Episode 122 of Talk Ultra and we have a 1 hour interview with Pete Kostelnick all about his amazing, record breaking run across the USA. Ryan Sandes talks Raid de la Reunion and Casey Morgan talks about Madeira’s EcoTrail Funchal and the Everest Trail Race. The show is co-hosted by my good buddy from the Twin Cities, Kurt Decker.
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IAU TRAIL WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
Luis Alberto Hernando 8:20
Nicolas Martin 8:30
Benoit Cori 8:30
Caroline Chaverot 9:39 – for me, THE ultra runner of the year!
Azara Garcia 9:44
Ragna Debats 9:47
Nadir Maguet 30:17
Urban Zemmer 30:28
Marco Moletto 30:28 and Kilian Jornet 30:33
Christel Dewalle 35:57
Beatrice Delflorian 38:42
Serena Vittori 39:04
Miguel Heras (Spain). Now 41 years old, Heras turned back the clock with his second-straight win, adding to September victory at Ultra Pirineu. Here, Heras overtook Jared Hazen (U.S.) with some 6k to go to win in 6:45. Hazen used a mid-race surge to break things open and then held on for second in 6:49. Cedric Fleureton (France) was third in 6:56.
Jasmin Nunige (Switzerland) won Ultravasan for the second time, and went on to run 8:00 here for the win, improving on last year’s finish by four minutes. Yngvild Kaspersen (Norway) stepped up in distance and ran strong for a second-place 8:13. I Núria Picas (Spain), who had seesawed with Kaspersen throughout, was third in 8:22.
IAU 24 HOUR
Dan Lawson from the UK took out the win (Dan has placed 3rd at Badwater and 2nd at Spartathlon) with 162 miles – ouch! Ondrej Velicka 2nd with 160 miles.
Maria Jansson set a new European record 155.74 miles – ouch! Patricia Bereznowska was 2nd with 150 miles.
RAID DE LA REUNION
Francois d’Haene 23:44 that is 3 victories in 4 years
Antoine Guillon 24:15
Javi Dominguez 24:36 – who has had an incredible and consistent year
Andrea Huser 28:00
Juliette Blanchet 29:26
Emma Roca 30:10
00:50:00 INTERVIEW with RYAN SANDES
Zach Bitter 13:30 beating Hal Koerner’s benchmark 13:47
Brett Sanborn 15:15
Ryan Kaiser 16:40
Dana Anderson 21:03
Adela Salt 21:32
Amy Rasor 22:17
Heather Anish Anderson sets new FKT for the 800 mile Arizona Trail – 19 days, 17 hours and 9 minutes
ECOTRAIL FUNCHAL MADEIRA
In the 80km race,Julien Chorier lead from the front and had a stunning day on the trails of Madeira. He arrived in Funchal looking strong.Casey Morgan placed 2nd just 6-minutes behind the Frenchman andJavi Bodaswas 3rd, 19-minutes later. For the ladies,Wasmes Wasmestook a conniving victory 14-minutes ahed ofNadia MeroniandSylvie Benechwas 3rd, 1-hour after 2nd place.
01:28:07 INTERVIEW with CASEY MORGAN
DAVE MACKEY – an amazing and inspiring story unfolds
On Monday, October 24, Pete Kostelnick broke the longstanding record for running across the U.S. Kostelnick linked the San Francisco and New York City Halls in 42 days, 6 hours, bettering a 1980 46-day, 8-hour record set by Frank Giannino, Jr. Other than a lone zero-mile day early in the run, Kostelnick knocked out 70-plus miles day after day.
HEADS UP – I will be in Nepal for the next two weeks so, I won’t be putting out a ‘normal’ show. However, I have something special lined up. As many of you will know, Adam Campbell had a near fatal climbing accident just 9 weeks ago. I am pleased to say the recovery and healing process is going well. I caught up with Adam and I discussed the whole process and what lessons we can all learn from this in a 1-hour special. Episode 123 of Talk Ultra will be published automatically on Friday October 18th with a simple introduction and close.
Episode 98 of Talk Ultra is a packed show, we speak with Mike Wolfe about his epic Crown of Continent Traverse with Mike Foote. Shirt Leventhal, ladies winner of Atacama talks about racing multi-day races and Sarah Cameron tells us how cycling made her a excel at running. The News, Up and Coming Races and Niandi co-hosts.
