Episode 159 of Talk Ultra is a Bob Graham Round special with a full and in-depth interview with Kilian Jornet. In addition, we bring you two interviews with Paul Aitken and Steve Birkinshaw who helped pace Kilian, amongst others, on this record breaking FKT.
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50 miles, 4000m of vertical gain, a journey on foot from the very top of the Lake District at Caldbeck to the very bottom, at Cartmel, via the stunning Helvellyn Ridge and the western shoreline of Lake Windermere.
Endurance, technical skill and the ability to navigate are all required to complete this event. Maps for the race are provided with a very clearly defined route which must be adhered to, unlike many ‘true’ navigation events, the use of a GPS is allowed and a GPX route is provided for runners in advance so that they can download it.
The summit of Blencathara comes early in the race with wonderful exposed ridge of Hall’s Fell leading runners to lower ground before the tough and challenging climb to Helvellyn.
Grizedale Tarn follows before heading up Fairfield and dropping down to Ambleside.
From Ambleside, the course profile and route changes considerably taking in the lower fells as the route weaves around Lake Windemere. Newby Bridge is the gateway to the final section and the finish in Cartmel.
Race director, James Thurlow of Open Adventure is nut shy of putting some pounds up for a course record… In 2015 he gave £500 to the respective male and female winners. In 2016 the records stood and no money was claimed. For 2017, the purse rolls over to £1000 for a ladies and/ or male course record.
Men will need to to beat the speedy Kim Collison who set 9 hours and 12 minutes.
Ladies will need to beat Helen Leigh and her time of 11 hours 0 minutes.
Who stands a chance?
Well, Katie Kaars Sijpesteijn is coming from a stunning Lakeland 50 win and course record and a solid outing at the Salomon Glen Coe Skyline. Katie has been out on the course checking the route and looks prepared to give it a go!
The nature of the event, the distance and the elevation gain means that pretty much every runner will go onto the night. Remember it’s the UK in October, with luck, the weather gods will be kind!
Notably, Richard Leafe (Chief Executive of the Lake District National Park, England’s largest National Park) has chosen The Lakes In A Day as his first ultra.
Live tracking will be available and the site is online now for you to share to family and friends: HERE
The trackers will be updating runner location every minute! Post event you will be able to download GPX files for the strava addicts and review the event as a replay online.
Running is running yes? Anyone can do it! Well I guess the answer is yes. However, variables come in to play. Running is broken down into many different distances, from 100m to 100-miles and beyond. The longer we run, the more the challenges and requirements on a runner change. Running for multiple days or running a multistage race on mixed terrain throws up many different scenarios. Over the years I have spoken with many champions who have raced in the sands of the Sahara, the forests of Costa Rica and the mountainous paths of Nepal. They all provide me with similar hints ’n’ tips to a successful multistage race.
Here is a top 10.
1 – RUNNING IN THE SAND
Desert races are very popular. Marathon des Sables for example is the father of multistage racing and over the years, many races have followed in the MDS format. A desert race is never all dunes but some races have more soft sand than others, so, be prepared. To avoid getting tired it’s important to read the terrain. Carve your own path running on fresh sand and when possible, run along the ridges. In smaller dunes (dunettes) it can be beneficial to run in tracks left by others, at all times, run light as though running on ice – you don’t want to sink in the sand!
2 – HYDRATION
Dehydration is a real risk in any race, particularly a self-sufficient race where water is rationed. The risks of dehydration increase when the mercury rises and a lack of cover comes. A desert for example will be open, have intense heat but humidity will be low. By contrast, a jungle such as those found in Costa Rica may well have plenty of tree cover and streams to cool off in but the humidity will be through the roof. In both scenarios it’s important to drink regularly. Take small and regular sips of water and supplement lost salt with salt tablets. Races like Marathon des Sables provide salt tablets at aid stations and they recommend dosage. Other races you will need to think of this and plan accordingly. Also think about food choices on the trail and when in camp – food rich in minerals and salts will also help you. Importantly, multistage racing is about management from day-to-day and this is what can trip people up. Think about the event as a whole and make sure you recover after each day – rehydrating is as important post a run as when running.
