Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc UTMB® 2016 Preview

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I won’t be at UTMB this year, Trofeo Kima is happening the same weekend in Italy and I wouldn’t miss this high octane extreme event for anything, especially when it only happens every other 2 years.

But UTMB has a stellar line up this year. It’s going to be a cracking race.

Just in case you didn’t know, UTMB is a 170km circular journey that starts and finishes in Chamonix passing through France, Italy and Switzerland with 10,000+ meters of vertical gain on non-technical trails. In 2014 Francois D’Haene of France set the men’s course record 20:11:44 and the female course record is held by Rory Bosio (USA) who ran 22:37:26 in 2013. Rory in the process ranked in the top-10 overall that year!

Recently, UTMB has hit the headlines after a top 10 finisher in the 2015 race, Gonzalo Calisto, was tested and found positive for EPO. This came to light in June when the IAAF added Calisto’s suspension to its website. However, UTMB were not notified of this positive test? In recent weeks and months, many investigations have been made and you can read them all on this website HERE. Ultimately, this positive test has raised alarm bells and certain aspects of the testing and notification procedure need to change. I hope UTMB will have testing once again this year and they provide data and information to the media.

Racing for the main starts on Friday August 26th at 1800hrs local time and it looks like a great weekend of weather is in store for spectators, it may be a little hot for the runners. Please also remember that many other events happen in and around the UTMB, the PTL, TDS and CCC.

MEN

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Luis Alberto Hernando is in a good place! He is a new Dad, has raced less and when he has raced he has been in top form. A repeat win at Transvulcania and dominant performance at the Skyrunning World Championships for a gold medal and world title and suddenly you begin to see everything clicking into place. Luis dropped from the 2014 UTMB and then came back, one year later to place 2nd. Luis does always race from the front and hard, he tempered this in 2015 but it still may well be his achilles heel in 2016? I hope not, Luis would be a popular champion!

David Laney third at UTMB and 8th at Western States in 2015 are two very significant performances and bode well for a great 2016 UTMB. What doesn’t bode well is the most recent 20+ hour finish at Western States. It leaves a huge question mark on David’s current physical and mental ability to take on the big dance in Chamonix.

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Andy Symonds for me is the dark horse. It’s his first 100 miler and that is a huge disadvantage. But Andy knows how to race, prepares meticulously and I know he’s fired up for this race. In the past he has often played 2nd fiddle at the big races but a podium at Transgrancanaria, a victory at Lavaredo and 2nd (silver) behind Luis at the Skyrunning World Championships tells me that the time is right for the Brit who lives in France. Listen to the podcast here.

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Zach Miller is relatively easy to write about… we will see one of two performances: 1. An all guns blazing early race that potentially will open up a gap that he extends and holds on to take the biggest victory of his life! 2. As 1 but a major blow up that sees him lose the lead and drop substantial places or a resulting DNF. Think Max King at Leadville.

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Didrik Hermansen is a potential revelation in Chamonix and I do believe that he can win. I said that at Western States after I saw his run and victory at Transgrancanaria. He didn’t disappoint in the USA and he placed 2nd at WSER. UTMB is a different playground but this guy can run and hike – he is going to need all those skills in France, Italy and Switzerland. Listen to the podcast here.

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Jason Schlarb was fourth at UTMB in 2014, won Run Rabbit Run, completed Marathon des Sables. skied the Hardrock 100 course, won the Hardrock 100 with Kilian Jornet and here he is, in Chamonix, looking to do an epic double – you know what, I think he can do it! I’m not sure that he will have those extra percentages for victory, Hardrock may well have but pay to that. But I do see a potential top 5 and even the podium if the stars align. Listen to the podcast with him here.

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Gediminas Grinius 5th at UTMB in 2014 and what followed was quite a rise in the sport of ultra-running. Gediminas has an interesting back story of post-traumatic stress and it is running that helped. When you have been to hell, pain in an ultra is nothing. It’s worth remembering that this guy can dig deep. A win at Transgrancanaria, a win at UTMF and a string of top 2nd places certainly elevate GG for a top UTMB place. Listen to the podcast here.

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Tofol Castanyer won CCC and was 2nd at UTMB in 2014. He has a string of top performances and results but his recent form seems a question mark. On paper, he’s a podium contender but I said that last year and he didn’t finish. We will have to see?

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Ryan Sandes had a tough 2015 and has patiently come back in 2016 with a 3rd place in Tararwera and 4th place in Australia at the Ultra Trail. Ryan never likes to race a great deal preferring to train and prepare meticulously for key events. He has done that in the past, Western States for example only to not race at the 11th hour due to injury or illness. Apart from FKT records, Ryan’s career highlights are his win at Transgrancanaria and top results at UTMF and WSER. Ryan has been in Chamonix for some time training and I hope he will arrive at the line fresh. He has all the potential to shake up the podium. Listen to the podcast here.

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Fabien Antolinus is an under the radar runner who is known in France and not many other places. A top consistent performer at Templiers and the Ice Trail Tarentaise, Fabien backed this up last year with a 6th place finish at UTMB behind a doping Gonzalo Calisto, so, he finished 5th really. I see a potential repeat performance.

Miguel Heras TNFUTMB 2013 ©iancorless.com

Miguel Heras TNFUTMB 2013 ©iancorless.com

Miguel Heras could win, could finish in the top 10, may not start and if he does start, may not finish. Yes, Miguel is a class act when the stars align but neither he or us can predict when this will happen. A highlight for sure was his UTMB 2nd behind Xavier Thevenard in 2013.

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Javier Dominguez just had a great run at the Skyrunning World Championships with 3rd place behind Luis Alberto and Andy Symonds. He also placed 3rd at Lavaredo. Although he will be in the mix he is potentially a top 5-10 finisher.

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Julien Chorier has the long game, strength and persistence for a top UTMB performance. I’ve seen him time and time again grind out great results. His victory at Ronda dels Cims a few years back is still one of the most dominant performances of running I have seen. Julien has backed that up at Western States, Hardrock, Diagonale des Fous, UTMF and of course UTMB. His best UTMB was 3rd in 2008 and in 2013 he finished 6th.

Paul Giblin for me is a dark horse. Last year he missed UTMB and compensated with focusing on Western States in 2016, he placed 5th. That’s one of the UK’s best performances at the race. He’s a runner and the 10,000m of vertical may go against his natural abilities but don’t rule him out! Listen to the podcast here.

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You have to draw a line somewhere but we also need to consider, Diego Pazoz who has illuminated several races in 2016, most notably victory at the Eiger Ultra Trail and Mont-Blanc 80km.

He could be a huge surprise as could Stephan Hugenschmidt from Germany who has had many notable results.

Zdenek Kris finished 9th at Ultra Perineu in 2015 and recently placed 5th at the Skyrunning World Championships.

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Two Frenchmen, Arnaud Lejeune who was 2nd at UTMF in 2015 and Thomas Lorblanchet who has wins at Leadville and 4th at Western States will also mix things up.

Ryan Smith, Pau Bartolo, Jez Bragg, Aurelian Collet, Ludovic Pommeret, Armand Teixeira, Jordi Bes and Bertrand Collomb-Patton all have top 10 and certainly top 20 potential.

Needless to say there is a whole stack of other male talent that have experienced UTMB before somewhere in and around the top 50. Any of these runners who could make a breakthrough performance and venture into the high ranking top 20’s or even top 10. It’s what makes the race so interesting.

LADIES

Rory Bosio TNFUTMB ©iancorless.com

Rory Bosio TNFUTMB ©iancorless.com

Rory Bosio holds the course record at UTMB – nuff said! Any lady that finishes in the top-10 overall rocks. But where has Rory been since her repeat victory in 2014? Well, believe it or not, she was filming a reality TV show… really, Rory is an actress! In 2015 she won the Atacama Extreme but other than that she has been relatively low key when racing. UTMB performances are backed up by 2nd, 4th and 5th at Western States so Rory needs no other boosting. I do wonder though if she is in the ‘A’ game frame of mind of 2013 and 2014? We will find out…

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Caroline Chaverot for me is the lady that will win UTMB 2016. Caroline is a machine who smiles from beginning to end and her performances over the last 18-24 months have blown me away. She does race a great deal and I think that went against her at UTMB in 2015 when she DNF’d. This year though I have noticed a difference… she obliterated the Transgrancanaria course, she obliterated the MUT in Madeira and she became Skyrunning World Champion at the Buff Epic Trail – 2016 is Caroline’s UTMB year!

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Nuria Picas has twice finished 2nd and I would normally talk Nuria up as the winner. Last year she dropped early and since has had very mixed performances. I do believe she has the UTWT curse of running and winning too many races in a short period of time which has left her drained. I have seen this in 2016 at Transgrancanaria and most recently at the Buff Epic Trail. Of course, Nuria may well have been savvy and kept her powder dry for Chamonix – I hope so! *August 24th, Nuria will unfortunately not run the 2016 edition due to an injury.

