Tromsö Skyrace 2015 Preview – “Soul running between the sky and the sea!”

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It’s the 2nd edition of the Tromsö Skyrace and although the 2 race directors won’t thank me for adding a spotlight onto them, one has to admit that Emelie Forsberg and Kilian Jornet as RD’s really does add a plus to an event.

If you were a cynic, you may well think that the race just uses the two Skyrunning stars as a vehicle for promotion! If you do, you could not be more wrong! Just a glance at Facebook this last 2 weeks has provided us all with a real insight into how ‘hands-on’ Kilian and Emelie have been in getting this race off the ground and ready for an increased audience.

The duo brings a true love of the mountains and a desire for technical terrain to a larger audience and with the Tromsö Skyrace the challenge is a tough one! Edition 1 had many a runner saying that it was the most extreme and technical 45km’s they had ever run. That I am sure would place a big smile on Kilian’s and Emilie’s’ faces. Using inspirational race like Trofeo Kima as an influence on the Tromsö Skyrace, the race is set to be a classic that will run for a great deal of time.

Located in Tromsö, Norway, the race embraces the wilderness and 24-hour days with fjords and glaciers as a backdrop. In the words of Kilian and Emelie, it is “Soul running between the sky and the sea!”

In summary:

  • Kilian Jornet and Emelie Forsberg: two world-class race ambassadors
  • Tromsö, a remarkable landscape
  • Three races
  • International yet familiar race
  • Eco-responsive race

300 runners in total will arrive in Tromsö for what I am sure will be an amazing, awe inspiring experience that they will hold and cherish for a long time to come. After all, the race does take place in the Norwegian Arctic Circle.

“First we just started to talk about how cool it was that in the north we can run 24 hours in light during the summer. And then we started to talk about what we think Skyrunning is and how we would like a race that includes all the key ingredients; trails, summits, ridges off trail aid stations, a consideration for the environment and so on! We decided to make a course that comes close to the city but still has all the key ingredients that we want in a race, summits, wilderness and technical parts! We are so happy about the route!”

 

Friday will start with a Blamann VK, 2.6km in length and 1044m of vertical gain make this race a true challenge for those who like to push themselves on a steep gradient.

The Tromsdalstind Skyrace has 19km length and 1600m elevation and the key race for the weekend is the Hamperokken Skyrace which is part of the Ultra Skyrunner® World Series and has 42km length and 4100m of vertical gain.

So who is running?

VK

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Nejc Kuhar heads up a strong VK race and as Skyrunner® World Series leader for the VK distance he is a firm favourite for the title in Tromsö.

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However, Eirik Haugsness and Thorbjorn Ludvigsen are almost certainly going to want to represent themselves highly and what is a ‘local’ race.

Rising star, Remi Bonnet will also be a key contender as will Ferran Texeido but the dark horse may well be Stian Hovind so keep an eye on him, he is my dark horse for the top of the podium.

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The ladies VK race is wide open and maybe not surprisingly, Emelie Forsberg may well be a hot favourite for victory.

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Azara Garcia will almost certainly contend the podium, as will Therese Sjursen and Ekatarina Mityaaeva.

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Mira Rai will also run but I think the Nepalese runner is still finding her feet in these short vertical races. I am sure she will be looking to the Ultra on Sunday for her best performance.

 

ULTRA

I fully appreciate that 42km is not an ultra, so please don’t email in and point this out! The Tromso Skyrace gains ‘ultra’ status due to the demanding course, technicality and because of the time it will take to complete the course. As we said earlier, this is NO easy race! If in doubt, the winning time from 2014 was 6:38:30!

Men

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Skyrunning World and European Champion for the Ultra distance, Luis Alberto Hernando will toe the line in Tromso and one has to say, he is the man to beat. He has been on fire in 2014 with victory and Transvulcania, Ice Trail Tarentaise and 2nd place at the IAU World Trail Championships.

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Franco Colle equally has been a revelation in 2015. His victory at Tor des Geants in 2014 placed him on the radar for any race over 100-miles but this year he has nailed Mont-Blanc 80km and Ice Trail Tarentaise. One to watch!

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Last years winner, Eirik Haugsness is going to have his work cut-out to top the podium in 2015 but Tromso is a race that holds a special place for him and that always adds so those essential extra percentages when you need to dig deep.

Philipp Reiter has had a quiet 2015; no doubt university has placed a demand on his time. Tromso however will suit the young Germans skill set and I am almost certain we can expect to feel his presence at the front of the race.

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Cristofer Clemente adds to the front-end action and has consistently performed well in 2015 with a string of top 10 placing.

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Salomon team manager, Greg Vollet can never be ruled out of the front end action and I see that Canadian Adam Campbell is on the start list but I am not sure if he will run after a sterling effort at Hardrock 100.

