This is Episode 114 of Talk Ultra and we have two interviews from Western States – Ladies champion Kaci Lickteig and the incredible Jim Walmsley who looked to break all WSER records only to go off course at 92 miles. We also speak with Joanna Williams, the outright winner from South Africa’s Richtersveld Transfrontier Wildrun. We have the news, ultra chat and Ryan Sandes co-hosts!
Andrew Miller 15:39
Didrik Hermansen 16:16
Jeff Browning 16:30
notable Paul Giblin from UK 5th 16:53
Kaci Lickteig 17:57 4th fastest lady ever
Amy Sproson 18:54
Devon Yanko 19:10
00:27:42 INTERVIEW KACI LICKTEIG
RICHTERSVELD TRANSFRONTIER WILDRUN
Joanna Williams 22:23:01
Tobias Mews 22:42:00
Dawid Kaswarie 23:07:34
Daniel Meyes 25:18:20
Linda Doke 25:43:52
John Cuff 26:41:19
Ryno Bakkes 26:52:04
Elisabet Barnes 27:01:56
Christiaan Vorster 27:23:19
Stephen Cunliffe 28:23:19
01:04:45 INTERVIEW with JOANNA WILLIAMS
BIG RED RUN
Elisabet Barnes 19:47:39
Jamie Hildage 20:54:34
Andy Dubois 21:25:02
Top 3 ladies:
Elisabet Barnes 19:47:39
Helen Durand 23:35:04
Anna Bennett 25:54:10
Top 3 men:
Jamie Hildage 20:54:34
Andy Dubois 21:25:02
Braddan Johnson 22:29:18
*Audio for Big Red Run to follow in the next show
Andy Symonds 12:15:06 new CR
Gediminas Grinius 12:23:06
Javi Dominguez 12:36:45
Andrea Huser 14:32:39
Uxue Fraile 15:13:09
Fernanda Maciel 15:20:57
MONT BLANC 80K
Caroline Chaverot 11:40 (winner Transgrancanaria)
Diego Pazos 10:52 (3rd at Transgrancanaria)
David Norris 41:26 broke KJ’s record from last year by 22 secs
Christy Marvin 51:02
Denali Forager Stabel
WMRA in Slovenia
Annie Conway from UK world champ! ahead of Antonella Confortola and Lucija Krkoc
Alessandro Rambaidini beat Marco De Gasperi and Mitja Kosovelj
Robert Young of the U.K. appears to have succumbed to a foot injury somewhere around Indianapolis, falling short in his attempt at a Guinness world record for the transcontinental run. The tracker has not moved since June 17. Though no concrete resolution was reached on the claims of cheating, the run’s final week was mired in controversy and is likely to remain a polarising topic? “Skins’ are investigating… HERE
Timmy Olson – American Tarzan…. Discovery Channel HERE“When Tim gets low on energy, he goes into his trademark “Animal Mode,” and enters the “Pain Cave” to get through it – training which will serve him well in the jungle!”
Coming up – Hardrock 100, High Trail Vanoise, Dolomites SkyRace and the Skyrunning World Champs
It was never going to be easy. Making an arduous journey never is, however, the Drakensberg Traverse has a history and in the opening minutes of this 30-minute visual candy, we are introduced to that history, not only in words but mages.
Ryan and Ryno explain the process of how they met at the Salomon SkyRun years earlier and how a seed was planted, a seed that would grow and blossom into the Drak Traverse.
It’s in the early section of the film that we are treated to an explanation of the challenge through an array of images accompanied by short interviews
Gavin & Lawrie Raubenheimer pioneered the trail in 1999 (104hrs 39min) and established a benchmark (and route) that must include the 6-peaks under self-sufficiency. Previous record holder, Stijn Laenen excitedly discusses the ‘Drak’ and how difficult a speed attempt will be. But ultimately, one of the most important characters is Cobus Van Zyl, a large man with a deep authorative voice. Cobus held the current record which he set with Ryno, but he shows no jealousy, no hint of contempt; in actual fact it is the contrary. Cobus actually becomes involved in the whole process, helping recce the route, plan logistics and during the attempt, Cobus is the ‘pin’ back at HQ following the tracker.