Magdalena Boulet will be there or thereabouts but for me, this course will not allow enough running which is Magda’s strength. No doubt she will be in the mix, her 2nd at CCC proved that but 170k and 10,000m is a big difference to CCC or Western States. Listen to the podcast here.

Uxue Fraille will be out of the mix early on and keep going and produce a solid finish. Uxue’s success is all about pacing and finishing. She lets the other ladies race and fade and then she sweeps them up in the final 1/3rd. Last year she placed 2nd at UTMB and she won UTMF.

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Jasmin Paris is one lady who may well win UTMB one day. I’d love to say that 2016 will be the year but I don’t think it will happen. Jasmin runs a great deal and therefore rarely ‘peaks’ for any one race. This is sometimes a good thing but also a bad thing. Although Jasmin can run long, this will be her first big 100+ miler and the Chamonix experience may well overwhelm her. This year she blitzed the Bob Graham Round FKT to a new level and a week after getting married took bronze medal at the Skyrunning World Championships and then won Tromso SkyRace. Personally, I feel Jasmin’s forte and skill set will be best suited to the Skyrunner courses where her fell and mountain running background really shines. She will do well at UTMB but this year will be a learning curve. Don’t get me wrong though, top 5 and certainly top 3 is possible. Listen to the podcast here.

Andrea Huser like Jasmin is a non-stop racer and for me always lacks that extra 5-10% when required due to a constant element of fatigue. Her string of top 2nd and 3rd places for me confirm this. In this 2016 field, Andrea can better her 2014 7th and potentially will make the top 5 and may even challenge the podium but I don’t see a victory.

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Fernanda Maciel is a another runner who mixes many sports, races regularly and is always in and around the action. Like Andrea Huser, I see her in the mix but not taking the top slot. If we look at recent results, the consistency is there – 4th at UTMB in 2010, 3rd at MDS, 3rd at Lavaredo 2016 and a string of other podium places at UTWT races. * Fernanda will not run 23rd August. News from her doctors: “They said I was in an advanced stage of injuries to my kidneys caused by my last 2 long races due to dehydration I suffered during the races. Now my blood tests from last friday done here in Chamonix seem normal but not 100% recovered, and of course I am thinking of the UTMB on friday… I’m really sad because they only told me it today!”

Emilie Lecomte has the long game, strength and tenacity for a 170km race but she lacks the speed of many of the other ladies. A top 10 is an almost guaranteed and as other ladies fade, we can expect Emilie to move up.

Francesca Canepa and Emilie Lecomte in many ways are similar runners and Francesca has a strong history with UTMB and Tor des Geants. On her day, she can be up there and in the mix. Recently her form has been questionable.

Amy Sproston has won Hurt 100 and placed 2nd at Western States. For me, Amy is a runner but then again, Hurt has some gnarly terrain on those 20-mile loops, so, is this the year that Amy puts UTMB demons to rest? Her history is not good with the race – three starts and only one finish when she placed 8th.

Aliza Lapierre is potentially the USA’s top contender behind Rory Bosio. Her list of results in all varieties of races bodes well for a solid UTMB. But at really specific races, Transgrancanaria for example the mountainous terrain has caused her to struggle a little. Aliza like to run and although UTMB has plenty of that, it also has plenty of hands-on-knee action.

Larisa Dannis likes a running race and like many of the American ladies the increased vertical causes an issue. On paper though, she has the racing pedigree for a top performance. you don’t get 2nd at Western States by accident.

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Ester Alves is a good friend and races too much (sorry Ester). One day, Ester will pick a race and prepare meticulously for it and then excel. I saw this earlier this year when she won and dominated The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica. I think what worked there was it was the first race of the season and she could therefore be specific over the winter. What has followed is a string of races in many varied locations with a list of good results but no stand out results! Ester placed 8th at the 2014 UTMB so the potential is there!

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Gemma Arenas I know well in the Skyrunning circles but this will be her first 100 and it’s a tough one with strong competition. It will be a learning curve.

Like in the men’s race, curve balls will swing in and we can expect to see these ladies’ mixing it up, Silke KoesterNicky Spinks, Sally McRae, Sarah Willis, Sophie Grant, Frederica Boifava, Joelle Vaught, Alissa St. Laurent and Manu Vilaseca amongst others.

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WIN! a signed copy of TRAIL BLAZER by Ryan Sandes

RyanSandes book

I caught up with Ryan Sandes for the latest episode of TALK ULTRA podcast (you can listen HERE) episode 107.

We discussed at length Ryan’s career, his difficult 2015 season and of course his book, TRAIL BLAZER (available on Amazon here).

In the interview, Ryan asked a question, ‘what was the second desert race I won?’

To be in with a chance of winning a signed copy of the book, please comment below with an answer. All correct answers will be added to a hat and a winner drawn in April.

Good luck!

Episode 107 – Lizzy Hawker, Ryan Sandes

A_GRAVATAR

This is Episode 107 of Talk Ultra. This show has so much content, we speak with Lizzy Hawker about her amazing 200km Kathmandu Valley FKT, Ryan Sandes talks about his 2015 and his new book, Trail Blazer. Gavin Sandford tells us about his amazing double Marathon des Sables challenge. Niandi catches up with past participants of the Big Red Run in Australia who will return in 2016 and Speedgoat is back from the AT.

00:01:30 Show Start

00:21:26 Niandi talks injured foot and Big Red Run

00:28:02 INTERVIEW Jamie Hildage, Big Red Run

Jamie Hildage ran the Big Red Run in Australia in a past edition and will return in 2016, Niandi caught up and had a chat about the unique challenges this race brings

01:00:51 NEWS

TRANSGRANCANARIA

1 – Didrik Hermansen 13:41:48

2 – Gediminas Grinius 13:45:08

3 – Pau Capell and Diego Pazos 14:11:02

1 – Caroline Chaverot 15:23:40

2 – Andrea Huser 17:21:43

2 – Uxue Fraile 17:28:05

WAY TO COOL 50K

David Roche 3:19

Jorge Maravilla 3:22

Dylan Bowman 3:23

Megan Roche 3:42

Yiou Wang 3:43

Anne Mae Flynn 3:59

UTMB line up announced for 2016 – wow! See HERE

01:26:11 INTERVIEW LIZZY HAWKER is back with an incredible 200km run around Kathmandu and 15000m of vertical gain. I caught up with Lizzy after 3-years in the run wilderness.

Lizzy’s race, Ultra Tour Monte Rosa has a few places available and you can enter HERE

02:00:19 INTERVIEW RYAN SANDES has a new book out called Trail Blazer. We caught up with Ryan, discussed his troubled 2015, what 2016 has in store and of course we found out about the book. Ryan asked a question in his interview, if you like to win a signed copy, you need to comment on these show note with the correct answer

03:11:56 INTERVIEW Gavin Sandford will attempt two Marathon des Sables in 2016 – a world first, all in the name of charity. You can donate HERE and contribute to his funding at Crowdfunder HERE. Talk Ultra have offered a place on the Lanzarote 2017 Training Camp (worth £800) to Gavin as a pledge to help him raise additional funds. This place will be available for £500 (saving the lucky person £300). It’s first come, first served!

UP & COMING RACES

Australia

Queensland

Wildhorse Criterium 50 km | 50 kilometers | March 27, 2016 | website

Wildhorse Criterium 70 km | 70 kilometers | March 27, 2016 | website

Croatia

Istratrek Trail Race | 60 kilometers | March 26, 2016 | website

France

Ariège

Trail des Citadelles – 70 km | 73 kilometers | March 27, 2016 | website

Eure

11km | 110 kilometers | March 20, 2016 | website

Haut-Rhin

Trail du Petit Ballon | 52 kilometers | March 20, 2016 | website

Morbihan

Trail du Kreiz Breizh Bras | 55 kilometers | March 27, 2016 | website

Puy-de-Dôme

52 km | 52 kilometers | March 27, 2016 | website

Yvelines

50 km | 50 kilometers | March 19, 2016 | website

80 km | 80 kilometers | March 19, 2016 | website

Germany

Hesse

Eschollbrücker Ultra-Marathon 50 km | 50 kilometers | March 20, 2016 | website

North Rhine-Westphalia

Nord Eifel Ultra | 56 kilometers | March 26, 2016 | website

Greece

100k | 100 kilometers | March 26, 2016 | website

50k | 50 kilometers | March 26, 2016 | website

Guadeloupe

GUADARUN : ultra-marathon des îles de Guadeloupe | 136 kilometers | March 26, 2016 | website

