Ryan Sandes sets new FKT

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Trail-Blazer Sandes sets Table Mountain FKT challenge

Cape Town (South Africa) – Almost a year to the day after he and Ryno Griesel set the record for the Drakensburg Grand Traverse (in a lightning-fast time of 41h 49m), Ryan Sandes decided it was time for a new challenge. In 02h02m13s, Sandes set the ‘Fastest Known Time’ for 15.1km route (with 1070m ascent and 949m decent) across Cape Town’s famed Table Mountain.

Press release by Kelly Burke – Flux

Mention the name ‘Ryan Sandes’ and it immediately conjures thoughts of the ultimate trail runner adventuring through breath-taking landscapes. Not one to lie back and take it easy, Sandes’ decided to be the first to set the Table Mountain record.

Having started out at 6:30 am at Suikerbossie Restaurant, Ryan ventured his way across the sandstone and fynbos checking through 3 designated points before finishing at SAN Parks Information Centre on Lower Tafelberg Road.

“Anything under 50km is a bit of a sprint for me so racing a route under 16km was a shock to my system, “ Sandes joked. “I felt really good, and really enjoyed myself on the route as it is super technical.”

“I’ll definitely have another crack at the FKT when I get another chance this year as I would like to go under two hours. I think that is the beauty of the project – runners can challenge themselves and run the route a couple of times to try better their times.”

FKT chasing has become somewhat of a phenomenon in the ultra-running world over the last few years. Essentially, an FKT is a course record for a given distance on a trail, usually set on trails where a race with many participants would be detrimental to the area.

Would-be contenders should head to http://www.redbull.co.za/FKT where they’ll be able to pit themselves up against Sandes’ time using any GPS device or the Strava App. A simple registration process and uploading the GPS data from their run is all that stands in the way of getting their name on the Table Mountain FKT leader board.

Just by running the route and uploading their result they stand a chance of joining Sandes’ support team as he travels to compete in the Grande Raid Réunion in October. The race, set on the picturesque volcanic isle, is arguably the world’s toughest 100 miler, with over 10 000m of climbing.

“Get out there, hit the mountain and push past what you think is possible! It’s more about challenging yourself and taking in the beauty that the mountain has to offer. I’ve had the opportunity to run all over the world and what we have in Cape Town is pretty special,” says Sandes.

Image copyright Craig Kolesky

For more information regarding the route and to see the current leader board please visit the website – http://www.re

Ryan Sandes goes back to his roots

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©craigkolesky

Trail running extraordinaire, Ryan Sandes, who by the way is currently leading the Ultra Trail World Tour (UTWT) rankings, is going back to where it all began and will be taking part in RacingThePlanet’s seventh Roving Race, on the picturesque island of Madagascar from the 31st of August 2014 to the 6th of September 2014.

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“I am really excited to be travelling to Madagascar for the first time, to take part in Racing the Planet Madagascar. This is going to be an epic experience with lots of wild life and some pretty crazy conditions,” says Ryan. “As this is a self-supported multi day race I will need to get used to running with a 7-9kg backpack again. I have taken a 4 week break after Western States 100, so I am feeling well rested and looking forward to the next adventure.”

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Starting from the beaches of the Indian Ocean, the course follows the coast along white sandy beaches, lush green rice paddies and across vast savannah. It includes Baobab trees, red and grey limestone formations known as Tsingy and a mixture of flora and fauna found only in Madagascar. The format of the course follow is the same as previous races in the 4 Deserts Race Series – 250km, 7 day, 6-stage completely self-supported endurance race.

Madagascar, sometimes known as the Eighth Continent, is the world’s fourth largest island. As with previous RacingThePlanet races that Ryan has taken part in, on day’s 1 to 4, competitors will run 40km each day, then have a long day on day 5 – 80km – and a short 10km sprint on the last day for the final finish line.

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With temperatures averaging between 30-40°C accompanied by humidity, Ryan should be in his comfort zone. Approximately 250 competitors from 40 countries around the world will compete, made up of roughly 80% male and 20% female competitors. The race leaders are expected to complete the race in around 26 hours, with the slower competitors taking up to 70hours. For more info on the race please visit the race website or follow Ryan Sandes and Facebook and Twitter.

Ryan was kind enough to forward d me the excellent photo at the header of this post.

‘Here’s a photo you are welcome to use of me running with crocs. Credit is Craig Kolesky. See you soon!’ Ryan Sandes

I asked Ryan, ‘Is it a real situation or a photo comp?’

