Richtersveld Wildrun™ 2015 – This Week!

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It is days before the second Richtersveld Wildrun™ kicks off and anticipation is building for what promises to be a tight race through one of the most biologically diverse regions in the world.

This four day, 150km stage race is one of the most challenging trail runs in South Africa and runners can expect to take on a harsh, mountainous desert as they are tested to the limit. Similar in format o the iconic Marathon des Sables, ‘Wildrun’ is notably different in that runners are not self sufficient: equipment is transported for them and food is provided.

At the front of the field, three of Southern Africa’s top trail runners and an American ultra-running legend will go toe-to-toe as they battle it out for top spot. Bernard Rukadza and Katya Soggot will both return to defend their titles and will come up against the likes of South African long distance trail running champion, Thabang Madiba and three-time Western States 100 mile champion, Nikki Kimball.   Both Rukadza and Madiba have been enjoying superb form in 2015 with Rukadza securing his second straight ProNutro AfricanX title in March and Madiba taking second place at the same race and at the Otter African Trail Run in October 2014. Madiba will be hoping to go one better at the Wildrun™ and take first place, but he will be up against it thanks to Rukadza’s form and route experience from the 2014 event. This is also the first time Madiba is taking on a run of this magnitude and he will have to adapt quickly to stay in the hunt.

Day 2 of the 2014 Richtersveld Wildrun, 'Die Koei' to Hakkiesdoring, Northern Cape, South Africa on 5th June 2014

“Stage racing is one of the races that helps to find your strength in running. You learn to push while in pain and learn techniques to apply to survive all stages. A win will be a big bonus for me but I’m looking forward to give all my best,” said Madiba.

In the ladies field, Katya Soggot will be representing South Africa off the back of a string of victories in the Western Cape, including the Spur Silvermine Mountain XL, Spur Cape Summer Trail Series™, Three Peaks Challenge, Matroosberg Challenge and Jonkershoek and Helderberg Mountain Challenges. She has been virtually unbeatable locally and will relish the opportunity to measure herself against an ultra-runner of Kimball’s calibre. With three Western States 100 titles as well as an Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc and Marathon des Sables title, Kimball is one of the top ultra runners of her time and will be hard to beat, but Soggot’s experience from the 2014 event is sure to come in handy.

“The magnitude of untouched wilderness, the comfort and welcome at every rest camp, and the elves who made it so. My feet touched where angels fear to tread. I never dreamt I would have the privilege to relive such an experience and I am overwhelmed with gratitude to Boundless Southern Africa and Wildrunner for the opportunity,” – Katya Soggot

Since its inception in 2014, the Richtersveld Wildrun™ has had amazing support from Boundless Southern Africa and marketing manager, Roland Vorwerk was equally excited about the quality of racing anticipated.

“The Richtersveld Wildrun™ route includes many of the Park’s most spectacular features, and includes trails that very few people get to traverse. We are looking forward to these runners experiencing the unique natural and cultural landscape of the /Ai/Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park and meeting the communities associated with this innovative event.”

Mens Four Medal Ceremony

From a British perspective, Olympic rower and all around endurance athlete, James Cracknell was scheduled to race the 4 day Richtersveld Wildrun. However, James already had a commitment in place to commentate for the BBC on a rowing event in Poland. This race commentary was due to finish in time to allow James to travel to South Africa. Unfortunately, the commentating has been extended by one day and although James will still travel to South Africa he will arrive late and miss day one of the race. Needless to say, James is somewhat perturbed by this. Never happy taking the easy option, James and myself are currently looking at doing day 1 of the race at the end. Of course, this would mean a solo run but the team at Wildrunner have confirmed that they can make this happen. So, although James will not be able to compete head-to-head with other runners, we will have an overall time for the 4 day run that we can compare to other competitors.

“What more can be said other than this is going to be one hell of a race! Bernard Rukadza has been on fire in the Cape recently, winning everything from marathons to short Spur Trail Series™ events, but Thabang Madiba comes with the South African long distance trail champion label and arguably more endurance experience. I can’t wait to see these two trail heavy weights going head to head, solo, and in the magical Richtersveld desert,” said Owen Middleton, MD of Wildrunner – the events company behind the Wildrun™.

