The Ruby Muir Story

I don’t think many words are needed here… I think we can all find something in this and relate to it.

“I love technical running… from what I hear, the closest running to the type of running that I like to do is European Skyrunning” Ruby Muir

Ruby Muir is one of New Zealand’s most promising young trail runners. At just 21 she had won the Kepler, Tarawera Ultra and nearly every other event she’d entered. This is the story of how she discovered running, what drove her to it and how it has helped her heal. This film was shot in one day at Eskdale Mountain Bike Park near her home in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand.

AJ Calitz provides insight into the record breaking 2013, The Otter, South Africa

This past weekend the strongest field of trail runners ever seen at a South African event took on The OTTER African Trail Run, a one-day race on the 42-kilometre Otter Trail – a popular multi-day hiking trail. But far from taking five days to complete the scenic route, the fastest runners blitz the course in less than four-and-a-half hours. K-Way athlete AJ Calitz spent the race in the thick of it to take a hard-earned third spot on the podium.

“The race started a lot slower than I expected, with the exception of Ricky, who went off the front immediately,” recalls Calitz. “I decided to run with Iain Don-Wauchope as he is the most experienced and he always sets a good pace.”

Calitz says that Lucky Miya, Kane Reilly and Thabang Madiba went after Lightfoot. He decided to hang back with Don-Wauchope.

“We figured that Ricky would either beat us by a country mile or pop completely and we would catch him.”

For most of the race Calitz ran in a four-man group with Don-Wauchope, Michael Bailey and Stuart Marais. Later, the pair broke away and they were on a sub-4h30 pace, which is what they were aiming for. Last year Don-Wauchope and Calitz were the first runners to break 4h30 at this event on the first running of the East-to-West RETTO route (OTTER in reverse). The RETTO route is said to be harder – by those who have run both; running a faster time on the OTTER course was well within the ability of both runners.

“On top of Andre’s Hut (eight kilometers to go), I had dropped Iain and caught Lucky, Thabang and Kane,” says Calitz, who made good use of his famed ability to run uphill fast.

“Iain recovered supremely well and he caught me again. I just didn’t have the legs on the downs to stay with him.”

Although Calitz caught Don-Wauchope again on another climb, Don-Wauchope pulled away again on another down.

“That proved to be too much for me,” says Calitz. “After the start, we didn’t see Ricky again; it was me and Iain racing for second and third, with Iain coming out on top.”

Back in 2011 Ryan Sandes set an OTTER course record of 4:40:15, taking eight minutes off the previous record. Until last year, when Don-Wauchope and Calitz both ran sub-4:30, it had seemed unlikely that the record could dip much lower.

And then, on Sunday, Great Britain’s Ricky Lightfoot – the recently crowned 2013 Trail Running World Champion – achieved the unthinkable. Blowing sub-4h30 out of the water, he took 25 minutes off Sandes’ record to establish 04:15:27 as the new time to beat. But, it wasn’t just an unbelievably good day out for Lightfoot; the first seven men all beat Sandes’ 2011 record and five of them ran sub-4h30. Don-Wauchope and Calitz clocked 04:24:33 and 04:27:03 respectively.

“This was an incredibly tough day out; I really gave all that I had,” Calitz adds.

Is a sub-4h10 the next holy grail at this race, ‘The Grail of Trail’? Next year, more international runners will join South Africa’s ever-improving best at this marathon-distance challenge. And with course times dropping every year by substantial amounts, it seems that the record is nowhere near the limit of physical ability – yet.

Men’s Results

1. Ricky Lightfoot (Great Britain), 4:15:27 *
2. Iain Don-Wauchope (South Africa), 04:24:33
3. Andre Calitz (South Africa), 04:27:03

* Previous course record held by Ryan Sandes, 4:40:15 set in 2011.

Women’s Results

1. Ruby Muir (New Zealand), 4:55:34 * (new record)
2. Landie Greyling (South Africa), 4:58:57
3. Nicolette Griffioen (South Africa), 5:24:57

PHOTO CREDIT: http://www.jacquesmarais.co.za / SONY

* The previous course record was held by Jeannie Bomford, 5:17:12 set in 2010.

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Speedgoat 50k Preview – The Ladies Field

SpeedgoatMy preview of the race and the men’s field can be viewed HERE, today, it’s the ladies!

