Salomon Glen Coe Skyline 2016 Preview – Skyrunner® Extreme Series


Skyrunning reaches new heights in the UK this September with the Skyline Scotland series of events – VK, SKY and EXTREME. In just three years, Skyrunning in the UK has progressed from zero races to a well-established portfolio of races that bring the ethos and principles of pure Skyrunning onto UK soil.

In 2015, the Glen Coe Skyline provided a race that was considered by the ISF (International Skyrunning Federation) as a pinnacle event and plans were hatched. In 2016 we saw the launch of the Skyrunner® Extreme Series – three races, three ultimate challenges and Glen Coe Skyline was included alongside Kilian Jornet’s and Emelie Forsberg’s Tromso SkyRace and the iconic Trofeo Kima.

In addition to this, Shane Ohly (Ourea Events) in conjunction with Skyrunning UK was well aware of the growth potential and possibilities that Glen Coe area has to offer, therefore, new for 2016 will be the UK’s first ever VK – Salomon Mamores VK. Yes, folks, 1000m of vertical gain in one push. In addition to this a new SKY distance race has been added, the Salomon Ring of Steall SkyRace.

The VK and SkyRace will have eligible points for the Skyrunning UK Series but not the Skyrunner® Extreme Series, that honour is given to the pinnacle event, the Salomon Glen Coe Skyline.

Tromso and Kima are done and dusted and boy oh boy there has been some seriously exciting racing. At Tromso, it was a Brit 1,2,3 with Tom Owens, Jon Albon and Finlay Wild taking top honours. In the ladies’ race it was Jasmin Paris who topped the podium.

At Kima it was all change with Nepalese runner, Bhim Gurung taking top honours and Owens and Albon missing the top podium places. Finlay Wild was missing saving his energy for Scotland and Jasmin Paris ran UTMB and placed an incredible 6th. Emelie Forsberg made her return to high level racing after month and months of rehabilitation after ACL surgery. She won! It was a dream comeback for the Salomon runner and hopes were raised that the 2015 Glen Coe Skyline winner would return… Unfortunately, no. Emelie is taking her rehabilitation seriously and has now gone to India for 1-month to work on her yoga skills ahead of the 2016/17 ski mountaineering calendar.

So, the Salomon Glen Coe Skyline is all to fight for from a male and female perspective with valuable Skyrunner World Series points up for grabs.


The men’s race is going to be a nail biter. Tom Owens racing on home soil must be the favourite, particularly after victory in Tromso. He placed just off the podium in Kima and so therefore overall position and the 20% bonus points that come with the final race will be crucial. Tom had a purple patch of running recently with back-to-back incredible results, maybe he was a little tired at Kima but I think he will be rested and fired up for the Scottish race.


Although not confirmed, Skyrunning and Trail Running Nepal are doing their best to obtain a visa to allow Bhim Gurung to race in Scotland. With a victory at Kima, his chances of sealing the SkyExtreme title are very high. His race in Kima against Skyrunning legend, Marco De Gasperi was phenomenal. Also take into consideration he broke the course record set by Kilian Jornet. If Bhim makes it to Glen Coe it is going to be very exciting to watch.


Jonathan Albon was the 2015 champion at Tromso and placed 2nd this year. He ran Kima very much as a learning curve knowing full well that Glen Coe is a race that he can excel at. It’s all to fight for and the points combinations between Bhim, Tom and Finlay make the SkyExtreme champion an unknown…


This is Finlay Wild’s home ground and after placing 3rd at Tromso, home advantage here at Glen Coe is going to provide a great boost for the man who excels in the mountains.


Alexis Sevennec ran in the lead for much of Trofeo Kima only to relinquish a podium place in the latter stages of the race. However, he has points for the Extreme Series and with such a quality field here in Scotland, it’s all to fight for.


Marc Lauenstein and along with Stian should not be ruled out for overall victory at Glen Coe. This guy is on fire and with a victory at the iconic Zegama-Aizkorri and a recent victory at Matterhorn Ultraks, Marc is one to watch. This is Marc’s first Extreme race and he can therefore not qualify for the series.

What follows is a list of athletes that without doubt makes the Glen Coe Skyline THE most exciting and stacked field ever assembled on UK soil. Skyrunning UK had a plan 3-years ago to bring the world’s best to the UK. In 2016 we have achieved that. This line-up is world class. What is important to remember is that in many respects two races are taking place in Glen Coe – the race for the podium and the race for points so that one male and one female can be crowned Sky Extreme Champion 2016.

In alphabetical order:

Jan Bartas – Jan is a regular runner on the Skyrunning circuit and has recently raced at the Skyrunning World Champs where he placed 27th on the men’s race and most recently he raced Trofeo Kima.

Donald Campbell – racing on home soil. He had a below par performance at Kima but will look to put the record straight here.


Kim Collison had a great race at the Skyrunning World Championships and with a strong background in fell, mountain and and adventure racing he is without doubt another UK talent who will be a contender in the upper ranks.

Pascal Egli – A Skyrunner who will no doubt mix things up at the front of the race who will be looking for victory or podium place. – Injured

Mike Foote – The TNF athlete needs no introduction as he has been around the ultra-scene for years. He is best known for strong and consistent performances at UTMB and notably, he is the race director (along with Mike Wolfe) at the RUT VK, SKY and ULTRA – cancelled

Andrew Fallas raced at Tromso with a strong and consistent performance and will without doubt be one to watch. He recently had a below par performance at Matterhorn Ultraks.

Martin Gaffuri – Team Manager for the Scott Team is no slouch when it comes to racing and running in the mountains. Last year, Martin had a great run and placing at the super technical ELS2900 in Andorra, so, we can expect a sold run.

Eirik Haugsness – Won the inaugural Tromso SkyRace and followed with a strong performance in 2015. In 2016 he had a strong run in Tromso but below par for him. He missed Kima saving his strength for Scotland.

Gareth Hughes – Is a UK based runner who has performed consistently on the Skyrunning UK Series where he is one of the top performers, he will no doubt relish the opportunity to test himself against such a world-class field.


Rolf Einar Jensen – Was 3rd at Tromso SkyRace in 2015 and just off the podium in 2016. He is a strong runner who knows how to handle the tough, technical and challenging terrain that Scotland will offer. Tromso’s terrain and weather is very similar to Scotland – he’s one to watch!

Oli Johnson – Another UK based fell runner who excels on muddy, technical and boggy terrain. He’s had good results in the Skyrunner World Series in previous years and has also contested the Skyrunning UK Series with a strong performance at the V3K. – withdrawn


Andre Jonsson – Has been a revelation in 2016 with a string of strong results in the Skyrunner World Series. He raced Trofeo Kima just a couple of weeks ago and he’d be the first to admit that it was a learning curve… One that he loved. He will be in the mix in Scotland.

Ricky Lighftoot – Could very well win Glen Coe. He has all the skill sets to excel on this terrain as he has proven countless times in past years. Ricky though can’t contest the SkyExtreme title as this will be his first race. – withdrawn


Jim Mann – The Dragons Back 2015 champion raced at Tromso and Kima and under normal conditions he’d be a contender for the top places. However, life seems to be getting in the way for Jim and he’s using 2016 for experience.

Luke Nelson – Raced Tromso and just recently raced the VK and SKY race at the RUT in Montana. Luke loves the mountains and technical terrain and we can expect a strong performance.

Pavel Paloncy – Is a winner of The Spine race and comes from an adventure racing background. For sure he will be in the mix in Scotland but on this terrain over this distance, I think he will lack the speed to contend for the podium.

Konrad Rawlik – Ever consistent in the mountains and fells. We won’t see him on the podium but he will hover around the top-10.

©iancorless.com_Tromso2015-4836Philipp Reiter – Tromso and Kima are ticked off for Philipp and if he was ‘just’ able to run and train he would have been a contender for the overall series. However, like for many of us, life and work has got in the way. However, don’t rule him out. This guy has natural talent and he will certainly be in the top-10 mix.


Christophe Le Saux – Has raised the series and as many of you may well know, this guy races a great deal! He’s a huge character, very friendly and although he won’t be in contention for the series podium, you can expect to see him around the top 10 to 20.


Joe Symonds – Last year’s Glen Coe Skyline winner has not raced at Tromso or Kima so will only be looking for Glen Coe glory. However, he will have his hands full as I am sure he is aware. He has the advantage of racing and winning last year, he also has home advantage.

