Anna Comet to run The Coastal Challenge 2017

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The Coastal Challenge are pleased to announce that Anna Comet (Spain), two times winner of the Everest Trail Race will participate in the 2017 edition of the race.

A multi-day race over 6-days starting in the southern coastal town of Quepos, Costa Rica and finishing at the stunning Drake Bay on the Osa Peninsula, The Coastal Challenge is an ultimate multi-day running experience.

Intense heat, high humidity, ever-changing terrain, stunning views, Costa Rican charm, exceptional organisation; the race encompasses Pura Vida! Unlike races such as the Marathon des Sables, ‘TCC’ is not self-sufficient, but don’t be fooled, MDS veterans confirm the race is considerably harder and more challenging than the Saharan adventure.

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Hugging the coastline, the race travels in and out of the stunning Talamanca mountain range via dense forest trails, river crossings, waterfalls, long stretches of golden beaches backed by palm trees, dusty access roads, high ridges and open expansive plains. At times technical, the combination of so many challenging elements are only intensified by heat and high humidity that slowly but surely reduces even the strongest competitors to exhausted shells by the arrival of the finish line.

2017 will signify the ‘lucky for some’ 13th edition and building on the success of the 2016 edition, Central America’s most important multi-day race looks set to elevate itself to new heights with this first of six announcements about the elite field who will undertake the race next year.

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Anna Comet in recent years has shot to fame as a trail and mountain runner after a very successful career as an Alpine skier and ski mountaineer. Her 2014 victory at the Everest Trail Race (also a multi-day race) paved the way for a strong and consistent Skyrunning year in 2015.

Born in Girona, the mountain has always been a passion for Anna. A 4-year stint living in the French Alps at 14-years old and 2-years in Andorra laid the foundations for selection for the Spanish National Team for Alpine Skiing. A 6-year career saw Anna race many European Cups and the FIS World Cup Races.

Injury unfortunately removed Anna from competitive sport for 4-years and when she returned, trail running and ski mountaineering were her chosen disciplines.

Although my heart says to me that I have to keep pushing on ski mountaineering competition, common sense and my mind are pushing me to focus all my efforts to one goal; trail running. I feel that this is what I have to do! – Anna Comet

Despite placing 6th on two occasions at Pierramenta, 2nd at Patrouille des glaciers and many top 10-places on the World Cup races, during the 2014 season Anna slowly moved purely to trail and mountain running. Victory at the 2014 Everest Trail Race confirmed she had made a wise decision.

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You have raced multi-day races twice before, the Everest Trail Race, on both occasions you won. What do you like about multi-day racing?

EN: I think there are two big special things: 1. there is more race strategy than in other races and 2. the contact and the experience with the rest of the racers is very special.

SP: Creo que hay dos cosas muy especiales: 1. hay más estrategia que en otro tipo de carreras y 2. el contacto y la convivencia con el resto de corredores es muy especial.

The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica will be very different to Nepal, what is the attraction?

EN: The biggest attraction is that it will be very different to Nepal and to all the other races I have done before; the terrain, the heat, the sea, etc.

SP: La mayor atracción es esto, será muy distinto que Nepal y que el resto de carreras que he hecho antes, el terreno, el calor, el mar, etc.

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Like ETR, TCC is not self-sufficient, you dont need to carry all your equipment like MDS, is that more appealing? You are free to run!

EN: Of course yes! I like running free, you can run faster and one of the things that I like most of running is to run as fast as I can.

SP: Por supuesto! Me gusta correr libre, se puede correr más rápido y una de las cosas que más me gusta de correr es hacerlo tan rápido como pueda.

High heat and intense humidity makes the TCC an extreme challenge, will you prepare specifically for this?

EN: I would like to, but I think it will be impossible. In Catalonia where I live it is cold from November, so I will have to get used to the heat and humidity during my stay in Costa Rica.

SP: Me encantaría pero creo que será imposible. En Cataluña, donde vivo, hace frío a partir de noviembre… así que tendré que acostumbrarme cuando llegue a Costa Rica

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You have excelled at Skyrunning in recent years, will the combination of technical trails, water crossings, climbing etc, of Costa Rica appeal to you?

EN: I’m sure of it! I am really looking forward to going and running there!

SP: Estoy segura que si! Tengo muchas ganas de ir y correr allí!

TCC is almost 1-year away and you have a busy year ahead, what does your race calendar look like for 2016?

EN: This year I’m going to participate in all the races of the Skyrunner World Series. I am going to start in may with Transvulcania, then USM (Ultra SkyMarathon Madeira) in Madeira in June, Ultra Trail Vanoise (formerly Ice Trail) in Val d’sere in July, The Rut, USA in September and Ultra Pirineu, Spain in September again.

SP: Este año volveré a participar en las carreras del Ultra World Tour de la ISF: Empezaré en mayo en Transvulcania, después Madeira en junio, Val d’isère en julio, USA en setiembre y UP también en setiembre.

What are your long term goals with running?

EN: My goals for this season is to be the best that I can be in the Skyrunner World Series and of course, enjoy what I do!