His reply, ‘No it’s real;-) we put Perspex on water for me to land on but I was nervous – the crocs weren’t too big though. Only big enough to eat my leg, not my whole body;-)’

We wish the ‘Sandman’ all the very best on his journey back in time.

TRAVAILEN – Film Review. Ryan Sandes and Ryno Griesel’s Drak Traverse

Travailen screen capture ©theAfricanAttachment ©RedBull_564

Travailen screen capture ©theAfricanAttachment ©RedBull_564

‘Travailen’ – To make an arduous journey

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.

Travailen screen capture ©theAfricanAttachment ©RedBull_564

Travailen screen capture ©theAfricanAttachment ©RedBull_564

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.

Travailen screen capture ©theAfricanAttachment ©RedBull_564

Travailen screen capture ©theAfricanAttachment ©RedBull_564

‘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 GrieselKelly Burke, Dean Leslie, Greg Fell, Red Bull and The African Attachment for the opportunity to see an advance copy of Travailen.

Links:

TAA logoRed Bull Logo

 What Red Bull have to say:

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.

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

Scott Jurek – Leadville 100 pre race interview

Image taken from scottjurek.com ©scottjurek

Image taken from scottjurek.com ©scottjurek

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.

Image taken from scottjurek.com ©scottjurek

Image taken from scottjurek.com ©scottjurek

IC – Absolutely.

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.

Image taken from scottjurek.com ©scottjurek

Image taken from scottjurek.com ©scottjurek

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?

(Laughs)

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?

(Laughter)

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.

(Laughter)

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!

LINKS:

Scott Jurek website HERE 

Brooks HERE

Eat and Run HERE

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Ryan Sandes out of Western States

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In an unfortunate turn of events, ultra-marathon trail runner Ryan Sandes has sadly had to withdraw from the 2013 Western States 100 miler being held in Squaw Valley, California next month.

“On a training run on Tuesday afternoon this week, I unfortunately rolled my ankle rather badly. The post-MRI diagnosis is a partial tear to one of the ligaments in my ankle. Although it’s not a serious injury, and doctors expect me to be up and running again in about 4 to 6 weeks, I have had to make the tough decision of pulling out of the Western States 100 miler,” explains Ryan. “I am really disappointed as my training has gone so well this year and I was so looking forward to racing the WS100 after my tummy bug mishap in Australia. After 6 years of mostly injury-free racing, I can’t complain and will be back on the trails again soon!”

The next race on Ryan’s calendar will be the Run Rabbit Run 100 miler in Steamboat Springs, Colorado on the 13th of September 2013. This is the 2nd year the 100 miler race will be run, alongside the usual 50miler race, and has already drawn big names like Timothy Olsen, winner of the 2012 Western States 100miler.

Good luck Ryan!

Ryan Sandes – Trans Gran Canaria

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“Howzit”

“I’m good Ryan, it’s great to finally meet up”

Ryan Sandes in Europe is quite a treat and for sure, the runners on Gran Canaria appreciate it.

Our first meeting is in a secluded mountain campsite. Ryan has arrived from South African heat so the chill in the air is noticeable by the several layers he is wearing. Our initial chat is purely a catch up about mutual friends and who is doing what. But then over dinner we discuss the season ahead and what it holds.

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We discuss the pitfalls of too much racing and too much training and Ryan explains that the end of February, beginning of March is still VERY EARLY in the season. His decision therefore to move from the 119km race and enter the 83km seems logical.

Ryan very much carves his own niche in the ultra world. Maybe the ‘isolation’ of South Africa allows him to do this? But what is for sure is that this guy nows exactly his strengths and weaknesses and knows how to maximise what he has.

“My first marathon was like teenage sex… it wasn’t pretty”

Ryan explains at a talk/ video presentation at the H10 hotel in Meloneras on the southern coast of the island. He has a great story, an ex rugby player who stopped growing and decided to move sports… He ran a marathon, it wasn’t pretty but somehow picked up the bug. He wanted a challenge and thought big! So big he chose a multi stage race in the Gobi desert.

Why did he choose it?

“Well the Gobi desert sounded like a cool place to go but to be honest, I didn’t even know where it was let alone a multi day race. But I gave myself six months, trained hard and amazed myself by winning the race”

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Quite amazing. That natural ability came through and he then went on to win all the ‘four’ desserts.