00:01:35 Show Start
Help Nepal – Nepal images ‘FACES of NEPAL’ – order a print and all funds donated to Nepal charities HERE
TRAINING CAMP in Lanzarote with Elisabet Barnes 28th Jan to Feb 4th HERE
1 – Ellie Greenwood 7:58
2 – Jasmin Nunige 8:04
3 – Anne Lise Rousset 8:24
1 – Benoit Cori 6:44
2 – Nicolas Martin 6:47
3 – Tofol Castanyer 6:48
RAID DE LA REUNION
1 – Antoine Guillon 24:17:40
2 – Sebastien Camus 24:41:50
3 – Freddy Thevenin 25:17:48
1 – Nuria Picas 28:11:14
2 – Emelie Lecomte 28:12:32
3 – Andrea Husser 28:38:53 and on the last show we mentioned that she won UTAT
Julia Boettger loves and excels at long and hard races. Raid de la Reunion, Tor des Geants and epic solo journeys ‘just for fun’ show all of us what a multi-talented ultra runner she is.
In 2014, Julia started the season placing 2nd at The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica and what followed was a series of top quality results that reached a peak with an outright victory at Andorra Ultra Trail – Ronda dels Cims.
In just one week, Julia will toe the line at the Salomon SkyRunin South Africa. I caught up with Julia to find out how she feels and how the preparation has gone.
How have the last couple of months been from a racing perspective?
I had a great season with mixture of racing and running my own projects. The last successful race I did was the Transalpine Run which was unusual for me but we I had fun. It made a change to all the long distance runs I did during the summer.
How’s training going – have you done anything specific for SA?
Well for the moment I am doing a lot of long runs in the mountains. It has been hard to keep up motivation for training, as this season has been very long. However, I always really enjoy being out in the mountains all day. I have had to keep in mind to speed up or to do more elevation so that it is specific for the SkyRun.
Maybe you have been brushing up on your navigation and looking at some maps?
I already run most of the time with maps and on new trails etc. So I’m not too bad with navigation or orientation. But I think in a race it will be different.
Are you intimidated by the navigation element of the SkyRun?
Yes. South Africa is a completely different country, which I do not know at all. Weather, landmarks etc. will be completely different from my local terrain: the Alps.
The course sounds extreme, particularly if the weather turns. Have you researched the course?
Not yet. I will speak to my friend Stephan Repke who did the race two times and I will ask him about race specifics and the course.
Michael De Haast has put up a great price purse should somebody post a great time, is that an incentive for you?
I just learned about this incentive … but no – this run will be a big adventure for me and the goal is to get to the finish line and to survive. If I can do it in a course record (which I don’t think so) it will be fantastic.
Have you been to SA before?
No. It will be my first time. I am looking forward to new experiences. People, landscape, and animals – everything will be different, new!
South Africa is one of the places I have always wanted to explore and to learn about. To run in nature, to experience the original freestyle trail running of the Salomon SkyRun will be inspiring. I like to challenge myself on long distance courses and the SkyRun will be definitely be a different kind of ultra distance challenge. But beside the race I am glad to have the opportunity to meet local people and to spend some time with them.
With 5-summits over 2000m, the Raid de la Reunion (Diagonale des Fous) is a great season closer for the UTWT. Now in its 22nd edition, ‘Reunion’ as it is affectionately known has gained legendary status within ultra running circles, not only because of some epic battles that have taken place on the course but also because of the fans, terrain and the tough 164km course and 9000m+ of ascent.
Francois D’Haene, winner of the 2013 edition and recent winner of the TNFUTMB is without doubt the hot favourite. Currently, he is arguably one of the best 100-mile mountain runners in the world.
Lithuanian, Grinius Gediminas who is 2nd in the overall UTWT ranking may well be a surprise package after a solid and impressive 5th at TNFUTMB and 3rd place at Lavaredo. Will Reunion be one race too many? I don’t think so. He seems to have his head screwed on.
The ever-present Antoine Guillon who recently placed 3rd at Tor des Geants lies 3rd in UTWT rankings and is a consistent performer. I don’t see him winning but a top place is a distinct possibility. Reunion is a tough and long race though. As we have seen in past editions, anything can happen.
