Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race™ 2017 – Day 3

A day of drama in Wales as 2015 champion and 2017 race leader Jim Mann, makes a navigational error and not only loses his strong and convincing lead, but also gives away an additional 30-minutes… needless to say, on the finish line he was less than pleased with his navigational prowess.

The day started at 0600 as much of the field started early to maximise the time available to be back in camp before the 2300 cut-off. Forecast was for clear skies and sun and a tough day.

The first control at Pau Craig had a 2-hour guide and many were finding the early climb to just under 700m a challenge. For the lead ladies, Sabrina Verjee and Carol Morgan arrived together – Caroline McIlroy having started earlier. The men arrived in dribs and drabs – Marcus Scotney getting an early start and then the other main contenders arriving closer together, Neil Talbot  first, then Jez Bragg and then finally Jim Mann who appeared to be flying on the tough/ steep terrain.

Myndd Moel followed at 683m and a series of false peaks before dropping down to the first road crossing at Llanllwyda.

The ladies were running strong holding their respective places with Verjee and Morgan running together. Morgan no doubt looking to open up a gap on McIlroy – the duo were only 30+ seconds apart on general classification.

At Cadair Idris, Mann made his error – he navigated south off the course. Unfortunately he ran for many km’s before navigating back north only to go off course again and lose more time and distance.

Scotney, who loves to run, started to extend his lead and claw back the 90-minutes of Mann’s lead.

It was the end of the day when the damage was really starting to come clear. Scotney arrived at Pumlumon Fawr (the last control) looking strong, relaxed and focussed. He said, ‘I feel good!’ )n hearing the news that Mann had gone off course, he no doubt found some new gusto for the final downhill run to the line on good fast terrain. He crossed the line in 7:54:33.

When Mann finally arrived, he was a long way back and pushing hard. Of course it can be a little confusing as the duo did not start at the same time. Crossing the line in 9:30:43 – the true extent of the damage was finally confirmed, Scotney had taken the overall lead by approx 26-minutes, 24:25:02 to Mann’s 24:51:08 elapsed time.

Neil Talbott, Jez Bragg and Ken Sutor once again had strong and consistent days finishing 9:31:55, 9:36:35 and 9:34:30 respectively.

Sabrina Verjee and Carol Morgan pretty much shadowed each other for most of the day. In the latter stages Verjee looked hot and bothered with her effort in the strong hot sun – she crossed the line in 11:01:05 and retained the overall lead in 30:46 :13 elapsed.

Morgan finished in 11:07:46 with an elapsed time of 31:30:13 but the ladies story was all about McIlroy who finished in 11:06:52 and therefore consolidating her lead for 2nd with an elapsed time of 31:28:44.

Results HERE

Marathon des Sables 2017 #MDS – Stage Five 42.2km

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Final results and stage results HERE

Lanzarote Training Camp 2017 – Breaking News

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I am pleased to announce that Sondre Amdahl will join us as a special guest at our Lanzarote Training Camp which will take place in just 1-week at Club La Santa.

Sondre is an experienced and highly successful ultra-runner. In 2016, he placed in the top-10 overall at the Marathon des Sables and he also had a very successful race at the Oman Desert Marathon later in the year placing 6th.

Recently he won a 115km race in Hong Kong and he is now in his final preparations to race The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica in February (preview HERE).

Needless to say, Sondre will be a great addition to the training camp and his advice on kit, training, food and survival in a multi-day race will enhance everyones training camp experience.

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As a reminder, we also have the 2015 Marathon des Sables and Oman Desert Marathon ladies champion, Elisabet Barnes as head-coach for the entire week.

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Our 2017 Training Camp is full but we are already taking bookings for 2018 HERE

You can also read daily reports from the 2016 edition HERE

Multi-Day Running in a Rainforest – Hint ‘n’ Tips

©iancorless.com_TCC2016-3069Multi-day racing brings many challenges and variables not only in the terrain that you can and will encounter but also how one journeys from day-to-day. For example, the Marathon des Sables is a multi-day race that requires self-sufficiency, the only exception comes with water, provided by the race but rationed and the provision of a ‘bivouac’ which provides basic cover which must be shared with seven others. It’s why the ‘MDS’ has become THE multi-day race to do. It strips the runner back to basics.

The Coastal Challenge with takes place in Costa Rica, by general consensus, provides a more challenging course than its desert counter part, however, there is no self-sufficiency.

Don’t be fooled though, the race throws many a challenge at participants and below we provide ‘Hints-n-Tips’ that will make a journey into the rainforests of Costa Rica not only more enjoyable but more successful.

What is The Coastal Challenge?

