Episode 103 – Olson, Jornet, Johnson, Jurek, Fiennes

A_GRAVATAR

This is Episode 103 of Talk Ultra. A very happy new year! Talk Ultra is 4 years old and to signify this landmark we are bringing you 4 interviews from our back catalogue, one from 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015. In addition, we may well bring you a few sounds, music and memories.

Niandi is back with me….

The La Palma story continues – watch our GoPro story of tackling the Transvulcania route (GR131) over 2 days HERE

La Palma, (Transvulcania) photo galleries can be viewed HERE (more to follow)

00:01:31 Show Start

00:26:45 NEWS

00:28:30 Remember the 10 Commandments?

00:32:16 Remember the Christmas Do’s and Dont’s from 2013? Don’t mention Mingling

Guess what, very little news… but hey David Laney and Magdalena Boulet were voted ultra runners of the year via UltraRunning Magazine.

The incredible Ed Ettinghausen aged 53 ran 481.86 miles at the Across the Years 6-day to beat David Johnson’s 450.37. Full results from the weekend are HERE

00:50:49 MUSIC  The Comrades special is still maybe one of our most popular shows and I am pleased to say we have had countless messages about how we inspired so many to run this iconic race. Episode 8 way back in 2012. A magic show and too long to replay here but due to popular demand here is Shozolossa – I cant listen to this without a tear in my eye and we interviewed the Comrades King –

00:53:01 INTERVIEW Bruce Fordyce

In episode 48, we featured Nepal and the Everest Trail Race, hiking down a mountain on the 2nd day I was joined by Nepalese children who sand for me… pure magic!

And in the last episode in the wee hours of a December morning I walked the streets of La Palma with Niandi listening to the amazing sounds of Divinos san Francisco.

01:24:19 INTERVIEW Okay our first interview comes from 2012 and it is from Episode 12 and the inspiring and mind blowing story of Timmy Olson.

02:16:44 INTERVIEW It may come as no surprise but in 2013, episode 43 I interviewed Kilian Jornet just a day after his incredible Matterhorn Summit record.

02:52:21 INTERVIEW Episode 57 in 2014 provided an inspiring interview with David Johnston about his incredible Iditarod Trail Invitational record breaking run.

03:42:24 INTERVIEW And finally, the Jureks from episode 95. Scott and Jenny nailed the AT and provided one of the most insightful and entertaining interviews ever.

Believe me, choosing 4 interviews from 4 years has been incredibly tough. I can’t tell you how many amazing memories and moments there are. It has been incredible to refresh my mind by looking back. Please go back to the archives and take a look – Ryan Sandes, Marshall Ullrich, Gordy Ainsleigh, Eliie Greenwood, Max King, Lizzy Hawker, Anna Frost and so on and so on…

05:01:35 INTERVIEW Considering Niandi is co-hosting it only seems appropriate that we give you a bonuss interview from Episode 78 with legendary, Sir Ranulph Fiennes

UP & COMING RACES

Australia

Queensland

Bogong to Hotham | 64 kilometers | January 10, 2016 | website

Hares And Hounds 50k Trail Run | 50 kilometers | January 10, 2016 | website

Victoria

Two Bays Trail Run 56km | 56 kilometers | January 17, 2016 | website

Brazil

Brazil 135 Ultramarathon | 135 miles | January 20, 2016 | website

Brazil 135 Ultramarathon | 135 miles | January 20, 2016 | website

Brazil 281 Relay | 281 miles | January 20, 2016 | website

Brazil 281 Relay | 281 miles | January 20, 2016 | website

Brazil 281 Relay | 281 miles | January 20, 2016 | website

Chile

Ultramaratón Licanray – Villarrica | 70 kilometers | January 17, 2016 | website

Germany

Lower Saxony

  1. Lauf PSV Winterlaufserie 100 KM| 100 kilometers | January 16, 2016 | website
  2. Lauf PSV Winterlaufserie 100 KM| 100 kilometers | January 09, 2016 | website
  3. Lauf PSV Winterlaufserie 100 KM| 100 kilometers | January 10, 2016 | website
  4. Lauf PSV Winterlaufserie 50 KM| 50 kilometers | January 16, 2016 | website
  5. Lauf PSV Winterlaufserie 50 KM| 50 kilometers | January 09, 2016 | website
  6. Lauf PSV Winterlaufserie 50 KM| 50 kilometers | January 10, 2016 | website

North Rhine-Westphalia

Nord Eifel Ultra | 56 kilometers | January 10, 2016 | website

Netherlands

North Holland

Dutch Coast Ultra by Night 100 km | 50 kilometers | January 22, 2016 | website

Dutch Coast Ultra by Night 50 km | 50 kilometers | January 22, 2016 | website

Dutch Coast Ultra by Night 75 km | 75 kilometers | January 22, 2016 | website

Serbia

Mojstir Extreme km Trail Run 100 | 100 kilometers | January 16, 2016 | website

Spain

Valencian Community

GR10-Xtrem Valencia Ultra Trail | 93 kilometers | January 09, 2016 | website

Sweden

W-R-T Sandsjöbacka Trail Marathon – 68 km | 68 kilometers | January 16, 2016 | website

Thailand

Columbia Trails Masters – 50K | 50 kilometers | January 17, 2016 | website

United Kingdom

Buckinghamshire

Country to Capital | 45 miles | January 16, 2016 | website

Derbyshire

Montane Spine Challenger | 108 miles | January 09, 2016 | website

Montane Spine Race | 268 miles | January 09, 2016 | website

USA

Alabama

Nicholas Wilson Memorial Tashka Trail 50K | 50 kilometers | January 16, 2016 | website

Arizona

50K | 50 kilometers | January 09, 2016 | website

California

Avalon Benefit 50 Mile Run | 50 miles | January 09, 2016 | website

Long Beach Enlightened Ultra 100K | 100 kilometers | January 09, 2016 | website

Long Beach Enlightened Ultra 100 Mile | 100 miles | January 09, 2016 | website

Long Beach Enlightened Ultra 50K | 50 kilometers | January 09, 2016 | website

Long Beach Enlightened Ultra 50 Mile | 50 miles | January 09, 2016 | website

Pacifica Foothills Trail Run 50K | 50 kilometers | January 16, 2016 | website

San Diego 50 | 50 miles | January 16, 2016 | website

Steep Ravine 50 km | 50 kilometers | January 16, 2016 | website

Florida

100K | 100 kilometers | January 16, 2016 | website

100M | 100 miles | January 16, 2016 | website

Clearwater Distance 50K Ultra | 50 kilometers | January 17, 2016 | website

Georgia

Savannah Rails to Trails 50K | 50 kilometers | January 09, 2016 | website

Hawaii

Hilo To Volcano 50k Ultra Marathon and Relay | 50 kilometers | January 09, 2016 | website

H.U.R.T. 100 Mile Endurance Run | 100 miles | January 16, 2016 | website

Idaho

Wilson Creek Frozen 50k | 50 kilometers | January 16, 2016 | website

Illinois

Frozen Gnome 50K | 50 kilometers | January 09, 2016 | website

Iowa

Tripple D Winter Ultramarathon Run | 50 kilometers | January 17, 2016 | website

Maryland

PHUNT 50K | 50 kilometers | January 16, 2016 | website

PHUNT 50K | 50 kilometers | January 16, 2016 | website

Massachusetts

Cape Cod Frozen Fat Ass 50 km | 50 kilometers | January 16, 2016 | website

Cape Cod Frozen Fat Ass 50 km | 50 kilometers | January 16, 2016 | website

New Jersey

Watchung Winter Ultras Trail 50k | 50 kilometers | January 09, 2016 | website

North Carolina

Neusiok Trail 100K | 100 kilometers | January 09, 2016 | website

Neusiok Trail 43 Miles | 43 miles | January 09, 2016 | website

Weymouth Woods 100k Trail Run | 100 kilometers | January 16, 2016 | website

Oklahoma

Ouachita Switchbacks 50K | 50 kilometers | January 16, 2016 | website

South Carolina

Harbison 50K | 50 kilometers | January 09, 2016 | website

Tennessee

Swampstomper 50k | 50 kilometers | January 17, 2016 | website

Texas

Bandera 100km | 100 kilometers | January 09, 2016 | website

Bandera 50km | 50 kilometers | January 09, 2016 | website

Big Bend 50 | 50 kilometers | January 17, 2016 | website

Virginia

Willis River 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | January 10, 2016 | website

Washington

Bridle Trails Winter Running Festival 50 km | 50 kilometers | January 09, 2016 | website

Pullman Winter Ultra Series 50K | 50 kilometers | January 16, 2016 | website

West Virginia

Frozen Sasquatch Trail 50k | 50 kilometers | January 09, 2016 | website

Wisconsin

Frozen Otter Ultra Trek – 32 Miles | 32 miles | January 16, 2016 | website

Frozen Otter Ultra Trek – 64 Miles | 64 miles | January 16, 2016 | website

Tuscobia Winter Ultramarathon 150 Mile Run | 150 miles | January 08, 2016 | website

Tuscobia Winter Ultramarathon 35 Mile Run | 35 miles | January 09, 2016 | website

Tuscobia Winter Ultramarathon 75 Mile Run | 75 miles | January 09, 2016 | website

05:41:09 CLOSE

05:43:00

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ROB KRAR – 2014 Western States Interview

Rob Krar UROC ©iancorless.com

Rob Krar broke onto the ultra running scene in 2013 and set the trails alight with impressive fast running. He popped on many a runner’s radar with his incredible FKT in the Grand Canyon and then with no 100-mile experience placed 2nd behind Timmy Olson at Western States. Later in the year Rob came from behind at UROC and beat Dakota Jones to the line for an impressive win. Crowned Ultra Runner of the Year, Rob was and is quite rightly the ‘one-to-watch’ at any race. In 2014, Rob prepared meticulously for Western States and although nothing is predictable in ultra running, for many, he was the obvious ‘hot-favourite.’ Rob didn’t disappoint with a consummate run and the 2nd fastest time in history. I caught up with Rob, in-between night shifts and training.

IC: Rob how are you doing?

RK: Really good.

IC: How’s the rollercoaster been post WSER?

RK: It’s not been too bad, my schedule with work made it difficult. I had to be back at work at 2100 on Monday. So with a 12-hour drive post WSER made that difficult. It’s been a challenge physically and mentally.

