket has performed exceptionally well.

Highly recommended!

stormshellm-red_1

In Summary

The AT/C Racepant and Stormshell work together like cheese and pickle, like gin and tonic; they are a match made in heaven. They may not be the cheapest products on the market but with lightweight and waterproof products, you get what you pay for! I have tested many different trouser/ jacket combinations and if you want to move fast and light with maximum protection, this duo is hard (impossible?) to beat. The only time I would exchange the AT/C Racepant and Stormshell for something more substantial, like a Gore-Tex Active product is if I knew that I was going to be spending many hours in a tough, cold and unpredictable environment and moving at a slower pace. The benefits of the AT/C Racepant and Stormshell is they are so light and small, you really have no reason not to take them with you. That’s a real plus! If you are racing in the mountains, nearly all races now require an ever increasing mandatory kit list. I can pretty much guarantee that at the top of that list will be: ‘waterproof jacket and trousers with taped seams’ – inov-8 have provided you with a perfect solution with no comprises; low weight, small size and 100% protection – what more could you want?

More detailed photographs and action photos to follow.

Limone Extreme 2016 #VK – Skyrunner® World Series

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Torrential rain and thunderstorms started in the morning of the VK and continued on through the day and resulted in a course change instigated by the race organisation for safety reasons. The resulting course was very different to the original route and considerably longer at 6km. Less steep, less technical and considerably more runnable. Of course this may very well have changed the dynamic of the race but the usual protagonists for the VK distance still performed at the highest level.

Philip Götsch and Christel Dewalle won the race and in the process set two new course records for the ‘B’ route – incredible under such tough conditions.

Race director, Fabio Meraldi, made the decision earlier in the day with advice from mountain rescue that the original vertical route would not be possible in such bad conditions.

Although 289 runners were entered into the race, only 180 started in the inclement conditions. Leaving the warmth of a large tent, the 180 headed up 6km covering a total gain of 1200m.

Stian Angermund lead the race in the early stages but it was Philip Götsch who won the race, 32 seconds faster than Remi Bonnet in 2015 to finish with a CR 43:19. Stian finished just 1-second slower in an agonising 43:20. Patrick Facchini placed 3rd in 43:47.

Christel Dewalle ran an incredible time of 49:59 to go 48 seconds faster than 2015 and also set a new CR. The expected battle with VK specialist Laura Orgue did not happen with Laura deciding to rest ahead of tomorrow’s SkyRace. Valentina Belotti placed 2nd 53:15 and Hilde Alders placed a solid 3rd in 54:50.

Attention now turns to the Limone Extreme SkyRace which will start at 1100 tomorrow.


Thanks to the support of our Partner Migu Xempower, Sponsor Alpina Watches and Official Pool Suppliers, Scott RunningCompressport and Salomon.

About Skyrunner® World Series
Skyrunning was founded in 1992 by Italian Marino Giacometti, President of the International Skyrunning Federation which sanctions the discipline worldwide and sports the tagline:
Less cloud. More sky.

The Skyrunner® World Series was launched in 2004 and has grown to represent the peak of outdoor running defined by altitude and technicality. In 2016, the Series, composed of four disciplines, features 23 races in 15 venues on three continents.

IANCORLESS.COM IS THE OFFICIAL PHOTOGRAPHER AND MEDIA PARTNER FOR THE

SKYRUNNER® WORLD SERIES

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Lakes In A Day 2016 Preview

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“This is a long run in wild terrain. If you are at the start line wearing a t-shirt and shorts carrying nothing but a bum bag, expect us to be asking a few questions. If the weather is bad, then pack extra kit. This event is not like many other ultras in the UK calendar – it goes up on to the high fells and STAYS up there so don’t take any chances.”

The ‘Lakes in a Day’ is a point-to-point race that starts in the northern Lakeland town of Caldbeck. The route heads directly south all the way to Cartmel passing through four major points; Threlkeld, Ambleside, Finisthwaite (a small hamlet) and then Newby Bridge before the finish in Cartmel.

It’s a race that requires endurance, technical skill and the ability to navigate – this is not a race with a marked route! Maps for the race are provided with a very clearly defined route which must be adhered to, the only exception being in the early stages when the runners leave Nether Row and head to the summit of Blencathara.

Unlike many ‘true’ navigation events, the use of a GPS is allowed and a GPX route is provided for runners in advance so that they can download it.

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The route is almost split into two halves. The tough and challenging terrain of the high fells in the early stages takes in some classic Lakeland terrain such as Blencathra, Hall’s Fell, Helvellyn and Grizedale Tarn before heading up Fairfield and dropping down to Ambleside.

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After Ambleside, there is a transition into the lowland fells from Ambleside. The second half of the race is all about survival after the tough opening miles.

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The route heads to the west of Windermere and heads down in an almost straight line passing through Newby Bridge an on to Cartmel.

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Kim Collison was the champion in 2015 and his time obliterated the old course record, his time of 9:12:07 won him £500 which is also on offer in 2016 for the fleet of foot!. Post race he said, ‘It was one of those days. I felt really good and the conditions were perfect. I just made the most of it!’

Helen Leigh was equally impressive in 2015 and it turned out an expensive day for race director James Thurlow – Helen also set a course record 11:00:10 to bag £500.

The 2016 line-up can be viewed here and the race website is available here for any last minute information. The race route is available to view and download here and on race day, it is possible to follow live by tacker here.

Race start is 0800 Saturday 8th October.

Over 400 runners will toe the line for an epic, if not lengthy and challenging day in the Lakeland mountains and fells.

