Episode 173 – Sondre Amdahl, Ultra Trail Scotland and Elisabet Barnes

Episode 173 of Talk Ultra is here… Casey Morgan, Debbie Martin Consani and Rob Sinclair talk all about Ultra Trail Scotland. Sondre Amdahl discusses Trans Atlas and plans for Ultra Mirage and Elisabet Barnes co-hosts.
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Speedgoat is currently on ‘The Longtrail” with Belz (his crewman from the AT)
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NEWS
ULTRA TRAIL SCOTLAND HERE
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00:32:28  – CASEY MORGAN 
00:52:45 – DEBBIE MARTIN CONSANI 
01:19:00 – ROB SINCLAIR 
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TENERIFE BLUE TRAIL HERE
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TRANS ATLAS
Sondre Amdahl and Elisabet Barnes won in 30:14 and 34:15 for the 6-stage race in Morocco.
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WORLD TRAIL CHAMPIONSHIPS, PORTUGAL
Jon Albon is the world champ along with Blandine L’Hirondel. The podium was Julien Rancon and Christian Mathys for the men and Ruth Croft and Sheila Aviles for the women.
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COMRADES
Edward Mothibi in 5:31 ahead of Bongmusa Mthembu who was 2nd just 25-secs later – ouch! Nah Kazami was 3rd in 5:39. Gerda Steyn broke the record books with a sub-6 5:58 – the first time in the 94 year history! Alexandra Morozova 6:17 for 2nd and Ireland’s Caitriona Jennings was 3rd 6:24.
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MOZART 100km
Pau Capell Sally McRae took the wins in 10:54 and 14:38 with Aysen Soland and Colette Coumans 2nd/ 3rd for the women and Andris Ronimoiss and Gerald Fister rounding out the podium for the men.
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LIVIGNO
Great win by Florian Reichert who is in fine form this year! He was ahead of Tofol Castanyer and Marcin Swierc 6:04, 6:10 and 6:13. Magdalena Laczak 7:29 was ahead of Simone Schwarz and Juliane Totzke 7:44 and 7:50.
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ZUGSPITZ ULTRATRAIL
Pau Capell Sally McRae took the wins in 10:54 and 14:38 with Aysen Soland and Colette Coumans 2nd/ 3rd for the women and Andris Ronimoiss and Gerald Fister rounding out the podium for the men.
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01:53:34 – SONDRE AMDAHL 
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MONTE ROSA PREVIEW HERE
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VJ SPORT MAXx SHOE REVEW HERE
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DON’T MISS OUT ON EPISODE 172 with JOHN KELLY HERE
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02:13:23
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Fred. Olson TENERIFE BLUE TRAIL 2019 Preview

Fred. Olson TENERIFE BLUE TRAIL is a trail running event that offers five modalities with different characteristics for people with or without disabilities, designed so that mountaineers and athletes with different levels of experience and physical fitness can participate. In this way, Tenerife Bluetrail pursues a clear objective of integration: TRAIL RUNNING FOR ALL.

The Ultra (102km) of the Fred. Olson Tenerife Blue Trail is particularly tough: it involves considerable climbs and descents and a long stretch of the run in a mountainous area at an altitude of over 2,000 metres. The maximum height of 3,555 metres is reached just below the summit of the iconic Teide. The other categories also involve difficulties and risks, inherent in the natural environment where they are performed. Due to the environment and mountains, sometimes extreme temperatures can be experienced, particularly for this in the ultra who depart just before midnight and must climb to Teide in almost complete darkness with cold temperatures.

THE FIVE RACES:

Ultra 102km

The star race of the Fred. Olsen Tenerife Bluetrail 2019 a brutally tough and challenging race of 101.5km’s. It’s an amazing concept race that is truly logical as it offers a traverse of the island, from sea, to summit and returning back to the sea. The highest point of the race is the iconic Mt Teide at 3550m. Made up mostly of paths and tracks, the route also includes a small section of asphalt, just 13%. An allocated 24-hours is provided to complete the event. Departing from Playa Fanabe at 2330 on June 8th, the route will pass through La Quinta, Ifonche, Vilaflor de Chasna, Degollada de Guajara, Roques de Garcia, Pico Viejo, La Rambleta, Montana Blanca, Lomo Hurtado, Recibo Quemado, Ladera de Tigaiga, Chanajiga, Tigaiga, El Asomadero, El Mirador de la Corona, Mirador San Pedro and Rambla de Castro before finishing in Puerto de la Cruz.

