Marathon des Sables 2018 #MDS2018 – Stage 5

What a day! The 2018 Marathon des Sables concluded today on the edge of the Mezouga dunes on what will bee remembered as one of the toughest marathon stages in the races history.

The day started at 0700 with the majority of the field departing in strong winds and sand storms. The top 200 departed 90-minutes later also in sand storms.

The winds never eased and for the duration of the day, the runners encountered a full-on headwind all the way to the line.

The course was in comparison to other stages of this years race, a relatively easy one despite some large dunes in the final third. However, the combination of cooler temperatures, relentless wind, and drifting sand made for a tough day.

In reality, the race was over yesterday for the podium places and Rachid El Morabity and Magdalena Boulet were crowned 2018 Marathon des Sables champions. On the day, Magdalena won the final stage in 4:19:39 and Rachid placed 4th in 3:31:41.

The overall men’s final podium stands as:

  1. Rachid El Morabity 19:35:49
  2. Mohamed El Morabity 20:01:28
  3. Merile Robert 20:41:00
  4. Abdelkader El Mouaziz 20:51:59
  5. Gediminas Grinius 21:31:23

Gemma Game from the UK followed up a solid and consistent week placing 2nd on the final stage. 4:29:31 to Magdalena’s 4:19:39. Bouchra Eriksen placed 3rd in 4:30:58 and without doubt has been a revelation this year. Natalia Sedykh won the first three stages, gained a 1-hour time penalty, had very sore knees and stomach issues to have a very tough week in the Sarah. Today she placed 4th in 4:39:25 ahead of the USA’s Jacqueline Mariash in 4:40:22.

The overall female final podium stands as:

  1. Magdalena Boulet 25:11:19
  2. Bouchra Erksen 26:36:00
  3. Gemma Game 27:00:23
  4. Natalia Sedykh 28:26:56
  5. Anna Marie Watson 29:04:43

Of course, the final day is all about emotion and runner’s of all abilities a lifetime goal and achievement. Many a tear is shed on the finish line as Patrick Bauer embraces each and every runner, kisses them on the cheek and places a medal around their necks.

MDS is more than a running race. It is a life changing adventure of 250 km’s with intense highs and lows, elation and pain, laughter and crying. The bonds created in the Sahara are not forgotten. The pain and the joy will be remembered.

Tomorrow, a short stage of 7.7km transitions the runners from the Sahara and back to buses for the journey back to civilisation – a shower, some food, drinks, a bed and clean white sheets. Believe me, everyone has earned it!

Full Results HERE

Marathon des Sables 2018 #MDS2018 – Stage 4

The long day! It’s the day that makes the Marathon des Sables and it is the one most feared by the runners. The 86.4km’s of stage 4 are classic MDS and yes, they are beautiful km’s combining many of the elements that make the Sahara and Morocco so unique. However, soft sand and dunes are not the friend of the long distance runner, particularly when trying to cover distance as quickly as possible.

It was an epic day!

Intense heat during the day with strong winds as sunset came and then a very cold night making most runners wear down jackets to keep warm – it was a tough day for all, Rachid finished in 8:12:05 for the men and Magda 10:29:58 for the women. As I write this, 27-hours have elapsed and runners are still out on the course trying to finish ahead of the 35-hour cut off.

Camp life is key to the MDS – being self-sufficient, carrying everything you need, the only provisions are rationed water and a bivouac (tent) shared with 7 others.

The day started at 08:30 for the masses and 11:30 for the top 50.

Rachid El Morabity and Natalia Sedykh as expected dictated the pace at the front. Rachid consolidating his lead and showing the rest of the elite men who is the boss! It’s quite simple, when it comes to the desert, Rachid is the king. He glides over the terrain, almost floating – he is beautiful to watch. He dictated the day and won with a 20+-minute margin.

For the ladies, Natalia was always going to push and see if she could claw back the 1-hour penalty time and regain the overall lead. By CP1 she had 3-minutes, by CP2 Magda was catching the Russian and then after CP4 it was all over… Natalia broke with the pressure and was forced to ease up eventually finishing 6th on the stage.

For the men, Rachid’s brother, Mohamed, followed in the footsteps of teacher and once again placed 2nd, 8:33:52 to Rachid’s 8:12:05. France’s Merile Robert excelled finishing 3rd 8:43:35 and Lithuanian Gediminas Grinius finishing 4th. The ever-present Abdelkader El Mouaziz had a tough day finishing 5th in 9:19:09.

Magdalena Boulet from the USA showed her strength at long distances and dominated the stage running a clever race firstly behind Natalia and then passing her and running strong all the way to the line in 10:29:58.

With Natalia’s explosion, it was all to fight for for the ladies podium and Bouchra Eriksen once again showed real consistency finishing 3rd ahead of the UK’s Gemma Game, their times 11:22:36 and 11:29:00 respectively. The UK’s Anna Marie Watson had a bad day with stomach issues and finished 9th. This opened the door for The USA’s Emily Kratz and Jacqueline Mariash to finish 4th and 5th in 12:08:49 and 12:24:15.

With the marathon stage tomorrow, the podium looks set with Rachid and Magda the 2018 Marathon des Sables champions.

The long day though is really so much more than discussing the elites who seem to run with ease over the harsh terrain. The day is about all the runners, the mid-packers, the slow, the runner out of their comfort zone, the runner looking for a lifetime achievement, the runner looking for adventure, the runner with a mid-life crisis – the long day changes people and it changes me as I experience their journeys. The lows of a withdrawal at a CP or the highs of a hard fought finish. 

THIS IS THE MDS!

It brings a tear to me eye as I document the journey from early in the day, through the night and into a 2nd day.

I have heard ultra runners say that the MDS is easy. It is not! Trust me, it is not… The cut-off times are generous but ask yourself, running or walking, would you like to be out there for 35-hours?

I am honoured to document this race and I salute all those who tried this year and failed. It is not a failure… trust me! You put yourself on the start line and risked a great deal. You will be back.