You will be able to follow the Richtersveld Wildrun through images and words here on this website, via Twitter @talkultra, on Facebook HERE and on Instagram @iancorlessphotography

JAMES CRACKNELL to run Richtersveld Wildrun in South Africa

Mens Four Medal CeremonyIn a previous life, James Cracknell spent too much time mucking about in a boat with big blokes wearing too much Lycra.  He was lucky enough to win gold medals at the Sydney and Athens Olympics.  After that he stupidly rowed across the Atlantic and did a race to the South Pole (both filmed by the BBC).

Atlantic start

After Antarctica he decided the cold wasn’t for him and entered the Marathon des Sables where he did okay (his words) and came 12th… at the time that was the highest place a Britain had ever come until Danny Kendall upstaged the Olympian.

MDS2010 James’s MDS progress was filmed by the Discovery Channel and this was followed with another film documenting a journey from LA to New York: cycling from LA to Death Valley running through Death Valley then remounting and cycling Route 66 to Lake Erie, rowing Lake Erie then cycling to New York and finally swimming to the Statue of Liberty.

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Unfortunately James didn’t complete this journey. While cycling in Arizona, James was hit on the head by a passing fuel truck. Without doubt his helmet saved him but it was touch-and-go. Placed in a coma and a two-month stay in a Phoenix hospital, James was close to the edge. It’s been a long journey and one that is ongoing.

However, in 2015 James is coming back!

richtersveld-page_0Firstly, James will head to South Africa and join elite ultra runner, Nikki Kimball (read HERE) at the Richtersveld Wildrun and should all things go well, James will return to Death Valley, the place of his horrific accident and put the experience well and truly behind him by tackling the Badwater 135. 

In an exclusive interview, I caught up with James, discussed his past, discussed his eagerness to push himself and asked why Richtersveld Wildrun?

“MDS was the only multi-day race I have done, so I’d like to know if it was a flook? I am also interested to see where I am. How am I after the accident? Am I recovered? I’m interested to see how I am day-after-day and I’m keen for preparing. I like the fact that I will have a focus, something to aim for.”

 

“I have been for sport post apartheid. SA is a perfect place for sport. I have been to the Drakensberg and Cape Town. It’s a phenomenal place…. Mountains, plains, safari, surf breaks and incredible people. A great place to be!”

The 150km Richtersveld Wildrun™ takes place in the /Ai/Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park over four days from 2 to 5 June. Starting and finishing at Sendelingsdrif, runners will get to experience a world of geological splendour. From the heights of Hellkloof pass, to the granite slabs of Tatasberg, the green swathe of the Orange River, the gargoyles of Halfmens Ridge and the crystal fields of the Sendelingsdrif plateau – every kilometre is unforgettable and participants are sure to leave the Richtersveld changed people.

“I haven’t been to the Northern Cape. But I relish the opportunity to see it on foot.”

Unsure of his current physical state (I am sure he is fit) I ask him about the terrain: rocks, climbing and running a marathon a day.

“Mmmm climbing? That is a little worrying! I am seeing this race as a stepping stone and I hope it will prepare me for an attempt at Badwater 135.”

It’s been a tough time for James, but he is not a person to give in. Ever the fighter, ever the one looking to push new boundaries, this experience is just one more obstacle to get over.

“It will be nice to go back to Death Valley and put some demons to rest… I need to square the circle and move on. I don’t want my life to be defined by winning two gold medals. I don’t want my life to be defined by being the guy who got hit on the head by a truck! I refuse, I will choose my path and I will not be Pigeon hold. I will create my path.”

And on that note, we conclude our chat. You can follow James and his experiences in the build up to Richtersveld Wildrun on this website in words and images. In addition, I will be following James on each and every step of his journey in South Africa. Needless to say, it’s an opportunity of a lifetime.

If you would like to join James and Nikki on this incredible experience. Limited places are available! Please use the contact form at the bottom of this post.

Atlantic BF and JC end

Credits: Images provided by James Cracknell and Mark Gillett all ©

About the Richtersveld Wildrun™ 

The 150km Richtersveld Wildrun™ takes place in the /Ai/Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park over four days from 2 to 5 June 2015. Wildrun™ stage races have become known as some of Southern Africa’s premier multi-day trail running events, and Owen Middleton, founder and managing director of the organising company, Wildrunner, is proud to see the interest in Wildrun™ events shaping up internationally, particularly with top-class runners such as Kimball and James Cracknell.