Hungary

BSI Half Lake Balaton Supermarathon | 95 kilometers | March 19, 2016 | website

BSI Lake Balaton Marathon+ Balatonfüred – Siófok | 51 kilometers | March 20, 2016 | website

BSI Lake Balaton Marathon+ Fonyód – Szigliget | 52 kilometers | March 18, 2016 | website

Ireland

Dublin

Wicklow Way Ultra | 51 kilometers | March 26, 2016 | website

Italy

Tuscany

Ultratrail delle Valli Etrusche | 50 kilometers | March 20, 2016 | website

Veneto

Ultrabericus | 65 kilometers | March 19, 2016 | website

Malaysia

TITI 100KM | 100 kilometers | March 19, 2016 | website

TITI 200KM | 200 kilometers | March 18, 2016 | website

TITI 50KM | 50 kilometers | March 20, 2016 | website

Morocco

Morocco Tizi N’Trail | 120 kilometers | March 25, 2016 | website

Nepal

Annapurna Mandala Trail | 250 kilometers | April 01, 2016 | website

Kathmandu West Valley Rim 50km | 50 kilometers | March 19, 2016 | website

New Zealand

50 km Mountain Run | 50 kilometers | March 19, 2016 | website

Northburn Station 100 km Mountain Run | 100 kilometers | March 19, 2016 | website

Triple Peaks Challenge | 50 kilometers | March 19, 2016 | website

Peru

ASIA Eco Trail 65K | 65 kilometers | March 19, 2016 | website

Philippines

CEBU50 Trail Ultramarathon – Aspirant | 54 kilometers | March 26, 2016 | website

TRD80 Ultramarathon | 80 kilometers | March 19, 2016 | website

Réunion

Caldeira Trail | 74 kilometers | March 19, 2016 | website

Semi Transrun | 75 kilometers | March 26, 2016 | website

Ultra | 140 kilometers | March 25, 2016 | website

South Africa

Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon | 56 kilometers | March 26, 2016 | website

Spain

Catalonia

Half | 60 kilometers | March 26, 2016 | website

Ultra | 87 kilometers | March 26, 2016 | website

Sweden

Silva Ursvik Ultra – 75 km | 75 kilometers | March 20, 2016 | website

United Kingdom

Andhra Pradesh

Oldham Way Ultra | 40 miles | March 20, 2016 | website

Dorset

Jurassic Coast Challenge | 78 miles | March 18, 2016 | website

East Sussex

Coastal Trail Series – Sussex – Ultra | 34 miles | March 19, 2016 | website

Highland

2XU Jogle | 860 miles | April 01, 2016 | website

Lancashire

The Canalathon 100 km | 100 kilometers | March 27, 2016 | website

The Canalathon 50 km | 50 kilometers | March 27, 2016 | website

The Canalathon 75 km | 75 kilometers | March 27, 2016 | website

Liverpool

Liverpool to Manchester Ultra | 47 miles | March 26, 2016 | website

North Yorkshire

Hardmoors 55 Ultramarathon | 55 miles | March 19, 2016 | website

USA

Alabama

Lake Martin 100 Mile Trail Race | 100 miles | March 19, 2016 | website

Lake Martin 50 Mile Trail Race | 50 miles | March 19, 2016 | website

Oak Moutain 50+ | 50 kilometers | March 19, 2016 | website

Alaska

White Mountains 100 | 100 miles | March 27, 2016 | website

Arizona

Old Man 52K | 52 kilometers | March 19, 2016 | website

Ultra Adventures Monument Valley 100 Mile | 100 miles | March 19, 2016 | website

Ultra Adventures Monument Valley 50K | 50 kilometers | March 19, 2016 | website

Ultra Adventures Monument Valley 50 Mile | 50 miles | March 20, 2016 | website

Arkansas

3 days of Syllamo | 150 kilometers | March 18, 2016 | website

California

Beyond Limits Ultra and BLU Relentless 100 Miler | 100 miles | March 31, 2016 | website

Beyond Limits Ultra and BLU Relentless 50K | 50 kilometers | March 31, 2016 | website

Beyond Limits Ultra and BLU Relentless 50 Miler | 50 miles | March 31, 2016 | website

Canyon Meadow 50 Km Trail Run (March) | 50 kilometers | March 20, 2016 | website

Nine Trails 35 Mile Endurance Run | 35 miles | March 26, 2016 | website

Old Goats 50K Trail Race | 50 kilometers | March 26, 2016 | website

Old Goats 50 Mile Trail Race | 50 miles | March 26, 2016 | website

Old West Trails 50K Ultra | 50 kilometers | March 19, 2016 | website

Ragnar Relay So Cal | 200 miles | April 01, 2016 | website

Colorado

High Line Canal 100K | 100 kilometers | March 19, 2016 | website

Florida

Cross Florida Route 40 Romp | 116 miles | March 19, 2016 | website

Cross Florida Route 40 Romp – 2 Person Relay | 116 miles | March 19, 2016 | website

Fort Clinch 100M | 100 miles | March 19, 2016 | website

Fort Clinch 50M | 50 miles | March 19, 2016 | website

Georgia

Georgia Death Race | 60 miles | March 19, 2016 | website

Idaho

Pickled Feet 100 Mile Run | 100 miles | March 25, 2016 | website

Maryland

50K HAT Run | 50 kilometers | March 19, 2016 | website

Hat Trail Run 50K | 50 kilometers | March 19, 2016 | website

Mississippi

Spring Equinox 50K | 50 kilometers | March 19, 2016 | website

Spring Equinox 50 Miler | 50 miles | March 19, 2016 | website

Nevada

Vegas Moonlight Ultra 100 Mile Run | 100 miles | March 19, 2016 | website

North Carolina

Badwater Cape Fear 50 km | 50 kilometers | March 19, 2016 | website

Badwater Cape Fear 51.4 Mile | 51 miles | March 19, 2016 | website

North Dakota

Extreme North Dakota Sandhills Ultra Run Experience 100K | 100 kilometers | March 19, 2016 | website

Extreme North Dakota Sandhills Ultra Run Experience 50K | 50 kilometers | March 19, 2016 | website

Pacific

Sac River Ultramarathon | 50 miles | March 23, 2016 | website

Pennsylvania

Lt. J. C. Stone 50K UltraMarathon | 50 kilometers | March 19, 2016 | website

Mt. Tammany 10 | 40 miles | March 19, 2016 | website

South Carolina

XTERRA Hickory Knob Trail 50K | 50 kilometers | March 19, 2016 | website

Tennessee

Music City Trail Ultra 50K | 50 kilometers | March 19, 2016 | website

Texas

Prickly Pear 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | March 19, 2016 | website

The Grasslands 50-Mile | 50 miles | March 19, 2016 | website

Utah

Antelope Island 100 Mile | 100 miles | March 18, 2016 | website

Antelope Island 50K | 50 kilometers | March 19, 2016 | website

Antelope Island 50 Mile | 50 miles | March 19, 2016 | website

Vermont

PEAK Snowshoe 100 Mile Race | 100 miles | March 18, 2016 | website

Virginia

Elizabeth’s Furnace Fat Ass 50K | 50 kilometers | March 19, 2016 | website

Terrapin Mountain 50km | 50 kilometers | March 19, 2016 | website

Washington

Badger Mountain Challenge 100 Mile Endurance Run | 100 miles | March 25, 2016 | website

Badger Mountain Challenge 50k Ultramarathon | 50 kilometers | March 26, 2016 | website

Badger Mountain Challenge 50 Mile Ultramarathon | 50 miles | March 25, 2016 | website

Chuckanut 50 K | 50 kilometers | March 19, 2016 | website

West Virginia

Haulin’ in the Holler 50K Trail Race | 50 kilometers | March 26, 2016 | website

Vietnam

50k | 50 kilometers | March 19, 2016 | website

Ultra ASIA Race | 160 kilometers | March 20, 2016 | website

03:41:13 CLOSE

Ian will be at UTAX HERE

03:43:29

ITunes http://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/talk-ultra/id497318073

Libsyn – feed://talkultra.libsyn.com/rss

Website – talkultra.com

Buud and Hayvice triumph at the 2016 Tararwera Ultramarathon

jonas finish line

Widely tipped to take out the internationally esteemed Tarawera Ultramarathon 100km event, Sweden’s Jonas Buud didn’t have it all his own way, battling it out over two thirds of the distance with Australia’s David Byrne.

Forty-one year old Buud, 100km world champion, eventually broke the bungy cord between the two just before the 60km mark and charged home to take the 2016 title at the finish line in Kawerau in a time of 08:00:53. Byrne, 35 years, finished second in 08:22:39.