SP: Mis objetivos para esta temporada es probar de volver a quedar entre las mejores de las world series y, por supuesto, disfrutar de lo que hago.

Do you have a dream race other than The Coastal Challenge?

EN: There are a lot of races around the world and a lot of nice places to go. I like to go step-by-step, I’ve been twice to Nepal and now I really want to go to Cost Rica.

SP: Hay muchas carreras y muchos lugares bonitos en el mundo. Me gusta ir paso a paso, he estado dos años en Nepal y ahora me apetece mucho ir a Costa Rica.

Ester Alves won the TCC in 2016, you have raced against her in Skyrunning races, should she return to Costa Rica to defend her crown, would you embrace the challenge?

EN: Of course! I like to compete against strong competition. I think it’s a chance to grow as athlete and to become better. And of course I will be happy to meet Ester in competition and then relax later in the camp chatting.

SP: Por supuesto! Me gusta competir con buenas corredoras. Creo que es la forma de crecer como atleta y mejorar día a día. Y por supuesto me encantará conocerla en competición y después en el campamento tranquilamente.

Anna, any final thoughts

EN: Since I decided to go to TCC next year I can’t stop watching videos and photos from there! I’m excited!

SP: Desde que he decidido ir a TCC el próximo año no puedo parar de mirar videos y fotos! Estoy emocionada!

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In a very short space of time, Anna has elevated her status as one of the worlds best female Skyrunner’s as reflected in her 2015 results.

  • 2nd Transvulcania Ultramarathon, La Palma, Spain
  • 5th European Skyrunning Championships, Ice Trail Tarentaise, Val D’Isere, France.
  • 2nd Mont-Blanc 80km, Chamonix, France.
  • 4th Matterhorn Ultraks, Zermatt, Switzerland.
  • 1st Everest Trail Race, Nepal – new course record
  • Ranked 3rd lady overall in the ISF Skyrunning World Series 2015.

A full 2016 calendar lies ahead but rest assured, Anna will be firing on all cylinders for the 2017 edition of The Coastal Challenge which will take place Feb 10th – 19th, 2017.

All images ©iancorless.com – all rights reserved

Contact Information

Email: HERE

Website: HERE

Facebook: HERE

Twitter: @tcccostarica

Global Contacts: HERE

Follow #TCC2017

More information:

Read the full 2016 race story HERE

View and purchase images for the 2016 race HERE

You can read daily reports from the 2016 edition HERE

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The Coastal Challenge 2016 #TCC2016 – The Full Story

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The 2016 The Coastal Challenge was an incredible race, year-on-year the race grows and it is now one of the most respected multi-day races on the calendar. Following the classic multi-day format, runners travel in the south of Costa Rica on foot covering approximately 250km’s. Like races such as Marathon des Sables, the TCC is not self-sufficient. Don’t be fooled into thinking that this makes the races easier… read on!

View the full 2016 The Coastal Challenge image gallery HERE

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“Hugging the coastline, the race travels in and out of the stunning Talamanca mountain range via dense forest trails, river crossings, waterfalls, long stretches of golden beaches backed by palm trees, dusty access roads, high ridges and open plains. At times technical, the combination of so many challenging elements is only intensified by the heat and high humidity that slowly but surely reduces even the strongest competitors to exhausted shells.”

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READ PART ONE – HERE

“Encapsulating the true sense of adventure, TCC requires a runner to be more than ‘just’ a runner. The race manages to make or break the most experienced competitor. Hopping from rock-to-rock, traversing a ridge, clambering over slimy boulders, swimming river crossings or running up and down single or double track, the race truly requires a rounded athlete to gain victory.”

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READ PART TWO – HERE

“The men’s race looked all set for a group run to the line with Don-Wauchope, Calisto and Martinez running side-by-side over all of the first 25km. Don-Wauchope safe in 1st place, Calisto safe in 2nd and Martinez no threat to the overall standings.”

 

“But where was Sa?”

 

“Sa was trailing a few minutes back. When the trio entered the river bed, Sa apparently flew past like a man possessed. It was a last ditch effort to secure 2nd place ahead of Callisto.”

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READ PART THREE – HERE

Demand for the 2017 The Coastal Challenge is already high with pre-requests and provisional bookings. Entries open in the UK and Europe this week via www.thecoastalchallenge.co.uk

Why not take part in our 2017 Multi-Day Training Camp which takes place in January each year? Details are available HERE

Interested in The Coastal Challenge 2017? Use the form below to secure one of the 100 available places

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The Coastal Challenge 2016 #TCC2016 – Stage 5 Results and Summary

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Images available for personal and commercial use HERE

Today was hot, very hot and very long! The longest stage of the 2016 The Coastal Challenge may well have been one of the most beautiful but 50km under the intense Costa Rican heat really did test every single runner int the race.

For the first time in the races’ 12-year history, the stage had an extra 4km. It doesn’t sound a great deal but at times it was technical and in addition, a new long beach section, a water crossing via boat and a stunning wooden rope bridge added to the days attractions.

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The cool temperatures from the 0530 start soon disappeared and the intense, uncompromising heat arrived to punish the runners, the only consolation coming at the end with the stunning Drake Bay.

