Trail Relays – a new concept

Ragnar Relays by Salomon
We are excited to announce Ragnar Trail Relays presented by Salomon — the world’s first overnight trail relay series.

 

It’s time to go off-road on some of nation’s most majestic trails. Each stop in the trail relay series features a two-day outdoor adventure as teams run looped trails at national parks and outdoor resort venues. Each race has a central location where runners will take off with staggered start times, run one of three loops of varying difficulty, then return to handoff to their next teammate. That central area, called Ragnar Village, will feature a Salomon and Suunto tent where runners can check out the latest trail running gear, including shoes, outdoor watches, apparel and hydration packs, and get trail running tips from Salomon pro staff. Suunto is Ragnar Trail Relay’s official timing sponsor and sister brand to Salomon, and will manage the race start and finish times at each event. Teams will typically finish the 120-ish mile course in 20 hours on average.

“Our passion for trail running drives us to grow the sport,” says Ashley Williams, vice president of marketing at Amer Sports Americas. “Yet as we continue to develop products, one thing stands out as a key to this growth– team. Now, by combining the trail running expertise of Salomon and Suunto with the team bonding of Ragnar, everyone wins.”

Ragnar Trail Relays will debut April 26-27 at the Zion Ponderosa Ranch near Zion National Park, Utah. Additional 2013 calendar dates include:

• April 26-27, Zion Ponderosa Ranch (Zion National Park, Utah)

• June 7-8, Big Bear Lake (Morgantown, West Virginia)

• July 26-27, Sierra at Tahoe (Lake Tahoe, California)

• August 23-24, Snowbasin (Huntsville, Utah)

• October 18-19, McDowell Mountain (Scottsdale, AZ)

• November 15-16, Vail Lake Resort (Temecula, California)

You can register at www.ragnartrail.com

 

Salomon Sense Mantra

Salomon Sense Mantra

The Salomon Sense Mantra may very well be a shoe that introduces ‘new’ runners to mid or forefoot running with cushioning and comfort and a 6mm drop or provide efficient runners with a shoe of greater comfort over longer distances.

The ‘Mantra’ is the the second brother to the S-Lab Sense that Kilian Jornet used in winning the 2011 WS100, the first brother being the ‘new’ S-Lab Sense Ultra.

Why the Mantra?

Well, the Sense and Sense Ultra at 4mm ‘drop’ may very well be two of the most desirable shoes in the run market place at the moment, but for many it may very well be a step too far… especially if coming from a conventional road or trail shoe with a 12mm drop.

Drop? What’s that then… well in the Mantra the ‘drop’ is 6mm. Clearly shown in this image.

Heel Drop Salomon Sense Mantra

Drop is quite simply the difference between heel and toe height. The ‘lower’ the drop, in theory, the more natural the foot strike. It has long been proven that a mid to forefoot strike is far better for efficiency. However, until the ‘barefoot‘ and ‘minimalist‘ movement primarily fuelled by Chris McDougall’s book ‘Born to Run‘, many of us probably didn’t even know what our shoe drop was…

Drop isn’t everything though. Cushioning is also really important. In the Mantra the cushioning at the front of the shoe is 10mm and 16mm at the rear, so, a cushioned shoe!

This additional cushioning combined with a 6mm drop clearly means that the Mantra is firmly placed at enticing two types of runner:

  • Firstly, Sense or Sense Ultra users who want a low drop shoe with additional cushioning for longer races or training.
  • Secondly, runners who have been using ‘conventional’ shoes who would like to move to a lower drop and improve run technique with a mid – forefoot strike.

The Mantra in a nutshell offers a little more cushioning than it’s S-Lab brothers, a little more protection and a longer OS Tendon to return more energy. The lower heel drop will allow tendons/muscles to absorb more shock from the running motion and remove stress away from joints. Ultimately, this improvement in run technique will provide greater running efficient for less effort, less injury and a more balanced runner.

OS Tendon? This provides a balanced flex within the shoe and according to Salomon provides improved energy return.

Key Features of the shoe:

Endofit : This is one of the key features of the Sense range that I love. It is an internal sleeve within the shoe, almost like a sock. It does mean that the ‘Sense’ range can be a little awkward to get on at first making you even question if you have the right size shoe. But once your foot slides in you are rewarded with a tight fitting shoe that grips the foot providing a firm, secure and confident feel. Designed for Kilian Jornet so that he could run without a sock. Please keep this in mind. I have gone true to size and use a thin sock and they feel great. If you are planning on using a more padded sock you may need a half size larger.

