adidas Terrex and the 2019 UTMB Series of Races

I was recently in Chamonix for the UTMB series of events. I have to be honest, I have avoided Chamonix at the end of August for the last few years… The whole UTMB extravaganza just feels too overwhelming, there is no escape. So, I have chose to either have a holiday or work on smaller races.

This year I was asked by adidas to work on the event, documenting the experience of their Terrex Team as they prepared to tackle all of the events the UTMB offer, the exception coming with the crazy long PTL.

Working for a brand brings a whole new perspective and experience to an event like UTMB. Instead of chasing multiple runners over multiple locations, my priority would be to follow the favourites within each of the respective races – OCC, CCC and TDS. The UTMB would also be raced and followed by the whole Terrex Team but due to a prior commitment, I would skip the big loop around France, Italy and Switzerland.

UTMB needs no introduction, the series of races have arguably become a flagship for the sport. As UTMB has grown, so has the demand for people to race and for media to cover the event. This brings a whole set of challenges, especially for media. As a brand, adidas were required to pay a fee to allow myself and the film crew access to certain areas of the race, for example aid stations and finish line, and thus we could capture certain required images and also have the license to use them. UTMB provide live coverage of the event and it must be said, they do an incredible job using a helicopter, runners and mountain bikes to cover much of all the race routes. It is quite an incredible logistical problem and in addition, they provide live commentary with an ever-changing group of people providing on the spot analysis of the race. You can pretty much follow every race, start to finish live.

adidas and the UTMB

The team arrived in Chamonix one week before the UTMB main event and I arrived on the Monday. This meant the YCC started Tuesday, TDS Wednesday, OCC Thursday, CCC and UTMB starting Friday. You can do the math, that means long days, early starts, late nights and little sleep.

As a team, adidas had rented one huge chalet that would host the whole team, the hashtag #oneteam being a very important motto and ethos not only during race week but it is a hashtag that the team is using to bring the whole Terrex ethos together. It is very much ‘all for one, one for all!’ The chalet had two chefs who provided meals for the entire team and in so doing, dietary needs could be looked after and the need to try to find a restaurant in Chamonix was removed.

A team physio, Dave, was literally ‘hands-on’ everyday from morning to evening to keep the whole team in top condition. In the words of Team Manager, Robert, ‘without his immense treatments, day and night, someone like Luis may well have not raced!’

I am fortunate, after years covering races, I was well acquainted with much of the team; Luis Alberto Hernando, Sheila Aviles, Dmitry Mityaev, Ekaterina Mityaeva, Tom Evans and so many more. This always makes my job easier as to work closely with athletes, particularly in race week, there has to be trust and respect.

I was working alongside the adidas film crew who have been working on the Terrex brand for some time. A great group of guys who know how to work hard, laugh hard and find the time for a beer at the end of the day, no matter how long it may be. Big shout for Rapha, Andy, Patrick, Yannick and then man stuck to an editing stool, Bene. We had a separate chalet as the hours we work are not ideal when athletes are trying to sleep. Meal times were a family affair though and the athlete house was our hub for the week starting with an 0800 breakfast as and when applicable.

Behind the scenes is always fascinating. Looking at apparel, shoes and new development it was clear to see that adidas’ commitment to trail and mountain running is huge. They had specifically designed waterproof jackets and trousers for the team that complied with UTMB rules while still being light and packing small.

Athletes such as Yngvild Kaspersen and Tom Evans (Yngvild 2nd at Pikes Peak and Tom 3rd at Western States) were flown into Chamonix to be part of #oneteam even though they would not race. It was clear that adidas’ commitment to bringing everyone together is a high priority.

A signing in the UTMB expo allowed fans to get close, chat and get a signed photo from Tom, Luis, Holly and Sheila. The buzz was incredible.

Post the signings, we took Tom in to the mountains for a photo shoot. The most ransom moment of the whole week… A couple just married saw Tom, recognized him and then came for a wedding photo! The groom was running UTMB.

Over the course of the week, racers and non-racers would each continually give up their time to crew, support, follow and cheer on the team. A prime example being Ekaterina crewing for Dmitry during TDS to a stunning 2nd place. Two days later, Ekaterina would run UTMB and place 4th while Dmitry crewed her.