IC: Amazing when you say that, it does put your achievement in perspective. You’re running at the highest level, working long hours and keeping a family together.

RK: Yes it’s tiring. It’s getting increasingly difficult… it’s a long story. I’m Canadian so my Visa required me to have a job working in Flagstaff on the night shift. When I got married I got a green card, so, now I don’t need to be a pharmacist but opportunities never arose. Now this running craziness has started I now have a realistic chance of leaving my job. Work is difficult. It’s s such a contrast, I run a 100-miles and then 48-hours later I am under fluo lights working the night shift. It’s getting harder so I hope to maybe make a change and change my focus.

IC: Does work have an appreciation of what you achieve?

RK: Because I do nights, I don’t real cross paths with my colleagues. They have an understanding and they are supportive but I don’t have long chats.

Rob Krar UROC ©iancorless.com

IC: Lets go back, you have been on the show several times in the last 16-18 months. I think back to last year, we spoke after the Grand Canyon FKT and it was about 1-month before WSER. You were intimidated by the race, the distance the history… I guess you went into the 2013 WSER race with open eyes. You had an amazing race placing 2nd behind Timmy Olson, did you think, ok, I want to win this race in ’14.’

RK: For sure, it’s in my nature. Sitting beside Tim doing an interview with the board of directors post WSER, I didn’t think ‘I want to win!’ I think it was more of a decision days later. You can’t dedicate a year to a race but it did give me focus. I had no doubts after WSER that it would be my goal for ’14.’ I decided to put everything into it.

IC: It’s impressive; you pick your races. You don’t race a great deal but when you do race you make an impact. 2013 was incredible, many would wish for an element of that… FKT, WSER, UROC, Ultra Runner of the Year… did you pinch yourself and ask, is this real?

RK: Funny when I hear it. It is incredible. I am so blessed. I missed an element that allowed me to break through as a runner. I wouldn’t say I was surmised but it’s certainly more than I could have ever expected. I have embraced it in 2014. In 2013 I was learning and it was all happening so quickly. This year I had the thought that I belong here. I am happy in the ultra community. I entered 14 with a new outlook especially in training and racing.

IC: The North Face sponsored you and you had great results, did you feel pressured with a new year ahead.

Rob Krar UROC ©iancorless.com

RK: No, not really! I have a responsibility and that does bring certain additional aspects but I want to perform. I wan to perform for my sponsors and myself. I put pressure in the back of my mind. I must control those pressures and let my running do the talking. I set a goal and I do my best. It’s a simple equation.

IC: Starting 2014 and kicking off the season did you feel in good shape?

RK: After TNF50 in December, I had a partial tear to my achilles and calf. It was the first significant injury I had. It took time to recover but I have been in the mountains doing Skimo and Skinning. It’s my winter plan so it was good. Mentally it can be tough, especially with an injury but I just had to get through December and then refocus. I had a great Ski season. I came out super fit and I was going to run Tarawera, however, it wasn’t meant to be… I clipped my toe on a run, damaged my ribs in a fall and I couldn’t run for 10-days.

IC: How frustrating was that?

RK: Tough. A trip to New Zealand missed but I had the larger goal of WSER and I had time. I put it behind me and moved on. I trained up to Lake Sonoma; I wasn’t in the best shape as sore ribs really do impact on training. The Sonoma course was tougher than expected, I did the best I could and that was it. I soon was back in shape and things started to click for WSER. I got the miles in, did the speed, ate healthy and to be honest my training blog into Western was magical. 

IC: I’m interested in your specific prep for WSER. Last year you hadn’t adjusted training, as you had never run a 100 before. You were doing 50-mile training. So, working on your 2013 run did you stick with your ‘13’ plan or did you make big changes?

RK: A world of difference! Last year I didn’t do a single workout before WSER. I would ‘just’ run. It worked last year but after WSER I planned UROC and I knew I had to step up my game. I wanted to run well. So, last summer I started workouts. That’s the biggest change I made. I have similar cycles for each specific ultra now. Overall I am harder, physically and mentally. I can hit higher mileage, I can add workouts and my sessions are more intense and quicker plus I am injury free. I work hard but I haven’t been beat up. I made sure I get in the mountains. From home, everything is up and I live at 7000 feet. I have a couple of staple workouts – fartlek/ threshold workout that may be 1-4 mile repeats on short rest. Then I also do 8 x 3-minutes on 90sec rest on a decent grade. They are my ‘go-to’ sessions.

IC: They are classic sessions! They show your road and track background. So, do you think that gives you an edge over your peers? For so long, ultra runners have ‘just’ run. Do you think times are changing and this structure will be required to achieve the next level?

RK: Yes, certainly. I don’t follow other runners training. I do think that my training philosophy is less common in the ultra community. If you pick a race like UROC… Dakota and I are at the top of a mountain with 5-miles to go. It’s smooth and runnable. When you can run low ‘5’s that gives me a huge advantage…

IC: I remember Dakota saying what a mad man you were at the end of that race!

RK: I couldn’t have done that without my specific training. It feels good to work hard, run fast. I don’t do 400’s but my long sessions work for ultra.

IC: I know the Grand Canyon holds a strong place in your heart. Do you use it as a benchmark for specific sessions?

RK: Yes, it’s an important place. I have learnt to temper my efforts in the ‘Canyon.’ You need to give it respect. I did two 30-mile out and back sessions pre WSER to condition my quads. The track really does bruise up the quads. The first session I did made me real sore. It surprised me. I hadn’t planned a 2nd session but I decided to return 2-weeks later and I had a great run. My legs felt so much better. I knew I was getting ready! The Canyon provide me with 2-great runs, it was a surprise so I don’t think I’ll be back this year… I feel as though I have already taken too much and I know being greedy in the Canyon can be detrimental.

IC: Let’s talk about the race. The build up you used you said was unique, however, I think Max King probably had a similar structure to your training. How much were you intimidated by Max taking it on from the gun? I know it was his 1st 100-miles but you respect him?

RK: For sure, Max is an incredible runner. Look at his range! I don’t think many can match him. I expected him to be at the front but I wanted to run my own race to Forest Hill (62-mile). I felt comfortable. The last 20-miles are the key. I kept a track but I didn’t worry what Max was up to. From Forest Hill he only had 3-4 min gap. On Cal Street I ran strong in 2013 and I planned to make that a defining moment in 2014. I caught Max and we almost turned it into a track race. I watched his body language, listened to his voice and I made a choice. I think if we had stayed together the final 20-miles would have been a head-to-head to the line. So, I went for a gap and I put in a strong move. It was a move that was all out. I didn’t hold back. I had a moment when I looked back and we made eye contact. I thought oh no, we have locked eyes. It was a distinct moment. I thought I had lost a physiological advantage but I pushed on and opened the gap.

IC: That’s mile 80 yes?

RK: Yes. 

IC: I suppose you didn’t really get any feedback till Highway 49 with 10k to go?

RK: That’s correct. Last year I hit the river about 4-mins behind Tim. He commented that he could hear the crowd when I arrived. So this year I did the same… I listened out for loud cheers, as that would signify Max arriving. The cheers never came. At one point I stopped and listened. I couldn’t hear anything and that gave me confidence. I thought I had at least 5-mins. Later I was given some bad information, I was told the gap was just 1-min. I had a ‘thoughtful’ following 5-miles but it all proved to be okay. A gap of 6-minutes actually became 30-minutes, so, with 10k to go I felt safe but I kept the pressure on to No Hands Bridge. From here I felt confident but I never became complacent. A tear or cramp could ruin my race.

IC: At what point did you relax and embrace the moment?

RK: Just with 1-mile to go at Roby Point. I was in the town of Auburn on a quiet street. People were out and I saw a child on a bike. I had a distinct moment on the final climb; a girl waited for me and she started to ride next to me. That last mile gave me so many memories and thoughts. At that moment I had a strong feeling of childhood. I could feel my inner sense. It was such a contrast. I was finishing 15-hours of physical and mental focus and the child gave it balance; this little girl didn’t have a care in the world. The smile came and I soaked it up.

IC: You ran 14:53:24 did you have any aspirations for Timmy’s record?

RK: The win was the priority. A course record would have been a bonus but the win was the most important.

IC: If you look back, start to finish, you planned a strategy, you thought about the race, did it go to plan?

RK: It went very closely to plan. I wanted to feel good at Forest Hill and I did. I was holding myself back and I felt great over that opening two-thirds. I tried not to plan too much as anything can happen. I thought Max or Mike Aish may have been up front so when I hit Cal Street I made a decision to go. I had planned to be at the river in the lead or with the leaders; so it went close to plan! Nothing unexpected happened.

IC: Amazing, running 100-miles almost to a script! Were you surprised that maybe some of the pressure didn’t come from Ryan Sandes? He’s had a great season and a great WSER. Maybe his ‘14’ has been too good which impacted on WSER. One thing that can happen, you may think pre race that Ryan may be the one to watch and you can loose a race by watching the wrong runner.

Rob Krar UROC ©iancorless.com

RK: I was surprised that Ryan wasn’t in the lead pack but he runs smart. He really does know how to run but for me, I wanted to run ‘my’ race and that was what was important. I was very focused on my mind-set and me.

IC: So what’s next Rob after some quality RnR? I assume you will have another big target for the year?

RK: Yes, I ‘ve had a great recovery. Every ultra I have done and the fatigue that comes with it, the recovery gets shorter. I didn’t run a step for 10-days. I escaped to Colorado, played in the mountains, went fishing and took a mental and physical break. In the next week or two I will get back into it. TNF50 in December is my 2nd focus. I may do Leadville even thought it’s a short time frame. UROC, Run Rabbit Run may figure, I am not sure yet> I want more experience of 100-miles and I want to focus on UTMB for ’15.’ I’ve raced in the night so Run Rabbit Run may well be a good opportunity as it has an afternoon start.

IC: Can we expect you in Europe pre UTMB in 2015? It’s very different terrain to what you have in the USA. Your TNF teammates will provide you with info I am sure.

RK: It’s possible. I am not sure yet. I haven’t looked that far ahead. I love Transrockies and I may use that race as preparation? I don’t know yet. I may have a recce trip to gain some experience; we will have to see?

IC: One last question; we mentioned the life/ work balance. If you gave up your job do you feel that maybe you would over train or over race because of the extra time… has the work/life/ training balance kept you balanced?