3 – BLISTERS
Many a multistage race is ruined by bad personal management of feet. Think about this well in advance of the race by choosing socks and shoes that work for you. Also choose shoes appropriate for the terrain you will be racing on. A shoe for MDS will be very different to a shoe for the Himalayas for example. By all means take advice on shoes from previous competitors BUT you are unique and your needs are unique. Do you pronate? Do you supinate? Do you need a low or high drop? Do you prefer a cushioned shoe or a more minimalist shoe? What about grip, do you need any? Do you need to fit gaiters? The questions can go on and on and only you can make a choice. If all this is new to you. Go to a running store that understand runners and can provide expert and impartial advice. They will assess you and your run style and provide advice. One consideration for multistage racing is that your foot ‘can’ possibly swell due to variables such as heat, running day-after-day and so on. Your foot will not go longer, but it may go wider. So, think about shoes that have some room in the toe box. Don’t purchase shoes that are 1 or 2 sizes larger – this is poor advice. Larger shoes will only allow your foot to move… a moving foot causes friction, friction increases the risk of soreness and soreness will lead to a blister. Also think about walking. Many people choose a shoe because they are good to run in… But how do they feel when you walk? Remember, a multistage race can involve a great deal of walking!
Do you have sensitive feet? If so, you can prepare your feet in the run-up to an event by hardening them with special products. Also make sure your nails are trimmed back. While racing, if you have blisters, stop and get them treated as soon as possible. Take responsibility and learn basic footsore before an event. You need to make sure you can make any necessary treatments. Finally, many races have a medical team that are provided to look after you and your feet. Don’t hesitate to use them, but remember, there may be a big line waiting. Self-care is an excellent way to make sure that you are ready to run in your own timeline.
4 – BALANCED PACK
Not all multistage races are the same. The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica, for example, is not self-sufficient so a runner only needs to carry liquid, snack food and any ‘mandatory’ kit. By contrast, a self-sufficient multistage race requires you to carry everything. A simple rule is keep everything as light as possible and keep your pack balanced. Luxuries really are luxuries in a race over multiple days so really ask yourself, do I need to take that? You will need mandatory kit as specified by the race and in addition you will need (as a guide):
Food (minimum calories are specified per day)
Clothes, shoes, hat, sunglasses – but you will be wearing these so they don’t go in the pack.
That’s it. Keep it simple and if at all possible, get your pack with its contents as close the minimum weight as specified by the race.
By general consensus, a luxury item is considered a music player (or 2) such as an iPod shuffle.
Also remember that minimum pack weight will be without water, so, if your pack weighs 6.5kg, you will have to add 1.5kg on the start line on day 1. This is where a front pack or a pack where bottles sit on the front works really well. Bottles on the front help balance the front and the back and provide a greater running experience. Also, think about items your need whilst running… it’s not a good idea having them in the back, they need to be at the front so you can access them ‘on-the-go!’
Many packs are available to choose from and you will see two or three are very popular – WAA, Ultimate Direction and Raidlight. Choosing a pack is light choosing shoes; we are all personal. However, keep a pack simple, make sure it’s comfortable and make sure it has little or no bounce when running/ walking.
Consider joining a multistage/ multi-day training camp in Lanzarote with Elisabet Barnes – winner of the 2015 Marathon des Sables, Oman Desert Marathon and 2016 Big Red Run and podium places at the 2016 The Coastal Challenge, Richtersveld Wildrun and Grand to Grand. Information and dates on our next raining camp HERE
5 – PROTECT FROM THE SUN
The sun can be a killer in any race, single stage or multistage – use sun protection and apply it daily. Also use products like arm coolers, a hat and a buff. At aid stations or whilst racing, you can keep these wet which will help cool you. Particularly the buff. If you overheat, slow down and apply cold/ water to the back of the neck. Use UV protective clothing and the jury is out on if clothing should be tight or loose. This often comes down to personal preference.
