Episode 131 of Talk Ultra and we bring you an interview with TCC winner, Tom Owens. We also speak with Jo Meek who recently placed on the podium in Hong Kong at Translantau 100km. Niandi brings us a ‘one-on-one’ interview with Inge Nijkamp. We have the news and ultra-chat!
Niandi still is injured but back in the pool
Ian has been to Bulgaria w/ Dean Karnazes, Sean Conway and more…
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Rand Hayley, Simon Darmody, Mike Hewison, Tom Flummerfelt, Rupert Hitzenberger, Derek Doran, Dan Masters, Steve Milne. Daniel Weston, Andi Dunn, Sam Wilkes, Ron van Liempd, William Sichel, Jonni Suckling, Ally Spiers, Lindsay Harmoudi, Rene Hess, Mathew Melksham, Jamie Oliver, Kent Keeler, Aaron Aaker, David H, Brian Wolfkamp, Neil Catley, Craig South, Melissa Bodeau, Mark Moromisato, Sarah Cameron, Kerstin Palmer, Nicola Scott, Rohan, Aurora, Thomas Mueller, Fredrik Rantarkyrl, LostTrailRunner, Neil Staveley, Philippe Lascar, Marc Mills, John De Martin, Brian Walters and Martin Gray.
Niandi is joining me and yes, her foot is still in a moon boot. How’s the fracture?
Lets kick off with Niandi’s next ‘one-on-one’ interviews, this week she talks with Inge Nijkamp who attended our training camp in Lanzarote. In early April, Inge will toe the line at MDS and here Niandi discusses balances life, children and how you fit it all in…
INTERVIEW with INGE NIJKAMP
Max King once again showed his speed ahead of Hayden Hawks. However, both went under to old CR! It was close with Hawks just over 30 seconds back. Max gets an auto qualifier for the IAU Trail World Champs. Sage Canaday placed 3rd.
Ladia Albertson-Junkans (?) won the race in 4:17 and the IAU slot ahead of Yiou Wang and Rachel Jaten
Trail du Ventoux
Marc Lauenstein and Caroline Chaverot too top honours in a race that also gave IAU qualificition. Lauenstein from Switzerland didn’t qulify (obviously) for the French place and this went to UTMB winner Ludovic Pommeret.
Kilian announced his year! Everest figures and an attempt at the Bob Graham Round.
Surprisingly, his run calendar is full, no doubt due to the run series that is currently a little under the radar…. Mont Blanc Marathon, Sierre Zinal, a return to a super stacked UTMB and of course Hardrock 100 and Ultra Pirineu figure. From a UK perspective, KJ will race at Glen Coe which is awesome news.
Antelope Island Buffalo Run
Great to see Sondre Amdahl take the win for the men and Sage Balloock Dixon for the ladies – 6:45 and 8:087 respectively.
Harry Jones from the UK took the win ahead of Jacky Leung and Jeremy Ritcey, their times 12:47, 13:28 and 13:44. Marie McNaughton 14:10 once agin won the ladies’ race ahead of Brit Jo Meek 15:05 and Wei-Ling Tseng 17:42.
Please support Talk Ultra by becoming a Patron at www.patreon.com/talkultra and THANKS to all our Patrons who support us. Rand Haley and Simon Darmody get a mention on the show here for ‘Becoming 100k Runners’ with a high-tier Patronage.
I have always loved that simple quote from the movie, ‘Field of Dreams.’ I had the same thought process when I started the Skyrunner National Series in the UK. I was told, Skyrunning in the UK, don’t be silly. It’s not possible.
However, over the last three years the small but perfectly balanced series has gone from strength-to-strength. We had Stevie Kremer and Jo Meek race in year-1. In year-2, Emelie Forsberg, Jasmin Paris and wealth of other world-class talent toed the line.
And last year, the world came to Scotland for the UK’s first ever Skyrunner World Series race. This knock-on effect has seen a sell out 2017 calendar and all the races with in the UK Series personify pure Skyrunning.
The season starts with the V3K in Wales, the series then moves to the Lake District with Scaffell SkyRace and Lakes SkyUltra. Skyline Scotland follows with no-less than three World Series events – in the SKY, ULTRA and EXTREME category, the Mamores VK also joins the new VK Series. Finally we finish in Ireland with the Mourne Skyline MTR.
It’s never good to pinpoint one person, but when Kilian Jornet confirms that he will come to the UK and race in the series. That is worth shouting about!
Roll on June when the series starts – we hope you can join us in what will be the pinnacle of mountain racing in the UK!
Did I mention, he’s having a go at the BOB GRAHAM ROUND too!
Kilian marking his own Skyrunning race, TROMSO in Norway.
Packs for a multi-day race or a running multi-day adventure were once the domain of Raidlight. Of course, other brands ventured into the arena but it was only really the arrival of WAA that made everyone start to stop, look and see what else existed.
Packs are personal.
I think a pack becomes even more personal when one requires something to be comfortable for multiple days and also when carrying 6.5kg or more.
Salomon have now extended their ‘vest design’ to the S-LAB PEAK 20 and in doing so, they will turn the head of many a runner and make them question, is this THE pack for them for their next multi-day adventure or race.
Shape, gender, size, height and so many other variables dictate if a pack is comfortable or not and this depends on you, so, when looking at this pack I try to be impartial and when possible I always try to cross reference with a female perspective. The plus of this pack is it comes in S, M, L and XL so no compromising to be made. I am 38/40 chest and I have a medium which fits perfect.
If you are heading to the mountain for an overnight adventure, I am pretty sure the Peak 20 will work for you. However, would the pack work for a race like Marathon des Sables, Grand to Grand, Everest Trail Race or one of the 4 Desert races when one is completely self-sufficient for multiple days?
Let’s look at the packs highlights:
1 main compartment with a full length zip (double slider) that open up allowing easy access and organisation of what is inside.
Fabrics that wick and are quick drying.
Three sizes – S, M and L.
Soft trims so no chafing.
Sensifit is a Salomon buzz word that ultimately means it should be the Rolls Royce of bags when coming to fit and comfort.
Front hydration pockets x2 (designed for 500ml soft flasks).
Adjustable front straps for customized fit.