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Chema Martinez finally found his Costa Rican legs and ran the stage side-by-side with race leader, Iain Don-Wauchope. They looked to be cruising on what was a very tough day. Don-Wauchope having run and won TCC in 2015 could appreciate the new course:

“The new additions are really stunning, no fantastic. But they are tough and challenging. The beach section was extremely tough due to the high tide. We had to run the tree line which made it difficult. But it’s a beautiful new addition to the race.” – Iain Don-Wauchope.

Crossing the sea to river inlet by boat, Both Martinez and Don-Wauchope took an extended break to cool off and then finished off the stage in style by cruising to the line together.Gonzalo Callisto finished 3rd and secured his 2nd overall.

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It was a similar story in the ladies race however it was less planned. Ladies race leader Ester Alves took the lead relatively early on and at one point had extended her lead to approximately 30-minutes. A couple of navigation errors reduced this to just 1-minute in the latter stages of the race and with just 8km to go, Elisabet Barnes and Alves ran together to the line.

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“It was the correct thing to do,” Alves said after the race. “There was nothing left to race for in the final km’s and I enjoyed the time talking with Elisabet.”

It was a sentiment echoed by Elisabet Barnes:

“I was feeling very rough this morning with a very dodgy tummy and took me 20km’s to feel good. Ester pulled away and there was nothing I could do. I eventually caught her but we once again entered a very technical section and she once again pulled away. We finally came together again after the rope bridge with 8km to go, running together was a pleasure after a great battle. Today was beautiful but so hot!”

The race concludes tomorrow with what will be a victory lap of Drake Bay and the National Park. The 2016 TCC has been an incredible race; very tough but many will remember it because of the intense heat.

The overall standing in the ladies’s race are now:

  1. Ester Alves 7:42:49
  2. Elisabet Barnes 17:42:49
  3. Tbc

Full ladies’s results HERE

The overall standings in the men’s race are now:

  1. Iain Don-Wauchope 5:4130
  2. Chema Martinez 5:41:30
  3. Gonzalo Calisto 5:52:16

Full men’s results HERE

Stage 6 is a wonderful looped lap of drake Bay – a victory lap.

Full race results HERE

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The Coastal Challenge 2016 #TCC2016 – Stage 2 Results and Summary

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Images available for personal and commercial use HERE

It was an 0345 start to day 2, a 0400 breakfast and then a 0530 start with the rising of the sun. Camp 1 bivouac was in an idyllic location next to the Savegre river and it appeared that everyone had had a good night, if not a little too short for some!

Departing camp, the course went immediately up with a long climb that was at times technical. Iain Don-Wauchope feeling very content after day 1 unfortunately rolled his ankle very early on and was forced to tike some time out due to dizziness. This allowed Carlos Sa and Gonzalo Callisto to pull away. However, as the summit of the climb approached, Don-Wauchope had clawed his way back to the duo and was looking strong.

In the ladies race, day 1 leader Elisabet Barnes was well aware that day 2 would be a battle due to the technical uphill start. Ester Alves comes from a Skyrunning and mountain running background and therefore, the early sections of the course played into her hands. At the summit, Alves had a lead of approximately 7-minutes and the ladies race was on!

The heat had arrived and with it the humidity. It was going to be a hot day and with no clouds in the sky, the conditions would be relentless for the runners.

Don-Wauchope bided his time and decided at Cp2 it was time to apply the pressure:

“I rolled my ankle on day 1 and protected it. To roll it again on day 2 was just annoying. Having taken some time to compose myself and close the gap back to Sa and Calico, I decided that my moment to extend my lead was from Cp2. I upped the pace and Sa went with me. He held on for quite sometime before I finally make the gap. I was protecting my ankle all the day though. To win again feels great. I still think the racing is not over, Sa and Calico look strong.” – Iain Don-Wauchope.

Don-Wauchope pulled away and Sa and Calico ran together in pursuit. Calico looked relaxed all day and was often seen running with a GoPro. He is racing, no doubt but he’s also enjoying the journey.

The overall standings in the men’s race are now:

  1. Iain Don-Wauchope 6:30:56
  2. Gonzalo Calisto 7:05:14
  3. Carlos Sa 7:10:56

Full men’s results HERE

Alves was in her element on the mountain terrain and used it to her advantage to slowly close the gap between her and Barnes. As the running became more consistent, Barnes started to slowly cut away at the gap Alves had created. We all soon realised that we had a real race on our hands.

“I felt much better in the heat today,” Alves said. “This course and place is amazing, the views are incredible and I am loving the race. To win today’s stage is a real bonus.”

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It was a sentiment echoed by Barnes, “The course is incredible but extremely tough. Combined with the heat and the humidity it’s just brutal. I knew that I was always going to lose time this morning on that technical climb and I have to accept that Alves is stronger than me on those sections. I used my running speed to close the gap today but over the final km’s on the beach when I had hoped to push harder, I had nothing left to give. It’s very close now with another very technical start to tomorrow’s stage; I have a race on my hands.”