Ryan Sandes from South Africa completed the podium in a time of 08:30:40. Japan’s Yoshikazu Hara finished fourth in 08:40:17, with New Zealand’s Vajin Armstrong the first Kiwi home in a time of 08:46:12.

Meanwhile, Wellington’s Fiona Hayvice claimed first place in the women’s 100km event, after race favourite Ruby Muir pulled out at the 76km mark due to stomach issues. Hayvice also won the Tarawera 50km Marathon in November last year.

Muir, from Hawke’s Bay, had led the field from the outset until her withdrawal from the race.

Hayvice won the event in a time of 10:34:26. Australia’s Melissa Robertson came second in 10:56:20, with New Zealander Fiona Eagles taking third in 11.24.57.

The men’s first and second spent much of the race together, with just seconds between them at several of the key aid stations, including Lake Okataina (39.4km), Humphries Bay (49.2km) and the Tarawera Outlet (57km).

Buud finally put a gap on Byrne and never looked back.

“I felt very strong for the first 60km,” he says. “The plan was to keep a good pace in the first 60km. The next dirt road stretch really suited me so I was able to speed up and continue with that pace. The last seven to ten kilometres was pretty heavy though!”

Buud says the morning’s rain was a help in the first half of the race, but the humid conditions in the second half made for it being “a bit warm”.

Byrne says he is thrilled to have run so well in his first ever 100km event, but he was completely demoralised by Buud who “looked like he was just jogging, and then took off”.

“Then I went into consolidation mode to get to the finish. It’s a great event and I’m really happy to run so well. I’ve only ever run 60km, this was my first 100km race but I had to do it in New Zealand – it’s the best country on the planet!”

Third place Sandes says he’s happy to take the last spot on the podium.

“I’m super stoked, it’s an awesome event. I was pretty conservative in the middle stretches, but the last bit on the road was hard and I was worried that third and fourth were going to run me down. I decided to make a break in the technical section, as I knew Vajin [Armstrong] would run away from me on the flat.”

Hayvice says she couldn’t be happier to take the win.

“I’m feeling awesome, what a great day. The Tarawera Ultra is dear to my heart because its the first ultra I ever ran and it usually lays the foundation for me for the year. I have a big schedule lined up for the year but now my foundation is laid and I’m stoked.”

Hayvice says she found the first part of the race “actually quite lonely” due to the new course and its big climbs which threw the field open.

“I ran a lot of it on my own which I haven’t done in previous years. Once you know you’re in the final stages, you just tick the kilometres off. My goal was just to better my time, but the course and conditions had an impact on that time – but the win has meant I changed the goal!”

New Zealand’s Vajin Armstrong finished fifth, claiming a new record for finishing in the top five placegetters for the sixth year in a row at the Tarawera Ultramarathon. Armstrong says he hadn’t intended running the event this year, after racing the Tarawera Ultra for the last five years, but once he saw the elite world champion field that was entered, he couldn’t resist.

“I wanted to run against the best runners in the world and I also felt like I had a bit more in my legs last year. The whole goal this year was to be a bit more aggressive and get myself into a position to compete with these top runners. This was by far my best performance here, even though the time was a bit slower with the slightly different course. Three or four years ago I would have won it today, but [race organiser] Paul keeps bringing better runners. The pedigree of this race is such that it now has world champion runners and I think it’s important for New Zealand runners to represent and show what we can do on the world stage.”

Due to course changes in for this year’s event, the actual course was 102.7km.

Race results: 

Tarawera Ultramarathon 100km Results:

Men:

  1. Jonas Buud (Sweden) 08:00:53
  2. David Byrne (Australia) 08:22:39
  3. Ryan Sandes (South Africa) 08:30:40
  4. Yoshikazu Hara (Japan) 08:40:17
  5. Vajin Armstrong (Christchurch, New Zealand) 08:46:12

Women:

  1. Fiona Hayvice (Wellington) 10:34:26
  2. Melissa Robertson (NSW, Australia) 10:56:20
  3. Fiona Eagles (Auckland) 11.24.57

Tarawera Ultramarathon 85km Results:

Men:

  1. Richard Coghlan (Japan) 08:40:55
  2. Valentin Benard (France) 08:50:58
  3. Lance Brew (Hamilton, NZ) 09:11:52
  4. Valentino Luna Hernand (Wellington, NZ) 9:34:12
  5. Sidney Willis (Townsville, Australia) 10:15:18

Women’s results unavailable at time of distribution.

 

Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc® #UTMB 2015 In-Depth RACE PREVIEW

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It’s the end of August and that can only mean one thing, UTMB. 

UTMB has become one of if not THE mountain races to do. In many respects it is almost a victim of its own success. More and more runners want to participate in the big circular dance around the Mont-Blanc but the trails can only take so many people.

I could enter into a debate about the points system but I won’t. I actually think it’s a solution to an ever increasing problem that UTMB organisation face and as such we all know the score, we know what we need to run the race and ultimately we have a choice.

Should points come from qualifying races? Yes, why not!

Should races pay a fee to supply those points? Yes, why not!

I know my last comment will create some debate but to be honest, the fee to ITRA is relatively small and the cost per head is minimal and the races that offer points gain entries. However, I do think another option exists for points.

Why not let all races provide points? Say 0.5 points for an easy trail race of say 50km and then points increase by 0.5 up to a maximum 4-points for a big mountain ultra. If you then want the points, you the runner pay for each 0.5 point you receive. That way, the person who wants/ needs the points pays and the race and other runners don’t pay. Seems logical to me and in actual fact, I think it would generate even more money for ITRA and the UTMB. I welcome your thoughts on that and boy oh boy what a way for me to start a preview on the 2015 race.

UTMB is part of the Ultra Trail World Tour (UTWT) and as such offers points to a larger circuit. Francois D’Haene and Nuria Picas were 2014 champions.

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Well, I was supposed to be in Chamonix for this race but at the 11th hour I have decided not to attend. It was a tough decision and one that I didn’t take lightly. Particularly now that I am seeing all the social media posts of all the runners and spectators arriving in the endurance capital of the world.

The reality is I have been on the road since January with little or no break and next week I travel to the USA for over a week which is then followed by a succession of weekends travelling and providing photography and writing for a succession of races. I personally had great potential to break )ver training one may say), so, home I am staying and for once a relaxing weekend.

The main event starts at 1800 Friday 28th August. I always feel a little ashamed when I say the main event as a whole series of tough and challenging races take place during UTMB week. For example, the ridiculous PTL, the tough TDS, the challenging CCC and the OCC but I only have so much time and the UTMB draws the crowd and the most stacked field. For the first year, UTMB will not be a TNF event and the new sponsor Columbia, Mountain Hardwear and Montrail has a tough act to follow, I wonder if we will notice any difference?

One thing is for sure, the men’s and ladies’ races are stacked. Darn it, I used that word again! Let’s try again – A plethora of talent has arrived in Chamonix to do battle on this super tough and iconic 100+ mile course that circles Mont-Blanc.

MEN

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Tofol Castanyer made the podium last year and with no Francois D’Haene he for me has the nod for victory. He has been quiet lately no doubt keeping the powder dry and although not very experienced over 100-miles he is a super savvy and experienced mountain runner with the solid Salomon team who can offer support and backup.

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Luis Alberto Hernando should win UTMB but he won’t. Nothing would please me more to see Luis top the podium in Chamonix but the reality is, he is not a 100-mile runner (not yet anyway). Put him on a course from 50km-80km and he is unstoppable. Put him on a 100km course and he may or may not win but will podium. Put him on 100m route and he will go great for the first 80km and then fade. This is not helped by entering UTMB tired. He won Transvulcania, placed 2nd at the IAU World Trail Champs, won Ice Trail Tarentaise and then placed 2nd at Tromso Skyrace looking distinctly whacked at the end. That was only a few weeks ago and I just don’t see the recovery and training working in Luis’s favour. I hope I am wrong!

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Miguel Heras, well who knows? If he is fit and on fire he could win and almost certainly podium. However, he is extremely injury prone and his performances could come with a flick of a coin. In 2015, Miguel has been much more low key, he has raced but without any pomp and circumstance and that was intentionally so. Placing 2nd behind Thevenard in 2013, Miguel WANTS to win the UTMB and this may well just be the year!

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The Salomon trio is rounded out with Ryan Sandes. This is a really interesting inclusion into the UTMB mix. Ryan can climb, can run fast and is endurant (Drakensberg Traverse) and therefore may well have the essential credentials to podium at the least and may well just win. Certainly, Salomon could repeat the trio of results that we have seen in pervious years. Ryan has had a mixed 6-months with injury, a last minute withdrawal from Western States and I therefore think he is going to be super focussed on this race. One to watch!