Zipper pockets – It has 2 large pockets on the front, 2 expandable pockets on the shoulder straps and 2 top zipped mesh pockets.
Will take a bladder.
Ability to carry poles or ice axes.
Lightweight at 484g +/-.
This pack will work for an overnight adventure, mountain marathon race or an adventure when an excessive mandatory kit will be required. But, the big question for many will be, can this pack work for a 6-day self-sufficient race?
In a word – Yes!
Simple reasons why:
Yes, it can hold 2 x 750ml of liquid at the front
Yes, it has 4 pockets on the front that will allow immediate access to anything you will need whilst running a stage.
Yes, it can hold another liter to 1.5 liters on the rear in two external pockets.
Yes, it can hold everything you need for 6-days self-sufficiency.
The pack has a 20L capacity (typical for Marathon des Sables and comparable with the competition from Ultimate Direction, WAA, Raidlight, OMM and others) and has one large external zip on the rear that works two ways so that you can zip down or zip up depending on preference. Once open, it’s possible to access the pack easily and arrange contents. Internally there is a small mesh panel so that you divide the large compartment in two – a good thing for maybe an overnight jaunt but not required for a multi-day adventure.
It’s light, very light! It has a vest style that echoes and follows on from the designs from Salomon’s other models.
The front of the pack has two stretch pockets for soft-flasks or bottles. On top of these pockets sitting a little lower are two large pockets with zips that hold a surprising amount. On top of the shoulder straps are two stretch zip pockets that provide additional storage.
On the sides of the vest are adjustable cords that pull the pack closer to the body or allow the pack to be looser.
On the top of the rear of the pack above the zip, is a central cord pull. Pull this and the yellow cord that wraps around the pack pulls tighter and compresses the contents. Great when the pack is full to make everything tight and secure but especially useful as the days pass when racing and the pack contents become less.
The pack tapers and as you can see from this side-view is narrow at the bottom and then opens up wider as one gets closer to the top. On both sides is an open topped stretch pocket that will take a bottle or other items.
The pack has thin blue padding that does not sit inside the pack but on the outside and underneath the mesh back. The is ingenious as it has been designed so that it can be removed.
It is held in place by small metal buckles that attach to web loops. I removed the padding and used my sleeping mat inside the pack as my padding. Ingenious – not only do you save weight but your mat doubles up as protection when running and sleeping.
The two-way external zip is great to allow access to upper items or lower items in the pack without having to un-zip the whole pack. Importantly, when un-zipped it’s easy to access the inside and arrange items. An internal mesh panel can be used to split the pack into two halves. For some this may be useful but if like me you use the sleeping mat inside, you can only have one large compartment. It’s a great space and like any pack, you will want to play around with how you pack your contents to find the correct balance. As a tip I recommend you leave your sleeping bag out when packing. Put all the contents in and then add the sleeping bag filing in all the empty spaces – you will be amazed how a lightweight down bag will compress.
The external cord the wraps around the pack is designed to be pulled tight and compress the contents. This is adjusted on the rear of the pack just above the zip.
Simply hold the buckle and pull the cord. The cords pulls tight and compresses to make the pack smaller and tight – perfect! You can make this even tighter by pulling the cords on the side and then taking up the the slack by the top adjustment. This on days 3, 4, and 5 will be just incredible at making the pack smaller and smaller as contents are used up.
On the shoulder straps, the yellow cord is also present under the two shoulder zip pockets. Pull the cord here and take up the slack and you pull the top of the pack closer to your back.
On the sides of the pack between the bottom rear and the front lower pockets there is a yellow cord on each side – again this allows you to pull the bottom of the pack as close to your back as you require.
In a nutshell, this level of adjustment is just perfect and is the best of all packs I have tried.
The front of the pack is classic Salomon vest design but with some differences. Fitting to the torso comes via 3 straps. Two go right to left and one goes left to right. These attach via a black plastic hooks to a yellow cord.
They can be moved up or down and they can also be made tighter or looser. In particular, this will be useful for lady runners who need to adjust the pack to fit around their chest. It’s a method that works and the on-the-go adjustment is welcome.
There are two stretch pockets that are designed for soft-flasks. This for me caused concern as I was under the impression that they would only hold 500ml. Not so! These pockets will take the Hydrapak SF750 soft-flasks and you can drink from these without the need to remove them.
Prefer straws? The Hydrapak 600ml bottles with straws will fit.
Prefer hard bottles? This is where I needed to think outside the box… OMM make very slim 500ml bottles and they fit like a glove.
Have no fears, you can carry enough water up at the front. Also, lets not forget the two external pockets. In my tests, I had 2x 500ml OMM flasks on the rear too. So, at a minimum you could carry 1litre or 2litres with 2 bottles on the rear. At a max you could carry 3litres with 1.5 up front and 1.5 at the rear.
The two pockets that sit below the bottles are a real welcome addition. They are easy to get at. They have great capacity, trust me, you need no more additional space up front, especially when one considers the two additional sip pockets on the shoulder straps. These pockets are less spacious but they will take a phone, snacks or other essentials.
There is an attachment system for poles that comes over the right shoulder. I personally though would probably attach to bungee cords to the front of the pack so that I can place the poles across my chest when not in use.
Fit is sweet and with all the adjusters you can really get this pack close to your torso. It fits like a piece of clothing and there are no rough edges – all the seams are soft. Salomon actually say that the pack may be worn against the skin and it will feel like apparel.
At 484g it’s light.
This pack is still under test and things such as longevity, strength, weaknesses, durability and so on have not been tested as it’s too early to say.
However, what I can say is that this is the best pack I have tested for running when the contents are heavy and I require 20L capacity.
I have long been a fan of the Ultimate Direction Fastpack as I loved its simplicity and no nonsense approach to the task of carrying many items and weight. The Salomon S-Lab Peak 20 has now become my new favourite.
It’s not without flaws – what pack is? The yellow cord compression works like a dream but it can be a little tricky to set up – it’s a small price to pay though.
The front bottle pockets almost certainly require soft-flask use or using the OMM 500ml bottles. I personally would always caution against soft-flasks for a multi-day, if they puncture, you are screwed. However, the Hydrapak soft-flasks are more durable than much of the competition and they have never let me down. The 600 or 750 versions work with the vest – perfect.