Es Tressider in Glen Coe

Es Tressider in Glen Coe

Esmond Tressider – Es almost certainly could have contested the overall series had been available to race at Tromso or Kima. As it stands, he will only race Glen Coe but he is one to watch. Last year he was living and training in the flat lands despite a love of the mountains. That has changed recently and he has been able to train on more specific terrain.


Greg Vollet – Team Manager for Salomon often beats the athletes he manages… He comes from a professional mountain biking background and is known for his fast descending. Just last weekend he placed 2nd at The Rut 50k. Greg won’t be contesting the series but he will be in the mix at the front end of this race!

Notable mentions for Jayson Cavill and Ally Beavan who are racing on home soil who are solid performers in the Skyrunning UK series.

Do I need to say that the men’s race is going to be an incredible and exciting battle?

The ladies’ race has less depth. It’s often the case in all Skyrunning racing but in the SkyExtreme Series this is even more so due to the challenging nature of the courses.


Jasmin Paris is without doubt the favourite for the race victory and overall series title after her victory at Tromso. This is also helped by the fact that Emelie Forsberg (who won Kima) will not race. I have to say, I would have loved to see these two run against each other again on this course. In 2015, Emelie beat Jasmin. Jasmin’s biggest question mark will be her recovery from 6th place at UTMB? It was a few weeks ago but the deep fatigue from such a big race lies within and you only find out how tired you are when you try to race again…

Marlene Bikken Haukoy – Had a solid race once again at Tromso with a repeat podium place, she was also on the podium in 2015. Marlene is a rock solid racer with a string of top placed runs. Like I have said before, Norway is very similar to Scotland and we can expect her to on the podium.

©iancorless.com_TrofeoKima2016-1676Ruth Croft placed 2nd behind Emelie Forsberg at Trofeo Kima and has now decided to run in Scotland in the hope to gain valuable ranking points and with a 20% bonus there is everything to fight for. The battle for the series title between Ruth, Jasmin and Malena is an exciting one!


Sarah Ridgeway – Is currently 2nd in the Skyrunning UK Series and ultimately will be looking for a maximum of points to secure her 2016 title. However, she is extremely competitive and has experience of competing on a world-stage. Sarah won’t be phased by the competition in Scotland, on the contrary, she will love it. A podium place for sure but which one?

©iancorless.com_LSU2015-2-31Beth Pascall is a force on the UK scene with some incredible performances at The Spine Race, Dragons Back and most recently she obliterated the Lakeland 100 female course record. Beth will relish the opportunity to mix things up with the other ladies and she may well pull of a surprise victory!

Naila Jornet Burgada – Kilian Jornet couldn’t make Glen Coe, apparently there is some big peak he is trying to set an FKT on in the Himalayas… Not to worry, Kilian’s sister, Naila will join us. Not a pure runner, Naila is very much a skier, ski mountaineer and rock climber, however, all these skills will come together on the Glen Coe course. It’s going to be great to see her take part!


Lizzie Wraith – Is a previous winner of the Lakeland 100, she made the podium at the Dragons Back Race and we can expect her to be in the mix for the top 5 and most likely the podium. Although not a pure Skyrunner, Lizzie has dipped her toe in the UK series and placed well at the Mourne Skyline MTR in Ireland.


Martina Valmassoi from the Salomon International Team has raced on the Skyrunning Circuit for 2-years now. Last she placed 3rd at The Rut and earlier this year she had a strong performance in Madeira. Just last week she raced at The Rut once again but dropped with stomach issues. Martina did race at Tromso with a solid performance so we can expect her to mix things up at the front in Scotland and of course she will be looking for valuable series points.

Natalia Tomisiak, Zuzana Urbancova and Olga Lyjak will also be ones to watch in what will be an exciting and stunning ladies race.


VK and SKY Preview

Salomon Mamores VK ©iancorless.com_Tromso2016-8309

For the UK’s first ever VK there are several notable names to watch. Firstly, and most importantly is Skyrunning World Champion for the VK and SKY distance, Stian Angermund from Norway. I think it’ stair to say that the time he sets in the VK race is one that may last for some years to come…

However, Francois Gonon from France is the 2015 Skyrunning European VK Champion and if one person can push Stian it is him.

From a UK perspective eyes will be on Graham Gristwood who is the 2010 World Orienteering Champion tackling his first VK. Jim Mann, Joe Symonds and Martin Mikkelsen-Barron will also run.

In the ladies’ race, Lizzie Wraith is looking to do the Salomon Glen Coe Skyline double.

Salomon Ring of Steall SkyRace


Stian Angermund is the Skyrunning World Champion for the Sky distance and it’s an honour to have him come and race on UK soil. The similarities between Norway and Scotland are going to suit him and we can expect him to blast around the course and without doubt he will contest for the top of the podium.


Francois Gonon is the most likely person to push Stian to top the podium in the SkyRace and we can expect him to blaze a fast trail to the line.

Bjorn Verduijn currently leads the Skyrunning UK Series ranking and he will be looking to consolidate his lead with a top placing and maximum points.


In the ladies’ race, Raidlight sponsored Joanna Zakrzewski is a likely contender for the top spot. She is Scotland based and has great experience racing on a big stage. She has placed highly at Comrades in South Africa, is a GB 100km runner and has completed races like the Dragons Back.

Importantly, many runners from the UK will be looking for points in the Skyrunning UK Series. Please make yourself familiar with the main names and overall contenders HERE.

More race information and full entry lists are available:


Action starts on Friday September 16th with the VK, the SkyRace is on the 17th and the weekends main event will take place on the 18th.

Skyline Scotland will be the pinnacle of the UK’s running calendar and a whole weekend of activities are planned. Please check out the website HERE.

Film shows, meet and greet the athletes, talks with Q&A possibilities and of course 3 amazing races that you can come and watch for free! Information HERE.

  • Taking centre-stage on Friday night will be the awesome Jasmin Paris who will be talking about her record breaking Bob Graham and Ramsay Rounds followed by questions from the audience.  We’ll follow this with a screening of the Best of Sheffield Adventure Film Festival winner, The Barkley Marathons.
  • On Saturday night the spotlight will be on Salomon athletes Tom Owens and Joe Symonds (2015 Salomon Glen Coe Skyline™ winner) who will be introducing two Salomon films including Fast and Light and Bob Graham Round followed by a question and answer session. After the interval you can settle down to watch the Best of Sheffield Adventure Film Festival films: 3022 FeetThere on the Periphery and Curiosity.


*Please check the race website on information in regard to spectating HERE. The main race takes place on some very challenging and exposed terrain. For the safety of runners, volunteers and supporters, we request that you do not go to certain areas. Please also appreciate that this is the UK, the weather can change in minutes. Be prepared with warm layers, waterproof clothing, hat, gloves and please make sure you have food and water to last whilst on the mountain.

Thanks to the support of our Partner Migu Xempower, Sponsor Alpina Watches and Official Pool Suppliers, Scott RunningCompressport and Salomon.

About Skyrunner® World Series
Skyrunning was founded in 1992 by Italian Marino Giacometti, President of the International Skyrunning Federation which sanctions the discipline worldwide and sports the tagline:
Less cloud. More sky.

The Skyrunner® World Series was launched in 2004 and has grown to represent the peak of outdoor running defined by altitude and technicality. In 2016, the Series, composed of four disciplines, features 23 races in 15 venues on three continents. is the official photographer and media partner for the Skyrunner® World Series Follow on:

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Twitter (@talkultra)
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Follow the Skyrunner® World Series on social media platforms
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Glen Coe Skyline is featured in my new book, RUNNING BEYOND (information here)



Ultra Skymarathon Madeira 2016 Preview #USM – Skyrunner® World Series


Running and ultra running really is booming in Portugal. Carlos Sa and Ester Alves amongst others are paving the way. Madeira, an island in the Atlantic Ocean lies west and slightly south of mainland Portugal and it is an incredible natural landscape that cries out for challenging races. Madeira is of volcanic origin with extremely rugged topography, as such, it’s the perfect location for a Skyrunning race.