RK: It’s a great point. I think about this a great deal. We have seen examples of runners who have left work, become pure runners and it has been a negative, however, the nature of my job is not healthy, mentally and physically. I have been doing it for 12-years. But it does provide focus and routine. I can’t help but dream of what I can do with a ‘normal’ life. For example just a regular sleep routine. The graveyard shift is a killer! I think I know myself now and I also know my running very well. I hope not to fall into any traps.

IC: Awesome, thanks so much for your time Rob and many many congratulations.

RK: Thanks so much Ian, great to speak.

Rob Krar UROC ©iancorless.com

Transvulcania La Palma 2014 – In-depth race preview

©copyright .iancorless.com._1110251

It’s here… the long awaited Skyrunner® World Series kicks off with what has become, in just 2-years, the iconic Skyrunning Ultra Race, Transvulcania La Palma. The race has come a long way… now considered to be one of ‘the’ races to do, the 2014 edition of the race will only cement this reputation as runners travel from all over the world to take part.

It goes without saying that a quality line-up is guaranteed for this race, however, 2014 has my appetite whet for what I consider to be arguably the most exciting and competitive race we will have ever seen on the island of La Palma. What a line up!

A simple glance at the ladies race confirms one thing, showdown! 2012 Transvulcania winner, Anna Frost returns to the island she loves after missing the 2013 edition through injury. 2013 winner, Emelie Forsberg will toe the line and the trio would not be complete without the ever present and incredibly talented, Nuria Picas*. Add Silvia Serafini, Cassie Scallon, Uxue Fraile and Jodee Adams-Moore amongst others and we have a female melting pot that is going to boil over and may well explode on the trails of the GR131.

But hold on a minute, have you seen the men’s field…? Dakota Jones, like Anna Frost, returns to the island after a year a way and will be looking to take back that ‘President’ title bestowed on him in 2012. Kilian Jornet, 2013 winner will provide the stimulus to push Dakota to a new level but lets not rule out the incredible talent and line-up that will be chomping at the bit to dislodge the 2-previous winners. Luis Alberto Hernando will have prepared all winter to be in the best possible form come May 10th, Timothy Olson, Sage Canaday, UTMB winner, Xavier Thevenard, Ricky Lightfoot, Philipp Reiter… oh boy, how long have I got?

Take out your diary, block out the weekend of May 9th, 10th and 11th and prepare yourself for what will go down as an epic running of the Transvulcania La Palma.

In addition, 2014 will see the inaugural running of the Transvulcania VK. Weaving up the zigzag path from the port of Tazacorte, an exhilarating and awe inspiring test of leg and lungpower will unfold at 1600hrs Friday, May 8th

Please note: the 2014 edition of the race is now listed as 73km and not 83.3km as on the website. In real terms, runners have said for the last couple of years that they thought that the course was short, so, this may just well be an acknowledgement. Importantly though, the route from Tazacorte Port to the finish in Los Llanos has now changed. Runners will now run along the ravine and not along the road as in previous editions. It’s difficult to say at this stage what impact this will have on the race. My initial reaction would be that a fast road ultra runner could use the previous final section to his advantage (Sage Canaday?) to pull back some time, maybe this advantage will no longer exist!

So, who’s going to win?

Ladies

The ladies race has real quality at the front but barring a disaster, I don’t think we will see any real surprises. A select group of 4-6 are outright favourites for the win and my outside tip goes to Maite Maiora Elizondo for surprise performance.

©copyright .iancorless.com.P1080904_Snapseed

Emelie Forsberg was unstoppable in 2013. Notable for the diversity of her racing; Emelie started the season with a win at Transvulcania and whilst also racing and winning at VK and SKY distances, Emelie crowned out her year with 2nd pace behind Nathalie Mauclair at the super tough, Raid de la Reunion, Emelie’s first ever 100-mile race. Since then, Emelie like Kilian pretty much hangs up her run shoes and spends her time on ski’s. Other than the occasional 20-30min jog and a week of running at the Salomon athlete retreat in Limone, Emelie will arrive on the start line of Transvulcania thinking to herself, ‘I wonder how this will go?’ Emelie had the same thoughts last year and secured an incredible victory over Nuria Picas. Dare I say that she almost made it look easy? I have no reason to think that 2014 will be any different and therefore Emelie is my no1 tip for the crown and a potential new course record.

©iancorless.com.IMG_2858Nuria Picas* fresh from another victory (just this last weekend) will join the ladies on the island and will without doubt bring her incredible talent, dedication and entourage to ensure that the best possible performance can be guaranteed. However, and this is a big however, her recent win at Transgrancanaria and more importantly, her win at the 105-mile UTMF in Japan on April 26th must leave the Catalan feeling a little tired and jaded. Anyone else and I would say that the occasion, fatigue and tiredness would take a heavy presence and a potential lackluster or under par performance can be expected. But I just can’t rule Nuria out… Anna and Emelie know only too well what a talent Nuria is and equally, Nuria will understand the challenge ahead. I can’t wait! Nuria has decided to rest and recover after UTMF and will not race at Transvulcania. She will prepare for Australia.

©iancorless.comP1210649

Anna Frost arrived on the island of La Palma weeks before the 2013 edition of the race and the reality struck that she was going to have to miss the race due to ongoing injury. It was a tough decision and what followed was a year fighting with injury that forced Frosty to look within and find out what was really important. Even in February 2014 whilst attending The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica, Anna was forced to reassess her objectives and take more rest. However, a recent win at the marathon distance at the Buffalo Stampede in Australia may well mean that our beloved Frosty is on her way back! Already on the island of La Palma, Frosty will be preparing mind and body for the challenge ahead. Can she win? A b s o l u t e l y! You can never rule out an inform Frosty, particularly on this course. However, it’s early days on the comeback trail and I am going to sit on the fence not wishing to add any additional pressure. Finishing healthy and uninjured will be a major victory.

Cassie Scallon has already had 2-victories in 2014. Most recently at the MSIG Sai King 50 in March and the Ray Miller 50 in February. Dating back to 2006, Cassie has been a force to be reckoned with at the 50k to 80km distance. A victory at the 100km Bandera in 2012 shows that endurance is not a problem for the Boulder based athlete. Transvulcania and its trails will suit Cassie and we will without doubt see her at the front of the race.  Cassie posted on Facebook I am terrible at recognizing broken bones in myself. This is bone #2 that I decided didn’t hurt enough to be a break, so I continued to run on it. Again I thought it was getting a little better every day, but it was actually getting worse. Not awesome.’

Jodee Adams-Moore, had a great 2013 and has showed form in 2014 at the 50k and 50-mile distances with 6 top-4 places. Jodee won Orca Island 50k in 2013 and 2014 and the Chuckanut 50k. Just recently, Jodee placed 2nd behind Ellie Greenwood at Chuckanut 50k and placed 4th at Lake Sonoma. The trails of La Palma will offer a new challenge and although we can expect to see Jodee pushing towards the front end of the race, I don’t see her making the podium.

Silvia Serafini copyright iancorless.com

Silvia Serafini is an incredible talent and has always been there or thereabouts at many of the big races. A highlight of 2013 would have been placing 2nd behind Emelie Forsberg at Matterhorn Ultraks. Silvia is not without race victories; in actual fact, her consistency has been incredible. Like so many other runners, Silvia just needs a little luck on one of the big occasions and this will elevate her and her confidence to a new level.  Silvia has injury issues and tells me that she may actually not race at all in 2014. A real shame… get well soon Silvia!

Uxue Fraile placed 5th at Transvulcania 2012 and 3rd in 2013. Add to this, top performances at Cavalls del Vent, Trans D’Havet and a recent 6th place at Transgrancanaria and you can’t rule out that Uxue will be looking for an opportunity and an opening to dislodge one of the hot favourites should they falter. On paper, Uxue does not have the outright speed to contest the podium (she was 60-min behind Emelie in 2013), however, she does have the patience and endurance for the survival game.

Maite Maiora Elizondo – my rank outsider for a surprise and potential shock in the overall classification and standings. Maite is a pure mountain runner with a reputation for performing at a high level over the SKY distance. Transvulcania at 73km will be a stretch, however, class is permanent and I predict a surprise.

Ones to watch:

  • Krissy Moehl – Not sure she is racing?
  • Alicia Shay – 3rd at Chuckanut 50k in 2013
  • Alessandra Carlini – 2nd at MSIG Sai Kung 50 in 2014
  • Natalie White
  • Maxime Cazajous
  • Hiroko Suzuki

Men

So, if you thought the ladies race was a tough one to call. Look at the quality of the men’s field. It’s a who’s who of mountain runners.

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Kilian Jornet like Emelie Forsberg will step off his skis and make the transition to running with the flick of a switch. In 2012, Kilian lost out to Dakota Jones and Andy Symonds at Transvulcania, it was a combination of elements that influenced his performance, not enough running, dehydration and a particularly hot day! In 2013, Kilian corrected these mistakes and secured victory ahead of Luis Alberto Hernando. Post the 2013 race, I asked him what he had done different? ‘I ran for 7-days before the race instead of just 3!’. Need I say more… no matter how stacked the field you can’t rule out victory for the Catalan, however, he won’t have an easy day! Many of the competition see ‘this’ race as the perfect opportunity to beat the master as he makes the transition from snow to trail.

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Luis Alberto Hernando is without doubt looking for that opportunity to take the crown away from Kilian. Luis, for me, is one of the greatest mountain runners in the world. Modest, professional and pure class; he is without doubt one of the few runners who can take Kilian to an edge and hold him there. Luis, along with Marco De Gasperi pushed Kilian to better performances in 2013. It was down to the line at Zegama-Aizkorri and a hand-in-hand finish at Trans D’Havet after personal circumstances dictated a truce between the two warriors. At Everest Trail Race in November, Luis picked up an injury that forced him to only walk, he told me then, I have time, I only have one thing I need to be ready for… Transvulcania! Excited is an understatement.iancorless.orgIancorless_TVraceday_424

Dakota Jones went ‘AWOL’ in the early part of 2013 seeking new experiences. A red-hot performance at San Juan Solstice 50m was followed with ‘dns’ at TNFUTMB, as he didn’t feel as though he had adequate preparation time. Dakota re-focused and concentrated on UROC. Victory seemed secure in Colorado; however, a charging Rob Krar stole Dakota’s glory in the latter stages of the race. Since then, Dakota has travelled racing at low-key multi day races and a recent quality performance at the Buffalo Stampede in Australia. Dakota’s return to Transvulcania is eagerly anticipated. It’s a re-match of Balboa and Creed proportions…

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Sage Canaday I think was still learning last year. Sage had plenty of natural speed and wanted to run every ultra in the same way he would run a marathon… go out hard, hold on and finish in glory. On many occasions this worked; Bandera 100km, Lake Sonoma, Cayuga Trails and Speedgoat 50k, however, it was a tightrope existence. At Tarawera he just about held off a charging Timmy Olson and at Transvulcania, Sage slowed along with Cameron Clayton and opened the door for Kilian and Luis Alberto. One year on with a repeat victory at a shortened Tarawera and 3rd place behind a dominant Zach Miller at Lake Sonoma, I think we will Sage run a more cautious first half of TV and look to be more in the mix in the latter stages. He can win for sure!