We will follow up with some action shots of the pack and an overall summary from a male and female perspective in the coming weeks, for now, this pack gets an ‘A’ for awesome.
Photo below is copyright Ricky Gates – he’s currently using a prototype Peak 20 with front pack. Interesting!
In use at Everest Trail Race, November 2016
Paul WilsonUsed one on the spine race. It was ace. Did most of my training with an ultimate direction fast pack then seen got the Salomon pack. Which proved to be far better.
Jana StudzinskaTested on fully self supported solo running trip across Serra de Tramuntana. Can’t recommend more.
Sito Castelloperfecta para la Everest Trail Race.
Robert KampczykCool bag. Like it because my complete Photo Equipment can insert.
What Salomon say:
Ideal for alpine running, superlight mountaineering or fast hiking, the streamlined S-LAB Peak 20 set uses our trail running knowledge to move fast in the mountain, with stretch fit and complete stability. With convenient access to the 20L compartment, both the pack and the load are easily compressed for maximum stability under partial load. It includes front storage solutions for two 500ml soft flasks and essentials and possibility to carry poles, ice axes…
Soft Twin Link
Compression quick lace
Top and bottom sensi load lifter
Pockets & compartments
2 front soft hydration elastic pockets
2 front zipped large pockets
2 shoulder expandable pockets
2 top zipped mesh pocket
4D Pole holder
Opening & closure
Wide front opening with double sliders
Episode 129 of Talk Ultra brings you an in-depth interview with Anna Frost. We speak with the inspiring Fred Streatfield we talk with the Rocky Racoon 100 winner, James Stewart.
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 January Patrons
Rene Hess, Daniel Weston, Dan Masters, Kerstin Palmer, Sarah Cameron, Neil Catley, Sam Wilkes, Melissa Bodeau, Lindsay Hamoudi, Aaron Aaker, Simon Darmody, Philippe Lascar, Rohan Aurora, Mathew Melksham, Brian Wolfkamp, Thomas Mueller, Mark Moromisato, Jamie Oliver, Rand Haley, Ron van Liempd, Mike Hewison, Steve Milne and Rupert Hitzenberger.
This weeks show is full of inspiring interviews but you will have to forgive us for it being a little late… I blame a full-on trip to Costa Rica to cover The Coastal Challenge. It was an incredible race and full of brilliant racing and excitement. The UK’s Tom Owens dominated the men’s race ahead of Chema Martinez from Spain and the USA’s Jason Schlarb.
In the ladies race, Anna Frost from New Zealand made it third time lucky showing Spain’s Anna Comet and Portugals Ester Alves a clean pair of heals.
The 2017 edition of the race really was spectacular and on the next show we will discuss the race in detail and bring you interviews from the race.
Read all about and view images of the 2017 edition HERE
For Anna Frost it was a special race and significant in more ways than just winning. Frosty first arrived in Costa Rica in 2014 but didn’t even make the start due to doctors orders. In 2015 while leading the race, she was forced to withdraw on the penultimate day with injury. In 2017 she came back and put the demons to rest.
Frosty is an inspiring lady and it seemed only correct that Niandi had a ‘one-to-one’ with the Green of the trails.
00:03:50 INTERVIEW with ANNA FROST
Moab Red Hot 55K
On the last show we interviewed Hayden Hawks and he fulfilled his promise with a win and course record at Moab Red Hot 55k. His 3:39 bettered Rob Krar’s record by 5-minutes. Marie Hogan won the ladies’ race in 4:44.
The Coastal Challenge
Anna Frost won in 27:08. Anna Comet (Spain) and Ester Alves (Portugal) were second and third in 27:58 and 28:23, respectively. Tom Owens dominated the men’s in 22:29. Chema Martinez (Spain) 23:43 and Jason Schlarb 24:34 were second and third.
Max King beat the old CR by 37-minutes to win in 3:32. Yiou Wang took the ladies win in 4:18.
Black Canyon 100K
Alex Nichols is on a roll and gets a coveted WSER slot after his win 7:55 ahead of Elov Olson and Eric Sensman. Olov also getting a WSER slot. Nicole Kalogeropoulos placed 1st for the ladies in 9:30, Clare Gallagher was 2nd and Ailsa MacDonald 3rd. First two also get WSER slots.
On the last show we discussed our Lanzarote Training Camp and one attendee stood out with an inspirational story, Niandi caught up with Fred Streatfield.
00:58:05 INTERVIEW with FRED STREATFIELD
Join us in Lanzarote, January 2018 for our MULTI-DAY TRAINING CAMP HERE
RUNNING BEYOND BOOK – I will be also going to Sofia in Bulgaria on the 17th, 18th and 19th March for a trail, mountain and Skyrunning expo.
Rocky Raccoon has been one of those races that has always attracted a high quality field early in the season for a fast 100-miles. Just think Ian Sharman… so, it’s great pleasure to catch up with fellow Brit James Stewart on his impressive 2017 victory.
From the heat and humidity of Costa Rica and The Coastal Challenge to the the Canary island of Gran Canaria and the Transgrancanaria 125km.
This is my fourth year working on the flagship 125km race and once again it appears in the UTWT (Ultra Trail World Tour) calendar. The race starts on Friday evening, 24th February at 2300 hours’ local time. If it was ever in doubt, this race is a tough one! With over 8000m of positive gain, each and everyone of those 125km’s will be felt by the the time the runners reach the finish.
Starting on the north-west coast, the race travels south via the mountainous spine of Gran Canaria and then arrives at the finish, close to the sea in Maspalomas. The route is logical and therefore very appealing from a run aesthetic point of view.
Over the years, the race has had some stellar performances and 2017 will see the return of the 2016 champions, Caroline Chaverot and Didrik Hermansen.
Didrik Hermansen won the race last year with a high quality and well paced performance. He followed Transgrancanaria up with a stunning Western States and world-class 100km races. Didrik can mix running and climbing and therefore goes into the 2017 race as the hot favourite. Fellow Norwegian, Sondre Amdahl, tells me that Didrik is in great shape!
The UK’s Andy Symonds ran a stunning race in 2016 and placed 5th – I have a felling he will be on the podium this year! His 2016 season was solid one with UTMB being his only blip. A win at Lavaredo, 2nd at Buff Epic behind Luis Alberto Hernando and 4th at Transvulcania confirms that Andy’s stepping stones to longer racing is working – 2017 will be his year and I also hear he will be racing at Marathon des Sables.