Xavier Thevenard after winning the 2013 TNFUTMB seemed to go into a little bit of a meltdown with the weight of expectation placed upon him. However, he recently came out of the whole with a win at TDS. In doing so, he became the only runner to win at UTMB, CCC and TDS, quite a result. Xavier may well feel at home on Reunion. I think we will see a good run.
Iker Karrera is a machine on tough courses as his 2013 Tor des Geants confirms. He raced well at Reunion in 2012 but his recent joint 2/3rd with Tofol Castanyer behind Francois D’Haene is a sure sign that he is in form for the 164km adventure. Question is, can he beat Francois?
Pascal Blanc is serious contender and knows the course like the back of his hand. He has a string of top-10 finishes, his highest place being second. In this field his experience will really count.
Julien Chorier impressed me no end at Ronda dels Cims in 2013 and then placed 2nd behind Kilian at Hardrock 100. He is meticulous in planning and if he has no back issues, he may very well be the one who can push his fellow Frenchman, Francois D’Haene to the line.
Jason Schlarb (current interview on Talk Ultra) surprised me with 4th at UTMB. He has certainly honed his European mountain skills in 2014. Reunion however is a little more extreme and may well shock Jason. He seems motivated though and the opportunity to race such a quality field will excite him. Expect him to be out of the mix early on and then work his way through the devastation.
Freddy Thevenin placed second last year behind Francois D’Haene but I don’t see him making the podium this year. He is a top-10 contender for sure.
Christophe Le Saux never stops… I am not sure but I think he has done every race in the 2014 UTWT. That is seriously impressive. He will be in the mix, likely top-10 but not a contender for the podium.
I am going to give a shout out for Stuart Air. He’s a Brit who has had quite a year… he ran Hardrock 100 and now Reunion. Great to see someone local, (a Brit) mixing it up with the best in the world.
Ones to watch:
David Pasquio – 5th in 2013
Sondre Amadahl – 7th at UTMB
On a final note, Ryan Sandes leads the 2014 UTWT rankings but will not race.
Nathalie Mauclair returns as the 2013, defending champion and I wouldn’t want to bet against her. She ran a great race in 2013 ahead of Emelie Forsberg and in 2014 the French lady has had a string of great results, notably 3rd at UTMB and Western States, Nathalie has speed and endurance; a lethal combination. However, the speed can sometimes upset the apple cart by running too hard/ fast too early.
Julia Bottger won the 2014 Ronda dels Cims and knows the Reunion course well. She loves long and technical mountain races and as her results at Tor des Geants show, she will be a definite podium contender here on the island. Julia has had a busy year though. It started in Costa Rica at The Coastal Challenge and post Reunion she still has the Salomon SkyRun to do.
Nerea Martinez like Julia embraces tough. She placed 2nd at Ronda dels Cims and has had a string of top results ranking top-5 at Transgrancanaria, UTMF, TDS and she placed 6th at Lavaredo.
Uxue Fraille knows how to pace herself and can play the waiting game. As the other ladies falter and fail, expect Uxue to move up and contend the podium. Placing 3rd at Transvulcania was a great result early in 2014 and recently placing 5th at UTMB confirms that a podium place at Reunion is a distinct possibility.
Denise Zimmerman placed 3rd at Tor des Geants and although I am sure the other ladies have acknowledged her presence in the race, she may well be a surprise to watchers and followers. Denise is no one trick pony as she has made the podium at Transgrancanaria and placed highly at UTMB in the past.
Finally, Lisa Borzani may mix things up and although she finished 2nd at the 2014 Tor des Geants, I don’t see her having the gusto to rally once again for another big effort. Particularly when you look at her recent results. Back-to-back podium places at Tor and TDS must leave you jaded.
Alexandra Rousset may pull something out of the bag. She placed 4th in 2012 and has won the race previously (2004).
Notably, UTWT series leader Nuria Picas will not run and in addition, neither will Fernanda Maciel and Francesca Canepa.
2500 runners will toe the line and more information is available HERE
What an amazing time to be involved in the sport of ultra running! The once niche minority sport has exploded to greater heights and distances in 2013. No longer is a long beard and ‘Buff’ a pre requisite of ultra running (unless you’re Rob Krar). Clean cut, young, fast is the new ‘ultra runner’ mixing it up with the old guard.