The ladies field at Speedgoat doesn’t have the depth of the men’s field but a couple of names stand out. First and foremost is the name, Ruby Muir. Now our Southern Hemisphere followers will be smiling at the prospect at what this Vibram clad runner can do in Utah. She blazed a trail at Tarawera earlier this year and many of us think, me included, that several men will need to be looking over shoulders to ensure that this lady doesn’t come flying past. For me, she is the outright favourite for the win even though she has never raced in the US before. Having spoken to friends of mine who know her, they have all confirmed, she the most naturally gifted runner out on the trail.

Kerrie Bruxvoort placed second at Speedgoat last year and although she didn’t have a great day at Western States recently, I can’t help but think she will try to put that record straight in Utah

A win at UTMF in Japan does mean that Krissy Moehl has some great fitness. Nobody doubts the experience and caliber of this lady but she is more like Francesca Canepa, I see this race being a little too short and too fast. She will doubt figure up front but not top of the podium.

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Francesca Canepa from Italy, also Vibram sponsored (and Montura) will becoming into this race tired, very tired. She must be… she won Ronda dels Cims, went to Wales for the World Trail Champs, she was second at Ice Trail Tarentaise and then just last weekend won the 100km Eiger Trail. Francesca is super talented on long, tough and technical terrain, I just can’t help but think that Speedgoat will be too short and not technical enough.

Jodee Adams Moore is a winner and loves the shorter distances. She will enjoy the 50km distance, the only question will come in regard to the altitude.

A real interesting name to toe the line is Danelle Ballengee. Think back to 2006, Danelle fell of a cliff had a near death experience. It makes for a fascinating read, Google it! She is an experienced Skyrunner and as Skyrunning President, Marino Giacometti says, ‘Danelle has raced in Skyrunning events for over a decade, she is quite a lady’. Danelle may not figure at the very front of the race but it’s great to see her mix it up.

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Emma Roca adds to the European contingent. Third place at TNF UTMB in 2012 plus a list of results the length of my arm, does mean that Emma will mix it up with the ladies at the front.

Joelle Vaught dropped at Western States but she is a top quality runner. A great run at Speedgoat will al depend on what happened at Western States and if she has recovered.

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Karine Sanson from France probably wont contest the podium but it’s great to have another European, along with Francesca taking part. Karineplaced top ten at Ice Trail recently and also figured in the top ten at Transvulcania. Without doubt she can make a similar placing here.

Finally, Anita Ortiz, Speedgoat winner from 2008 will return. She has quite a pedigree but it is almost impossible to say what her current form is like. She has been a US Mountain Running Champion several times, won Western States and she has also won Pikes Peak, so, she has a great mix of endurance, speed and altitude adaptation; she may be a surprise on the day!

Ones to watch: Alicia Shay, Julie Bryan and Bethany Lewis

Links:

Speedgoat 50k HERE

Skyrunning HERE

Episode 31 – Joe Grant & Ruby Muir

Episode 31, Joe GRant, Ruby Muir, Atacama Crossing

Episode 31 of Talk Ultra. Joe Grant tells us all about his experiences covering 350 miles at the Iditarod Trail Invitational in Alaska. New run sensation, 21 yr old Ruby Muir from New Zealand tells us what it’s like dominating Tarawera Ultra and placing 7th overall. We speak with Daniel Rowlands & Rebecca Pattinson, respective winners of the Atacama Crossing in Chile. Ian Sharman discusses the News, Marc Laithwaite talks hills in Talk Training, Speedgoat has a Meltzer Moment and of course we have A year in the life of, MDS special and the Up & Coming Races.