Diego Pazos finished 3rd last year and what followed was a steady growth in the sport. I predicted he was a ‘one-to-watch’ for 2017 and I stand by that. His victory Mont-Blanc 80km confirmed that he is on the up.
Antoine Guillon placed on the podium previously and I have no reason to doubt that he can provide a repeat performance. In real terms, the podium may well be decided by those who pace themselves and come strong in the latter stages. Antoine may well be one of these guys – he will be able to bring the ‘long game’ to the race, something he learned when he won Diagonale des Fous (Raid de la Reunion) in 2015.
Yeray Duran is Transgrancanaria regular and is very popular within Spain and the Canary Islands. Arguably, it was Transgrancanaria that elevated his profile. He had a tough race last year but that blip is not indicative of how Yeray runs – I think we will see him up there this year.
Julien Chorier is always a tip for the podium and victory – he is one seriously classy runner. He was 2nd at Transgrancaria in 2014 and 7th last year. Mixing Hardrock and Western States shows that Julien can mix speed and climbing perfectly – one to watch for the top-5 for sure and maybe the podium!
Timothy Olson has raced on the island before (2014) and placed 3rd. He arrived in advance of this years race to train and prepare, something he has done on many occasions for multiple races. Normally, I would be pushing Timmy for the win but for the past year or so, the form has been missing. So, it’s difficult to predict the outcome here in the Canaries. Can Timmy win? Absolutely! So, lets cross our fingers and hope that we see a return to 2013 when this guy was on fire!
Pau Capell won the 85km event previously and last year held hands with Diego Pazoz and crossed the line for an equal 3rd place. He will be up there!
Fabien Antolinus is a runner I first met at Les Templiers and since then he has continually impressed with his ability to mix speed and climbing to great results. Two years ago he was 5th at UTMB but for me, his performances at Ice Trail Tarentaise were stand out. He’s a top-5 contender for sure.
Casey Morgan will keep UK interest high. He’s been up there at Transgrancanaria in the past and currently he is on a roll with a series of top quality victories. I last saw him race at Everest Trail Race and he was in great shape. He followed that race with another race victory in the Spanish mountains and just recently he raced in Hong Kong with great success.
Fulvio Dapit has come close in the past and is often let down with stomach issues. He won’t make the podium but he will be up in the top-10.
Ones to watch:
and many more…
This race has Caroline Chaverot’s name written all over it and no disrespect to the other female competitors but I don’t see anyone coming close to this French lady. Caroline was on fire in 2016 and was for me, THE, female ultra-runner of the year. She was unstoppable with a sting of high-profile victories. In summary, anyone who wins UTMB, becomes UTWT champion, becomes Skyrunning World Champion and IAU World Trail Champion all in one-year deserves the upmost respect. I think she will win the race by at least 1-hour!
I am going to throw a curve ball in and put my neck on the line with a stunning performance expectation from the UK’s Beth Pascall. She will be somewhat of a dark horse over in Gran Canaria but she has all the potential to produce a shock. She has with the UK’s Spine Race and the shorter distance, Challenge Race. She obliterated the ladies’ record at the Lakeland 100 and won the Hoka Highland Fling. One to watch! *Update 21st Feb, Beth will not race due to an injury to her foot.
Andrea Huser never stops. She is like Michael Wardian and each time she runs I am amazed with her ability to recover and race again. She doesn’t have the speed of Caroline and therefore, providing Caroline has no problems. I don’t see the Swiss lady beating her. However, she has a list of results that makes the podium almost guaranteed – victories at Lavaredo, Diagonale des Fous and Swiss Irontrail and let’s not forget 2nd at UTMB behind Caroline!
Azara Garcia and Gemma Arenas have set their tables out in Skyrunning races and we know that have speed and can climb with the best. However, 125km and 8000m of vertical is a long way and this may well be the downfall for the Spanish duo. Gemma probably has the edge over Azara as she has excelled at Ultra Pirineu with victory. For Gemma, I see 125km possibly being a real learning curve.
Lisa Borzani likes the long and mountainous races such as Tor des Geants and Ronda dels Cims – that will set her up well for this tough and challenging Transgrancanaria course. She may lack the speed but as others fade, she will continue to push strong.
Manuela Vilaseca was 5th at Transgrancanaria two-years ago and in this line-up, I believe the podium is a possibility – a win would only really come should Andrea and Caroline have bad races.
Ildiko Wermescher would be a long shot for the podium but a top-5 and certainly a top-10 is a distinct possibility. 2016 seemed to be a below par year but 2014 saw the German lady place 4th at Transgrancanaria.
Debbie Martin-Consani is my dark horse for a shake up in the ladies’ rankings. Like Beth Pascall, she is a Lakeland 100 winner and she has excelled at other 100-milers and races like Spartathlon, she ha s also raced in a GB vest. Word on the street (or the hills) is that Debbie has been going up and down those Scottish mountains to prepare for this 125km race.
Stage 6 of the Costa Rica Coastal Challenge 2017 aka “The Victory Loop” and epilogue to this gruelling multi-stage race started at 7am. This allowed runners to “sleep in” a little and get some much-needed recovery before the final sprint, well, half-marathon! The final stage is always relatively short and the same distance for Adventure racers and Expedition racers. Many take this final stage easier as by now the podium is pretty much a given. An additional incentive for outsiders to race this stage is guaranteed free entry to the winners of the stage in both the male and female categories as well as the winners of each category in the overall ranking. Some race volunteers also like to join the runners in the final stage as a gesture of solidarity.
The final stage is a 22.5km representation of the whole race with all the course elements thrown in: fire trail, a magnificent waterfall, forest single track, more fire trail, beach sections and a lovely final 10km along the coast on shaded single track. With a total ascent of 613m and a descent of 613m it is a relatively flat route. There was only one CP at 22.5km.
In the men’s race Tom Owens seemed relaxed chatting at the start and not too worried about racing. However, Chema Martinez had his race hat on and chased Tom right from the start egging him on. Chema had a lot of competition from the Costa Rican field especially Jorge Paniagua who joined the two leaders, battling it out with them until the final sprint, where the 3 finished barely a second of each other. Jorge was first, Chema second and to complete the stage podium Tom Owens in third position. The Costa Rican was delighted to gain a free entry to the 2018 edition and has promised to be back to perform even better.
