Nick Clark counts down to Salomon SkyRun

Nick Clark

Nick Clark is one of the most respected 100-mile runners in the world. He is known for being tough and getting the job done! Born in the UK he moved to the US way back and started notching up a list of stunning ultra results that dates back to 2006.

He placed 4th at Western States and won Wasatch 100 in 2010. In 2011, ‘Clarky’ did an impressive double of placing 3rd at Western States and then 3rd at Hardrock 100 just 2-weeks later.

For many though, Nick elevated his profile in 2013 when he went head-to-head with Ian Sharman in the Grand Slam of ultra running. In an epic battle, the two US based Brits traded blows in one of the most exciting moments in our sport. Sharman came out on top but only just… Clark has often joked that after he won the last race, Wasatch he was the Grand Slam record holder in 2013 until Sharman finished. It takes some doing just completing four 100-mile races but to place 6th at Western States, 3rd at Vermont, 2nd at Leadville and then win Wasatch blows my mind!

Clark started 2014 with The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica, his first multi-day race… he went on to say it was one of the toughest races he has done. At UTMF he placed 10th and recently he placed 5th at Run Rabbit Run. The only blip this year came at Western States when he toughed out a 47th place… a real bad day at the office!

And now the Salomon SkyRun in South Africa looms. I caught up with Nick to find out about his expectation are for what will be a tough day out in the Drakensberg mountains.

How have the last couple of months been from a racing perspective?

Up and down, I guess. I had a terrible run at Western States this year – I think I was burned out on the race – then came back and had a much better run at the Run Rabbit Run 100 in September, filling me with a good level of confidence for the SkyRun.

How’s training going; have you been training specifically for South Africa?

As noted above, I’m just looking to get into the mountains and to get into remote, steep terrain with some navigational elements thrown in. Off trail and steep is the mantra.

Maybe you have been brushing up on your navigation and looking at some maps?

I’m forever looking at maps dreaming up fun routes in the mountains. It is for this reason that I’m so excited about Sky Run.

Are you intimidated by the navigation element of the SkyRun?

Absolutely not. It adds a unique and seriously fun, in my opinion, element to racing in the mountains.

The course sounds extreme, particularly if the weather turns. Have you researched the course?

Not in depth, but I will. I plan to be as prepared as I possibly can be for this event.

A strong local contingent will be toeing the line… Iain Don Wauchope, AJ Calitz and so on… do you know much about them?

No, but thanks for the heads up. I’ll seek these guys out and assuming I can keep up, probably slot in behind for much of the course. Working together with friends in the mountains is one of the best parts about hitting remote routes.

Michael De Haast has put up a great price purse should somebody post a great time, is that an incentive for you?

Ask me halfway through the route. I have no idea how stout that time really is. If I’m on schedule through halfway and feeling strong, then I’ll definitely be motivated to go after it. If not, then I’ll just continue to enjoy the primary reason for being in South Africa: enjoying a new mountain range and culture.

Have you been to SA before?

First time. I am seriously excited. I’m really looking forward to connecting with the South African running community, eating some local delicacies, and getting stuck into those Witteberg Mountains.

The South Africa Sky Run provides a truly unique opportunity to race in a remote and scenic mountain location. For me the best part about the event is the navigational aspect. Having no markers to follow means that I’ll need to be in tune with the topography and hyper-conscious of my location in relation to that topography. In my experience, the navigational piece really helps to connect with the particular location I am traveling through, which in turn adds a level of appreciation for the terrain that you just don’t get if you’re racing head down through a landscape. I look forward to bringing home a beautiful mental picture of the Witteberg Mountains to share with friends and family.

 

The Salomon SkyRun takes place on November 22nd and you can view the official website HERE.