Ryan speaks softly and shows vulnerability throughout the whole film. He may well be a superstar with a list of palmarès to confirm his ascendance in the sport in such a short space of time. However, we see none of that in this film… no previous glories, no back slapping… in actual fact, the back slapping comes from Ryno who almost places Ryan on too high a pedestal.
‘I felt super vulnerable, out of my depth and out of my comfort zone’
Ryan tells us in the middle section of the movie where we are introduced to the extremities that the Drakensberg can throw at anyone. On the third day of a fast-pack attempt; Ryno, Cobus and Ryan are confronted by extreme weather and Ryan pulls the plug amongst snow-covered fields. One has to remember, Ryan is new to running, let alone extreme running and it becomes very clear in these moments, that although Ryan may very well be the vehicle of the film, this attempt would not be possible without the knowledge and experience of Ryno and Cobus. Ryan has no façade, he has no bravado, and he tells it like it is…
‘If things go wrong, I don’t think I’d be capable of looking after myself.’
Footage of the actual record completes the final third of the film and for me; the process of reducing 41hours 49mins of record-breaking time into approximately 11-12 minutes is where the true miracle happens. I know only too well as a photographer how protective I can become of images and moments. Dean Leslie and the crew at The African Attachment work wonders. It’s like a wonderfully crafted piece of music that actually takes instruments away, rather than adding, to make the whole piece larger, greater and more memorable. Switching for arial vistas and close ups; the story is told in a series of bold moments that encompass key moments during the traverse.
‘If I am not ready now, I never will be’
Ryan rushes to prepare in the final moments before the midnight start. At the stroke of 12, they depart into the night. Climbing metal ladders running through the night, head torches are replaced by the arrival of the sun.
Back at base, Cobus and Cindy Van Zyl follow Ryan and Ryno; they monitor each step via trackers.
‘You realize how quickly things can go wrong, how vulnerable they are… if you need to escape, it’s at least 6-hours hard hiking!’
Exhausted by the heat, Ryan and Ryno reach Cleft Peak at 08:39 and run on. Dreaming of milkshakes they become dehydrated and face the demons of trying to refuel at night at Giant’s Pass.
‘If you don’t get your nutrition right you will fail and you will simply stop’
Tired, exhausted and lacking concentration they move on into the night. Trying to sleep is almost impossible. The dawn of a new day shows us the impact of the terrain, the beauty, the magic and the splendor of the traverse. Here words aren’t required and the mix of visual and music takes us to a new level. This is more than a running movie. It’s art.
‘It’s about doing things that make you happy and doing it because you want to.’
Bushman’s Neck Border Post 5:49pm with 205km’s covered, Ryan and Ryno approach a Red Bull arch. It’s the first glimmer of the real world and the brand that made this attempt possible. No crowds, no razzamatazz, just a few friends and family…
‘Just a short run in the Drakensberg Mountains,’ Ryan says to camera.
As the film closes, quite rightly, respect is given to the history of the Drakensberg Traverse via visual snaps:
Cobus & Ryno
Andrew Porter (successful solo attempt and record)
Stijn & Andrew
Gavin & Lawrie
Travailen is not your usual showboating movie about running. It’s a honest piece. It shows vulnerabilities and how we overcome them. Egos and reputations are dismissed into a collective gathering of skill and experience. It’s a spiritual journey that I am sure will live on within each of those involved.
As a movie it is a visual feast handled with great skill by Dean Leslie and the team at the African Attachment. The blending and fading of subtle music provides a wonderful and balanced atmospheric to the pain and struggle of Ryan and Ryno. For such a tough challenge, the movie is a calm and tranquil homage to a very tough, rugged and gnarly mountain range. The characters involved, maybe it’s the South African accents, blend with the nature providing a wonderful silky smooth experience.
