Samantha Gash – Run India

Photo ©nicdavidson

Photo ©nicdavidson

Samantha Gash runs an incredible 3200km across India.

On 22 August Samantha Gash began a 3200km run across India. Samantha has partnered with World Vision to visit the communities they work with across India along the way. She will learn first-hand about the challenges they face, as well as sharing the stories of success that are providing hope for their future.

Samantha, an endurance athlete from Melbourne and passionate advocate for social change, ran from one of the driest deserts on earth (Jaisalmer, Rajasthan) and ended the run in the wettest place on earth (Mawsynram, Meghalaya).

The Cause:

A quality education can be the foundation that helps young people around the world achieve their dreams. From literacy and numeracy to essential life skills, education equips children with the tools they need to make positive life choices, advocate for their rights and support themselves and their families. Education is also a fundamental human right – one that too many children don’t get to enjoy.

The barriers that prevent children from accessing – and completing – a quality education are complex. Through Run India, you can join Sam as she delves deeper into the challenges facing Indian communities today – and witness incredible stories of change. Sam will be visiting 18 World Vision’s Area Development Projects across India and sharing the stories of people she meets in these communities. Tackling issues such as malnutrition, access to appropriate water and sanitation, early marriage and gender bias. These projects demonstrate World Vision’s holistic approach to community development and commitment to ensuring that all children can access the education they deserve.

The funds you raise through Run India will support six World Vision projects across India. You will be part of a movement that transforms lives through the power of education.

You can donate to Run India here

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The Interview:

Ian: It’s been quite an epic journey. I was trying to think the last time we had you on the show and I think it was when you ran with Mimi Anderson in South Africa?

Samantha: Yes, in 2014. That would have been November 2014. Two years later.

Ian: Two years later, so you have Run India!

Samantha: Two years later. Yes, Run India!

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Ian: Before we go into the nitty gritty and you can tell everybody all about the details of this. In simple terms the planned route was 3,800 kilometers taking approximate 76 days, averaging 50 kilometers a day. The whole process was not just you sort of fulfilling a passion to run across India and tick another ultra-box but it had a real reason. Like everything that you do it’s about creating money and creating awareness. Tell us a little bit about the whole process?

Samantha: Firstly, I knew from the get go that the route was not going to be 3.800km, but everyone wants a figure… I remember trying without much success, trying to say in every interview beforehand give or take a couple hundred Ks. It’s not like I’d gone out and mapped the route. The route was based on as much prior knowledge but I’ve always wanted to have that level of flexibility to make changes obviously based on safety but more based on an interest about a certain area.

I wanted to be able to go with the flow and change something. I was clear that the route would change and it did for both race and safety and for interest sake. The run was, if we’re going to talk about numbers let’s get those over and done with. The run was 3,253 Km’s. I stuck to kind of the time frame in fact I had no choice, I had to stick to the time frame because I had certain dates when I was going to community visits. The idea was to make sure I could get to those certain places on a certain date because these communities take quite a lot of planning when they have someone from the outside coming in. So, the reality was that this dictated the route and time frame.

Our goal was to meet with certain people and do interviews and to sometimes do experiential processes where I would see how they would cook meals, see their family and so on. I had so many ceremonial dances and songs. Most of the rewarding moments are when I would be sitting in someone’s home, a home that should only fit one person but has 15 people in there and I was just speaking to people about how they live their life and what are their hopes and what are the challenges.

I very much think that my run and the brutality of the run — I hate the road and my run was pretty much all on the road. To run the road like that I feel like my role and my treat was to get invited into strangers’ homes and to have those interactions.

Ian: One of the things that strikes me immediately is covering this distance and covering this distance over the amounts of days that you did it and covering a big chunk of mileage every day is stressful enough as it is because you’re worried about getting injured, you’re looking at your nutrition, you’re looking at your hydration but then on top of that, you’ve got all these other things going on.

You’ve got a time frame where you need to be in certain place which means that certain days you’re going to have to run a certain distance whether you want to or not, but also there’s logistics and there’s planning. I’m fully appreciative that you’re going to enlighten me on how that planning and everything happens because that’s obviously something that you can’t do while you’re running, so there’s a great team of people behind you organizing all that.