The Witteberg is a South African mountain range just off the south-west corner of Lesotho. The range, which rises to 2408 metres, stretches for about 60km from Lundin’s Nek in the east to Lady Grey in the west. The range lends its name to the Witteberg Series, the uppermost fossiliferous sequence of the Cape System of sedimentary rocks in South Africa. The race starts in the town of Lady Grey which is famous for its annual Nativity Play and its quaint houses and incredible scenery. Discover the wonder of Balloch cave along the route with it bushman art and idyllic setting nestled between some of the highest peaks in the Witteberg.

The Witteberg range is one of the most picturesque places in South Africa with some distinctive peaks like Avoca and Halston Peaks dominating the skyline.

The Terrain:

The Salomon SkyRun is true mountain running with a variety of terrain from hiking paths that lead you up to the tower, some jeep track is a welcome relief from the majority of the terrain which is on the mountain side as this is a self-supported and self-navigation the route choice is very much in the hands of the individual competitors. Once you have left the town of Lady Grey behind the beauty and remoteness of these mountains soon engulfs you and it is not uncommon to run for the entire race without seeing much civilization around you except those involved in the race.

The fauna and flora is incredible and there are over 650 plant and 80 animal species know to habitat the mountains of the Witteberg.

Fuego Y Agua 2013

Ometepe

The fourth running of Ultramaratón Fuego Y Agua, features 3 races: 100 km, 50 km, and 25 km trail races. Taking place on February 16, 2013, the race this year has a very strong contingent from the US taking part. Held on Ometepe, an island known for its astonishing biodiversity with prehistoric rock carvings and a vibrant local culture. It rises out of Lake Nicaragua. It has twin volcanoes, one of which is still active. The lake is the largest in Central America and situated in the SE of Nicaragua. Ometepe is the world’s largest volcanic island in a fresh water lake, It was made a UNESCO biosphere preserve in 2010 to promote sustainable development of agriculture and ecotourism.

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An Ultra Trail du Mont-Banc qualifier for three points.The Fuego Y Agua 100K trail race course is a rugged single-loop course. The terrain includes technical single track trail, paved road,dirt trail, technical single track trail, and the infamous “jungle gym” section where racers will navigate a chaotic web of Ometepe trees. The course includes the Volcan Maderas and Concepcion climbs and has11 Aid Stations spread throughout the course.

  • Start Date/Time: Saturday February 16, 2013, 4:00 a.m.
  • Start/Finish Location: Main Street, Moyogalpa
  • Cutoff Time: 24 hours/4:00 a.m. the next day.
  • Aid Stations: Start (Moyogalpa), San Jose Del Sur, Ojo de Agua (outbound), El Porvenir, Volcan Maderas, Monkey’s Island Merida, Ojo de Agua (inbound), Altagracia, La Flor, Volcan Concepcion, El Galillo, Finish (Moyogalpa)

*Finish in under 11 hours and receive a refund on your entry fee!

THE 2013 RACE

Dave James just one week ago dominated the 6 stage Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica. Not only did he perform at the top level everyday but racing in a rainforest in high heat and humidity will mean that he is adapted and well adjusted for the conditions in Nicaragua. He is an odds on favourite for the win providing the 236km have not fatigued him too much.

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The front of the race will also have the presence of Brit (based in the US) Nick Clark. Nick will be gunning for the win with Dave James but he is coming from cold temperature is the US with little time to adapt. Also, this is the first big race of the year and Nick has a very busy year ahead as he plans to Grand Slam.

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Ian Sharman is also in Nicaragua but it would appear that a knee injury has raised its head and he may well not start the race. I had an email from him last night and I am just waiting confirmation on this. Of course, should Ian be fit he has the speed to be up at the front pushing the pace. However, it is still early in the year. He extended his 2012 season to the New Year and by his own admission he should have ‘stopped’ when he had planned to stop. He has run a marathon recently so watch this space.

Ian Sharman in La Palma copyright Ian Corless

Ian Sharman in La Palma copyright Ian Corless

Yassine Diboun from Oregon, Sean Meissner and the Coury brothers,  Nick and Jamil add spice at the front end of the field. I met Nick and Jamil in Costa Rica as they passed through on the way to Nicaragua. Great to hear that Nick has now been placed first option for the 24hr World Championships. Nick will be in the mix at ‘Fuego’ with that ‘leg speed’ but rumour has it Jamil will drop to the 50k distance.