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DRUGS in Mountain, Ultra and Trail #EPO #UTMB

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Last week and the week before, EPO, DOPING and the UTMB was the hot topic after Gonzalo Callisto’s positive test. Everyone was talking about it… this week it’s all gone quiet. That can’t happen! You can catch up on my posts below.

Post 1 UTMB faces positive EPO test HERE

Post 2 Michel Poletti HERE

Post 3 IAAF HERE

Post 4 Update IAAF and Catherine Poletti HERE

Post 5 Gonzalo Calisto statement HERE

Post 6 ITRA statement HERE

There are far too many questions unanswered, there are far too many people being quiet and if we want to eradicate doping from Mountain, Ultra and Trail running – we need to keep talking and discussing.

I was approached by Outside Magazine and they asked me a few questions. I am pretty sure that what gets used or published will be an edited version and with that in mind here are my thoughts, un-edited.

In light of the latest news from UTMB, what you think this positive test means for the sport? 

One has to embrace the positive test as a good thing as it confirms that preventative measures against doping are working. This positive was an ‘in competition’ test which only confirms the need for out of competition testing and blood passports. Of course, the answer is always that testing is too expensive. We have to act now and be proactive. I don’t have the answers but I do feel that we could start to address certain issues that would help. Maybe it’s time that we ask (for example) the top 100 male and top 50 female runners as listed on ITRA to pay for a regular medical? Sage Canaday recently released a full report on his medical status to ‘prove’ he is clean; that’s a good thing! (See below). Athletes of course may well say that they can’t afford it but this is where sponsors come in maybe? We cannot keep making excuses as to why we can’t but find ways to make sure we can! We are at the very early stages of doping in our sport and if we don’t act now it will only become worse and God forbid, we could end up like cycling or athletics.

Do you think doping is really becoming something to worry about, or is this a case of an outlier?

We need to worry, yes! This is not the first positive test, it maybe a high profile conviction, but it would be foolish to think that this is an isolated incident.

Are people starting to talk about doping more in ultarunning than before? Or maybe a better way of asking this is how are the athletes you know, talking about this subject and what it means for the sport?

I certainly have witnessed more discussion about doping and of course this was highlighted at the end of 2015 at San Francisco 50. This was a moment when the sport really looked at itself and many questions were asked. It actually became quite nasty at times and I think a sense of perspective was lost. For example, WMRA (World Mountain Running Association) and Skyrunning have been testing athletes for many years. They have very much paved the way but they acknowledge they can only do so much. In competition testing costs 1000’s of euros or dollars for one event and of course, only urine can be tested. Many say it takes an idiot to to be caught ‘in competition’ but it happens. I go back to blood passports – we really need them for elite, professional and sponsored runners. Some races do not have a ‘PED’ policy and San Francisco highlighted the need for races and RD’s to address this in the rules of the race. Western States for example has re-written its race rules to say that any runner who has had a positive conviction cannot race. Many runners have asked for a lifetime ban for any positive test and they have been vocal about this. I personally am reluctant to go down this route… I do believe that mistakes can happen in drug testing but I am not an expert. This creates a whole new debate and raises questions about the lasting effects of a doping program. For example, we used to have two positive tests and out, I liked that but apparently that has been deemed unfair?

Are people starting to test more for doping than in previous years? What has this looked like?

As mentioned previously, WMRA and Skyrunning have been testing for many years but not at all events. Skyrunning for example had its World Championships in Spain in July, they had three events, VK, SKY and ULTRA and WADA performed tests at all three race distances. The problem comes, once again with cost. At the Skyrunning World Championships, 12 athletes were tested. The make and female winner in each category (making 6) and then 6random tests. Let’s assume testing at an event is $10,000 – who pays? Do we add a surcharge on every runners entry fee? Does that race find a sponsor to cover the cost? Do we rely on a wealthy donor or do we approach all the major brands in the sport and say, you must pay! It’s a complex matter and this is why doping control is a rarity in contrast to the norm. Let’s look at races such as Speedgoat 50k, Run Rabbit Run and San Francisco 50 – these races have some substantial prize money, in some scenarios it could mean a pay check of $10,000+ for a win. Yet nobody has any idea if the winner is clean? Moving away from trail running and looking at ultra road running, Comrades in South Africa has huge prize money and it has a very chequered past with doping: Max King, Ellie Greenwood, Sage Canaday and Michael Wardian (amongst others) have all witnessed the impact of it first hand.

What is your own experience with testing?

I attend races as a photographer and a journalist so in reality, I have little experience of the drug testing process. However, I am a media partner for Skyrunning and I have been present and seen the processes undertaken at several major events where doping control has been in place by WADA. For example, I was at the Skyrunning World Champions on July, 22, 23rd and 24th. I also experienced doping control at Limone Extreme in 2015 and Mont-Blanc 80k in 2014 amongst others.

Do you think the tests, or the conversation about doping in general in ultras is lacking? What could be done better?

Certainly the positive test of Gonzalo Calisto has raised some major flaws in the communication process. I have done extensive research over the last weeks and my conclusions have been quite worrying. I will elaborate:

  • Gonzalo Calisto was tested after placing 5th at UTMB by French drug control – AFLD In August 2015.

  • AFLD have a written policy that a positive test is given to (in this case) the runner within three weeks.

  • The runner is then entitled to appeal and ask for a B sample test.

  • This process can then go backwards and forwards for several weeks and in this scenario (as I understand it) months. Don’t get me wrong, the runner has rights and it’s only fair that he or she has every opportunity to clear his or her name.