Local talent will provide a huge surprise factor and here Emelie provides me with some valuable inside information:

Lars Eirik Skjervheim is a member of the Norwegian ski mountaineering team and a very good runner. He has had a struggle with an injury but if he is in good shape he could be on the podium, I think?

Ola Hovdenak was 2nd in 2014 and loves technical trail.

Sven Are Paulsen is a Tromsö X- country skier, that last year got really into Skyrunning! Top 10!

Kristian Ulriksen is a fast roadrunner from Tromso; lets see how he handles the technical trails.

And finally,

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Aurélien Dunand-Pallaz, Zigor Iturrieta (in hospital for an operation), Florian Reichert, Jan Bartas and Stu Air will all figure in or around the top 10 and my dark horse tip goes to Dan Doherty who may well be the surprise package of the whole race.

 

Ladies

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Mira Rai may well excel in the tough and challenging conditions of Tromso. Her victory at Mont-Blanc 80km was a revelation but recent races at the Dolomites VK and Dolomites Skyrace were mixed. Maybe they were too short? Tromso may well be short in distance but in time, it’s a long race that will play into Mira’s hands.

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Maite Maiora is a Skyrunning specialist and specializes in the Sky distance. However, she nailed Transvulcania in 2014 and that therefore elevates her up the ‘one-to-watch’ to THE one to watch.

Australian rising star, Lucy Bartholomew will also run the race and this will be a big test. But I strongly believe it’s a test that she will rise too. The podium may well be a long shot this early in her career but I don’t think she will be too far off.

Malene Hakoy is a Norwegian ski mountaineer, she won Hornidal runt this year and placed second overall… one to watch!

Hilde Aders placed top 10 in the Dolomites VK and placed 2 in Hornidal Runt this year.

Finally, a real dark horse shout out for Shiri Leventhal; I am sure she won’t thank me for pointing a spotlight at her but she made the podium at Everest Trail Race a few years ago and may well be a surprise package. Also, Heather Ohly from the UK may well make an impact on the top-10.

Needless to say, Tromsö Skyrace is going to over a seriously exciting weekend of running in an amazing part of the world and what almost certainly will be and incredible course.

I can’t wait!

You can follow the race in words and images here at iancorless.com on Facebook HERE on Twitter @talkultra and on Instagram @iancorlessphotography

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The Rut 2014 – Race Preview

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It only seems like weeks ago that I was writing a preview for the Skyrunner® World Series first ultra on La Palma: Transvulcania. Here I am, four races done and dusted and the final event looms. It has been quite a year and one that has seen some highs and lows for the runners. Going into the last event, it’s all to fight for both in the ladies and men’s races.

The Rut 50k organised by the Mike’s – Foote and Wolfe will no doubt be a great season closer. These guys have fully understood the needs of Skyrunning event and as such have provided an event that will test each and every runner.

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The top-5 men and top-4 ladies currently ranked in the Skyrunner® World Series will go head-to-head in Montana and we look set for an exciting battle. In addition, a plethora of top world talent will also toe the line amongst 500-entrants.

The current rankings have rising star, Manuel Merillas at the head followed by Tom Owens, Kilian Jornet, Sage Canaday and then Fulvio Dapit. For the ladies, Alessandra Carlini tops the table after completing 3-races in the series.

So who is going to win?

Well, I suppose we need to think about 2-scenarios, winning the race and winning the series. For the men, the series will arguably come down to a battle between Jornet and Canaday (I will go for Jornet) and for the ladies, Frost, Enman and Forsberg are the contenders (I will go with Forsberg). Alessandra Carlini of course could potentially win the race… but this is unlikely when one considers the depth.

 

MEN

©iancorless.comIMG_2670Canazei2014_kilianKilian Jornet, do I need to say anymore? He’s won everything other than 2nd at Transvulcania. KJ has set FKT’s, set course records, obliterated Hardrock 100, smashed Trofeo Kima and now The Rut is waiting! Win and Skyrunner® World Series champ.

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Sage Canaday ©iancorless.com

Sage Canaday wants to beat Kilian badly, really bad. I don’t mean that in a nasty way, but Sage would love to beat the master of the mountains. Form looks good but I think Sage will fall into the Ellie Greenwood category and may just lack the extra technical skills needed to beat Kilian. Considering the competition, Sage is not guaranteed 2nd (or 1st) for that matter.

©iancorless.com-0271Kima2014_ Manuel Merillas is just getting better and better. He has been making us take a 2nd look on repeated occasions and his recent 2nd at Kima and closing within 1-minute of Kilian shows the talent is just waiting to be exploited. He will be in the mix for sure.