Trail 67km

This 66 km trail will start at 6:00am, June 8th, in Vilaflor (Santa Catalina St.). Departing from 1,387 m above sea level and reaching 2,520 m at its highest point, this race will be comprised by paths (55%), tracks (32%) and asphalt (13%). The total elevation gain for this race is 7,886 m. The maximum time for completion will be 14 hours.

Marathon 43km

The third edition of this 43 km marathon will be held on June 8(9:00 am). This race will be comprised by paths (50%), tracks (29%) and asphalt (21%).

Media 20km

This 20 km race (half-marathon) will also start on June 8th at 8 am. It will depart from Plaza de San Agustín, los Realejos, and the runners will have 4 hours to get to the finish line. This race will be comprised by paths (32%), tracks (18%) and asphalt (50%).

Reto 8km/ 3.7km/ 1.2km

The Bluetrail Challenge will be held again in this 9th edition, with an 8.4 km and a 1.2 km race. It will be held on June 8.

In the Ultra race 3 runners stand out and they occupied the places of the podium last year:!

Yeray Durán returns and was the winner with 12:57 last year.  Sangé Sherpa was 2nd in 2018 and will be looking for victory and finally, José Antonio González who placed 3rd in 2018 will be looking to place higher.

Also look out for David Lutzardo, Santiago García Soria, José Antonio Luna and Italian Gianluca Gaelati.

Leire Martínez heads up the ladies race with last years winner, Azara Garcia missing the race. Azara’s time of 14:21 will take some beating! Look out for Sonia Escuriola, Marta Muixí and Marta Escudero. Important to also note that Maria Lorena Ramirez will also toe the line.

More than 2,500 participants will toe the line in one of the four races that make up the 2019 Fred Olson TENERIFE BLUE TRAIL. Notably, world renowned, Pau Capell will race the marathon!

Race website HERE

Start list for 2019 HERE

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Ultra Trail Stara Planina 2019 Race Summary – Serbia skyrunning

Stara Planina which roughly translates to ‘Old Mountain’ is known to many as The Balkan mountain range which is in the eastern part of the Balkan Peninsula. The highest peaks of the Balkan Mountains are in central Bulgaria. Botev at 2,376 m the highest. On the border between Bulgaria and Serbia, the Balkan range runs 560 km from the Vrashka Chuka Peak eastward through central Bulgaria to Cape Emine on the Black Sea.

Stara Planina, one of the most beautiful and most authentic nature reserves that hides the highest mountain peak in Serbia – Midžor at 2,169 meters above sea level. Endless stretches of untouched nature, vast mountain pastures and forests rich in forest fruit and herbs, picturesque villages and interesting folklore.

Ultra Trail Stara Planina kicked off on Friday at midday with the 130km race which has a whopping vertical gain of 5870+. It was a race which was enveloped in mist and rain, but the relentless rain and storms that were forecast, thankfully did not appear.

On Saturday at 0700 three other races that make up Ultra Trail Stara Planina started from the Stara Planina ski resort – 36km with 2370+ the 57km 2350+ and 94km 3890+. The latter race would run till the early hours of Sunday morning and all other races would conclude on Saturday.

Saturday was a mixed bag of weather with dense fog and mist lasting through to midday and then an afternoon of glorious sunshine that allowed the amazing landscape that this area has to offer to finely shine through.

400 runners from over 25 countries assembled to experience Ultra Trail Stara Planina.

This area is a hidden gem. It’s remote, beautiful and wild. To run here, one feels truly remote and isolated from the outside world. The only glimpses of life coming from remote villages where time has stood still. Gostuša talking to a woman in her late sixties, she had never ventured from her village – she told me of how a now derelict building was once a disco. It’s hard to imagine that some 50-years ago a disco was required in a small isolated village. What was a local shop, now boarded up, closed and crumbling to the ground – the demand for supplies making the shop redundant as over the years, villagers have moved away leaving just 20 residing.