Is this type of thing a real positive in that it refocuses your mind and takes your mind away from the actual running and it provides a distraction? Or is it a distraction that impacts on the running?

Samantha: All the above at different times. It was brutal particularly the first month. You plan so hard for two years and you think that our plan will equate to success particularly when we’re diligent, when we work with the right people and then you get to India… I have done a lot of traveling in developing countries and I realize that nothing goes to plan.

I got very sick from week two to week four because it was so hard to get my head around just the immense amount of changes happening every day. I get there and the monsoon season had been much later this year which meant the humidity was high. I’m running in nearly 40 degree of temperature and high humidity – It made Costa Rica seem like a walk in the park with the temperature.

©bruceviaene

©bruceviaene

Ian: I was going to say The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica was must have been preparation for that?

Samantha: Oh, my god. I kept thinking where are those water crossings that I could just put my entire body in? Luckily I had Nicky Kimball who came out and joined me for part of the run, I met her in Costa Rica and we just kept saying, “Oh my god, this is so humid. This is just unbelievably humid.”

I had three teams out there with me. My crew which travelled with me, I had an Indian based logistics team that I had contracted in, they were well versed with the areas that I was running in and then I had a security team.

Essentially I had these three teams and I had a team leader from the Indian side because culture is different and you must respect it. You need an Indian team leader to look after that side of things and then I had an Australian team leader who I’d hoped would bridge that gap between all the different teams. To put it out there, my Australian team leader couldn’t cope with India, it’s completely understandable but it was very unfortunate.

He couldn’t cope with the intensity of India, the lack of privacy. We had a camper and were pretty much sleeping on top of each, add such high temperature as well and he just had a bit of a break down. Unfortunately considering the project was my baby and everyone else was pretty pushed as it was, my paramedic who was there for the first five weeks’ kind of took over some of the financial components of the project. But in terms of the liaising with the teams, it fell in to my lap which is not good. Tip – never ever allow yourself to be the one that deals with the rest of the human interactions when you must push yourself and do the running. Not a good idea!

It’s never going to be done as successfully as it can be done. I got to one point after I got very sick and I just got this realization, “Sam, a successful day for you is if you can just keep moving forward and no one wants to walk out on the project.”

The sickness was an issue, when I got to Deli I had an MRI on my knee because something felt wrong.

I got the results back and I had a couple of issues but nothing like what I thought I was going to have. I adjusted a mental shift and then we kind of went up north to the Himalayas and I just felt that there was a shift in the project from that point on wards.

Ian: It’s exhausting listening to you saying it.

Samantha: I haven’t even touched on the chaos!

Ian: Yes, I can imagine. I can absolutely imagine. You started on the Pakistan side and then went across, you went up towards Nepal and then came across towards Bangladesh. It’s part of the world I have visited and I can completely get what you’re saying about the chaos. There’s elements of these areas that are very very well planned. Very well-organized, but the problem is, nobody else knows what those plans are. Somebody knows, but nobody else knows. It’s about communicating with that person, and making sure that that person or several people are in line with the plan. I’m guessing that was one of the big stresses that you are having to deal with day in and day out.

Samantha: Yes. You just described it beautifully and I haven’t thought of it that way. Running across India is like running across a lot of different countries. If you know the history of India, it just had so much shit and border change, the language and dialects. Everything is just so… it can change every 50 kilometers. You must put so much responsibility in your Indian team and then accept on a cultural level of things are very, very different. You must give in to that when you do a project that’s in a country that’s not like yours. When you don’t accept that, that’s when things go wrong.

I remember saying to my crew constantly, stop longing for things that you’re going to have in a couple of weeks’ time. Accept and embrace what you have now which you’ll never ever have again. I was incredibly grounded into just try to make the most of every moment. Sometimes you feel you’re getting fleeced by that, and you start to second guess things when you’re being communicated too. Because India is sometimes the culture where people try and make the best of every situation.

You must think why that’s the case. That’s the whole point of empathy. I think it’s irrelevant for day to day life. But we think of India, population of 1.26 billion. People who are very successful are ones who have made the most of any opportunity that comes their way. Sometimes that gets interpreted differently from people. I just think I learned so much about my own ability to deal with stressful situations. I think just being very grounded and present with the survival being out there.