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Tom Owens nearly pulled out of Ice Trail Tarentaise because he thought he was around 15th – 20th. That is until I told him that all the other runners were not in his race… he finished 3rd. Phew! Prior to this, Tom ran a great Transvulcania and just a couple of weeks ago once again ran a great Kima. The Rut will suit Tom and he may just push Sage… podium material!

Adam Campbell is back. After his stunning Hardrock I can’t help but think Adam will mix it up in Montana. I see Tom, Sage and Adam having quite the battle for the podium. Of course, this assumes that Kilian is somewhere down the trail running for victory. If not, this race may well be wide open. Adam is fast, not as fast as Sage but arguably he is better on the technical stuff.

Alex Nichols had a great run at Speedgoat but the rest of his Skyrunning exploits have been below par, especially when one compares to 2013. On paper, The Rut should suit Alex; his combination of speed, endurance and climbing ability is a perfect mix for this course.

Ricky Gates is forever consistent and on his day can compete with the best. I’m not really sure of his current form? He forever seems to be on a road trip taking things relaxed, so, he may well be a surprise package.

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Fulvio Dapit is a true mountain runner who is always in the mix. He may not be a podium contender in this field but 4th or 5th are just waiting for him. Just 2-weeks ago Fulvio had a strong run at Kima. His form is good.

Paul Hamilton was 2nd at Speedgoat and I know little else? He was a surprise then and he may well be a surprise at The Rut?

Philipp Reiter is racing but is on his way back from injury. It almost certainly means he won’t have that extra 5-10% needed to be fighting up at the front but somewhere 5th – 10th is a distinct possibility.

Jason Delaney has speed. Will probably stick with Sage and will use his speed to take advantage of the fast sections.

Ones to watch:

Luke Nelson

Oscar Casal Mir

Marc Casal Mir

Galen Burrell

Greg Vollet

Catlow Shipeck

 

LADIES

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Emelie Forsberg has had a tough 2014. Falling at Transvulcania ruined that race. An injured hand from the fall impacted on Zegama and then things clicked with victories at Ice Trail Tarentaise and the 80km in Chamonix. Matterhorn Ultraks didn’t quite go to plan and although Emelie placed 2nd at Trofeo Kima, the race was an emotional rollercoaster after going off course for 1-hour. The emotion showed! For that reason, I see Emelie producing a dominant performance here in Montana. I think she will push hard, unleash the frustrations of Kima and have a dominant win and take the Skyrunner® World Series title.

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Kasie Enman has impressed all year. 2014 has been the comeback year after a 2nd child and what a comeback… Kasie has consistently been top-5 and just 2-weeks ago won Kima ahead of Emelie. Have to say, up to marathon distance is where Kasie excels so I see a potential 3rd or 4th here!

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Anna Frost smashed Transvulcania and looked awesome. Placing 2nd to Emelie at Chamonix 80k was another top result and I am pleased to say, Frosty has been relatively quiet since. This is great news… after so much injury; this lady finally is picking the races to perform at and not wiping herself out by racing too much. Her solid victory at Speedgoat 50k on paper suggests that The Rut will be a Frosty/ Forsberg showdown. Take your pick!

Ellie Greenwood has speed and talent in buckets but may well lack that extra 10% in technical and climbing ability. Especially in comparison to the ladies listed above. So, I see Ellie in the mix and battling with Kasie for 3rd.

Kaitlin McDonald was 2nd at The Rut last year and therefore gets a nod for a possible top-5. By that I mean 5th! I see the top-4 places going to the ladies above.

Alessandra Carlini has had a great year and run consistently. For someone who lives on the coast with no mountains to train on, she has done amazingly well. In the field though, 5th would be a great result and it would round out a quality 2014 season.

Hilary Allen is not a lady I know but her result at Speedgoat 50k (4th) must make her a one-to-watch here. Like Kaitlin, she may well take 5th, it would take something special to dislodge Forsberg, Frost, Enman or Greenwood from the first 4-places.

Helen Cospolitch has always been a consistent performer but has had a quiet time recently after injury issues. This may well be just an easing back into racing… nice to give her a nod though.

Emily Linton 4th at The Rut last year may well place 6-10th.

Links:

Skyrunning HERE

Rut 50K HERE

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Transvulcania La Palma 2014 – In-depth race preview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, who’s going to win?

Ladies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ones to watch:

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

Men

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ones to watch:

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

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

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

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

Links:

Transvulcania website HERE

Skyrunning HERE

Transvulcania La Palma – A Guide HERE

Transvulcania VK HERE

Transvulcania 2013 Images HERE

Transvulcania 2013 preview HERE

 

The Coastal Challenge 2014 – Trail Magazin

Page 1

 

Excellent 9-page feature on the 2014 The Coastal Challenge, Costa Rica in the current edition of Trail Magazin in Germany.