To experience the ‘real’ life of a place, one gains an insight into a journey. If it wasn’t for running and adventure, maybe these gems of Serbia would disappear completely?

Posters pasted on walls notify the passing of loved ones and it’s hard not to feel a little sad that in year’s to come, no posters will be posted as the locals, the core of the community will have all disappeared leaving ghost towns in the mountains.

Green lush vegetation with winding trails interweave through this area providing relentless challenging terrain that continuously goes up and down.

Then the arrival of a village, refreshment, a chance to stop, replenish and refuel before heading back out to experience more of the wilds of Serbia.

This area is very inaccessible by vehicle, just 10km’s can take over a hour by a 4×4 vehicle – the runners therefore are truly privileged to experience a testing and challenging journey with the experience of summiting the highest peak of Midžor at 2,169 meters above sea level. To get there though, this year, they had to experience dense mist and snow on the course.

Topli Do a hidden gem like Gostuša but there is more life here, the village is bigger and although much is falling down and wasting away, it has a raw and natural beauty.

Runners here arrive from different directions with Marshalls ever vigilant to ensure that they go in the correct direction.

A highlight, depending on which race you are running, is a technical descent from Midžor or equally, a technical climb for the 130km runners.

In the village of Gostuša an old hall is used as a major aid station where drop bags, a change of clothes and warm food is available.

Finally, for all races, Plaža signifies the final section of the race with stunning views over the mountains and for those who have time to stop, they can look back and trace the journey they have travelled.

Stara Planina ski resort, for all races signifies the end of a truly epic day or days in the heart of the Serbian landscape. The journey of 36km, 57km, 94km or 130km over.

Results:

130km

1 – Nedjalkov Balazs
2 – Jovica Spajić
3 – Danijel Loncarević

WOMEN RESULTS
1 – Nela Lazarević
2 – Ivona Velimirović
3 – Ivana Stanković

94km

1 – Dusan Bazic
2 – Duško Momić
3 – Mariya Nikolova

WOMEN RESULTS
1 – Mariya Nikolova
2 – Cecilia Papay-Sar
3 – Kristina Radović

57km

1 – Dejan Todevski
2 – Filip Todorovski
3 – Dimitar Todorovski

WOMEN RESULTS
1 – Snezana Djuric
2 – Agata Labedzka
3 – Tatjana Jovanović

36km

1 – Srdjan Mate
2 – Marko Popin
3 – Marko Ilic

WOMEN RESULTS
1 – Marija Djordjević
2 – Alana Munnik
3 – Lidija Radulovic

FULL RESULTS HERE

IMAGE GALLERIES AVAILABLE HERE

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Ultra Trail Stara Planina 2019 Preview

Oldest, highest and biggest trail race in Serbia, the Ultra Trail Stara Planina kicks off this Friday, with the 130km race which has a whopping vertical gain of 5870+.

The following races start 0700 Saturday.

36km with 2370+ 

57km 2350+

94km 3890+

Surrounded by Bulgaria, Romania, Greece, Hungary, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia based at Stara Planina has a growing presence in the trail and skyrunning world.

Stara Planina, the hub for the weekend of racing is in driving distance of Belgrade and a multitude of flight options that allow the possibility to explore this area.

Stara Planina which roughly translates to ‘Old Mountain’ is known to many as The Balkan mountain range which is in the eastern part of the Balkan Peninsula. On the border between Bulgaria and Serbia, the Balkan range runs 560 km from the Vrashka Chuka Peak eastward through central Bulgaria to Cape Emine on the Black Sea. The highest peaks of the Balkan Mountains are in central Bulgaria. The highest peak is Botev at 2,376 m, which makes the mountain range the third highest in the country, after Rila and Pirin.

Endless stretches of untouched nature, vast mountain pastures and forests rich in forest fruit and herbs, picturesque villages and interesting folklore. That is the true picture of Stara Planina, one of the most beautiful and most authentic nature reserves that hides the highest mountain peak in Serbia – Midžor at 2,169 meters above sea level.

Mt. Stara planina the most beautiful part of Eastern Serbia and it was declared a natural treasure of great importance. This mountain is known for its mild climate, clean air, springs of hot mineral water, while the park “Stara planina” spreads on 142.000 acres.

