The Coastal Challenge 2023 #TCC2023 – Stage 1

Mathieu Blanchard ©iancorless

It was an early start (0300) leaving San Jose and heading to the Pacific Coast for the stage 1 of the 2023 The Coastal Challenge starting at Del Rey beach, Quepos.

This year, the shorter Adventure category and the longer Expedition category would run different distances for stage 1. In the past, they have run the same course.

Expedition would run 41km with 1071m vertical gain and the Adventure, 32km.

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Getting underway before 0800, the rewards were blessed with cooler’ temperatures for the first hour, however, cooler is all relative when on the coast, it was still hot!

Sebastian Krogvig ©iancorless

Overnight, Sebastian Krogvig unfortunately had picked up some sickness, although feeling generally okay, it was clear as the stage started he was not 100%. He struggled with any pace, it was a tough day…

Didrik Hermansen pushing the pace ©iancorless

Didrik Hermansen though set his stall out from the start setting a strong pace. He was followed by Dani Jung, Mathieu Blanchard and Peter van der Zon.

Didrik and Mathieu ©iancorless

It wasn’t long before Didrik and Mathieu broke away.

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For the women, Katie Schide and Marianne Hogan ran together and behind, Tomomi Bitoh followed.

Checkpoint 1 and there was no change, the pace by Didrik and Mathieu was fast.

As the race progressed, Didrik and Mathieu took a wrong turn and lost in the region of 1.5km allowing Peter and Dani to take the lead. They chased, caught them and then once again pushed ahead in 1st and 2nd.

Peter van der Zon at the finish©iancorless

Peter started to struggle in the heat and Dani started to hold on to the duo. However, Mathieu found the energy to break away and take victory on stage one, closely followed by Didrik and Dani.

“Very happy, a hot day. In Canada it was -40, today 40-degrees here, that is a big change…. My body handled the waether today. It’s a big Tropical environment, wonderful trees, amazing bridge and waterfalls.” – Mathieu Blanchard

Mathieu Blanchard ©iancorless

Katie and Marianne finished together, Katie looked happy to be done, she had also struggled with some illness and fought hard throughout the day.

Katie and Marianne ©iancorless

Tomomi came in securing 3rd place, all smiles. Last year, Tomomi caught Covid one day before the race and had to miss four stages, this year, she is so happy to be back.

Tomomi Bitoh ©iancorless

Faces told the story at the finish, the heat and the humidity had taken its toll, it always does on stage 1, it’s such a shock to the system without pre-acclimation, something that Marianne and Mathieu had done.

“I heard the sound of animals in the jungle, I turned to Peter and said this is incredible, ‘This is much more atmosphere than UTMB!” – Dani Jung

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Stage 2 tomorrow is 40km and 1828m+

Stage Results

  • Mathieu Blanchard 3:36:08
  • Didrik Hermansen +1m 27s
  • Dani Jung +1 28s
  • Marianne Hogan 4:13:01
  • Katie Schiede 4:13:01
  • Tomomi Bitoh 4:42:50

#tcc2023

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The Coastal Challenge 2023 #TCC2023 – Arrival in Costa Rica

Runner’s have arrived in San Jose, Costa Rica ahead of the 2023 edition which starts on Sunday February 5th.

Admin day, pre-race protocols and race briefing will soon be completed and then an early morning journey to Quepos and the start line of stage 1 awaits.

For 2023, the runner’s in both Expedition and Adventure categories will experience some new route changes and distances. Notably, the expedition category, on paper, appears to be a tougher race.

Stage 1 is always brutal as for many, the heat and humidity really takes a hold and exhausts the un-prepared body. In the past, this stage has hovered around the 30km mark, for 2023 it will be 41km with 1071m+ for the Expedition category.

  • Stage 2 40km and 1828m+
  • Stage 3 49km and 1884m+
  • Stage 4 35.5km and 2434m+
  • Stage 5 40.6km and 1670m+
  • and the final stage 6 35.7km and 875m+

This makes a total 0f 241.8km and 9762m+.

For the shorter Adventure race, unlike in past editions, stage 1 will be shorter than the expedition at 32km.

  • Stage 2 17km
  • Stage 3 16.5km
  • Stage 4 12.5km
  • Stage 5 22.3km
  • Stage 6 35.7km

The Adventure race totals 136km with 4032m+.

With an International line-up, all eyes will be on the front of the race with a stellar male and female line-up.

For the men:

Mathieu Blanchard ©iancorless

Mathieu Blanchard, Didrik Hermansen, Sebastian Krogvig, Dani Jung and Peter van der Zon will go head-to-head for the TCC crown. Sadly, local ever-present and multi podium finisher of the TCC, Erick Aguero will not start due to injuries sustained in a fall.

For the women:

Katie Schide ©iancorless

UTMB one and two, Katie Schide and Marianne Hogan will once again do battle along with Tomomi Bitoh from Japan.

Departing from San Jose around 0330am, the journey to the coast will be undertaken in darkness. The hope is that runner’s can start the stage as early as possible, therefore taking advantage of cooler temperatures before the heat of the day arrives.