Images by iancorless.com and words by Martin Gaffuri (New Balance)

Magazine available in PDF from HERE

Places are currently available for the 11th edition of the 2015 The Coastal Challenge, once again it will prove to be an exciting and exhilarating experience for each and every participant.

UK entries HERE

The Coastal Challenge website HERE

The Coastal Challenge – Stage 6 – Drakes Bay to Drakes Bay

©iancorless.com.P1130916 All good things must come to an end and today on the beaches of Drakes Bay, the 10th edition of the 2014 The Costal Challenge came to a close.

©iancorless.com._1150551

It has been an epic race that has thrown daily excitement from all angles. The men’s race in particular has been a nail biter with a constant battle for the top slot. However, Mr.Consisitent, Mike Wardian produced the goods on a daily basis with some of the most impressive running I have had the pleasure to witness. Jeez does Mike like to win and boy does he know how to dig deep!

Mike Wardian TCC2014 Champion ©iancorless.com

Mike Wardian TCC2014 Champion ©iancorless.com

Jo Meek from the UK dominated the 10th edition producing a stand out performance on a daily basis. Setting her stall out on day-1, Jo won with a convincing 45-min margin. However, she didn’t relax, consistently pushing, consistently running scared, Jo took each day as an individual race and on the beach at Drake she was crowned the 2014 Champion.

TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Today’s stage was very much a celebration of the previous 5-days racing. With the ‘GC’ established, a unanimous decision was made by all the front-runners that stage-6 would be a Tour de France style victory lap.

TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

It was great to see the fun and the laughter between all the runners on the trails. Tired and aching bodies once again managed to produce another effort to cover the wonderful circular route of the Corcovado National Park.

TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Pura Vida TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Pura Vida TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Starting with a gentle road incline, participants dropped into a long river section before climbing out and negotiating rocks and a waterfall. Climbing up through lush green vegetation, they then ran through plains and plantation fields before finally making the journey back to the start by weaving in and out of the coast. Beach after beach, cove after cove the finish line at Drakes was a welcome and well earnt reward for each and every participant.

TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

It was quite a sight to see the top-5 men run to the line as one!

TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Michael Wardian said post race, “The Coastal Challenge was a test in so many ways. So much varied terrain. It suited different strengths and weaknesses. I feel really honoured to have the over all victory. The other guys really did push me and I had to fight… I guess it’s a shame a race can only have one winner. But it was a pleasure to have a victory loop on the last day. A memory I won’t soon forget.”

Julia Bottger TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Julia Bottger TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Julia Bottger and Jo Meek ran together early in the stage but Bottger said post race, “that was by far the most beautiful stage. I was just having fun out there so I hope Jo didn’t mind I pushed on ahead.” As Meek crossed the line, the relief was clear, “I really did not have anything left today. I just took it easy and had comfort in my almost 60-min lead. It’s been a real honour to have such an incredible race with such wonderful people.” Veronica Bravo smiled her way around the TCC course and placed a solid 3rd place. Her joy was visible on the line as the realisation that a tough week was over.

Veronica Bravo TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Veronica Bravo TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Finish lines are all about emotion and I love to see 6-days effort unfold in a split second. Cheers and laughter, hugs and screams; it’s why we all do our sport.

Carlos Sa TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Carlos Sa TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Nick Clark TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Nick Clark TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Beneito TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Beneito TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

 

Philipp Reiter TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Philipp Reiter TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

The Coastal Challenge is one of the toughest races out there… relentless heat, plenty of climbing and multiple terrain variations require a runner to be ‘rounded’. Each and every person, first or last, can take comfort in a great achievement and the medal should take pride of place as a just reminder of what was achieved in February 2014.

TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Pura Vida!

RESULTS Stage-6

  1. Mike Wardian  all same time
  2. Vicente Juan Garcia Beneito
  3. Philipp Reiter
  4. Marti Gaffuri
  5. Nick Clark
  1. Julia Bottger
  2. Jo Meek
  3. Veronica Bravo

Results and times to follow

GENERAL CLASSIFICATION Confirmed

  1. Wardian 23:26:23
  2. Beneito +0:25:32
  3. Reiter +0:31:31
  1. Meek 29:17:19
  2. Bottger +0:57:02
  3. Bravo +3:07:06

The Coastal Challenge – Stage 5 – Sierpe to Drakes Bay

The Coastal Challenge, Costa Rica TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

The Coastal Challenge, Costa Rica TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

What a beautiful day! A short bus drive from camp to Sierpe; a ferry crossing to the other side of the river and on the stroke of 0600 runners departed on the journey to the beautiful and iconic Drakes Bay. It was already humid and as the sun burnt the morning mist away, temperatures rose.