The USM is a technical mountain race which consists of steep slopes and trails covering a distance of 55km and 4000m of vertical gain. It is no ordinary race and one that combines mixed elements in a wonderful natural playground for the adventurous runner. Comprised of passages which require technical climbing expertise of grade 2, stunning mountain scenery, mountains, sea cliff landscape plus the addition of an up river boulder hopping scramble; yes, the Ultra SkyMarathon Madeira is a unique race.

Starting in the town of Santana, a northern municipality of Madeira Island,the runners soon head up a climb of 1400m to Encumeada Alta (1750m). Cloud inversion happens often here and suddenly runners can feel as though they are floating. In the distance as altitude changes, islands appear in and out amongst a sea of clouds.

“The views when the mist lifted were incredible,” said Ricky Lightfoot, 2015 champion. “It was almost as though I was running in another race.”


“‘USM is one of, if not the hardest race I have ever done,” said US based mountain runner Stevie Kremer. “The terrain is relentless and conditions underfoot just make it so much harder than others.”

For the first time, the island of Madeira, Portugal, will feature on the Skyrunner® World Series. The 55 km course with a brutal 4,000m vertical climb will welcome runners from across the globe up for the challenge.


Anna Frost, fresh from a 7th place at Transvulcania is just one of the competitors who loves skyrunning and island-hopping. Speaking to Lauri van Houten she says:

“This place is incredible. The diversity of nature, the amount of vertical that you get immediately from the sea is breath-taking. The colour of the water is like nothing I have ever seen. I have stopped so many times to say “wow”! The organisers and community runners have made me feel at home already. I don’t want to ever leave…”

©iancorless.com_Rut2015-7697Frosty  will be joined by Americans Hillary Allen, who is looking strong after her 5th place in Transvulcania and Kristina Pattison who is now fit and fired up to compete in Madeira after a recent illness and a a late withdrawal from Transvulcania.

©iancorless.com_Transvulcania2015-9587Strong competition will come from Spaniards Gemma Arenas (6th) and Anna Comet, who placed third overall last year in the SWS.


Cristofer Clemente from Spain, second on the 2015 SWS Ultra ranking and in last year’s race, is among the men’s favourites with new-entry Remigio Huaman from Peru who finished 7th at Transvulcania. The line-up includes Philipp Reiter from Germany who has been missing from racing for some time, Jan Bartas from the Czech Republic, Dimitrios Theodorakakos from Greece, Pau Bartolo as well as competitors from Japan Skyrunning.


Nuno Silva and Ester Alves, 2015 Portugal National Champions, will no doubt perform well on home ground after placing respectively 3rd and 2nd last year.


Notable absentees include Mira Rai with a stress fracture and Paul Hamilton who will sadly miss the whole season. Also, Alicia Shay and Chris Vargo are unable to race (they have had to return to the USA) even though they travelled to Madeira directly after two great runs in La Palma at Transvulcania Ultramarathon.

Other runners to watch out for:


  • Elisabet Bertran
  • Anna Strakova
  • Luis Fernandes
  • Martina Valmassoi
  • Franch Pons
  • André Jonsson
  • Rick Floyd
  • André Rodrigues
  • Hidenori Fukuda
  • Lucia Franco
  • Santiago Soria
  • Zuzana Urbancova
  • Tiago Silva
  • Hana Krajnik
  • Ron Braz
  • Sachiko Kotani
  • Albert Herrero
  • Yukari Fukuda
  • Mindaugas Grigas

The Madeira Ultra SkyMarathon®, now in its third year, perfectly embodies the sea-to sky concept pioneered by skyrunning – with some very technical stretches up to Grade II, and a via ferrata sections just below the island’s highest point at 1,861m altitude.

Course records: Ricky Lightfoot 6h09’56”. Stevie Kremer 7h33’37”

Anticipation mounts for Saturday’s race where the top runners can be followed with our new live tracking system.

Current Ultra Series ranking

Race details


The 2016 Skyrunner® World Series is brought to you with a new management company, Geneva based SkyMan SA

SkyMan SA  is pleased to present a new Main Partner, Migu Xempower, a Chinese exercise and health management platform which also counts a rich experience in organising marathons, city and mountain races for millions of runners.

The well-established, SkyUltra and Vertical format is joined by the Extreme Seriespresented by Alpina Watches, which more than ever expresses the true spirit of skyrunning defined not only by distance, but vertical climb and technical difficulty.

Skyrunner® World Series is supported by Migu Xempower, Alpina Watches, Compressport, Salomon and Scott Sports. is the official photographer and media partner for the Skyrunner®World Series Follow on:


Twitter (@talkultra)

Instagram (@iancorlessphotography) 

Follow the Skyrunner® World Series on social media platforms

Twitter @skyrunning_com

Instagram @skyrunning

Ultra Pirineu 2015 Race Preview


The Skyrunner® World Series for 2015 for the Ultra distance draws to a close in Spain at the Ultra Pirineu. It’s amazing how time flies; it only seems weeks ago that I was writing about Transvulcania.

Taking place on September 201th, Ultra Pirineu follows on from the RUT and as such, it will be an exciting race.

Runners will assemble in the Cade Moixero National Park to do battle over a very challenging race. The 110km race is the main event and the one that gains the most attention. With 6800m of vertical gain it’s a race that will push each and every Skyrunners’ legs and lungs to the limit.


Luis Alberto Hernando, Skyrunning World and European Champion for the ultra distance will be looking to repeat his victory from 2014. Would you want to bet against him? Luis has been on fire in 2015 with victories at Transvulcania and Ice Trail Tarentaise. Add to this podium finishes at Tromso SkyRace and UTMB and for sure Luis will be a hot favourite for victory.


However, a certain Kilian Jornet running on home ground may well scupper Luis’s plans. Kilian has had a quitter year in 2015 as he has concentrated on his Alpinrunning projects but that did not stop repeating his 2014 victory at Hardrock 100 and in the process he now holds the course record for both directions.

“I am very excited about competing at home again as this was the very first race I competed in. There is an incredible level of competition this year, so a show is guaranteed.” – Kilian Jornet

And Kilian has hit the nail on the head, rising star of the sport Manuel Merillas (winner in 2011) will run. Manuel is still looking for the big win but a string of high placing and podium finishes will almost certainly guarantee that he is pushing the pace with the rest at the front.


Franco Colle just the other weekend won the RUT in the USA and has now decided to miss Tor des Geants to content the podium on Spain. Currently Franco leads the Skyrunner World ~Series for the ultra distance and he will bo looking to gain maximum points and the bonus that come with it to secure the overall position in the ranking, it won’t be an easy task!


Cristofer Clemente was 2nd at the RUT also and now lies 2nd on the ranking for the SWS. He did have some question marks over if he would race here in Spain due to the proximity of the USA race, however, I can’t help but think he will give the race a go and he will see what happens. At 110km it’s a long tough race for this late in the season.

tnfutmb 2013 ©

UTMB duo, Miguel Heras and Tofol Castanyer both had troubled races this year on the big loop of Chamonix and so they will no doubt be looking to put the record straight here. As we all know, on their day they are 2 of the best ultra mountain runners in the world. They also both have a great history with this race.



Ricky Lightfoot has once again had another incredible 2015 mixing up his race distances and experiences with diverse races races such as Ultra Skymarathon Madeira, DoDo Trail in Mauritius and of course his local fell races in the UK.  *may not race due to illness, me missed the Lakes Sky Ultra?

Jessed Hernandez placed 3rd in 2014 and he will be looking to move up 1 or 2 places in 2015 but the odds may well be stacked against him with such a quality line-up. Yeray Duran, Philipp Reiter and Miguel Caballero will also contend the top 5 but there are more runners than places; who will come out on top?


Nuria Picas has made a home at Ultra Pirineu, it’s ‘her’ race and 2015 will be the 5th time she will toe the line looking for another victory. Her recent blip at UTMB will soon be behind her and she will no doubt looking to put the record straight on home ground. We can all think back to that epic battle between Anna Frost, Emelie Forsberg and Nuria Picas in 2012.

“I am delighted to see that world renowned international athletes are once again coming here, it’s a race that deserves consideration.” – Nuria Picas



Emelie Forsberg ran her very first 80km race at Ultra Pirineu (then called Cavalls del Vent) in 2012. She placed 3rd! What has followed has been an incredible rise in the sport of Skyrunning. While Nuria pursued the UTWT, Emelie has gone on to dominate Skyrunning races worldwide, the 2015 edition of Ultra Pirineu will once again see these two dominant and inspiring ladies once again go head-to-head. It’s an exciting prospect.