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Timothy Olson 8th at Ray Miller 50 and 3rd at the recent Transgrancanaria knows all about peaking for a race. A repeat back-to-back victory at Western States in 2013 confirms this. The question for me is Timothy looking for a Transvulcania victory or is he looking for another solid and consistent performance on the road to Hardrock 100? Don’t get me wrong, I am not questioning Timothy’s ability, performance or dedication, on the contrary, I am actually saying that his focus can very often be at the sacrifice of other races. Of course, if a podium place or win is up for grabs, Timothy will dig deep and seize the opportunity. I expect top-5 and wouldn’t be surprised with an out and out win. What do you think?

©copyright .iancorless.com.P1010566Xavier Thevenard was the surprise winner of the 2013 TNFUTMB, a result, considered by many to be one of the performances of the year! It would be fair to say, that Xavier, to many, was an unknown runner. However, this would be a great injustice. In 2013 alone, Xavier placed 11th at Transvulcania, 3rd at 80km du Mont-Blanc and closed out the year with 2nd at Templiers. His 2013 performance at Transvulcania was 1-hour behind the lead men; one year on one can’t help but think that with renewed confidence the gap will be much less.

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Tofol Castaner is a great mountain runner and on his day can push with the best in the world. His record at Cavalls del Vent proves this, 2nd in 2013 and 2011. However, he shot to worldwide ultra fame with his dominant CCC performance at the 2012 edition of the race covering the distance in 8:57:04. He will be in the mix.

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Philipp Reiter placed 11th in 2012 and 12th at the 2013 edition of Transvulcania. Always on the verge of a big result, his 2012 season was beginning to look like the big time was just around the corner… victories at the Maxi Race in Annecy, Zugspitze Supertrail and Salomon 4 Trails. Add to this Gore-Tex Transalpine and 5th at a stacked Cavalls del Vent and 2013 was a season to be grasped. However, the season lacked any big victories that many of us had expected, arguably his best performance came at Ice Trail Tarentaise placing 3rd behind Kilian Jornet and Francois D’Haene. 2014 started well with some great running at The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica. At Transgrancanaria (82kmr race) Philipp placed 8th, a disappointing performance for him. A constant issue whilst racing has been his stomach and getting this to cooperate with the intensity of racing. If Philipp gets this inline, we will see him regularly back in the top-10, more likely the top-5 and every now and again, the top-3.

Ricky Lightfoot for me has the no1 slot to cause a massive upset on May 10th and come away with a surprise top-3 and even victory. I personally think Ricky has all the right combination of abilities to take the rest of the field on and just as Andy Symonds did in 2012, rock them all to the core. His course record at The Otter in South Africa was a sublime run and when you add to that an IAU World Trail title, you have all the necessary elements of speed, technical ability and endurance that will make a difference on La Palma. Just this last weekend, Ricky took the crown at the iconic Three Peaks fell race in the UK. The only negative has been a recent knee injury that may very well take the edge of what may have been possible at Transvulcania.

Tom Owens was missed in the 2013 season. After an inspirational year in 2012 were Tom really did chomp at the heels of Kilian Jornet, 2013 was always going to be, what can Tom do next? It soon transpired to be very little… Tom was plagued with injury and lost a year. Playing the patience game, Tom is back. He has had a couple of good trail marathon wins recently and placed 2nd behind Ricky Lightfoot at Three Peaks. Transvulcania will be a long race for Tom and that for sure will count against him, however, I have seen him race and seen the skill set this guy holds. If he has a good day, don’t be surprised to see him create a shock!

Giuliano Cavallo placed 9th at Transvulcania in 2012 against a top quality field. He had injury issues in 2013 but still managed victories at Alpago Ultratrail and Gran Trail Courmayer. Top-10 once again is a distinct possibility.

Martin Gafurri had a great 2013 Skyrunning season and although he placed just outside the top-20 at Transvulcania, based on his recent top-10 at Tarawera, I think we will see Martin make more impact this year. *running the marathon not the ultra

Jason Schlarb had a break through run at Run Rabbit Run 100-miler taking out the win in 2013. Add to this, top-3 places at Speedgoat 50k, San Juan Solstice and Leona Divide one can conclude that Jason has the required speed and endurance to compete with the best. Ultimately though, Jason’s Transvulcania performance will all come down to how he manages the lava trails, the technical caldera and the 18km descent to Tazacorte. If all those elements fall into place, Jason will be up amongst the top-10.

Vajin Armstrong is an ever present podium hogger in the Southern Hemisphere. Always top-3, the big win has somehow eluded him. For the past 4-years Vajin has raced Tarawera for example and placed, 2nd, 2nd, 3rd and 3rd. He has plenty of speed and on his day will be in the mix at any race. In 2013, Vajin spent a great deal of time in Europe placing 2nd at Zugspitz and the Swiss Alpine Marathon all good preparation for what a Skyrunning race will throw at him. However, at TNFUTMB his race didn’t go too well. Transvulcania and the quality of the field will provide Vajin with a real test and if he’s having a good day he may well be in the mix but I don’t see him on the podium.

Fulvio Dapit placed 4th at Ice Trail Tarentaise in 2013. Transvulcania will be a test for sure but he does have the ability to create a stir up at the front.

Robbie Britton gets the final nod. He has been on La Palma for over a month preparing. He has endurance and speed but lacks the climbing and descending ability to compete with the best Skyrunners. In addition, this will be Robbie’s first Skyrunning race. Without doubt it will be a learning curve but he does have the ability to make waves should all go well.

Ones to watch:

  • Jordi Bes Ginesta winner of the CCC in 2013
  • Josh Arthur 4th at Run Rabbit Run and 7th at the recent Ray Miller 50
  • Luke Nelson 11th at UROC and 6th at Speedgoat
  • Stu Air 8th at Tor des Geants and 18th at Ice Trail Tarentaise (*recently injured)
  • Johan Lantz 9th at Rocky Raccoon 100-mile in 2014
  • Ty Draney 8th at Ronda dels Cims
  • David Laney 2nd at Bandera 100km and Chuckanut 50km
  • Ryan Ghelfi 4th at Chuckanut 50k and 6th at Lake Sonoma.
  • Sylvain Couchaud 23rd at Transvulcania in 2013 and 4th 80km du Mont-Blanc
  • Santiago Obaya 5th at Transgrancanaria in 2013
  • Stu Air – Top 10 at Ice Trail Tarentaise and Tor des Geants finisher
  • Kim Collinson won the Fellsman in the UK recently
  • Oscar Casal
  • Marc Casal
  • Dani Tristany
  • David Lopez
  • Marcin Swierc
  • Valentin Vergilyush
  • Isaac Riera
  • Nil Gurt
  • Xavier Musach
  • Adriana Grosu
  • Roberto Sancho Martin
  • Maxime Cazajous
  • Yoann Stuck
  • Ryan Bak

One thing is for sure. A great weekend of racing lies ahead on the island of La Palma

I will be on the island reporting, photographing and providing news as it happens.

Make sure you follow on Facebook, Twitter and of course, here, on this website.

Links:

Transvulcania website HERE

Skyrunning HERE

Transvulcania La Palma – A Guide HERE

Transvulcania VK HERE

Transvulcania 2013 Images HERE

Transvulcania 2013 preview HERE

 

Transvulcania La Palma 2014 – the excitement begins!

Dakota is back! But so are Kilian and Emelie, Anna Frost, Luis Alberto Hernando, Sage Canaday and Timothy Olson…the star-studded cast doesn’t end here however! Read the press release by the ISF on the up and coming, 2014 Transvulcania La Palma.

The Transvulcania Ultramarathon on the Spanish island of La Palma has made quite a name for itself.  Just a small speck in the Atlantic ocean, the race chosen to launch the Skyrunner® Ultra Series in 2012 has grown to represent a hub for many of the world’s top ultra runners, and has never looked back. This year, a Vertical Kilometer® up the gruelling downhill, gives a new twist.   

The extraordinary line-up is headed by Salomon superstars Kilian Jornet and Emelie Forsberg (Salomon) winners here last year and 2013 Skyrunner® World champions.  However, look out for 2012 winners, Anna Frost (Salomon), and Dakota Jones (Montrail), returning to the Transvulcania stage after a year’s absence from the skyrunning scene. Anna’s 2012 record still stands.

 Sage Canaday (Hoka One One) 3rd last year, arrives fresh from his second win at Tarawera in New Zealand and is joined by Timothy Olson (TNF) 4th, who successfully started off the season with a third place at the recent Transgrancanaria. 

The strong American line-up doesn’t end here, but first, let’s take a look at the other big-league Spanish runners:  Luis Alberto Hernando (adidas), always a podium placer, he crossed the line hand in hand with Kilian to share the gold at the European Championships and moved on to win Cavalls del Vent.  The question is, can he pare down those 4’ that separated him from Kilian last year?  Tofol Castanyer (Salomon), 2nd at Cavalls, Agustí Roc (inov-8) three-time SWS champion and Jordi Bes (FEEC),CCC winner, join the mix. 

From France – UTMB winner Xavier Thevenard (TNF), 11th in 2013, is no doubt looking to move up for a podium spot;  Patrick Bringer (Sigvaris Sports), 5th, is making a determined come-back, together with Martin Gafurri (New Balance) 19th and a great top-10 at Tarawera recently and first-timer Sylvain Couchaud (Mizuno), 4th at the Mont-Blanc 80K.