Filming and photographing brings its own challenges of long drives, big hikes and a relentless pace that leaves one drained and exhausted by the end but high on emotion. It’s always a tough call on who to follow? Many of the races had more than one adidas runner participating but from a story and media perspective, we would have to make decisions in advance. The TDS for example, our emphasis was on Dmitry. For CCC, Luis Alberto Hernando was our primary story. Needless to say, it’s incredible when it all comes together, Dmitry placed 2nd and Luis won CCC. To be able to see the journey unfold at close quarters and tell the story is quite special.

While we raced around with cameras, the remaining crew would chase around providing aid and support. Tom Evan’s quite rightly said, ‘I have raced and won CCC, I have also crewed on big races – I know how hard and tiring crewing is.’

But despite the long hours, the short nights and the relentless fatigue, nobody complained. On the contrary. As the week went on and the results came in, everyone was becoming hyped by the experience and results. It was infectious.

But nothing is perfect. Racing is fickle. While racing went well for Dmitry and Luis for example, others had a tough time. It’s here when the #oneteam ethos kicks in. We are all human, sometimes we are ahead and all is going well, other times, things don’t click, for whatever reason. As an athlete, that can be very hard. It takes months to prepare for an event and then on the day, for it not to come together as expected can be hugely disappointing. As one runner said, ‘I have let the team down…’ But the response was unequivocal, ‘You have let no one down!’

Sheila Aviles had stomach issues in OCC, Timothy Olson struggled at UTMB and finally had to withdraw and all along, the support from adidas and the team was 100%. 

Holly Page made a last minute decision to run CCC, battled through the first half of the race with terrible stomach problems only to come out of the other side and then race strongly over the latter stages for her first 100km finish. It was a story echoed throughout the whole week, ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

Being ‘In the arena’ to quote Roosevelt is what the sport of trail and mountain running is all about, ‘ The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena… who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at the worst if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat.’

Roosevelt in his quote sums up all adidas stand for with the Terrex Team.

A Day at UTMB – Following Luis Alberto Hernando at CCC

Our day started with an early alarm, a quick breakfast and a drive to Courmayeur – the plan to climb to Refuge Bertone and capture early content with Mont Blanc providing a stunning backdrop.

Plans hit a problem from the off with a long wait to get through the Mont Blanc tunnel. Once in Courmayeur it was gps time to navigate a route to the trail head. This was a constant theme of the whole week… Great gps software and gpx route are essential – we could plan to meet the runners as much as possible during a race.

We started our climb later than we would have liked but we pushed the pace – not that easy with a 15kg camera bag! Once there, the weather was perfect, the scenery magical and we knew we were going to get some great content. 

For Luis, we were aware we could capture him on the descent, chase after him and then capture him again after he had visited the aid station.

I positioned myself on the descent knowing that I would get a dynamic shot as Luis dropped in front of me taking a left turn with Mont Blanc behind him.

As Luis approached, disaster struck. A ‘runner’ who was spectating ran ahead of him ruining all my ‘pre’ shots. As I shouted for them to get out of the way, they then stopped directly ahead of me, right in the middle of my shot. I had to compromise… shit happens!

I then raced after Luis on the descent and then got to my second spot. This time all was good with clear shots and I then ran with him capturing more content before he raced off around the mountain.

Being early in the day, we decided to wait and capture the other adidas runners who were participating as the time gaps at this stage would not be too great. Later, it would be impossible if Luis ran the race we anticipated! Abi Hall, Macy were looking good but Holly Page was struggling with a bad stomach.

Dropping bag to the car via the twisty descent, we now had a 2-hour drive to Champex Lac. Luis was motoring and now in the lead. Race projections said he would arrive at 1425. Our navigator said we would arrive 1410.

Once again we used gps software to find an access point pre Champex Lac that would allow us to capture content on steep forest trails. Luis arrived like clockwork powering up the climb using poles to keep the momentum.

At Champex Lac he ran the footpath and roads around the lake allowing more opportunities before we went off-piste on a dirt road allowing for one last shot before we would then lose him only to re-connect at Trient.

Trient provided a shot before the aid station and then we drove out of Switzerland and back in to France before capturing Luis on the climb of the Col des Montets – our last opportunity before his arrival at the finish.

Now Luis was motoring and opening up a gap on the 2nd place.

At the finish, myself and Patrick (film crew) waited for Luis in the press area while the remaining adidas team watched the huge screens in the square.