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Sage Canaday enters the 100-mile distance for the first time and as great a runner as he is, I don’t see him making the podium. Controversial I know. He has the speed for sure. He has the climbing and descending but I have no reason to think he has the race plan or strategy for what will be at best a 20-hour race. Like Luis Alberto I would expect strength and dominance over the first 100km and then a fade. But he has been in Chamonix preparing and he is a student of the sport. He may very well have hidden himself away, changed everything about his training and come up with the perfect 100-mile training plan? A 5k track session (in 16min) just 3-days before the race suggest otherwise though.

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Xavier Thevenard won the race (surprisingly) in 2013 and then seemed to implode with the pressure. Last year he took the attention of himself and ran the TDS and won it. In doing so, he became the only runner to have won the CCC, TDS and UTMB; impressive! So the facts speak for themselves, super talented and obviously can perform with the best if the pressure is off. Will the pressure be on for 2015 is the question? I think it will but less than in previous years and that may just allow him to run his own race and find his 2013 legs and head. Good luck.

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Julien Chorier impressed the hell out of me a couple of years ago at Ronda dels Cims with a consummate performance. He loves the mountains and he can run fast too. He was 2nd to Ryan Sandes at Transgrancanaria in 2014 and 2nd to Kilian at Hardrock 100. A recent 6th at Western States shows us that all is in place for a great run and that’s why I give him a nudge over Gediminas.

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Gediminas Grinius has been a revelation. His rise in the sport over the last 18-months has been remarkable and you know what, he could win UTMB. He ran a great UTMB last year (5th), won Transgrancanaria and placed 4th at Western States. Expect him to be out of the mix early on and then he will close out super hard and fast.

Stephan Hugenschmidt is my dark horse and potential big surprise of the 2015 UTMB. He had a breakthrough 5th at Transvulcania, won Zugspitz and had a great result at Transalpine.

We are now in the territory of surprise packages and believe me, some of the fellas mentioned below will figure highly in the run for the podium and top-10.

Seth Swanson has been 2nd at Western States 2-years on the run and I still know very little about him. My head says he will need a UTMB run to find his legs before he can comeback and mix it up at the very front. However, nobody expected him to place 2nd at WSER and then go back and do it again!

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Sebastien Chaigneau is the old guard of the race, the wily old fox that everyone loves. Seb has had a tough couple of years and as time has passed, the competition has got faster. I’d love him to find some of that old form, that 100-mile sparkle and dish out to the newbies.

Jeff Browning may well be the best prospect from an American perspective as he is a true mountain man. But he may well lack some of the essential European speed.

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Franco Colle won Tor des Geants and then earlier this year placed 2nd at Mont-Blanc 80km. In addition, he has been at the IAU World Trail Championships, ran (and won) a Skyrunning exhibition event in Cervinia and recently ran Tromso Skyrace. Potential dark horse for UTMB!

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Sondre Amdahl like Gediminas has been a revelation. He is committed, sometimes too committed but I love his passion. He prepared meticulously for Transgrancanaria and placed 4th, went out to the USA to prepare for WSER and placed 15th and has spent recent months preparing in Chamonix for UTMB. Top-10 potential and maybe around 5th if he has a great day.

 

Best of the rest

 

Francois Faivre – 7th at UTMB last year.

Carlos Sa – He could win it but more than likely a top-10.

Pascal Giguet – Top-10 at Mont-Blanc 80km.

Ryan Smith – a Brit who may well be a real dark horse.

Robbie Britton – local lad, 3rd at the 24-hour and 7th at Tarawera. Placed just outside top-50 at UTMB last year but has been in Chamonix for months which will either mean he is in fine form or broken. I think the former. Good luck Robbie.

Yeray Duran – Always strong at Transgrancanaria.

Paul Giblin – another Brit with all the potential to spring a surprise.

Kim Collison – Another multi talented Brit who has speed and endurance.

Joe Grant – We all know Joe and what he can do.

Danny Kendall – The UK’s top MDS performer, not new to UTMB and this may well be his best year.

Jesse Haynes – Great at WSER but in Europe, who knows?

John Tidd – Won’t win but absolutely solid performer.

Stone Tsang – Every chance for a stunning or latter ‘teens’ performance.

Yoshikazu Hara – same as Stone?

 

I could go on….

 

LADIES 

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Neck on the line, this race is for Nuria Picas and I personally think she is going to have the race of her life and win it with a consummate performance. This is no way a reflection on the competition, just an observation of Nuria and an understanding of how this lady ticks. For the past 2-years, Nuria has raced a ridiculous schedule and still placed 2nd twice behind Rory Bosio. This year, Nuria has been quiet. Very quiet. A win at Transgrancanaria and then what? I will tell you, training and preparation. She will be on fire!

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Caroline Chaverot though has also been on fire! In the last 18-months Caroline has exploded with a series of remarkable performances that would suggest a solid UTMB is on the cards. Her victories at Lavaredo and the Eiger confirm that she can perform on the big days out.

Nathalie Mauclair beat Caroline at the IAU Word Trail Championships but that really draws no comparison to UTMB. However, Caroline beat Nathalie at Lavaredo. Take your pick! On paper, I would say Nathalie will be better over the longer distance and time that UTMB will offer and her victories at Diagonale des Fous will put her in a great place both physically and mentally for that.

The upset may well come from Stephanie Howe and I am sure that TNF and the USA would like nothing more than Steph picking up where Rory Bosio left off. Stephanie’s 3rd at WSER left her feeling tired but by all accounts, she has prepared well for the circle of the big white mountain. She has the speed, I just wonder if she has the legs for the climbs and descents and a 24+ hour run in her?

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Francesca Canepa may make the podium? I have always been impressed how Francesca can race UTMB and then just a week later race Tor des Geants. One thing is for sure, I don’t think we will see Francesca at Tor this year after last years’ controversy. 2014 was a great year for the Italian (until Tor) and then it all seemed to go to bits. Understandable really. So coming into UTMB we have little to go on, other than 3rd at the Eiger but she was 30min of the winning time. UTMB may well be a redemption year!

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Uxue Fraille has always impressed with her patience and calculated running. She is a diesel. Expect her off the pace early on and close well. She placed 5th last year and a repeat performance is a distinct possibility.

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Fernanda Maciel is solid on the UTWT circuit and although I don’t see her taking the top slot on the podium, top-5 is a distinct possibility and if she has a great day, the podium may well be hers. Fernanda spent a great deal of time at altitude over Christmas (too long) and this tired her. Let’s hope she is recovered and ready to race hard in Chamonix.

Darcy Piceu is an interesting addition and after that ding-dong with Frosty at Hardrock I am really eager to see what she can do here in France. She placed 3rd in 2011 in just under 29-hours, she will need to run much faster than that this year! One thing is for sure, the distance and time on feet will be no issue, the question mark will be recovery post Hardrock?

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Ester Alves from Portugal has already raced a great deal in 2015 with a string of top placing’s and I have no reason to think that a strong performance is a distinct possibility here. But by strong I mean top-10. A recent tumble at Ice Trail Tarentaise won’t have helped her preparation but she is strong and committed.

Lisa Borzani races and races and races. At TDS in 2015 she placed 2nd. I see her a consistent performance for a top-10 but not victory or the podium.

Nicole Struder ran 14:22 at Rocky Raccoon 100-mile. That’s fast! But she will need to add 10-hours of running to that Rocky time at a minimum for UTMB and through in some serious mountains. So although I see her potentially having a good race, I don’t think that those USA trail legs will handle the European mountains.

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My dark horse for the ladies is Veronica Bravo. She is a super strong adventure racer, has the mind for the long game and 100% commitment. She may not win but I expect she may turn a few heads and UTMB race day looks like it will be a hot one; she loves the heat! Earlier this year she won The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica.

Amy Sproston is a tough one to call. She won Hurt 100 but UTMB is a faster race with tougher competition.

Sally McRae may well offer the best prospects of a top USA performance outside those of Howe. Sally has been top-10 at WSER twice and although UTMB is a big step up from Western, she may well have the race to mix it up.

Gill Fowler from Australia may well rock the apple cart. She was 4th at Lavaredo, yes somewhat off the front pace but a top-10 at UTMB is on the cards.

 

Ones to watch

 

Shona Stephenson – Top-10 at UTMB before.

Sarah Morwood – 11th at UTMB previously.

Manu Vilaseca

Caroline McKay

Denise Bourassa

 

And so many more….

RACE WEBSITE HERE

Schedule HERE

Ultratrail TV HERE

Follow LIVE HERE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ryan Sandes to attempt FKT on Table Mountain

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On Friday Ryan Sandes will be running a Fastest Known Time (FKT) for a 16km route across Table Mountain in Cape Town, which is amongst the new 7 wonders of nature and is a World Heritage Site. There is over 1400m of climbing, and super technical running along the 16km course. He has partnered with Red Bull for this project and they will be setting up a website where local runners can run the route and record their times and the runner with the fastest time will be able to join Ryan, as a spectator, when he travels to the Island of Reunion to run Raid of Reunion later this year.