Salomon Sense Mantra sole

Dynamic Traction : A Salomon patented system allowing for maximum surface area and traction. Designed for ‘Road to Trail’ the Dynamic Traction grips in the dry and provides security in mud.

Profeet Film : Quite literally a thin fim that runs through the top of the midsole to provide security and protection from the trail that you will run on.

Sensifit :  The upper wraps the foot for precision.

Quicklace : A renowned feature of all Salomon shoes with a ‘garage’ the top of the tongue to store excess lace.

Weight is around 260g for a UK9.5 so it compares well to the Sense Ultra at 230g and The North Face Single Track Hayasa at 280g (this shoe has a 10mm drop).

Testing

Early days yet but as one would imagine,  this shoe brings many benefits to an already growing shoe collection. As an alternative to lighter and lower drop shoes such as the Sense or Sense Ultra, the Mantra will provide some welcome additional comfort on those longer days on road or trail.

Watch this blog and I will be back with an update as the miles and mud accumulates.

Salomon Running available HERE

Salomon Sense Ultra

The long awaited ‘Sense Ultra‘ has arrived. THANK YOU Santa……

As many of you will know, the ‘Sense‘ has become the shoe of choice for those who are wanting to run on trail with a minimalist and responsive shoe. However, we can’t all be as efficient as Kilian Jornet or Andy Symonds.

The Sense Ultra offers a little more but holds true to all the elements that have made the ‘sense’ so popular.

The Salomon S-LAB Sense Ultra Racing is one of the lightest trail shoes ever made. It is heavier than the Sense but has added strengthening of the sole for longer and harder races.

It has the new lacing system: Quicklace this reduces the weight of Sense.
Dynamic Traction:  allows the Salomon S lab Sense  optimum grip in all conditions. It wasdeveloped by Solomon with the greatest athletes without any compromise. It has different grip and texture which has been designed to optimize grip when it is necessary.
EndoFit: has an inner liner to the shoe designed for positioning the foot optimally.
Drop: a low 4mm drop to provide a natural contact and feel with the ground.
OS TENDON: Thanks to this system inserted in the sole of the S lab intermediare sense, there is a natural flow with excellent energy return.
Profeet Film: is a protection film that will protect your foot area from angular or sharp objects that are on the trail. The Sense offers maximum protection despite its lightness.
Weight: 240g in 8.5 U.S.

When you lift up the box you think wait a minute… they forgot the shoes! Not so. These ‘runners’ are super light.

The lacing system as with all Salomon in reassuring and holds the foot firm.

The addition of the internal ‘Endofit’ makes the shoe more comfortable than you would ever imagine. They can be a little tight to get on at first and you may initially think; uh oh, wrong size. But once your foot is it is snug and supremely comfortable. The most comfortable shoe I have ever worn.

I am not a small guy and the therefore I always felt the original ‘Sense‘ was maybe just a little too minimal for me… certainly on longer runs! not so with the ‘Ultra’. The additional cushioning is immediately apparent.

The sole has grip but nothing like the ‘SLab Softground‘ or ‘Speedcross‘. The shoe is therefore certainly more suited to road and hard pack (or rocky) trail. If your running in soft ground they perform perfectly but if you are a great deal of mud the added grip of the Soft Ground or Speedcross may be a better choice.

In use they are a dream to wear. On the roads they are light, responsive and provide that feel that I have had with traditional racing flats. The bonus with the ‘Sense Ultra’ is the hold of the foot. The speed lacing and Endofit provide supreme comfort. On the trails this becomes even more apparent as the foot moves from left to right with changes in terrain.

It’s early days in testing but this shoe will not be of my feet for a while… they are so comfortable I would even be tempted to use them as slippers.

Now then, I need to go run…..

As a foot note, (no pun intended) Spring/ Summer 2013 will see a new Sense model – ‘Mantra

I saw this shoe earlier this year at Cavalls del Vent. A couple of the Salomon runners tested the shoe (Emelie Forsberg and Philipp Reiter) By all accounts a great edition to the range but too early to provide some detailed feedback.