For those who fought sleep deprivation, hunger, blisters, the cold, the heat, tired aching muscles and so much more – congratulations. You have achieved something quite incredible this long day. With ‘just’ a marathon to go. The 2018 MDS is on paper, ‘in the bag!’

Full results HERE

Overall GC going into the last official stage:

  1. Magdalena Boulet 20:51:40
  2. Bouchra Eriksen 22:05:02
  3. Gemma Game 22:30:52
  4. Natalia Sedykh 23:47:31
  5. Anna Marie Watson 24:24:21
  6. Rachid El Morabity 16:04:08
  7. Mohamed El Morabity 16:37:30
  8. Merile Robert 17:07:55
  9. Abdelkader El Mouaziz 17:28:08
  10. Gediminas Grinius 17:58:58

Marathon des Sables 2018 #MDS2018 – Stage 2

 

Today, the king and queen of the desert set out their stalls! For Rachid El Morabity, it was a day of showing the rest of the field a clean pair of heals as he slowly but surely pulled away from the field finally finishing almost 10-minutes ahead of his brother and day 1 champion, Mohamed.

For the ladies, 2016 champion Natalia Sedykh was no doubt frustrated and angry after winning stage 1 only to be penalised 1-hour for failing to have a whistle at a kit check post day-1. A penalty was applied and now Natalia must run and race hard each day to make up the time. Today, she gained over 8-minutes on the ladies overall leader, American, Magdalena Boulet.

Day 2 was a tough day for all with relentless soft-sand which made moving tiresome. Throw in a stony and steep climb up Jebel El Otfal and then the fast and sandy descent to the final CP, and it was only really the final 4km’s that was stony, flat and faster.

Day 1 had no drop outs but day 2 was taking it’s toll. Some runners were fighting demons to get to the line but there was some real grit and MDS spirit out there as participants dug in to achieve a lifetime goal.

At the front of the race Mohamed El Morabity trailed his brother to finish 2nd just 45-seconds ahead of Abdelkader El Mouaziz. Aziz Ell Akad finished 4th and Merile Robert 5th.

 The USA’s Magdalena Boulet once again placed 2nd on the stage and looks at home in the sand, Bouchra Eriksen was 3rd ahead of the UK’s Gemma Game and Anna Marie Watson in 5th.

 

  1. Rachid El Morabity 3:04:01
  2. Mohamed El Morabity 3:14:36
  3. Abdelkader El Mouaziz 3:15:16
  4. Aziz El Akad 3:18:34
  5. Merile Robert 3:18:34

 

  1. Natali Sedykh 3:56:08
  2. Magdalena Boulet 4:04:48
  3. Bouchra Eriksen 4:16:08
  4. Gemma Game 4:19:48
  5. Anna Marie Watson 4:19:48

Tomorrow’s stage is 31.6km’s and starts at 0830 with a 10h 30m cut 0ff.

Full results HERE

 

Marathon des Sables 2018 Race Preview #MDS #MDS2018

It is here, the 33rd edition of the iconic Marathon des Sables – 250km, 6 stages over 7 days and over 1000 runners from over 50 countries battling the sand and the heat of the Sahara in a self-sufficient manner.

The MDS is the granddaddy of multi-day racing and with its long history it is still the race that all other multi-day races base themselves on. Patrick Bauer’s vision is as strong today as it was back in the 80’s.

Bauer is not just a race director, he is a passionate man who loves Morocco and the people. The MDS ‘is’ Bauer and without him it is like the band QUEEN touring without Freddie Mercury center stage.

The stats for the race are impressive. They always are.

In 2018, as per usual. The 40-49 age group is the most popular. Yes, it is the mid-life crisis group with 349 males and 72 females toeing the line. The 30-39 group is next with 225 males and 58 females. Surprisingly, the 50-59 group comes in 3rd with a split of 177 to 37 male and female respectively.

The youngest runner is 17yr old Moroccan Ali Zaghloul who will be supported along the route by his father, Mehdi. The youngest female is Sally Wellock from the UK aged 23yrs.

France takes top honors for the oldest male, Jean-Claude Raymond aged 80yrs will look to complete his 12th MDS and Philippa Lloyd from the UK is the oldest female aged 69yrs.

I have to say, I have a soft spot for my good friend Didier Benguigui, this will be his 14th MDS and he is blind. I have seen him over the years overcome great adversity to achieve his medal. He is a true inspiration, he will make you cry – a legend of the MDS!

For those who love stats, believe it or not, the 2018 MDS will be Christian Ginter’s 31st MDS – yes folks, 31st edition – incredible!

ELITE RUNNERS

Female:

Natalia Sedykh returns to the MDS after winning the race in 2016 with a blistering performance. For me, she is the head and shoulders favourite for the 2018 race. She is currently in excellent shape and at the end of 2017 she won the Oman Desert Marathon.

Andrea Huser is a UTWT specialist and one of the strongest runners in the world with a string of incredible performances, be that UTMB or Transgrancanaria. She hasn’t run in the desert before and multi-day racing is a fickle beast. I see her doing well but I don’t think she will have the pace of Natalia.

One lady who will have the pace to take on the Russian is Magdalena Boulet. Magda has won Western States and placed 5th at UTMB. However, like Andrea, she is a desert Virgin and that will be her achilles heel for victory.

Anna Marie Watson can run in the sand, she won Half MDS Fuerteventura and recently placed top-10 at UTMB. She is likely to be a real contender for the podium this year and has trained specifically for the challenge ahead.

Gemma Game was 4th at MDS in 2015 and would have been a likely challenger for Natalia but has decided to ease of the gas for the 2018 race and she plans to have as much fun as possible.

Jax Mariash is a multi-day specialist who will bring her Gobi, Atacama and Namibia experience to Morocco. The question will be, does she have the speed to match the experience?

Also keep an eye on Bouchra Eriksen, Amelia Griffith and Beth Kay.

Male:

Rachid El Morabity is the desert king and you’d be a fool to bet against him. He won Morocco and Peru in 2017 and knows the sand like the back of his hand. He is an amazing runner with a wealth of experience and one of the nicest guys you will ever meet.