Just think back to this time last year, had you heard of Zach Miller (not the Zach Miller, but, the Zach Miller; confused?), Michele Yates, Rob Krar, Magdalena Boulet and Xavier Thevenard.
Racing and the opportunity to race has also increased to the extent that it is now possible to race pretty much week in and week out for 12-months of the year. Of course, this brings pluses and minuses, certainly from an elite level, runners need to be far more savvy and race clever. You can no longer race month on month and expect to win. Races now have much higher quality fields and the pace is going up. The growth of Skyrunning has been instrumental in enticing a world audience to test runners of all abilities on tough, technical and high-terrain and the feedback has been incredible. UTWT have launched a series of races above the 100-km distance and in doing so have created a ‘trail’ circuit that offers multiple terrain in multiple locations all over the world. It will be interesting to see how the inaugural year goes when 2014 comes around.
So, what are the highlights of 2013?
Ultra Runner of the Year – Men and ladies
Lets start with Rob Krar. I interviewed Rob just after his incredible ‘FKT’ in the Grand Canyon early in 2013 when he put the Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim record at another level. At the time we discussed Western States, he was intimidated by the ‘Super Bowl’ of ultra and his first 100-miler. “I’ll give it a shot and see what happens”. Well, if you hadn’t noticed Rob pre WSER you did afterwards. Your not supposed to run WSER and get 2nd overall in your first attempt. UROC, Ultra Race of Champions was the final of the Skyrunner Ultra World Series and for some reason they had bestowed upon themselves the title, ‘The Ultra Running World Championship’. Mmmmm well, it certainly had a quality field but ‘World Championship’? I don’t think so. In the end it came down to a head-to-head between Dakota Jones and Rob Krar. Dakota looked as though he had it sewn up but on the final descent, Rob unleashed a pace that Dakota went on to say was ‘just crazy’. Rob took the win and a pattern was forming. We were all a little surprised to see Rob’s name on the start list for JFK50, primarily with TNF50 in San Francisco just two weeks later. As it happened, Rob dropped at around the 41-mile mark and went on to say that it was either ‘a great training run for TNF50 or the worst decision he had made in a while.’ It was a great training run! Rob ran a super calm, collected and mature race in San Francisco and when he took the front in the last fifth of the race he released a pace that was just incredible. Without doubt my ultra runner of the year!
Of course, you can’t talk about male ultra runner and not mention Kilian Jornet. Kilian is a phenomenon. He is the star of our sport. Once again he was crowned Skyrunner World Ultra Series Champion with wins at Transvulcania and Ice Trail Tarentaise. In addition to this, Kilian was also champion of the ‘Sky’ series with 4 wins; Zegama, Mont-Blanc, Matterhorn Ultraks and Limone Extreme. Add this a couple VK’s, a win at Canazei Sky race for the European Championships and a win at Trans D’Havet for the ‘Ultra’ Skyrunning European Championships and you would say the deal is done! But wait-a-minute, we haven’t mentioned his records for his ‘Summits’ project. A stunning new FKT for Chamonix-Mont-Blanc-Chamonix but arguably THE highlight of the year was his Matterhorn Summit. It was a sublime and surreal performance that put going to the mountains light on another level. It was without doubt my ‘moment’ of the year. You can read my ‘Matterhorn Summits Interview’ with Kilian here. Kilian is the most complete athlete I know.
Michele Yateshadn’t run an ultra before 2013. Who would have thought that Ms Figure Colorado 2008 would be such an awesome talent? Well her history shows that she is a 2x Olympic Trials Marathon Competitor, she has 9 marathon wins and PB of 2:38:37. To say Michele burst on the ultra scene would be an underestimation. Her win at Indiana Trail 100 (17:35:18) almost went unnoticed but then taking top spot and the $10,000 prize at Run Rabbit Run suddenly made every one stop, look around and take notice. Placing 3rd at UROC was another sign that Michele was no one trick pony but just like Rob Krar, Michele sealed a quality 2013 with a win at TNF50. She started that race from the front and never relinquished the lead until the line. Is Michele female ultra runner of the year? Well, I would have said yes. That is until the weekend of Dec 13th/ 14th. (Listen to interview with Michele on the Christmas show of Talk Ultra, Ep51 out Dec 27th)
Pam Smith victorious at Western States turned up at the Desert Solstice track meet run by Aravaipa Running and not only took out the win for 12-hours on the track but set a new female record for 100-miles, 14:11:26. Take your pick, Michele or Pam; it’s a tough call.