Tom Owens was crowned 2017 champion and he was full of praise and thanks on the line.
“This has been an incredible journey. It’s a stunning and magnificent part of the world and the course, terrain, views and the racing has been world-class. I have been blown away by everything – the final stage was just stunning and it managed to compress the whole TCC experience in just 22km. I’d be back to TCC and Costa Rica in a shot…!”
In the Ladies field, Ester Alves led the race. She needed to defend her third overall position. Anna Comet followed in hot pursuit to secure her second position and not allow Ester to close the gap significantly in the overall ranking. Anna Frost then also gave chase. Elisabet Barnes who had intended to race this final stage very hard in a final attempt to secure third felt weak and tired.
“It is only once I started running hat I realized my body wasn’t responding and that my legs were tired, that I wasn’t going to be able to race this stage. I decided to consider it a recovery run as my focus is on MDS 2017 which is just round the corner. I didn’t want to compromise that.” – Elisabet Barnes
Ester Alves did not even stop at CP1 to replenish her water supply or drink.
“I decided not to waste any time and ran the last 10km full out skipping the water point. I had run out of water before the checkpoint but I wanted to gain as much time as possible. I squeezed my soft flasks but not a drop came out. It’s amazing what the body can do in this heat, running 10km on no water, when the mind takes control and the drive is there. I must admit it was very stressful and it is a stage I enjoyed last year.” – Ester Alves
Ester led the race until the finish completing this stage 9min ahead of second lady Melanie Langer (9th lady overall) who had run hard all day.
In the closing stages, Melanie took advantage of Anna Comet and Anna Frost relaxing into the finish with Sondre Amdahl – the trio had run together from half-way enjoying the closing of the 2017 TCC. Elisabet Barnes completed the stage 30min behind Ester in 6th place and 4th overall.
Anna Frost cried on the shoulder of race director, Rodrigo Carazo on the finish line.
“This has been a tough and emotional journey, three editions in the making. I have finally won the race I love! I think I am done, not with Costa Rica or the TCC – next time I will be watching and spectating though!” – Anna Frost
Nothing can describe the emotion of those finishing this tough 6-day multi-stage in some of the hardest conditions or the joy and relief on their faces on being handed the well-deserved finisher medal. Many have vowed to return to better their performances or tick this box.
Tonight (or this afternoon), will be a long night of post-race celebration where the ‘Imperial’ will flow and spirits will be high.
Jorge Paniagua 2:04:33
Chema Martinez 2:04:38
Tom Owens 2:04:39
Neruda Cespedes 2:06:54
Erick Aguero 2:14:39
Ester Alves 2:23:41
Melanie Langer 2:32:17
Anna Comet 2:32:33
Anna Frost 2:32:36
Katelyn Tocci 2:43:03
Overall Results for the 2017 The Coastal Challenge #TCC2017
1. Anna Frost (New Zealand): 27:08:41.9
2. Ana Comet (Spain): 27:58:45.4
3. Ester Alves (Portugal): 28:23:27.5
4. Elisabet Barnes (Sweden): 29:00:11.2
5. Katelyn Tocci (Costa Rica): 29:58:09.1
1. Tom Owens (Scotland): 22:29:45.2
2. Chema Martínez (Spain): 23:43:36.2
3. Jason Shlarb (USA): 24:34:57.0
4. Eric Agüero (Costa Rica): 24:57:43.3
5. Pancho Pinto (Ecuador): 25:43:37
Anna Frost to join the line-up of the 2017 The Coastal Challenge
The 2017 was all set to be the most competitive edition of the race with a stunning line-up of both male and female competitors. The male race has Hardrock 100 winner Jason Schlarb, Sondre Amdahl, Chema Martinez, Vicente Beneito and so many more.
The ladies race has two previous champions with Ester Alves and Veronica Bravo joined by Elisabet Barnes and Anna Cometi.
Well, the ladies race has just been blown off the scale with the 11th hour confirmation that New Zealand’s Anna Frost will toe the line in Quepos.
This is not Frosty’s first time in Costa Rica. Her love affair with the country and the race started several years ago. In 2014 she arrived to race but due to health issues was forced not to make the start.
“I learnt a lot about the course and was able to see the challenges without putting myself through them. Although nothing really prepares you like the experience itself. I hadn’t expected such long beach sections so I will be prepared.”
In 2015 while leading the race she was forced to withdraw with foot issues leaving the doorway open for eventual race winner, Veronica Bravo. I refreshed myself of a moment from the 2015 edition:
“In the ladies race, Anna Frost ran a smart day matching Veronica Bravo step-by-step. From the moment they started, till the moment they crossed the finish line, the duo never left each other’s side. In many respects, Frosty can run this way all the way to the end now and play safe. The question mark will come if Veronica feels strong one day and takes a risk to pull back the time between the two of them? This is always a risky tactic, push too hard and you may blow up opening a doorway for third place to gain time.”
In the ladies race, Anna Frost’s injury woes came to a head when she sprained an ankle causing a muscle sprain in her soleus muscle. Frosty tried to push on but it was no good. The plantar issues, ankle and muscle sprain brought an end to the 2015 TCC at Cp3.
”I could run in pain no longer and sometimes you just have to stop and look at the bigger picture.”
Cut to 2017 and it may well be third time lucky for the lady who has pioneered the way for female runners in the trail and mountain world.
Like Schlarb, Frosty won Hardrock 100 in 2016, she also won in 2014. She has won races all over the world and many remember her iconic victories on the island of La Palma at the Transvulcania race.
Currently in Colorado amongst the snow, Frosty admits that it may well not be the best preparation for the heat and humidity of Costa Rica, however, the opportunity to run raised its head and she could not refuse!
Speaking from Colorado, Frosty told me,
“I am so excited to come back, 3rd time luck?”
Race director Rodrigo Carazo in conversation with myself whilst trying to put logistics in place confirmed for me,
“We need to make this happen, this will be, without doubt, the best ladies field ever at the race.” I confirmed, my thoughts exactly! Rodrigo went on to say, “We have surprises in store for 2017 – new sections, more hills and more jungle!”