The race is a multi-day journey that travels from Quepos to Drake Bay over five days and the sixth day is a loop around the Corcovado. Distances are as follows:

  1. 32km (917m+)
  2. 44.6km (1788m+)
  3. 38km (1811m+)
  4. 35km (2054m+)
  5. 52km (1822m+)
  6. 23km (584m+)

Is the race harder than Marathon des Sables?

To provide an ambiguous answer – yes and no!

NO:

  • The race is not self-sufficient and therefore runners only need to run with a small pack with essentials and water.
  • Aid stations are provided with some food and therefore the need to carry anything heavy is minimal but one should think about personal needs, tastes and requirements.
  • You take your own tent (or hire one from the race) and therefore you have your own space to sleep and recover.
  • You have a bag or box that is transported each day to the finish of each stage and therefore you can have fresh clothes, shoes, medical supplies, food etc at your disposal.
  • Food is provided in  the morning, post run and in the evening – you can pretty much eat as much as you like.
  • Many of the campsites are in amazing locations and some local amenities are available, for example, you can have a beer or a cold drink most evenings.
  • The ‘long day’ is not as long as MDS.

YES:

  • The terrain is very varied and at times brutal, you need to be able to handle technical terrain.
  • The course has many 1000’s of meters elevation and descent.
  • Fire trails connect the forest, beach and technical sections which are hard on the legs.
  • Beach sections are long and physically exhausting and mentally tiring.
  • The heat is relentless.
  • The humidity is 75% + and you will sweat, sweat and sweat.
  • Your feet will be in and out of water everyday.
  • The long day is not as long as MDS but at 52km with 1800m+ of vertical over very technical terrain with relentless heat and humidity, it is more than enough of a challenge.

How does one achieve success at TCC?

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KIT:

Bag/ Storage:

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Within reason you can take as much kit as you need as this is transported daily by the race. The race organisation ask that you use ‘Action Packer’ boxes for a couple of reasons: 1. They are waterproof. 2. They are easy for the race to transport as they pack together and are durable. However, from a UK or Europe perspective they are a nightmare to travel with and are troublesome. I recommend *The North Face Base Camp Bag Duffle (here), an Overboard Waterproof Bag (here) or an Ortlieb Waterproof Bag (here). Waterproof is important as you ae going to a rainforest and you do stand the chance of rain on at least one day. You can of course use individual waterproof bags inside to separate and itemise clothing, equipment and so on. *The TNF is not 100% waterproof but I have used it and had no problems.

Clothing:

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You have a bag that can carry all your kit, so, take 6-8 sets of clothing. It’s really simple, you run in one set of clothing and at the end of the day you freshen up and change into the next days run clothing (which you can sleep in). You can of course add some additional casual clothing if required.

©iancorless.com_TCC2016-9808Make sure clothing is breathable, comfortable and I recommend that tops cover your shoulders as this can be a problem area in such intense heat and sun. You will need a hat without a doubt and some prefer to run with a hat that has protection that comes over the back of the neck. Ladies – just a word of warning on ‘strappy’ tops, they expose more of your skin and you end up with some crazy sun tan.

Feet:

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Not looking after your feet is one of the main reasons (in addition to dehydration) why you will not finish the race. Feet will get wet everyday and you will run on all sorts of varied terrain from gravel fire trail to technical and rocky boulder sections. Your ankles will be twisted and your feet can feel pretty beat up. Obviously you can take advantage of having more than one pair of shoes, I would definitely take two pairs and ideally three. Maybe you could take one pair a 1/2 size larger as a ‘just in case!’

©iancorless.com_TCC2016-9973Think about the fit of your shoe. Forget the advice about going a size larger, for me, this is just bad advice. A shoe that is too big will allow your foot to move, a moving foot causes friction, friction causes blisters – the rest is a horror story and believe me, I have seen some horror stories at TCC. You need a thumb nail of space above your big toe, no more! Of course I provide generic advice here and should YOU know you need something different from experience, trust your instinct. Because the trail is often technical, you need a shoe that can handle a multitude of surfaces that includes rocks, gravel, sand, wet rock and so on. You need trail shoes! Consider your gait, the amount of drop you prefer and how much cushioning.

©iancorless.com_TCC2016-0044Only you know this and nobody can tell you which shoe to use. Also considerer that a shoe needs to be breathable – your feet will get very hot but more importantly your feet will be in and out of water. A shoe that drains water is essential. As an example, Scott Kinabalu (here) has drainage holes that allows water to escape, inov-8 are also making a shoe called ‘Chill’ which is designed for hot weather (here). Some runners like to tape their feet to protect them, if that is the case with you, do that in training so that you understand how that impacts on what size of shoe you require.