00:00:44 Start
00:20:10 A Year in the life of… with Amanda Hyatt. Amanda finally seems to be getting the hand of ultra running. After being ‘shocked’ with her first race experience, she now has another race under her belt and feels far more confident.
00:33:30 News with Ian Sharman. Ian has had a niggle with a knee injury but is back in training and has a race coming up in the next couple of weeks. He discusses the news from around the world.
00:41:40 Ruby Muir – 21 year old ultra newbie, Ruby Muir has elevated herself to a whole new level with a stunning performance at the very competetive Tarawera Ultra in New Zealand. Not only did she dominate the ladies race, she placed 7th overall. I caught up with her just this last week… “I am just a runner” this modest star of the future says.
01:00:00 Back to News
01:04:40 Daniel Rowlands from Zimbabwe has just won the Atacama Crossing in Chile. You can hear what he has to say and read his blog HERE
01:14:05 Rebecca Pattinson from the UK won the ladies race at Atacama Crossing and is somewhat surprised! She talks about her training and racing money for Autism. Take a look HERE
01:34:40 Back to News
01:42:15 Blog/ Video – SILENCE – Surrounded by the noise of the city, a noise that can drown out our ability to fully listen to what our bodies are telling us, the video highlights how it can disconnect us from the places that we’re running in and although running becomes an escape – it isn’t always relaxing. Why we Run? Watch it HERE
01:45:00 Talk Training with Marc Laithwaite, this week we discuss Hills. Going up and down them.
02:06:45 Interview. Our final catch up with Arc’teryx/Inov-8 athlete Joe Grant. Joe has just completed the 350 mile Iditarod Trail Invitational in joint 2nd place. It was a little tougher than he expected.
02:49:35 Back to Karl
02:56:30 A Meltzer Moment with Speedgoat Karl
03:03:05 MDS Special – This week we have our final catch up with Stuart Rae. The next time we speak it will be in the Sahara.
03:12:10 Up & Coming Races for the next two weeks.
03:14:45 Close
03:16:37

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Tarawera update

Tarawera logo

Locals Vajin Armstrong, Brendan Davies and Mick Donges had spent a summer preparing for what was almost certainly the most high profile race to have been staged in this part of the world.

Vajin Armstrong had been doing some crazy mileage in training each week (over 200k) in the build up to the event and was most definitely fired up to take the race to the ‘Yanks’. Fast man Brendan Davies was equally fired up and on paper certainly had the potential to give Sage and Timmy a race. Mick Donges as the 2012 winner of the race had some added pressure on his shoulders but he was in shape.

Sage Canaday was coming into this race as a relative newbie. His progression from a 2:16 marathon runner into one of the best ultra runners in the world (up to 100k) is nothing short of miraculous. He showed incredible strength in 2012 with some stunning wins and he showed this form had carried over to 2013 with a great win and course record at Bandera 100k.

Timmy Olson on the other hand had most definitely kicked back after Western States and had enjoyed getting married and was relishing the birth of his son. He also started the year at Bandera but raced the 50k. Although winning the event, his time was slower than Sages’ split time for the distance. However post Bandera Timmy had knuckled down and pre Tarawewra had stated he had had some great training and was ‘in shape’.

Race Day

Fast is probably the easiest way to describe it. Brendan Davies set an early pace that almost seemed like suicide. He was either in the shape of his life and was going to teach everyone else in the race a lesson or he was going to crash and burn. Ultimately it turned out to be neither. He most certainly dominated the race over the opening 20km by gaining a 1 minute lead but had to ease back as Sage took over the race and by the 45km mark, Sage was pulling away from a chasing Brendan Davies and Vajin Armstrong  with Timmy Olson and Mick Donges following.

At 40km Sage had a 6/7 minute lead and he then seemed to turn the after burners on. He just seemed to be getting faster and faster. At half way he had a 12 minute lead and in reality we looked back into the field and had to decide who was likely to take 2nd place.

Timmy Olson took over the reins at the front of the chasers and started to move away from Vajin Armstrong. It now seemed that Brendan Davies was paying for that first 20km’s and Mick Donges now in 5th was heard saying “I am saving myself for the final 15km”.

Feedback in the latter stages of the race became sporadic due the difficulty with comms. I had been told at one point that Sage had a 20 min lead. I had just posted on Facebook that I expected Sage to finish in approximately 10 min and Bryon Powell from iRunFar tweeted that Sage was in the final 2/3km.

But then the shocker…. a following tweet saying Timmy was only 2/3 min behind. Really? Had Timmy closed that gap?

Sage went on to say after the race “yeah, I went a little too fast in the middle and it almost got me in the end!”

Sage held on and crossed the line in 8:53:30 managing to avoid a sprint finish.