Nepalese sensation Mira Rai will also race. Her victory at the Mont-Blanc 80km turned heads and I think it’s fair to say that the 110km distance will suit her running style.


Anna Comet has been a revelation in 2015 and has consistently placed on the podium. Like Nuria, Anna is placing a great emphasis on Ultra Pirineu as she considers it a home race. The ‘home’ advantage really motivates and Anna’s recent non-racing will almost certainly mean that she will be fresh for an epic battle.

Ester Alves, Julia Boetger, Gemma Arenas and Roser Espanol will also be looking to mix it up at the front of the race. Ester in particular has seemed unstoppable in 2015 after going from one race to the next.

You can follow the stories through words and images on this website, via Twitter @talkultra, on Instagram @iancorlessphotography and on Facebook at

In addition, the official Skyrunning Facebook page (here) and Twitter @skyrunning_com will have regular updates and news.

SALMON SKYRUN package for International runners 2015


Embrace an opportunity to not only take part in one of South Africa’s toughest races but also be privy to a VIP package that will allow you to experience the journey of a lifetime.

Following on from a successful inaugural experience in 2014, Salomon SkyRun are now offering a very exclusive package for 15 very lucky individuals in 2015.


The Salomon SkyRun is a true mountain running experience on an unmarked course in the stunning Witteberg Mountains just off the southwest corner of Lesotho. Offering a variety of tough and challenging terrain, SkyRun is a self-supported and self-navigation journey of 100-kms.


Leaving the town of Lady Grey behind, the beauty and remoteness engulfs each and every runner. It is not uncommon to run for the entire race without seeing much civilization around you except those involved in the race.

BIG NEWS a $10,000 prize purse is available for the first male to go under 12-hours or the first lady to go sub 14-hours 30-minutes.





View race images HERE

To experience first hand the journey of SkyRun, listen to Episode 75 of Talk Ultra HERE. It is a special show that discusses in detail the route, the experiences of South Africa and has in-depth chat with Gary Robbins who placed second in the men’s race. The show also has interviews with ladies first and second place, Landie Greyling and Julia Boettger. In addition the show brings sounds of SA and interviews the race directors, Adrian Saffy and Michael de Haast.

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An evening in Lady Grey post race allows some rest and recovery before the 3-hour transfer journey to the stunning Moketsi Game Ranch.

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Moketsi is a jewel. A five star resort offering luxury accommodation on a full board basis.


Moketsi provides an opportunity to experience wildlife on a personal level that is seldom scene or experienced. Go on safari in custom made Land Rover vehicles, drink a ‘sundowner’ as the sun departs the day and if you are lucky, experience the reserve ‘on foot’ under the guidance of the Ranch Manager, Gustav.

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The Ranch covers some 6,000 hectares (65 km²) of beautiful grassland plains and contrasting mountain landscapes in a unique and comfortable setting for an exclusive and private experience. It may even be possible to run up Moketsi mountain… can you set an FKT?

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Moketsi has a large variety of game with four of the Big Five (including Lion, Rhino, Buffalo and Leopard). The varied landscape, range of animals, birdlife and luxurious accommodation make for a true outdoor experience.

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Leaving the quiet seclusion on Moketsi Game Ranch, a 90-minute transfer to Bloemfontein and an internal flight to Cape Town will awaken the senses to the bustle of South Africa’s second largest city. Hooking up with the local run scene, you will climb Lion Head, run up and down Table Mountain.

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By contrast you will relax on the wine route visiting vineyards, watch the penguins at Boulders Colony and chill in Hout Bay with some quality seafood.

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 The Salomon SkyRun International Package is a once in a lifetime experience that is available at an incredible price.


Package (excludes flights to South Africa)

£975.00 (€1250 or $1750)

Only 15-places are available for this incredible experience distributed as 5 to the USA/Canada, 5 to Germany and 5 to UK/ Europe.

Package includes:

  • Transfer from Bloemfontein to Lady Grey
  • Race entry
  • 2 nights pre race lady grey bed and breakfast one night post race
  • 2 nights Moketsi Game Ranch fully inclusive
  • Flight from Bloemfontein to Cape Town
  • 3 nights in Cape Town bed and breakfast all transfers and transport

The trip starts from Bloemfontein with a transfer to Lady Grey on Thursday 19th Nov and finishes with departure from Cape Town on Nov 28th.

Please note that all arrivals must be in Bloemfontein on Thursday 19th November 2014 by 3pm.


  • All meals as specified in Package (note race entry includes a meal at race briefing and a meal at finish line as well as Breakfast/ Brunch before prize giving)
  • All transfers in aircon Vehicles and domestic airfares as stipulated in package
  • Area Permit to traverse Conservancy
  • All accommodation is per person on a sharing basis as applicable. Single supplement applies.


All meals not stipulated in package

All beverages except at Game Lodge

International flights: into and departing South Africa – arrival Bloemfontein, departure Cape Town.

How to book:

To book a place a non-refundable 25% deposit secures your place. Full balance is due, on or before 1st August 2015. Please specify your booking country.


Episode 75 – Skyrun, Robbins, Greyling, Boettger


Episode 75 of Talk Ultra is all about the Salomon Skyrun and South Africa. We bring an interview with the ladies winner Landie Greyling. We also talk with the ladies 2nd place, Julia Boettger. Gary Robbins placed 2nd overall and discusses in-depth his race and co hosts the show. We bring sounds from Moketsi Game Ranch, experiences from Cape Town and talk Skyrun with Adrian Saffy and Michael de Haast.
This weeks show is a little different to our usual episodes.
Gary Robbins placed 2nd overall in the race and he co-hosts providing an in-depth insight into the race, his experiences of South Africa and he even set an FKT on Table Mountain.
We bring you sounds and interviews from Moketsi Game Reserve and race directors, Michael de Haast and Adrian Saffy talk Skyrun and South Africa.
Listen to Hyenas, growl with lions and dance to some quality ‘SA’ tunes.
Experience South Africa….
Images from SA and the Skyrun are available on this website HERE and you can view images from the whole trip HERE
Website –

Philipp Reiter prepares for the Salomon SkyRun

Philipp Reiter ©

Philipp Reiter ©iancorless.comHow have the last couple of months been from a racing perspective?

 Philipp Retier has had a quite 2014 due to a problematic foot injury. The season started well with a multi day adventure at The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica and the iconic, Transvulcania. In June, running ground to a halt after running 100-miles in the charity D-Day celebrations in Normandy. Philipp is back on track now and I caught up with him as he prepares for the Salomon SkyRun in South Africa.

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

Unfortunately I have been injured for the whole summer from a community running event on the flat asphalt road and was not really able to run. I could not think about racing. To stay fit I was cycling quite a lot around my home town – MTB, road bike and cross-bike.
As you can imagine, it was very disappointing for me, but it is great to have a big (running) perspective now at the end of November with the Salomon SkyRun.

Philipp Reiter, Salomon ©

Philipp Reiter, Salomon ©

Do you have any targets between now and your trip to SA?

My studies at the university started in the beginning of October, so I have enough work trying to fit everything in my day; so no races are planned in preparation. I still feel more familiar to cycling than to running at the moment which I have to change in the next weeks.

How’s training going – have you done anything specific for SA?

I have already asked a few participants about the terrain and climate at the SkyRun and figured out that the weather is changing pretty fast – hot and very dry in the valleys, freezing cold and stormy on the ridges. For the cold I can prepare at home and for the hot maybe a few sauna-sessions should be good! As the terrain is very rocky and rough I will run more off-trail at home.

Julia Bottger, Philipp Reiter and Ryan Sandes in Gran Canaria copyright Ian Corless

Julia Bottger, Philipp Reiter and Ryan Sandes in Gran Canaria copyright Ian Corless

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

Yes, indeed! I was asked to scout routes for a trailrunning stage race here in Germany, so I have done quite a lot of map work trying to find the best, fastest and most beautiful spots. I mainly run around with a map in my hands which could be similar in South Africa…


Are you intimidated by the navigation element of the SkyRun?