The stunning river journey to meet runners at CP2 TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

The stunning river journey to meet runners at CP2 TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

If Philipp Reiter or Vicente Juan Garcia Beneito had any chance of taking overall victory away from Mike Wardian, they would need to work hard in the middle section of the course whilst running through the rainforest and plantation fields and hopefully gain enough time to put ‘Mr. Consistent’ in the hurt locker. The only problem in this scenario was Wardian! After CP2 he had gained a 3min lead and with a course profile that suited him down to the ground it was going to take a blow up of epic proportions to see him loose not only the stage but also the overall race. “I felt good man, I opened it up when the running was good and held on when the running was more technical,” said Wardian.

Mr. Consistent TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Mr. Consistent TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

I have to say, Wardian has been an absolute star and a great ambassador for ‘our’ sport in this race. He’s pushed hard, fought back on tough days and irrespective of the outcome has had a huge smile on his face… okay, maybe he wasn’t smiling too much when he was 14-min down on stage-3 but he sure was at the finish when he not only pulled back the gap but went on for a joint stage win with Reiter.

Jo Meek ready for the off! TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Jo Meek ready for the off! TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Meek, as one would have expected, started the day at the front of the ladies race and although Bottger caught her back at CP3, Meek took the stage by the scruff of the neck and rand hard to the finish for another stage win! “I was hurting today and didn’t feel great. When Julia caught me at CP3 I panicked… I know it’s crazy as I had an hour lead but the racer kicked in and I flew out of the CP and buried myself to the line,” said Meek after the race.

Meek has been phenomenal in this race, like Wardian she had moments when things did not go well (stage-3 at the start) but Meek played to her strengths, pushed hard and has quite literally dominated from the front.

Clarky TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Clarky TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Clark ran easy today, his issues from yesterday strong in his mind, he just wanted to finish without causing any damage. He ran with Gaffuri for a while but later dropped to 5th.

Martin Gaffuri TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Martin Gaffuri TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Beneito however, seized the opportunity to run strong and pursued Wardian all the way to the line with Reiter running in 3rd place for most of the day. The lack of any steep vertical played into Wardian’s hands and once again he was first past the post; 2-stage wins and a joint stage win with Reiter, not bad for 5-days racing.

Beneito TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Beneito TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Reiter couldn’t close the gap on Beneito, so once again Beneito finished 2nd.

Reiter TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Reiter TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Once Meek had a ‘scare’ at CP3 she ran like a lady possessed and finished almost 5-mins ahead of Bottger and Bravo was 30-mins back. With Gemma Slaughter out of the race due to stomach issues, fellow Canadian and teammate, Van Dyk finished 4th on stage and this moves her up on the overall GC.

Jo Meek TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Jo Meek TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Bravo TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Bravo TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Drakes Bay, the mangroves, the rainforest, the plantation fields and the beaches are the best of Costa Rica. Today’s stage may have lacked elevation but it was replaced with beauty.

Costa Rica TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Costa Rica TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Stage-6 is a circular route of Drakes Bay and will be a victory lap for all runners. The overall GC is not going to change (barring a disaster) so it’s a great moment to celebrate the company of others and soak up the surrounding of the best of Costa Rica, The 10th edition of The Costal Challenge has been an epic!

RESULTS Stage-5

  1. Mike Wardian 4:14:11
  2. Vicente Juan Garcia Beneito 4:23:19
  3. Philipp Reiter 4:25:56
  4. Marti Gaffuri 4:46:49
  5. Nick Clark 4:51:52
  1. Jo Meek 5:23:56
  2. Julia Bottger 5:29:11
  3. Veronica Bravo 5:57:43
  4. Hailey Van Dyk 6:40:52
  5. Kelly Ridgway 6:42:19

GENERAL CLASSIFICATION

Wardian 21:07:15

Beneito 21:32:47

Reiter 21:38:26

 

Meek 26:23:22

Bottger 27:28:19

Bravo 29:23:05

The Coastal Challenge – Stage 4 – Ventanas Beach to Sierpe

Philipp Reiter TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Philipp Reiter TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

A heavy downpour of epic proportions last night didn’t dampen the spirits of the runners as they departed Ventanas Beach for another tough day in Costa Rica. Mike Wardian and Jo Meek have held convincing leads from day-1, however, neither have had an easy journey. Both struggled on the early technical sections of stage-3 but rallied and found something in the tank to reclaim lost time and finish a tough day-3 with stage wins. Mikes run was a classic… pulling back 14-mins was truly a remarkable run.