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Ian: I knew Nikki Kimball was joining you because I’d spent time with her when I was in America, and you bumped into Emily Forsberg, she was out doing her yoga camp. Can you tell me how that came about?

In addition to all that, there was content being put on your website. The Run India website, and the address for that is runindia.org.au. There were stories appearing on there like Deepika’s determination to get education. There was one about self-defense, about a brave father being reunited with his daughter. How was that content being put together, was that content being put together in real-time as you were running?

Samantha: Yes, most it. That content was created with the supportive of World Vision and the community visits that we did. I had about 16 community visits that I did along the way, and within each of those community visits I probably did three to five different interactions around that community, and all of that we filmed. I mean, we learned along the way which were the better ways of filming it. Sometimes we would just first go in there and speak to people, do the interaction and then do a post interview. Other times we would film along the way.

You just had to learn quickly which was going to be the best way of creating content that could be shared later. We had one videographer out there with me. We would film it all, and then we would send it off trying to upload that content, that footage every night. It’s really, interesting.

Ian: Yes, I know that pain. Internet is not a strong point of these places.

Samantha: Exactly! World Vision wanted us to send it in hard drives back to this editing house in the south in India. And I was like, “There’s no way we’re going to find a post office to send you these.” So, we did the uploading, which brings its own problems – they did a great job.

The whole point of the project was to explore the barriers to why a child in India can’t go to school, and to look at it in a geographical sense that as you go across the country and the road that we were traveling across, those barriers are so unique to that area, and what makes up that area. We looked at malnutrition, which I think is a consistent barrier across the entire country. The prevalence of the sex trade, child marriage, all these different subjects such as personal safety and protection, particularly when you’re in the urban centers of India.

Those stories were about looking at education, but looking at the barriers. As opposed to just education itself.

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Ian: What’s amazing and it’s always been one of the things that I’ve always enjoyed about you as a runner. Running almost is an accident for you. And I don’t mean that in a derogatory way. But if I think back to when we first met, when we first started to talk, you’re a very educated person from a very educated background. You gave up a very successful career to start running. I guess it was that career that originally enabled you to take on the 4Desert races. You were the first female, the first youngest person to complete that – Gobi, Sahara, Atacama and Antarctica. Was it this experience that made you realize that there was an opportunity for you?

But also, using your education and your background to turn it all in to good. It’s obvious when you’re speaking now that you’re not talking about running. You’re talking about awareness. You’re talking about people. You’re talking about change. You’re talking about why this journey was happening. And I think if you were a pure runner you’d be telling me about how the running was, but you’re not. You’re telling me about the journey and why you’re doing it. Is that a fair assessment?

Samantha: Yes. I am not a professional runner. Though I get put in that category all the time, I’m derogatory to professional runners, but I do a whole lot more than just run. It’s interesting because people try and understand and try and make a connection with the way I’ve chosen to run, and why I’ve chosen to run.

At the end of the day, if you look at people who run, they always have different motivations. I think all those motivations are to be celebrated in their own way. And if you’re using running for the thing that makes the most sense for you, well then you’re more likely to be running for a much longer period. For me, I just think the way I’m in love with endurance sport. You see the highs and the lows, and the self-discovery that it takes people too, but it also takes you to your worst state.

In a development context, when you are being pushed so hard, your capacity to understand people who are in a daily worse state. Not by choice which we choose to do as ultra-runners, but because of their circumstances. And I think that connection allows us to share a story. And when we share a story, we can hopefully help other people understand a life that is so far removed from ours.

Ian: Absolutely. I hate asking these questions, but inevitably I must ask them because I’m trying to compress your incredible journey into a small block. What was the highest and the lowest point of your incredible journey?

Samantha: I guess on a running perspective, the low point, when I went up to Rishikesh and when I went up to Darjeeling in Gangtok, I really struggled on the road. The plains of India are just incredibly overwhelming from a running perspective. To be in that intensity of pollution, at times it was heartbreaking to my soul.

Anytime I got up towards the mountains, even though with technically harder running, my pace just increased. I live in a National Park; I love the solitude of running for what it does to our mind. I was on cloud nine and thinking of Nicky Kimball’s journey with me in India. She was there for some of the most crucial running. Later, like a week after she left, she saw me running up on the mountains and she was like, “Oh gosh I chose the wrong section of the run,” and I’m like, “I’m so sorry.” She was there for some of the most humid running. I didn’t realize it but don’t sweat that much. I didn’t sweat anywhere near as much as other people who came out which was why my feet didn’t get destroyed. Nicky unfortunately was getting some terrible blisters and her feet were falling apart by the end.