Runner or not, Travailen holds joys and pleasure for all. The film previewed on May 29th at The Labia, Cape Town. The film will be available for public release, however, the date has not yet been made available. I will update as and when appropriate.
READ MY DRAK TRAVERSE INTERVIEW WITH RYAN SANDES HERE
Thanks and credits:
I’d like to thank Ryan Sandes, Ryno Griesel, Kelly Burke, Dean Leslie, Greg Fell, Red Bull and The African Attachment for the opportunity to see an advance copy of Travailen.
The visually epic tale of Ryan Sandes and Ryno Griesel’s Drakensberg Grand Traverse record.
At midnight on Monday, March 24 2014, trail runners Ryan Sandes and Ryno Griesel set off into the darkness from Witsieshoek car park. Their goal: to complete the 210 kilometreDrakensberg Grand Traverse – the mother of all Drakensberg hikes – faster than anyone had before.
To rightfully claim the title they had to travel on foot, carrying all their own gear without receiving any form of support along the way. It was just them against the mountain elements. Against the clock.
Travailen is the thrillingly visual tale of their attempt. Dean Leslie, Director for Travailen, gives us some insight into the toughest assignment the The African Attachment have ever taken on.
At 00h00 on Monday, 24 March 2014, trailblazers Ryan Sandes and Ryno Griesel embarked on the ultimate Drakensberg adventure – the Drakensberg Grand Traverse. The two battled the elements and intense fatigue to break the existing record by an incredible 18 hours to complete the traverse in 41 hours and 49 minutes on 25 March 2014.
Spanning parts of the Free State and Kwa-Zulu Natal provinces of South Africa, as well as the mountain kingdom of Lesotho, the unmarked route has broken many an adventurers heart with only 3 official records set since the route was first run 15 years ago. The previous Drakensberg Grand Traverse (DGT) record, of 60 hours 29 mins, was set by Griesel and Cobus van Zyl.
A tired, but remarkably upbeat, Ryan Sandes was elated at completing the attempt and achieving a new record. “This attempt started as a seed more than 2 years ago…to have finished it now feels quite surreal. We felt good from the start & knew if the weather held, we would have a great chance of breaking the record. However, until you cross the line, you can’t be too sure. There were a few anxious moments when I tweaked my ankle 2 hours into the attempt & I was worried that it might mean the end so soon. Running through the night was challenging at some of the more technical parts, but it really helped to have Ryno there. He knows the mountain like the back of his hand & it was reassuring to have someone so experienced with me.”
Griesel was equally complimentary of his teammate. “Ryan has got to be the best runner in the world when it comes to these conditions. Running the DGT, as opposed to speed hiking, takes a greater toll on your body than I realised. I became dehydrated during the first day and had a couple of tough hours, but Ryan pushed us through it and kept me going.” When asked how he was feeling, Griesel summed it up in one word: ‘Privileged’. “It was such an incredible experience to see this dream of ours realised after years of planning and to enjoy so much support from friends, family & strangers from around the world.”
In order for the attempt to be official Sandes and Griesel had to start and the Sentinel Car Park and end at the Bushman’s Neck Border Post. As there is no set route for the DGT, one can choose any route to do so as long as one passes eight checkpoints along the way including The Chain Ladders, the Mont-aux-Sources summit at 3282m and the highest of the all the summits (and the highest point in Southern Africa) Thabana Ntlenyana Summit at 3482m.
Both of the athletes cited the sunrise from this summit as something that would stay with them forever. As Griesel said, “The sunrise this morning from Thabana was a special moment and we both stopped for a few seconds to appreciate the view. It was both inspiring & humbling to greet the day from such a vantage point.”
Part of the equipment the athletes carried was a mobile tracking system that tracked their movements across the mountains. This data was fed into an interactive website – http://www.redbull.co.za/draktraverse – that tracked distance, time against previous record and conditions live. The site attracted more than 20 000 visitors from all over the world over the course of the event and users were able to show their support for the athletes by sharing live data from the site.