Morning in the rainforest, 6am TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Morning in the rainforest, 6am TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Day-4 started and ended with technical sections. From the off runners would climb for over an hour on an overgrown forest path and then spend time going up and down in the plains before descending 3km on a tough trail that twisted, gnarled and one could almost say that the trails ‘bite back’. It was a day that Julia Bottger for the ladies would revel in and although the chances of pulling back her deficit on Meek was unlikely, I thought Julia might shine. By contrast, the middle section of the course would suit Wardian, but the tough climb and super tough final descent could potentially allow a stronger competitor on technical terrain to pull back time…?

©iancorless.com.P1220782

Clark and Beneito TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Clark and Beneito TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Mike Wardian TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Mike Wardian TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Philipp Reiter TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Philipp Reiter TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

At the summit of the first climb Reiter appeared first dripping in sweat in the early morning humidity. Wardian appeared 3-min in arrears and then Clark and Beneito appeared once again attached at the hip 5-mins in deficit. The race was on!

Jo Meek loving stage-4 of TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Jo Meek loving stage-4 of TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

To my surprise Meek was having a great day… I don’t say that in a negative way but I certainly expected Bottger to take control on that first climb and pull away causing Meek to chase. “I loved today, it was a stage that had everything and the climbs weren’t so technical that I couldn’t use my strength and fitness,” said Meek.

Mike Wardian pulling back time on Reiter TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Mike Wardian pulling back time on Reiter TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

On the rolling sections after the first climb Wardian once again started to close the gap. This guy is relentless…! Beneito and Clark seem to have found comfort in each others pace and certainly they move well together, however, as Wardian caught Reiter at CP3, the dynamic duo were starting to loose time on the other dynamic duo.

Beneito and Clark TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Beneito and Clark TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

For the ladies race, it was starting to take a very familiar format; Meek lead Bottger and Bottger lead Veronica Bravo. Focused on the end goal, Meek runs scared and pushing, “Anything can happen and I need to run the way that makes me feel secure and while I feel good I will utilize it.”

Julia Bottger TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Julia Bottger TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Victoria Bravo on her way to the high point of the course TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Victoria Bravo on her way to the high point of the course TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Reiter and Wardian ran through the plains together until the final descent, as I expected, Reiter pulled away, “I wasn’t sure if we should run together” said Reiter “Wardian is so much fun to run with, he talks constantly and makes me laugh. On the descent I stopped for a short while but he was nowhere in sight so I pushed on.”

Philipp Reiter powering up a climb TCC2 ©iancorless.com

Philipp Reiter powering up a climb TCC2 ©iancorless.com

Reiter gained another 3-mins and considering his day-1 experience, his form and dedication has been remarkable. Beneito placed 3rd on the stage and unfortunately Clark had a tough day; he started to pass blood and therefore took his foot of the gas and walked in to the finish. Martin Gaffuri once again had another consistent day and his fifth place is secure.

Nick Clark showing the fatigue of hard days and heat TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Nick Clark showing the fatigue of hard days and heat TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Martin Gaffuri TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Martin Gaffuri TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Meek crossed the line first, followed by Bottger and Bravo finished 3rd. A big loss to the race and the overall GC was 2013 TCC champ, Gemma Slaughter. Unfortunately she had a tough night and was sick in the morning of the race… she did start but had to withdraw during the race.

Carlos Sa (leading) midway on stage 4. He's feeling the effort of his overlong first day! TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Carlos Sa (leading) midway on stage 4. He’s feeling the effort of his overlong first day! TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

With two days to go, the ladies race looks set. However, the men’s race is wide open; this has been one of the most exciting stage races I have ever had the pleasure to follow and it isn’t over yet!

©iancorless.com.P1130132

Clark at a water crossing TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Clark at a water crossing TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

RESULTS Stage-4

  1. Philipp Reiter 4:19:11
  2. Mike Wardian 4:22:07
  3. Vicente Juan Garcia Beneito 4:32:14
  4. Nick Clark 4:54:59
  5. Marti Gaffuri 5:09:51
  1. Jo Meek 5:38:42
  2. Julia Bottger 5:44:55
  3. Veronica Bravo 6:12; 42
  4. Hailey Van Dyk 6:52:21
  5. Sandra Meija 7:16:51

 GC to be confirmed

Men

  1. Wardian
  2. Beneito
  3. Reiter

Ladies

  1. Meek
  2. Bottger
  3. Bravo

The Coastal Challenge – Stage 3 – Dominical Beach to Ballena Beach

Mike Wardian exiting the riverbed section TCC2012 ©iancorless.com

Mike Wardian exiting the riverbed section TCC2012 ©iancorless.com

What a day… it was always going to be spectacular. A long-stretch of running through a riverbed that involved multiple water crossings, rock hopping and climbing. A steady climb to the impressive waterfalls followed by more technical twisting climbing. A fast descent, climbing and the a long stretch of stunning beach that would be undertaken just as the heat of the day took hold.