©iancorless.com_TCC2016-6245Good socks are essential and in four years of running and working at TCC I have always worn Injinji and never had one blister! Take a fresh pair for each day. Finally, the TCC does have one or two foot doctors who will look after you should a problem happen, my advice, avoid the problems by understanding your needs before arriving in Costa Rica.

Tent:

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The race can provide a tent for you which you can hire, however, I prefer to take my own. The most important thing with your tent is that it must pitch ‘inner’ only. The reason for this is that it’s hot, really hot, and therefore you want as much air-flow as possible. An inner tent with lots of mesh is ideal too. You also don’t really need to worry about the size, I don’t recommend bringing a huge tent but I also don’t recommend bringing a tiny tent. Although I recommend an inner pitch tent, please bring the fly sheet that makes it waterproof – it is a rainforest remember! You can just throw the fly sheet over if required.

Equipment:

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Unlike other multi-day races, what you require whilst on the trail is quite minimal. I recommend a ‘vest’ like pack that can hold bottles, bladder or bottles and bladder. You will drink lots and lots and over the years I have found that having a bladder and two bottles takes some of the worry away from drinking. At times, aid stations can be very far apart, you don’t want to be without water! I would take a simple first aid kit, a whistle (just in case), purification tablets, phone, pocketknife, cash and some sun cream. In past editions, some runners have taken a ‘Spot’ tracker or similar. Poles at times will be useful, it depends if you are a racer or a completer. Importantly, should you take poles, make sure they fold, make sure you can store them quickly and make sure you know how to use them. I would bring your favourite run snacks (gels, bars or whatever) and think what you will need for six days. I have mentioned clothing and shoes, no need to compromise, so don’t! Think about toiletries, medical supplies and personal items that will make your journey in the rainforests better – for example an iPod. You will not need a sleeping bag, it’s too hot, however, I do recommend that you bring a sleeping bag liner, it can often get just a little chilly around 2 or 3am. Pretty much everyone sleeps in run clothing. Bring a sleeping matt and one that provides good comfort, some campsites are rocky!

Hydration:

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Think you have already understood that it’s hot, very hot. You will sweat immediately and you will sweat all day. This places unique demands on you and you will need to keep hydrated. I have already mentioned about carrying enough liquid – make sure you do! I would normally recommend drinking to thirst, but here, I would drink every 10-15min and keep that going. Electrolytes are a constant debating point, particularly with Tim Noakes ‘Waterlogged’ book. However, you will need to replace salts and how you do that will depend on you and your needs.

©iancorless.com_TCC2016-7175The course has constant possibilities for you to submerge yourself in water and reduce your core temperature – do so, it’s essential! Never pass an opportunity. Just 2-3 minutes fully submerged will allow you to continue on feeling refreshed. Never run in the sun when you can run in the shade and cover up your head and shoulders.

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Top Tips:

  • Day 1 starts with 10km of good running. Everyone starts out way too fast and ironically, day 1 at TCC has the most drop outs through exhaustion and dehydration. Start slow! Ease into the race and without doubt, if possible, get some heat acclimatisation before coming out to costa Rica. Day 1 also starts much later than every other day, so, the shock is magnified!
  • From day 2 you will start running with sunrise, take advantage of the cooler hours but don’t go out running hard like a wild animal. You will pay for it.
  • Feeling tired? Run in the shade, walk in the sun.
  • Poles are a benefit at times and I would certainly bring them so you can make a choice whilst at the race.
  • Understand that this is a technical race with very varied terrain, lots of climbing and lots of descending. Practice this and prepare both physically and mentally.
  • Learn to walk – everyone will walk at some stage.
  • Take advantage of every possibility to submerge yourself in pools, rivers, ponds etc.
  • Use a buff or similar product and keep that wet and cool.
  • Pour water over your head regularly to avoid over-heating.
  • Use a hat.
  • Flowing water is often drinkable but be careful, I take water purification tablets as a precaution.
  • Never pass a feed staton without filling bottles/ bladder.
  • Think of your own food needs and diet requirements.
  • The course is exceptionally well marked and be attentive, it’s easy to pass a marker when you have your head down. Not seen a marker in 5-minutes? Chances are you have gone the wrong way.
  • Wildlife will surround you and the reality is that you will not see any of it as the animals are too frightened of you. However, you will hear lots of noises, that is part of the fun! You stand a good chance of seeing monkeys, maybe a snake, spiders and birds.
  • Calf guards or compression may be a good idea on some of the more technical sections, however, I prefer the airflow to keep cooler.
  • When back in camp after a day running, take shoes off first and put some flip-flops on and let your feet breathe. Check for any irruption and blisters and get that seen to asap.
  • Have a shower and freshen up, get some fresh clothes on.
  • Eat and hydrate.
  • Take a nap and elevate your legs.
  • Masseurs are available at a charge (tbc).
  • Evenings are very social and you will be able to relax and bond with fellow runners. However, you do have your own personal tent, so, you can escape and have quiet time if you wish.