The TCC is the ultimate Costa Rican multi-day adventure. The route hugs the coastline of the tropical Pacific, weaving in and out of the Talamancas; a coastal mountain range in the Southwest corner of this Central American country. The terrain is ever-changing and challenges each participant, from wide, dusty and runnable fire trails to dense and muddy mountain trails. Add river crossings, boulder hopping, swimming through rivers, passing under waterfalls, and long and relentless beaches, TCC is a unique experience. Finally, the finish will come in the incredible Corcovado National Park, a Unesco World Heritage site with a stunning final loop around Drake Bay. After an evening relaxing, the runner’s will depart for their journeys back to San Jose via speedboat to Sierpe and then a follow on coach trip.

TCC has always grabbed my attention, February is early in the year, so, there are not many races. For me, it will be a challenge, I’m usually home skiing in Norwegian winter and in 2023 I will be in an exotic race in the Jungle – it’s exciting! The landscapes and nature looks spectacular! The trails look challenging and fun, a perfect mix of racing and adventure.” – Sebastian Krogvig

#tcc2023

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LANZAROTE TRAINING CAMP 2024

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MULTI-DAY TRAINING CAMP

JANUARY 2024 11th to 18th (Thursday to Thursday) 

Located at the iconic Club La Santa resort, our training camp will provide you with all the knowledge, experience and practical training you need to make your next trail, ultra and multi-day adventure a success.

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Hosted by IAN CORLESS, the training camp is the perfect place to hone your skills for multi-day, fast packing and running in general.

With

2024 LINE UP

ANNA COMET PASCUAPIERRE MESLET,

LAUREN GREGORY and INGE NIJKAMP.

GUESTS  – KEVIN WEBBER and STEVE DIEDERICH.

Anna Comet Pascua won the 2022 Marathon des Sables in a dominant performance. An experienced sky, mountain and ultra-runner, Anna is also a multi-day specialist with victories at The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica and the Everest Trail Race in Nepal. A runner for the Scarpa Team, it’s a pleasure to have Anna join us in Lanzarote.

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Lauren Gregory ran the 2021 (toughest) Marathon des Sables and was first British woman and 8th in the women category. A personal trainer, Lauren will guide a run group, host yoga sessions will provide a talk.

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Pierre Meslet joined the Lanzarote Multi-Day Training Camp in 2022 after placing 9th at the 2020 Marathon des Sables. His attendance was a success, not only from the perspective of leading a run group but also his profession as a physio – He was able to provide ‘on-site’ treatment for our training camp. Pierre is back in 2023!

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Inge Nijkamp has been top-10 at Marathon des Sables and The Coastal Challenge. A qualified nutritionist, she will guide a group, provide a nutrition talk specific to multi-day running and be on-hand for one-to-one nutritional consultations.

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Kevin Webber after a successful 2023 camp has requested that he come back in 2024 for more… In his words, “I just loved this, great location, great people, great running, what’s not to like?” He will once again guide a group, provide an inspiration and moving talk about running with a terminal cancer diagnosis. He has many stories to tell.

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Steve Diederich is the UK agent for Marathon des Sables, The Coastal Challenge and Everest Trail Race, he will be on-hand to provide advice about all three races and answer any questions. Currently studying Sports Psychology and come Lanza 24 he will be qualified and on-hand to discuss the mental side of sport and running.

“I wanted to say a big thank you for this week – I’ve left so energised and inspired after the week… I thought the camaraderie from other runners was incredible. If felt as if everyone had left their ego at home which really made for such open and honest sessions. I hope you have the opportunity to reflect on how impactful and enjoyable the camp was.  The fact that the organisation was seamless doesn’t just happen and I know the layers of detail and spreadsheets that go into an event like this. I’ll be back I’m sure and when I do get to the start line of MDS I will be much more likely to succeed based on all the advice.” – EB

BOOKING FORM HERE

The purpose of any training camp is to provide you with specific information and training designed specifically to help you with your future objectives. Although you may run (train) more in this condensed week, it’s not designed to break you! Therefore, all training sessions are flexible and you can dip-in and dip-out as required. Most importantly, just as in any race, we will have a very mixed ability base. You will therefore train at your appropriate pace with like minded people.

Each day will be broken down into one or two specific training sessions, one workshop and leisure time.

Lanzarote offers a variety of terrain that can be found in many desert races and therefore it’s the ideal training ground to prepare and acclimatise for an up and coming challenge. Club La Santa as a resort offers a great base and all facilities are included. This is great for relaxation, an opportunity to cross train or more importantly it’s perfect for friends and family to join you as a plethora of opportunities are available.

READ MORE HERE

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PRICE PER PERSON (exc flight)

£1095 pp* shared occupancy / Solo Occupancy apartment £1695*

A £300 deposit secures a place for shared occupancy, £600 for solo-occupancy. Deposits are non-refundable in any circumstance and cannot be carried forward to a following year.