Where /Ai/Ais- Richtersveld Transfrontier Park, Northern Cape, South Africa
When Annually in June (2-5 June 2015)
Route Sendelingsdrift to ‘Die Koei’ to Hakkiesdoring to De Hoop to Sendelingsdrift
Total distance 150km
Daily distances 38.8km, 36km, 36.3km, 38.3km
Terrain Desert, rocky, climbing
Number of events One per year
Number of entries available Restricted to 80 runners yearly
Entries open 3 July 2014
Cost R 13 395.00
Challenges Sandy terrain, heat, climbing, remoteness
Records Overall male record: 13:30:36 – Bernard Rukadza (2014)
Overall female record: 18:04:56 – Katya Soggot (2014)
Cut-off times Yes – See Rules & Regulations

40 Marathons. 40 Days. No legs!

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Why would anyone run a marathon a day from John O’Groats to Land’s End? The answer is simple – to prove that any barrier can be overcome. Richard Whitehead is living proof that having a disability shouldn’t stop anyone from achieving your goals. He is a strong believer in living a life without limits, what his life has been about is accepting who you are and making the most of it. Once you’ve done that, you can push the barriers as far as they’ll go.

Winning a Gold medal at the 2012 Paralympics in London was a stepping stone on this mission and the Run is the next stage for Richard. Hopefully he can pass on a message of hope through his dedication to sport and be an inspiration to all.

Richard’s inspiration is a man called Terry Fox. Terry was an amputee and sarcoma cancer sufferer who attempted to run the breadth of Canada before his death at the age of 22. Sadly he never completed his challenge. The idea of a run the length of Britain came from him and has been on Richard’s mind for about five years.

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The run starts on August 13th and finishes around September 23rd – by which time Richard will have covered a staggering 977 miles (1572km

 

GET INVOLVED

Richard’s aim is to raise £1million – So he is going to need your help!

You can fundraise in one of the following ways:

  1. Via a simple donation to myVirgin Moneygiving page
  2. By running with me for a section of the run (5k, 10k or a full marathon)
  3. Participate in the Nottingham 5k Family Fun Run
  4. Or, via a direct donation by cheque, credit card or bank transfer – please download this form for further information 
  5. If you would like to collect cash or monies directly from your sponsors, please use the attached sponsorship form.Please download this form for further information.

All this information is taken from Richard’s website – HERE

The Real Relay – Endurancelife

The Endurance Life crew went to see the Olympic Torch in Devon last week and thought, how come this relay involves shuttling the Torch about in a car!? Being ones up for a challenge or two, they developed a cunning plan for a real relay

Endurance Life release

The Real Relay
Runners attempt 8000 mile non-stop relay around Britain

An extraordinary attempt to run the entire route of the Olympic Torch Relay will begin next week in Cornwall. Starting out from Land’s End at midnight on Monday 28th May, the Endurancelife Real Relay will involve hundreds of runners from across Great Britain who will collectively run every step of the 8000 mile route in one non-stop adventure.

 

Each runner will take on a section of the continuous route, passing the Real Relay baton down the line. Despite starting out ten days later than the official Olympic Torch Relay, the Real Relay aims to reach London’s Olympic Park ahead of it. For this to be achieved, the Real Relay must keep going for 24 hours of each day with team members running non-stop through day and night.

Organisers of the Real Relay, Endurancelife, are inviting runners from all over Britain to run their local section. To be eligible, runners must be capable of maintaining a ten minute mile pace for the duration of their section and make a minimum £10 donation to the Real Relay’s official charity, CHICKS.

 

Sections will range from ten to one hundred miles. Runners can sign up online via the Endurancelife Facebook page.

Over forty sections of the route between Land’s End to Bristol are currently online, with the remaining sections to be added over the coming days and weeks.

Endurancelife Director, Andrew Barker, who conceived the idea of the Real Relay said:

“We watched the Olympic torch pass through our Devon village last weekend and, as the torch bearer jumped in the van to drive on to the next destination, we looked at each other and thought, but what if the torch just kept on running? It’s an awe-inspiring challenge we’re setting and many will say it simply can’t be done.

“But we’re confident that the Real Relay will capture the imaginations of the Great British public and enough runners will be inspired to take part and make it happen. We’re determined to prove that the 8000 mile journey can be done the real way, non-stop and on foot.”

A uniquely designed Real Relay baton will contain a special tracking device so that anyone can follow its progress online throughout its 59 day journey.