  • In June 2016 the IAAF released its current banned list.

  • On July 18/19th British Ultrarunner Robbie Britton noticed that Gonzalo Calisto was convicted of EPO and banned till March 2017.

  • I picked up the case and contacted UTWT and UTMB directly and asked were they aware of this conviction? I later found out, no!

  • Within 12 hours, UTMB released a press release disqualifying Gonzalo Calisto of doping.

The above raised so many questions for me:

1. How was it possible that Gonzalo Calisto had tested positive but UTMB did not know?

2. Why was his period of exclusion dated till March 2017 when he had been tested in August 2015?

3. Why had the IAAF only published this in June 2016?

I asked questions of the UTMB and the IAAF. In both scenarios they were both helpful. 

1. To cut a long story short it would appear that when an athlete is tested positive, the testing control, in this scenario AFLD, are not required to inform the race. REALLY? A race has a runner place 5th, the runner is tested, the runner is found guilty, due process is run and then a positive is confirmed and a sanction is put in place without the race being told…. C’mon that HAS to change! Had it not been for the eagle eyes of Robbie Britton and me grabbing the bull by the horns, nobody ‘may’ have known?

2. IAAF explained the ‘due process’ to me and although they were not able to supply specifics, they did say that these things can often take much longer than we would all like and that 6 months is not unusual. Considering Calisto was tested on the last day of August, that potentially could take us to February or March the following year.

3. The IAAF then confirmed that an error had been made! As I pointed out to them, why was Calisto banned till March 2017? The answer: Calisto’s ban and records were amended from a memo dated March 2016 and it was therefore human error. Calisto’s ban dates actually run from March 2016 to March 2018. This coincided with point 2 above and a lengthy due process where one assumes Calisto tried to clear his name.

4. From the March conviction, Calisto’s records then entered the IAAF system and his conviction was uploaded to the ‘sanctioned athletes’ list in June 2016.

5. The IAAF confirmed to me that AFLD did not have to notify UTMB of a conviction but they would look into it?

So, for UTMB to be aware that an athlete had cheated at a previous edition of their race it would appear that the only option open to them is to check daily on the IAAF website for any additions to the sanctioned athlete list.

 

I could go on…

Why do you think the sport has stayed clean for so long, and what might be changing that would compel people to cheat? 

The sport hasn’t been clean for so long. That is a naive viewpoint. Doping has existed in trail running for ages but if you don’t have testing or a blood passport, how would you know that…? I like to use an example and I must be clear here, I don’t doubt the integrity of the runner I use as an example. Karl Meltzer, my co-host for Talk Ultra podcast has won more 100 mile races than anyone. He has even won Run Rabbit Run and he took home $10,000+ He has been running ULTRA’s for 20+ years. You know how many times he has been tested for PED use?  NEVER. Need I say more… This is why our sport has bean ‘clean’ for so long, no testing!

For the most part it seems like the conversation around doping in ultras is relatively new, and also that cheating might be a new thing too. Do you think there’s a chance for race directors, athletes, etc. to get out in front of this and keep the sport clean before it becomes the kind of large-scale issue it is in some other sports?

The Calisto case has raised eyebrows, we need to latch on to that momentum and we need to consider many of my points above but let’s be clear, Calisto is not the first!

On a final note we need to keep this discussion open, we need to keep asking questions and we need to find answers and solutions. It’s too easy to say it’s too expensive, too difficult and so on. We could start by:

  • Blood passports for runners
  • Regular in and out of competition testing
  • Positive results MUST be sent to a race or RD as soon as possible if a positive test came from a race.
  • IAAF need to find a way to communicate ‘new’ sanctioned athletes to the relevant sport discipline. This is where ITRA or maybe an athlete commission could be set up.

We, as runners, journalists, sponsors and so on must be loud and clear that doping is not welcome and we must do all we can to work together. In the Calisto case I have still not seen or heard any public statement from his sponsors, Movistar and Compressport. Compressport did contact me to say that they were ‘looking into it!’ What does that mean…? They also said that Callisto’s sponsorship with Compressport was with a local distributor and not the International division. As far as I am concerned, local or International, Calisto is still representing a brand and that brand gains attention. And also what about the races that Calisto has run and placed in in post August 2015?  The IAAF now confirms the suspension dates back to that time and until March 2018. Not one word, not one public statement from any race that I have seen… do these races condone doping? What about the runners who placed top 5 or top 10 only to loose a place… come on, speak up!

Update August 12th and Compressport respond


A great place to start is here, Sage Canaday has just recently posted his results online for all to see. Let’s lead by example!

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I welcome your thoughts!

ITRA release statement on #EPO positive for Gonzalo Calisto

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This morning I posted the long awaited statement from Gonzalo Calisto after testing positive for EPO at the 2015 UTMB. If you are new to the story, please read the posts below.

Post 1 UTMB faces positive EPO test HERE

Post 2 Michel Poletti HERE

Post 3 IAAF HERE

Post 4 Update IAAF and Catherine Poletti HERE

Post 5 Gonzalo Calisto statement HERE

Today, I have now received a statement and clarification from ITRA into the process that Gonzalo Calisto has gone through:

July 25th 2016

PREAMBLE

On June 29th  2016*, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) published on its web-site in newsletter 174 a list of athletes who had been sanctioned for doping. On this list figures M. Gonzalo CALISTO for a positive test of EPO on August 29th 2015 at the finish of the  UTMB®.