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Check List:

  • Waterproof bag or box
  • 2/3 pairs run shoes
  • Run apparel for 6 days
  • Casual clothing
  • Tent that pitches inner only but bring fly sheet
  • Head torch/ tent light
  • Sleeping bag liner
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Travel towel
  • Phone
  • Knife
  • Electrolytes
  • Food for running
  • Whistle
  • Sun cream
  • Medical kit and medication
  • Cash
  • Credit card
  • Poles
  • Gaiters
  • iPod
  • Rope to make a washing line
  • Pegs

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Finally:

Running a multi-day race is an experience and something to cherish. Look around and take advantage of what is a stunning environment. Accept now that this race will challenge you and that it will be tough. Get your head in the right place. Prepare as best you can for heat, humidity, technical running, climbing and descending, if you come prepared, the race will be so much easier.

I always provide impartial advice based on my experiences and knowledge. However, I do accept that I don’t always know or understand what ladies require at a multi-day race. Niandi Carmont has run the shorter Adventure Race and the full distance race at TCC and she provides here a little additional advice for female competitors:

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You might be spending a significant part of your day out on the course but it is always nice to have something clean and light to change into other than run kit. Since you don’t have to transport this, think about light cotton sundresses you can change into after your shower at the end of the daily stage. It will be boiling hot and humid in the evenings so no point bringing anything warm.

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Flip flops are a must. Bring a good quality pair that won’t break the first day in camp. Your feet will swell up and will have macerated in run shoes the whole day. They will have taken a pounding and thank you for allowing them to breathe a few hours. Also I recommend taking showers with flip flops as the showers won’t be sparkling clean and this will reduce the risk of catching anything like athlete’s foot or plantar warts which are highly contagious and prevalent amongst ultra-runners.

Bring a 2-piece swimsuit – there will opportunities to bathe in rivers or the sea at the end of the day.

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I suggest a very, very light negligee to slip into in your tent if you don’t like sleeping in the nude as you will be sweating and no doubt not be using your sleeping back or liner. Temperatures hardly drop at night and it remains humid.

Don’t economise on sun cream – bring a spray, high SPF type, which is non-greasy. Don’t forget you will be sweating a lot in the high humidity so this will have to be applied regularly on the course. Carry a small tube (Tingerlaat (here) do a tiny tube with SPF 50). Take a small tube of anti-chafing cream or gel (Gurney Goo do small tubes) in your pack too. With the high humidity and being constantly wet, running through water even runners who don’t usually suffer from chafing will find this an issue. Apply beneath your sports bra and inner lining of run shorts.

I would recommend against running in ‘skorts’ as you will be constantly sweating and trying to cool off in rock pools to keep your body temperature down. The skirt part will just weigh you down with water. Bring single-layered run shorts or short breathable tights. You will probably suffer less from chafing too with tights.

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Hair conditioner is an absolute must as you will be showering every day and if you don’t want to end up with damaged, straw-like hair or knots, bring a good conditioner. I have had plenty of experiences of leaking bottles of haircare products so I take enough L’Oréal sachets which pack very well and are single use.

Don’t wear rings! Your fingers are going to swell up through heat and some dehydration – so leave the solitaire at home. You will just have to put up with the unsightliness of sausage-finger syndrome for a while.

Bring waterproof zip-locks for cash and toilet paper to carry with you on the daily stages as you will be running through a lot of water and believe me you will be happy to buy an ice cold coke some days on the course. Also make sure your mobile phone is in a waterproof casing/bag or don’t take it with you on the river sections.

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BARNES is BACK! The Coastal Challenge 2017 #TCC2017

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2017 UK registrations now open HERE

The Coastal Challenge are pleased to announce that Elisabet Barnes (Sweden/UK)), female winner of the 2015 Marathon des Sables, Oman Desert Marathon and runner up in the 2016, The Coastal Challenge will return once again to Costa Rica in 2017.

“TCC is a magical race and this has been echoed by so many participants after the 2016 edition. I loved the variety of the course, the challenges in terms of heat, humidity and terrain and the friendly atmosphere. I am really looking forward to returning in 2017 already!”