The website will be live from next week

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Table Mountain Crossing Fastest Known Time Route

The route is from Suikerbossie Restaurant to the SANParks information centre on lower Tafelberg Road. It takes in Llandudno Ravine and the Kasteelpoort beacon, from where it routes through the Valley of the Red Gods and toward Platteklip Gorge. Then via the Upper Table Mountain Contour path it winds to the Kloof Nek corner beacon and on to the finish.

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Detailed Route Description (step-by-step)

Start at the main entrance gate to Suikerbossie Restaurant and run towards Llandudno Ravine (Hout Bay Trail Challenge leg 2 route).

Head up Llandudno Ravine where the first Check Point will be a quarter of the way up the climb. Once on top of the mountain, follow the trail towards Kasteelpoort and do not take any of the turn off’s, including the turn off to the WoodHead Reservoir.

Once you reach the beacon at the top of Kasteelpoort, continue straight through the Valley of the Red Gods and towards Platteklip Gorge.

Do not take the turn down to Kasteelpoort.

You will pop out at the top of Platteklip Gorge where Check Point two is. Head down Platteklip Gorge but DO NOT run all the way down to Tafelberg Road.

You must take the Upper Table Mountain Contour path towards Kloof Nek corner (you will run under the Cable Car) and turn down right on the trail once you get to the Kloof Nek corner beacon.

The third and final Check Point is on the Kloof Nek corner trail heading down towards Tafelberg Road.

Follow this trail down to Tafelberg Road. Once you hit the road, turn left follow the road down to the SANParks information centre in the parking-lot where the Table Mountain Trail Challenge starts.

Touch the far lefthand side (if you are facing towards the city centre) of the information hut and you have finished.

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The run starts with a massive climb up Llandudno Ravine to warm your lungs and legs up. This is a super technical climb to the top of Table Mountain with lots of rock stairs and scrambling. Once on top of Table Mountain the route is a little flatter but don’t be fooled it is not completely flat. It is very technical running along a single track which can be quite overgrown and seeing large snakes is a common occurrence. The views on top of Table Mountain are amazing and makes every drop of sweat getting up to the top of the mountain worth while. Once you get to the Valley of the Red Gods you have a few small ladders to negotiate before descending Platteklip Gorge. This is the hardest part of the run for me, as you have big rock stairs leading down Platteklip which kill your legs and you also have to constantly dodge tourists hiking up the mountain. Once on the contour path, the running is fairly fast to the finish but your legs will be feeling tired after the big descent off Table Mountain. The route is around 16km, but is very slow moving and you can never get into any rhythm. I love the run as it is in my “back garden” and I feel right at home.

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Follow Ryan Sandes on his website HERE on Facebook HERE and on Red Bull HERE

SALMON SKYRUN package for International runners 2015

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Embrace an opportunity to not only take part in one of South Africa’s toughest races but also be privy to a VIP package that will allow you to experience the journey of a lifetime.

Following on from a successful inaugural experience in 2014, Salomon SkyRun are now offering a very exclusive package for 15 very lucky individuals in 2015.

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The Salomon SkyRun is a true mountain running experience on an unmarked course in the stunning Witteberg Mountains just off the southwest corner of Lesotho. Offering a variety of tough and challenging terrain, SkyRun is a self-supported and self-navigation journey of 100-kms.

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Leaving the town of Lady Grey behind, the beauty and remoteness engulfs each and every runner. It is not uncommon to run for the entire race without seeing much civilization around you except those involved in the race.

BIG NEWS a $10,000 prize purse is available for the first male to go under 12-hours or the first lady to go sub 14-hours 30-minutes.

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View race images HERE

To experience first hand the journey of SkyRun, listen to Episode 75 of Talk Ultra HERE. It is a special show that discusses in detail the route, the experiences of South Africa and has in-depth chat with Gary Robbins who placed second in the men’s race. The show also has interviews with ladies first and second place, Landie Greyling and Julia Boettger. In addition the show brings sounds of SA and interviews the race directors, Adrian Saffy and Michael de Haast.

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An evening in Lady Grey post race allows some rest and recovery before the 3-hour transfer journey to the stunning Moketsi Game Ranch.

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Moketsi is a jewel. A five star resort offering luxury accommodation on a full board basis.

 

Moketsi provides an opportunity to experience wildlife on a personal level that is seldom scene or experienced. Go on safari in custom made Land Rover vehicles, drink a ‘sundowner’ as the sun departs the day and if you are lucky, experience the reserve ‘on foot’ under the guidance of the Ranch Manager, Gustav.

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The Ranch covers some 6,000 hectares (65 km²) of beautiful grassland plains and contrasting mountain landscapes in a unique and comfortable setting for an exclusive and private experience. It may even be possible to run up Moketsi mountain… can you set an FKT?

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Moketsi has a large variety of game with four of the Big Five (including Lion, Rhino, Buffalo and Leopard). The varied landscape, range of animals, birdlife and luxurious accommodation make for a true outdoor experience.

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Leaving the quiet seclusion on Moketsi Game Ranch, a 90-minute transfer to Bloemfontein and an internal flight to Cape Town will awaken the senses to the bustle of South Africa’s second largest city. Hooking up with the local run scene, you will climb Lion Head, run up and down Table Mountain.

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By contrast you will relax on the wine route visiting vineyards, watch the penguins at Boulders Colony and chill in Hout Bay with some quality seafood.

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 The Salomon SkyRun International Package is a once in a lifetime experience that is available at an incredible price.

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Package (excludes flights to South Africa)

£975.00 (€1250 or $1750)

Only 15-places are available for this incredible experience distributed as 5 to the USA/Canada, 5 to Germany and 5 to UK/ Europe.

Package includes:

  • Transfer from Bloemfontein to Lady Grey
  • Race entry
  • 2 nights pre race lady grey bed and breakfast one night post race
  • 2 nights Moketsi Game Ranch fully inclusive
  • Flight from Bloemfontein to Cape Town
  • 3 nights in Cape Town bed and breakfast all transfers and transport

The trip starts from Bloemfontein with a transfer to Lady Grey on Thursday 19th Nov and finishes with departure from Cape Town on Nov 28th.

Please note that all arrivals must be in Bloemfontein on Thursday 19th November 2014 by 3pm.

Included:

  • All meals as specified in Package (note race entry includes a meal at race briefing and a meal at finish line as well as Breakfast/ Brunch before prize giving)
  • All transfers in aircon Vehicles and domestic airfares as stipulated in package
  • Area Permit to traverse Conservancy
  • All accommodation is per person on a sharing basis as applicable. Single supplement applies.

Excluded:

All meals not stipulated in package

All beverages except at Game Lodge

International flights: into and departing South Africa – arrival Bloemfontein, departure Cape Town.

How to book:

To book a place a non-refundable 25% deposit secures your place. Full balance is due, on or before 1st August 2015. Please specify your booking country.

PACKAGE PLACES ARE AVAILABLE FROM DEC 8th 2014

Episode 75 – Skyrun, Robbins, Greyling, Boettger

Ep75

Episode 75 of Talk Ultra is all about the Salomon Skyrun and South Africa. We bring an interview with the ladies winner Landie Greyling. We also talk with the ladies 2nd place, Julia Boettger. Gary Robbins placed 2nd overall and discusses in-depth his race and co hosts the show. We bring sounds from Moketsi Game Ranch, experiences from Cape Town and talk Skyrun with Adrian Saffy and Michael de Haast.
This weeks show is a little different to our usual episodes.
Gary Robbins placed 2nd overall in the race and he co-hosts providing an in-depth insight into the race, his experiences of South Africa and he even set an FKT on Table Mountain.
We bring you sounds and interviews from Moketsi Game Reserve and race directors, Michael de Haast and Adrian Saffy talk Skyrun and South Africa.
Listen to Hyenas, growl with lions and dance to some quality ‘SA’ tunes.
Experience South Africa….
Images from SA and the Skyrun are available on this website HERE and you can view images from the whole trip HERE
Links:
Website – talkultra.com

Philipp Reiter prepares for the Salomon SkyRun

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Philipp Reiter ©iancorless.comHow have the last couple of months been from a racing perspective?

 Philipp Retier has had a quite 2014 due to a problematic foot injury. The season started well with a multi day adventure at The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica and the iconic, Transvulcania. In June, running ground to a halt after running 100-miles in the charity D-Day celebrations in Normandy. Philipp is back on track now and I caught up with him as he prepares for the Salomon SkyRun in South Africa.

How have the last couple of months been from a racing perspective?