Among the top ranked talent, Germany’s Philipp Reiter (Salomon) finished an excellent 12th last year, despite illness, and Florian Neuschwander (16th ISF ranking) who, like many other first timers, will fulfil a dream running this iconic race.

Tom Owens - Trofeo Kima

Tom Owens – Trofeo Kima

From the UK, an array of impressive newcomers to the race: Tom Owens (Salomon), 2nd behind Kilian at Kima 2012, is up and running after a year-long lay-off. Ricky Lightfoot (Salomon), 2013 AIU Champion and 2009 Zegama winner is joined by Stu Air (SCOTT Sports) and Robbie Britton (inov-8).

Robbie Britton - inov-8

Robbie Britton – inov-8

From Italy, Giuliano Cavallo (Salomon) 9th in 2012, returns after a year’s absence from running, together with Fulvio Dapit (Crazy Idea), a consistently top performer in the Sky distance over the years, he now moves up to tackle his first 83K.

Tackling their first “European” style race will be top Americans, Dylan Bowman (Pearl Izumi), Jason Schlarb (Altra), David Laney and Ryan Ghelfi (Nike Trail Team) and Ty Draney (Patagonia), while teammate Luke Nelson is back for more.

Emelie Forsberg - Transvulcania 2013

Emelie Forsberg – Transvulcania 2013

The women’s field too, represents the deepest in the five-year history of the race with new competition coming from across the Pond. The stacked field is headed by Salomon’s Emelie Forsberg and Anna Frost, respectively 2013 and 2012 winners. Nuria Picas (Buff) UTMB (2nd) and Cavalls winner, after a hard-fought 2ndplace last year, she returns with a victory from the recent Transgrancanaria under her belt.  Look out for Emma Roca (Buff), 3rd at UTMB, and Uxue Fraile(Vibram) 3rd here, another Spanish talent who is steadily but surely racking up the podiums. 

 

Nuria Picas - Transvulcania 2013

Nuria Picas – Transvulcania 2013

Italy’s young star Silvia Serafini (Salomon), 4th on the ISF Sky Ranking, has set her sights on the longest race of her rocketing career.  Also from Italy, Federica Boifava, 5th at the European Championships and new talent Alessandra Carlini, 2nd  in the Mont-Blanc 80K.  From France, Aurelia Truel (2nd IAU and 3rd at Les Templiers and Maud Gobert, 6th here in 2012.

Anna Frost

Anna Frost

Three top level American runners taking up the challenge are Krissy Moehl (Patagonia), UTMF winner, Jodee Adams-Moore (SCOTT Sports), 2nd at Speedgoat, and Cassie Scallon (Salomon) winner at Lake Sonoma and the recent MSIG Sai Kung 50 in Hong Kong. 

From Japan, Hiroko Suzuki (Salomon), 2nd at UTMF last year, may find the distance a little short and the elevation a little high for her long distance running skills. 

The Ultramarathon presents a daunting 8,525m ascent and descent over the 83 km course, which starts at sea level on the Atlantic coast and travels along the island’s backbone to the summit of the volcano at 2,423m before descending again to the sea and finishing in the town of Los Llanos.  The records to beat are:6h54’09” Kilian Jornet (2013) and 8h11’31” Anna Frost (2012).

The Vertical Kilometer® ascends the steep cliff face from the sea front at Tazacorte for 6.6 km single track with a 40% incline before settling into a “flatter” final section to finish at 1,160m altitude.  The overall incline averages 30%.

The world’s top Vertical specialists will race on this newly designed course for the first time, with the super-strong La Sportiva team headed by World ChampionUrban Zemmer and top ranked athletes Marco Facchinelli, Marco Moletto, Nejc Kuhar and Nadir Mague.

Brothers Bernard and Martin Dematteis and Oscar and Marc Casal (Race Land) also stand out in the men’s field. 

The women’s field is strongly represented by Salomon with World Champion Laura Orgue together with Emelie Forsberg, Anna Frost, Silvia Serafini and Antonella Confortola, joined by Sierre Zinal winner Elisa Desco.

Kilian Jornet, like his team mates, Emelie, Anna and Silvia, will,of course, race both! 

Note the dates:

May 8, Transvulcania Vertical Kilometer®, and May 10, Transvulcania Ultramarathon.

Links:

Follow on Twitter @talkultra

Follow on Facebook – Here

Skyrunning Here

Credits:

  • Press Release ©ISF 
  • All images ©iancorless.com

Getting the Wally Hayward record by Johan van de Merwe

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Introduction

It was in October 2012 when I first heard about Wally Hayward’s indissoluble records. At that stage I was in the prime and peak of my running career. I was set on challenging the 24 hour race record that was uncontested for the past 60 years. Wally Hayward set the South African record of 256.4 km in London on the 21st of November in 1953. On paper the record seemed fully reachable and even undemanding. With the collaboration of my co-club members at the Pietersburg Road Runners and with the added financial aid of Digit Vehicle Tracking we hosted the first 24 hour race within our local community. The race took place on the 31st of March, 2013 and the purpose thereof was to ultimately improve the 24 hour South African record. It was however not as trouble-free as it initially seemed. Even after my best efforts I still missed the record with approximately 3km. I was extremely disheartened, saddened and disenchanted. Hosting the race proofed to be very pricey and I felt as though I disappointed all my family, friends and supporters. As a consequence, I under duress tried to forget about improving the record.

In order to deal with my setback I participated in numerous elongated races. During April to September 2013 I took part in a 6-day race in Hungary where I completed 516km. I furthermore ran the Comrades Marathon and finished it with a time of 7h28. In addition I also did three hundred milers, the Washie Race (13:18:02), the Golden Reef Race (14:41:45) and the Capital Classic Race (14:33:08). My results far exceeded my expectations but it still did not relief my utter sense of dissatisfaction.

Who is Wally Hayward?

©www.wally.org.za

©www.wally.org.za

Wallace (“Wally”) Henry Hayward (10 July 1908 – 28 April 2006) was a South African endurance athlete with a 60-year career. Wally won the Comrades five times and completed the distance of around 90 km the last time just before his eighty-first birthday.

He was born and died in Johannesburg. In 2006 just a few days before the annual Wally Hayward Marathon, Wally passed away.

Comrades Marathon

He won the race for the first time on his first attempt in 1930 at age 21 (the youngest runner at that stage). Only twenty years later he competed again and won it from 1950 to 1954, except for 1952 when he choose to rather represent South Africa at the 1952 Summer Olympics. He finished tenth in the Olympic Marathon event.

In 1951 and 1953 (first athlete under 6 hours) he broke the down-run record, and in 1954 he broke the up-run record and became the oldest man to win the race at age 45 (later overtaken by Vladimir Kotov in 2004). In 1988 he returned once again to participate. He beat half the finishers with a time of 9h44m. Wally’s most dramatic moment came the following year, in 1989, when he completed the down run at the age of 80. There was hardly a dry eye in the stadium as he staggered across the line in an obviously distressed state, making the cut-off time by a mere 1min 57sec, after which he finally quit the race for good. To this day, he has the distinction in the record books of being the oldest finisher in the history of the Comrades Marathon.

Other records

In 1953 he established records in the London to Brighton Marathon, the Bath to London 100-miler and the 24-hour track race. At the 1938 Empire Games in Sydney he won the bronze medal in the 6 miles competition. In the 3 miles contest he finished fourth. Hayward fought in North Africa and Italy during World War 2 and in 1942 earned the British Empire Medal for bravery for his actions near El Alamein in Egypt.

Family

Married Gladys Catto in December 1934 and had one daughter, Gwenolyn in October 1935. In 1957 Wally and Gladys divorced. In 1971 Wally married his second wife, Bertha Bland.

Contoversy

In 1953 he accepted a small donation towards his traveling while competing in the UK. The South African Athletics and Cycling Association declared him a professional, banning him from all amateur events. The ban was finally lifted in 1974.

Wally Hayward Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wally_Hayward

DECISION

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On the 4th of October, 2013 I came across a list of international races. I was interested in determining the amount of 24 hour races that was still to be hosted throughout 2013. At that time I occupied the seventh position for the international 24 hour races. I reflected back over 2013 and realized that there were no races that I was particularly proud of. I wanted to conclude 2013 on a high note but had no idea how to accomplish my goal. It was already October. My body felt fatigued and worn-out and an exceptional achievement seemed utterly impracticable and idealistic. I browsed the internet and discovered a 24 hour race that was scheduled for the 7th of December. The race was to take place in Taipei, Taiwan. While looking at the previous years’ results I realized that the race was a high standing sports event. I later learned that it was classified as a “gold labelled event” according to the International Association of Ultra runners.

I decided to travel to Taipei in order to participate in the race. It was particularly difficult for me to attempt again to improve the South African record only eight months after my setback. It felt as though I was not in the best physical condition so as to take on the challenge. With all the long races in which I participated in during 2013 I never focussed on just training effectively for any race. I mainly focussed on tapering for and recovering after a race. My legs ached incessantly, my muscles felt stiff and I was just not able to practice adequately. I had to decide whether or not my desire to improve the record was stronger than my physical condition.

GAME PLAN

During the first 24 hour race I ran on the 31st of March 2013 I learned a few essential things. I henceforth decided to concentrate solely on the three mistakes I made while preparing for the race in Taipei. My first mistake was that I started much too fast. The second mistake was that I did not eat and the third detrimental mistake was that I tended to pull my body weight to the right side and as a result it affected my overall balance. In October and November I focused on practicing on the racing track without the use of my GPS watch with the intention of establishing a proper pace and the most suitable eating pattern for every five laps.

THE UNKNOWN

Taiwan is a rather unfamiliar and foreign country with its indefinite culture and peculiar eating habits. My greatest concern was that my body would not be able to deal with the outlandish food, eccentric aromas and odd tastes. We decided therefore to take South African food with us on our journey. I specifically packed cheddar cheese, salami, biltong and pvm energy bars. We arrived four days prior to the race in Taiwan with the aim to adjust to their climate. To furthermore prepare adequately I researched all the contestants and studied their unique profiles. The contenders were all world class athletes against whom I had to compete. I harboured mixed emotions of excitement and apprehension. Some of the participants included athletes like the 2013 – 24 hour world champion, The USA’s 100 mile and 12 hour record holder John Olsen, the eight time race champion, Asia’s 24 hour record holder, Ryoichi Sekiya and Asia’s 12 hour, 100 miler and 100 km record holder Yoshikazu Hara, the 24 hour woman record holder Mami Kudo, the Italian 24 hour record holder and the two-time Spartathlon champion Ivan Cuddin.