This includes a self-catering apartment on a share basis. Inclusion in the above schedule and access to all facilities within the Club La Santa complex.

A non-training partner is welcome to join a training partner for a cost of £975 pp* and they are able to use all the facilities at Club La Santa.

BOOK HERE

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Oman Desert Marathon 2023 Stage 3

Mohamed El Morabity ©iancorless

Stage 3 of the Oman Desert Marathon followed a long stage 2 of 55-km. For perspective, Mohamed won the stage in 5-hours 11-minutes, while the last runner came in close to the midnight cut-off. When you consider the 06:30am start, that is a long day on the feet.

Corina Sommer recovering before stage 3©iancorless

Morning of stage 3 was rest in camp and the scheduled 3 start times would commence at midday, followed by 2pm and the final wave of top-12 runner’s departing at 4pm. Ahead 42km with all runner’s spending time in some darkness before arriving at the finish.

With a flat section to start the day, a small and beautiful dune section, and then a relatively flat run in to the line, on paper, stage 3 was by ODM standards an easy one.

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If Rachid had agreed with his brother that victory was Mohamed’s to take, Rachid did not run the last stage without a fight. Actually, the contrary, he seemed to be pushing hard and looking for the advantage.

Mohamed followed at all times looked relax.

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The duo exchanged the lead at multiple times and it was during darkness that Mohamed took the lead and finished strongly ahead of his brother 3:23 to 3:40 elapsed respectively, the 2023 Oman Desert Marathon is now almost certainly his!

Behind Saleh Alsaidi once again ran a very strong stage, he never came close to the Moroccan’s but his podium place is secure.

Corina and Aziza head-to-head ©iancorless

If Aziza El Amrany  thought stage 3 would be an easy one, she would need to think again… Corina Sommer had the bit between her teeth and the duo pushed a hard pace. Just before CP1 Aziza got a gap, was the writing on the wall?

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No! Corina fought back, caught and passed her and then opened up her own lead. As darkness came, the lead extended and it was a nail-biter to the line, Corina crossing in 4:21:09.

The clock ticked, Aziza was losing her huge lead, eventually she came and crossed in 4:36:06. Now Corina is just 10-minutes behind with one stage to go… Is it possible to get back that time in ‘just’ 22km?

Aziza Raji was off-the-pace today and finished 3rd.

Welcome to Oman ©iancorless
  • Mohamed El Morabity 3:23:30
  • Rachid El Morabity 3:40:03
  • Saleh Alsaidi 3:41:21
And into the darkness they went… ©iancorless
  • Corina Sommer (SUI) 4:21:09
  • Aziza El Amrany 4:36:06
  • Aziza Raji 4:53:15

#omandesertmarathon

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Lanzarote Multi-Day Training Camp 2023 – Day 3

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Day 3 of the Lanzarote Multi-Day Training Camp and a long run that included soft sand practice. It was a perfect day… Clear skies, hot temperatures and an opportunity to understand how to run up , down and across soft sand.

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It’s a pleasure to have the opportunity to be in this environment and putting to test the skills required come Marathon des Sables or similar race.

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The on-hand and advice from the guides invaluable. It doesn’t matter about ability, everyone on the camp is a sponge trying to soak up the advice.

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After a break, the afternoon session on ‘Fast and Light’ provided an insight on Fastpacking by Ian Corless and Abelone Lyng. While an emphasis was placed on Marathon des Sables, other races and environments were considered, such as rainforest, mountain and snow/ ice.

MDS Kit

Once again a short recovery run concluded the day.

Tomorrow, participants will spend a night under the stars, in bivouac, fine-tuning their self-sufficient skills in a real environemnt, with rationed water and just a tent provided.

Interested in joining us? 2024 is open for booking HERE

#multidaytrainingcamp

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Lanzarote Multi-Day Training Camp 2023 – Day 1

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It was day-1 of the 2023 Lanzarote Multi-Day Training Camp and what a perfect day! The rain from ‘arrival’ day disappeared leaving a perfect sunny and windy day.

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The morning was a 24km ‘Coastal Run’ that had over 50-participants moving along some wonderful, technical single-track on the outward route and easier gravel trails for the run home.

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Spilt in to three main groups, Tom Evans and Pierre Meslet guided the faster runners, Ian Corless and Abelone Lyng the middle group and Inge Nijkamp, Kevin Webber and Steve Diederich guided the run/ walker and walkers.

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The trails here a stunning and the backdrop superb. Technical trails are compensated with easier non-technical trails but the group bonding, chats and views help the km’s fly past…

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After a lunch break, the afternoon was taken up with two talks: the inspirational Kevin Webber told his story of his Prostrate Cancer diagnosis and Steve Diederich (UK agent for MDS) gave an informative talk around MDS logistics.

A 5km recovery run conclude the activities of the day and then relaxation was the order of the day, with some good food, as plans were made ready for day-2.