The Mantra will be an everyday trainer in the same mold as the Sense and Sense Ultra. It’s a door-to-trail hybrid. With it’s 16mm heel and 10mm front (6mm drop as opposed to 4mm) and 260 grams weight, it looks to be a featherweight trainer without requiring the user to go to a 4mm drop shoe. Salomon has been heavily delving into exactly how different heel-to-toe drops effect actual stride speed which has resulted in their “Natural Motion Construction.”  A lower heel drop supports a mid-foot or forefoot strike that in turn better enables muscles, instead of joints, to absorb shock. Ultimately, their argument is this builds greater balance and overall running efficiency. More to follow….

Sense Mantra

Sense Mantra

Los Llanos de Aridane – La Palma

Day 7 (Friday) Niandi and myself went sight seeing, cake eating and coffee drinking in the beautiful town of Los Llanos de Aridane. Los Llanos is the finish area for the Transvulcania La Palma.

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It’s a great place. It has a mixture of modern shops, traditional architecture and one has the opportunity to see local life unfold. Thankfully no signs saying “English Pub” or “English Breakfast served here”. It is as a Spanish town should be; Spanish!

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For me with all the pastel coloured buildings it has a feel of Cuba. Now I haven’t been to Cuba so I am make some serious assumptions here…. however, I am happy with my speculation!

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I left Niandi at surfing and answering emails at ‘Tasca El Patio‘. A great little cafe in one of the many side streets in Los Llanos. I went to KN Sports situated in the town. No matter how much sport kit I get I still love checking out whats available. These guys had a great selection of Salomon kit so I did wonder if I would be parting with some money….

In the store I was greeted like a celebrity. It was a real random moment. I was asked to be photographed with each of the staff one by one and the manager in front of a huge ‘Kilian’ poster. At first I was confused… I thought it must be because I was British. As it turned out they are big followers of Facebook and my blog. Funny!

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The relaxing morning was followed with Niandi taking some chill and relax time at our villa but I needed a fix. I went out for just a couple of hours on local trails in the late afternoon sun. Taking the LP13 trail I ran down the valley and went rock and boulder hopping.

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Our evening was spent with some friends in Tazacorte Port eating and drinking the local specialities. A perfect day in La Palma…

You can see a selection of images HERE

Episode 23 – King, Kremer & Davies

We speak to man of the moment Max King after his incredible wins at UROC and JFK50. Oz fast man, Brendan Davies talks about the ultra scene down under and his win at GNW100. Pocket Rocket Stevie Kremer tells us what it’s like to move from the US to Italy and race at the highest level. Talk Training with Marc Laithwaite is about run shoes. We have the news with Ian Sharman, a blog post with Ellie Greenwood, up and coming races and of course Speedgoat Karl Meltzer.

Libsyn – HERE

ITunes HERE

RSS – HERE

Website – talkultra.com

Show Notes

00:00:00

00:00:45 show start

00:22:00 Interview with Brendan Davies website here

Apart from running, I enjoy a lot of other sports; mountain biking, adventure racing, rogaining, skin/scuba diving and still play social squash. I guess I do these things as I love pushing my mind and body to the limits and being rewarded with fitness, health and friendships that have positive impacts on all aspects of my life. It also gives me the quiet time I need to process all the garbage that life throws at you.

00:51:46 News with Ian Sharman

01:11:00 Interview with Stevie Kremer here

01:32:45 Back to the news

01:38:30 Blog – Ellie Greenwood blog post here

It gets to this time of year and with one racing year winding down it’s time to start planning a little for the following year.  My schedule is never set in stone and I’m sure there will be changes before hitting some of these start lines.

01:42:07 Talk Training with Marc Laithwaite – run shoes

02:09:05 Interview with Max King

Date of Birth:
February 24, 1980

Place of Birth:
Sacramento, CA

Current Home town: 
Bend, OR

Primary Race Distance:
Hmm, 3k to 50 mile. What’s primary mean anyway?

Other hobbies or sports:
Shoes, running up hills, skiing, mountain biking

What MHW/ Montrail gear and clothing is in your quiver for a typical day at/ on the trail? 
Rogue Racers
Effusion Tights
Geist Jacket
Wicked Lite L/S
Power Stretch Glove
If it’s nice then the Ultra Refueler Shorts and Way2Cool shirt.