Mohamed El Morabity is Rachid’s younger brother and if Rachid was not running, Mohamed would have the nod for victory. He was 2nd in 2017, and he also won the 100km Ultra Mirage in Tunisia.

Abdelkader El Mouaziz won the London Marathon in 1999 and 2001. He has a marathon PB of 2:06:43 – ouch! He is a MDS vet having placed 2nd twice and 7th.

Aziz El Akad is a consistent Moroccan who has finished in the top 5 at MDS on 7 occasions – that speaks volumes!

Gediminas Grinius was new to sand and multi-day at MDS Peru at the end of 2017. The race didn’t start well for him, but he eased into the race and finished strong. I am sure Peru was invaluable for him to fine tweak his prep for MDS Morocco. I expect to see his kit and food fine-tuned and it to be lighter. He is a formidable performer, strong as on ox and never gives in.

Alejandro Fraguela placed 3rd at Half MDS Fuerteventura and that will set him up well for a strong and consistent run in Morocco.

Arnaud Lejeune is maybe the great French hope. However, his lack of desert experience will be against him despite great results at UTMF and a top-10 at UTMB.

Vajin Armstrong from New Zealand is a strong runner and fierce competitor, he’s a sand/ Sahara virgin and has a huge learning curve ahead of him.

Majell Backausen from Australia is also a strong competitor and like Armstrong will have his first desert experience in Morocco.

*Remigio Huaman is on my start list but I am not sure if he will race? If he does, he is a podium and most definitely, top 5 contender.

THE 2018 RACE

Speculation is always rife about the route the race will take and certainly looks like from the very brief description below that the 2018 edition of the race will be similar to 2017. I therefore predict a finish in Merzouga dunes.

For perspective, the 250km distance can be covered at 3km ph with an approximate 83hrs finish time. By contrast, the fleet of foot can cover the distance at 14km ph with a finish time of 18hrs.

For the record, 2017 distances per stage were as follows:

  • Day 1 30.3km
  • Day 2 39km
  • Day 3 31.6km
  • Day 4/5 86.2km
  • Day 6 42.2km
  • Day 7 Charity stage

I think it’s fair to say that the 2018 edition will have similar distances and therefore the key days will be day 2 and of course the long day!

2018 ROUTE OVERVIEW

Stage 1 – The terrain will be flat with a great deal of sand, small dunes and a small climb to the finish.

Stage 2 – Is a longer stage, with a great deal of sand. It will include a climb through a gorge and then a steep descent.

Stage 3 – Starts with a climb followed by small climbs one of which is very steep with a technical passage. This stage includes the first ‘real’ dunes of the 33rd MDS.

Stage 4 – The dreaded long day! It’s going to be a tough day with a great deal of sand. It includes two passages through small gorges, a climb up a djebel, a rollercoaster through sand and a technical descent. It’s a day about managing oneself and saving something for the night.

Stage 5 – Is the classic marathon stage with dunes to kick off the day. It’s a day of no major difficulty and it includes sandy oued and small sparse dunes. However, be prepared for the long plateau towards the end.

Stage 6 – Obligatory charity stage and buses will wait for the finishers to return them to civilization.

KEY STATS

Needless to say, key elements of the MDS are the distance, heat, sand and self-sufficiency. The combination of all these elements makes the race a tough one! For safety, each runner is tracked and monitored with a SPOT tracker.

Each runner must carry all the food they require for the journey and the race specifies a minimum per day. This must be adhered to; however, a runner can carry as much food as they like. The downside is the weight. Therefore, the race is all about balancing calories to weight.

The runner must also carry a sleeping bag, sleeping mat (if they wish), any luxuries and they must decide if they carry a change of clothes – many don’t!

Mandatory kit is specified by the MDS organization and this must be carried. It includes:

  • SPOT tracker
  • Knife
  • Compass
  • Whistle
  • Lighter
  • Venom pump
  • Antiseptic
  • Sleeping bag
  • Survival blanket
  • Mirror
  • Salt tablets
  • Light sticks
  • Headlamp

In addition to the above, other items are specified and failure to carry them will incur a time penalty.

The only items provided by the race for each runner is water (rationed) and a bivouac (tent) that holds 8 people.

SCHEDULE REMINDER

April 6 – arrive Morocco

April 7 – Inspection day

April 8 – race start, stage 1

April 9 – stage 2

April 10 – stage 3

April 11 & 12 – stage 4

April 13 – stage 5

April 14 – charity stage

April 15 – free day

April 16 – journey home

FOLLOW

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Twitter @talkultra

Facebook – iancorlessphotography

Talk Ultra Podcast HERE

 

Ultra Mirage© El Djerid #UMED 2018 Race Package

Join Marathon des Sables champions, Rachid El Morabity, Elisabet Barnes and the Ultra Mirage© El Djerid 2017 champion, Mohamed El Morabity for the ultimate 100km desert experience. Soft sand, rocks, small dunes, dried river beds, oasis and a multitude of soft-sand, Ultra Mirage© El Djerid is a single-stage race to test the minds and legs of runners who are looking for a new adventure.

The Ultra Mirage© El Djerid (UMED) is the first 100km Ultra Trail taking place in the stunning Tunisian Sahara Desert. A 20-hour time limit, five checkpoints, medical and technical help to ensure safety, the UMED is open to all runners. Importantly for the fleet of foot, prize money is available totaling 10.000 euros split equally between the male and female fields.

Rachid running at the 2017 MDS Peru which he won.

Tunisia and in particular the area of the Djerid was the background of famous movies including Star Wars and the English Patient just to name a few. The diversity and the beauty of the Djerid makes it a major attraction for tourists from all around the world. Tozeur is the main city of this area, it is very well known for its stunning surroundings with a mixture of Rocky Mountains, valleys, salt lakes and desert dunes and most of all for the generosity of its people.

Elisabet Barnes at the 2017 Marathon des Sables.

“Ultra Mirage© El Djerid 100K’s first edition was full of emotions! It was one of those moments where total strangers gather in a single event to release the best humanity has to offer: friendship, kindness, camaraderie, sport, courage, endurance, perseverance, love, compassion, respect, just to name a few, and all of that in the most amazing surrounding of the Sahara Desert! For 2018, we are looking to build on that outstanding success, organizing a race which will be bigger on all fronts, from the number of runners which should top 300, to a more diverse path and scenery! Hope to see you at the starting line on the 29th of September 2018!!” Amir Ben Gacem, Race Director.