Interested in joining us? 2024 is open for booking HERE

#multidaytrainingcamp

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Oman Desert Marathon 2023 Preview

Rachid El Morabity

It’s countdown time to the 2023 Oman Desert Marathon.

Now in its 8th edition, the Oman Desert Marathon will take place January 21st to 24th. A self-sufficient race, the race takes place over 4-stages with a total distance of 165-kms.

January offers excellent conditions for a desert adventure, with highs anticipated and 25-degrees and lows of 17-degrees.

A unique race, the route provides participants the opportunity to explore and discover untouched sands and the highest dunes of Oman while running 47, 55, 42 and 21km.

“The OMD, changed my perspective on ultra-marathon running for the better. The desert is magical and beautiful, but will test you mentally and physically to your limit, but you will be a better person from it. The OMD event should be on every runner’s calendar.” – Adam May.

Arrival in Oman will be on January 20th with transfers to Al Jawharat Resort in Bidiyah. The afternoon will taken up with admin protocols and a race dinner.

  • Stage 1 – 47km
  • Satge 2 – 55km
  • Stage 3 – 42km
  • Stage 4 – 21km

Daily start times fluctuate and interestingly, Stage 3 has three starts, 1200, 1400 and 1600.

Stage 4 has an 0800 start with the race concluded by 1300 at the Al Jawharat Resort in Bidiyah resort. In the evening, an award ceremony and prize giving will take place.

The Runner’s

While Omani runner’s will make up the majority of the field, there are participants from Spain, France, Ukraine, Italy, Germany, Poland, Britain, Belgium, Switzerland and not surprisingly, Morocco will have the main contenders for overall victory.

King of the desert, Rachid El Morabity, 9x winner of the Marathon des Sables will once again lead the field and he is without doubt, the hot favourite for overall victory.

Mohammed El Morabity

Rachid’s brother, Mohammed, will be his main contender and should Rachid have a bad day, his brother will be able to pounce.

Aziz Raji

For the women, desert specialist, Aziz Raji, also a winner of Marathon des Sables, will be the main protagonist not only for the female victory, but quite possibly, a highly-ranked overall placing.

How to follow:

Daily reports and images will be issued on this website (connection allowing) each evening and a full and detailed race summary will follow after January 24th. On IG, @iancorlessphotography and @marathonoman 

We look forward to welcoming you to the Oman Desert Marathon experience.

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LOFOTEN STAGE RUN – NEW FOR 2023

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New for 2023, Norway’s first multi-day trail running event, the LOFOTEN STAGE RUN brought to you by the team behind The Arctic Triple taking place Week 22 2023 (w/c 29th May).

Download the info PDF HERE

Image sheets HERE

Located in the stunning and world-renowned Archipelago of Lofoten, The Arctic Triple team will offer two stunning races, the 175km Expedition Run and the 120km Adventure Run, both starting in the iconic, beautiful, and picturesque Reine and concluding in Svolvær.

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Travel point-to-point, on foot, experiencing the majesty of Norway. Stunning trails, majestic mountains, resplendent views, and all during the endless daytime of the midnight sun. A fully supported journey over 4-days (6-days in total) and remembered for a lifetime.

The Lofoten Stage Run will bring the best of what Norway has to offer – fjords, fishing villages, beaches, mountains, ridges and of course the world-renowned Hytte experience.

Kristian Nashoug at Reine
Kristian Nashoug at Reine

“Lofoten Stage Run came about after the 2021 Arctic Triple and the realisation that only the 100-mile runners were getting a full 360 Lofoten experience. Not everyone wants or can run 100-miles in one go, especially here in Lofoten. So, we have created the Lofoten Stage Run which effectively breaks down our 100-mile race in 4-stages and therefore offers a more manageable way to experience all that Lofoten has to offer.” – Kristian Nashoug

The Lofoten Stage Run, either the 175km or 120km versions offer a full day to cover the respective stages and the opportunity to really experience all that this area has to offer. In the evening, runners will meet local hosts, experience local food, have comfortable lodging, and create new bonds and friendships with like-minded people. Lofoten is one of the most ‘desired’ places to visit in the world, what better way to experience it?

This is no ordinary multi-day race!

Stages will consist of 4-days, 39km, 60k, 31km and 45km for the 175km Expedition Run and 39km, 29km, 31km and 21km for the 120km Adventure Run, it’s The Arctic Triple’s aim to make this experience available to all.

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Day 1 will conclude in one of the best-preserved fishing villages in Lofoten, Nusfjord.

Day 2 at Unstad Arctic Surf.

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Day 3 at Brustranda Fjordcamping in Rolvsfjord, a real gem on the inside of the Lofoten archipelago.

And finally, all races conclude in Svolavær.

Experience Lofoten.

Experience the Arctic Circle.

Experience the midnight sun.

Experience the majesty and beauty of Norway under your own power.

PRICE 26,990. NOK (2550 EURO +/-)

Use the contact form below, the first 10 people get a 10% discount.

LOFOTEN STAGE RUN 2023 – iancorless.com

THIS IS THE LOFOTEN STAGE RUN.