How were you introduced to your sport? 
I wasn’t always a “team player” and I was terrible at ball sports. I used to crush the other kids in the PE mile though so I went out for track in 7th grade.

What inspires you?
Lots of things: A cold stormy run through deep forest on a flowing single track trail, seeing someone else make a huge breakthrough after months or years of hard training, or just the pre-race adrenaline that comes when all the best racers toe the line.

What advice would you give to newcomers to (your sport) today? 
It’s all about having fun and working hard. There are no special secrets to anyone’s running success, it’s all hard work.

What’s your favorite pre race meal? 
A Hammer Bar or oatmeal.

What the first thing you look forward to doing after a long run / race? 
Eating, I like to eat. A lot. It might not show but I run to eat and I eat to run.

How do you balance your training schedule with your “real” job? 
I quit my real job.

Do you have any pre-race/ pre-competition rituals? 
Sure, but I can’t tell you or it would jinx my superstitions.

In 10 years I hope to be…
Doing the same thing I’m doing today. I envy those guys that are still improving at 40+ and hope that I’ll be doing the same.

Six-word bio:
Pain is weakness leaving the body.

When singing karaoke, what song do you sing to bring down the house? 
If I could even sing, it would be: Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen

What music gets you fired up? 
Linkin Park

If you were a super hero, who would you be? 
Wolverine, he’s just plain bad ass. And yes, I’m a comic book geek.

02:48:40 Back to Karl

02:55:56 A Meltzer Moment with Speedgoat Karl

03:00:00 Up & coming races for the next two weeks

03:01:10 Show close

03:05:24

 

Kilian’s Quest S4 E08

“the most important thing about running is, not so much how many races can I win but it’s about keeping the passion alive…. inspiring the new generation… that is more important… pass the torch to the next generation” Pablo Vigil

Problems with the video clip? Please go HERE

In the last encounter of this season, Kilian meets with Pablo Vigil at his home in Colorado. For Pablo it’s all about “keeping the passion alive and inspire future generations” ! Two different generations of runners and yet…so similar

Runners World South Africa

Linda Doke and myself had the opportunity to go for an incredible 5/6 hour play in the mountains after the iconic Skyrunning Sierre-Zinal earlier this year.

For me it was everything one could wish for… awesome trail, fantastic views, beautiful weather and the opportunity to take some great images.

One image has been used in Runners World South Africa. The article features Linda writing about 5 International trail races.

Salomon Skyrun South Africa

Ryan Sandes talks about his prep via this link HERE

watch?v=AsFBJj8b6H0

RACE DATE November 3rd

Official website HERE

Who to watch for the 2012 race

This 2012 Salomon Skyrun is going to be a great race! Defending Champion, Bruce Arnett will be back but he is going to have to beat Iain Don- Wauchope who recently won the Otter (Retto) with a sub 4:30 course record and Salomon sensation Ryan Sandes who placed 2nd at the Western States. Others to watch out for are Dreyer van Huysteen, Paul Mokehetsi and Salomon Athletes Jock Green and Lance Chapman. It is 100km of self-supported, self-navigation running so experience really counts!

Several potential winners in the Ladies race with Sue Chapman, Landie Visser Greyling and Yancey Truluck taking on the experience of local Donna Green.

RACE INFO (taken from race website)

The First Official SKYRUN : The first official Skyrun took place in 1997 with 15 maverick ‘Skyrunners’, however Skyrun had to be cancelled at Snowdon Peak due to extreme weather conditions, gale force winds, snow and sleet. At the time we had a TV film crew in attendance with ‘Old Mutual World of Endurance’, motivated by Two Oceans organiser Chet Sainsburry. John Fobian and Brent Robart assisted with a SAPS Helicopter and medical support back up. The following two Skyruns 1998 with 27 finishing and 1999 with 44 Skyrunners, both ended in Rhodes with consistent winner, Bruce Arnett who started his winning streak in 1998, in his first attempt at trail/wilderness running. Helen Collins then editor of Runners World SA labelled Skyrun as “SA’s Ultimate Ultra”, in the April 1998 Runners World, unfortunately in participating in 1998, Helen baled out at Olympus Peak after suffering from altitude sickness, however her companion and good friend, Talia Raphaely completed the Skyrunning adventure in really ‘heavy’ weather getting caught up in lightning strikes and thunderstorms. Articles in the Comrades Magazine Beyond 42 confirmed these initial claims. In the year 2000, 60 Skyrunners started with 41 completing the distance now ending at Tiffindel Ski. 2001 had 82 entries and 2002, 77 entries. 2003 was almost washed out with extreme floods, where many streams could not be crossed due to flooding. We had SANDF, military support from the men in Umtata under the command of Lt/Col Louis Buys.