The race will take place on September 29th 2018, and a special package price has been arranged for 350 euro:

  • Domestic flights from Tunis
  • Ground transport
  • 2 nights’ accommodation in a 4* hotel
  • Race entry
  • Race Shirt, cap, bag, medal and certificate

It’s an incredible package at a stunning price. Runners expected to fly into Tunis Carthage Airport (connected to all major European cities) at their own cost. Departure will be on Friday 28th September from Tunis to Tozeur international airport. Return on Sunday 30th September late afternoon.

Planning schedule:

Friday 28th September

16:00 Meeting at Tunis-Carthage Airport

17:30 Departure to Tozeur

18:40 Arrival at Tozeur-Nefta Airport

18:45 Transfer to Hotel

19:00 Check-in / Dinner / Race Briefing

 

Saturday 29th September

05:00 Breakfast opens

05:45 Departure to start line by bus

06:00 Last bus departs

06:30 Arrival at start line / Ultra Mirage village

07:00 Race starts

 

Shuttle buses will assure runners transfer from Ultra Mirage village to hotel every hour.

 

Sunday 30th September

03:00 Race finish

06:00 Breakfast opens

11:00 Closing ceremony

14:00 Transfer to Tozeur-Nefta Airport

16:00 Departure to Tunis

17:10 Arrival at Tunis-Carthage Airport

 

WIN A FREE PLACE

In conjunction with Amir Ben Gacem and Ultra Mirage© El Djerid we are offering readers of this website and listeners to Talk Ultra podcast the opportunity to win a 350-euro package place.

The winner will need to cover return costs to Tunis.

QUESTION:

Name the home planet of Luke Skywalker in the original Star Wars movie?

Race Information and entry

Race website HERE

Enter the race HERE

Facebook page HERE

Lanzarote Training Camp 2018 Day 7

All good things come to an end…!

Today, the 2018 Lanzarote Training Camp concluded with an incredible morning in the soft-sand and dunes of Lanzarote. It was such a great day! The 40 participants of the training camp looked like (and acted like) kids in a sand pitt.

Up, down, around and over.

There was some pretty serious acrobatics and high-flying too. It is amazing how tired legs and bodies were revived after 100+ miles of running in one week still had some energy left.

The morning session was followed with an afternoon discussion about ‘the next steps’ and how to follow on the training camp both physically and mentally.

A final easy run or ‘walking with poles’ session brought the training element of the camp to an end.

Final night festivities will see maybe a few drinks downed, a group meal and dare I say, the Club La Santa disco may well get a visit.

It has been an incredible week. A huge thanks to all the participants who made it so much fun. Obviously, many thanks to Elisabet Barnes, Sondre Amdahl, Tom Evans and Marie Paule Pierson – the 2018 coaches.

Why not join our 2019 Training Camp?

More information HERE

Episode 144 – Darcy Piceu and Anna-Marie Watson

Episode 144 of Talk Ultra brings you an interview with Darcy Piceu after her incredible FKT on the John Muir Trail. We also speak with Anna-Marie Watson who this year placed 7th at UTMB and just recently won the first edition of the Half Marathon des Sables Fuerteventura. Speedgoat is back co-hosting!
*****
Talk Ultra is now on Tunein – just another way to make the show available for those who prefer not to use iTunes – HERE  You can download the Tunein APP HERE
Talk Ultra needs your help! 
We have set up a Patreon page and we are offering some great benefits for Patrons… you can even join us on the show! This is the easiest way to support Talk Ultra and help us continue to create! 
Many thanks to our Patrons who have helped via PATREON
Donate HERE
*****
00:10:24 NEWS
Bear 100
Jeff Browning does it again winning another 100 – very soon after UTMB too. Lars Kjerengtroen 2nd and Timmy Olson 3rd – 18:28, 19:28 and 19:36 respectively.
Hannah Green beat Amie Blackham and Kelsey Bingham – 24:22, 25:50 and 25:54 respectively.
*****
Spartathlon
The legendary 153 mile race was won by Aleksandr Sorokin in 22:04. He set a relentless pace from the off and his time ranks as one of the all time best, of course, Yiannis Kouros holds the fastest times. Radek Brunner was 2nd and Nikolaos Sideridis 3rd, 22:49 and 22:58.
Patrycja Berenzowska won the ladies’ race in 24:47 setting a new CR! Zsuzanna Maraz and Aleksandra Niwinska was 2nd/ 3rd in 25:43 and 26:28.
*****
Ultra Gobi 
The UK’s Dan Lawson blew the race and CR apart with 2 days and 22 hours for 248 miles. Incredible. Dan has also placed 2nd at Spartathlon.
*****
Kilimanjaro FKT
Fernanda Maciel set a new FKT 0f 7:08 for Africa’s highest peak climbing 5895m. Her round trip time was 10:06. Previous best by Anne-Marie Flammersfield was 8:32 and 12:58. Kilian Jornet did hold this record for the outright fastest time but this was bettered by Karl Egloff setting 4:56 and 6:42 for the round trip.
*****
Grand Canyon Rim to Rim FKT
FKT’s are just getting more popular… now Tim Freriks who won Transvulcania earlier this year has set a new bar of 2:39:38 beating Jim Walmsley’s time (Jim helped Tim for this FKT and are friends) – Walmsley still holds the R2R2R record.
*****
John Muir Trail FKT
Hardrock 100 specialist Darcy Piceu (formerly Africa) covered the 223 miles in California to set a new FKT of 3-days, 8-hours beating the previous CR by 12-hours. Notably this was very close the the men’s record and later this year Francois D’Haene will attempt this FKT.
*****
00:31:09 Interview with DARCY PICEU
*****
Ultra Pirineu
Pablo Villa and Maite Maiora produced solid performances at this classic race amongst world class fields. Full results HERE. In the marathon race, Kilian Jornet obliterated the old CR in a super close race and Ruth Croft won for the ladies.
****
Half MDS Fuerteventura
MDS have spread their wings and introduced a new 120km, half-distance event on the island of Fuerteventura in the Canaries. It was won by Peru’s Remigio Huaman and the UK’s Anna-Marie Watson. Full report, results and story HERE.
****
01:35:24 Interview with ANNA-MARIE WATSON
*****
UP & COMING RACES