Alves looked strong over the final 10-15km’s of today’s route, several river and sea crossings spiced up the race and the action but she didn’t waiver.

The overall standing in the ladies’s race are now:

  1. Elisabet Barnes 9:01:20
  2. Ester Alves 9:02:53
  3. Amy Gordon 11:15:53

Full ladies’s results HERE

Stage 3 is a tough day and the longest so far. The early stages of the race are very technical with a long run through a river bed that includes scrambling. The crossing of a waterfall and an extremely tough climb and then a long descent to the beach with a short final road section to camp. It’s a day where Don-Wauchope will be put under pressure but the real race will come between Alves and Barnes. Expect Barnes to lose time early on and then the big question will be, can she close the gap and reel Alves in.

Full race results HERE

The Coastal Challenge 2016 Race Preview

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The Coastal Challenge, Costa Rica celebrates it’s 12th year with an incredible line up once again!

The 2016 edition of The Coastal Challenge, Costa Rica gets underway on February 14th, yes, valentines day! It’s appropriate, most people fall in love with Costa Rica. Runners from all over the world will arrive in San Jose in preparation for the journey down to the coast and the 12th edition.

“Reaching the 12th edition is humbling and gratifying. It is a privilege and not to one to be taken lightly. We are happy and grateful to have made it this far.” – Rodrigo Carazo

Rodrigo Carazo has pulled together an incredible line-up for the race and without doubt it will arguably be one of the most competitive multi stage races of 2016 with the 2015 Marathon des Sables ladies champion, Elisabet Barnes heading up the ladies field and 2015 champion and course record holder, Iain Don-Wauchope returning after his incredible 2015 performance and course record.

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“Twelve years of exploring, adventuring and discovering Costa Rica and the beginning of a bright new era to come!” Rodrigo Carazo

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RD – Rodrigo

Elite runners will toe the line in Quepos with everyday runners, they will all have one purpose in mind, to embrace the tough and technical challenge that lies ahead of them and enjoy every moment.

Known locally as the Rainforest Run, the TCC is a 236km stage race over 6-days that weaves in and out of a lush and tropical Pacific coastline. The Talamancas – a coastal mountain range spread across the southwest corner of the country – provide not only a stunning backdrop but also many of the tough and technical challenges that the runners will face on a day-to-day basis

Steve Diederich (HERE) the UK agent for the TCC had this to say:

 “A backdrop of some of the most breathtaking rainforest and coast on the planet, The Coastal Challenge has joined the exclusive club of iconic multi-day ultras.”

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Beaches that last km after km are interspersed with dirt tracks, mountain paths, dense jungle, ridges, water crossings, open plains and highland; Costa Rica is bursting with variety. In addition, add 40deg temperature and high humidity, the TCC is no easy challenge.

TCC is a supported race and each day camp is moved ahead of the runners. Running light and fast, equipment is kept to a minimum and as such, racing is extremely competitive. The 2016 edition of the race is proving to be extremely exciting, particularly when one looks at the line up of runners.

 

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2016 will see an incredible line up of runners and in the men’s Chema Martinez (José Manuel (“Chema”) Martínez Fernández) brings super fast 10,000m and maybe more importantly, marathon running speed to the TCC. A 2:08 marathon runner, Chema cut his multi-day teeth at Marathon des Sables in 2015 and TCC will allow him to run fast without the weight of a pack.

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Carlos Sa has run at the TCC before but made a huge navigational error on day 1 which ruined any chance of overall success. A runner who inspires through inspiration, Carlos has a varied list of results with highlights coming with 1st place at Badwater 135, 4th at the Marathon des Sables and a string of top-10 places in races all over the world, including UTMB.

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Miguel Capo Soler has placed 3rd at Marathon des Sables (2013) and shows great pedigree in multi-day and single day running. TheTCC will suit his running style but he will need to watch out for all the local ‘Tico’ talent: Ashur Youseffi, Roiny Villegas and Frederico Pacheco.

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A surprise package may well come from Brit, Damian Hall. The other runners in the race will almost certainly not know Damian but recent success at the UK’s Dragon Back Race, The Spine and last year a top-50 result at UTMB means that he will certainly be in contention in the top-5.

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Finally returning champ, Iain Don-Wauchope from South Africa impressed everyone in 2015 with how he made what is a very tough course look (relatively) easy.  This year he has said in advance that training has been sporadic and that he has suffered with some over training issues. What’s important is, he is back.

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The ladies race has less depth than in previous years and defending champion, Veronica Bravo is taking a year away from the race. However, two ladies will battle on this course. Ester Alves from Portugal had an impressive 2015 with a very full calendar, maybe too full! High quality and world-class performances were sometimes followed with less impressive performances due to fatigue. A former road cyclist, her transition to trail came in 2014. Top performances are 8th at UTMB, 6th at Transgrancanaria and 7th at Transvulcania.