A multi-day race over 6-days starting in the southern coastal town of Quepos, Costa Rica and finishing at the stunning Drake Bay on the Osa Peninsula, The Coastal Challenge is an ultimate multi-day running experience that offers new challenge even to the most experienced runner.

“I now know what aspects of the course and the terrain I coped well with and what aspects I can improve on.” Elisabet said after the 2016 edition. “The good thing is that I have quite a few improvement areas on this type of terrain so if I manage to do specific enough preparations there is certainly potential to do better next time around. I think this is encouraging and it will help me develop as a trail runner, broadening my skill set.”

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Intense heat, high humidity, ever-changing terrain, stunning views, Costa Rican charm, exceptional organisation; the race encompasses Pura Vida! Unlike races such as the Marathon des Sables, ‘TCC’ is not self-sufficient, but don’t be fooled, MDS veterans confirm the race is considerably harder and more challenging than the Saharan adventure.

“Not carrying equipment makes the running easier and that is nice of course. However, if I look at my strengths I like the completely self-sufficient races too. I am tall and strong and I run well with a backpack. In many cases this means I can get a relative advantage over runners who are less experienced running with a pack or who have a smaller frame than me. I still felt that the TCC was a tough race due to the humidity and terrain and if it was self-sufficient it would be incredibly hard.”

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Hugging the coastline, the race travels in and out of the stunning Talamanca mountain range via dense forest trails, river crossings, waterfalls, long stretches of golden beaches backed by palm trees, dusty access roads, high ridges and open expansive plains. At times technical, the combination of so many challenging elements are only intensified by heat and high humidity that slowly but surely reduces even the strongest competitors to exhausted shells by the arrival of the finish line.

“You always have an advantage when you have done a race once. I know the course and the challenges better now. In terms of the heat and humidity I found it tough but not a major problem. Time was a limiting factor before the race but ideally I would have spent a bit more time acclimatizing to the conditions.”

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2017 will signify the ‘lucky for some’ 13th edition and building on the success of the 2016 edition, Central America’s most important multi-day race looks set to elevate itself to new heights. The race has already announced that Anna Comet, winner of the 2014 and 2015 editions of the Everest Trail Race will participate in 2017. Anna Comet in recent years has shot to fame as a trail and mountain runner after a very successful career as an Alpine skier and ski mountaineer. Her 2014 victory at the Everest Trail Race (also a multi-day race) paved the way for a strong and consistent Skyrunning year in 2015.

But Elisabet Barnes is a multi-day expert and before 2017 comes around, a very busy calendar awaits:

“First I am going back to Marathon des Sables in April and it will be my third race. I am looking forward to it and I predict a very competitive women’s race this year with several top runners coming back from previous years and also some new, extremely competent runners participating. It should be interesting. After this I am going to Richtersveld Transfrontier Wildrun in South Africa in June, followed closely (1 week!) by the Big Red Run in Australia. Later in the year I am going to the US for Grand to Grand. I am very excited about all of these races and the year ahead.”

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The 2016 edition of TCC tested Elisabet and unlike the MDS, the race is not self-sufficient. In many respects it was a learning curve but 2017 will be very different.

“The TCC is not self-sufficient so you can afford to take some more luxuries like a fresh set of running gear for every day, a few pairs of shoes etc. Also not having to cook reduces admin time in camp and means you can spend more time relaxing. From the perspective of the terrain it is completely different with a lot more ascent and descent and technical parts of trail. It requires a different skill set than running in sand and over flat hard packed desert terrain. Finally, the humidity makes it a different beast. Heat is always tough but when you add humidity you have another element to deal with and possibly have to monitor your body even more closely. The same is true with all the water you run through which means that your feet are wet pretty much 100% of the time.”

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Anna Comet will no doubt push Elisabet every step of the way on the 2017 TCC journey and of course, at this stage, other female elite racers may decide to enter the race. The TCC has a long history of top female competition – Anna Frost, Jo Meek, Julia Better and Nikki Kimball to name just a few. Of course, Elisabet’s main concern may well be the possibility that 2016 champion Ester Alves from Portugal may return?

“It was great to race against Ester in 2016. She is a lovely girl and a genuinely nice person. I am very happy for her that she won the race. I now know more about her strengths relative mine and how I can improve to reduce the gaps that led her to victory. I know that Ester is very focused though, so should she decide to return I am sure she will work very hard to keep improving too. If our paths don’t cross in TCC next year, I am sure we will see each other in another race before long.”

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In a very short space of time Elisabet has rose through the ranks to be one of the most respected multi-day races in the world. A very busy 2016 will only add to that reputation! The 2017 TCC is already looking like an incredibly exciting race.