But wait a minute, what about Emelie Forsberg. Emelie arrived on the run scene in 2012 and instantly had success, continually placing top-3 with Anna Frost and Nuria Picas. However the break through moment came ironically this time last year, she won TNF50 in San Francisco. This seemed to change everything, Emelie arrived at Transvulcania in May 2013 and won, she followed this up with a win in Zegama, Canazei, Ice Trail Tarentaise, Matterhorn Ultraks, UROC and then went on to run her first 100-miler at the super tough Diagonale de Fous (Raid de la Reunion) and place 2nd. Do you want to vote against Emelie?
Performances of the Year
Rory Bosio blasted around the TNFUTMB course and in the process not only obliterated the female record but placed 7th overall. Her performance was nothing short of miraculous.
Jon Olson set a new American record for 100-miles on the track and then just as the year came to a close, Zach Bitter broke the record with an 11:47:21 but maybe even more important, Zach set a new World Record for 12-hours (101.66 miles) beating a Yiannis Kouros record. That does not happen very often! (Zach Bitter will be in the Christmas episode of Talk Ultra, Ep 51 out Dec 27th here)
I have already mention Kilian and the Matterhorn but it was so good I am mentioning it twice!
Timothy Olson went back to Western States and won again. You can win a race once but going back and doing it again is always a true sign of a champion.
Seb Chaigneau took a win and CR at Hardrock 100.
Nickademus Hollon became the youngest person ever to not only complete Barkley but also win it. You can listen to his interview on Talk Ultra here.
Julien Chorier produced a sublime and calculated performance at the super tough Ronda dels Cims. It was a joy and a pleasure to watch someone control and dominate a race from the front and look good all the way.
Sage Canaday, jeez I missed him out and he definitely deserves a mention for Bandera, Tarawera, Transvulcania (3rd), Lake Sonoma and Speedgoat 50k.
Francesca Canepa once again had an incredible year with a great performance at Ronda dels Cims but arguably a repeat win at Tor des Geants places her well and truly at the top on ‘endurance’ lady of the year!
Iker Karrera nailed Tor des Geants.
Ricky Lightfoot went over to South Africa and raced at The Otter and not only won but put the course record at a new level, in addition he won the IAU World Title in Wales.
Xavier Thevenard took everyone, including himself, by surprise at TNFUTMB with a controlled and impressive performance against some top competition.
Jez Bragg completed the Te Araroa in New Zealand. An incredible journey from the northern tip of New Zealand all the way down to the southern tip. Listen here.
David Johnston completed the Iditarod trail Invitational in 4 days 19 hours 13 mins.Crazy fast.
Ian Sharman and Nick Clark went head-to-head in the Grand Slam of Ultra Running and produced possibly the most exciting competition of 2013. The pair of them produced incredibly consistent performances and showed us all that it is possible to race four 100-milers back-to-back. They didn’t only ‘complete’ but they competed. They both won a race and were never out of the front rankings. Ian Sharman ultimately had the icing on the cake with the overall fastest time and a new Grand Slam record. Respect! Interview with Ian Sharman here.
Paul Giblin at the West Highland Way race. 15:07 and good beating of Terry Conway’s previous CR.
Stevie Kremer doesn’t do ultras but she is a darn fine trail and mountain runner and what ‘Pocket Rocket’ achieved in 2013 is nothing short of miraculous. Can’t wait to see what 2014 has in store.
Ed Catmur has continued to knock out some great 100-mile performances on the GB scene with wins at North Downs Wayand the Winter 100.
Lizzie Wraithnew female CR for the Lakeland 100 in the UK.
William Sichel keeps running and running crazy distances and setting new records.
Jonas Buud didn’t win Comrades in 2013 but he ran one of the best paced races I’ve ever witnessed. He was way back in the late 30’s and slowly moved up to 3rd. Wow! Notable mention to Brit ladies, Joanna Zakrezewski and Holly Rush who placed top-10.
Surprises of the Year
Rob Krar – Just one word sums up the bearded warrior ‘Krarnage’.