Andorra

Els 2900 Alpine Run | 70 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

Argentina

La Pachamama 100 km | 100 kilometers | October 15, 2017 | website
La Pachamama 53 km | 53 kilometers | October 15, 2017 | website
La Pachamama 73 km | 73 kilometers | October 15, 2017 | website

Australia

New South Wales

Hume & Hovell 100 | 100 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
Hume & Hovell 50 | 50 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
Washpool/Gibraltar World Heritage Trails 50 km | 50 kilometers | October 15, 2017 | website

Victoria

Great Ocean Walk 100 km Trail Run | 100 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website

Bahamas

50K | 50 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

Canada

Nova Scotia

Valley Harvest Ultra Marathon | 50 kilometers | October 08, 2017 | website

Quebec

Bromont Ultra 160 km | 160 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website
Bromont Ultra 55 km | 55 kilometers | October 08, 2017 | website
Bromont Ultra 80 km | 80 kilometers | October 08, 2017 | website

Croatia

109,8 km | 109 kilometers | October 20, 2017 | website
161.4 km | 161 kilometers | October 20, 2017 | website

Finland

Eastern Finland

Vaarojen Ultramaraton | 86 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

France

Ardèche

Trail noir 58 km | 58 kilometers | October 15, 2017 | website

Aude

Grand Raid des Cathares | 177 kilometers | October 19, 2017 | website
Raid des Bogomiles | 101 kilometers | October 20, 2017 | website

Aveyron

Endurance Trail | 100 kilometers | October 20, 2017 | website

Essonne

Trail du Viaduc des Fauvettes 50 km | 50 kilometers | October 08, 2017 | website

Haute-Corse

A Paolina | 70 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

Haute-Saône

52 km | 52 kilometers | October 08, 2017 | website

Ille-et-Vilaine

51 km | 51 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website

Orne

85 km | 85 kilometers | October 15, 2017 | website

Pas-de-Calais

58 km | 58 kilometers | October 08, 2017 | website

Pyrénées-Orientales

100 Miles Sud de France | 100 miles | October 06, 2017 | website
Grande Traversée Mer Montagne | 110 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

Rhône

55 km | 55 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website

Somme

100 km | 100 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
100 km Relais | 100 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website

Tarn-et-Garonne

50 km | 50 kilometers | October 08, 2017 | website

Germany

Bavaria

Herbstlauf Schloss Thurn Hobbylauf | 87 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website

Greece

Rodopi Advendurun 100 miles | 100 miles | October 20, 2017 | website

Hong-Kong

Prohiker – Round-trip Course | 156 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website

India

Karnataka

110 km | 110 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website
50 Km | 50 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website
80 km | 80 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

National Capital Territory of Delhi

Bhatti Lakes 100 Mile | 100 miles | October 07, 2017 | website
Bhatti Lakes 220 km | 220 kilometers | October 06, 2017 | website
Bhatti Lakes 50 Mile | 50 miles | October 06, 2017 | website

Indonesia

MesaStila 4 Peaks | 65 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website
MesaStila 5 Peaks | 100 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

Italy

Emilia-Romagna

100 km | 100 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
Tartufo Trail 50 km | 50 kilometers | October 08, 2017 | website
Tartufo Trail 66 km | 66 kilometers | October 08, 2017 | website

Friuli-Venezia Giulia

69 km | 69 kilometers | October 15, 2017 | website

Piedmont

120 km | 120 kilometers | October 20, 2017 | website
57 km | 57 kilometers | October 20, 2017 | website
82 km | 82 kilometers | October 20, 2017 | website
Morenic Trail | 109 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

Kenya

Kenya Wildlife 50K | 50 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

Korea

100 km | 100 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
50 km | 50 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website

Morocco

The Saharan Challenge | 52 kilometers | October 12, 2017 | website

Netherlands

Gelderland

Herfst Ultraloop Berg en Dal | 60 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website

New Zealand

100 km | 100 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
100 km Relay | 100 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
50 km | 50 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
74 km | 74 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website

Portugal

180 km | 180 kilometers | October 06, 2017 | website
Azores Triangle Adventure | 103 kilometers | October 06, 2017 | website
Réccua Douro Ultra Trail | 80 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

Réunion

La Mascareignes | 67 kilometers | October 20, 2017 | website
Le Grand Raid | 167 kilometers | October 19, 2017 | website
Trail de Bourbon | 111 kilometers | October 20, 2017 | website

Slovakia

105 km | 105 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

South Africa

Bonitas Golden Gate Challenge | 70 kilometers | October 20, 2017 | website

Spain

Aragon

Long Trail Guara Somontano | 50 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website
Ultra Trail Guara Somontano | 102 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

Castile and León

The Way of Legends | 254 kilometers | October 13, 2017 | website

Valencian Community

Ultra Trail Del Rincon 100 km | 100 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website
Ultra Trail Del Rincon 170 km | 170 kilometers | October 06, 2017 | website

Sweden

Sörmland Ultra Marathon | 50 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

Switzerland

Valais

Les Défis du Jubilé – 52 km | 52 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
Les Défis du Jubilé – 68 km | 68 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
Les Défis du Jubilé – 71 km | 71 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website

Tunisia

Ultra Mirage El Djerid 100km | 100 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

United Kingdom

Cornwall

Atlantic Coast Challenge | 78 miles | October 06, 2017 | website

Cumbria

Lakes in a Day | 50 miles | October 07, 2017 | website

Essex

75 Mile | 75 miles | October 07, 2017 | website

North Yorkshire

“Round Ripon” Ultra Studley Roger | 35 miles | October 07, 2017 | website

Rotherham

Shropshire

The Longmynd Hike | 50 miles | October 07, 2017 | website

Wales

Gower Ultra 50 | 50 miles | October 07, 2017 | website

USA

Arizona

Canyon De Chelly Ultra | 55 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
Cave Creek Thriller 50K | 50 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
Flagstaff Sky Race 55K | 55 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