Running Wild – Flying High : The Tiffindel finnish is too keep Skyrun essentially what I see as a ‘pure’ Mountain Wilderness Run, on an unmarked trail, in as much it follows the main ridge line of the Witteberge and Southern Drakensberg along the Herschel Border fence line, serving as a very basic route indicator. This was the initial route until the ‘short cut’ pioneered by Bruce Arnett for ‘speed’ and ease, became the accepted route, cutting out the Snowdon Annex and the main ridge line through to Avoca Peak, from Snowdon Peak.

The Destination:

The Witteberg is a South African mountain range just off the south-west corner of Lesotho. The range, which rises to 2408 metres, stretches for about 60km from Lundin’s Nek in the east to Lady Grey in the west. The range lends its name to the Witteberg Series, the uppermost fossiliferous sequence of the Cape System of sedimentary rocks in South Africa. The race starts in the town of Lady Grey which is famous for its annual Nativity Play and its quaint houses and incredible scenery. Discover the wonder of Balloch cave along the route with it bushman art and idyllic setting nestled between some of the highest peaks in the Witteberg.

The Witteberg range is one of the most picturesque places in South Africa with some distinctive peaks like Avoca and Halston Peaks dominating the skyline.

The Terrain:

The Salomon SkyRun is true mountain running with a variety of terrain from hiking paths that lead you up to the tower, some jeep track is a welcome relief from the majority of the terrain which is on the mountain side as this is a self-supported and self-navigation the route choice is very much in the hands of the individual competitors. Once you have left the town of Lady Grey behind the beauty and remoteness of these mountains soon engulfs you and it is not uncommon to run for the entire race without seeing much civilization around you except those involved in the race.

The fauna and flora is incredible and there are over 650 plant and 80 animal species know to habitat the mountains of the Witteberg.

The Trail:

The Salomon SkyRun and SkyRun Lite are unique in that they are truly self-supported and self-navigational races, where athletes tackle the remote terrain of the Witteberg Mountain range with a Map a Compass or GPS unit and a back pack containing all there food, water and compulsory equipment that will enable them to survive in this harsh environment, while operating at an average height of between 2200-2500 meters above sea level.

The trail starts in Lady Grey and the first 65km of the route is the same for both races, after the compulsory stop and medical check at Balloch are the Skyrunners allowed to continue while the Lite runners have completed their journey. The route climbs sharply out of Lady Grey to the first check point at the Tower; this is about a 12km run and is a combination of hiking trails and mountain running. As you climb the trail to the tower the majestic landscape unfolds in front of you and it now feels as if you are on top of Africa. Following the fence line you make your way along the ridge line to the second check point which is at Olympus, this is another 10km and the terrain is now devoid of paths and trails and athletes must decide which is the best route to the check point. After Olympus the athletes can pick up a small trail that will lead them to Snowden

which is check point 3 another 11km or so, there is a natural spring just past Snowden where you can fill up your water bladders (does depend on how much rain has fallen so not always guaranteed a lot of water) before making your way to Avoca Peak the highest point (2756m) on the race. The climb up Avoca peak is challenging as the gradient is steep and the terrain is rough especially after good summer rain. From Avoca the route takes you over the “Dragonback” a ridge line that is about 3 meters wide with steep descends on either side, a fantastic formation of rock that is a feature of the race and a spectacular viewing point on a clear day. The route flattens out for a while as you move towards CP6 at Skidor which is again a leg of about 10km. At Skidor you descend into the valley down a technical descend before picking up the river that will lead you to the compulsory stop at Balloch Cave having now covered about 65km of the race.