Zavojsko lake, one of the most beautiful and clearest mountain lakes, lies at the foot of Stara planina. The lake abounds in fish, and passionate fishermen along the bank of the lake assure us that this truly is the best location for catching pike, catfish and carp.

Action starts on Friday with the 130 km race starting at noon (12.00) at the Vidlič mounting hut (from the Pirot side).

The 36, 57 and 94 km races start on Saturday, June 1st at 7:00 AM at Hotel Stara Planina. It is estimated that the fastest 130 km runner should arrive at approximately 0700.

Two runners who will have many eyes on them are Jovia Spajic and Maria Nikolova Miteva who placed 9th at UTMB in 2018.

Race Website HERE

The races are organised by Serbian Skyrunning Association – a team of enthusiasts with an idea to contribute in development, recognition and promotion of skyrunning sport, high altitude ultra-marathon and  other endurance sports, as well as the development, recognition and promotion of sport and mountain tourism in Serbia and the region. HERE

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Pau Capell and Magda Laczak win the 2019 Transgrancanaria 128 km.

Pau Capell and Magda Laczak once again, win the Transgrancanaria 128 km providing the same result as 2018. For Pau it was his third time topping the podium in Gran Canaria.

Only American Hayden Hawks provided Pau with any competition, the duo ran the first stretch of the course matching each other, stride-for- stride all the way to Teror and beyond.

But Hayden could not match the relentless force of the Catalan. Pau extended his lead and just pulled away, not only from Hayden but the rest of the men. Twenty minutes became thirty and thirty minutes became forty. It was a masterclass of long-distance running and at the line, the 12:42:40 did not show on his face – an incredible victory.

Pablo Villa, Spanish champion of the RFEA 2018 and former champion of the Advanced in 2018, was the next to cross the finish line at Expomeloneras in 13:31:37. Canarian runner, Cristofer Clemente, 13:42:54, came in third position making a truly Spanish podium.

Magda Laczak won, once again after topping the podium as in 2018. In the early stages you ran comfortably as Chinese runner, Miao Yao dictated the pace. Miao dropped and Katlyn Gerbin took over the head of the race.

By Roque Nublo though, Magda took over the head of the race. It was no easy run… she was pursued by Kaytlyn Gerbin and Fernanda Maciel and it remained that way all the way to the line.

Magda did it though, she was the first to arrive in 16:22:56 and she stated, “It was such a hard race, at no point could I relax, I was pursued all the time, I had to push and keep pushing!”

Katlyn, 2nd at Western States in 2018, placed 2nd here in Gran Canaria holding off experienced ultra-runner and UTWT ever-present, Fernanda Maciel, their times 16:35:08 and 17:03:33.

As usual, the race ran on into the night as runners tried to achieve their own personal glory before the 0400 cut-off on Sunday 24th February.

High Resolution Image Gallery HERE

Web Resolution Image Gallery HERE

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The Coastal Challenge 2019 – #TCC2019 – Day 6

The 2019 The Coastal Challenge today came to an end on the stunning beaches of Drake Bay on the Osa Peninsula.

Pere Aurell and Ida Nilsson are the champions after a masterclass of multi-day running. The duo ran amazing races and Ida obliterated the 2018 record of Ragna Debats and in the process set 4 female stage records and placed 2nd overall. Holly Page set two stage records also.

The 22km final day is a stunning day, starting and finishing on Bahia Drake, the loop is like a mini Coastal Challenge all compressed into one stage. Waterfalls, rainforest, plantations, dusty fire trail, water crossings, beaches, coves and the stunning Pacific as a backdrop as the runners make the way to the finish.

The dynamic of the day was the staggered start for the top-6 after the mass start at 0700.

They were released as follows:

6. Ragna Debats 07:01:00

5. Holly Page 07:03:00

4. Jorge Paniagua 07:06:00

3. Marcus Scotney 07:10:00

2. Ida Nillson 07:15:00

1. Pere Aurell 07:21:00

 

The race was on between Jorge and Marcus and in the early stages, Jorge opened a gap on the technical trail. However, as soon as the trail became more runnable, Marcus unleashed his natural fast pace and secured his 3rd overall on GC.