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Contact Information

Email: HERE

Website: HERE

Facebook: HERE

Twitter: @tcccostarica

Global Contacts: HERE

TCC_2017_JoinUs?

More information:

Read the full 2016 TCC race story HERE

View and purchase images from the 2016 TCC race HERE

You can read daily reports from the 2016 TCC edition HERE

 

Lanzarote Multi-Day Training Camp 2016 – Day 8

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Day 8 of the 2016 Lanzarote multi-day camp was a cracker. The hottest day of the week with little or no wind, a stunning coastal route with mixed terrain, volcano climbing and descending and of course, stunning views and amazing people.

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As on all previous days, we had three run/ walk groups. Everyone managed to cover somewhere between 20 and 35km and it was interesting to see how during the week, people progressed, not only in fitness but in regard to equipment, planning and preparation.

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We also pushed everyone out of their own comfort zones with some tough climbing, very technical terrain and challenging descents. It’s all about taking things up a notch so that when race day comes around, the runners are prepared.

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“Brilliant MdS training camp in Lanzarote with organiser, coach and photographer Ian Corless and MdS 2015 champion Elisabet Barnes. 100-miles run in the week with some excellent advice and support plus great people!” – Paul Allum

Paul’s thoughts were echoed by so many of the camp attendees. Elinor Evans in particular found the whole experience enlightening and invaluable. During the weekly runs, the overnight bivouac, the volcano walk and the daily talks, Elinor realised that she had the wrong pack for her, the wrong sleeping bag, a need to address her nutrition and look at her MdS admin. Invaluable!

“The Training Camp in my opinion was exceptional and far exceeded my expectations. The whole program start to finish pushed everyone to achieve their potential while taking into account the wide variety of abilities. All of the coaches were supportive and challenging and while clearly experts in their field never made novices like me feel stupid. The information we got was priceless and the blend of commercialism and a genuine desire to want to help people achieve their goal of competing or completing MDS was incredibly well done. I wouldn’t just recommend this to future MDS competitors I’d suggest you add it to your Compulsory Kit list! Simply brilliant!” – Simon Dunn

Listen to camp attendee feedback HERE

“Fantastic week in magical terrain with lovely people – thank you Ian, Elisabet, Niandi and Marie-Paule – Sahara countdown is ON.” – Elinor Evans

The morning run of 3-5 hours was followed with a relaxing lunch and then an afternoon Q&A which addressed many of the issues raised during the week and allowed everyone to clarify and appease their minds ahead of their next multi-day race.

The day finished with 20-30min cool down run and then an evening group meal and drinks. It has been an incredible week and one that has provided inspiration for all concerned. Roll on 2017.

‘How was your holiday?’ ask the lads at work. 

‘Amazing’ I say. ‘Look at these pictures’. ‘That’s how to round tape to ensure you minimize the risk of blisters’. Blank looks. 

‘See her? She’s the 2015 MdS champion putting the needle into my foot’. 

More indifference. 

‘Lads, this is the same you fat bastards going to Weston Karting centre at the weekend and Jensen Button turning up to do the safety briefing’. 

They still don’t get it. 
‘Did you learn much in Lanzarote darling?’. 

‘I certainly did. The WAA bag is a goner. It would be like taking a knife to gun fight. Ok, it would be like taking a clutch bag to an all day shopping trip. You know, when only a tote will do’. 

A nod of understanding, but really boredom turning to neutrality at best. 
‘Was it fun running Daddy?’ ‘It was. Midpack daddy is certainly going to need more fat than carbs to keep him going in the dunes girls’. 

‘Did you bring us back any sweets?’. 

‘No’. 

‘Can we watch TV?’ 
‘How was the volcano mate?’. ‘Wonderful. It was cold, but the stars were out and we all had an amazing time’. 

‘Get much sleep?’ 

‘Yes. In fact I’ve found it hard to sleep since without the sound of Elaine gently rustling inside her tent next to me’.  

These people don’t understand me anymore…. I miss #Lanzarote 
– Rich Carps

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If you would like to take part in the 2017 Multi-Day Training Camp, please go HERE

Many thanks for the support of MyRacekit, OMM, Raidlight, PHD. Scott Running, inov-8 and Berghaus.

“Really great few days, some invaluable experience and some valuable miles in the legs. Kit choice, food, packing the bag now all things I’m ready for. Thank you to the organisers and thank you to the fellow participants for making it such a nurturing environment in which to prepare for the MdS.” – Leon Clarance

Lanzarote Multi-Day Training Camp 2016 – Day 2

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The Lanzarote 2016 multi-day training camp got underway today with an easy 1-hour run along the coastal trails of La Santa to Famara.