With his DGT record in the bag, Sandes now has his sights set on Ultra Trial Mount Fuji in April, before he comes back to South Africa to participate in the Wings for Life World Run in Franschhoek in May.
Scott Jurek, Leadville 100 2013, pre race interview
It has been some years since Scott Jurek lined up on a 100-mile start line, but he is back! After some time away from competitive running, Scott has recently got married, wrote a book and successfully promoted that book all over the world. He will be 40 in October and although he admits that he may not race competitively for too much longer, he does say he has some good racing left in him…
IC – I am joined by Scott Jurek just days ahead of Leadville 100. Welcome back Scott.
SJ – Thanks Ian it is great to be here.
IC – Scott Jurek lining up on a 100-mile start line causes some interest and we are all wondering what is tempting you back. What is bringing you back to a 100-mile start line again?
SJ – I always had it in the back of my mind to come back to Leadville after I ran here in 2004 as part of the ‘Grand Slam’. Now that I live in Colorado it made perfect sense to run the home course so to speak. I am looking forward to getting back in the swing. I have been very busy for a few years with my book and I had a ton of effort prior to its release to get that done. It has been fun training hard and getting up high again. Leadville is a great race. It has lots of excitement around it. I have done Western States so many times that it made sense to come back to a race that I had not been at for almost a decade.
IC – Is Leadville the start of something new or is this is a one-off?
SJ – Laughs, new as in racing 100’s again?
IC – Exactly.
SJ – I have mentioned before that I will retire. I turn 40 in October. I have a few more goals and I know many people would love to see Scott Jurek race forever. I love to race, I love the sport, and you know it is almost twenty years now since I started. At some point, maybe next year I will wind things down. I have goals, particularly the 24-hour, I want the American record back and I am interested in the world record. We have so many great races now that it is hard to know what to do. I have a few more in me and I want to give it a go!
IC – You mentioned twenty years in the sport. We look back at your career, nobody questions your ability, multiple wins at Western States, in many ways you have created the community and the sport, not single-handed, other people obviously were influential. Do you feel the sport has moved on, although 40 is not old do you feel that at 40 you can’t be competitive anymore?
SJ – It’s a great question. Look at Western States this year! Mike Morton came back after a long hiatus and he was up at the front, he is in his 40’s. He had an incredible race. I believe that we only have so many great races and great years. I want to continue to have a great taste for the sport. I don’t want to burnt out. I want to be involved, help out and run for fun as a mid-packer. From a competition point of view, I would be lying, particularly if you look at research that it is hard to be at the top of the game. My body feels great but mentally it is hard to get out of the door sometimes. Day after day, month after month, particularly if you want to win. You come to a point, maybe it’s physical or mental, but we know muscles and nerves don’t react as quick, so, it’s definitely one of those things. I don’t limit myself but it does get harder, Scott Jurek is getting older and the field is getting younger and younger. I started in my 20’s; it is different to starting in your 30’s.
IC – Yes, you must look back now over you’re career and think to yourself that you are in a great place. You were setting the standard, you have seen the sport grow and expand. Ultra has never been stronger. We have never had so many races. We have never witnessed so many new CR’s. It must be satisfying?
SJ – It’s great. I came into the sport and I remember the old timers saying, ‘things are changing, we need to keep it the same’. I think like anything we have evolution and change, it’s a great thing for the sport. Of course we have some issues. Races are harder to get into. Twenty years ago you could enter Leadville at the last minute, not now! We have drawbacks but we have so many benefits. People are inspired and have great life experiences. We need to share what we have. Obviously we hold on to tradition and the simple aspects of the sport that make it special. More changes will come; prize money, competition and hopefully we will see more drug testing. At the core the sport will remain the same. I want to be involved in that even if I am not racing at the top level. It is something I have life experience with and I want to make sure that is passed on.