After a tough stage 5, Pere was keen to make sure he won the 2019 TCC and by the waterfall, he had caught Ida for the 6-minute time gap. He then ran to the line and secured his victory ahead of the incredible Ida, who placed 2nd overall and dominated the women’s race.

Ida won 4-stage CR bonus’ worth $250 each and $2500 for a new CR – That is $3500 for her week in Costa Rica.

Holly Page was the first to cross the line holding off the top-5 runners and catching all those before her – in the process she set a new stage CR and in addition to her female CR on stage 4, she netted $500. On timing, Pere was the stage winner just missing Tom Evans 2018 stage-6 record. Marcus was 2nd and Holly 3rd.

The finish-line was full of emotion as an epic journey has come to an end. The 2019 TCC will go down in history for the incredible performances of all the runners, but the truly inspiring story his how the top-3 women placed in the top-6 overall, with Ida 2nd on the podium – truly epic!

For now though, it’s all about Pere and Ida celebrating victory. This evening, the awards will take place on the beach with a roaring camp fire. 2020 will see the 16th edition of the race and I am sure we can expect another spectacular race.

PURA VIDA

Stage Results:

  1. Pere Aurell 2:00:00
  2. Marcus Scotney 2:06:32
  3. Holly Page 2:07:04
  4. Ida Nilsson 2:08:12
  5. Sebastian Jones 2:13:55

Overall standings, male/ female after 6-stages:

  1. Pere Aurell 23:10:23
  2. Marcus Scotney 24:01:03
  3. Jorge Paniagua 24:17:21
  1. Ida Nilsson 23:36:03
  2. Holly Page 24:50:38
  3. Ragna Debats 26:16:06

General Classification:

  1. Pere Aurell 23:10:23
  2. Ida Nilsen 23:36:03
  3. Marcus Scotney 24:01:03

Full results at www.webscorer.com

Follow the action as the race unfolds #TCC2018

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The Coastal Challenge 2019 – #TCC2019 – Day 5

It was the longest day of the 2018 The Coastal Challenge and what a day! At 49km, it was only 2km more than day 3 but coming at this stage in the race, it is always a tough one.

 Runners departed camp via bus for a short bus ride to the Sierpe river and then a ferry across to the other side with the arrival of daylight. At 6:15am, they were released.

Much of todays race is very runnable on wide gravel roads and much of that chat pre-stage was that it was ideal for Ida and Marcus. It’s great if you can run, but for many it’s a tough day. Technical forest sections break up the distance and then at 2/3rd of the race covered, the runners turn right on a loop around the peninsula, running through forest trails before finally dropping to the beach and taking a small boat from one side to the other. Once across the estuary, it is 9km’s to the line with the final sections on the beach to the stunning Drake Bay, a Unesco Heritage Site

It was a day of drama, with the main podium contenders all running close together to checkpoint. Notably, Jorge was running side-by-side with Pere at the head of the race. Ida chased and then Marcus. Just before the right turn for the loop around the peninsula, Pere made his move and pulled away from Jorge.

Behind, Ida chased and Marcus was looking strong and gaining time.

Holly Page was some way back but looking relaxed and comfortable in the intense heat.

At the peninsula. Pere was first in the boat and crossed with no sign of any other runners. Jorge and Ida arrived together and shared a boat. Minutes later, Marcus arrived. It was all going to come down to the final 9-km’s!

What happened next, could not have been predicted. Pere struggled with exhaustion, the heat and sickness from a restless night before. He was reduced to a walk. Ida on the other hand went from strength-to-strength.

Ida left Jorge, pursued Pere, passed him and once again won the stage outright obliterating the previous female stage CR set by Ester Alves by almost 45-minutes – it was an incredible performance.

Marcus bided his time. Closed on Jorge and the duo fought an epic battle to the line. Marcus was 2nd just over 30-seconds ahead of the Costa Rican runner.

Pere finally arrived 20-minutes after Ida – he looked broken!

With the final stage tomorrow, an epic battle will unfold between Jorge and Marcus for the final podium spot on GC. Also, Pere and Ida have a potential fight. Pere has a lead of 17-minutes, one would normally say that is more than enough. However, after today, anything can happen…!