In total, we have a group of 27 runners with a broad range of 2016 objectives such as Marathon des Sables (Morocco), The Coastal Challenge (Costa Rica), Big Red Run (Australia), Cape Wraith Ultra (UK) and the Everest Trail Race (Nepal).

It’s always great to see so many runners of mixed ability come together with one goal in mind; completion of a challenging multi-day race!

Tomorrow, 4-hours of classic desert terrain awaits the runners as they depart in three groups lead by Elisabet Barnes, Niandi Carmont and Marie-Paule Pierson. Ian Corless, camp co-ordinator and planner, will move through the groups, running out-and-back to ensure that everyone is on track and comfortable.

In the afternoon, a group talk and discussion followed with an easy 30-60 min run.

Lanzarote, situated off the coast of Morocco provides the perfect environment to simulate many of the conditions that runners will experience in a classic multi-day race; wind, sand, rocks, tough terrain, climbs and maybe even a little scrambling.

If you are interested in a multi-day training, dates for 2017 have been set and you can view HERE

Many thanks to the following brands for helping with this camp:

MyRaceKit, OMM, inov-8, Berghaus, PHD, Raidlight, Scott Running

 

Lanzarote Multi-Day Training Camp 2016 – Day 1

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Day 1 in Lanzarote for the 2016 multi-day training camp. It’s all about scouting courses, checking out terrain and looking for some specific routes that will put our 26 clients through their paces that will help simulate classic multi-day races like Marathon des Sables, Atacama, The Coastal Challenge and more…

MDS 2015 champion, Elisabet Barnes is here and just recently she has secured a three year sponsorship deal with Raidlight. Lanzarote is not only an opportunity to test new Raidlight apparel and packs but also to train and pass on Elisabet’s experience to those who may well be undertaking a multi-day race for the first time.

Our other coaches, Niandi Carmont and Marie-Paule Pierson will also be passing on their own wisdom from their own multi-day experiences. Niandi in particular has been racing ultras for approximately 20-years, anything from 50k, 100k, 100-miles and of course multi-day races such as Marathon des Sables and The Coastal Challenge,

Our clients arrive tomorrow, Thursday. It will be a settle in day with an easy run late afternoon and then all the action starts on Friday with a coastal run that includes mixed terrain, soft sand, some scrambling and of course great weather and great views.

Thanks to OMM, inov-8, Scott Running, Raidlight, Berghaus and PHD of the support on this camp.

BIG RED RUN Australia June 2016 – Entries Open

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Marathon des Sables celebrated 30-years in 2015. An amazing achievement. Just think about it, multi-day racing has been in existence for so many years. It’s a sign of how ultra running and the challenge of testing oneself over long distances and over multiple days is so appealing.

Racing is a word I like to use in a very casual way when I talk about ultra running. After all, only a very few runners can really race an ultra. The real story often is those who test and push themselves to see what is possible, to push a boundary, to achieve something that they thought impossible is what captivates me. Don’t get me wrong, I marvel at the front of the race but I can often feel a little removed from the supreme efforts.

Over recent years, multi-day racing has boomed due to several key factors:

  • It’s an opportunity to travel
  • It’s an opportunity to push boundaries
  • It may well be a once in a lifetime experience
  • It allows you to escape back to our primitive roots of survival and escape a material world
  • It affords an incredible opportunity to socialize with like minded people and create special bonds
  • You get memories that will last a lifetime

Imagine finding all of the above in Australia?

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The Big Red Run is the brainchild of Greg Donovan, a runner who ran the 4 Deserts and then decided he needed a 5th, back home, in Oz.

Taking on the classic multi-day racing format created by Marathon des Sables, runners at the Big Red Run will travel through the Simpson Desert on mainly untracked paths but gear is transported to each night’s camp allowing you travel each day without the burden of a heavy pack.

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Sleeping in tented accommodation for the entire race, the week is topped and tailed with accommodation at the Birsdville Caravan Park or Sports Hall.

Mixing sand dunes, gibber plains, salt lakes, clay flats and several station tracks, the Big Red Run is a true adventure. Camp will be near Big Red for the first 2 nights and on a gibber plain in a dune amphitheater for the next 2 nights. The final camp after the long day is on the Diamantina River just outside of Birdsville.

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Covering the classic distance of 250km in 6-stages the race is a great adventure into the Australian outback. 5 marathons and a long day of 84.39km make up the total distance for the race and if that is too much, a shorter race of 150km is available; The Little Red Run.

As with any race, the after party is a key element. Here in Oz they celebrate properly with a concert. Yes, runners gain entry into the ‘Birdsville Big Red Bash Music Festival’ that coincides with the end of the race.