Highlight to me was going up to the mountains. It was amazing to see Emily Forsberg out there. The Himalayas are so incredible.

Then I think that visiting different people in Himalaya as well was quite transformational for me. I don’t think I could have done the run if I didn’t continually see people along the routes and understand what was going on. That is why this projects was so special, it was the connection with people. When I ran across South Africa with Mimi, we ran across some beautiful terrain but had no connection with the outside world or the beneficiaries that we were trying raise funds for. But because the running was so beautiful, it made running 1,968 kilometers okay. There is no way I could have run over 3,000 K on the Indian roads if every couple of days I wasn’t going into the slums or a development project and understanding why I was doing it.

Ian: You mentioned Emily, how did that happen? Was that a pure coincidence?

Samantha: I had a friend in India who was like, “Do you know Emily is here right now? I was like, “Really?” I had a quick check on Instagram which confirmed and so I asked a mutual Ryan Sandes to connect us. Emily had a very full schedule, she was doing a yoga training camp. But we managed to meet up on her day off.

We caught up, we did some yoga. I met one of her other friends who is from Australia and we just spent the whole time chatting and eating lots of food. It was nice to see someone from the running community out there.

Ian: How did the actual journey itself unfold? Did you stick to a daily average that was consistent with your planned 50 kilometers?

Samantha: It was an average 50 and there’s probably about nine days that I didn’t run at all. There were a few ad hoc days of around 30 to 40 but beyond that, it was 55 up to 76 k’s per day.

Ian: 55 to 76km days make a huge difference because if you’re trying to cover 50k (31 miles) you can jog, you can run, you can walk and you’ve got plenty of time in the day if you’re not going up 2,000, 3,000 meter mountains to cover the distance. If you then add 10 kilometers, 20 kilometers to that, then certainly you are talking about being on the road on the trails for 12 hours. Then that starts to impact on your rest, on your recovery, on your team, and everything else that you do. I guess what you were trying to do all the time was manage that balance between covering the distance but also making sure that you could recover and go the next day and do it again?

Samantha: Yes, and it was hard the first two weeks. One day, I had a community visit, I ran 50ks and then did the community visit immediately afterwards which lasted five hours. I remember I got there, it was so hot during the day because you’re in the desert. Also, as I ran towards the town the monsoon weather just came down – it feels like, “Oh I’m kind of hot, I’m cold, I’m steamy.” I didn’t know what was going on and then I go straight into a community visit where I am being presented about malnutrition issues…

I remember thinking, “I think I’m going to pass out right now. I am feeling really light headed.”

I had to quickly put food in and I go, “I’ve just really got to be on the ball. If I am going to try and do this. I have to make sure that I have food and water in these community visits.” There was maybe like a handful of times when I would run and then go into a community visit and I just had no other choice but to do that. That is what I didn’t want to do because I knew that I wouldn’t be fully engaged in that visit and I would lose these amazing opportunities. That’s why I had days when I wasn’t running and I’ve got to say now these were harder days than the running days. Because we never knew what the day would look like. We would be driven to the middle of nowhere and you would face confronting things.

One day I went into a malnutrition clinic and I just I saw babies who were so much smaller than they should have been for their age. The mothers looked so young. Then we did a backwards kind of on a journey and saw the travel that they would have done to go to that place to get to that clinic. Then you get perspective – you learn that those parents earn 40 cents/50 cents a week. They are on such a spectrum of poverty, that making the decision to take their child to this malnutrition clinic, which is their only chance of survival, they must potentially lose the income for the day, which means they might not be able to feed their family.

Every day was life and death. We were talking about education what they needed is food to survive. They can only change their lives once the children get educated, so, these families have some hard decisions.

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Ian: Nepal is a similar situation. There’s people in Nepal who have money but there’s so many people who don’t have money. I have this real dichotomy sometimes whether what I’m doing is justified and right? I walk around with a camera and I see beauty in everything. Whether it’s something that is beautiful or something that isn’t beautiful but becomes beautiful because of hardship, poverty, etcetera.