Arkansas

Arkansas Traveller 100 | 100 miles | October 07, 2017 | website

California

50K Ultra Run | 50 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
Coyote Ridge 50 Km Trail Run | 50 kilometers | October 15, 2017 | website
Cuyamaca 100K Endurance Run | 100 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website
Euchre Bar Massacre 50 M | 50 miles | October 14, 2017 | website
Midnight Express Ultra 72 | 72 miles | October 14, 2017 | website
Skyline to the Sea 50km | 50 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website
Super Tahoe Triple Marathon | 124 miles | October 13, 2017 | website
Tahoe Double Marathon | 52 miles | October 14, 2017 | website
Tahoe Trifecta | 39 miles | October 13, 2017 | website
Triple Marathon | 78 miles | October 13, 2017 | website
Twin Peaks 50 km | 50 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
Twin Peaks 50 Miler | 50 miles | October 14, 2017 | website

Colorado

50K Trail Race | 50 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

Georgia

Relay | 60 miles | October 07, 2017 | website
Running Dead Ultra 100M | 100 miles | October 20, 2017 | website
Running Dead Ultra 50M | 50 miles | October 20, 2017 | website

Illinois

100 Mile | 100 miles | October 07, 2017 | website
50K | 50 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
50 Mile | 50 miles | October 07, 2017 | website
Des Plaines River Tail 50 Miles | 50 miles | October 14, 2017 | website

Kansas

Lake Perry Rocks! 50K | 50 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

Kentucky

100 Mile Run | 100 miles | October 14, 2017 | website

Maine

The Pounder | 50 kilometers | October 15, 2017 | website
The Punisher | 50 miles | October 15, 2017 | website

Michigan

Montana

Le Grizz Ultramarathon | 50 miles | October 14, 2017 | website
Ultramarathon | 50 miles | October 14, 2017 | website

New Jersey

New York

50K | 50 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website
50 Mile | 50 miles | October 07, 2017 | website
Tesla Hertz 100K Run | 100 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website
Tesla Hertz 100 Mile Run | 100 miles | October 07, 2017 | website
Tesla Hertz 50K Run | 50 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website
Tesla Hertz 50 Mile Run | 50 miles | October 07, 2017 | website

North Carolina

Pilot Mountain to Hanging Rock Ultra 50K Run | 50 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
Tuna Run 200 | 200 miles | October 20, 2017 | website
WC-50 Ultra Trail Marathon 50k | 50 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
WC-50 Ultra Trail Marathon 50M | 50 miles | October 14, 2017 | website

Oregon

50K | 50 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website
50K | 50 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
50+K | 54 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

Pennsylvania

50K | 50 kilometers | October 08, 2017 | website
50K | 50 kilometers | October 08, 2017 | website
Lt. J. C. Stone 50K UltraMarathon | 50 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website
Oil Creek Trail Runs 100 Miles | 100 miles | October 14, 2017 | website
Oil Creek Trail Runs 50K | 50 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
Oil Creek Trail Runs 50 Miles | 50 miles | October 14, 2017 | website
Quad State Quad Buster | 46 miles | October 14, 2017 | website

South Carolina

50K Relay | 50 kilometers | October 08, 2017 | website
50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | October 08, 2017 | website
Ragnar Trail Carolinas-SC, Presented by Salomon | 120 miles | October 06, 2017 | website
Swamp Rabbit Urban Ultra 50K | 50 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

Tennessee

Rock/Creek StumpJump 50K Ultra | 50 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

Texas

50 Mile | 50 miles | October 07, 2017 | website

Utah

Pony Express Trail 100 | 100 miles | October 20, 2017 | website
Pony Express Trail 50 | 50 miles | October 20, 2017 | website

Virginia

50K | 50 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
GrindStone 100 | 101 miles | October 06, 2017 | website
The Wild Oak Trail 100 “Hot” TWOT | 100 miles | October 20, 2017 | website

Washington

Baker Lake 50k | 50 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website
Defiance 50K | 50 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website
Ft. Steilacoom 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website

West Virginia

West Virginia Trilogy – Day One 50 km | 50 kilometers | October 13, 2017 | website
West Virginia Trilogy – Day Two 50 Mile | 50 miles | October 14, 2017 | website

Wisconsin

50 Miler | 50 miles | October 07, 2017 | website
Glacial 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | October 08, 2017 | website
Glacial 50M Trail Run | 50 miles | October 08, 2017 | website
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TOM EVANS – Marathon des Sables #MDS 2017 Part One

Captain Tom Evans, placed third at the 2017 Marathon Des Sables in April, it was a complete surprise. Prior to the race, it’s fair to say, Tom had well and truly kept himself under the radar, a skill no doubt honed whilst in the army. British runners have a long history with the MDS and finally, we have one on the male podium!

I caught up with Tom post MDS to find out a little more about his remarkable story.

Ian: Who’s Tom Evans and tell me how this all came about?

Tom: It’s a very surreal experience. I went out with a few small ambitions. My main goal was to go out unknown and see what I could do. There was no pressure on my running so I could just focus on myself, focus on the race. There were no expectations which I think it’s safe to say I managed to achieve. Absolutely no one had any idea who I was on day one.

Ian: [laughs] Well, you achieved that completely. I remember, on day one, I was scooting around the dunes in a jeep, trying to find the runners because you were ahead of schedule. I saw this shadow in the distance. I told my driver to stop. I’m running through the dunes. Then, you come past me. I look and I think, “Who is this? I don’t know who this is.” Then behind was Rachid and Mohamed, the duo were working together, a little like they do in cycling taking turns to set the pace.

They were holding you at 100, maybe 200-meters which they did to the end of stage one but we’ll come on to the actual race and how it panned out later. I called you Captain, you’re obviously in the army. You were out with a whole bunch of soldiers and Walking with the Wounded. You had Duncan Slater out there with you. Just from that perspective, with your performance, Walking with the Wounded, Duncan Slater – it has been an epic Marathon Des Sables, hasn’t it?