Should I? It is totally new for me not to “just” follow the marks in a race but that makes it more interesting. Then it’s not only fast legs and stong lungs to be in a good position but also your brain has to work much more! I am only a bit worried as I have no experience using the compass for navigation or a mobile GPS-device apart from my watch.

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

No, not really. I have only watched some videos from the last editions and they made the course and the race look quite tough. It’s not the heat or the cold alone that make me worried but the extreme fast changes of both. So the backpack will be more heavy than in a “normal” race as it’s quite a lot of stuff to carry…

Philipp Reiter, Salomon ©

Philipp Reiter, Salomon ©

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

Yes, I have heared that they are really strong and apart form their fitness they are very familiar to the race route, the climate and the terrain. They know exactly where to find water, how to climb the barbed wired fences,… So, I will just thry to follow them.

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

Aaagh, that is a good question. I have read that it’s $10.000 for the first runner who goes under 12 hours! But I guess that is almost impossible and I know that my teammate Ryan Sandes, who is an excellent runner especially in that type of terrain, needed about 12:30h last year. So I am not sure if someone can beat that. It would be a great boost for my student wallet though.

Have you been to SA before?

No, unfortunately not. But one of my climbing friends was there last year for bouldering and he was so excited that he will come back next year. He showed me some pictures – just stunning!

What are you most looking forward to?

The huge untouched landscape, some wild animals you can only see in the zoo at home (giraffes, lions, elephants,…), get to know the SA culture and how it’s connected to the European colony many years ago. Eat the famous steaks. Go running on the table mountain and explore Cape Town – quite a few things to do… maybe I will need to stay?

“The Salomon SkyRun is something completely new. I have been running in the jungle of Costa Rica, the Rocky Mountains in the USA, scrambled in the French Alps and raced on dry Spain islands but it’s was all marked. I never had to care about choosing the best and fastest way, run with a map in my hands and think about not missing the next well to fill up my water bottles. To perform good in this SA adventure I will not only need power in my legs, strong lungs and mental force but also navigation skills and the ability to read the terrain to choose the best way. It’s much more about tactics and planning! – I can’t wait!” Philipp Reiter

Philipp Reiter at the finish of Trofeo Kima copyright Ian Corless

Philipp Reiter at the finish of Trofeo Kima copyright Ian Corless

Ultra D-Day Trail – 100 miles


A non competitive adventure

Over a route between Utah Beach (Manche) and Caen (Calvados), the Ultra D-DAY 100-mile event has 7 different nations represented. The fourteen runners will run and stop at 14 ‘checkpoints’ at specific places on the route with pauses to commemorate the past key events.


A beach landing, a torchlight crossing through Bayeux and a finish line with 3000 children.

The 14 athletes will arrive on land from the sea in Utah Beach on June 12th, 2014. They will arrive in Bayeux at the end of the day and go through the city holding torchlights. Finally, they will join the 3000 children of “Les Foulées de la Liberté” to complete the last kilometers of the ‘Ultra D Day Trail’ up to the Caen Memorial.


Athletes running are:


The schedule is available HERE

For more information:

“The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you.” — Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower’s message to the troops before the invasion, 1944

“They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate.” — President Franklin D. Roosevelt, radio broadcast, June 6, 1944

I should have been participating in this event and unfortunately due to the theft of my computer and all my camera equipment in Barcelona, I am no longer able to attend. It saddens me greatly not be a part of this adventure and I wish everyone all the very best and as Churchill would have said, “And what a plan! This vast operation is undoubtedly the most complicated and difficult that has ever occurred.’‘ — Winston Churchill to the House of Commons, June 6, 1944

Bonne Chance – Good Luck – Powodzenia – Viel Glück – Break a leg!


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MEEK and mild – The Jo Meek interview

©iancorless.com_1120572all images © – all rights reserved

The eyes tell the story… they look through you. Deep in focus, almost blinkered like a horse, Jo Meek has only one purpose. To run as fast and as efficiently as possible over 6-days and when crossing the final finish tape, be crowned winner of the 10th edition of the 2014 The Costal Challenge in Costa Rica.

I had seen this look once before, at the end of stage-1 of the 2013 Marathon des Sables. Sitting in a bivouac, Jo Meek had just excelled on the first day of the race. I like others looked around in wonder and asked the question, ‘who is Jo Meek?’

No more questions needed to be asked, at the end of the 28th Marathon des Sables, we all were well aware who Jo was, she was the lady who had just placed 2nd overall behind Meghan Hicks at her first Marathon des Sables.

When you excel at one race it’s easy for many to look on and say, ‘It was first time luck.’ Not that Jo needed to prove anything, certainly not to me! I had seen her race; I had witnessed the dedication and focus as Jo pushed herself daily to get the best she could out of her body.

Switching from the dunes of the Sahara to the beaches and rainforest of Costa Rica was always going to be a cathartic moment for Jo, particularly when one considered the competition she would be up against; Julia Bottger (Salomon), Veronica Bravo (Adventure Racer from Chile) and Anna Frost (Salomon). Unfortunately, ‘Frosty’ had to withdraw from the race just days before the start in Quepos on doctor’s orders. Disappointed at not having the opportunity to test herself against one of the best female mountain/ ultra runners in the world, Jo focused and said, ‘It changes nothing. I am here to race and race hard. I would have loved to have Anna push me but you know what, I can push myself pretty hard.’

As we all found out, Jo can push herself pretty hard; maybe too hard at times? On day-1 of the TCC, Jo raced like a demon. Unaffected by the Costa Rican heat and humidity, she put 45-minutes into the female competition and set the platform on which to build for an incredible victory at the 10th edition of the race.

Back in the UK after a recovery week in Costa Rica, I caught up with Jo as she attempted to move house… a house that she had purchased without seeing! Yes, Jo had purchased a house she hadn’t seen. When I asked her in Costa Rica about this, Jo replied, ‘I was too involved in my training, I had one focus, to be in the best shape for the TCC. I just didn’t have time to go and look at it. I convinced myself it would be okay…’


IC: A year ago I was talking to you at your surprise 2nd place at MDS. You have now been out to Costa Rica, a very different environment in comparison to the Sahara, raced against stronger competition? And you have won an incredible victory over 6 –tough days of racing. How do you feel?

JM: I feel really pleased. I have complete satisfaction from the race. It’s possible to sometimes come away with question marks but I have none. I feel that the effort I put in was rewarded appropriately. I put a great amount of dedication into this race and sacrificed lots.

IC: Yes, you had that steely MDS look in your eyes. Like blinkers. You dedicate yourself to the task and I guess knowing in advance what the competition was going to be like at TCC and having the MDS experience inside you, you were able to be far more specific in training. I know post MDS that you thought you had maybe been a little over cautious. You could have run quicker? So, did you go to TCC with all guns blazing and take each day as a race?

JM: Yes I did. I remember listening to Ryan Sandes on Talk Ultra and he said it was amazing how quickly one recovers. I thought, I do recover well and I had nothing to loose. I know from MDS that I had been cautious, for example on the last day I pushed hard. Had I done that everyday the result may have been different but it’s difficult to say. So, at TCC I wanted to give it everything. I had prepared for the heat and my training was good.


IC: You have just mentioned that you committed yourself from day-1. Needless to say, TCC day-1 was impressive. You put 45-mins into the competition, impressive, particularly when we look at the ladies who you were racing against. Of course it gave you a real buffer. A safety net. The biggest issue on day-1 for everyone (except you) was the massive contrast in European weather and Costa Rican weather. Even in Costa Rica itself, the temperatures between San Jose and the coast were remarkable. As you approach the coast the heat goes up along with the humidity. Day-1 has a later start so you are straight into the heat… mid 30’s and closer to 40 at the height of the day. But it did not affect you and the main reason for this was 10-days training in a heat chamber.

JM: Yes. I was prepared. I gave everything on that first day. I had assumed that the competition would have done the same? Using a heat chamber is only a case of contacting Universities and they are usually willing to help. I assumed some heat work would put me on a par. As it turned out it wasn’t the heat that struck me but the pace! We were running slower than I expected so I ran at what was comfortable for me and nobody ran with me. I then ran scared thinking I had made a mistake that I was going to pay for.

IC: Now you have had an opportunity to reflect on TCC can you tell us about the heat chamber, how did it benefit you, are there any crossovers between MDS and TCC prep?