For more information and full detailed itinerary, schedule, and costs.

Please go HERE

Week 22 2023.

©iancorless

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Everest Trail Race 2022 Summary

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The Everest Trail Race (ETR) finally was all systems go after an extended break due to the Coronavirus situation. Needless to say, the return was welcome, not only by ETR staff but all the runner’s, many who had postponed entries for 12 or even 24-months.

Nepal is a magical place and to be back in the magic was special.

ETR organisation had not been dormant between 2020 and 2022, the opposite. With the ever expansio of gravel roads leading toward Lukla, it was important to return ETR to more isolated and raw trails, so, in comparison to pre-2020, the 2022 race would be a new experience, particularly over stages one to four with stages five and six remaining roughly the same to 2019.

Camp 1 at Dhap ©iancorless

THE RACE

  • Stage 1 : 23.08km with 1551m+/ 1012m-
  • Stage 2 : 30.30km with 2365m+/ 3115m-
  • Stage 3 : 28.23km with 2028m+/ 2799m-
  • Stage 4 : 27.40km with 2170m+/ 1515m-
  • Stage 5 : 31.80km with 2850m+/ 1650m-
  • Stage 6 : 29km with 1770m+/ 2802m-
Amazing views to start the race ©iancorless

VIEW THE IMAGE GALLERIES HERE

ARRIVAL IN KATHMANDU

Travel is coordinated so all participants meet in Istanbul for an onward red-eye flight through the night to arrive in Kathmandu mid morning. During the Covid period, Kathamandu has not stood still either. There have been major improvements to the airport and what was a very painful arrival and immigration procedure is now considerably less painful if you have the relevant documents, photos and cash to pay for an entry visa.

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Airport welcome ©iancorless

Everyone is welcomed at the airport with a traditional garland and then it’s transfer time to the hotel which will be home for the next two days. For those who have not been to Kathmandu before, the driving is always somewhat of a shock. Organised chaos is the easiest way to explain it.

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Arrival at Hotel Shanker, a calm and hidden oasis in noise and craziness of Kathmandu is welcome. Everyone is greeted and then it’s straight into initial race admin before relaxation time after long travel.

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PRE-RACE

Monkey Temple ©iancorless

Day 1 morning is a group excursion to the Monkey Temple and Patan. The Monkey Temple for 2022 was considerably busier than other years due to timing of an important religious festival. It was rammed with people but that only added to the atmosphere.

A time to pray ©iancorless

Of course, it’s always an eye-opener to experience a place like this. No matter how many times you visit, there is always something new and of course, it’s a popular place for beggars who hope to monetise the charity of the visitors.

Nepal always provides a reality check ©iancorless

From the Monkey Temple to historical Patan. *Patan, also known as ‘Lalitpur’, the city of artisans, lies 5 km southeast of Kathmandu, and is home to the valley’s finest craftsmen who have preserved such ancient techniques as the repoussé  and lost wax process used to produce exquisite sculptures. The city retains much of the old charm with its narrow streets, brick houses and multitude of well-preserved Hindu temples, Buddhist monasteries (vihars) and monuments. (*https://ntb.gov.np/patan).

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The buildings, the winding streets, the noise and colour – always special. But for many, the people are what is interesting… So many characters full of life, history and colour.

Local colour ©iancorless

After a morning of relaxation and sightseeing, late afternoon is taken up with pre-race admin checks, number collection, medical checks and onwards to the evenings welcome dinner and race briefing.

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TRAVEL TO CAMP 1

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Travel to camp 1 in Dhap is via bus and it’s a long and lengthy journey of 8 to 12-hours.

Of course regular stops break up the journey and there is an opportunity to see local colour and character on the way, one of the real benefits of travel via road in comparison to taking internal flights.

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Arrival at camp 1 eventually comes. Camp is set up in advance and the glow of lights and yellow tents suddenly makes the whole experience come to life. Now, the ETR finally begins and everyone spends a first night in a tent.

Camp 1 Dhap ©iancorless

THE RACE

Great views to start the race ©iancorless

STAGE 1

A first night under the stars and by Nepal standards in November, it was a relatively mild despite the layer of frost on all the tents and on the ground.

Participants were undecided if it had been cold or not, basically this came down to how good and warm their sleeping bags were. If a runner felt cold last night, the omens are not good for how well they will sleep in the coming days.

Warm sweet tea is a great way to start a day, especially while relaxing in a sleeping bag. But despite that luxury, breakfast called and the need to add layers and absorb calories for the day ahead was an immediate priority.

The sun came and with it warmth. The glow of head torches replaced, bags were packed and racing apparel was made ready.

Rationed water, gels and bars were provided and at the stroke of 0830 the runner’s departed for Stage 1 of the 2022 Everest Trail Race.

Local musicians at the start ©iancorless

At 23.08km with 1551m+/ 1012m- the day was expected to be completed quickly by the front-runners. Miguel Heras did not disappoint crossing the line at exactly 1100am, behind, the 2019 ETR Suman Kulung finished just a couple of minutes later with the 2018 ETR champion, Jordi Gamito, finishing 3rd off the pace.