Unfortunately I have been injured for the whole summer from a community running event on the flat asphalt road and was not really able to run. I could not think about racing. To stay fit I was cycling quite a lot around my home town – MTB, road bike and cross-bike.
As you can imagine, it was very disappointing for me, but it is great to have a big (running) perspective now at the end of November with the Salomon SkyRun.

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Philipp Reiter, Salomon ©iancorless.com

Do you have any targets between now and your trip to SA?

My studies at the university started in the beginning of October, so I have enough work trying to fit everything in my day; so no races are planned in preparation. I still feel more familiar to cycling than to running at the moment which I have to change in the next weeks.

How’s training going – have you done anything specific for SA?

I have already asked a few participants about the terrain and climate at the SkyRun and figured out that the weather is changing pretty fast – hot and very dry in the valleys, freezing cold and stormy on the ridges. For the cold I can prepare at home and for the hot maybe a few sauna-sessions should be good! As the terrain is very rocky and rough I will run more off-trail at home.

Julia Bottger, Philipp Reiter and Ryan Sandes in Gran Canaria copyright Ian Corless

Julia Bottger, Philipp Reiter and Ryan Sandes in Gran Canaria copyright Ian Corless

Maybe you have been brushing up on your navigation and looking at some maps?

Yes, indeed! I was asked to scout routes for a trailrunning stage race here in Germany, so I have done quite a lot of map work trying to find the best, fastest and most beautiful spots. I mainly run around with a map in my hands which could be similar in South Africa…

 

Are you intimidated by the navigation element of the SkyRun?

Should I? It is totally new for me not to “just” follow the marks in a race but that makes it more interesting. Then it’s not only fast legs and stong lungs to be in a good position but also your brain has to work much more! I am only a bit worried as I have no experience using the compass for navigation or a mobile GPS-device apart from my watch.

The course sounds extreme, particularly if the weather turns. Have you researched the course?

No, not really. I have only watched some videos from the last editions and they made the course and the race look quite tough. It’s not the heat or the cold alone that make me worried but the extreme fast changes of both. So the backpack will be more heavy than in a “normal” race as it’s quite a lot of stuff to carry…

Philipp Reiter, Salomon ©iancorless.com

Philipp Reiter, Salomon ©iancorless.com

A strong local contingent will be toeing the line… Iain Don Wauchope, AJ Calitz and so on… do you know much about them?

Yes, I have heared that they are really strong and apart form their fitness they are very familiar to the race route, the climate and the terrain. They know exactly where to find water, how to climb the barbed wired fences,… So, I will just thry to follow them.

Michael De Haast has put up a great price purse should somebody post a great time, is that an incentive for you?

Aaagh, that is a good question. I have read that it’s $10.000 for the first runner who goes under 12 hours! But I guess that is almost impossible and I know that my teammate Ryan Sandes, who is an excellent runner especially in that type of terrain, needed about 12:30h last year. So I am not sure if someone can beat that. It would be a great boost for my student wallet though.

Have you been to SA before?

No, unfortunately not. But one of my climbing friends was there last year for bouldering and he was so excited that he will come back next year. He showed me some pictures – just stunning!

What are you most looking forward to?

The huge untouched landscape, some wild animals you can only see in the zoo at home (giraffes, lions, elephants,…), get to know the SA culture and how it’s connected to the European colony many years ago. Eat the famous steaks. Go running on the table mountain and explore Cape Town – quite a few things to do… maybe I will need to stay?

“The Salomon SkyRun is something completely new. I have been running in the jungle of Costa Rica, the Rocky Mountains in the USA, scrambled in the French Alps and raced on dry Spain islands but it’s was all marked. I never had to care about choosing the best and fastest way, run with a map in my hands and think about not missing the next well to fill up my water bottles. To perform good in this SA adventure I will not only need power in my legs, strong lungs and mental force but also navigation skills and the ability to read the terrain to choose the best way. It’s much more about tactics and planning! – I can’t wait!” Philipp Reiter

Philipp Reiter at the finish of Trofeo Kima copyright Ian Corless

Philipp Reiter at the finish of Trofeo Kima copyright Ian Corless

Salomon SkyRun, South Africa – The opportunity of a lifetime

Salomon Skyrun 2012

What a race eh… it’s a race that has been on the radar of many a runner for years. Established 16-years ago, the Salomon SkyRun has often been perceived as a race just for South Africans, however, that is all about to change…

‘2014 is going to be a great year for the race. This year we will elevate the race to a new level with a strong International contingent to take part’ says Michael de Haast, race director for the Salomon SkyRun.

SkyRun 2014 on White

This will be the 17th edition of the race and it has a great history. Created by a group of guys who were ex Special Forces, one day they decided they would visit a friend… he just happened to be 125km away… they undertook the journey on foot!

‘Looking back, it almost sounds a little like how Ironman started… I wonder if beer was involved?’ said Michael, ‘Created in ‘95’, they called it the Sky Walk and in ‘97’ the race started officially on the same route. I have made some slight changes since. We use to finish at Tiffindel Ski Resort. Now we finish at the War Trail Country Club as the ski resort closed 4-years ago.’

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Taking place in the southwest corner of Lesotho, the Witteberg mountain range is part of the Drakensberg range. The route has high elevation with an average of around 2700m. On the ridges, runners are always at altitude, it has no paths, and therefore everyone needs to make his or her own trail. It makes this challenge unique.

Drakensberg will ring true for so many at the moment, Ryan Sandes recently completed the Drak Traverse, however, this course takes place in a different region. ‘The Drakensberg is a massive range of mountains,’ explains Michael, ‘this race is on the Eastern Cape side essentially where the Drakensberg ends.’

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Lady Grey provides a backdrop to the race start. ‘It’s a beautiful and quaint town. Very small, picturesque and it’s a great place. It does offer some logistical issues though as hundreds of runners arrive looking for accommodation. One of the advantages of our elite athlete package!’ Michael says.

A severe course with extreme logistics, the race is at a maximum with 300-athletes. Two races are on offer, the 60km ‘Lite’ and the 100km SkyRun. ‘Safety is paramount and we need to manage the athletes on the mountain, for example, a winner can take 12-hours but the last person may take 36-hours. The course is remote and difficult, we can’t just drive in; everything is done by foot. It’s complicated but we are very experienced. We split the numbers as 200 for the full race and 100 for the ‘Lite’.’

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The trail is very tough, technical and harsh. The 2013 edition had very tough-conditions and for the first time in its history the race had to be cut short for safety reasons, so, this is no easy undertaking. ‘The weather can change at a drop. You can have 3-seasons in one day. At altitude, weather is a factor and it can’t be underestimated.’

The race is self-supported (particularly water) and runners need to navigate. GPS units are allowed and a GPX file is provided by the race organization, however, as Michael de Haast says, ‘some local knowledge and good map and compass skills often will have an advantage over any GPS user. Preparation is key and for those who want to win, a little homework will go a long way.’

Salomon Skyrun 2012

The highest point of the course is Avoca Peak at just under 2800m. All the race peaks have British naming. The settlers settled in the Lady Grey district with British ancestry in1820, hence the names and history.

The course has over 1000m of climbing in the first 10k to The Tower, following a ridgeline to Olympus and CP2. The key is not to loose height. Snowdon at 30k offers the first feeding option where water is available. The route climbs again and you climb to Avoca, the highest point. From Avoca, the course is beautiful. It has iconic landmarks, the famous Dragon’s Back, a 2m wide ridge, which you run on, and you have vertical drop offs on either side… insane running! It really is incredible. Coming into Balloch, CP6, this provides an access points for spectators; it’s just over halfway. Climbing out of the valley, participants go up a steep ascent of 700m only to drop down once again into another valley. The Lite race finishes at the Country Club but the 100km entrants must go out for another 40km loop. After CP7 you climb the Bridle Pass; it’s a tough climb and the locals use it for getting cattle over the mountain. The terrain is tough but the views are incredible. Looking out over the Eastern Cape with approx 75km covered, a path becomes more defined and then at CP8 you turn back and return to the finish. From CP9 you have a severe descent that will test each and every participant to the line. It’s a tough race that should not be undertaken lightly!

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‘It’s an emotional journey SkyRun.’

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Ryan Sandes holds the course record in a time of 12:36 and the race has had great competion from AJ Calitz and Iain Don Wauchope. In 2014, the race are offering $10,000 for the first runner to break 12-hours. This is a record that may well go this year… ‘We would love to give the money away. With the International field we are lining up, we think the record may well go should the conditions be favorable.’

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An International field will race and currently Nick Clark (Altra) and Gary Robbins (Salomon) are confirmed. Nick Clark is an experienced mountain runner who has placed well at Western States and Hardrock 100. He also competed in the Grand Slam of ultra in 2013. Gary Robbins has a strong adventure racing background and is the current course record holder for Hurt 100. More runners will be added, and in total, the race will have 4-male and 2-female international athletes.