RACE

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I only truly comprehended the magnitude of the race a day before it commenced. It was amazing to witness how the track transformed into an Olympic type of arena. Enormous tents, medical facilities, banners, cones and an impressive platform for introductions and entertainment were erected within a short span of time. I felt rather anxious once the athletes were being formally introduced to the media and while meeting all the various champions and record holders. I was fully aware of the enormity of the race. I was faced with the reality that I had to really do my best in order to compete with my commendable opponents. Shortly before the race started the athletes were introduced to the public and to their personal lap-counters. Each international athlete had the opportunity to write inspirational, encouraging words with their signatures on a big gold label board. I wrote “God will give me strength” not knowing how true it would prove throughout the duration of the race.

A particular doctor was employed to see to the needs and physical welfare of each athlete. All athletes were weighed in, in order to monitor their wellbeing throughout the race. Every single one was weighed on a fourth hour basis when the direction of the race was changed. I was rather shocked to weigh-in on 65.5 kg as I usually only weigh between 60 to 62 kg. I was in mint condition in 2012 just before the Washie race when I only weighed 59.5 kg. The extra weighed had me rather concerned.

The race commenced at exactly 9h00. I was clothed in my full South African attire that reflected our country’s national colours. The starting gun announced the beginning of the race and I was faced with the moment of truth. All participants was at first hesitant to take the lead. After a few frustrating and exasperating laps I however decided to take the lead. After every fifth lap I took the time to eat something. My wife provided me with various snacks that consisted of cheese, salami and pvm energy bars. I mostly drank 32 GI, water, rehydrate and Sprite. After every 60km I also drank a recovery drink as well as an addition magnesium tablet. After the first three hours I yet again realized that I started too fast. I was still in the lead of approximately 40.8 km, more or less 1km ahead of the Japanese, Hara. Even though I was still running comfortably I was concerned that I was yet again making the same mistakes as I did previously. I felt so poised that I even played cat and mouse games with Oslen and Cudin.

After the first fourth hour the direction of the race changed and the athletes were weighed in. My weight shockingly decreased to 61.5kg. I lost a staggering 4kg within the first hours of the race. The doctor spoke to my wife and informed her that if I lost any more weight that he would be obligated to take me out of the race. I was petrified and tried to make various plans in order to pick up weight. My wife ordered a Mc Donalds burger, but I felt awfully nauseas after the first bite. The last thing I wanted was to throw up during the race. I knew from experience that one can easily loose all your strength within a blink of an eye when you dehydrate. I was fearful and decided to conceal something in my pants in order to ensure that my weight was not less than the previous weigh-in. My wife moreover found two-minute noodles that I was able to eat. I determined to go to a different scale to be weighed. I weighed 62.5kg – it was a great relief. I instinctively decided to stop chasing kilometres and to exclusively focus on improving the record time.

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I set a few milestones for myself in the race in order to obtain my goal. I just did not want to make the same mistakes as those I made in Polokwane. On twelve hours however I completed exactly the same kilometres as I completed previously – 145.2km.  I realized that my attempt might be in jeopardy and I set an objective for the 100 mile mark. My 100 mile time was 6 minutes slower than it was in Polokwane. My self-confidence was shot. My time was 13:38 far removed from my expected time of 12:45. Wally completed his 100 miler split during his 24H race in 1953 in a time of 12:47.

I apprehended just how difficult it would be to improve the record time. I knew that it was imperative for me to maintain the correct posture and to proceed regardless of how I felt. My position fell from first to third. My body played tricks on me and I continuously ran to the bathroom without any avail. When looking back it might have been a way for my body to rest. My wife realized what was happening and she kept a close eye on me. She encouraged me not to waste any time.  She warned me before the race that she was going to be rather stern in order to keep me in line. At 22 hours I realized that the record of 256.4 km was well within my reach if I kept my focus. It required a lot of exertion and determination. My body did not want to take in any food or fluids at that stage.

On 23 hours my personal lap counter indicated that I have completed 249km. I still had to do 7.4 km in order to improve the record. I knew I had to step up and increase my pace. I eventually completed the race and improved the record with a total distance of 258.064km.  The South African flag waved proudly above my head as I crossed the finish line.

It is almost anomalous and strange to be without a goal currently. It feels as though I am growing stronger and stronger despite my age. It is imperative for me to set a goal that will serve as my focus point for the next two years. I have my sights set on the 48 hour as well as the 6 day records that seem attainable on paper. The only record that might be within reach is the demanding, arduous SA 100 miler record that was set in 1972 by Derek Kay with a time of 11:56:56.

My biggest rule in running is that you must at all times believe in yourself when you participate no matter how unattainable and gruelling your goal seems. If I work hard and prepare adequately none of my goals will be unfeasible and beyond my reach.

©iancorless.com.DSCN0598

 

Many thanks to Johan van de Merwe for providing this report and images.

Johan will be interviewed for a future episode of Talk Ultra.

Ultra Running Review of the Year 2013

Rob Krar UROC ©iancorless.com

What an amazing time to be involved in the sport of ultra running! The once niche minority sport has exploded to greater heights and distances in 2013. No longer is a long beard and ‘Buff’ a pre requisite of ultra running (unless you’re Rob Krar). Clean cut, young, fast is the new ‘ultra runner’ mixing it up with the old guard.
Just think back to this time last year, had you heard of Zach Miller (not the Zach Miller, but, the Zach Miller; confused?), Michele YatesRob Krar, Magdalena Boulet and Xavier Thevenard.
Racing and the opportunity to race has also increased to the extent that it is now possible to race pretty much week in and week out for 12-months of the year. Of course, this brings pluses and minuses, certainly from an elite level, runners need to be far more savvy and race clever. You can no longer race month on month and expect to win. Races now have much higher quality fields and the pace is going up. The growth of Skyrunning has been instrumental in enticing a world audience to test runners of all abilities on tough, technical and high-terrain and the feedback has been incredible. UTWT have launched a series of races above the 100-km distance and in doing so have created a ‘trail’ circuit that offers multiple terrain in multiple locations all over the world. It will be interesting to see how the inaugural year goes when 2014 comes around.
So, what are the highlights of 2013?
Ultra Runner of the Year – Men and ladies
Rob Krar UROC ©iancorless.com
  • Lets start with Rob Krar. I interviewed Rob just after his incredible ‘FKT’ in the Grand Canyon early in 2013 when he put the Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim record at another level. At the time we discussed Western States, he was intimidated by the ‘Super Bowl’ of ultra and his first 100-miler. “I’ll give it a shot and see what happens”. Well, if you hadn’t noticed Rob pre WSER you did afterwards. Your not supposed to run WSER and get 2nd overall in your first attempt. UROC, Ultra Race of Champions was the final of the Skyrunner Ultra World Series and for some reason they had bestowed upon themselves the title, ‘The Ultra Running World Championship’. Mmmmm well, it certainly had a quality field but ‘World Championship’? I don’t think so. In the end it came down to a head-to-head between Dakota Jones and Rob Krar. Dakota looked as though he had it sewn up but on the final descent, Rob unleashed a pace that Dakota went on to say was ‘just crazy’. Rob took the win and a pattern was forming. We were all a little surprised to see Rob’s name on the start list for JFK50, primarily with TNF50 in San Francisco just two weeks later. As it happened, Rob dropped at around the 41-mile mark and went on to say that it was either ‘a great training run for TNF50 or the worst decision he had made in a while.’ It was a great training run! Rob ran a super calm, collected and mature race in San Francisco and when he took the front in the last fifth of the race he released a pace that was just incredible. Without doubt my ultra runner of the year!
Kilian Jornet and the Matterhorn ©iancorless.com
  • Of course, you can’t talk about male ultra runner and not mention Kilian Jornet. Kilian is a phenomenon. He is the star of our sport. Once again he was crowned Skyrunner World Ultra Series Champion with wins at Transvulcania and Ice Trail Tarentaise. In addition to this, Kilian was also champion of the ‘Sky’ series with 4 wins; ZegamaMont-BlancMatterhorn Ultraks and Limone Extreme. Add this a couple VK’s, a win at Canazei Sky race for the European Championships and a win at Trans D’Havet for the ‘Ultra’ Skyrunning European Championships and you would say the deal is done! But wait-a-minute, we haven’t mentioned his records for his ‘Summits’ project. A stunning new FKT for Chamonix-Mont-Blanc-Chamonix but arguably THE highlight of the year was his Matterhorn Summit. It was a sublime and surreal performance that put going to the mountains light on another level. It was without doubt my ‘moment’ of the year. You can read my ‘Matterhorn Summits Interview’ with Kilian here. Kilian is the most complete athlete I know.
Michele Yates - iancorless.com ©bradclayton