The star of the day; was a dog! Yes folks, a dog. As the race departed Dominical Beach a little dog joined Philipp Reiter, Nick Clark, Mike Wardian and the rest of the elite male field and he ran all the way to the line some 50kms away; incredible.

Running through the river bed overall GC leaders Jo Meek and Mike Wardian struggled with the technicality of the terrain. At the end of the riverbed section, Gaffuri, Clark, Reiter, Beneito and Sa and had gained 10-mins effectively placing Beneito as race leader whilst on the course.

TCC2014 Stage 3 ©iancorless.com

TCC2014 Stage 3 ©iancorless.com

Experienced adventure racer, Veronica Bravo excelled in the tough and harsh conditions and reveled at the opportunity to show her skill. Equally, Julia Bottger started to put time into female race leader Meek. At the waterfall section, Bravo had a convincing lead but any chance of her ability to pull back 90-mins looked limited. Bottger had started to gain a few minutes on Meek and it was quite apparent from Meek’s face as she arrived at the waterfalls that the early part of the course had tested her.

Veronica Bravo TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Veronica Bravo TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

From the waterfalls the guys held it together. They were putting time into Wardian but as Clark went on to say post race. “I think we were taking it just a little too relaxed. We were comfortable and not pushing.” When Wardian arrived he was 14-min in down and looking a little worried. The race was on!

Julia Bottger crossing the rocks at the waterfall section TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Julia Bottger crossing the rocks at the waterfall section TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Bottger was having a good day and was well aware that she needed to gain time before the long beach section that would allow Meek to open up her stride and find her natural flat running pace. However, after catching Bravo, Bottger made a navigational error that paved the way for Meek to regain the lead and push on to the finish for another stage win and a substantial gain of time over Bottger and Bravo. In camp, Meek was looking weary, “I had to dig deep today. I found the riverbed so difficult. It’s just not my natural talent. I pushed hard out of the waterfall section to ensure that I gained time back. By the time I hit the beach I knew I just needed to run as hard as possible. However, 12km’s of beach in mid 30’s temperatures are not something you take lightly.”

Jo Meek exits the waterfalls TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Jo Meek exits the waterfalls TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Bottger had a sense of frustration, “I was feeling good today. I made a wrong turn and lost a junk of time working my way back on to the course. I have no doubt that Meek would have caught me on the beach section though… that’s trail running!”

Philipp Reiter in the riverbed TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Philipp Reiter in the riverbed TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

In the men’s race, Wardian somehow closed a 14-min gap on a small group of leaders made up of Reiter, Beneito and Clark. “I looked around and Mike was there. I couldn’t believe it. I really thought we had him on the ropes” said Clark.

Costa Rican Beaches - stunning but hot! TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Costa Rican Beaches – stunning but hot! TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

The four entered the beach section and were running neck and neck for a couple of km. “Reiter and myself started to push each other and Beneito and Clark started to fade” said Wardian, “It was a matter of gritting your teeth and hurting.”

“I could hold on no longer” said Clark, “Reiter and Wardian started to pull away and Beneito and myself dropped off. The heat got to me further and I faded again allowing Beneito to pull away from me. It was a darn tough day out there.”

Reiter and Wardian pushed each other to the line, neither able to pull away. Both should be applauded for incredible racing and powers of recovery… Wardian for pulling back an incredible 14-min deficit on the stage and Reiter for recovering from a poor day-1 to potentially move himself back in contention on GC.

Racing days don’t get much better than this!

RESULTS Stage-3

  1. Mike Wardian 5:16:52
  2. Philipp Reiter 5:16:52
  3. Vicente Juan Garcia Beneito 5:19:27
  4. Nick Clark 5:27:16
  5. Marti Gaffuri 6:01:27
  1. Jo Meek 6:39:59
  2. Julia Bottger 6:47:26
  3. Veronica Bravo 6:59:43
  4. Gemma Slaughter 7:40:57
  5. Hailey Van Dyk 8:12:58

PS – apologies for the late upload, internet connection is sparse and very slow.

The Coastal Challenge – Stage 2 – Rafiki Lodge to Dominical Beach

Philipp Reiter TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Philipp Reiter TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Sleep is a precious commodity in any multi-stage race. The ability to recover from one day’s effort and then go again requires discipline not only in training but also the ability to get to sleep early and ensure a full battery charge for the next day!

At The Costal Challenge, this ‘strength of will’ is tested to the max… each day starts at 0330 to ensure an adequate breakfast and a race start that coincides with the sun. It’s important; the heat beats down here in Costa Rica with a strength and power that can wilt the most ardent sun worshiper.

©iancorless.com.P1120120

Today’s route involved two tough climbs in succession and then a long drop down to the coast before a final 8-km along the beach that involved two water crossings.