Tom: Yes, it’s been amazing. The support that the whole team has received, not just from Walking with the Wounded and serving members of the British Armed Forces, but from so many across the world. We’ve been incredibly lucky this year; the Walking with the Wounded team had raised a lot of money. Like you say, the likes of Duncan Slater for the first double amputee to complete the race – amazing.

Then also we had Oscar who’s 16 years old, he competed with his father. Everyone helps during the race. That was very encouraging throughout. But then also, everyone back home really got behind the team which then led to the successes that Walking with the Wounded had in the race.

Ian: Let’s go back because there’s got to be a starting point. Let’s start with you and your running and then the MDS prep. To prepare for Marathon Des Sables and be non-Moroccan and do well, it normally requires all sorts of specific types of training, whether that is being really anal about kit, working out what type of food you’re going to eat, heat adaptation, how you handle dehydration, and all those things. I’d like to talk to you about that. But first, when did you start running?

Tom: My sister was a good athlete at school. I got slightly jealous of her so I decided that signing up to the Athletics Club was a good idea. That was when I was 13. I raced on the track all throughout school – anything from 70, 100 meters to 5k on the track. I realized that I was a decent, good English runner so I just got pulled in to the cross-country teams. Since being in the army, I’ve had an incredibly busy career and running took a back seat.

However, during 2015, I was based at a posting in Kenya for 10-months. I was lucky and spent a week training at the high-altitude training centre which really got me focused again on my running. Getting back to the UK, I carried on as much as I could but with work commitments, it’s always been difficult to be able to plan out a couple of months in advance of which races I wanted to do.

I’ve always been keen on my fitness and played as much sport as I can. But my running has only been specific for the last six months. I was squeezing everything in as much as I could – my preparations have been fairly rushed. I still see myself as relatively untrained…

Ian: I’ve got a feeling that there’s a lot of runners around the world saying to themselves, “If Tom’s really untrained, what’s going to happen?”

Tom: I think I have to find my distance and to find my passion, for now ultra-trail, that’s where I’ll stick. Hopefully, specific training will then lead on to more great results.

Ian: Like I said, you were a complete unknown but there was a great deal of conversations at MDS about you being a 2;18 marathon runner, aiming for an England vest, wanting to run at the Olympics – what is the truth in that story though? What are the aspirations outside? What you’d like to achieve in ultra and trail? What is your marathon time? What are your objectives, maybe in terms of a GB or an Olympian vest?

Tom: I think for the time being, I’m really going to focus on ultras. Certainly, the next 18-months. It’s always been my ambition to race in the Olympics. My marathon is currently at 2:20, but that was a while ago. I’m hoping with the experience that I’m going to gain in the next 6, 12 and 18-months, that my running will really start to improve. For the moment, I’m doing it because I love the sport.

It’s more than running, It’s the whole community, the preparation. It’s being self-sufficient throughout the race and then also, mixing with the other competitors. It’s a very competitive sport but on the start line, you’re mixing with other people from all over the world – Rachid and Mohamed for example. It’s just that relationship that you can forge over a week-long period which really draws me into ultras, especially multi-day.

Having said that, my ultra-running experience is so limited and I’m sure a lot of the followers will be fairly surprised to read that the MDS was my first multi-day race, so it was completely uncharted territory for me. The long stage of MDS was the farthest I’d ever run by 12-kilometers, ity was all so new.

Ian: Wow.

Tom: It’s just such a huge learning project. I’m so new to that. I’ve got so much to learn and will just be learning as much and as much as I can in the sport.

Ian: Yes, okay. I’m getting a sense that maybe the multi-day type experience is where you will place an emphasis but obviously single-day ultras are also going to figure. Being in the army and the way that Marathon des Sables is organised, is the race just like another army training exercise – Is it just like another military campaign?

Tom: There are certain similarities, I think that’s why Marathon des Sables attracts a great deal of serving and ex-military personnel not only from the UK but also from all across the world. It’s self-sufficient element is classic military and replicates doing something hard – be it a long insertion march or similar, plus you must carry weight. Post the run, it’s about getting yourself back into your tent and then starting to look after yourself, looking after your body, doing all of that, the basic administrations, sorting out your feet, stretching, making sure you’re fully hydrated again, getting your nutrition on – classic army!

This is what really draws everyone closer together, you’re going through that together. You are living in a confined space in a tent with 7 other people and the camaraderie that’s built up over a very short period of time is very similar to the military, which I think is absolutely amazing.

Ian: The process of working out how you were going to spend the week in the desert in terms of your kit selection, your food choices, were they just extensions of what you’ve experienced as a soldier or did you specifically pool information and speak to people to find out what type of equipment to use? It can be a daunting task when you think about this whole self-sufficiency thing and the fact that you’ve got to carry everything that you need. The only thing that you’re being given is water and a shelter for the night and it’s all basic.

Join Tom Evans, Elisabet Barnes and Sondre Amdahl on our Multi-Day Training Camp in Lanzarote – information HERE.

Tom: Yes, I spent a bit of time speaking to lots of people. I was lucky enough to be around for the MDS Expo in London which was excellent. That was my springboard to start my research really – the kit, the foods, the heat training and the hydration strategy that I was going to implement during the race.

I spent a great deal of time testing different kit, my room at home now is full with different backpacks and different pairs of shorts and socks – it can be expensive!

Ian: [laughs]

Tom: It’s important to be specific, my needs are different to others in the race. For example, I completed the whole race quicker than say someone takes to do just the long stage. That is significant! The demands on ones feet, clothing, time on legs, nutrition and so on can’t be underestimated.

Ian: Absolutely.

Tom: It’s very different. It’s a very, very different experience. I started day one with six and a half kilo pack exactly. I had a few comforts, had a nice a nice warm jacket, a good sleeping bag but no roll mat, my food reserves were weighed out and light weight and I probably didn’t carry as many calories as I would have liked and no stove, all my food was cold. But having said that, because I ended up getting in  early during the days, I was able to warm my water up naturally in the sun. It can be a very daunting process, ask a 100-people they’d probably tell you 100 different answers.