6 – EAT WELL
Any multistage race is quickly broken down into three phases – running, eating and sleeping. Food is a really important part of any race as it has to perform many functions. Most importantly, it has to sustain you so you will need carbohydrate, protein and fat. Individual requirements will vary but carbs will restore energy, protein will repair and fat is essential as this is one of the primary fuel sources for a multistage race. Remember though, our bodies have an unlimited reserve of fat. It’s important to understand that your diet whilst training may well be very different to when racing. In training you may well have eaten less carbs to teach your body to use fat, but when racing, you need to recover and be ready to run/race again the next day. Have variety in your food as your palette will change with fatigue, dehydration and heat. Real foods are good but dehydrated food also has a place. You also need to decide if you will require a stove for heating water? Don’t think twice about stepping up a little on the organization’s requisite minimum daily dose of 2,000 calories a day, remember though, it’s all weight!
7 – REST
Rest is crucial and how much you get will depend on how fast you run. Front runners have no shortage of rest time, however, those at the back of the race get minimal rest. Make sure you have a good sleeping bag that is warm enough for you and is as light and packs small as possible. You can save weight by not carrying a sleeping matt – general consensus says that carrying one is worthwhile as sitting and sleeping is much more comfortable. Matts come in two types: inflatable or sold foam. Inflatable matts work really well, pack small but you run the risk of a puncture without diligence. Foam matts won’t puncture but they can be bulky.
Make sure you have a warm layer for comfort, temperatures drop with darkness. A jacket (usually down) will also allow you to add warmth while sleeping if required. A lightweight sleeping bag and down jacket is preferable (by general consensus) over a combination sleeping bag that turns into a jacket. A jacket and bag offers flexibility, weighs less and packs smaller but will be considerably more expensive.
8 – PACE
Remember that you have entered a race that lasts multiple days. Spread your effort and have the big picture in mind – pace yourself. Don’t set off too quickly and consider race profiles, distances and cut-off times. YOU take responsibility of when you need to be at checkpoints. A day with a great deal of climbing, soft sand or technical train will take longer, allow for this and be prepared. Most multistage races have a long day and it’s fair to say it is the most feared day – keep some energy back for that day. Remember, the long day often has a generous time allowance so don’t be worried by taking a sleep break midway through.
9 – KEEP ON TRACK
Most races will have markers for you to follow but be sensible and self-aware of the challenge. If a race requires you to carry a map and compass, then please understand how to use them. Carry a Spot Tracker for safety and if you use a GPS such as Suunto or Garmin, remember that these watches plot a route that you can use to backtrack. In a race like MDS it is difficult to go off course due to the volume of people, remember though that dunes are not way-marked and you will be given a bearing to run off. If you are alone or in the dark, an understanding of how this works is a positive.
10 – ENJOY IT
A multistage journey often offers so much more than any single-day race. It’s an experience like no other and friends made in the desert, jungle or mountains will stay with you forever. Also remember that this journey is a hark back to a more primitive and simple time – embrace that. Leave your phone at home, leave gadgets at home and live a simple life for a week – I guarantee it will change you!
Elisabet Barnes, Danny Kendall, Jo Meek, Nikki Kimball and Laurence Klein
This is Episode 113 of Talk Ultra and We have a show with a selection of audio from participants who took part in the 8-day, 400km Cape Wrath Ultra (Ita Marzotto, Jenny Davis, Louise Watson, Luke Robertson, Richard Beard and Ted Kristensson)and the 190-mile, single stage, Northern Traverse (Angela White, Clare Turton and Eoin Keith). We have the news and Niandi Carmont co-hosts.
David Gatebe 5:18:18 new record
Ludic Mamabolo 5:24:05
Bongmusa Mthembu 5:26:39
notable 8th – Max King 5:37:27
Charge Bosman 6:25:55
Caroline Wostmann 6:30:44
Kajsa Berg 6:39:04
2 Americans in the top-10, Sarah Bard 4th in 6:42 and Colleen De Reuck (aged 50) 7th 6:50:21
Eoin Keith is on fire, he is blasting through checkpoints and burning up the trail. I tried to catch him this morning and missed by about 10-minutes at Nine Stands. I even expected a faster pace and navigated ahead on the trail so that I could run towards him…. a lack of 3G failed me and when I finally goy an update on my tracker it told me the bad news. Eoin had passed but by the narrowest of margins.
I remained on the higher ground and was blasted by the strong icy winds to John Knapp and Matt Neale come through. The front three are relatively equally spaced at the time of writing (1400 Tuesday), Eoin is probably getting close to Richmond? If only I could get 3G.