Holly Page finished 2nd woman and Ragna Debats lost time in the closing miles due to a navigation error, however, she did finish 3rd on the stage.

Tomorrow’s stage is a loop of Drake Bay – it’s a stunning day that manages to encompass all the previous 5 days in one loop. The top 6-runners will depart after the main group.

The starting times will be:

Mass start 07:30:00

6. Ragna Debats 07:31:00

5. Holly Page 07:33:00

4. Jorge Paniagua 07:36:00

3. Marcus Scotney 07:40:00

2. Ida Nilsson 07:45:00

1. Pere Aurell 07:51:00

Overall standings, male/ female after 5-stages:

  1. Pere Aurell 21:10:22
  2. Marcus Scotney 21:54:30
  3. Jorge Paniagua 22:00:49
  1. Ida Nilsson 21:27:51
  2. Holly Page 22:43:34
  3. Ragna Debats 23:54:00

General Classification:

  1. Pere Aurell 21:10:23
  2. Ida Nilsson 21:27:51
  3. Marcus Scotney 21:54:30

Full results at www.webscorer.com

Follow the action as the race unfolds #TCC2018

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Episode 168 – Jasmin Paris

Episode 168 of Talk Ultra is here… And we bring you an interview with the one and only, Jasmin Paris. #TheSpine winner #JasminParis @TheSpineRace @JasminKParis @inov_8
 
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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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00:20:01 NEWS
 
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9 DRAGONS
 
I was in HK for the 9 Dragons – two races 50-milkes and 50-km but the ultimate race is the 50/50 were runners do both races. Full report HERE – The 50/50 winners were Magda Boulet and Kazufumi Ose.
 
ROCKY RACCOON 100
 
David Laney ran 14:03for the 4-loop race with Catlow Shipek and Wade Barrett 2nd and 3rd in 15:04and 17:09. Maria Sylte won the women’s race in 19:19with Julia Sorbet and Jessica Hardy 2nd and 3rd 20:56and 21:48.
 
ARROWHEAD 135
 
Faye Norby ran a 48:34 to top the women’s race and the men had two joint winners in 36:09 for Scott Hoberg and Jovica Spajic.
 
ULTRA TRAIL HUACHI
 
Jason Schlarb and Jazmin Lozano won the 50km and Jou Valenzuela and Carina Mendoza won the 80km.
 
HONG KONG 100
 
Jiasheng Shen won the race in 10:22ahead of Jing Liang and Zhenlong Zhang. For the women, Yangchun Lu was ahead of Fuzhao Xiang and Guangmei Yang – winning time 11:43.
 
HURT 100
 
22:37was the male winning time for HURT by Nate Jaqua ahead of Trevor Fuchs and Masazumi Jujioka in 23:24and 23:38. Sabrina Stanley Solange Saxby and Anna Albrecht were 1,2 and 3 for the women, 28:28, 29:07 and 29:54 respectively.
TARAWERA
 
What an epic 100-miles – Camille Herron laid it all on the line and was potentially looking like the outright winner until a major blow-up… she rallied though and finished 2nd overall and dominated the female race obliterating course records, her time, 17:20:52. Man of the moment, Jeff Browning once again won another ‘100!’ – But what a story…. he took a detour adding over 40-minutes to his race dropping him to 10th. He then chased, picking the runners off and finally passed Camille to take the victory! His time 16:18:54 – 3 hours better than the old CR!
In the shorter race, 102km, Reece Edwards beat Cody Reed and Harry Jones – 8:22:51, 8:29:44 and 8:30:35. Courtney Dauwalter kicks off her 2019 campaign with another win, 9:28:03 to Stephanie Austin and Angelique Plaire in 9:49:22 and 10:39:47.
THE SPINE RACE
We have had many SPINE winners on this show but this year, Jasmin Paris won the 268-mile race outright! It was 12-hr better than the previous men’s record and obliterated the women’s record.
In the shorter ‘CHALLENGER’ race, Jim Mann smashed the male record In 22:53and previous SPINE winner, Carol Morgan topped for the women in 31:47.
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00:46:22 Interview with JASMIN PARIS
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01:42:05
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UP & COMING RACES go to https://marathons.ahotu.com

Taming The Dragon – The 9 Dragons Ultra 2019 Summary

Running a race in Hong Kong is a unique experience! Failure to do your research will no doubt results in a painful and potentially traumatic experience. Heat, humidity and steps – hundreds if not thousands of steps hurt the legs and mind to an overwhelming experience.