IC – I posted on Facebook asking, were people excited Scott Jurek was racing at Leadville. Of course we had great comments and support. Funnily enough, within twenty-four hours I found out that Ann Trason was toeing a 100-mile start line in September, so there is hope you may continue… we never thought Ann would run again.
SJ – I have known Ann for years particularly in her peak. She retired through injury. I think from what I have heard that Ann has a great attitude. She was even pacing at Western States this year randomly. That is a true champion. I am not sure what her goals are. Will she race or is she racing for fun? She may want to be part of the community. She was a competitive force. It’s just great to see her back out in the community. She also race directed for a few years. It’s a great sign; it is what the sport is about. It is about giving back. We all love to see champs come back and win but maybe Ann does not have that desire, it’s just super to see her back.
IC – One thing I did say when I posted was that as far as I was concerned, it didn’t matter if Ann was first or last. What was important was that she was back racing. That was all that counted. You mentioned that you personally don’t want to stop running and that you are more than happy to be a mid-packer. Do you think that Scott Jurek can ever be a mid-packer?
SJ – Definitely. I have gone to races and paced, I have helped at races. I have run an event for the fun; I have run with my wife. For me I have the right approach to it. It is hard sometimes to be a top athlete and not be pushing for the win. It is healthy for me though. It is nice to cruise along, hang out at feed stations and have fun. I am at the point that I can turn off the competitive juices as and when I want to. I am looking forward to doing the events that I haven’t been able to do. I want to do lower key events and that includes International races. It’s a good place to be and it is a good lesson for all, it is not always about goals and PR’s.
SJ – You can get bogged down. Just go out and embrace the experience. That is why we do it isn’t it? Experiences are what count.
IC – You mention competitive juices and Leadville 100 is about to take place. An out and back course in the Colorado Rockies with plenty of altitude and Hope Pass the highest point. Are you going into this to win?
SJ – You bet! I am here to do whatever it takes to run my best time and ideally win this race. I have put in the training. I am mentally prepared. My goal is to win… Ryan Sandes is here from South Africa, he and I ran together a few weeks back. Nick Clark and Ian Sharman are doing the Grand Slam; they may be a little tired. Nick is a Colorado guy, used to altitude and is tough. Mike Aish dropped last year but he may put it right this year. Leadville has no qualifier, you can literally have never run a 10k and sign up. This can throw up some surprises. Someone may turn up and pull it off. It is an exciting race. Many people don’t realize it is our biggest race, 1200 people will toe the line on Saturday. It has loads of excitement and fun because of the out and back; 50 out, 50 back.
IC – Of course you will get to see how the race unfolds on the out and back too. In the past you have paced Anton Krupicka at Leadville, earlier this year you paced Seb Chaigneau at Hardrock 100. Who will pace you at Leadville?
SJ – Well my old buddy Justin will pace, he has paced and crewed for me at Badwater, and Spartathlon he has seen me in some high moments and some low moments. It’s great to have him back. I have a surprise pacer; I wont release that info just yet. It’s a secret. You’ll see at Hope Pass. I went old school with my pacers, guys who have been around for a few years…
IC – Is Ann Trason going to pop up and pace?
SJ – I will give you a clue, not Ann Trason! You have to remember at Leadville you can ‘mule’. Pacers can carry bottles and food and whatever may be required. It is in recognition of the miners who used to use mules. So, a pacer may be carrying three bottles. It’s kind of unique. It makes it harder for the pacer…
IC – Sounds like you have got it easy Scott. The pacer has the tough job.
SJ – Maybe in some respects but they only need to do 25 miles.
IC – Awesome. I am going to let you go. I am taking up precious recovery time getting ready for the race. We will catch up with you after the race and get the lowdown on the action. Obviously on behalf of everyone I would like to wish you all the best. It’s great to see you back on a 100-mile start again.
SJ – I am looking forward to it. It’s gonna be fun and we will catch up after!