Timmy really had paced himself perfectly and to be honest, if the race had been a little longer he may very well have taken the win. But hey, the finish line is where it is and he crossed it in 8:56:45. I am still not sure of what the gap between the two front men stretched too but 12 mins or 20 mins, Timmy did a great job of closing down.

Vajin Armstrong took the final slot on the podium in 9:39:45 and was followed by Brendan Davies in 9:51:50 and Mick Donges in 9:59:47.

In the ladies race pre race favourite Ruby Muir absolutely dominated a small field and led from start to finish. New to the 100km distance she showed experience beyond her years. My pre race prediction that she would be doing some ‘chicking’ while out on the course came to fruision. She crossed the line winning the ladies race in 10:30:07. Her time was fast enough for a 7th overall. Impressive.

At the time of writing updates on the remaining ladies have been sporadic but Beth Cardelli a certainly looked likely to be taking a podium slot.

Update ladies result

2nd Beth Cardelli  : 11:43:56

3rd Kelly Harrington : 14:23:56

4th Raewynne Blommerde  14:35:55

5th Kate Townsley : 15:54:13

We must remember that other races did take place, a 60km and 85km event. Notable interest for these events are the relay pairings of Francois d’Haene and Emelie Forsberg going head-to-head against Rickey Gates and Anna Frost in the 85km. Also, Salomon Team manager, Greg Vollet was racing in the 60km.

It’s TARAWERA time

“The quality of the field is amazing,” says Charteris, with a grin. “The 2013 Tarawera Ultra will be the most competitive long distance running event in New Zealand since the 1990 Commonwealth Games marathon.” Paul Charteris, RD

I shouldn’t say it but I guess I must, I am starting with a negative. After some serious smack down talk just months ago, Anton Krupicka has pulled out of the Tarawera race. This is not breaking news, he actually stated this on his blog a couple of weeks ago but it is sad news for the race and for Anton.

“I decided over a week ago to not make the trip down to New Zealand for the Tarawera 100K in 10 days, and despite my hip showing significant improvement I know it was the right choice. I’ve done no long runs of any type since December and don’t have any desire to travel all that way to muddle through 62 miles with poor fitness and a very likely chance of re-injuring myself”

However a race will go ahead and the missing Anton just means one less name in a stacked field. The European contingent of Francois d”Haene, Emelie Forsberg, Greg Vollet will not mix it up in the ‘main event’. Francois announced at the press conference that he stepped down to the 80km relay and would partner Emelie Forsberg. That will mean that the Francois/Emelie show will be going head-to-head against Salomon teammates Rickey Gates and Anna Frost.

The Main Event

As announced earlier in the week, the main race is now even tougher as the course has had some modifications due to fire risk. You can read the post HERE.

The Men

Ultimately, particularly in the mens race race it is the Southern Hemisphere against the USA. The USA have three top representatives toeing the line in the land of the Hobbits.

Timothy Olson, Jason Schlarb and Sage Canaday.

Sage Canaday, of Boulder, raises his hands in victory, after winning the 52nd running of The Northeast Delta Dental Mount Washington Road Race, with an official time of 58:27, in Pinkham Notch, NH, on June 16th, 2012. 1,200 runners raced up the 7.6 mile Mo

Without doubt, my hot tip is Sage Canaday. Sage throws some freakish speed into the mix. A 2:16 marathoner, he has recently switched to ultra distance racing and became the United States 100km trail champion. He started 2013 by running a stunning course record at Bandera 100k in 8:13:49. His marathon training background and natural speed make him a danger on any course. He may not be used to high mountains but Tarawera will suit him. You can listen to an interview with Sage Canaday on Talk Ultra episode 27.

Timothy Olson needs no introduction after his incredible run at Western States in 2012. Married life and the birth of his son saw him take a more relaxed approach to 2012 and he too started 2013 by running at Bandera but in the shorter 50km race. Although he won that race his pace was casual. It was very much a ‘getting into a new year run’. Since then he has put in the miles and has knuckled down and says he is in good shape. He is without doubt a contender for the podium but I can’t help but think his passions and motivations will be concentrated on Western States and the UTMB. It is still very early in the year for him.