The last water crossing less than 1-km form the finish #TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

The last water crossing less than 1-km form the finish #TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

The 10th edition of the TCC was always going to be a stunning race; the quality of the elite line up was second to none. Stage 2 did not disappoint…

From the off, Wardian, Gaffuri, Clark, Reiter, Beneito and Sa marked each other’s move on the tough first climb. It was all-together at the summit with just seconds spreading the whole group. Gaffuri, loving to run downhill fast moved to the front and pushed hard but even Sa who must have been feeling his ‘extra’ miles from the previous day matched his effort.

Martin Gaffuri TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Martin Gaffuri TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Meek opened up a gap in the ladies race right from the start but today’s stage was for more to the liking of Bottger and although initially Meek gained some time, the gap was matched and held.

Jo Meek on the second climb TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Jo Meek on the second climb TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

At the checkpoint before the second climb, the banter in the men’s race was superb. So much so, Reiter, Wardian and Gaffuri thought an impromptu sprint trying to be first for the water was a good idea…

Sprint for the aid station. TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Sprint for the aid station. TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Reiter was first to leave the aid station and he committed himself. He started to open up a gap and push. A remarkable run considering on day-1 he suffered in the heat; not helped by long travel and little sleep.

Clark and Wardian pursuing Reiter at the bottom of the second climb TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Clark and Wardian pursuing Reiter at the bottom of the second climb TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Continuing to open up a gap, one would have assumed that Reiter would have succumbed to Wardian’s natural speed when on the flat. However, in the final 8-km’s of beach, Reiter pushed on and held for a great stage win. Wardian placed second and Beneito and Clark finished together taking 3rd and 4th. The men’s race without doubt is poised for some heated competition over the coming days; Wardian leads Beneito and Clark by 3:42, Reiter is just over 22-mins back after his unfortunate day-1. I wonder, can Reiter pull back that time? It would take something remarkable from Reiter in this quality of field. Nick Clark post race said, “Wardian didn’t close on Reiter as we expected in those e final stages, he may have gained a little more time on me but a time gap of 4-mins is easily pulled back. It’s all to up for grabs.”

Julia Bottger on the second climb TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Julia Bottger on the second climb TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Bottger caught Meek on the second climb and lead much of the way on the descent; however, with approximately 20-km’s of relatively flat road and beach to the finish we all expected Meek to open up a gap and start to pull away. She certainly opened a gap and enough of a gap to secure a comfortable stage-2 victory, however, it wasn’t a performance of complete dominance as expressed on day-1. Post race I asked her how she felt, “That was a tough day. You can’t run those climbs; it’s all about economy of effort and hiking. I am less used to technical descents so I played safe, however, over the last km’s I could get in my run stride and take the lead again.”

Jo Meek just before the finish TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Jo Meek just before the finish TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Meek has a 46:02 lead going into stage-3 and barring a disaster; I can’t see her loosing such a margin. She no longer needs to be aggressive and certainly, Meek can ease off a gear and see if Bottger wants to take up the challenge to pull back time.

Veronica Bravo TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Veronica Bravo TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Third place lady, Veronica Bravo is now 1:32 in arrears and has a comfortable margin of almost 50-minutes over 2013 The Coastal Challenge winner, Gemma Slaughter for 3rd place.

RESULTS Stage-2

  1. Philipp Reiter
  2. Mike Wardian
  3. Vicente Juan Garcia Beneito
  1. Jo Meek
  2. Julia Bottger
  3. Veronica Bravo

General Classification after Stage 2

  1. Mike Wardian 7:14:05
  2. Vicente Juan Garcia Beneito 7:17:47
  3. Nick Clark 7:17:48
  4. Philipp Reiter 7:36:27
  5. Martin Gaffuri 7:45:37
  1. Jo Meek 8:40:45
  2. Julia Bottger 9:26:47
  3. Veronica Bravo 10:12:57
  4. Gemma Slaughter 11:02:34
  5. Wendy Tseng 11:35:13

 

The Coastal Challenge #TCC2014 – Pre race audio and images

©iancorless.com.P1100848

 

The stage is set for the 2014, 10th edition Coastal Challenge. Without doubt a quality field will toe the line in Quepos tomorrow for stage one of the race (route preview here).

We held an impromptu press conference and had an opportunity to chat to each of the lite runners on how they have prepared and how they thing this 10th edition will unfold. As you well be able to tell from the audio… spirits are high and we are going to see a very exciting race.

A Podcast LogoAUDIO HERE

http://traffic.libsyn.com/talkultra/TCC2014_pre_race.mp3

Unfortunately, Anna Frost has to make the difficult decision to remove herself from the race on doctors advice. However, she will follow, help out and participate in her own unique way. You see her interview HERE