Suman Kulung ©iancorless

Miguel explained how he had made a silly mistake immediately after Cp2 whilst eating at not concentrating, he missed a marker and went off course. The mistake cost him first place and many minutes… He chased, caught Suman, and still obtained victory; a great run. However, he did say, “There are 5-days to go, anything can happen!”

For the women, Silvina Perez ran a strong stage ahead of Nepali, Ang Furba Sherpa. Ester Alves from Portugal finished 3rd ahead of pre-race favourite, Caroline Turner, who summed her day up with a simple summary, “The altitude and the last climb kicked my ass!”

It was a successful day-1 with all participants completing the course before 1700hrs.

Silvina Perez ©iancorless

STAGE 2

It was a cold night at 3500m. The wind and cloud adding to the chilly temperatures. For those who have raced light, today is the day that they understand the importance of layers and a warm sleeping bag. A lack of sleep with a tired body is not pleasant, even warm tea and a hot breakfast could not lighten the mood of some. After day-1, based on finish times, ETR operates two starts for stage, 0700 and 0800, thus allowing slower competitors additional time to complete the stage.

A cold night ©iancorless

The day started with a 500m climb to the summit of Pikey Peak at 4041m. From here a twisting and technical descent to Jase Bhanjyang (3510m) and the Lamjura Pass towards Langate Peak and onward to Pungmuche and Thumptencholing. From 20.5km another climb to 24.5km, and then a tough finish with a long climb, descent and then a final short climb to the camp at Rinmo.

The climb to Pikey Peak ©iancorless

Everyone was unanimous, it was a seriously tough day and although we missed a peak due to landslide, it added distance, many recording between 34-36km.

Miguel Heras ©iancorless

The race at the front was intense and today, with so much altitude and added distance, Nepali Suman had the advantage over Miguel Hera, Jordi Gamito once again placing 3rd.

Purwha Lhamu Sherpa ©iancorless

For the women, it was a similar story with Nepali, Purwha Lhamu Sherpa having the advantage over Sivina Perez.

The impact of the day will no doubt be seen in stage 3, when the runners tackle 28.23km with 2028m+/ 2799m-

Many are already discussing the drop of over 2000m from 3855m at km7.5, to 1625m at km23. A tough day!

Himalayan Vista from Pikey Peak ©iancorless

STAGE 3

Nothing better than starting a 30km day with a 1200m climb to just under 4000m through forest trails. The downside, depending on viewpoint and preferences, was the 2700m of descent that followed via steep, technical, challenging and rocky trails. And then just when you think it’s all over, you finish the day with 500m of vert followed by another short decent to camp. It was a tough day!

Miguel Heras ©iancorless

The action started early with Miguel Heras and Sumun Kulung setting a harsh pace up the first climb, they were inseparable. Event the relentless descent could not break them. It was at the last checkpoint, with approximately 5km to go, 500m of vert, that Miguel put the hammer down and opened up an 11min gap over the Nepali. Quite incredible.

©iancorless

Once again, Jordi Gamito, the 2018 ETR champion, seemed happy to settle for the third spot – the duo ahead are at the moment, untouchable.

Blai Llopis Aulet ©iancorless

Purwha Lhamu Sherpa certainly has settled in to women’s race and once again took victory. Ester Alves, equally has found her comfort on the Nepal trails and today relished the relentless downhill trails to finish second. Day 1 victor, Silvina Perez, finished third.

Ester Alves ©iancorless

Mood in the camp was positive after the stage, these trails are quiet and remote. It was only in the final 5km, the climb to Kharikola, that it was possible to see homes and locals working the fields.

STAGE 4

©iancorless

KhariKola has been the stage 3 camp, day 4 start for many years. However, for 2022, the ETR no longer camped at the monastery but a little lower down in an isolated spot. Temperatures were mild for the night, just dipping below zero. So, runner’s were refreshed for the start of day 4 with a good nights sleep.

©iancorless

Today is the day the race enters the main trekking routes as Lukla approaches and the end of the day, Phakding.

However, unlike previous years, a new route was developed to avoid the ongoing dirt road development that is impacting on this area greatly.

Miguel and Suman ©iancorless

A tough 1000m climb kicked off the day to Karila at 3080m and then technical rocky trails to the lowest point of the day, Surke at 2300m. From here, a climb to Chaurikara (2621m) a steep descent and then a steep climb to Segma at 2742m. The ETR is now on new trails on the opposite side of the river all the way to the Phakding finish.

Once again it was the Miguel and Suman show at the front, the duo running together, again at a relentless pace. With the longest and arguably the toughest day of the race tomorrow, they crossed the line together, just a 1-second apart, no doubt saving some reserves.

Jordi Gamito finished third, quite a long way behind the leading two, his overall position is safe and he is no doubt just running a smart race now.