Once Athletes have done their medical and been give the all clear by the doctor, it upwards and onwards as they take on the challenge of Balloch Wall a climb with a vertical ascent of over 500m in just 3km and back down the other side on the way to CP 8 at Edgehill Farm. Most athletes will now be operating in the dark as night fall will have replaced the harsh African sun. Navigating through the Bridal Pass from EdgeHill to the turn is tricky with a lot of athletes losing a lot of time trying to find the correct entrance into the pass that will lead them onto the ridgeline again. The Bridal pass has now been included as a waypoint on the route to assist athletes in negotiating the pass. A steady climb up the Pass will take you onto the ridgeline and to the check point at the Turn. From here you will double back toward the Wartrail Country Club via Halston Peak which is the last check point on the route. The climb down from Halston’s is technical and is made more difficult by the fact that you are very fatigued at this stage but buoyed by the fact that you are now heading to the finish at Wartrail Country Club.

The Event:

The Salomon SkyRun is an Epic Mountain run of 100km considered by many athletes to be the toughest Trail Run in South Africa. The event is made up of two options the SkyRun Lite a 65km one day run or the big daddy of trail the 100km SkyRun. The event takes place in early Nov each year and is unique in that the event is self-supported and athletes must navigate themselves between the check points on the route. This is one of the few runs that is unmarked and un-supported and this is one of the reasons that it is considered to be such a challenge and a must for most serious trail runners. Entries are limited to 250 athletes for both events.

The 100km run is not recommended if you are a novice/beginner trail runner, and proof of previous trail event finishes may be required.  Rather opt for the 65km run presented on the same weekend.

LIVE race tracking HERE

Royal Parks Ultra

The inaugural Royal Parks Ultra took place today on a sunny and warm day in the capital. London really is quite a beautiful place when the sun shines on it!

A misty cool morning gave away to blue skies and warm temperatures.

I was at the race with the very kind help and cooperation of Salomon who had two star athletes taking part;

 Dimitrios Theodorakakos and Silvia Serafinii

They both won! Silvia running so quickly that she was 4th overall and this may very well have been a top 3 had she not been of course multiple times through poor course marking and complacent marshalling. Dimitrios ran 3:25:19 and Silvia 3:39:15.

Dimitrios almost lost the race due to errors from course marking and marshalling…. from a comfortable lead he ended up being neck and neck with 2nd place Julian Rendell  and then pushed away again in the closing stages to secure victory!

Dimitrios said “the course markings are terrible and the marshals are too busy on phones… by the time they realised I was there it was too late… six times I went of course. The organisers seriously need to look at some significant improvements for next year!’

Silvia confirmed “I went off course so many times… it’s terrible! If I am running a ‘marked’ course I want it to be marked. Today was too stressful. It as all very well when running slower and you have the time to look around but if you are racing I just want to concentrate on speed and effort… not worrying if I am course”

Not great! Considering the ultra had a small field in comparison to the Half Marathon (12,000) the race had some great pluses. A wonderful course around the parks of London, post race massage, good food provisions post race and a great setting. If only they could get the course marking to that standard… in addition, each runner got a wooden medal; a nice touch!

This race has great potential and will be a perfect race for those venturing up from marathon distance. It includes road and easy trail and at 50k it is the perfect step up distance.

Here are images from the day.

Vibram HK100

 

The Vibram Hong Kong 100

 

The Vibram® Hong Kong 100 is an ultra endurance race that takes place in Hong Kong.  The 100km course starts in Pak Tam Chung on the Sai Kung Peninsula and covers some of the most beautiful scenery in Hong Kong, including remote and unspoilt beaches, ancient forests, nature trails, reservoirs and steep hills.  The course is based around Hong Kong’s famous Maclehose Trail, but with some diversions to ensure that runners spend more time in its most scenic sections, as well as finishing with the descent from Hong Kong’s highest peak (Tai Mo Shan).  The course involves a cumulative elevation gain of over 4500 meters and the cut-off time is 32 hours.  This is a unique, challenging and beautiful run for the trail running enthusiast and a chance to take part in an unforgettable event.  Join us and make some memories!

 

Application for 2013 Vibram® Hong Kong 100 is now open.  First come first served so please register without delay! Registration HERE

Useful information on training for a 100 km event is available here

The Vibram® Hong Kong 100 is a qualifying event for the 2014 Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc® (3 p0ints) and (if a time under 14 hours is achieved) the Western States 100.