In contrast, Jason Schlarb looks ready for this race. He has spent several months in the Southern Hemisphere preparing so he is going to feel relaxed and adapted. Unlike Sage and Timmy who are really only just starting a racing season, Jason is in the thick of it. This will play into his hands. He has the speed to be up a the front and with Sage and Timmy taking the limelight he may just slip under the radar and take many by surprise.

With USA contingent covered we now look at the Southern Hemisphere.

Vajin Armstrong, Brendan Davies, Mick Donges and Dave Eadie.

My tip here would be Brendan Davies. Brendan really is super focused on this event. Like Sage he brings a real speed element to the race and I wouldn’t be surprised to see these two battling at the front for much of the day. I interviewed Brendan for episode 23 Talk Ultra and you can listen to that HERE. Brendan has recently run a 3:16 50k at Stromlo and he is a top 100k runner.

Mick Donges comes to this race with some pressure on his shoulders as last years winner. I spent time with Mick in 2012 in and around Sierre Zinal and UTMB. He is certainly a talent and he has the speed to go with it. However, pressure and the big occasion can seem to affect him. They don’t get any bigger that Tarawera this year so how will he hold up? Mick ran the famous six foot track marathon just last weekend (was that a good idea?) in 3:35.

Vajin Armstrong wants this race. I actually really think he had focused his mind on taking on Anton after the ‘smack down’ talk months ago and as such has been doing some really heavy training. He won the 2012 Kepler Challenge in 4:55:24 and like Brendan he will be pushing for the win or at least, the podium.

Finally Dave Eadie is without doubt a quality runner but I don’t think he will be in the mix for the podium. No disrespect for Dave (honestly Dave). He has done it all… just last year he was at Badwater crushing out those 135 miles in the soaring heat. He has run Western States and has been a multiple 100k champ. He will go out strong and hope he can hold on.

Who do I predict? Sage Canaday. To be honest, I think he will run hard and smash it. Lets just hope he doesn’t go off course.

The Women

I guess with Anna Frost and Emelie Forsberg taking some spice out of the ladies race by running the relay we have four who will fight for the podium.

Ruby Muir, Candice Burt, Shona Stephenson and Beth Cardelli.

“The ultra-racing world is keen to see how 21-year-old Barefoot Inc sponsored, Ruby Muir from Napier will handle the distance”, says Charteris. “She’s unbeaten – including winning her first ever ultra distance run when she stormed away from the field at the 2012 60k Kepler Challenge in Te Anau.”

Tarawera Logo

Beth Cardelli won the last eight events she entered in her home country. That is impressive! She was Australia’s ultra athlete of the year but having had some recent injury issues it does look like her emphasis will be on a good consistent run to lay a foundation for racing some of the 2013 Skyrunning calendar.

Shona Stephenson, like Cardelli had a really impressive 2012. She has recently won a 50km in Victoria but I don’t see her beating Ruby Muir.

Finally, Candice Burt placed 3rd at Hurt 100 and she also had a top 3 placing at the Tahoe Rim Trail. She most certainly has the endurance but does she have the speed. It may very well be that if Beth Cardelli really is not in perfect form that Candice can take that 3rd podium slot or maybe even the 2nd if she has a great day.

Who do I predict? Ruby Muir. She is new to the 100k distance but I think she will lead this race out and may very well ‘chick’ a few guys in the process.

Interviews are available on Talk Ultra as listed below:

  • Brendan Davies episode 23 HERE
  • Timothy Olson episode 12 HERE
  • Anton Krupicka episode 19 HERE
  • Anna Frost episode 3 and 9 HERE & HERE
  • Emelie Forsberg episode 28 HERE

“It’s like organising a local bicycle race and having half of the Tour de France peloton show up for the ride,” says Charteris, as he scoped out a section of the course in Rotorua’s world-renowned Whakarewarewa Forest. “It’s humbling – and frankly, scary.”

  • Race coverage will come from ULTRA168 and iRUNFAR and I will help spread what they provide via Talk Ultra
  • Race website HERE
  • Results will be available HERE

Tarawera Ultramarathon

Tarawera trails set for world-class endurance test on March 16 2013

Tarawera Logo

It’s a ridiculously long-distance running race on some of the most beautiful trails in New Zealand’s North Island.

The 100 kilometre Vibram Tarawera Ultramarathon will be run on the magnificent bush tracks and forestry roads from Rotorua to Kawerau on Saturday March 16.