The stage is set, the 2017 edition of The Coastal Challenge is going to be epic. Runners will start to arrive in San Jose from Thursday 9th this week and they will then transfer to the coast for the start of the race in Quepos.
“I had a serious case of fear of missing out when I saw the ladies line-up,” Frosty went on to say. “Costa Rica and the TCC is just full of great people, stunning trails, water, heat, more water, wildlife and running, it all equal Coastal Challenge love!”
The Coastal Challenge is a multi-day race over 6-days starting in the southern coastal town of Quepos, Costa Rica and finishing at the stunning Drake Bay on the Osa Peninsula, The Coastal Challenge is an ultimate multi-day running experience.
Intense heat, high humidity, ever-changing terrain, stunning views, Costa Rican charm, exceptional organisation; the race encompasses Pura Vida! Unlike races such as the Marathon des Sables, ‘TCC’ is not self-sufficient, but don’t be fooled, MDS veterans confirm the race is considerably harder and more challenging than the Saharan adventure.
Hugging the coastline, the race travels in and out of the stunning Talamanca mountain range via dense forest trails, river crossings, waterfalls, long stretches of golden beaches backed by palm trees, dusty access roads, high ridges and open expansive plains. At times technical, the combination of so many challenging elements are only intensified by heat and high humidity that slowly but surely reduces even the strongest competitors to exhausted shells by the arrival of the finish line.
The Coastal Challenge which will take place Feb 10th – 19th, 2017.
Episode 126 of Talk Ultra is here, Happy New Year! – We have an interview with Stevie Kremer, we chat with Lindsey Topham about her movie, ‘The Trails Are Free’ and Sondre Amdahl tells us about racing in Hong Kong and how is preparation for The Coastal Challenge is going… Speedgoat is back too!
New Year and Talk Ultra needs your help!
We are five year’s old this January and as a show we are proud that we have produced a wealth of content for free. The show will always be free! However, demands on time, production costs, editing really impact on Talk Ultra, therefore, if you love the show please help us out. You can make a one-off donation, a yearly donation or maybe donate monthly… just £1 or $1 would make a huge difference. We are currently in the process of setting up a Patreon page that will allow you to gain access to the Patreon Activity Feed that will be for Patreon supporters ONLY! This is the easiest way to support Talk Ultra and help us continue to create!
RUNNING BEYOND BOOK is travelling the world and of course I recommend it as a great Christmas present… we mentioned in the last show about Running Beyond Event which will take place 3, 4 and 5th March in London, plans are progressing for that… in addition, Niandi and myself will now be in Amsterdam on Feb 3rd, 4th and 5th for a Trails in Motion event and Running Beyond book signing with Mud Sweat and Trails and I will be also going to Sofia in Bulgaria on the 17th, 18th and 19th March for a trail, mountain and Skyrunning expo.
Across The Years – 24, 48, 72-hours and 6-Days
24: Kelly Agnew and Chavet Breslin ran 124 and 119-miles
48: Karen Bonnett Natraj and Alex Ramset ran 140 and 177-miles
72: Iso Yucra and Anne Lang ran 248 and 200-miles
6-Day: Ed Ettinghausen and Liz Bauer ran 451.4 and 418.9-miles
Ultra-Trail Tai Mo Shan
Gediminas Grinius and Andrea Huser won the 100-mile in 20:04 and 26:01.
Sondre Amdahl and Marie McNaughton won the 115km in 16:15 and 16:20
“TCC will be my main target for the winter/spring of 2017. I have had a couple of easy months after a DNS at the Tor des Géants (due to injury). I have had a good block of training in November, December, I raced at Ultra-Trail Tai Mo Shan in Hong Kong (115km) on New Year’s Eve which I won and then in January I will go to Gran Canaria to prepare for TCC.”
00:53:34 INTERVIEW with Sondre Amdahl
Read a preview of the 2017 The Coastal Challenge HERE
01:20:36 INTERVIEW with Stevie Kremer
02:12:14 INTERVIEW with Lindsey Topham about the film ‘The Trails Are Free’
The Trails are Free tells the story of how Boston based trail running club, the Trail Animals Running Club (TARC), promotes and preserves the culture of ultra running through a series of grassroots, community based races in the greater Boston area. The film captures the history of the club and how it has grown from a few members to over 4000 since its founding in the early 1990’s. From its start TARC has been more focused on camaraderie and community among runners than on competition and winning. The club’s motto “Leave No Animal Behind” exemplifies their welcoming spirit, as well as their humility, level playing field, and love for the outdoors. Trail Animals come from all walks of life and all abilities and there is no pecking order.
The club’s rapid growth has mirrored a nationwide trend in the sport in recent years. Where ultra running used to be considered an oddball sport, it is now the subject of many books and is gaining more mainstream coverage in film and on television. The threat of this community spirit becoming consumed by competition and commercialisation is becoming a realistic, legitimate concern.
In 2011 the club introduced the TARC Trail Series, a group of 10 trail races of varying distances, from 10K to 100 Miles. This film documents the ways these races have become a vehicle for preserving, promoting, and sharing the culture of the sport with new members. Race organisers keep race costs down by organising volunteers to mark courses, maintain trails, and provide support, provisions, and food for potluck-style aid stations. First place finishers win handmade trophies. There is no prize money.
“The Trails Are Free” was shot on location at various TARC races over the years. It is quintessentially New England. There is snow, mud, peepers, rocks, roots, and bright foliage.
Kilian Jornet is considered the greatest mountain runner ever. But he doesn’t consider himself a runner. Join Kilian in his new backyard in Norway as he attempts to ski and run in a single day the Seven Summits of Romsdalen, a 77km route with 9000m of elevation gain.
As a year comes to end, it’s always nice to be able to look back and appreciate some of the highlights that all come together that allows one to decide if it was a good or bad year. For me personally, 2016 was a cracker and I am truly thankful for all the opportunities that came up.
Looking back and deciding on what a highlight is, is of course a tricky thing. It’s very personal and it also requires a great memory. So, I will declare right from the off that these are ‘my’ highlights and yes, I am going to miss some key performances, runners, experiences and so on that should be in the list. So, please feel free to comment and remind me.