What I am unsure of is what local competition will turn up and push things at the front end of the race. South America has a real talent pool of runners and one can’t underestimate the ‘severe’ conditions that this race will take place in. The heat and humidity takes some getting used to.

The course record is 11:08 held by Javier Montero set in 2009. Female record is held by Amy Sproston, 13:12 set tin 2008.

Ultrasignup link HERE

2012 results for reference HERE

The mission of Ultra Fuego y Agua is to bring responsible ecotourism to Isla de Ometepe in the form of challenging and exciting jungle races.

Our purpose for the race is to bring an event that gives back to the island without taking anything more than beautiful memories and experiences.

The word ecotourism is a form of tourism that appeals to ecologically and socially conscious individuals. Generally speaking, ecotourism focuses on volunteering, personal growth, and learning new ways to live on the planet; typically involving travel to destinations where flora, fauna, and cultural heritage are the primary attractions.

By using local guides, local food preparation, locally owned hotels and businesses, to name just a few, Ultramaraton Fuego y Agua hopes to boost the local economy and promote sustainable events on the island. For example, finisher’s trophies are locally crafted and produced by island artisans.

Runner’s and volunteers are encouraged to participate in the annual Isla Limpia trash pickup. This organized effort promotes local awareness of the island as a natural resource that must be preserved and maintained.

Portions of race entry costs and donations are used to host the Calzado Ometepe Kids Run, a children’s race for local islanders. The children’s race promotes running, fitness, healthy eating and awareness of the island as an endangered environment that must be cared for. All participants of Calzado Kids Run receive a pair of running shoes donated by supporters and participants of Ultra Fuego y Agua.

About Isla de Ometepe

Isla de Ometepe is a volcanic island (approx. 276 km sq) located on Lake Nicaragua (also known as Lago Cocibolca) in the southwestern region of Nicaragua. Two volcanoes form most of the island. Volcan Concepcion (1610 meters) is considered an active volcano but has not had a major eruption since 1957. Concepcion is thought to be the most perfectly formed volcano cone in Central America. Volcan Maderas (1394 meters) has a crater lagoon and is surrounded by cloud forest and thick jungle. Its slopes are dotted with petroglyphs and stone idols.The forests of Ometepe are full of monkeys, tropical birds, rare insects, plants and flowers. Both volcanoes are now protected as national forests. The island is full of legends surrounding the volcanoes and its former inhabitants, the Nahuatl. Ometepe literally means “two hills” in the native Nahuatl language. The fertile volcanic soil makes Ometepe an agricultural phenomenon. Coffee, cacao, beans, rice, tobacco, bananas and many other fruits are plentiful on the island.

There are two major towns on Ometepe, Moyogalpa (pop. 2900) and Altagracia (pop. 4080). The total population of the island is only about 30,000 with an economy mainly based on livestock, agriculture and tourism. See our activities section for more information on Isla de Ometepe activities.

The Story of Ometepe

As the story goes, long ago there was no Lake Nicaragua or Isla de Ometepe, only a lush valley of the gods named Valle de Coapolca. Several tribes who were hostile to each other lived around the valley and would visit it often to gather fruit and hunt game. One day, a young warrior named Nagrando met and fell in love with Ometepetl, a beautiful maiden from an enemy tribe. They tried to keep their romance a secret, but eventually Ometepetl’s father learned of the affair and vowed to kill Nagrando. The young lovers fled and hid in the forest, where they decided that the only way they could be together was by committing suicide. The pair slit their wrists and died in each other’s arms. As Ometepetl fell backwards, the sky darkened and rains flooded the valley, forming Lake Nicaragua. Ometepetl’s breasts then grew into the twin peaks of Volcan Concepcion and Volcan Maderas, and Nagrando’s body became the nearby Isla Zapatera.