Caroline Turner ©iancorless

The women’s race was different today, with all three women running extremely close together, separated by just minutes. Today, the glory went to Ester Alves who gets better with each day, In the final km’s, Silvina Perez caught a fading Purwha Lhamu Sherpa  to place second.

©iancorless

STAGE 5

Stage 5, the highlight of the ETR. Today is the day the runners pass through Namche Bazaar and head up higher in the direction of the big peaks.

©iancorless

With much of the day above 3800m, it’s a brute, but the compensation is the magnificent backdrop of Everest, Lohtse, Nuptse and the stunning and iconic Ama Dablam.

Tyangboche ©iancorless

Starting in Phakding, it’s up, up and up to Namche and then onwards to Syangboche at 3760m. From here, a descent to Kumjung and then a climb to Mong La, 3973m. Phortse and a stunning single-track trail to Pangboche with amazing views is the cream on the Himalayan cake as the route travels at 4000m. Finally a descent to Debuche, 3741m, and then the climb to the finish at Tyangboche at 3875m.

Ama Dablam ©iancorless

The day held no surprises with Miguel and Suman running together and at tge line it was red-line effort from the Spaniard to take the stage win. Jordi Gamito once again placing third.

A tough day… ©iancorless

Purwha Lhamu Sherpa for the women took the stage with a truly gritty performance. With one ankle heavily taped and carrying an injury, she still managed a stellar performance, the altitude no doubt being an advantage. Ester Alves finished second, exhausted, expressing, “One of the hardest things I have ever done!’ Once again, Silvina Perez placed 3rd.

Depa ©iancorless

STAGE 6

Everest, Lohtse, Nuptse and Ama Dablam ©iancorless

The final stage back to Lukla. At 29km with 1770m+/ 2802m- it is by no means and easy day or chilled day and that was reflected in Miguel and Suman pushing hard all the way to the line finishing well under 3-hours and in course record for the stage. Miguel Heras was the 2022 ETR champion.

Miguel leading Suman with an iconic backdrop ©iancorless

For the rest of the participants, the day was one of victory, the finish line providing the completion of an epic journey. The top women and a group of others, decided to enjoy the day and they all finished together.

©iancorless

Lukla provided an end to the 2022 ETR and the mood was high. For many, the experience had been a tough one. The altitude, climbing and descending providing a much harder and more challenging experience than other multi-day adventures.

“MDS is a walk in the park in comparison to the ETR. MDS may well be self-sufficient, but the terrain here is so much harder, add the altitude and cold nights, the challenge is considerably harder.”

One of the many bridges ©iancorless

Now attention turn to 2023 and the next edition of the ETR. It really is one of the ‘must-do’ races not only for the challenge but for the immersive beauty and experience that Nepal brings.

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Goal Setting for a MULTI-DAY Adventure or RACE

Before you start a multi-day, be that a race or a personal challenge, one thing is for sure, NOW is the time to set a goal and focus, fine-tune everything, including training, so that you can be at the start in the best shape possible.

First and foremost, have a complete understanding of the task ahead and set a goal or target. This is key not only in the physical adaptations that are required, but also the mental adaptations. There is a huge difference in doing something supported and in doing something self-sufficient. Marathon des Sables a prime example, understand the nature of the event and set a realistic but challenging goal.

MDS is an extreme event that takes place in the Sahara. The nature of the event is self-management both physically and mentally to endure the challenge, survive and reach the finish line. The weather (heat) is one of those challenges and surviving the weather is integral to the nature of the event. As is the ‘self-sufficient’ nature. Other than rationed water and a bivouac, be prepared to endure and complete this event with no outside assistance. Of course, help is at hand, but that help is and should be a safety element that is required in emergency. Equally, if undertaking a solo multi-day experience, do the research, plan routes, look at back-up options, can you re-supply with food, is water available?

Plan and prepare.

TRAINING

We are all unique and individual. Some of us are faster, some are mentally tough, some have a capacity to go for hours and hours and even days and yes, some runners combine all those elements.

Therefore, a multi-day training plan must be used as a template and framework to provide a structure for you, the individual, to achieve your goal.

Be sensible and adjust training plans so that they fit your ability, aspirations, training history and time available.

Think about when you place rest days, when you do long runs and when you work on hills and faster running. A training plan is like a jigsaw puzzle and managing the pieces and adding them together sensibly is how you make a successful and complete picture.

Any training plan is designed to progressively build strength, endurance, and confidence with gradual load increases. Rest is an important element of any training plan, so, rest with the same intensity that you train. Ultimately, you have decided to undertake this adventure, so, enjoy the process and make it fun.

Be specific. Make sure the training terrain, as much as possible, simulates your target event.

Always focus on the goal. Training plans for me start with the goal date and I then count back in time to a start point. That start point for you may well be before the 12-weeks but once you start the plan, focus on the target, and always make every session is as specific to the goal as possible.