Finally, Luis achieved his coveted UTMB victory. It was an emotional finish. His wife, Nieves, greeted him with open arms. The Terrex team mobbed him as soon as they could… A post-race drug test delaying that process for some time!

Back at the chalet it was time to download the day’s work and release the content.

#ONETEAM

There is no ‘I’ in team and that was personified during this intense UTMB experience. We all had roles but flexibility is key. Athletes became crew, office workers became car drivers and everyone became a supporter both in a physical and mental capacity. 

It was a real pleasure to be immersed with a brand and follow closely the whole process that make a race and team come together. Certainly, the UTMB and Chamonix experience made team bonds stronger.

On a personal note, to leave on Saturday am while the UTMB was underway was hard, especially with Ekaterina running. I have witnessed her growth in skyrunning over the last year’s and then to see her rise to 4th at UTMB not only made me really proud but also a little jealous and envious that I wasn’t available to capture that journey in images…. Next time!

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Episode 134 – Timothy Olson and Kate Driskell

Episode 134 of Talk Ultra brings you two interviews. Niandi Carmont talks with Kate Driskell who is about to take on an epic multi-day challenge and Ian talks with Timothy Olson about his return to the top of the podium. We have the news and Speedgoat is back to talk about winning again and his new film about the Appalachian Trail FKT.
00:05:50 INTERVIEW with KATE DRISKELL 
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NEWS
The Three Peaks, UK
Tom Owens had victory in his grasp but went of course in the latter stage opening the doorway for Murray Strain. Tom finished 2nd and Chris Holdsworth 3rd – 2:49, 2:53 and 2:54 the times.
Victoria Wilkinson won once again and set a new CR 3:09:19. Nichola Jackson and Charlotte Morgan placed 2nd and 3rd.
The Canyons 100k
Bob Shebest and Cat Bradley took top honours results HERE
Highland Flag Race 
Rob Sinclair, Andrew Turkey and Michael Jones placed 1, 2 and 3 in 6:41 (new course record) 7:17 and 7:29.
Nicola Adams Hendry won in 8:16 ahead of Morgan Windram and Rachel Newstead in 8:37 and 8:55.
Thames Path 100
Mari Maurland and Michael Stocks took respective female and male victories in 16:55 and 14:57.
Zane Grey 50
Karl Meltzer won again in 9:32 and Amber Reimondo took the ladies honours in 11:29. Results HERE
Finally, mountaineering legend Ueli Steck was killed whilst in the Himalayas. Reports are mixed on what exactly happened, however, Steck was on Nuptse and apparently fell several 1000 feet to his untimely death. Outr thoughts go out to his family and the climbing community.
01:43:30 INTERVIEW with TIMOTHY OLSON
UP & COMING RACES

Australia

Northern Territory

TRACK Outback Race | 520 kilometers | May 17, 2017 | website

Queensland

Glasshouse 50 | 50 kilometers | May 14, 2017 | website
Glasshouse 80 | 80 kilometers | May 14, 2017 | website

Victoria

100km | 100 kilometers | May 06, 2017 | website
60 km | 60 kilometers | May 06, 2017 | website

Belgium

Wallonia

52 km | 52 kilometers | May 07, 2017 | website
Trail de Lesse 50 km | 50 kilometers | May 07, 2017 | website

Canada

Alberta

Run for the Braggin’ Rights | 50 miles | May 06, 2017 | website
Run for the Braggin’ Rights – Relay | 50 miles | May 06, 2017 | website

British Columbia

100K | 100 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website
50K | 50 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website
50 Miles | 50 miles | May 13, 2017 | website
The North Face Dirty Feet Kal Park 50 | 50 kilometers | May 07, 2017 | website

Ontario

Seaton Trail 50 km Trail | 50 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website

Chile

Atacama Xtreme 100 Miles | 100 miles | May 19, 2017 | website
Atacama Xtreme 50 km | 50 kilometers | May 19, 2017 | website
Atacama Xtreme 50 Miles | 50 miles | May 19, 2017 | website

China

Trail de la Grande Muraille de Chine | 73 kilometers | May 12, 2017 | website

Cyprus

Lionheart Run | 80 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website

Denmark

Hovedstaden

Salomon Hammer Trail Bornholm -100 Miles | 100 miles | May 05, 2017 | website
Salomon Hammer Trail Bornholm – 50 km | 50 kilometers | May 06, 2017 | website