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Elisabet Barnes is a lady on fire at the moment, particularly in multi-day racing. Her 2015 victory at Marathon des Sables (she won every stage) was followed up with a repeat performance in Oman. Having just completed a multi-day training camp in Lanzarote (here), Elisabet went into the heat chamber to prepare for Costa Rica’s humidity. It’s going to be exciting to see Elisabet race this TCC course. Recent sonship with Raidlight and a full calendar of multi-day racing in 2016 will see Elisabet race at MDS, Richtersveld Wildrun, Big Red Run and Grand to Grand.

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“This race will bring a whole new experience. I expect it to be more technical than what I am used to and I know from the heat chamber sessions I have done that the humidity will make it very tough. I am really looking forward to the challenge though and to visiting Costa Rica for the first time” – Elisabet Barnes

Racing starts on Sunday very early and I will be posting daily reports and images on this website as and when internet connection allows.

You can view the race route below.

Follow the race on Twitter @talkultra on Instagram @iancorlessphotography and on Facebook facebook.com/iancorlessphotography

#TCC2016

SKYRUNNING 2016 CALENDAR announced

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The International Skyrunning Federation (ISF) is pleased to announce the 

2016 SKYRUNNER® WORLD SERIES

Taking Skyrunning to the next level with the best races, new events and what’s more, skyrunning is going EXTREME!

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In addition to the successful Vertical, Sky and Ultra formats, the ISF is pleased to announce the introduction of the Sky Extreme Series. Three countries, three super-technical races and runners worldwide will have a real opportunity to embrace the skyrunning ethos.

“When I discovered Skyrunning years ago it was the images of small runners traversing huge glaciers, scrambling rock ridges and descending steep snow fields. I’m really happy to see this new Series, with the most technical races –  the soul of skyrunning!” – Kilian Jornet

Sky Extreme kicks off on August 7, with the Tromsø SkyRace® in Norway, where Kilian Jornet and Emelie Forsberg launched the first, made-to-measure SkyRace in the Northern territories.  The biennial Kima Trophy is back and the 2016 series will conclude with a new entry, the Glencoe Skyline. Set in the Scottish Highlands, it’s probably the toughest skyrunning race to date.

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The Sky Series counts extends to 8 races in 6 countries and goes to Mainland China with the Yading Skyrun which opens the season in April.  The highest race in the World Series, it reaches a breath-taking 4,700m altitude on the Tibetan Plateau in China’s spectacular Sichuan mountains.

More new races include the Livigno Outdoor Race Experience and Santa Caterina Vertical Kilometer® in Sondrio, Italy, designed by the magic hand of top skyrunner Marco De Gasperi. Summiting the highest point in the Principality of Andorra, the SkyRace® Comapedrosa represents a true skyrunning challenge, reaching nearly 3,000m elevation. New entry from Portugal, the Ultra SkyMarathon® Madeira will  offer a challenging and technical 55k to the island’s highest point.

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An end of season prize purse to the value of €36,000 will reward the remarkable efforts of the athletes competing in the 2016 Series and the combined prize purse will be over €135,000.

“We’re glad we can give more back to the athletes. In this sport, the rewards don’t just come from touching the sky, but a tangible compensation for their incredible performance.”

– Marino Gicamoetti (ISF President and founder)

 

2016 SKYRUNNER® WORLD SERIES

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SKY                            

April 30           Yading Skyrun – 29 km, Sichuan – China

May 22           Maratòn Alpina Zegama-Aizkorri – 42 km, Zegama – Spain 

June 26          Livigno Outdoor Race Experience – 30 km, Livigno – Italy

July 17            Dolomites SkyRace® – 22 km, Canazei – Italy

July 31            SkyRace® Comapedrosa, 22 km – Andorra

Aug 20           Matterhorn Ultraks 46K – Zermatt – Switzerland

Sept 4             The Rut 25K – Big Sky, Montana – USA

Oct 22            Limone Extreme SkyRace® – 23 km, Limone Sul Garda – Italy

 

SKY EXTREME

August 7        Tromsø SkyRace® – 50 km, Tromsø  – Norway

August 28      Kima Ultra SkyMarathon® – 50 km. Val Masino – Italy

Sept 18           Glen Coe Skyline-  53 km, Glen Coe – Scotland

 

VERTICAL 

May 5             TVU Vertical – Tazacorte, La Palma – Spain

June 24          Santa Caterina Vertical Kilometer® – Sondrio, Italy

July 10            Kilomètre Vertical Face De Bellevarde – Val d’Isère – France

July 15            Dolomites Vertical Kilometer® – Canazei – Italy

August 5        Blamann Vertical – Tromsø  – Norway

Sept 2             Lone Peak Vertical Kilometer® – Montana – USA

Oct 21            Vertical Kilometer® Grèste de la Mughéra – Limone Sul Garda -Italy

 

ULTRA

May 7             Transvulcania Ultramarathon – 75 km, La Palma – Spain

June 4            Ultra SkyMarathon® Madeira – 55 km, Madeira – Portugal 

July 10            High Trail Vanoise – 68K, Val d’Isère – France

Sept 4             The Rut 50K, Big Sky, Montana – USA

Sept 24           Ultra Pirineu – 110 km, Bagà – Spain 

 

Skyrunner® World Series Ranking

Maximum number of results scored:

Sky Extreme: two best results

Ultra: three best results

Sky & Vertical: four best results

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The RUT – 50km 2015 Race Images and Summary

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Concluding an incredible weekend of Skyrunning, the RUT 50km which is the penultimate ultra in the Skyrunner World Series took place today (Sunday) in the resort of Big Sky, Montana. One of the key races in the 2015 Skyrunner® World Series this stunning race did not disappoint.