The 190 mile journey is taking its toll and runners are now spread over a large area, the last runner is David Taylor (I believe) and he is climbing out of Patterdale – puts Eoin Keith’s pace into perspective.
Day 2 conditions are good with great visibility, just a strong, cold wind to contend with.
Ship will be a key aid station in the coming hours and evening for the back markers, equally, Richmond important for the from markers.
How long will Eoin Keith stay in Richmond? My guess, not long… Robin Hood Bay is starting to appear quite close
The big man in the sky did it again, he refreshed the batteries in the big sun torch and then shone it down on the Highlands of Scotland – it was ‘another’ incredible day!
Departing Inchadamph between 0700-0900, the 62 runners remaining in the race headed north on the penultimate day of the 2016 Cape Wrath Ultra. Passing Loch Glencoul and then traversing over Air da Loch, the runners then passed around the stunning Loch Glendhu before climbing up and over to Cp1 on the A838.
A long tough section of technical trail culminated in Cp2 and then the final kilometres wound up and down on a stunning road around Loch Inchard into the day 7 bivouac – Kinlochbervie.
Do I need to say who won day 7?
Marcus Scotney has been in impressive form during this race – he has looked relaxed, calm and in control in every moment and it has been impressive to watch. He has paced himself and at all times has looked capable of going faster or moving into another gear if required. He won the day in 6:42:05.
Thomas Adams has also been incredibly consistent but today on stage 7 the fatigue was starting to hit, he fought hard but didn’t look as fresh as other days finishing in 8:28:58. Pavel Paloncy has looked tired all week and has at all times looked to be fighting the terrain. No doubt, Paloncy is a tough and gritty runner. Today he finished 5th 8:59:23.
A notable mention must go to Andrew Biffen and Ian White who finished 4th and 5th on the stage and they have both improved as the week has passed. Ian White though is till 1-hour of Paloncy for overall 3rd,
But anyone who contemplated this race has required grit and with just 1 day left, the 59 runners left in the race will almost look at the final 16-mile day as a ‘recovery’ day.
Swollen feet, aching knees, tired bodies, fatigued minds and a desire ‘to get this done,’ has pushed all the runners to complete an incredible challenge – the Cape Wrath Ultra is a tough race!
Overall standings after day-6
Marcus Scotney 39:03:22
Thomas Adams 42:51:45
Pavel Paloncy 48:31:11
Ladies leader, Ita Emanuela Marzotto had a tough day 7 finishing in 3rd place in 12:51:37, not helped by a minor fall in the final mile. She looked a little shocked at the finish, a sit down and some RnR did the trick though.
Louise Staples won the day in 11:23:18 followed by Louise Watson in 12:19:21 – both ladies have been consistent and fought hard all week and have really impressed.
Overall standings after day-6
Ita Manuela Mariotto 49:03:02
Laura Watson 51:18:08
Louise Staples 52:11:49
Tomorrow is the last day, a 16-mile jaunt to the tip of the UK – Cape Wrath.
A chilly wind and cloud greeted the runners for the first couple of hours of day 5, don’t worry, it didn’t last long and what followed was blue skies and white fluffy clouds… why do people say the weather is ‘always’ bad in Scotland?
In all honesty, the 2016 Cape Wrath Ultra really has hit a purple patch of weather, not only providing the runners with stunning clear views (easier navigation), but wonderful sunshine tempered by just a subtle breeze. This race would be very different with inclement weather and clag – very different!
27 miles faced the runners today and a moderate 1400m of climbing. Departing from Kinlochewe between 0700-0900 double-track roads and relatively little elevation took the runners to the Fisherfield mountains and one of the most impressive views on Scotland (apparently). From the Fisherfield Mountain, and corner of Lochn Fada, the views off to the distance are impressive. An early incentive to tick off the miles.
From here it was long trek to CP1 through Bealach Nan Croise and the mountains of Beinn Tarsuinn, Mullach Coire Mhic Fearchair and Sgurr Bann made for a stunning backdrop. On the final stretch of the day while heading to Inverdael, Loch Broom loomed the left and Ullapool could be seen in the distance. It was an impressive day, once again!