One of the world’s toughest endurance running races, it’s the brainchild of Paul Charteris. The Rotorua event organiser launched ‘the Tarawera’ 5 years ago and for many of the world’s best off-road distance runners, it has quickly become a ‘must-do’.

“The quality of the field is amazing,” says Charteris, with a grin. “The 2013 Tarawera Ultra will be the most competitive long distance running event in New Zealand since the 1990 Commonwealth Games marathon.”

It’s a bold claim.
“The race sold out months ago and the 430-strong field is stacked with the world’s best,” says Charteris to back this up. “The winners of nearly every major international ultra marathon race will be on the start-line.”

A lot of top Kiwi runners will also be in the field, defending local honour.

“The ultra-racing world is keen to see how 21-year-old Barefoot Inc sponsored, Ruby Muir from Napier will handle the distance”, continues Charteris. “She’s unbeaten – including winning her first ever ultra distance run when she stormed away from the field at the 2012 60k Kepler Challenge in Te Anau.”

Muir is expected to receive stiff competition from Dunedin’s Anna Frost, widely regarded as the top female trail runner in the world last year. Frost’s Salomon Racing teammates, Emelie Forsberg from Sweden and Candice Burt from the United States will also be on the start line, along with Australia’s Beth Cardelli.

Copyright Ian Corless

Copyright Ian Corless

Cardelli won the last eight events she entered in her home country.

The top of the men’s field is a fleet-footed freight train of long-distance talent.

Mick Donges from Katoomba Australia is back to defend his 2012 Tarawera title against Christchurch’s Vajin Armstrong. The Kiwi finished second over the 100km distance the past two years and is keen to go one better.

Colorado-based runner Anton Krupicka, who ran a relay leg at Tarawera last year, has already fired a warning shot, posting online that he’s coming back to New Zealand for the win.

“This year, I’m looking forward to the technical trail between Humphries Bay and Tarawera Falls most of all,” says Krupicka. “The whole section from Okataina Lodge to the Falls will definitely be a highlight of the day, especially cruising at race pace.”

Copyright Ian Corless

Copyright Ian Corless

UPDATE* on Anton Krupicka posted on his blog site:

“I decided over a week ago to not make the trip down to New Zealand for the Tarawera 100K in 10 days, and despite my hip showing significant improvement I know it was the right choice. I’ve done no long runs of any type since December and don’t have any desire to travel all that way to muddle through 62 miles with poor fitness and a very likely chance of re-injuring myself”

Other top runners to watch will be Brendan Davies, Australia’s ultra runner of the year and Timothy Olson, Jason Schlarb, Rickey Gates and Sage Canaday from the United States. France’s Francios D’haene and Greg Vollet lead the European contingent.

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Interviews are available on Talk Ultra as listed below:

  • Brendan Davies episode 23
  • Timothy Olson episode 12
  • Anton Krupicka episode 19
  • Anna Frost episode 3 and 9
  • Emelie Forsberg episode 28 (future show)

Olson and D’haene won the two biggest races in the world during 2012. Olson won the Western States 100-mile endurance run in California in record time and
D’haene won the coveted Ultra Trail Mont Blanc title in his home country, with over 2000 runners in the field.

Canaday throws some freakish speed into the mix. A 2:16 marathoner, he has recently switched to ultra distance racing and became the United States 100km trail champion just last week. You can listen to an interview with Sage Canaday on Talk Ultra episode 27.

For Race Director, Charteris, it’s been a dizzying few weeks.

“It’s like organising a local bicycle race and having half of the Tour de France peloton show up for the ride,” says Charteris, as he scoped out a section of the course in Rotorua’s world-renowned Whakarewarewa Forest. “It’s humbling – and frankly, scary.”

Rotorua is renowned for hosting a number of international sporting events.

In 2006 the UCI Mountain Bike & Trials World Championship were in Rotorua and the Single Speed World Champs were held in the Whakarewarewa Forest in 2010.

On race day, running shoes will replace wheels on many of the same trails.
“A beautiful environment and superb athletes – it really is a recipe for a fabulous day of racing,” enthuses Charteris.

“And with this sort of fierce competition, there will be a large national and international media following for this race. It will be a big week for the region.”