For example, if participating in Marathon des Sables, you already know some key and important information:

  1. It will be hot.
  2. You will need to deal with hard and rocky plateaus, but you will also need to deal
    with soft sand and dunes.
  3. You will be on rationed food/ calories.
  4. You will only be supplied water to drink, and this is *rationed. In extreme weather such as the October 2021 edition, water rations were increased.
  5. Everything (not the tent) will be carried in a pack, on day 1 this will be at a minimum weight of *8kg. (*Minimum pack weight is 6.5kg but you must carry 1.5 liters of water which equates to 1.5kg.)
  6. You will sleep in an open tent, on the floor using a mat and sleeping bag.
  7. The long day comes on day 4 after approximately 90-100km of running, so, you
    need to be able to run for consecutive days and manage your pace and effort.
  8. The long day is (typically) between 70 and 90km and you have one full day, one night and most of the next day to complete it.
  9. After the ‘rest day’ is a marathon.
  10. You can complete the race by covering just 3km’s per hour.
  11. In 2019, the MDS was won by Rachid El Morabity and Ragna Debats in 18:31:24 and 22:33:36 respectively. The last runner was Ka Chun Chan from China in 69:29:16. For perspective, Rachid could have run the race nearly four times in 69:29! We are all individual.
     

Key elements each runner needs for a multi-day like MDS.

  1. You need to be mentally tough.
  2. Physically strong to endure multiple days of back-to-back exercise.
  3. Strong enough to carry a loaded pack and still move at a good pace.
  4. Adapted to function on restricted calories and food choices.
  5. Able to drink only water.
  6. Adapted to perform and function in heat.
  7. You need to be able to walk.
  8. You need to be able to handle un-planned situations.
  9. Have A, B and C goals.
  10. Be self-sufficient.

Multi-day racing and multi-day adventures are unique and particularly self-sufficient ones when you must carry all you need for the duration of the event. In a race, you will carry clothing, sleeping bag, sleeping mat, essential items and food for the duration of the event. At MDS minimum weight is 6.5kg plus water. Just as you prepare physically and mentally, also be meticulous with equipment and food preparation. You ideally need your pack to be 6.5kg and no more… Additional weight is additional stress.

If fastpacking, you may possibly be as above, but you will need to carry your own tent and you will need to re-supply with water en-route either using natural water supplies or utilizing retail outlets.

Be specific and understand the demands of the event you are undertaking and plan accordingly.
 

WHAT SHOULD A TRAINING PLAN LOOK LIKE?

All plans need to be progressive and geared towards the end goal of a multi-day like Marathon des Sables or a fast-packing adventure.

Remember, we are all individual, so while a generic plan may provide a guide and structure from which to work from, it’s important to adapt and tweak to individual needs. For example, the training plan for someone who is trying to be top 100 at a race will vary greatly to someone who hopes to complete and not compete.

Each week will typically have one or two rest days.

A simple strength training structure that can be done at home or in a gym.

Hill sessions and speed sessions (tempo/ intervals/ fartlek) have a place in any training plan, but the quantity and duration will depend on what type of runner you are and what your aspirations are.

Long sessions are essential and most certainly, an element of back-to-back sessions will help adapt the mind and body for the challenge ahead. However, injury risk goes up with any block like this, so, it needs to be placed carefully with adequate rest and recovery.

Learn to walk. There is a huge difference walking with purpose and pace to ‘just’ walking. Except for the top runners, walking is an integral element to a successful completion of a multi-day race or adventure. Many only realise during the event. Get walking dialed in training.

Do some specific work with a pack and weight BUT be careful as it is easy to get injured.

Think of training as blocks of 4-weeks, build for 3-weeks and then rest/ take it easier on the 4th. An example could be as below.

The final phase of a training plan should taper to allow you to be strong and fresh when the start comes, typically this 2 or 3-weeks long. This a perfect time to add specific race adaptations such as heat training, preparing for humidity, preparing for a cold environment and of course fine-tuning equipment and packing.

CONCLUSION

Multi-day running or racing is exciting and adds many more elements to think about than ‘just’ running. Taking time to plan training and working to a goal is a worthwhile and constructive – it gives you something to aim for!

Further reading:

  • MDS 2021 Summary HERE
    The Ultimate Guide to Desert Multi-Day HERE
  • Fuelling for a Multi-Day HERE
  • How to find your Running Shoe size and fit HERE
  • Sleeping Bag for an Adventure HERE
    Ten Top Tips for Multi-Day HERE
  • Top Tips to better Multi-Day Running HERE
  • Multi-Day Running in a Rainforest HERE
  • Fastpacking – A Guide HERE
  • Fastpacking Light – HERE
  • Fastpacking and Camping in Winter HERE
  • Fastpacking in Nepal HERE
  • Poles for Running and Walking HERE
  • Sleeping bags – PHD, Sea to Summit and Rab HERE


Recommended Races:

  • Marathon des Sables, Morocco (self-sufficient)
  • The Coastal Challenge, Costa Rica (supported)
  • Everest Trail Race, Nepal (semi self-sufficient)

JOIN OUR MULTI-DAY TRAINING CAMP IN JANUARY – INFO HERE

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