No other place in the world (that I know of) has soaring skyscrapers and city life so close to a myriad of trails that weave in and out of the landscape providing endless possibilities. It is why Hong Kong’s is such a popular destination, and let’s face it, trail, mountain and ultra-running is booming here. Each weekend there and multiple opportunities to race.

I was in HK for The 9 Dragons Ultra organized by Race Base Asia – a trio of Steve Carr, Michael Ormiston and Nic Tinworth. After just two editions, word was out that The 9 Dragons was a brutal race – statistics proved it, the DNF rate as high!

Comprised of two races, a 50-mile race and a 50-km race, 9 Dragons is an action packed weekend of trail running. However, the real challenge was the 50/50. Open to just 250 people, the opportunity to run 50-miles one day and then wake up the next and complete 50-km was of course the ultimate test.

Ultra-runners love a challenge!

The 50-mile race starts as the clock counts down on Friday evening and with the chime of midnight, runners depart for a night and day of running. Of course, the faster you finish, the more rest you get. Cut-off time is 1900 at the Tai Po Tau Playground.

The following morning, the 50-km race starts where the 50-mile race finished at 0730. The finish is at Shing Fung Studios and all runner’s must finish before the cut-off of 2000 hours. 

Both races weave in, out, up and down Hong Kong’s network of trails and in the process runner’s must slay the ‘8 Dragons’ climbing 8620m – 5070m for the 50-mile and 3550m for the 50-km. The respective male and female winners (combined time) become the 9th Dragon!

The 8 Dragons are Kowloon Peak, Tung Shan, Tate’s Cairn, Temple Hill, Unicorn Ridge, Lion Rock, Beacon Hill and Crow’s Nest. The 9th Dragon was a title given to the Emperor himself and herein the story of The 9 Dragon Ultra was created.

View images from the race HERE

The 50-Mile Race

Darkness provides its own challenge and as runner’s departed on the stroke of midnight, it was clear that the challenge ahead had not be missed by every runner – there was no shortage of anxious looks. Temperatures were a little chilly and a strong wind swirled. One unique element of the 9 Dragon’s is the race within a race. The 50-mile would have a 50-mile winner, but at the same time, it would have a 50/50 winner. Pre-race discussion and been all about Hong Kong trail running legend and 2018 9 Dragon, John Ellis. However, just a couple of weekend’s ago he had run at HK100 and then the following weekend he had competed in the ‘King of the Hill’ series. It is here that he picked up a calf injury – would a week of rehab get him fit for the start? Well, the answer was yes! He is a master of pacing and from the off he settled into his own rhythm and he allowed the rabbits to run off into the night. Julien Chorier from France and Kazufumi Ose from Japan dictated the 50/50 pace and Justin Robert Andrews took the reigns in the 50-mile race.

Eventually, Chorier opened a gap and started to pull away from Ose. Ose has experience of the 9 Dragon’s course and he commented after the race that Chorier managed to run when others have walked. Ose managed to yo-yo to Chorier but it was in the final 20-km that the Frenchman opened a 9-minute gap on the Japanese runner. John Ellis despite his injury relentlessly battled the terrain with his usual 100% commitment rounding out the podium. Their times, 10:47:51, 10:56:15 and 11:21:15. Remarkably, the top three 50/50 runners all ran faster than the standalone champion, Justin Robert Andrews who concluded his journey in 11:46:56 ahead of KurtErik Evans in 12:22:42.

For the women, Magdalena Boulet dictated the race from the front and although her lead was slender at times, by the time she reached the finish in 13:45:51 her margin of victory was convincing over race revelation JCY Ho who finished in 14:17:52. Boulet, who is a remarkable ultra-runner, was way out of her comfort zone on the HK trails. She notably said post-race that the trails were the hardest she has ever run and of course, the stairs would haunt her for weeks and months to come. “It has been stair 101 for me,” she said with a laugh. Christine Woon Chze Loh was the 3rd woman.