2010 4 DESERT CHAMPION AND ONLY COMPETITOR TO WIN EVERY STAGE OF EACH OF THE 4 DESERT RACES (www.4deserts.com)

Always looking for a challenge he needed to test himself against the best in the world, at the time this ‘stage’ for ultra running was America. Paced by team mate, Anna Frost, Ryan ran Leadville 100 in 2011 and won it! Suddenly the North American runners started to take notice.

Results 2011

2011 The North Face 100 Australia – 3rd

2011 The Salomon Zugspitz Ultra – 4th

2011 Leadville 100 Mile Trail Run – 1st in 3rd fastest time in history

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In 2012 all attention was focused on Ryan as he moved to the ‘Big Dance’ Western States 100. After a win at Vibram Hong Kong 100km Ultra (new record) and The North Face 100 in Australia what would Ryan do… many thought that ok, yes, he won Leadvillie and yes, no doubt he is a good runner. But this is Western Sates!

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An usually cold year at the Big Dance produced the fastest year on record with Timothy Olson setting a new bar for the 100 mile race. But pushing him all the way was Ryan. Ryan crossed the line in 2nd place also breaking the old course record set by Geoff Roes.

Results 2012

2012 Vibram Hong Kong 100km Ultra – 1st in new record

2012 The North Face 100 Australia – 1st

2012 Western States 100 Miler USA – 2nd in 2nd fastest time in history

2012 Fish River Canyon Trail – 6h 57min ( record time )

The Fish River Canyon was a personal project… a fastest known time attempt. He had tried the ‘fish’ before and as he explained at his talk;

“I looked at the distance and thought, no problem. I just wasn’t prepared for the severity of the course. It chewed me up and spat me out”

Returning to the Canyon in 2012 he put the demons to rest and as his video shows, he tamed the beast that had chewed him up.

The Beauty of the Irrational

So how will Ryan perform at Trans Gran Canaria in 2013? Well for sure, he is going to be competitive. However, he does have ‘Wonder Kid’ Philipp Reiter to race against plus plenty of other talent. Very often in these events the focus is on the ‘main’ event. At Trans Gran Canaria that is the 119km race. With Sebastien Chaigneau and Miguel Heras on the start line of the 119km, a classic race is in the making, but don’t forget the little brother, I think this year spectators and followers of ultra racing are going to get a 2 for 1 deal.

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You can see images from my photo shoot with Ryan HERE

Ryan Sandes website HERE

You can check out the race website HERE

Follow the race on Facebook HERE

TNF Trans Gran Canaria – Pre Race

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It was a cold night in the mountains… the hot temperatures on the coast at lunch had disappeared. Wrapped under four blankets and still fully dressed during the night we emerged to a glorious new day.

As the sun rose so did the temperature. It wasn’t really hot but hey, it was warm enough. A couple of hours on the trails to allow me to capture images, that is all I needed. I love the light in the mountains. It’s warm and at this time of the year the sun is low in the sky providing some strong directional light.

Gran Canaria has some incredible trails and when you put Ryan Sandes, Philipp Reiter and Trailschnittchen Julia Böttger on them and only good things can come of it.

Philipp was like a wound up cork, he literally hasn’t run for 3 months. He has been skiing. It didn’t affect him, he shot up the trail immediately and we chased. What followed was a series of memorable moments on some incredible trail. Here is a highlight but you can see all the images HERE.

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Our morning fun over we left for the coast at midday. A leisurely lunch of fresh seafood and salad with views of the beach. The break over and another short journey, we arrived at what can only be referred to as a palace. Our hotel for 2 nights, the H10. In incredible hotel.

Ryan Sandes did a talk and presented a video of his Fish River Canyon run. It was a really enlightening and informal chat… I have to say, Ryan came out with some great quotes:

“My first marathon was like a teenager having sex… It wasn’t pretty!”

“I enjoy the mental aspect of ultra trail races. Immense highs and lows. I’ve learnt lots about myself. But it’s about enjoyment. I really respect those runners that take twice as long to complete the race than I do…. But, they get better value for money!”

“Lots of foot prints on the trail, do you follow them or do you make your own?”

So as our first day draws to a close it’s time to make the most of the H10 hotel and take advantage of a wonderful dinner laid on for us by the management.

Ryan Sandes website HERE

Philipp Reiter website HERE

Julia Bottger website HERE

The TNF Tran Gran Canaria website HERE