ITRA HEALTH POLICY

The term  «health policy» designates actions which  aim at increasing the prevention and the protection of the health of the sportspersons.

The ITRA, in particular, offers organisers the chance of setting up a preventative action concerning health matters. This action has neither the vocation nor the competence to be a substitute for  current national and/or international regulations regarding the anti-doping fight but has the aim of strengthening the medical supervision within the framework of the health security plan set up by the organisation. This action is led by a Medical Counsel, uniquely made up of doctors, who are able to take advice from experts of their choice and who are charged with giving consultative advice to the Race Jury on the medical state of participants.

More information about the ITRA health policy : http://itra.run/page/261/Politique_sante.html

HISTORY AND CHRONOLOGY OF THE ITRA’S HEALTH POLICY

Within the framework of the health policy set up by the ITRA, M. Gonzalo CALISTO submitted a first blood sample on May 28th 2015 at 13:077 (World Trail-Running Championships in Annecy (France) organised by the IAU in collaboration with the ITRA)

M. Gonzalo CALISTO’s  haematological profile presented several abnormal values which led to the athlete being summoned, on May 29th 2015, before the start of the race, to a meet with the event’s medical commission of 2 doctors and an expert from the Association «Athletes For Transparency» with a more specific responsibility for aspects concerning the anti-doping fight.

The Ecuadorian origin of M. Gonzalo CALISTO, which according to scientific literature, maybe be responsible for specific haematological profiles (Quito, altitude of 2850m), as well as the argument put forward by the athlete of having very regular exposure to very high altitudes  (>5500m) were retained to classify his haematological profile  as  « atypical » (rather than « abnormal ») and so authorised him to take the start of the race for the World trail-Running Championships in Annecy.

The information relating to  M. Gonzalo CALISTO’s  « atypical » profile was transmitted by telephone on May 29th 2015 to an organisation responsible for the anti-doping fight. The two possible options were retained by  the Association «Athletes For Transparency» to explain this « atypical » profile knowing that a specific genetical profile or the taking of EPO were then evoked.

The « atypical » profile of the athlete was once again brought up in a telephone conversation in June 2015 (no precise date) with an organisation responsible for the anti-doping fight.

M. Gonzalo CALISTO submitted a second blood sample on August 27th 2015 at 13:45 before the start of the UTMB® within the framework of the ITRA’s Health policy. His haematological profile once again showed several abnormalities.

With the reason, of the always possible specific genetic profile linked to his Ecuadorian origins, the athlete’s haematological profile was again classed as « atypical » and he was authorised to take the start of the UTMB®.

The ITRA learnt, on August 29th 2015 the urinary anti-doping tests at the finish had been able to specifically target M. Gonzalo CALISTO.

On April 21st 2016 information relating to  M. Gonzalo CALISTO were sent by email to the Association «Athletes For Transparency» by an organisation in charge of the anti-doping fight.

THE ITRA’S MANAGEMENT OF A POSITIVE TEST

The role of the ITRA following a positive test is:

–          To ensure the disqualification of M. Gonzalo CALISTO from events in which he would have been able to participate in during the period of disqualification  (as from August 19th, 2015).

–          To ensure the non-participation in any race which is a member of the ITRA during the period of  M. Gonzalo CALISTO’s period of suspension, from March 17th 2016 to March 17th 2018. (The start of the period of sanction (March 17th 2016) is determined by the “test authority” in relation to the provisional suspension, interviews, appeals made by the athlete, etc….)

Patrick BASSET – President of the ITRA Health Commission

Pierre SALLET – President of the Association Athletes For Transparency

ITRA performance profile – Gonzalo Calisto HERE


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I would welcome clarification and statements from Gonzalo Callisto’s sponsors, MOVISTAR and COMPRESSPORT. I would welcome clarification from races that Gonzalo Calisto participated in after August 2015 – how will they proceed?

As usual I welcome your thoughts in this story and process

The Cape Wrath Ultra™ 2016 – Day 7

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The big man in the sky did it again, he refreshed the batteries in the big sun torch and then shone it down on the Highlands of Scotland – it was ‘another’ incredible day!

Departing Inchadamph between 0700-0900, the 62 runners remaining in the race headed north on the penultimate day of the 2016 Cape Wrath Ultra. Passing Loch Glencoul and then traversing over Air da Loch, the runners then passed around the stunning Loch Glendhu before climbing up and over to Cp1 on the A838.

A long tough section of technical trail culminated in Cp2 and then the final kilometres wound up and down on a stunning road around Loch Inchard into the day 7 bivouac – Kinlochbervie.

Do I need to say who won day 7?

Marcus Scotney has been in impressive form during this race – he has looked relaxed, calm and in control in every moment and it has been impressive to watch. He has paced himself and at all times has looked capable of going faster or moving into another gear if required. He won the day in 6:42:05.

Thomas Adams has also been incredibly consistent but today on stage 7 the fatigue was starting to hit, he fought hard but didn’t look as fresh as other days finishing in 8:28:58. Pavel Paloncy has looked tired all week and has at all times looked to be fighting the terrain. No doubt, Paloncy is a tough and gritty runner. Today he finished 5th 8:59:23.

A notable mention must go to Andrew Biffen and Ian White who finished 4th and 5th on the stage and they have both improved as the week has passed. Ian White though is till 1-hour of Paloncy for overall 3rd,

But anyone who contemplated this race has required grit and with just 1 day left, the 59 runners left in the race will almost look at the final 16-mile day as a ‘recovery’ day.