Zach Miller – no, not Zach Miller, but Zach Miller. Zach rocked up at JFK50, nobody knew him and he didn’t know anyone else. He took over the lead when Rob Krar dropped at mile 41. Not only did he win but also he set the 3rd fastest time ever. Interview with Zach here.
Xavier Thevenard – TNFUTMB was going to be won by Anton Krupicka, Miguel Heras, Julien Chorier, Seb Chaigneau or Mike Foote. Somebody should have told them all about CCC winner, Xavier.
Michele Yates – wow, what a first year in the ultra world.
Who and what to watch out for in 2014
Cameron Clayton has found his feet, 2013 had some mixed performances but when everything aligns he races with the best. His Transvulcania, UROC and TNF50 performances without doubt elevates him to ‘hot’ for 2014.
Luis Alberto Hernandopushed Kilian close at Transvulcania, Zegama, finished joint first at Trans D’havet and won at Cavalls del Vent. In 2014 he plans to race TNFUTMB, now that will be interesting.
Magdalena Boulet had an ultra debut at TNF50 and placed 2nd. This sub 2:30 marathon runner may turn a few heads in 2014.
Brit, Stuart Air may raise a few eyebrows in 2014. He had a solid Ronda dels Cims, Ice Trail Tarentaise and Tor des Geants and for 2014 he has a Hardrock 100 slot!
Hardrock 100 had it’s draw and suddenly much of the WSER ‘lottery’ chat shifted focus to the field up at Silverton. The 2014 race is a classic in the making with Kilian Jornet, Sebastian Chaigneau, Julien Chorier, Joe Grant and more. Excited? Just a little.
The Skyrunning World Championships take place in Chamonix with runners from all over the world coming to race VK, SKYand ULTRAin one of the endurance capitals of the world.
Beards – the jury is out. Are beards fast or slow? Rob Krar, Timmy Olson and ‘Clarky’ are certainly great advocates for hairy running but Kilian, Cameron, Sage provide a strong counter argument. What are your thoughts?
A review of any year is going to be personal. Without doubt we will all have our own highlights and favourite moments, so, I would love to read your thoughts.
Please use the form below.
On a personal note, 2013 was an incredible year, I feel blessed with all the opportunities I have had. To witness many of the moments I write about is a great pleasure. Of course, it’s nothing without you folks reading, looking at my photographs or listening to my podcast.
A very BIG thank you from me.
Happy Christmas and a wonderful 2014 awaits us all…
Hello ! Here for the third year in the Diagonale des Fous! And what a diagonal ! Strong emotions …
1 . The Asphalt is annoying … and dangerous!
Three weeks ago,in UROC , a 100km in the United States with 50km of asphalt and ” semi- roads ” I hurt my TFL ( tensor fascia latta ) the lack of habit of running on hard surfaces and flat ( I had run maximum 20km in asphalte this summer ) caused me inflammation which lasted during training until now. I told myself to try, that maybe the pain will “disappeared ” but (error) injuries do not just disappear .
2 . the race
Bravo François d’Haene! he makes a great race , too happy for him ! It gonna be his wine? 😉
We left on a easy start with long runnable 40km and from the beginning I felt the pain, which worsened from the 14 km . In uphills in small steps, I did not hurt. But when I wanted to make bigger steeps or in the descent it was impossible. I was a little disappointed because I felt in great shape and in good condition, but each race is a world we must learn to re- adapt . It is therefore Cilaos I decided not to compete but to make the race.
3 . Reunion is exceptional!
And going slowly I could really enjoy everything about the race, the beautiful scenery ( mafate , Maido , the sea .. ) of the buffee and aidstations ( without the stress of the struggle for the victory I could eat cari-poulet, rougail-saucisse and pâtés créole ) Enjoy also sharing with lots of spectators that day and night were everywhere (yes all around ) to encourage all the runners. Run with lots of people, François , Pascal Didier , Quentin , David, Emelie… And of course the wonderful massages that have kept me going , five in total. Thank you Antonella , Thibaut and Urko .