France

Ain

La Promenade du Bûcheron | 70 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website

Drôme

Challenge du Val de Drôme | 153 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website
Les Aventuriers de la Drôme | 66 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website
Les Aventuriers du Bout de Drôme | 111 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website

Haute-Loire

50 km | 50 kilometers | May 07, 2017 | website
80 km | 80 kilometers | May 07, 2017 | website

Rhône

Ultra des Coursières | 102 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website

Var

12,5 km | 125 kilometers | May 14, 2017 | website

Yonne

The Trail 110 | 110 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website
The Trail 63 | 65 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website
The Trail 85 | 85 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website

Yvelines

Trail des Cerfs – 50 km | 50 kilometers | May 14, 2017 | website

Germany

Baden-Württemberg

Stromberg Extrem 54 KM | 54 kilometers | May 07, 2017 | website

Bavaria

Chiemsee-Ultramarathon Juni | 108 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website

Hesse

Bilstein-Marathon BiMa 53+ | 53 kilometers | May 07, 2017 | website

Greece

300 of Sparta | 378 kilometers | May 07, 2017 | website
Euchidios Athlos 107.5 Km | 107 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website
Euchidios Hyper-Athlos 215 km | 215 kilometers | May 12, 2017 | website
Heroes Ultra | 156 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website

Indonesia

100 km | 100 kilometers | May 05, 2017 | website
60 km | 60 kilometers | May 05, 2017 | website
Volcans de l’Extrême | 164 kilometers | May 12, 2017 | website

Israel

Mountain to Valley Relay | 215 kilometers | May 10, 2017 | website

Italy

Lombardy

Laggo Maggiore Trail | 52 kilometers | May 07, 2017 | website

Sardinia

Sardinia Trail | 90 kilometers | May 12, 2017 | website

Kazakhstan

70 km | 70 kilometers | May 06, 2017 | website

Kenya

TSAVOEKIDEN | 84 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website
TSAVORIDE | 84 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website
Tsavorun | 84 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website

Korea

100K | 100 kilometers | May 12, 2017 | website
50k | 50 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website

Madagascar

Semi Trail des Ô Plateaux | 65 kilometers | May 05, 2017 | website
Ultra Trail des Ô Plateaux | 130 kilometers | May 05, 2017 | website

Malta

55 km | 55 kilometers | May 06, 2017 | website

Martinique

Tchimbé Raid | 91 kilometers | May 05, 2017 | website

Mauritius

Royal Raid 80 km | 80 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website

Morocco

3 étapes | 77 kilometers | May 19, 2017 | website
Trans Atlas Marathon | 280 kilometers | May 12, 2017 | website
Trans Atlas Marathon “CHALLENGE” | 120 kilometers | May 12, 2017 | website

Netherlands

Drenthe

UltraRun van Gieten 50 kilometer | 50 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website

Friesland

Pieter-ROG-pad Special Waddeneilanden | 450 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website

New Zealand

Kauri Ultra | 70 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website

Nicaragua

100k | 100 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website
50k | 50 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website

Philippines

Hardcore Hundred Miles | 100 miles | May 19, 2017 | website
Mayon 360º | 80 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website

Spain

Balearic Islands

Trail Menorca Cami de Cavalls | 185 kilometers | May 19, 2017 | website
Trail Menorca Cami de Cavalls Costa Nord | 100 kilometers | May 19, 2017 | website

Basque Country

100 km | 100 kilometers | May 06, 2017 | website

Canary Islands

Transvulcania Ultramaratón | 73 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website

Principality of Asturias

Ultra Trail Picos de Europa 55 km | 55 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website

Switzerland

Berne

Bielersee Ultra-Marathon | 50 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website
Bielersee XXL 100 Meilen | 100 miles | May 12, 2017 | website

United Kingdom

Argyll and Bute

Kintyre Way Ultra Run | 66 miles | May 06, 2017 | website

North Yorkshire

Hardmoors Ultra 110 | 110 miles | May 06, 2017 | website

Perth and Kinross

110 Mile Ultra | 110 miles | May 13, 2017 | website
55 Mile Ultra | 55 miles | May 14, 2017 | website

Surrey

North Downs Way 50 | 50 miles | May 13, 2017 | website

Wiltshire

Marlborough Downs Challenge – 33 mile | 33 miles | May 06, 2017 | website

Worcestershire

Malvern Hills 105 Mile Ultra | 105 miles | May 06, 2017 | website
Malvern Hills 34 Mile Ultra | 34 miles | May 06, 2017 | website
Malvern Hills 44 Mile Ultra | 44 miles | May 06, 2017 | website
Malvern Hills 52 Mile Ultra | 53 miles | May 06, 2017 | website