Swollen feet, aching knees, tired bodies, fatigued minds and a desire ‘to get this done,’ has pushed all the runners to complete an incredible challenge – the Cape Wrath Ultra is a tough race!

Overall standings after day-6

  1. Marcus Scotney 39:03:22
  2. Thomas Adams 42:51:45
  3. Pavel Paloncy 48:31:11

Ladies leader, Ita Emanuela Marzotto had a tough day 7 finishing in 3rd place in 12:51:37, not helped by a minor fall in the final mile. She looked a little shocked at the finish, a sit down and some RnR did the trick though.

Louise Staples won the day in 11:23:18 followed by Louise Watson in 12:19:21 – both ladies have been consistent and fought hard all week and have really impressed.

Overall standings after day-6

  1. Ita Manuela Mariotto 49:03:02
  2. Laura Watson 51:18:08
  3. Louise Staples 52:11:49

Tomorrow is the last day, a 16-mile jaunt to the tip of the UK – Cape Wrath.

Follow the Cape Wrath Ultra on http://www.capewrathultra.com

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Zegama-Aizkorri 2016 Race Preview – Skyrunner® World Series

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Zegama is Zegama! Ask anyone about Zegama-Aizkorri and the answer will be, ‘Zegama? well, Zegama is Zegama!’

Yes, it is a unique race! The Skyrunner® World Series 2016 roles on from Transvulcania Ultramarathon on the island of La Palma and now transfers to mainland Spain, the Basque country – Zegama!

Due to it’s location, early season date and unpredictable weather, Zegama-Aizkorri has seen many epic battles. Catalan mountain running legend, Kilian Jornet has won the race an incredible six times. The combination of challenging terrain, vertical gain and descent and typically bad weather fall into the Catalans hands perfectly. It’s a race where strength of mind must be matched by the strength of the body.

A quiet and sleepy place, Zegama is transformed on race weekend into a mecca of mountain running. The course is reassuringly predictable, however, as past editions have shown, the weather adds the variety and a glorious sunny warm edition can be followed with a snowy, wet and miserably cold edition.

Taking in a loop over the Arratz massif and the Sierra of Aizkorri. Otzaurte provides an early indication of form on the day but it’s on the legendary climb of Sancti Spiritu where thousands of spectators line the trail where the action starts to unfold.

Taking in the four highest peaks in the Basque Autonomous Region; Arratz, Aizkorri, Akategi and Aitxuri the highest at over 1500m. Zegama-Aizkorri is a classic mountain marathon distance race with 5472m of vertical gain.

A ridge run at altitude leads to the final summit. Scrambling over rocks the final descent arrives which leads to the roads of this sleepy town, now transformed into a hub of colour and noise.

Zegama is Zegama!

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The race is notable for it’s history and one man alone has shone brightly at Zegama – Kilian Jornet. Many thought the Catalan would not run in Zegama in 2016 due to his exploits in mountaineering and his ‘Summits of my Life’ project, not so – Kilian will run!

‘Kilian posted on Twitter on May 17th, ‘Last long training before Zegama done, 13h 6500m in technical terrain 🙈🙈🙈’

Needless to say, Kilian is the favourite!

In all honesty, as one would expect, the quality of the line up at Zegama is exceptional, particularly in the men’s race. The ladies race is without doubt one of the weakest line-ups in recent years – Emelie Forsberg is injured, Laura Orgue is injured, Elisa Desco is injured, and the race is also missing, pocket rocket, Stevie Kremer amongst others.

MEN

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Luis Alberto Hernando just blitzed the Transvulcania course once again and although you can’t rule him out, I can’t help but think he will just miss that extra few percent (due to fatigue) of energy needed and required to top the podium. He will fight all the way to the line though and he will unleash a breakneck descent for potential victory.

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Remi Bonnet has looked for an opportunity to race Kilian for sometime. Yes, he is that keen… he has been tipped by many, me included, that he may well be ‘the next big thing’ in the world of Skyrunning. He is an incredible talent in the VK discipline and as he showed at the Rut in Limone, he is also an incredible talent at the Sky distance. Remi could well push Kilian all the way to the line but I will still give KJ the nod for victory.

©iancorless.com_DolomitesSkyRace2015-1920Tadei Pivk was a man on fire in 2015 and was champion of the Skyrunner World Series. He has already started his 2016 well with races in Italy and a recent 2nd place at Yading SkyRun in China. Tadei love Zegama- Aizkorri and he always finds the form to make an impact on the podium.

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Saul Padua is a VK specialist and a very good one! He recently won the Transvulcania VK and in 2015 he dipped his toe in the Sky distance, in particular the Dolomites where he lead the charge to the summit only to loose his lead on the descent. I can’t help but feel that Zegama will be a similar scenario – he will run top-5 early on but potentially will loose places on the long descent to the line. If the weather is bad and it looks as though it may be, I think that will impact on his race even more.

Marc Lauenstein is yet to be confirmed as running but if he does, he could really shake things up. He recently won the Three Peaks in the UK ahead of Ricky Lightfoot and Tom Owens. The UK fells are actually the perfect training ground for Zegama, so, if Marc runs – watch out!