21st edition of the Diagonale des Fous – 17th to 20th of October 2013 –
Start at 11pm from St Pierre (Ravine Blanche)
The Diagonale Des Fous (Raid de la Reunion) literally translated, as the Diagonal of Fools is renowned as one of the toughest 100-mile challenges available on the racing calendar. It’s a leg busting 164-km’s with 9900m of positive incline. To put this in context, it took Kilian Jornet 26 hours and 33 minutes to complete the course in 2012. Emilie Lecomte, the long distance specialist, won the ladies race in 33 hours 03 minutes and in doing so placed tenth overall. Starting at 2300 hours on Thursday October 17th, the challenge is not only the terrain and the distance but also battling through several nights without sleep.
It’s a tough race!
Kilian Jornet describes it as a crazy, crazy place! He said very few places have fans that are as crazy and as passionate about running as those on Reunion Island. So passionate are the fans that Kilian actually had a bodyguard for the 2012 edition, just so that he could eventually get away from the adoring fans.
Located in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar, La Reunion (previously called Ile Bourbon) has a population of just under 1 million. Reunion is French and is one of the twenty-seven regions of France. This is reflected in the statistics of those who enter the race. For example, the 2013 edition has 2168 registered runners, 1230 come from the island itself, 775 from France and the remainder from nations all over the world. To put this in perspective, Switzerland have the next highest participation rate with just 24 runners and the UK has no participants at all. To say that this is an iconic French race would be an underestimation.
The Island is 39 miles long and 28 miles wide and covers 970 square miles. In size, it is very similar to Hawaii.
The climate in Reunion is tropical, but temperature moderates with elevation. The weather is cool and dry from May to November, and hot and rainy from November to April. Precipitation levels vary greatly within the island, with the east being much wetter than the west. There is more than 6m of rain a year on some parts of the east and less than 1m a year on the west coast. (Info from Wikipedia)
Kilian Jornet, winner of 2012 edition in a time of 26:33 returns after a hectic and busy season. He has raced and won at all distances from VK to 100-km and in addition he has achieved great success and results with his Summits of my Life project. Reunion will be his first and only 100-mile race of the year, however, this comes on the back of an extremely busy 3 weeks of racing; 100-km at UROC, VK in Limone and then the SKY race in Limone, the latter two events just a few days ago. Kilian has incredible powers of recovery and no doubt is the out and out favourite for the 2013 race.
Iker Karrera raced at Reunion in 2012 and had a mixed race. He was encouraged repeatedly by his fellow teammate, Kilian, but he eventually dropped from the race. Iker is a different runner in 2013, his incredible win at Tor des Geants (330km) will certainly put him in a great place to push Kilian all the way to the line.
Oscar Perez at Ronda dels Cims
Oscar Perez another long distance specialist was the 2012 winner of Tor des Geants and this year placed 2nd to Iker Karrera. He is extremely patient and understand his own pace and ability. You may very well see him relatively low down in the field for the early stages but watch him start to move up and push hard in the latter third. Podium potential for sure.
Eugeni Rosello Sole like Oscar Perez is another runner who likes races that are long, tough, technical and hard. Eugeni won the ‘The Spine’ in the UK earlier this year and placed 2nd overall at the 216-km Hexenstleg Ultra. In 2011 Eugeni placed 10th overall at Tor des Geants. So his pedigree over the long distances is not in question, however, he may not quite have the speed to fight for the podium.
Francois D’Haene leading Kilian Jornet at Ice Trail Tarentaise
Francois D’Haene is a consistent and talented runner over multiple distances. In 2012 he had an excellent performances at Transvulcania La Palma but arguably his highlight was winning the shortened TNFUTMB. He has been relatively quiet in 2013 however a recent win at the ultra distance event at Mont-Blanc Marathon shows he is in great shape in addition, he went head-to-head with Kilian Jornet at Ice Trail Tarentaise and finished 2nd.
Tsuyoshi Kaburaki loves long distance races and gained some great exposure earlier this year when he won Bighorn 100-mile race. He is a specialist at the TNFUTMB having raced multiple times and securing a highest placing of 3rd in 2009. In addition, Tsyoshi placed 2nd at the 2009 Western States 100. He may not have his 2009 form but for sure, if he is feeling good, he will be up at the front pushing for a podium place.
Antoine Guillon placed second behind Kilian Jornet in the 2012 edition of the race just +1:10 behind. Experience counts for everything on Reunion and although competition is high for this year’s race, one has to assume that Antoine will be chomping at the bit to go one place higher in 2013. Antoine has been 2nd at TDS twice and placed 5th, 6th and 8th at TNFUTMB in past years.