USA

Alabama

Run for Kids Challenge 50K Trail Race | 50 kilometers | May 06, 2017 | website

California

100 Miler | 100 miles | May 19, 2017 | website
200 Miler | 200 miles | May 18, 2017 | website
50 km | 50 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website
50K Ultra | 50 kilometers | May 06, 2017 | website
50K Ultra | 50 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website
50M Run | 50 miles | May 06, 2017 | website
Armstrong Redwoods 50K | 50 kilometers | May 06, 2017 | website
Golden Gate Relay | 191 miles | May 06, 2017 | website
Gold Rush 50K | 50 miles | May 13, 2017 | website
Horseshoe Lake 50K | 50 kilometers | May 06, 2017 | website
Miwok 100K Trail Race | 100 kilometers | May 06, 2017 | website
PCT50 Trail Run | 50 miles | May 13, 2017 | website
Whoos in El Moro Race Spring Edition 50K | 50 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website

Colorado

Greenland Trail 50k | 50 kilometers | May 06, 2017 | website
Quad Rock 50 | 50 miles | May 13, 2017 | website

Georgia

Cruel Jewel 100 | 100 miles | May 19, 2017 | website
Cruel Jewel 50 Mile Race | 50 miles | May 19, 2017 | website

Idaho

Priest Lake 50K Ultra Marathon | 50 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website

Indiana

DWD Gnaw Bone 50K | 50 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website
DWD Gnaw Bone 50M | 50 miles | May 13, 2017 | website

Kansas

Rock On! Lake Perry 50K | 50 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website

Maine

39.3 Mile Maine Coast Challenge | 39 miles | May 14, 2017 | website
Big A 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | May 06, 2017 | website

Massachusetts

43 Miler | 43 miles | May 13, 2017 | website
50 Miler | 50 miles | May 13, 2017 | website
Ragnar Relay Cape Cod | 186 miles | May 12, 2017 | website

Michigan

Nevada

Vegas Valley Voyage 3 Day Assisted | 80 miles | May 11, 2017 | website
Vegas Valley Voyage 6 Day Assisted | 150 miles | May 11, 2017 | website

New Jersey

50K | 50 kilometers | May 15, 2017 | website

New Mexico

Cactus to Cloud Trail 50K Run | 50 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website

New York

50k | 50 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website
50 Mile | 50 miles | May 13, 2017 | website
Kids Fun Run | 1000 kilometers | May 06, 2017 | website
Long Island Greenbelt Trail 50k | 50 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website

North Carolina

100 Mile | 100 miles | May 06, 2017 | website

Ohio

50K | 50 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website

Oregon

50K | 50 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website
McDonald Forest 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website

Pennsylvania

50K | 50 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website
50-Mile | 50 miles | May 13, 2017 | website
50 Mile Relay | 50 miles | May 13, 2017 | website
Dawn to Dusk to Dawn 50K Ultra | 50 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website

South Carolina

Forest Freak 50k | 50 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website
Knock on Wood 100 Mile | 100 miles | May 12, 2017 | website

Texas

50K | 50 kilometers | May 06, 2017 | website
50k Ultra-marathon | 50 kilometers | May 06, 2017 | website
50 Mile Ultra-marathon | 50 miles | May 06, 2017 | website
50 Mile Ultra Relay | 50 miles | May 06, 2017 | website

Vermont

100 Miles | 100 miles | May 13, 2017 | website
200 Miles | 200 miles | May 11, 2017 | website
50 miles | 50 miles | May 13, 2017 | website

Virginia

100K | 100 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website
50K | 50 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website
Massanutten Mountain Trails 100 Mile Run | 100 miles | May 06, 2017 | website

Washington

50 Miler | 50 miles | May 13, 2017 | website
Lost Lake 50K | 50 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website

Wisconsin

Ice Age Trail 50K | 50 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website
Ice Age Trail 50M | 50 miles | May 13, 2017 | website
02:40:13
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