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Manuel Merillas like Tadei has illuminated the Skyrunner World Series with a string of world-class performances over multiple distances. He was 3rd at Limone behind Remi Bonnet and Tadei and at Lantau 2 Peaks he placed 2nd behind Remi relegating Tadei to 3rd. For sure, Manuel will be in the mix for a podium place.
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Marco De Gasperi needs no introduction to any follower of mountain or Skyrunning. The guy is a legend, he has been there and done it and still manages to pull out great results from the bag. you can never rule the Italian out but younger and faster competition keep coming, making racing at a high level increasingly harder. No longer running

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Tom Owens is yet to be confirmed as participating although he is on the start list. Tom is made for Zegama with a strong background in fell running. The terrain and mountains in this region of the Basque country offer the Scot a unique playground and what that he embraces. His recent podium place at the Three Peaks in the UK shows he is in form.

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Aritz Egea is the ever consistent Skyrunner with a string of victories, podium places and top-10 results. He does have the ability to win Zegama, he just needs a little luck. Expect him to go out hard, potentially lead the race early on with the hope of clinging on to a lead to the finish.

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Ionut Zinca like so many listed above has the potential to win and almost certainly make the podium. An ever-present on the Skyrunning circuit with consistent results at Zegama, the Dolomites, Limone and so many more, if Ionut is on form, we can certainly expect him to push throughout the race for the top slot.

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Zaid Ait Malek raced Transvulcania and therefore may well be a little tired for Zegama. However, he knows how to run this race and has placed well within the top-10, I don’t see him winning but top-5 is possible.

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Jokin Lizeaga and Eirik Haugsness head up the leading runners for a top-10 placing along with Pere Rullan, Pablo Villa (tbc), Hassain Ait Chaou, Jessed Hernandez and Nil Cardona.

LADIES

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Megan Kimmel heads up the ladies race after a recent victory at Yading SkyRun and an impressive 2015 Skyrunner World Series season. To say Megan has been on fire would be an underestimation and it was actually a real surprise that she did not win the 2015 Skyrunner World Series – a below par performance at Limone Extreme ruined her chances. But her string of victories, particularly at the Dolomites SkyRace when she beat Laura Orgue elevated her to ‘hot’ for all the Skyrunning races – watch out!

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Yngvild Kaspersen is the female equivalent of Remi Bonnet. In 2015, her first racing season, she rose through the ranks with a series of impressive runs both in the VK and Sky distance and she was rewarded with victory in Hong Kong at the Lantau 2 Peaks in horrendous conditions. If conditions in Zegama are wet, cold, miserable and slippery underfoot, Yngvild may well shine and take victory!

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Maite Maiora is an ever-present on the Skyrunning circuit and only races one way; hard! Over the winter she took time out for an operation and therefore her training may well have been compromised. On her day, Maite is without doubt podium potential and in and amongst this ladies field, I think she has every chance of a top-3 slot.

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Azara Garcia won Zegama and then had a string on injury issues which leaves many question marks about her form? If she is fit and well, then we can expect Azara to give Megan a race.

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Oihana Kortazar is yet to be confirmed as running but she recently raced the marathon distance in Transvulcania. A lady who knows the mountains and trails of Zegama very well, I would expect a podium place.

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Anna Comet raced Transvulcania and had to pull out with an injury. Although her name is on the start list I question if she will run? My gut feeling though is that this race is maybe too short for her skills; a longer race suits her better.

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The same applies for Portugal’s Ester Alves. A great long distance runner who can handle technical trail, the short sharp shock of Zegama may well be too much of an ask for a podium place. Top-10 is a distinct possibility for both.©iancorless.com-9069Kima2014_

Paula Cabrerizo and Nuria Dominguez head up the charge behind the three ladies above, both have all the ability to make the podium and yes, a victory is possible.

Marta Molist Codina, Aitziber Iberia and Eva Maria Moreda Gabaldon form the next wave of contenders and of course, we have to anticipate surprise performances that we just can’t account for. Alicia Shay placed 4th at Transvulcania Ultramarathon and although on the start list, she will not run.

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The 2016 Skyrunner® World Series is brought to you with a new management company, Geneva based SkyMan SA

SkyMan SA  is pleased to present a new Main Partner, Migu Xempower, a Chinese exercise and health management platform which also counts a rich experience in organising marathons, city and mountain races for millions of runners.

The well-established, SkyUltra and Vertical format is joined by the Extreme Seriespresented by Alpina Watches, which more than ever expresses the true spirit of skyrunning defined not only by distance, but vertical climb and technical difficulty.

Skyrunner® World Series is supported by Migu Xempower, Alpina Watches, Compressport, Salomon and Scott Sports.

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Transvulcania Ultramarathon 2016 Preview – Skyrunner® World Series

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The island of La Palma one more prepares for the biggest weekend of the year:

Transvulcania!

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The Skyrunner® World Series 2016 kicked off just last weekend in China with the Yading SkyRun, now, it’s the big start for the European calendar and what a start. Transvulcania has become one of THE races to do. It’s reputation for stunning organisation, the majestic and beautiful trails of ‘La Isla Bonita’ and yes, a world-class field that that sets the bar.

Over the years, since 2012, the race distance has always been a point of conjecture. Now though, many of us are happy to say the races sits somewhere between 73-75km, which is approximately 46-miles that includes 3000+m of vertical gain.

It is a stunning race and one that is completely logical for a runner’s perspective. The point-to-point journey from sea to summit and back to sea personifies Skyrunning. The trails, although not overly technical, are some of the best trails to run on – they are stunning!

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Starting at Fuencaliente lighthouse, runners basically climb for 50km (with a drop down to El Pilar) to the caldera and the impressive Roques de los Muchachos. Many have considered this huge and impressive cauldron to be a Volcano, it is not, it is actually a large water erosion crater.