View images from the race HERE

The 50-KM Race

Morning came all too quickly and as light rain dampened the 0730 start, heat and humidity soon became the order of the day. Unsurprisingly, the 50/50 runners eased into the day allowing the 50-km runners to speed off at a breakneck pace. In particular, Guomin Deng looked set to blaze a trail all the way to the line. He had company early on but from cp1 he opened up a gap and never looked back. At each checkpoint he was ahead of the old course record and at the finish, he smashed it by an amazing 40-minutes ahead of Yuta Sudafed and Blake Turner. Deng’s time a remarkable 6:09:21. 

In the 50/50 race, Julien Chorier looked to be running a smart and sensible race early on and coming from a cycling background, he no doubt used the tactic of marking the 2nd placed runner Kazufumi Ose knowing that his 9-minute margin, if held, would provide him overall 50/50 victory. However, unlike day-one, the heat and humidity was relentless. It soon became apparent that Ose was handling the conditions better and with just over 20-km to go to the finish he had managed to break away and take 3-minutes from Chorier’s lead – could Ose break the Frenchman? Chorier pushed, but the more he pushed, the hotter he became… The intense humidity and countless steps conspired against him and at the finish, Ose managed to claw back the lost 9-minutes from day-one and win by 3-minutes. It was an epic battle and one that will go down in the history of the race. John Ellis despite incredible pain, somehow, managed to hold on for 3rd place in the 50/50 in 19:27:15 combined time. As he ran the final meters, he was doubled in pain and at the finish he collapsed, racked with pain. His result only confirmed his legendary status to the HK trail community. Ose’s combined time was 17:34:28 to Chorier’s 17:38:19.

The women’s race had a similar feel to the men’s with the solo 50-km runners setting of at a relentless pace; a pace they would hold to the finish. Whereas the 50/50 runners would ease into the day and take on the challenge, one stride at a time. Charlotte Taquet was a convincing winner in 7:07:11 ahead of Sandi Menchi and Kim Mathews.

Magdalena Boulet had recovered remarkably from her day-one efforts, no doubt all her multi-day experience coming to the fore. She looked fresh and strong all day and although the local HK trail community hoped that JCY Ho would use her local knowledge to reel Boulet in, the Hoka One One runner was just two strong. Boulet crossed the line first once again in the 50/50 runners and became the 9 Dragon for 2019. Ho finished 2nd in a flood of tears and emotion. It was a huge day and weekend of running for this women who only started running a few year’s back. Christine Woon Chze Loh once agin placed third and secured the final 50/50 podium slot. Combined times for the women were 22:18:04 for Boulet and 24:24:41 and 25:32:23 respectively for 2nd and 3rd.

View images from the race HERE

Race Notes

I see many races and I have to say, The 9 Dragon Ultra race and team excelled from beginning to end. The HK trail running scene is like a huge family. It is more than running, it’s like a huge social experiment that brings people from all walks of life together, for one common goal. The Race Base Asia team headed by Steve, Michael and Nic really know how to put on a race and make it go like clockwork. There are so many things to praise, from the detailed documents that explain how a checkpoint should look, to the incredible burger (veggie option available) and beer that is offered at the finish-line. I only wish that all races could be like this.

Personal Thanks

Many thanks to Steve, Michael and Nic for making my stay slick, enjoyable and fun. We had some great times in our week long adventure. Hannes was my man with a motorbike for the 50-mile and he did a stunning job of getting me around in the dark. Janine and Mo hosted me for the week and well, it was just a pleasure – I cannot wait to return, And finally, thank you to everyone who came and said hello. You made my HK adventure a pleasant one and I am keen to return.

Images are available at www.iancorless.photoshelter.com

Episode 167 – Camille Herron and Tyler Curley

Episode 167 of Talk Ultra is here… HAPPY NEW YEAR! We have an interview with woman on fire, World Record breaker, Camille Herron. We also chat with Tyler Curley all about Western States. Speedgoat Karl co-hosts and Th Godfather of Trail, Kurt Decker provides the interviews.
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