Michele Yates – iancorless.com ©bradclayton

  • Michele Yates hadn’t run an ultra before 2013. Who would have thought that Ms Figure Colorado 2008 would be such an awesome talent? Well her history shows that she is a 2x Olympic Trials Marathon Competitor, she has 9 marathon wins and PB of 2:38:37. To say Michele burst on the ultra scene would be an underestimation. Her win at Indiana Trail 100 (17:35:18) almost went unnoticed but then taking top spot and the $10,000 prize at Run Rabbit Run suddenly made every one stop, look around and take notice. Placing 3rd at UROC was another sign that Michele was no one trick pony but just like Rob Krar, Michele sealed a quality 2013 with a win at TNF50. She started that race from the front and never relinquished the lead until the line. Is Michele female ultra runner of the year? Well, I would have said yes. That is until the weekend of Dec 13th/ 14th(Listen to interview with Michele on the Christmas show of Talk Ultra, Ep51 out Dec 27th)
  • Pam Smith victorious at Western States turned up at the Desert Solstice track meet run by Aravaipa Running and not only took out the win for 12-hours on the track but set a new female record for 100-miles, 14:11:26. Take your pick, Michele or Pam; it’s a tough call.
Emelie Forsberg ©iancorless.com
  • But wait a minute, what about Emelie Forsberg. Emelie arrived on the run scene in 2012 and instantly had success, continually placing top-3 with Anna Frost and Nuria Picas. However the break through moment came ironically this time last year, she won TNF50 in San Francisco. This seemed to change everything, Emelie arrived at Transvulcania in May 2013 and won, she followed this up with a win in ZegamaCanazeiIce Trail TarentaiseMatterhorn UltraksUROC and then went on to run her first 100-miler at the super tough Diagonale de Fous (Raid de la Reunion) and place 2nd. Do you want to vote against Emelie?
Performances of the Year
tnfutmb 2013 ©iancorless.com
  • Rory Bosio blasted around the TNFUTMB course and in the process not only obliterated the female record but placed 7th overall. Her performance was nothing short of miraculous.
  • Jon Olson set a new American record for 100-miles on the track and then just as the year came to a close, Zach Bitter broke the record with an 11:47:21 but maybe even more important, Zach set a new World Record for 12-hours (101.66 miles) beating a Yiannis Kouros record. That does not happen very often! (Zach Bitter will be in the Christmas episode of Talk Ultra, Ep 51 out Dec 27th here)
  • I have already mention Kilian and the Matterhorn but it was so good I am mentioning it twice!
  • Timothy Olson went back to Western States and won again. You can win a race once but going back and doing it again is always a true sign of a champion.
  • Seb Chaigneau took a win and CR at Hardrock 100.
  • Nickademus Hollon became the youngest person ever to not only complete Barkley but also win it. You can listen to his interview on Talk Ultra here.
Julien Chorier Ronda dels Cims ©iancorless.com
  • Julien Chorier produced a sublime and calculated performance at the super tough Ronda dels Cims. It was a joy and a pleasure to watch someone control and dominate a race from the front and look good all the way.
  • Sage Canaday, jeez I missed him out and he definitely deserves a mention for BanderaTarawera, Transvulcania (3rd), Lake Sonoma and Speedgoat 50k.
 
Francesca Canepa ©iancorless.com
  • Francesca Canepa once again had an incredible year with a great performance at Ronda dels Cims but arguably a repeat win at Tor des Geants places her well and truly at the top on ‘endurance’ lady of the year!
  • Iker Karrera nailed Tor des Geants.
  • Ricky Lightfoot went over to South Africa and raced at The Otter and not only won but put the course record at a new level, in addition he won the IAU World Title in Wales.
 
tnfutmb 2013 ©iancorless.com
  • Xavier Thevenard took everyone, including himself, by surprise at TNFUTMB with a controlled and impressive performance against some top competition.
Jez Bragg TNFUTMB ©iancorless.com
  • Jez Bragg completed the Te Araroa in New Zealand. An incredible journey from the northern tip of New Zealand all the way down to the southern tip. Listen here.
  • David Johnston completed the Iditarod trail Invitational in 4 days 19 hours 13 mins.Crazy fast.
  • Ian Sharman and Nick Clark went head-to-head in the Grand Slam of Ultra Running and produced possibly the most exciting competition of 2013. The pair of them produced incredibly consistent performances and showed us all that it is possible to race four 100-milers back-to-back. They didn’t only ‘complete’ but they competed. They both won a race and were never out of the front rankings. Ian Sharman ultimately had the icing on the cake with the overall fastest time and a new Grand Slam record. Respect! Interview with Ian Sharman here.
  • Paul Giblin at the West Highland Way race. 15:07 and good beating of Terry Conway’s previous CR.
Stevie Kremer Limone Extreme ©iancorless.com
  • Stevie Kremer doesn’t do ultras but she is a darn fine trail and mountain runner and what ‘Pocket Rocket’ achieved in 2013 is nothing short of miraculous. Can’t wait to see what 2014 has in store.
  • Ed Catmur has continued to knock out some great 100-mile performances on the GB scene with wins at North Downs Way and the Winter 100.
  • Lizzie Wraith new female CR for the Lakeland 100 in the UK.
  • William Sichel keeps running and running crazy distances and setting new records.
  • Jonas Buud didn’t win Comrades in 2013 but he ran one of the best paced races I’ve ever witnessed. He was way back in the late 30’s and slowly moved up to 3rd. Wow! Notable mention to Brit ladies, Joanna Zakrezewski and Holly Rush who placed top-10.
Surprises of the Year
  • Rob Krar – Just one word sums up the bearded warrior ‘Krarnage’.
  • Zach Miller – no, not Zach Miller, but Zach Miller. Zach rocked up at JFK50, nobody knew him and he didn’t know anyone else. He took over the lead when Rob Krar dropped at mile 41. Not only did he win but also he set the 3rd fastest time ever. Interview with Zach here.
  • Xavier Thevenard – TNFUTMB was going to be won by Anton KrupickaMiguel HerasJulien ChorierSeb Chaigneau or Mike Foote. Somebody should have told them all about CCC winner, Xavier.
  • Michele Yates – wow, what a first year in the ultra world.
Who and what to watch out for in 2014
Cameron Clayton UROC ©iancorless.com
  • Cameron Clayton has found his feet, 2013 had some mixed performances but when everything aligns he races with the best. His TransvulcaniaUROC and TNF50 performances without doubt elevates him to ‘hot’ for 2014.
Luis Alberto Hernando Haria Extreme ©iancorless.com
  • Luis Alberto Hernando pushed Kilian close at Transvulcania, Zegama, finished joint first at Trans D’havet and won at Cavalls del Vent. In 2014 he plans to race TNFUTMB, now that will be interesting.
  • Magdalena Boulet had an ultra debut at TNF50 and placed 2nd. This sub 2:30 marathon runner may turn a few heads in 2014.
  • Brit, Stuart Air may raise a few eyebrows in 2014. He had a solid Ronda dels Cims, Ice Trail Tarentaise and Tor des Geants and for 2014 he has a Hardrock 100 slot!
  • Hardrock 100 had it’s draw and suddenly much of the WSER ‘lottery’ chat shifted focus to the field up at Silverton. The 2014 race is a classic in the making with Kilian JornetSebastian ChaigneauJulien ChorierJoe Grant and more. Excited? Just a little.
  • The Skyrunning World Championships take place in Chamonix with runners from all over the world coming to race VK, SKY and ULTRA in one of the endurance capitals of the world.
  • Beards – the jury is out. Are beards fast or slow? Rob Krar, Timmy Olson and ‘Clarky’ are certainly great advocates for hairy running but Kilian, Cameron, Sage provide a strong counter argument. What are your thoughts?
And finally…
 
A review of any year is going to be personal. Without doubt we will all have our own highlights and favourite moments, so, I would love to read your thoughts.
Please use the form below.
Ian Corless ETR ©iancorless.com
On a personal note, 2013 was an incredible year, I feel blessed with all the opportunities I have had. To witness many of the moments I write about is a great pleasure. Of course, it’s nothing without you folks reading, looking at my photographs or listening to my podcast.
A very BIG thank you from me.
Happy Christmas and a wonderful 2014 awaits us all…
LINKS:
Photography from 2013 races HERE
IMAGES book HERE
Calendar HERE
Podcasts HERE

Hardrock 100 Lottery Results

hardrock-100-logoIn case you missed it, the Hardrock 100 lottery results were announced on Saturday. Ironically, many ultra fans were following #TNF50 in San Francisco via twitter and as the race unfolded, updates from Hardrock 100 came in lighting up twitter with all sorts of excitement and anticipation for the 2014 race.

From the Hardrock 100 site:

“Thanks to the whole Board of Directors and our host board member Blake Wood, our 2014 Lottery was a hoot and went without a wrinkle. The starter list will be updated on Ultrasignup in the next few days. See Hardrock 100 Entrant List on Ultrasignup for the list once it is ready.”

“In the meantime, see the image below for a snapshots of the starters list! That is the posterboard with the actual physical tickets taped in place. Did you doubt that we actually draw tickets??”

Image ©hardrock100

Image ©hardrock100

If you are not familiar with Hardrock 100 and the race. Each year only two people are guaranteed an entry; last years male and female winners, so, in this case that is Sebastien Chaigneau and Darcy Africa.

The rest is a lottery and a lottery for very few places.

The 2013 draw saw a change in how these tickets are drawn but firstly you can’t just throw your name in the hat. Each person must comply to entry criteria:

“The Hardrock Hundred is a “post-graduate” run. For safety reasons, not as an attempt at elitism, we cannot accept novice runners. The challenges faced during the HRH are much more than the exertion and fatigue expected from running 100 miles, and require the ability to navigate the course with uncertain conditions that may include:
  • High Elevation
  • Long, steep climbs
  • Extended distance and time between aid stations
  • Severe weather, including heat, cold, rain, hail, and lightning
  • Water and snow crossings
  • Exposure to potential for falls
Any runner attempting the HRH must understand that these challenges exist and they must be prepared to make decisions for his or her own safety under uncertain conditions without any expectation of assistance. While there is no guarantee that the runner is prepared for every eventuality, finishing a qualifying event gives some evidence of being prepared for the HRH. Finishing a qualifying event additionally improves the chances for a runner to finish the HRH” taken from Hardrock 100 website ©hardrock100

You can read the full qualification criteria HERE

So the Lottery, how did it work this year and what changes were made? Taken form Hardrock 100 website ©hardrock100

Each year, we are faced with the difficult problem of how to choose 140 starters from nearly six times that many applicants, while still respecting the values that make Hardrock Hardrock. The Board feels that our ideal mix of runners would be 25% first-time Hardrockers, 25% veterans (i.e. >= 5-time finishers), and 50% everyone else. To preserve this mix, we are replacing our single weighted lottery with three weighted lottery pools, each with its own wait list:

  1. First-timers – 35 slots will be allocated to this lottery, which is for anyone who has never started a Hardrock. The intention is to increase the likelihood for applicants with many DNS’s to get into the run. Modeling suggests that giving applicants 2^N tickets, where N is the number of previous DNSs, will ensure that those with the most DNSs will get in, while still giving first-time applicants a chance. “DNS” includes both those who were on the wait list and those who withdrew from either the wait list or start list.
  2. Veterans – 35 slots will be allocated to this lottery, which is for anyone who has five or more Hardrock finishes, with the following qualification: an applicant who DNFs in two consecutive attempts beginning in 2012 will be placed into the “Everyone else” pool until they complete the run in a subsequent year. Applicants will get one ticket for each previous Hardrock finish. The number in this pool is about the same as the number of 5-time finishers bypassing the lottery in each of the past few years, and so comes close to preserving this feature.
  3. Everyone else – 70 slots will be allocated to this lottery, which is for anyone not in one of the previous two lotteries. The algorithm for ticket allocation will be unchanged from the current one. Modeling suggests that the chances of being selected from this lottery will be better than under the current system.