View and purchase the RUT IMAGES HERE

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Overnight temperatures dropped and light snow had left a sprinkle over much of the 50k terrain. The 0600 start was below freezing and it was a good job that runners went straight into a 500m climb to get warm. The first 45-minutes were undertaken in darkness and then a most incredible sunrise welcomed a new day.

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Covering 50km (31 miles) the race had 10,00ft (3040m) of vertical gain and loss. In the words of the Mike Foote and Mike Wolfe (Rut race directors), ‘There are sections of this course, including the ascent and traverse of Headwaters ridge, as well as the ascent and descent of Lone Peak, which are EXTREMELY STEEP & TECHNICAL with sections of exposure and potential rock fall hazard. This is a true mountain course so please treat it with the respect it deserves!’

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To many a Skyrunner, that is a calling card for full-on, adrenaline packed mountain running adventure. Restricted to just 600-runners, demand for the RUT 50km was always going to be high and this was reflected in the race selling out.

Containing 60% single-track, 25% dirt road and 15% off-trail, the RUT really did provide a spectacular race. As with all races over the RUT weekend, the 50km event had wave starts that would be offset by 5-minute gaps. The elites ere released in wave 1 and 3 other waves followed.

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What transpired was a stunning day of racing. Franco Colle from Italy followed on from his impressive podium placing at Mont-Blanc 80km and ran a cool, calm and controlled race. Pushing from the front he looked relaxed throughout and he crossed the finish line in 5:16:58. His time was impressive but outside Kilian Jornet’s 2014 winning time.

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Cristofer Clemente has consistently shown excellent results in 2015 and is a prime contender for the Skyrunner World Series, he backed this up once again time trailing Franco throughout the race but running a strong and secure 2nd place in 5:19:28.

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Matt Shyrock produced a breakthrough performance having placed outside the top 10 in 2014 to come through and take the final podium place in 5:29:00. His excitement and enthusiasm for his finish was clear for all to see with some great showboating.

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Pre race favourites, Max King and Luke Nelson finished 6th and 7th respectively, Max on the line said, ‘that is quite some race!’

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In the ladies, Emelie Forsberg followed on from her 2014 victory with a repeat win in 2015. Not only did she win but in the process set a new course record! This is all the more remarkable considering that Emelie has raced all 3 races of the runtherut weekend. Incredible. Her time 6:25:44.

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Continuing to show incredible promise as a future star of Skyrunning, Hillary Allen followed on from a podium place at Mont-Blanc 80km to finish 2nd here in Montana. Her time 6:30:15 was under Emelie’s 2014 course record! It was no easy result though, just before the 18-mile mark Hillary went of course with 3 other ladies and this opened up the doorway for eventual 3rd placed lady, Martina Valmassoi to move into 2nd. Hillary dug deep though and gained back her 2nd place.

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Martina Valmassoi running her first ultra had a breakthrough performance to finish on the podium in 6:41:42. It was quite a run.

Ashley Erba, a pre race favourite had been leading the ladies in the early stages but was forced to withdraw from the race having received extreme blister on the soles of both feet.

With the racing over and done, Big Sky Resort, the two ‘Mikes,’ Montana, the Lone Peak mountain and a stunning weekend of favourable weather has well and truly made the RUNTHERUT weekend a great showcase for Skyrunning in the USA and worldwide.

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Results:

  1. Emelie Forsberg 06:25:44
  2. Hillary Allen 06:30:15
  3. Martina Valmassoi 06:41:42
  1. Franco Colle 05:16:58
  2. Cristofer Clemente 05:19:28
  3. Matt Shyrock 05:29:00

Ultra Skymarathon Madeira #USM2015 Pre Race

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It’s the day before the 2015 Ultra Skymarathon Madeira and this morning we had a shake out on a couple of sections of the course with several of the top elite athletes including Stevie Kremer and Ricky Lightfoot.

Renowned for glorious sunshine, Madeira today showed us a very wet day. The rain poured and poured.

It seemed appropriate that the days short run concluded with a run up a riverbed that ultimately will be a very important section of the USM2015 race. Wet rocks that will require boulder hopping is never an easy prospect and this section of the course last 500m. It’s going to be tough.

To be honest, it doesn’t seem as though Madeira posses ant flat. You are either going up or down. Ricky Lightfoot, no stranger to tough and wet conditions said, ‘It’s going to be tough tomorrow. The climbs and descents we have passed over today were quite a challenge while running easy. Taking these sections while racing will be very different.’

Stevie Kremer had a typical beaming smile irrespective of the rain, ‘How did you guys run down that descent so quickly. That is one seriously tough drop!’ Looking at the boulder section, it would be fair to say that Stevie had a mixed look, ‘Oh boy, that section is going to be fun.’