It would make sense to start in January and move through to December in a logical way… I am not going to do that, I am writing this off the cuff.
Jim Walmsley has been on fire in 2016 and ironically, despite an amazing run and course record at JFK50, FKT’s for the Rim-to-Rim and Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim in the Grand Canyon and countless other victories, it will be his Western States performance that well and truly cements Jim as one of the most exciting runners to rise in 2016. He said pre Western States that he was there to win and win with a course record. He flew along the trails and at one point was almost 30-minutes under the record. As he passed 90-miles everyone was re-writing the history books and then boom! Jim went off course. I caught up with a full and in-depth interview with Jim and you can listen to that HERE and read it HERE. Jim for many is the male Ultra-runner of the Year with victories at Stagecoach Line 55km, Franklin Mountains Trail Run, Lake Sonoma, Mesquite Canyon, Moab Red Hot 55k, Bandera 100k and the recent JFK50. 2017 is going to be a very exciting one.
Rob Young set off on a journey Across the USA looking for a new record, fame, glory and an opportunity to raise a load of money for charity. Somewhere along the way he lost a grasp of reality, perspective and ruined what was a remarkable story be cheating and deceiving the whole ultra running community. Ultimately, Rob is a story of an individual who tried to do good and maybe we should ask what went wrong rather than preach about his morals.
That brings me on to Mark Vaz. What is it with FKT’s and delusional behaviour? Mark seemed to think that running from Land’s End to John O’Groats 31-hours quicker than anyone else for the 860-mile journey was a good idea. It’s not even a convincing lie. As many pointed out, the god of ultra -running, Yiannis Kouros, couldn’t have done it as quick as Mr. Vaz claimed… oh dear!
Pete Kostelnick by contrast embraced the FKT concept and showed the world that the claims made by Rob Young are possible by smashing a 30+ year old Guinness record out of the ether by running Across the USA a full 4-days quicker than anyone else. As records go, this is an absolute doozy and when you look deep and hard into this 40+ day journey, you soon start to understand the difficulty and complexity of running 70+ miles a day. You can listen to an in-depth interview with Pete HERE and read the story HERE. In addition, we must also add to this story, Pete’s incredible and record breaking run at Badwater 135. This achievement has been overshadowed by the USA run but as a stand alone run, it’s also a cracker.
Karl Meltzer did it, he finally completed the Appalachian Trail in a new record breaking time after failing on two previous occasions. His time was some 10-hours quicker than Scott Jurek’s set in 2015, however, Karl did run in the opposite direction and has said, post run, he feels that they are two records. Notably, Karl helped Scott in 2015 and Scott helped Karl in 2016. It’s a remarkable story and one that truly reflects our sport of ultra-running. Karl’s record of 45-days, 22-hours and 38-minutes now sits in the record books and well and truly establishes Karl as one of ‘the’ greatest ultra-runners in the world. This is also backed up with his 38 100-mile victories and 5 victories at Hardrock 100. Listen to the in-depth interview HEREand readHERE
Talking of Hardrock 100, Kilian Jornet and Jason Schlarb held hands and crossed the line together in 2016. It was a wonderful moment that split the ultra-running audience in two. Some would have preferred a race to the line while others discussed the wonderful gesture and statement this moment made. Whichever camp you sit in, it was back-to-back victories for Kilian and a career defining moment for Jason Schlarb. Something he discussed in my in-depth interview HERE. For equality, we also need to mention Anna Frost nailing a back-to-back ladies victory. As I understand it, these three Musketeers will all return in 2017.
Aaron Denberg got a bee in his bonnet about Hardrock 100 lottery and decided to create a law suit. Many believe Mr. Denberg makes some good points but questioned if his approach was the correct one? Hardrock 100 released statements and have since removed the payment of a fee by each runner to enter the lottery, something which was apparently illegal! This will run and run (pardon the pun) but ultimately, is Hardrock a victim of it’s own success?
Caroline Chaverot for me, without doubt, female ultra-runner of the year. This French lady has been on fire all the way from victory in Transgrancanaria early in the year to a most recent win in Hong Kong on December 2nd. Along the way, Caroline won UTMB, became Skyrunning World Champion for the ultra distance and won the IAU World Trail Championships in Portugal. Add to these incredible results, victories at Madirea Island Ultra Trail, Mont-Blanc 80km and the UTWT world title for 2016 and I lower my head and bow to Queen Caroline. Plus she has made the lottery for Hardrock in 2017… exciting!
Adam Campbell survives a horrific fall and not only lives to tell the tale but has a remarkable recovery, listen to the interview HERE and read HERE
Lizzy Hawker sneaked from under the radar and once again picked up the gauntlet testing her personal boundaries and voyage of self-discovery. After years of injury, Lizzy completed the GHT (Great Himalayan Trail). A 1600km, east to west journey across Nepal. It was, as Lizzy promised, a “beautiful, rough, hard and unforgettable journey”. It was about many things, but also about trying to raise money to give opportunities to Nepali runners, particularly girls, for whom one chance can be a catalyst for much wider change.
Damian Hall set a new FKT on the UK’s South West Coast Path 10-hours, 15-minutes and 18-seconds for the 630-mile jaunt.
Jeff Browning, what a year…! Winner Hurt 100, 3rd at Western States, 4th at Hardrock 100 and 4th at Run Rabbit Run – that is some year, the WSER/Hardrock double a stand out and fastest combined time.
Kilian Jornet won Hardrock 100 and attempted to summit Everest. The Summits Of My Life project continues on into 2017 after Kilian and his team decided to pull the plug on a 2016 attempt as weather detonated.
Emelie Forsberg was quiet in 2016 after damaging her ACL and having an operation, she did however return to Trofeo Kima and put the record straight with a victory… she hopes the course record will come in 2018 when the race will take place once again. Emelie discussed her injury HERE
Beth Pascall went from strength-to-strength in 2016 and elevated the Lakeland 100 (UK) record to a whole new level by placing 4th overall. Listen to her interview HERE
Zach Miller did what he always does and lead from the front. At UTMB many predicted, me included, that it was going to be a story of glorious victory with a stunning ‘off-the-front’ performance or carnage with a monumental blow-up! In reality it was both, the blow-up came and he somehow managed to hold on for grim death to still get a top-10 place, he will win this race one day! Jump forward to December and Zach did it again at San Francisco 50. This time he had company and many are saying that ‘this’ race was one of the highlights of the year as Zach and Hayden Hawks traded blows at the front. Zach won with a course record and he took home the $10,000 prize. Hayden finished just 2-minutes back. Note that name! If you want to know what it’s like to put it ALL on the line, take a look at Zach’s final 2-minutes of that incredible 5:56:03 run.