Runners not selected in the first two lotteries WILL NOT be rolled over into the third lottery. If fewer than 35 “veterans” apply, the unused slots will be added to the “everyone else” pool.

A separate wait list will be maintained for each lottery. When a runner withdraws from the start list, a runner will be taken from the wait list for the lottery from which the withdrawn runner was chosen.

The previous year’s winners will continue to bypass the lottery, but they will count against the lottery pool they would have been in.

The Outcome

First and foremost, the big news is Kilian Jornet’s name came out of the hat and this not only creates a great buzz about what he can do at this race but also it is one step closer for Kilian completing his ‘bucket list’. He is without doubt going to put a great emphasis on this race in 2014 and late last night he tweeted:

“in the @hardrock100 🙂 I will need to (re)think about next summer calendar…”

The prospect of Kilian racing against Seb Chaigneau is something that excited us all but then the names continued to be drawn form the tub:

Jared Campbell – regular Hardrock entrant and winner in 2010. This year Jared did the Hardrock and Ronda dels Cims double.

Joe Grant – once again has an angel sitting on his shoulder and gets an opportunity to come back and win his dream race. Second in the past behind Hal Koerner he is going to want to seize this opportunity after a troublesome 2013 race.

Julien Chorier – winner of Ronda dels Cims in 2013 and winner of Hardrock 100 in 2011. He is going to bring meticulous planning to this race and without doubt elevates the competition to a higher level.

Timothy Olson – Western States two times winner now gets a chance to compete at the iconic Hardrock and against a top quality field.

Dakota Jones – Dakota prepared meticulously for this race in 2012 and maybe just too meticulously leaving his best performance on the route in training. Dakota, like Joe is going to relish this opportunity to come back and move up the podium.

Tsuyoshi Kaburaki – regular performer at TNFUTMB, he will like all the others be in his lament on this course.

Ty Draney – competitor at Ronda dels Cims this year and along with Jared Campbell, someone who loves the rough and tough terrain.

Scott Jaime – maybe less well known (particularly in the UK) but he has finished Hardrock multiple times and that counts for a great deal on a course like this.

Finally, a mention for Brit, Stuart Air. Stuart is relatively new on the ultra scene but in 2013 he completed Ronda dels Cims and Tor des Geants. He may not be in the league of some of the names above but expect a surprise… he has time to prepare and focus.

Two notable names are high up on the wait list, both drawn no2 which almost certainly means they will get a run; Adam Campbell and Jeff Browning.

Notable names that did not get an entry are quite long, however, a couple stand out. In particular:

Anton Krupicka – shame really, TK in this line up would have made the race an absolute classic.

Iker Karrera – equally, Iker after his Tor des Geants performance would have relished Hardrock with this current field.

Nick Clark – can you imagine if Nick had made the cut too; wow.

Ian Sharman

Mike Wolfe

Gary Robbins

Mike Foote and so on…

The ladies race has less depth than the men’s field but reigning champion Darcy Africa is going to take some beating. She has the race dialled now and knows how to not only pace it, but also win it!

Rhonda Claridge – placed 2nd at Hardrock in 2012 and therefore will be able to push at the front of the race with a complete understanding of what will be required to win the race.

Jen Segger – has just had a baby and so may still be in shell shock at the prospect of taking on the Hardrock course, however, she did tweet yesterday that surely going up and down mountains with a baby on your back is good training!

Helen Cospolitch – had hoped to nail a solid TNFUTMB in 2013 but it didn’t go to plan, so, the prospect of Hardrock 100 is going to be a great boost going into the Christmas period.

Diana Finkel – was 3rd at Bear 100 and has won Hardrock 100 four times in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011. In 2009 and 2010 Diana was 3rd and 2nd overall respectively. Need I say anymore… Darcy Africa is going to need to pull out all the stops for a 2014 victory.

As it currently stands I think that covers the main contenders for the ladies race and looking at the wait lists, it doesn’t appear that any other big hitters stand a chance of a run. More notable, are the ladies who didn’t get a place:

Kerrie Bruxvoort

Nikki Kimball

Claire Price

Joelle Vaught

Jenn Benna

Meghan Arbogast

And Ann Trason amongst others.

Without doubt, the 2014 Hardrock 100 is looking like a classic race in the making, certainly from a male perspective. If the weather is good, one can anticipate one of the fastest Hardrock races in history and we may well see a course record.

Don’t know about you, but July 11th 2014 is going to be an exciting prospect.

Hardrock 100 website HERE

Run Rabbit Run 2013 – Race Preview

runrabbitrun_logo2.41-250x300

 

Run rabbit, run rabbit

Run! Run! Run!

Run rabbit, run rabbit

Run! Run! Run!

Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang!

Goes the farmer’s gun

Run rabbit, run rabbit

Run! Run! Run!

 

The 2nd Annual Run Rabbit Run 100 Mile Endurance Run, held in the terrific little town of Steamboat Springs, Colorado. The race starts on Friday, September 13, 2013 at midday

I cant help but hear ‘Speedgoat’ Karl Meltzer in my head… jogging along allowing all the fast guys to shoot of in search of the $10,000 first prize and singing the song aloud. It happened last year (not singing the song, but allowing the others to shoot off) and look what happened. One-by-one they fell by the wayside and the old goat himself reeled them in and schooled them all on how to run a 100-miles. Karl should know; he has won enough.

Once again he is playing down his chances of winning the 2013 edition RRR. In last weeks Talk Ultra (Ep43) we discussed at length his form and reading between the lines, I know he is ready. He wasn’t ready at Western States early in 2012 due to niggles and still pulled out 10th, however just a few weeks later, just like Seb Chaigneau at TNFUTMB, the exertions of a tough 100 at WSER took its toll and he dropped from Hardrock 100.

Karl, with his own race done and dusted, the Speedgoat 50k, he finally found some down time and concentrated on getting fit and healthy for the RRR and for Karl, there’s nothing quite like a $10,000 purse to motivate him… ask his wife, she got a new bathroom out of the race last year! (Or was it a kitchen?)

©copyright .iancorless.com.P1010198

Joe Grant also had a troublesome Hardrock 100 and although he was super motivated to top the podium he just didn’t have the right day. It may very well have been his early season Iditarod still making demands on his body or ultimately, it may have just been a bad day! However, he seems to have got his head in a great place and certainly his recent trip to Europe as support and crew for Anton Krupicka has given him a new lease of life and all those mountain miles may well transfer to something special at RRR.

Ever present force over the 100k distance, Dave Mackey will hope to bring that speed to RRR and pull off a win at 100-miles. Although he has had some good 100 performances, notably 2nd at WSER, he has never quite hit the nail on the head like he has done over the shorter 100k-distance. He nearly rectified this at San Diego 100 earlier this year but unfortunately that went pear-shaped due to course errors. He is due a win!

Jason Schlarb I am pretty sure will be looking to put the record straight at RRR this year after a great start to the 2012 race that went completely problematic and frustrating due to going off course. For me, he is the dark horse of the favourites and don’t be surprised if he leads early on but manages to hold on!

Timothy Olson, TNFUTMB ©iancorless.com

Timothy Olson, TNFUTMB ©iancorless.com

Timothy Olson gets my final mention. Yes, I am mentioning Timothy last. Not because I don’t think he can win but you have to consider his season and because just the other week he placed 4th at TNFUTMB. I am pretty sure the $10,000 first prize is the attraction here and that has to be a motivating factor. However, he dug deep at TNFUTMB and used all his physical and mental reserves to reach the line. It could go either way for Timothy at RRR. Irrespective of what happens, he has had a great year with results at Tarawera, Transvulcania La Palma and of course, the defense of his WSER crown.

Behind this front five is a group of runners just waiting for the opportunity to steal the carrot from the other Rabbits. Keep an eye on Jeff Browning, Jason Loutitt, and if Dave James is in a good place, he may well push the others for the podium.

Nikki Kimball, La Palma ©iancorless.com

Nikki Kimball, La Palma ©iancorless.com

The ladies race is potentially a little more open than the men’s race however; it does have some key names that stick out. In particular a rejuvenated and in-form Nikki Kimball. I interviewed Nikki after her incredible 2nd place at the 2013 Western States and for sure, she has found a new balance. She is racing less and when she races, she wants to perform. Her lining up at RRR can only mean one thing!

Darcy Africa is another hot ‘fave’ for the RRR crown coming from another great win at Hardrock 100. She is consistent over the longer distances as her 2012 season shows. Without doubt she will be pushing the pace at the front here!

I predicted Cassie Scallon would have a great race at WSER based on her performances over shorter distances and her natural speed. However, the big dance didn’t go well and she is untested at 100-miles. I still think we will see her rectify the situation in Steamboat Springs and contend for a podium place at least.

One-to-watch goes to Jennifer Benna. She ran a great 100 earlier this year and then went to Transvulcania La Palma but pulled out early saying things just didn’t feel right. WSER didn’t go well either so redemption is required at RRR.

Finally, last years 2nd place at RRR, Rhonda Claridge returns and with another solid performance at Hardrock 100 she will be looking to move one place higher and take home the $10,000 pot.

Jeez, I missed Pam Smith. Thanks Speedgoat. For sure, Pam Smith coming from winning the 2013 Western States changes the dynamic of RRR and she will be gunning for the win. Of course Pam will be the one who all the ladies will be watching. Her main priority will be ‘chicking’ Speedgoat again though and of course taking the big bucks!

 Links

  • Race Line up is here if you’d like to point out any contenders for the podium.
  • Race website here
  • Course description here
  • Athlete tracking here

 

RACE IMAGES The North Face Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc

©copyright .iancorless.com.P1010566Once again, the races of The North Face® Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc® have gathered at the heart of the valley more than 50 000 people who came from around the world to be a part of this celebration of ultra running. Today early afternoon, the young frenchman, Xavier Thévenard from the Jura région won the TNFUTMB, along with an absolutely incredible performance by TNF athlete, Rory Bosio who not only set a new course record but placed 7th overall.