Racing starts tomorrow at 0600 local time. You can read a pre race preview HERE.

Images and race updates will be posted on this website, Twitter @talkulta and on Instagram @iancorlessphotography

USM website is here

Ultra SkyMarathon™ Madeira 2015 #USM2015

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The Ultra SkyMarathon™ Madeira (#USM2015) will take place on the13th and 14th June 2015 on the beautiful island of Madeira, Portugal.

Continuing the growth and expansion of Skyrunning globally, for the first time, USM will see its integration in the Skyrunner® National Series Spain, Andorra & Portugal. A set of 6 ultra distance races, USM will be the only race that takes place in Portugal.

Comprising of three races of different distances, USM will have:

  • Ultra SkyMarathon® Madeira (USM 55 km 4000 m D +)
  • Santana Sky Race (SSR 21 km 1350m D +)
  • and the Mini Sky Race (MSR 13km 400m D +).

It’s going to prove to be an exciting weekend of racing as runners from all over the world will travel to Madeira, not only to race but also to soak up the beautiful scenery, talk with the locals and indulge in the excellent food that only Portugal can offer.

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Stevie Kremer needs no introduction to Skyrunning aficionados and her incredible 2014 and Skyrunner® World Series title has recently been followed up with a great start to 2015 with victory at the Buffalo Stampede in Australia. This lady from Crested Butte is going to take some beating.

Ricky Lightfoot is the 2014 IAU World Trail Champion, winner and course record holder for the ‘Otter’ in South Africa and victor and course record holder for the DoDo Trail in Mauritius. On his day, he is an incredible force in any fell, trail, mountain or Skyrunning event.

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Zaid Ait Malek burst onto the Skyrunning scene in 2013 with a top placing at Zegama-Aizkorri. His enthusiasm, big smile and huge presence are a great contribution to any race. His victory at Matterhorn Ultraks in 2014 was a highlight and for sure, he will be looking for a podium place in Madeira.

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Aritz Egea is a ‘Sky’ distance specialist and his ability to climb and descend with equal ability has seen him dominate races all over the world. A consistent top-10 finisher he will be looking to gain valuable points in Portugal.

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Alessandra Carlini really made a mark on the Skyrunning circuit in the past two years and she has proven, that despite living in the flat lands next to the sea, she has an ability to climb and descend with the best. Her performances improve when the races get longer, so, expect Alessandra to turn a few heads in the 55km race.

It won’t be easy running for Stevie, Ricky, Zaid, Aritz or Alessandra… a plethora of other top runners will toe the line looking for glory in Portugal:

  • Ester Alves (winner at this year’s Madeira Island Ultra Trail)
  • Nuno Silva (Winner, Falcotrail SkyMarathon 2014)
  • Luis Fernandes (winner at this year’s Madeira Island Ultra Trail)
  • Manuel Faria (Winner USM 2014)
  • Unai Santamaria (3rd USM 2014)

It’s not too late to enter any of the races in Madeira and a special discount is available if you enter before the end of April.

What you waiting for? Join some of the worlds best on the beautiful trails of Madeira.

Santana is a northern municipality of Madeira Island, renowned since 2011 as World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO. It is known by the typical A-thatched houses, symbol of Madeira and Portugal and offers a wide variety of surroundings such as the laurel forest, mountainous areas surrounding Pico Ruivo and São Jorge hills and the outstanding cliffs of the north of the island.

I will be at the event photographing and reporting on the action as it unfolds. You can follow on Facebook and Twitter – @talkultra

Promo video: https://vimeo.com/125025950

Race website HERE

Registration HERE

Race weekend program HERE

Spartathlon 2013

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SPARTATHLON is a historic ultra-distance foot race that takes place in September of every year in Greece. Arguably, it is one of the most difficult and satisfying ultra-distance races in the world because of its unique history and background.

The Spartathlon revives the footsteps of Pheidippides, an ancient Athenian long distance runner, who in 490 BC, before the battle of Marathon, was sent to Sparta to seek help in the war between the Greeks and the Persians. According to the ancient Greek historian Herodotus, Pheidippides arrived in Sparta the day after his departure from Athens. Inspired by the report of the Greek historian, in 1982 five officers of the British Royal Air Force (RAF), who were also long-distance runners, traveled to Greece, led by Colonel John Foden. Their purpose was to ascertain whether it was possible to cover the 250 kilometers separating the two towns in one and a half days. The enthusiastic British team showed that the report by Herodotus was entirely plausible.

A man is indeed able to cover 250 km in less than two days and in fact in less than 40 hours. After the success of the project, the architect of the feat, John Foden, began to envision the establishment of a race that would bring long distance runners to Greece from around the world to run on the trail of the ancient runner Pheidippides. The next year a multinational team of British, Greek and other enthusiastic supporters of the idea, led by Michael Callaghan, a philhellene, organized the First International Spartathlon (Open International Spartathlon Race), wherein the name for the race combines the Greek words for Sparta and Feat.