The opportunity to race and have the experience of a lifetime is not going to be reserved just for elite international athletes. For the first time, the Salomon SkyRun will open its doors offering 14-16 international runners from any racing background the opportunity to join the ultimate racing experience.

Michael de Haast explains:

We are offering a once in a lifetime experience to international runners for the package price of £999. Runners will need to arrange their own flight/travel to arrive in South Africa on the 20th November in Bloemfontein. Transfers will be arranged to Lady Grey for 3-nights including race entry. 

On Monday 24th November, this select-group will then participate in a workshop with the elite international runners, this will include Nick Clark, Gary Robbins and Ryan Sandes plus others as and when confirmed.

November 25th everyone will transfer to a Moketsi Game Lodge for 2-nights that will include full board.

To finish the trip off, we will then all transfer back to Bloemfontein and onward travel with 2-nights in Cape Town.

The elite athletes will be present for the entire race package offering an opportunity never offered before. (Ryan Sandes will be an exception who will be at the race and the clinic but will not be at the game lodge.)

This is an opportunity that will be available only to a select few. The combination of the race, the elite international package and an opportunity to relax and enjoy South Africa to the full is just incredible.

If you are interested, please complete the form below:

 

Ian Corless had an opportunity to speak with Nick Clark and gather his thoughts on his current racing and the opportunity that the Salomon SkyRun will provide.

Interview with NICK CLARK (Altra)

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IC – Nick, you are becoming regular interviewee…

NC – Yes I am, it’s great to be back

IC – A great Grand Slam in 2013 and the TCC earlier this year, things are rolling along nicely. You have just raced UTMF in Japan.

NC – Japan was fantastic. A great trip, the race was good for 70-miles and then not so good for the last 30…

(Laughter)

IC – Was that when the tough climb started?

NC – I had been fuelling really well. I got to mile-70 and had some soup and it turned my stomach. I basically couldn’t eat for the remainder of the race and yes, that coincided with that brutal climb. Good to get around the mountain, I had points when I wasn’t sure if I would!

IC – What was the racing experience like out in Japan? Is it very different to Europe and the US?

NC – The racing was incredible. The level of detail that went into this race was mind blowing. They must have had over 1000 volunteers…

IC – Wow!

NC – Yeah, it was like UTMB. The course was marked every 20m or so. Incredible. Every detail was, as you would expect from the Japanese. It was meticulous, a really great and well-organized event

IC – Impressive. I spoke to Mike Foote (The North Face) recently, he had a great race…

NC – Yep, he sure did!

IC – You ran with him for quite a while. He said the course was interesting as it combined so many elements. It didn’t suit anyone style? Road, trail and climbing; did it suit you?

NC – Funny, I think they achieved what UROC have been trying to do for 3-4 years. They wanted a course that didn’t cater for any strength but I personally feel they favoured road guys. The Japan course had good stretches of road, that’s fine, I don’t mind that. You get in a rhythm, click off the miles and then you’d do 10-miles of road and then you would be in the mountains and it would take 4-hours to do 12-miles… crazy. We must have had 4-5 miles of rope sections that gives you an idea of how steep it was in places. A real mixed bag and I think that worked well. No particular style was favoured.

IC – Sounds like a course that would really suit you?

NC – Yes, I work on my speed, I don’t mind road and I love the mountains, so, yes, I was in great shape and I thought the podium was a distinct possibility. I was running with Foote and he made the podium. I’d like another crack at it I think…

NC – Well, lets talk up about South Africa and the Salomon SkyRun, which takes place in November. Michael de Haast was telling us all about this race, it’s in its 17th year. This race is tough, gnarly and I guess it’s just getting on peoples radars… funny, this race is going to be quite a contrast to UTMF. No markers, navigation, tough and a 100km long. What are your thoughts?

IC – It’s going to be amazing. I have never been to Africa so that will be awesome. I’m looking to experience the country and then thrown into the mountains is going to be fantastic. You know the navigation will be interesting. I don’t usually use a GPS but I can use one here so that will be essential I think with little or no time to prepare. I will need to try to get on a level playing field. I have no issues with map and compass either so it’s a great challenge. I am thrilled.

IC – This race is navigation, you come from the UK where fell running and navigation events are normal. However, I would imagine this is not something you experience in the US? So, do you feel comfortable with this?

NC – Yes I do. You are correct; navigation in the US is not required for an average race. You run, drink beer and have a burger…

IC – You make it sound great!

NC – It is once your done! I do lots of navigational stuff in the off-season in Colorado so it comes natural and I feel good with that. I can hone my map and compass skills and I feel comfortable. I think for this race though I will have a GPS. Having said that, you still need to take the correct line.

IC – I think back a few years when you came to the UK and you did the Bob Graham Round.

NC – Oh yes, the BGR!

IC – When you did the BGR you had guides, did you get involved in any navigation?

NC – No, not really, the year I did it, 3-years ago I think. It was December 21st, shortest day of the year…

IC – Perfect timing!

NC – Oh yeah, perfect timing! You don’t get much daylight in the UK in winter anyway…

IC – And didn’t we have bad snow?

NC – Yes, thick snow in places but it all depended on the terrain. Conditions were atrocious. Probably 3-4 foot snow in places. It was up to my chest at times. It was cold, wet and miserable. A great experience but I pulled the plug as it was become too extreme. I had been severely cold for ages; I couldn’t feel my feet. I had someone with me all the time but on the ridges and open places it was extreme. You couldn’t see 3-5 feet at times so the help of others was essential. It is what makes it so unique. You put your head down and go for it.

IC – Sounds like perfect preparation for the SkyRun! I’m sure you are aware that the 2013 edition of the race was the worse conditions they ever had. It was the first time in the 16-year history that they cancelled mid-race. Visibility was zero, runners were hypothermic… I can see the BGR being a great prep. The race takes place in the SW corner in the Witteberg Mountains, Ryan Sandes holds the CR in just over 12:30. Michael the RD is putting up a $10,000 prize purse for anyone who can break 12 –hours

NC – I didn’t get that memo! Wow, that is definitely worth going for. Very motivating. I think I am going to have to do more research.

IC – When I spoke to Michael, he did say that GPS units are allowed and they would provide a GPX track. The hitch is, the track is 4-5 years old. It’s valid of course but the local guys… AJ Calitz, Iain Don Wauchope (maybe Ryan Sandes) they will know a few shortcuts, so, a little pre race map time will be required.

NC – Yes, you are correct. Locals will have an advantage but I will just do what I can. Importantly I think I will make sure I am on someone’s heels who knows the way.

IC – A good tactic!

NC – Yes, oh yes and then we can have a 5k race at the end.

IC – The race description says… grading is difficult to extreme, depending on temperatures it may be very extreme. Expect 13-36 hours to complete. A massive difference! The field isn’t huge, just 250-people, one of the advantages that we have this year is along with yourself we do have other International Elite runners joining. Gary Robbins from Canada will join us and we will add 4-more. I guess one big bonus is that this trip is open to 14 to 16 runners to join us. What aspects of this are you looking forward to?

NC – Listening to all that I just think wow, once in a lifetime deal. For me it is about soaking it all up and experiencing everything to the full. I’ve never been on a reserve, the mountains will be incredible and the whole experience sounds immense.

IC – Do you know the area Nick or will this be an open eye experience.

NC – I know the Drakensberg Mountains but I know little else to be honest; that is what makes this trip so attractive. I think it what will appeal to everyone.

IC – Gary Robbins will join us, he was out in Japan with you but he had an injury. You guys have gone head-to-head before; you know each other well? Gary has a strong adventure racing background that will work well in SA!

NC – Oh yeah, for sure!

IC – Do you think looking at yourself you will be at a disadvantage? I know you have Western States coming up so I guess you will focus on SkyRun after.

NC – WSER is in June. I will get that out of the way, I am on a training block for that at the moment after a 2-week rest block post UTMF. I actually go to Gary’s race in August, the Squamish 50 in British Columbia. I have other projects planned that will definitely work well for November. I will be in the mountains doing off trail routes, so all will be good. I plan to be out in remote terrain so this will be perfect for South Africa.

IC – It’s an exciting prospect. Pretty sure we will catch up after WSER and it will be great to discuss how you prepare for SkyRun and if you work out how to use a GPS…

(Laughter)

NC – Thanks, a pleasure to chat and thanks for the support. I turned 40-today, so Western will be my first ‘masters’ race.

end

Credits:

Images – ©Trautman/Nikon/Lexar

Images – ©Kolesky/ Nikon/ Lexar

or iancorless.com

Race Website – HERE