Andrew Miller became the youngest winner of the iconic Western States and today, myself and so many others still know very little about this 20-year old. Certainly, Jim Walmsley had an impact on the kudos and plaudits that Andrew should have received. Running 15:39:36 at WSER takes some doing but I can’t help but think that Biology and chemistry are a priority as Andrew starts his sophomore year at Northern Arizona University. He will be back at WSER in 2017!
Kaci Lickteig has been nailing it and nailing it and finally got the Western States victory that she has longed for and then contrasted it with victory at the Bear 100. You can listen to Kaci’s post Western States interview HERE
Andrea Huser runs and races it would appear ‘every’ weekend. She is relentless. As I understand it, Andrea raced on thirteen occasions but I may have missed some/ She had victories at Raid de La Reunion Swiss Irontrail T201 Eiger Ultratrail 101km, Lavaredo, Trail d’Albertville, Trail Des Allobroges and Maxi-Race Annecy. Phew… any other year and the lack of Caroline Chaverot and Andrea would be female ultra-runner of the year.
Luis Alberto Hernando won Transvulcania, became Skyrunning World Champion for the ultra distance and became IAU World Trail Champion. That is a solid year and Luis has raced less having become a Dad. Had his feet not fallen apart at UTMB, he may well have been in the running with Jim for male ultra-runner of the year.
Diego Pazos is a name to watch and has surprised many in 2016. He’s my heads-up for the future. He had a notable result at Transgrancanaria early in 2016 but what followed was quite incredible, his victory at Mont-Blanc 80km a highlight!
Didrik Hermansen won Transgrancanaria and then placed 2nd at Western States. That is solid and shows real diversity. What will 2017 hold for him? Listen HEREand as Sondre corrects me, Didrik ran 6:45 and 6:38 for 100k.
Running Beyond Book was released in October and November to a worldwide audience and has been translated into Spanish, Italian, German, Swedish and of course is available in English. Containing 240-pages, this large coffee table books documents the sport of trail, ultra, mountain and skyrunning in images and words, HERE
Dan Lawson (UK) won the IAU 24 Hour European Championships in 2016 with a distance of 261.843 kilometres (162.702 mi).
Jasmin Paris has elevated herself to a whole new level in 2016. This quiet and shy fell runner set new records for the UK’s ‘Rounds’ and in the process placed 6th at UTMB (her first 100) won Tromso SkyRace, won Glencoe Skyline, became the Skyrunner World Series Extreme Champion 2016 and in addition to countless other races, also placed on the podium at the Skyrunning World Championships for the ultra distance behind Caroline Chaverot. Interviews with Jasmin Paris HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE
Joe Grant set a new record on the 14’ers in 31-days by cycling between trailheads and then summiting all the 14’ers (50+ of them) on foot to then return back to his cycle and then continue on his journey. He was self-sufficient for the whole trip. “I did set a speed record, but that wasn’t my goal,” says Grant, 33, an accomplished ultrarunner who finished second at the 2012 Hardrock 100. “The goal was to challenge myself and see the state, although the previous record served as a reference for how long I could take.” taken from trailrunningmag.
Megan Hicks also completed a ’14’ journey, the Nolans 14 in Colorado. She completed the journey in 57:19:19 to the summit of the 14th peak and then completed the journey back to the Fish Hatchery Trailhead in under 60-hours – 59:36. Her time is the fastest ever completed by a woman.
Nicky Spinks continues to inspire and while she may have lost her ‘Round’ records to Jasmin Paris, she went on to set a new benchmark with a record for a double Bob Graham Round – Nick is an inspiration! You can listen to an interview with her HERE
Ludovic Pommeret ran the most controlled and impressive UTMB ever moving from not being in contention to slowly but surely ticking off the runners ahead and taking the crown at the largest ultra in the world. Add to this victory four other victories and Ludovic is one to keep an eye on in ’17.’
Caroline Boller set new American Trail 50-mile record 5:48:01
Gina Slaby set new female 100-mile WR 13:45:49 for ‘any’ surface, Anne Trason had the previous record of 13:47:41 set in the early 90’s.
Skyline Scotland achieved a first with Glencoe Skyline achieving Skyrunner World Status in the Extreme category and as such, the 2016 edition of the race had arguably one of the best fields assembled on UK soil for a mountain race. HERE
Jon Albon transitioned from obstacle racing (something he still does and excels at) to Skyrunning and won the 2016 Skyrunner World Series Extreme category. We are going to see more of him in 2017! HERE
Samantha Gash ran across India in a project called ‘Run India’ as a means to create awareness and raise money. Covering over 3000km you can listen to her story in episode 125 of Talk Ultra out on Friday 16th December.
Ida Nilsson started the year with a win in Transvulcania, she took victory at The Rut and then in early December won San Francisco 50. Without doubt, Ida is a star of the future. Listen to Ida talk about Transvulcania HERE
Stu Leaney breaks Michael Wardian’s 50km treadmill record by just 7-seconds
Mina Guli ran 40-marathons across 7 deserts on 7 continents in 7 weeks to raise awareness for water, listen to the interview HERE
Jason Schlarb started his year by prepping for Hardrock 100 by skiing the course, listen to the interview HERE
Skyrunning and the world series (SWS) elevated to new heights with an increased circuit that traveled the globe and the addition of the new Extreme series.
And finally (maybe), Donnie Campbell just recently set a new Winter Ramsay Round record to finish a very solid year!
So what have I missed?
I am well aware that I will have missed some key performances in 2016 and I welcome you commenting and letting me know. Of course, many performances, races or experiences will resonate on a personal level for you. I can think of many British performances that are worthy of a nod – Jo Meek’s 2nd at the CCC, Paul Giblin 5th at Western States, Joasia Zakrzewski’s medal at the 100k World Champs for example.