The race was held with the approval and supervision of the Athletics Federation with the participation of 45 runners from 11 countries and included the participation of women. The organizational success of this inaugural race and its broad appeal were decisive to the subsequent establishment of the annual race.

Accordingly, in 1984 the International Association “Spartathlon” was founded. Since then a yearly race has been organized each September. Why September? Because that is the time reported by Herodotus for Pheidippides run to Sparta.

Information taken from http://www.spartathlon.gr ©Spartathlon.gr

The Race

The 2013 edition of the race will start on Friday 27th September with 350 participants and for any last minute dropouts; this entry list will be topped up from a waiting list of 160 runners.

UK entrants:

  • Mark Woolley
  • Robert Pinnington
  • Lindley Chambers
  • Claire Shelley
  • James Adams
  • Drew Sheffield
  • Martin Ilott
  • Philip Smith
  • Mathew Mahoney
  • Mimi Anderson *
  • Paul Ali
  • Mike Blamires
  • Cat Lawson
  • Steve Scott
  • Pat Robbins
  • Martin Bacon
  • Mark Hines
  • Laurence Chownsmith
  • Robbie Britton *
  • Jonathan Hall
  • Peter Johnson
  • James Elson

Countries represented:

Sweden, Poland, Australia, Japan, Germany, Italy, Hungary, Denmark, France, Spain, Netherlands, Finland, Argentina, Portugal, China, Malta, United States, Uruguay, Belgium, Austria, Brazil, Mexico, Czech Republic, Faeroe Islands, Switzerland, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Hong Kong, United Kingdom and of course Greece.

Spartathlon, for many is a bucket list race. It has a magic that cannot be found at other races. The distance, strict cut-off times, the heat and so on all add to the drama. The course is conducted point-to-point and elevation ranges from sea level to 1,200 meters (3,937 ft), over tarmac road, trail and mountain footpath. Aid stations are placed every 3 to 5 km and are provisioned with food, water and other refreshments as well as the runners’ personal supplies. The race is run under police and medical supervision with doctors, physiotherapists, and emergency vehicles being on call throughout the 36-hour race duration. The race is very demanding.

The course is not the most spectacular and 153 miles of roads may not appeal to many, particularly if coming from a trail or mountain running background. However, I’ve yet to meet anyone who has run this race and not loved it. For sure, the Greeks, French, Japanese, German and now a growing UK participation love this race and demand is continuing to grow.

Lizzy Hawker raced in 2012 and not only won the ladies race in 27:02:17 but placed third overall. The outright winner was Stu Thoms from Germany in 26:28:19.

For the 2013 edition of the race, all entrants are of interest. For many, Spartathlon is a journey about completion and not competition. However, two people are of interest and for opposite reasons. Firstly, Robbie Britton from the UK is coming to Spartathlon for the first time but he is potentially an exciting prospect for the overall with a solid 100-mile result at the South Downs Way 100 in a time of 15:43:53 and 239.008km at the World 24-hour championships. Robbie has said in his blog, “I’m right excited about getting to Sparta now and can’t wait for the great challenge of this historic race. We’ve got a solid British team heading out there; including a few Grand Union Canal Race winners, one of whom is attempting a double Spartathlon and it should be a great atmosphere out there. After a strong showing from the Brits at UTMB and The Grand Slam of Ultra Running, I guess we best put a bit of effort into Spartathlon now too…” Bog here

Secondly, Mimi Anderson will be doing Spartathlon her own way in 2013… she raced in 2011 and surprised herself with her performance. So much so, this year she is coming back to do it twice! Yes, twice.

Mimi’s press release:

‘Marvellous’ Mimi Anderson, the 51 year-old grandmother from Smarden in Kent who is a triple long distance running Guinness World Record holder and already the legendary finisher of several ‘doubles’ of extreme long distance races for which the one-way normal run would be beyond most mere mortals, is about to attempt probably her most daring double – a two-way run of the iconic Spartathlon race held in Greece each year.

Traditionally there are about 20 runners from the UK each year and Mimi first ran the race in 2011 when she finished 3rd lady overall and the 1st UK finisher in 32 hours 33 minutes 23 seconds. She has decided to return in 2013 and having completed the normal race on her previous visit, she will be attempting the double this year (a distance of 306 miles), which is believed to have only ever been done once before. It has certainly never been done by anyone from Britain and no female has ever attempted it.

Mimi’s plan is to do the race first then, all being well, start the return leg at midnight on Saturday night.  She will be running the race itself to achieve the best time she can and then attempting the return leg in in the same tough 36 hours maximum time allowed for the race.

Her husband Tim and friend Becky Healey will be crewing for her during the event and the reason for starting the return leg at midnight on the Saturday is to enable the crew to get some sleep – otherwise it becomes too dangerous for them to be driving safely!

Mimi will be running to raise money for her usual cause – the 10 Million Metres Campaign, which was set up by Alex Flynn when he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease 4 years ago.  People can donate on the Justgiving site at www.justgiving.com/marvellousmimi1

The 2013 event for sure will be exciting for all involved and for those watching. If you would like more information, please go to the race website.

Links:

All entrants can be viewed here

Live Tracking for race day here