Attracting a global audience, the Big Red Run in 2016 is inviting past winners to rejoin the race and to increase the competition, 2015 Marathon des Sables ladies champion, Elisabet Barnes will toe the line.

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Entries for this unique experience opened on the 16th September 2015 and places are limited.

I caught up with Greg Donovan, the Big Red Run race organizer in a one-to-one interview to find out about him, his history and of course the Big Red Run – Listen HERE

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Elisabet Barnes needs no introduction to a worldwide or UK audience, her rise in the sport in the past 12-months has been quite incredible. Speaking about the Big Red Run she said:

“I am really excited to be taking part in the Big Red Run. It will be my first time in Australia and getting the opportunity to experience it through a multi-stage desert race is just fantastic. Greg Donovan, the race director, has extensive experience from other multi-stage races around the world and he has created a truly unique event, aiming to offer the best possible experience to the participants. Having heard the feedback from previous entrants I can’t wait to head out to the Simpson Desert!”

Elisabet Barnes at the 2015 Marathon des Sables

Elisabet Barnes at the 2015 Marathon des Sables

In conjunction with Elisabet, iancorless.com is running a multi-day desert training camp in late January that will provide a perfect opportunity to gain information and train specifically for a desert race such as Marathon des Sables or Big Red Run – Details HERE

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Entries close on May 5th for the Big Red Run and all entrants who enter before January 16th will obtain an early bird discount.

Entry details are as follows:

Be sure to get in early and take advantage of the early bird specials outlined below which apply to both Australian and overseas participants!

All competitors and volunteers receive free tickets to the Birdsville Big Red Bash music festival on 5th and 6th July valued at over $300! Festival details to follow in late 2015.

Payment Installments

Register by 31st October 2015 Deposit $500 Balance8th April
Register 1st November 2015 to 16th January 2016 Deposit $1000 Balance 8th April*
Register 17th January 2016 onwards Full entry fee payable  on registration
ENTRIES CLOSE 15TH MAY 2016

* Balance of entry fees will be invoiced and payable by 8th April 2016. Entry fees can be paid by direct transfer or credit card. Credit card payment will incur a 2.5% surcharge.

Early Bird Offers

For all entrants who register BEFORE 16th January 2016

Early Bird extras include

  • $100 entry fee discount
  • Helicopter flight voucher valued at $60
  • Big Red Run fleece valued at $60
  • Big Red Run casual T Shirt valued at $40

Total Early bird extras valued at $260. Early bird packs will be sent by 29th February 2016.

UK and European entrants can find out key information HERE. Pricing is as follows:

Overseas Fundraiser: AUD $2,850
Overseas Non Fundraiser: AUD $3,200

Please use the contact form below to express an interest in the race or book a place.

All images ©alisonstepens / ©bigredrun

Everest Trail Race #ETR2014 – Travel to Jiri

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Departing in five 16-seater mini buses, participants of the Everest Trail Race made the long, twisty and at times stressful journey from Kathmandu to Jiri for the start of the 2014 edition. It’s a rollercoaster journey up single -rack roads, a frenetic and constant beeping of horns and a multitude of bends that would leave the most hardened rollercoaster freak with a turning tummy.

Our lunch stop at Karidunga was a welcome break from the journey. While runners found a space and enjoyed the view of the Himalayas, off into the distance I walked looking for some local colour. You never have to go far, Ladies working in fields, men weaving basket wear and children playing; all have wonderful smiles.

They seem to embrace tourists and actually seem to enjoy the process of having a photo taken. Off course it’s all the more appealing if they receive a ‘token’ for their efforts…

Weathered faces show the lines from years of toil from harvesting crops. Children have round faces, wonderful colour and piercing eyes and a cheeky smile. In all honesty, I could photograph these people all day. They fascinate me.

Back on the buss the toing and froing continued and finally our arrival at Jiri came. We had been on the road 8-hours and the glow of our yellow TNF tents glowing as the day began to loose its light was more than a welcome sight.

Water collection, tent allocation and final preparations underway for tomorrows race day. A mug of hot tea warms as the departing of the sun takes the heat away and the temperature slowly drops… little by little venturing to zero and then suddenly it drops below. ‘Don’t worry’ Pasang Sherpa says, ‘it will only be -3 tonight.’

 

Day 1 commences at 0900 Thursday 13th November.

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Jiri (1850m) to Bhandar (2050m) – 21.5km 3795m+

The stage has two summits, one at 2400m and the high point of the day at Deurali Pass 2700m before descending to the finish at Bhandar.

Day 2 Preview:

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ETR Stg2 Profile