JM: I did the same sort of training. I followed a marathon program but I did more back-to-back runs. Essentially you are training for the same thing. In the heat chamber I was under the guidance of the team. I told them I would do whatever I needed to do… They told me I needed 10-days. You actually don’t need to exercise in the heat chamber, you can just sit inside but it takes longer. I could sit for 3-hours or run for 1-hour. I am dedicated, I am focused, and that’s a really big thing.

IC: Lets talk about the training. When you say a classic marathon program, I guess you are talking about a speed session, hill session and then long runs. Of course, you were training for multi-day so you built from 1-long run to back-to-back long runs. What did a peak week look like; I guess this was 3-4 weeks out from the TCC?


JM: Yes, 4-weeks out and then I would taper. You are right; I would do a speed session, a threshold run, a hill session and then long runs that would build to back-to-back runs. What you can’t afford to do is not let yourself recover in terms of, if you have done a long run and made it fast, you need to recover. It was all about balance. You need to be sensible and listen to your body. I would do 2.5-3-hours normally for a normal long session, whereas my long run for TCC was 4-hours; but at a slower pace. I wanted to make sure I could incorporate hills to prepare me for the hills of TCC.

IC: Back-to-back sessions, was that 2 x 4-hour runs?

JM: No, I did 3 back-to-back 3-hour runs.

IC: So, 9-hours split over 3-days; I presume when you did this you eased back of speed and hill work?

JM: I actually kept the sessions. In actual fact, that week I did a race. You have to remember, the long runs were really slow. It was just a case of recovering from a food and nutrition perspective. The runs actually didn’t damage my muscles. I am sensible after each run. I rest. For the 3 back-to-backs I took a day off work to make sure I had the best platform from which to build.

IC: So you planned this into work. You took a day off work and you treated this very much from a professional perspective. Feet up after the run, concentrate of food and hydration and make sure you are in the best place.

JM: Yes it was like being a full time athlete. Of course day-to-day life gets in the way; cook dinner and walk the dog for example. I just took this relaxed and in my own time.

IC: How did you break speed sessions down? Many ultra runners look at speed sessions as something that they don’t need to do. But that is not the case, you actually need endurance and speed, so, how do you work this to your benefit, how did you go about speed sessions?

JM: It is difficult to answer as we are all individual and it depends on your race. You need to target your sessions at the pace you want to achieve and then sometimes faster. I would do some track work running 400’s or I would do 1-mile reps. I guess you need to vary what you do… try to enjoy it! We all think, speed; it’s going to hurt. But if you find sessions you enjoy it makes a big difference. Also try training with others.


IC: So you had your plan, you did speed, you did strength, you did hills, you did back-to-backs but you realized that to give you an edge or in your terms an equal playing field was that you needed to adapt to the heat. It was a variable. It was one thing you couldn’t account for. You did 10-days consecutive in a heat chamber?

JM: Yes, 10-days.

IC: What is day-1 like?

JM: Oh you think I will never be able to run in this? I went in thinking that I would run at ‘pace’ but actually you run at a slow pace as they don’t want your temperature to rise too quickly. It feels bearable at the start. They monitor the core temperature and mine went too high after 30-min so then I had to walk and rest to keep it under control. It’s not as physically as hard as you may think. It’s all about core temperature.

IC: What is important is the lesson that we can all learn. You trained in the UK; you did the heat sessions, which gave you massive temperature and humidity fluctuations. You got that process over with before arriving in Costa Rica. By contrast, nearly all the runners had to go through that process on day-1 of the race… for example; Philipp Reiter had a really tough 1st day. He was overheating and red, he was trying to control himself but to no avail. However his recovery was phenomenal. He recovered so well to come back strong on day-2.

JM: That is the benefit of being 20!

IC: Yes, for sure that helped. However, had Philipp and the others got day-1 over with in a heat chamber it would have made a massive difference. It could have been the difference between top-3 and a win.

When you went back to the heat chamber how was the adaptation?

JM: Mentally I was more prepared. On day-1 I felt nauseous and tired but I guess it just gets easier. By day-3 my resting core had reduced dramatically. It gets easier and easier unless you are a moron like me and fall off the treadmill.


IC: Mmmm yes, you did make a mess of your face. Not the best thing to land on in the final days of prep in the build up to an important race!

So, you adapted in the heat chamber. The process went exceptionally well and pretty much after the last session you made your way to Costa Rica. It’s a shock, isn’t it? Time changes, a day of registration, logistics and presswork, an early bed and then a very early start the following day that starts at 3am. A transfer by bus to the coast and before you know it, day-1 starts at 0930 just as the heat of the day is beating down. It’s hot, really hot, however it caused you no problems. You had that amazing first day. Post day-1 you said you felt great. You had taken the race on, you had pushed yourself and you had stamped your authority on the race. How did the rest of the race unfold for you? You had a couple of key moments; day-3 in the river section start when you struggled with the technicality, ironically, very similar to the male winner; Mike Wardian. You and he are very similar runners, you both run well on fast terrain but less so on technical terrain.  However, as the race progressed you both adapted and became far more efficient.


JM: Yes, without doubt.

IC: Moving up hill and covering technical ground became so much better for both of you.

Lets go back to that day-3 start when you had Veronica Bravo and Julia Bottger ahead of you, did you think you were loosing the race?

JM: When you can’t see runners you immediately think you are loosing 45-mins. It’s funny. However, when it is so technical you can’t think about anything other than what is below your feet and what is ahead. I just had to follow the course markers and cover the ground as best as I could. All the time I was thinking, I just need to get on the flat or get on a good hill and start chasing and pulling time back.

IC: You got through the section and you started to chase. You clawed back the time, you caught Julia and Veronica and then on the final beach section in 40-deg heat you pulled away and got another stage win. You re-established your dominance of the race. It must have been a great day and a great boost?

JM: The 3rd day was the longest and most emotional day. It almost felt like the end of the race. I was very emotional. Had someone been waiting for me at the end I would have cried. Even though I still had 3-days of racing ahead I had concentrated so much it had exhausted me. Having got through that it was a case of maintaining it. But as you very well know, I like to race and continued that way. I didn’t want to take anything for granted. I could have fallen and hurt myself and with Veronica and Julia chasing, I couldn’t be complacent. I raced hard to the end.

IC: Post race you said one day in particular is the day that you got things wrong that impacted on the final 2-days, was that day-4?

JM: I gave everything on day-3 and then I continued to race on day-4 when I didn’t need to?

IC: Yes, we had that conversation when I said to you, ‘you know what, you have a 60-min lead so be sensible. You have no need to put yourself in the ground. Consolidate what you have and be sensible.’ But in true Jo Meek fashion you continued to push…

Day-5 was significant. You had been in the lead and then Julia came back to you with about 10-km to go. It was the final feed station. You had a 60-min lead, so, overall victory was secure.


JM: I was at the feed and Julia arrived and I thought, ‘Oh my goodness, I thought I have to go.’ I ran, ran hard and closed out the final 10-km like a stand-alone session. I finished out of breath with hands on knees.

IC: Funny, when I saw you, you said, ‘I am an idiot.’

JM: I did.

IC: When I asked why, you explained the situation. Of course you have now reflected and I hope you realize that it wasn’t clever racing? You could have still had a bad moment on the last day and needed the reserves.

JM: Oh yes. I am well aware. What hurt me on the last day were sore quads. It was all the descending from the previous days. So I ran the last day within myself, however, had I thought Julia would have really pushed I would have found something, some extra energy.

IC: You have 2-great experiences under your belt. Marathon des Sables provided an introduction into multi-day racing and you performed maybe beyond our expectations but not beyond your own and now you have the victory at The Coastal Challenge. You have confirmed yourself as someone who can race hard, day-after-day, so, what are the hints ‘n’ tips you can provide for multi-day racing?

JM: Assess what you as an individual want from the race and then train accordingly. You must have a goal. Do you want to compete or complete? It makes a big difference. If you get your mind it the right place it is half of the battle. Prepare mentally, don’t be scared of the environment. Do what you can do and make sure that is clear. Have a great understanding of your body and how it recovers. Give yourself what you need. Without doubt eating after exercise within an hour is key, especially for multi-day racing or training. Rest when you get an opportunity; elevate your legs. For sure your feet and ankles will get tired. Relax, eat, drink and let everything settle. If you can sleep, do so. It provides great recovery. Ultimately, common sense prevails and the body is an amazing thing.