Overall standings did not change and in all honesty, the finishing format (at least at the front) has little variation – I wonder, will someone blow up? Have a bad day? Go of course?
The level of consistency (for all runners) is quite impressive, it really takes some tenacity, grit and determination to bang out these distances day-after-day.
Marcus Scotney and Ita Emanuela Marzotto, once again were the male and female 1st placed runners on the day, that is 5 out of 5 for Scotney, and their times were equally impressive, 4:08:45 and 6:24:09. I have to say, Scotney looks like he has another gear spare should he need it – I don’t think he will!
Thomas Adams again played bridesmaid in 4:36:01 and Stuart Macdonald today pipped Pavel Paloncy to 3rd place on the stage, 5:02:33 to 5:07:43.
Louise Staples and Laura Watson finished 2nd and 3rd in the lades race, 6:42:21and 6:48:37 respectively.
The multiple days, accumulative distance, fatigue and tired, sore bodies are now looking to the end in Cape Wrath. With 3-days to go it is in sight BUT tomorrow is a big day and unfortunately some won’t make it! The ice cream at the end of day 5 will have helped though.
Day 4 of the Cape Wrath Ultra was a stunner, no, it was amazing! The early morning cold temperatures and icy wind lifted to show the highlands in their true magnificence and what a course… today was arguably THE day of the Cape Wrath Ultra.
Just 69 runners (from 95) are left in the race, yes, the first 3-days have really started to hit! Although day-4 was a ‘recovery’ day (heard in the camp this morning!) of 22 miles, it was still a day of epic challenges and one seriously beautiful course. In particular, the section of trail from CP1 (on the A896) in the Glen Torridon that weaved it’s way up and up via a stony path between Spidean a Choire Leith and Spidean Coire nan Clach to the amazing cauldron that backed onto Loch Coire Mhic Fhearchair. This is a stunning place! Despite tired legs, fatigue, pain and no matter what ailments, this place put a smile on every single participants face.
It may come as no surprise that Marcus Scotney once again lead the charge. He was instructed by event director, Shane Ohly, that under no circumstances must he start before 0900. For the remaining runners, the start window of 0700-0900 was open and many, despite fatigue, still decided to leave early in the hope that they would be back in camp to gain additional rest at the end of the day.
Finishing in Kinlochewe, Scotney stopped the clock in 4:05:52 and although Thomas Adams had been very close to hime at the midway point, he lost more time at the finish with a 4:22:22. Ian White finished 3rd and Pavel Paloncy finished 4th, their respective times 4:41:23 and 4:42:32 – looks like we may have a fight on our hands for 3rd place with Paloncy just 9-minutes advantage.
For the ladies, Ita Emanuela Marzotto was back on form today, with a definite, ‘I love the mountains!’ as she moved past me on the trail. Her time of 6:14:51 extended her lead over Laura Watson (overall ladies 2nd place) who finished in 6:42:26. However, 2nd lady on the stage and 3rd lady overall, Louise Staples stopped the clock in 6:34:04. We may have a battle on our hands for the ladies podium?
Ultimately, today was all about blue skies, white clouds and the stunning highlands, even Marcus Scotney stopped to grab some photos on his phone! Today was a special day and one that all the runners will not forget.
Roll on day 5 which once again is a (relative) shorter day of 27-miles and 1400m+ to Inverlael.
A ‘runnable’ day played into Marcus Scotney’s hands and pulling of a three-in-three stage win he once again consolidated his overall lead by another 20+ minutes for convincing lead overall. For the ladies, Laura Watson today took a stage victory by just over 1-minute from overall ladies race leader, Ita Manuela Mariotto.
At 68km long, it was a long and tough day, considerably coming on the back of a tough day 2. Although considered a course that would allow more running, the 2400m of ascent added to the difficulty. Unfortunately, the day didn’t start well for a couple of runners, Darren Grigas and Peter Fairhurst who made a huge navigational error and went completely off course and causing a minor concern from the safety team – a message was sent to the runners informing them that they were off course and to take evasive action. Unfortunately they missed the cut-off time at CP1 and therefore were withdrawn from the race in a com