Mico Clain like Antoine Guillon was at the 2012 Reunion race and finished 6th 31:31. That is some way off the pace of the front-runners, however, any race that last 164-kms has ups and downs and Mico has proven he has the staying power, he just needs a good year and a top 5 is possible.
David Pasquio placed 7th in 2012 in a time of 31:56. His current form over the longer distances is unknown, although he has raced regularly, his longest race (on file) was Ecotrail de Paris in March, his time of 06:02 being very impressive.
George Erick Nirlo 9th in 2012 finished just 1 minute behind David Pasquio and therefore gets a nod in my predictions as a rank outsider.
Watch out for Xavier Carabi Garcia, Jordi Sole Mestre, James Irvine, Paul Janssens, Alain Simon, Didier Mussard, and Richard Hallgren.
Emilie Lecomte comes to the race as the 2012 champion. Without doubt a specialist at long distances, She is the current record holder for the fastest time by a lady on the GR20 in Corsica and earlier this year she placed 3rd lady at the tough, Ronda dels Cims. She has had injury recently and had to miss TNFUTMB so one has to assume that she will be in great shape for the 2013 Diagonal des Fous. Favourite for sure!
Nathalie Mauclair has been a revelation in 2013, she stormed onto the scene with a top placing at Transvulcania La Palma and has then gone on to perform at the highest level over multiple distances. She targeted the IAU Trail Championships in 2013 and came out on top! Diagonal des Fous will be a very different experience for Nathalie and I am sure she will be as interested in how the experience goes, just as we are.
Alexandra Rousset placed 4th in 2012 almost 6-hous behind Emilie and her current form is unknown (by me anyway). Needless to say, she has performed at the highest level before and she can do it again…
Estelle Carret 5th in the 2012 edition was some way off the pace in 42:19 but in any long race, finishing counts and this is reflected with top 5 places. Estelle has had a strong 2013 with a 5th at TDS and string of 2nd, 4th, 5th and 6th places in shorter races.
Geraldine La Chapelle and Cecile Ciman placed 12th and 13th respectively in 2012 and return in 2013 looking to make the top 10.
Finally, Emelie Forsberg! Yes, can you believe I have waited this long to mention Emelie? The main reason for this is that Emelie has had a long season. She has performed at the highest level over multiple distances from VK to 100-km and has not only excelled but won most of these races. Emelie has recently run and won at UROC 100-km and in the process been crowned Skyrunner World Series Ultra Champion. On Sunday, Emelie raced at Limone Extreme Sky race not only looking for the win but the Skyrunner World Series Sky title, however, fatigue began to show and she finished 3rd behind a storming Stevie Kremer and the ever consistent, Antonella Confortola. Diagonal des Fous is Emelie’s first 100-miler and as such will be a distinct learning curve. We all know that she has the ability to win any race she sets her mind too, however, Diagonal is being added to what has already been an incredible season. Emelie has nothing to prove and as such, I don’t want to add any additional pressure. Emelie has openly said, she wants to do this race for the experience and challenge. If she feels good she will push on. If she feels bad, she will save herself and drop.
Ones to watch: Alexandra Clain, Angela Laino, Jessica Poirier, Sandrine Renault, Karine Roulet, Alexandre Smith and Hilda Souprayen Ramaye.
To complete the Grand Raid one must combine mental and physical capacities. Both vary considerably and unexpectedly during the race.
Organizing The Grand Raid means solving complex logistical problems. For each competitor, either a champion or a glorious anonymous, volunteers are there to help, comfort, feed and encourage them all.
Table 1 gives you an idea of our chief caretaker’s shopping list. No other event on the island requires mastering such logistics.
This is what it takes to feed the competitors over the four days of the race but volunteers often are on duty longer to get things ready. They too, need food and drink!
Camp beds, tents, tables, medical equipment, food and drinks, computers, generators etc. How are things brought up to each assistance point?
Transport by helicopter is needed to many of those points. At the Piton des Neiges, we even set up a radio relay transmitter to allow the various checkpoints to communicate during the duration of the race!
Helicopters cannot do everything! An impressive fleet of vehicles is needed throughout the week of the race: lorries, vans, 4wheel drive, all sorts of vehicles are used, not to forget 12 buses to transport competitors to the start!