It’s important to find out what works for you, what’s comfortable but also assess the race and your goals. Most will walk far more than they anticipate, I was lucky, I ran pretty much the whole race but it’s a very different story once you move out of the top 10%.

Ian: Yes. I’m impressed for a first-timer with the fact that you got your pack down to 6.5kg, that obviously must mean that you weren’t eating much more than two and a half thousand calories per day. You said that you’d been quite a big guy over 80 kgs, I don’t know what you’re racing weight is now, you’ve lost weight so need less calories. Andy Symonds from the UK, he was looking for top-10 and he achieved that but he did say to me that as the week went on, he was just permanently hungry and he wasn’t getting enough calories to function as he wanted.

He could run but he didn’t have the energy to run the pace that he wanted to run. How did you manage that and how did you sustain the pace? Is there anything that you had done pre-race that taught your body to use fat as a fuel?

Tom: I ended up doing a lot of my training early in the mornings before breakfast because I was incredibly busy at work. If I could get 1-2 hours in the morning, it meant that I had more time during the day. I’d have a good meal the previous evening but then 10 hours later, eight hours later I’d be running on an empty stomach, it just got my body used using my fat stores and supply the energy I needed.

During the race you’ve got to make sure you have the right nutrients, the right amount of protein, carbohydrates, and fats in your diet. I’ve got a good friend back home who owns a small supplement company, OG Supplements, who spent a lot of times of going through my diet plan, just looking at the ingredients – I had the right amount of nutrients in my diet.

On the shorter days I would eat 2,300 calories and then on the marathon days, 2,700, and on the long day, 3,100. Lets be clear, you are going to be in a calorie deficit throughout the week but I think it’s being able to space those meal plans out that works. A sizable breakfast in the morning and then throughout the day, every time I got to the checkpoint, I was taking calories on just to try and maintain a level of energy within my body. You need some good calories quickly when you finish, you need to start the repair process asap.

You must make sure that you look after yourself as soon as possible – going back to being serving officer in the British Army, certainly with the Welsh Guard, that is a key lesson that I learned going through my training, it has become second nature.

Ian: I think certainly being in the Army is a huge advantage. It’s that admin, it’s that protocol, it’s that discipline. I often think of a story that a soldier told me of why you make your bed in the morning and you can probably elaborate on this far better than I can but it’s that process of starting the day and having that discipline.

Tom: Yes it is! You can look at it in the short term with the same analogy as making the bed in the morning: Start the day as you mean to go on, exactly the same; start of the week, start of the month. You’ve got to be able to take on that attitude in everything you do. If I’m going to do something, I’m going to do it properly!”

A lot of people say, “Oh, you were very lucky that you get the chances to do these things.” Funny how people who work hard become lucky! Without hard work, none of this is possible. You must delve into the depth of everything and you’ve got to try and cover all bases, looking into to every possible eventuality. I’m a huge believer of visualization and setting goals – short-term, midterm, and long-term.

That brings it much closer to home and making my dreams a reality rather than something that, “Oh, this might be quite nice to do.” It’s the mentality that I use when I go into anything – work, home, training or racing.

Ian: You mentioned about training in the morning and training fasted and the fact that you have a busy working life. What would a typical training week for you look like in the build-up to Marathon Des Sables?

Tom: I have been lucky enough to be training with a group of guys who are training for London Marathon, all guys planning on running a sub 2:20. The majority of my mileage was high-quality miles. I was of the mind-set that I needed to run quality miles. However, when you’re training for ultras, you are doing longer distances, one needs to be specific. If I tried and maintain the same tempo and the same effort in longer sessions I would crumble – all about balance.

I would average 90-miles per week and then in the month before Marathon des Sables, I added two weeks at 120 miles, which was by far the longest that I’d run. My runs would be a real mixture of longer runs, typically back-to-back. I would do a tempo long run on a Saturday and then a slow long run on the Sunday. During the week I’d be on the track once. I woukd join sessions: 4x 8-minutes 10k pace for example, really focusing on speed work and the power. I really think it helped my form for Marathon des Sables.

A lot of the race is about speed and about strength – if racing at the front. If you imagine going over the dunes, the quicker that you’re able to get off the dune, the less chance there is for gravity to work against you and the sand to hold you back. I needed to perform at a high level, day-in and day-out. I did a lot of work with my heart rate monitor and I’ve spent time in the lab looking at my VO2 and my lactate threshold.

My training was based on a marathon training program. I have a coach at Lewes Athletics Club and we mixed everything together to try to work it around my schedule at work – it worked well!

In the second part of the interview, we bring you Tom’s thoughts about the race and how his 2017 Marathon des Sables unfolded.

Marathon des Sables 2017 Summary on IRUN4ULTRA

The 2017 Marathon des Sables concluded in April and here on IRUN4ULTRA is a summary of the daily action and a selection of images.

“It must be noted that the Marathon des Sables is so much more than elite runners going fast. The finish line is one full of stories, emotion, tears and laughter. The example of Louis from Luxembourg, Duncan Slater from the UK and so many more cannot go unnoticed.”

Go HERE to read the full post.

2017 IMAGE GALLERIES HERE

The Market – Morocco

“To visit Morocco is still like turning the pages of some illuminated Persian manuscript all embroidered with bright shapes and subtle lines.”

– Edith Wharton, 1927

 

It’s about escape, my time in a place. Wandering and looking from within. The rich treasures a place holds. The people about daily life – I sneak in, capture a moment and take it away trapped for ever for others to see.

“… I wish I could tell you the wonder of the souks and marketplaces; the brilliant overflowing of spices, olives, fabrics; the witchcraft stalls; the fishmongers; the piles of mint and thyme scenting the air . . . and even more than this is the wonder of its becoming familiar, the sufficiency and contentment in knowing the names of things, the words to tell the taxi drivers, the sense and reason behind the lives of Moroccans …”

– Melissa Manlove, ‘Letter from Morocco’, Travelers’ Tales