IC: TCC and MDS are very different. At MDS you had to be self-sufficient and carry a pack whereas at TCC tents and food were provided so you could run light, you just needed a hydration pack. Of course it’s a level playing field as everyone must do the same but from your perspective what are the pros and cons from both races and which did you prefer?

JM: That is very tricky. At TCC having food in abundance is obviously great. You can eat when you want and as much as you want so that makes recovery easy. However, everyone has that option so it’s not a personal advantage it’s just a different scenario. At MDS you can use this to your advantage, if you have planned well and your nutrition is optimum for your own personal needs then of course your competition may have not, so this can be something you work into a positive. It requires more planning. It’s a game of calories v weight. I like the challenge of the MDS scenario but equally your running style changes; your speed changes and you are carrying the burden of the pack.  I guess it depends if you prefer faster racing or a more expedition type of approach.

IC: It’s a crazy question but MDS compared to TCC, which race, all things considered was the hardest race?


JM: The Coastal Challenge course. It has everything, ascending and descending, the damage the course did to my legs was far greater than the MDS. I found the MDS was harder from a food perspective, it took me 4-5 weeks post MDS to put the weight back on. The Coastal Challenge course tests the body and mind and the continual changes of terrain keep you guessing and working hard.

IC: So what is next, recovery is first and foremost I guess?

JM: I want to prove myself as an ultra runner. I want to run in a GB vest. I will try to qualify for GB in a trail race. I’d like to do more stage races and I have entered Comrades in June. That will be an interesting test and very different to what I have currently achieved.

IC: Finally, Costa Rica, what was the experience like for you, can you sum it up?

JM: The race is incredible. Where else can you run (or walk) in such an amazing place! The organizers have created a race and a route that often is inaccessible to most; riverbeds, jungle and plains. I probably didn’t look around too much while racing but I stayed for 1-week afterwards and I had a holiday. I went diving, saw a whale, I walked, went white water rafting and saw plenty of wildlife. It’s just an incredible and exciting place. Even if you did just the race you would come away with a whole new outlook. It really is incredible.


TCC 2014 race images – HERE

The 2015 The Coastal Challenge is now available to book. Want a discount? Use the form below for early bird booking.

Race Website – HERE

The North Face® Transgrancanaria® 2014 Preview


The 2014 Transgrancanaria is just over a week away and for the first time the race will be part of the UTWT (Ultra Trail World Tour) and the newly formed Spanish Ultra Cup.

Arguably the five races that make up the Transgrancanaria weekend (Transgrancanaria  (125 kilometers), Advanced (82), Marathon (44), Starter (30) and Promo (17.4). Promo aims to gain the attention of new runners to participate in ultra trail races.) Will see some of the first big showdowns, certainly at an elite level, of 2014.

The level of competition assembled for the main event, the 125km Transgrancanaria is extremely impressive. Starting in Agaete runners will endure some tough and technical terrain to arrive at the finish in Faro de Maspalomas.

This race will provide us with a great insight into some of the early season form of some of the best in the world! So, who is racing?


Sebastien Chaigneau ©

Sebastien Chaigneau ©

Sebastien Chaigneau (The North Face) returns to defend his 2013 crown and after also being victorious at Hardrock 100 in the same year he will most definitely have a target on his back as ‘one-to-watch’. Hardrock certainly took plenty of energy out of Seb, when he attempted TNFUTMB just weeks later he dropped early saying he had nothing left. I am sure he will be focused and ready to take the Transgrancanaria on with 100% commitment.

Scott Jurek ©

Scott Jurek ©

Scott Jurek (Brooks) paced Seb Chaigneau at Hardrock 100 and it’s great to see that this legend of ultra running will toe the line for his first ever race in Spain. Scott needs no introduction. He has been quiet in recent years with writing his book and promotion, however, he recently returned to Leadville to race over the 100-mile distance and on a recent trip to the UK he told me, his years of competitive running are coming to a close but he still has some objectives and bucket list races he wants to tick off! European racing is very different to western States, Badwater and Spartathlon, however, Scott loves a challenge and I for one am going to be really interested to see how he stacks up against sold competition. Listen to Scott Jurek on Talk Ultra HERE

Timothy Olson ©

Timothy Olson ©

Timothy Olson (The North Face) had a great 2013 and he understands European racing and courses. His experiences at Transvulcania La Palma and TNFUTMB will put him in a great place to not only understand the demands that the Transgrancanaria course will bring but also how to race it. This is still early season for Timothy and although I am sure he will be fit and raring to go, I don’t expect him to be at 100%. He has been putting in the training and regular runs up Mount Wilson will put him in a great place. Just the other day Timothy did 5k of vertical in 7-miles in 1:19:30 and then followed this with 24-miles and more vertical. Like Seb Chaigneau, Timothy has a date at Hardrock 100 later this year and I am sure his focus and emphasis will be placed on the big showdown. His recent 8th place at Sean O’Brien 50-mile (an hour slower than Dylan Bowman) shows that Timothy is biding his time and easing his way into 2014. Listen to Timothy Olson on Talk Ultra HERE

Ryan Sandes ©

Ryan Sandes ©

Ryan Sandes (Salomon) had a troubled 2013, ironically, I remember discussing his 2013 plans in Gran Canaria this time last year. At the time he chose to step down from the 125km race and run the 82km Advanced race, which he won. However, things did not go well afterwards, he got injured ahead of Western States which forced him to miss out and improve on his second place of 2012 and then later in the year he arrived at Leadville looking in fine form. Unfortunately midway through the race things took a bad turn forcing him to drop with back problems. Ryan did win Patagonian International Marathon 63km and place 9th at San Francisco 50 in December. So, with batteries recharged and plenty of running in the Drakensburg Mountains of South Africa, Ryan I am sure will be looking for a solid start to the year so that he can build and look ahead to a potential overall victory at Western States. Listen Ryan Sandes on Talk Ultra HERE

Dylan Bowman ©

Dylan Bowman ©

Dylan Bowman (Pearl Izumi) was all ready to go at TNFUTMB in 2013 but his plans flew out of the window with an unfortunate slip in training in the days leading up to the big race. Recovery was paramount in the second half of 2013 but Dylan looked objectively from the outside and turned this period into an opportunity to grow. Taking on a new run coach Dylan has progressed and for sure will be looking to make an impact in Europe during 2014 with a whole series of top races lined up against high quality fields. Gaining 5th place at San Francisco 50 behind a speedy and in form Rob Krar was a great sign and his recent victory at the Sean O’Brien 50-mile in 6:23:17 ahead of Mike Aish and Mike Wolfe bodes really well for his current form and his chances on the island of Gran Canaria. Listen to Dylan Bowman on Talk Ultra HERE

Julien Chorier

Julien Chorier

Julien Chorier (Hoka One One) gave a master class of distance running at the Andorra Ultra Trail, Ronda dels Cims in 2013. Not only did he break the course record but each and every step of the way he looked calm, collected and in control. Following this up, Julien raced at TNFUTMB and I have to say based on his Ronda performance I tipped him as a hot favourite. However in the race he was fighting the sleep demons, despite this he still paced highly. He is meticulous in preparation and leaves nothing to chance. A previous winner of Hardrock 100, Julien will also return in 2014 what is already looking like a highlight’ race of 2014. A recent move from Salomon to Hoka One One is very interesting and I am really keen to see how Julien’s form is this early in the year.