The trails, the landscape and the stunning vistas are beyond impressive. Depending on weather systems, an inversion can take place and therefore the runners run ‘above the clouds.’

Since 2012, the race has been transformed, directly attributable to Skyrunning, the ISF and the vision of Marino Giacometti and Lauri van Houten. 2016 once again steps up the reputation of the race with a stunning line up, yes, to coin a phrase, the field is stacked!

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Luis Alberto Hernando is the two time defending champion and returns in 2016. His performance in 2015 was off the scale and his course record was beyond impressive. Lies really has become a star of the sport but yet still remains a relatively low key character despite being a Skyrunning World and European Champion and having placed on the podium at UTMB. Luis is without doubt the outright favourite, he knows the course like the back of his hand. He became a father in 2015 and clearly stated that he would race less in 2016 to place an emphasis, that can only mean one thing, the races he does do he will be fired up for and at 100%.

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Sage Canaday has been close but no cigar many times on the island of La Palma. His achilles heel in comparison to the pure Skyrunners is his descending ability and unfortunately for Sage, Transvulcania drops from the high point of the course right down to the sea (2400m) in one 18km drop that not only requires 100% attention but great skill. Therefore, Sage has always employed the tactic of run hard from the start, build a buffer and then hopefully hold on. On the podium twice before, Sage missed 2015 and now he is back – can he topple Luis?

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Andy Symonds for me is the one who has all the potential to not only make the podium but push Luis all the way to the one and possibly pass him. Andy was there in 2012 when Dakota Jones took top honors ahead of Kilian Jornet. It signified a break through for Andy and what followed was disaster and series of issues and problems. He finally made a comeback in 2015 and he gained some notable success especially at Mont Blanc 80km, ELS2900 and most recently at Transgrancanaria. A move from Salomon to Scott has rejuvenated Andy and he has a new enthusiasm for the sport, he is back and I think Andy can win.

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Miguel Heras is an enigma, at times inspirational and at other times frustrating, His injury woes are a continual saga and it is just impossible to predict if he will run well or not. All I can say is, if he is on form he will be up there and he has every chance of contesting the podium as he did at Ultra Pirineu in 2015. However, the odds are increasingly stacked against him with such a young and talented field, but this is Miguel Heras – you cannot rule him out!

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Ricky Lightfoot like Andy Symonds has all the potential to win Transvulcania. Just last weekend he placed 2nd at the Three Peaks in the UK sandwiched between two fellow Salomon teammates. Ricky works full time, has a family and therefore often has to fit races in at last minute and occasionally he has to cancel at last minute. He can run with the best as he proved at the IAU World Trail Championships and his fell running background sets him up perfectly for anything technical.

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Cristofer Clemente placed 7th in 2015 but went on to have a very sold 2015 Skyrunning season. He’s a quiet guy who sits below the radar and therefore is often able to surprise. His 2nd place at The Rut was arguably his best performance of 2015 and although he is maybe not always a podium contender, he is consistent if nothing else – exactly what you need for the Skyrunner World Series.

Adam Campbell is somewhat a surprise entry; I didn’t see that one coming. Since his stunning Hardrock performances, Adam took a lower profile and took to skis and ski mountaineering – no bad thing, Kilian and many others have been doing that for years. Adam’s last experience at Transvulcania in 2013 was a character building lesson in persistence and survival. His finish despite huge problems earned him respect. He has the race skills and speed for Transvulcania and if he finds his run legs, he will be a contender.

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Mike Murphy is a fellow Canadian of Adam Campbell and although you will not see his name mentioned or talked about in any previews, take note, he is one to watch! Mike is one of the gutsiest and committed athletes I know. He doesn’t race much but when he does it is at 110%. We discussed his participation at Transvulcania in 2015 and I know he has been preparing for this showdown.

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Zaid Ait Malek is a runner who embraces life and the trails. He loves life and he loves running. Even though he won Matterhorn Ultraks in 2014 one could arguably say his best performance was placing 2nd to Kilian Jornet at Ultra Pirineu in 2015. Zaid does have a habit of blowing hot and cold though. I hope he has a good race in La Palma.

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Stephan Hugenschmidt placed 5th in 2014 and the stage was set for stardom, what followed, didn’t actually follow the script that many had written. Despite a win at the TransAlpine and other wins in smaller races, the ‘big’ victory didn’t follow which leaves a huge question mark for Transvulcania 2016. My gut feeling says that we will see him top-5 again!

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Fulvio Dapit loves to run and run regularly, the distance of Transvulcania will suit him as will the technical aspects – he is a pure Skyrunner. On his day, we can really expect him to contend the top-5, however, he is prone to stomach issues which can often ruin his racing.

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Gerard Morales like his Buff team mates of Zaid and Pau has the potential to be top-10 but may just lack the additional oomph and speed to penetrate the top-5.

Pau Bartolo won TCC in 2014 and although on his day we can expect him around the top-10, I don’t see him making any inroads on the top-5.

Sylvain Court leaves a huge question mark for me? He was the winner of the IAU World Trail Championships on home ground in Annecy. Was it home advantage a purple patch? I don’t know, I really don’t. However, the trails around Annecy need respect and Sylvain did beat a tired Luis Alberto Hernando that day – what do you think?

Nicolas Martin however placed 3rd at CCC, 2nd at Templiers and was 7th in Annecy at the IAU World Trail Championships and that balance of results elevates him to a potentially higher overall placing at Transvulcania over Sylvain.