Jez Bragg ©

Jez Bragg ©

Jez Bragg (The North Face) returned to main stream racing at the 2013 TNFUTMB having devoted pretty much the previous 12-months to his Te Araroa expedition. An expedition that he always knew would deplete him in ways he had never been depleted before. His 10th place (male) and 11th place overall was a rewarding run and most certainly confirmed that Jez was back. His recent performance and top-10 placing at HK100 again confirms that Jez will be going into 2014 with a full race schedule planned out and highlight being Western States 100. Transgrancanaria will provide a course that will suit Jez’s style of running; expect him to start steady and move his way up as the distance progresses. Listen Jez Bragg after Te Araroa HERE

Mike Wolfe & Mike Foote ©

Mike Wolfe & Mike Foote ©

Mike Wolfe (The North Face) placed 3rd at the recent Sean O’Brien 50-miler; a great sign. Mike would be the first to admit that he has had a troubled time since the 2012 Transvulcania La Palma. He struggled to find form but his FKT on the John Muir Trail with Hal Koerner in 2013 put Mike back on track. A slight blimp was trying to run TNFUTMB too quickly after the JMT but Mike had the sense to drop early and avoid causing any injuries and his decision was confirmed with a 6th place at San Francisco 50 in December. Mike always races hard and loves to perform, definitely one to watch! Listen to Mike Wolfe on Talk Ultra HERE

Jason Schlarb

Jason Schlarb

Jason Schlarb (Altra) took out the win at Run Rabbit Run in 2013 and in addition to a win at Pocatello 50 had top-3 places at Speedgoat 50, San Juan Solstice 50 and Leona Divide. The Transgrancanaria course is somewhat different to the above but Jason has great speed and endurance that will hopefully work well on this testing 125km course.

Miguel Heras ©

Miguel Heras ©

Miguel Heras (Salomon) heads up the ‘local’ talent and like many of the above names has struggled with injury in recent years. Miguel’s 2nd place at TNFUTMB was a great moment for the fans but more importantly, Miguel. He needed that result. He followed this with 3rd place behind Luis Alberto Hernando at Cavalls del Vent. Looking back at ‘13’ one could say Miguel didn’t race many times, however, he did have 6-victories, a 2nd place and a 3rd. not bad eh! If Miguel is in top form, he is a potential winner of the 125km race; no doubt!

The quality of the men’s field really is quite impressive and in no particular order here are the other names to watch…

  • Arnaud Julia – 2nd at Transgrancanaria in 2009 & 2010 but more importantly the winner of the 2013 TDS.
  • Jorge Maravilla – recent win at Bandera 100k in 8:02:27 shows current great form.
  • Antoine Guillon – 8th at TNFUTMB in 2011 and 2nd at TDS in 2013.
  • Casey Morgan – top Brit mountain/ fell runner.
  • Christophe Le Saux – 16th at Transgrancanaria in 2013 and recent top placing at HK100.
  • Cyril Cointre – 8th at Transgrancanaria in 2013, 9th at UTMF 2013 and 11th recently at HK100.
  • Fulvio Dapit – 4th at Ice Trail Tarentaise in 2013.
  • Pascal Blanc – 3rd at Diagonale des Fous 2013 and 13th at HK100 in 2014.


Francesca Canepa ©

Francesca Canepa ©

Francesca Canepa (Vibram/Montura) triumphant after a stunning win at HK100 in January must arrive in Gran Canaria as a hot favourite. At 125km it is probably till just a little too short for this long distance specialist, however, it has plenty of climbing and technical terrain, this will suit Francesca down to the ground. What can I say that hasn’t already been said about this stunning lady… she never stops to amaze me! Her racing calendar is brutal and her powers of recovery are miraculous. Francesca’s victories at Ronda dels Cims, Eiger Ultra Trail and Tor des Geants in 2013 were stand out results, however, these results were interspersed with top results at Ice Trail Tarentaise, UROC, Speedgoat 50 and so on. Needless to say, Francesca is a hot tip! Listen to Francesca Canepa after Ronda dels Cims on Talk Ultra HERE

Nathalie Mauclair ©

Nathalie Mauclair ©

Nathalie Mauclair (Endurance 72) burst onto the ultra running scene at Transvulcania La Palma in 2013 with 4th place and never stopped. She became IAU World Trail Champion, won TDS and then crowned out an incredible year with victory at Diagonale des Fous. Nathalie’s combination of speed and endurance is a lethal combination and every lady at Transgrancanaria should most definitely place a target on this ladies back.

Nuria Picas ©

Nuria Picas ©

Nuria Picas (Buff) has performed at the highest level in Skyrunning for years, her 2012 was a master class in mountain running. A change of tack in 2013 saw Nuria prepare meticulously for TNFUTMB (her first 100-miler) and this paid off with 2nd overall behind a storming Rory Bosio. Following TNFUTMB with repeat victories at Cavalls del Vent and Courses des Templiers showed that despite running long, Nuria did not loose speed. Meticulous in training and racing, Nuria will have her ‘A’ game in Gran Canaria and will need utmost respect from the female competition.

Nerea Martinez ©

Nerea Martinez ©

Nerea Martinez (Salomon) recently raced at HK100 and placed 5th overall; shows she has early season form. Like Francesca Canepa, Nerea loves long and tough races. One glimpse at her 2013 result sheet confirms this, her 2nd at Tor des Geants was a standout performance, however, in addition to this Nerea had 4-victories. One of which was the outright win at the 2013 Transgrancanaria. Amongst this level of competition I don’t see Nerea regaining the top slot but she will be pushing and looking for one of the ladies above to falter.

Fernanda Maciel ©

Fernanda Maciel ©

Fernanda Maciel (The North face) always has a busy calendar; her recent victory at the Everest Trail Race will without doubt put her in a great place for this race. All that climbing at altitude has to be a great boost. Fernanda’s stumbling block will be speed, particularly in comparison to Nuria and Nathalie. Listen to Fernanda in Episode 48 of Talk Ultra HERE

Julia Bottger ©

Julia Bottger ©

Julia Bottger (Salomon) has just returned from 2nd overall at The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica and is currently in Gran Canaria for a training camp. Like Nerea and Francesca, Julia loves tough, long and technical courses. A consistent performer at Diagonale des Fous and Tor des Geants, Julia’s climbing and endurance will be a great advantage over this 125km course. Listen to Julia Bottger on Talk Ultra HERE

Uxue Fraile (Adidas Trail Running) has had a great couple of years placing 5th at Transvulcania La Palma in 2012 and then returning in 2013 to place 3rd. In addition, Uxue placed 5th at the 2012 Cavalls del Vent and then returned in 2013 to place 2nd overall behind Nuria Picas. Maybe not an out and out favourite for Transgrancanaria but on her day, she has the potential to pull something special out of the bag and place top-3.

One to watch:

Karine Sanson – 6th at Transvulcania La Palma 2013 and 8th at Ice Trail Tarentaise.

As you can see, the 125km Transgrancanaria is without doubt going to be a very exciting race. However, a race within a race will be contested with points up for grabs for the Spanish Ultra Cup.

Follow the race on and on twitter @talkultra

Pre race interviews, images and writing will be uploaded to this website ( in advance of, during and post the race.

An addition, we must also remember the other races that will take place over the weekend. Last year the 82km Advanced race had a great battle with Ryan Sandes and Philipp Reiter. Philipp returns this year looking to move up one step! He will have some great competition from Zaid Ait Malek.

Here are the Advanced participants:


  • Chelis Valle Gallego
  • David Mundina Gil
  • Felipe Artigue
  • Gaizka Barañano Urquijo
  • Gerard Morales Ramírez
  • Juan Antonio Ruiz García (Juanan)
  • Juan María Jimenez Llorens
  • Pau Bartoló Roca
  • Pedro Bianco
  • Vicente Parra
  • Zaid Ait Malek
  • Ana Bustamante
  • Djanina Freitag
  • Elena Calvillo
  • Judit Franch Pons
  • Leire Aguirrezabala.
  • Lucía Pasamar Marquez


  • Philip Reiter
  • Tim Ellis


  • Cristofer Clemente Mora
  • Dani Santana García
  • Evaristo Almeida
  • Jesús Falcón Macías
  • Jose David Lutzardo Barroso
  • Jose israel Fernández Cáceres.
  • Jose Manuel León Medina
  • Francisco rodríguez Martín
  • Miguel Espino
  • Mari Carmen García Santana.
  • Yurena Castrillo Simón

Participants in the Marathon distance are as follows:


  • Michael Kabicher
  • Anna Eriksmo
  • Lúcia Franco
  • Marie Sammons
  • Nina Ingvarsson


  • Zigor Iturrieta
  • Nuria Domínguez
  • Silvia Sos
  • Sonia Escuriola


  • Dario Dorta
  • David reyes Lorenzo
  • Franscisco Rodríguez de Paz
  • Majid Belouati
  • Óliver Perera
  • Samuel Ortega Hernández
  • Leticia Rodríguez Navarro
  • Sandra Moreno Santiago
  • Yaiza Herrera

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