Chris Vargo had a tough 2015 but prior to this had excellent 2013 and 2014 seasons. The hard packed single-track that Transvulcania offers will suit Chris, however, the black soft sand, technical trails around the Caldera and the 18km drop to the sea may suit him less?

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Vajin Armstrong is a top class runner from the Southern Hemisphere who has all the potential to be top-10 and if he has a good day, he may come close to 5th but I don’t see the podium as a possibility.

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Vlad Ixel has raced Transvulcania before and was forced to withdraw as his shoes fella apart…. at the time of dropping, he was in and around the top-10 and looking good. Based in Hong Kong he ha regularly has a string of top quality results and like Vajin Armstrong I see him in the top-10.

Benoit Cori is a two times winner of Templiers and a recent winner of the SainteLyon night race. Two of Frances biggest races outside of the UTMB. Although Benoit can obviously run, I don’t see him beating the like of Luis, Andy, Ricky, Miguel, Sage and Zaid on a cause such as this – I may be wrong?

Ones to watch:

Julien Codert has placed 6th at Transvulcania previously.

Yeray Duran is from the Canaries and will be fired up for this race.

Aurelian Collet another French runner who like running French races.

Ion Azpiroz

Florian Reichert – been training on the island and looks fired up for a good race.

Marcin Swierc

Marco Ranchi

Nuno Silva

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and finally a huge nod of the hat for Bruno Brunod who is along with Marino Giacometti, the father of Skyrunning. In recent years he has run and raced the Tor des Geants. I for one will be interested to see how the legend performs on these wonderful trails.

 

LADIES

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Anna Frost heads up the ladies’ race and I have to say, if ‘Frosty’ is on form she will win the race. No disrespect to the other ladies but Frosty knows and loves this course, holds the course record and when in beast mode; is unstoppable. But will she be 100% fit? Her ability to climb hard, descend fast is un-matched by any other lady in the field with the exception of Mira Rai. Frosty missed the race last year with injury but won Hardrock 100, a race she will go back to this year.

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Mira Rai just placed 2nd at the Three Peaks in the UK. A clear sign of pure class… fell running is far removed from what she is used to. Mira’s story is an inspirational one and along with Jo Meek, I believe that Mira has all the potential to contest the top of the podium. Mira in my opinion will get the edge over Jo due to her technical ability – the 18km descent is going to be a crucial element of the race.

Jo Meek TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Jo Meek TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Jo Meek had some tough times with injury but she returned in late 2015 placing 2nd at Everest Trail Race and then 8th at TNF50. I would say in both of those races she was on the comeback trail and although Transvulcania will throw some significant obstacles at her, I do believe her natural fast speed will be a huge advantage. I can’t help think that Jo will adopt a Sage Canaday approach, pushing hard in the early stages when she can run looking to build a time buffer and then when the trails get gnarly, she will do her best to consolidate. A bonus for Jo is the final push from Tazacorte to the finish. If in contention, Jo will have the speed to close out the race.

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Ida Nilsson is my dark horse for the race and top tip for the podium. I can hear you all say now, Ida who? Believe me and trust me, barring injury or problems, Ida will be contesting the podium.

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Anna Comet finished 2nd at Transvulcania last year and had a great year of Skyrunning. I think it’s fair to say that Anna may well have raced too much in 2015. I think she learnt that lesson and will race less in 2016. The podium is there for the taking and I have no reason not to see Anna top-5.

Alicia Shay falls a little in the Jo Meek category. She is a fast runner who is looking to find her trail feet. Transvulcania offers a good mix and does allow the ‘runner’ to perform as Sage Canaday has shown. Alicia will be looking to follow in Sage’s footsteps but I do think she is in for a European learning curve. I see Jo and Alicia leading the race early on, what happens from the Caldera to the sea with all come down to bravery and adaptation.

Uxue Fraile will start steady and work her way through the field. She knows how to race this course and races tactically. It’s one of caution. She allows the other ladies to race hard and then detonate and then she does what she does best, close with great skill and consistency and picks up the pieces for a top-5. Her 2015 was stunning with a win UTMF and 2nd at UTMB. I do believe though that Transvulcania is not long enough or hard enough for Uxue to win.

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Christel Dewalle is the known un-known if that makes sense. A VK specialist, Christel has had good results in many ultras and her inclusion into Transvulcania is an interesting one. My gut reaction tells me that we may well see a surprise.

Gemma Arenas is a runner who may well drift under the radar but her 4th place at Ultra Pirineu confirms her ability.

Magdalena Laczak was 5th last year and went on to improve throughout 2015. In many respects she is a dark horse.

 

©iancorless.com_Rut2015-7699Hillary Allen may well be the hottest property from the USA in regard to Skyrunning. She may not be the fastest of the American ladies but she can handle and embraces the technical trail. Hillary proved this at Mont Blanc 80km and on home soil at The Rut.

Anne-Lise Rousset placed 5th in 2014 and she has the potential to place in a similar position in 2016. Considering the competition, she would need a stunning run (or others to have a bad run) to make the top-3.

Jodee Adams-Moore will be between top-5 and top-10 based on previous form but she does have the potential for a break through performance. Had Transvulcania not contained the Caldera and the 18km drop to Tazacorte, I would rate Jodee’s chances higher.

Kristina Pattison was 6th at Mont Blanc 80km and Transvulcania in 2015 and therefore along with Hillary Allen, is the best prospect for an American breaking the top-5.

Ones to watch:

Manu Vilaseca

Zoe Salt

Gabriela Sanchez Cabezas

Adrian Vargas

Juliette Benedicto

 *****

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