It’s very easy to just lift a note out which is worth a dollar or two dollars and give it to somebody for a photograph. You walk away and you think, “Did I help that situation? Was what I did morally correct?” I must try and justify it to myself and I think it was okay because at least they can go and buy something.

But one of the things that you were doing was obviously you were raising money for World Vision who can then support six different areas within the regions that you were running. You already touched on the fact that that money could help malnutrition, child protection, maybe just provide clean water.

Samantha: Definitely.

Ian: How did that fundraising project work and I’m assuming that the fundraising is still going on?

Samantha: Yes, the fundraising is still going on. We’ve raised over $160,000 so far. I expect we’ll raise close… I hope we’ll raise closer to the $200,000 mark. In a couple of ways, we worked with corporate partners to fund certain components. We also got people in the public to take on a 12-week challenge. The concept was Strong Minds and it was, “What strong mind do you need to take on a 12-week fitness challenge?” While also fundraising for the strong minds of those in these communities who must be so resilient to deal with the circumstances that they have every day.

We were looking at that, what does it take to have a strong mind and how can you make your footsteps count. We had public fundraising for people doing that and then also just donations through the website and through our awareness campaign. It was as much of an awareness as a fundraising.

How do you measure success in these types of things? I think it’s very hard. I always want to raise more and I’m very hard on myself; have the objectives being met? Did I make my footsteps count? But yes, having seen the project and seeing how far that money can go, I feel very confident that people’s lives can be changed in India and I don’t say that comment easily. These projects do make a tangible difference!

Ian: Now you started the journey on August the 22nd. What was the date that you finished?

Samantha: November 5th.

Ian: Okay. That’s a big chunk of time.

Samantha: Yes, it could have been 10 years ago.

Ian: [Exactly.

Samantha: It feels like a lifetime.

Ian: It does. I know myself with travelling is that you wait for that opportunity to get home and go and relax and then within two days it feels as though, “When did I travel last and what was I doing and where was I going?”

Samantha: Yes, totally.

Ian: What’s the impact been on you emotionally, physically and what’s it like getting back into Australia and readjusting into normal life?

Samantha: I think it’s a lot easier to adjust to being back home than the adjustment to be India. I kind of told you before, my whole mental approach was about being very much in the present and having so much gratitude that I could have this experience.

I didn’t get down much when I was doing the project. There was plenty of reasons to be down. I think there was only one moment where I was like, “I just don’t want to run right now.” I had an hour sleep and then I got back out there.

It was a shock to the system that I had to do so much and I just felt I had been let down in that moment with the planning but physically I felt good. You can’t go from that much level of activity to inactivity. In fact, that’s not healthy. You have to kind of wean yourself off but you wean yourself off by just kind of being outdoors and listening to your body and not feeling like you need to wear a watch and not committing to a race even though I have a race in February. Physically I feel quite good. I do get tired when I do a little bit too much. I’ve gone back to work and I’m doing quite a bit of travel so I think it’s just that culmination of all that stuff that sometimes mentally and physically drains me a little quicker.

Emotionally it’s like I try not to talk about it. My job is to talk about it, I have now started to incorporate India into my presentations. The other day I was like, “Oh gosh, I’ve been so verbose”, because I haven’t verbally processed much of it.

Where do you start? You have given me quite a good platform to ramble but it’s hard to know where to start. People traditionally just want to know, “What was the hardest thing?” I give these generic answers like, “Well, there was no one thing that was the hardest. It was the culmination of many things.”

Ian: Exactly.

Samantha: Every now and again I watch back the footage and I just can’t believe that I got to live that life. The power of photos and the power of video. It makes it very, very real and I still can’t believe that I did what I did and I managed to fit so much into every day. That was a lifetime in three months.

Ian: I think you’re right. I think one of the reasons why I created Talk Ultra is that I said right from the start that it would always be a long show because I didn’t want to compress people’s experiences into 20 minutes. I wanted to find that space and that arena that would allow me to talk in more depth.

Admittedly I put my hands up 20 minutes ago and said I’m going to have to ask you this bad question because unfortunately the people listening do want to know the highest and the lowest points – equally, how do I compress your 3,000-kilometer journey into a period of time and try and encapsulate what you went through. It’s not possible. It’s not possible.

I think what is interesting is that you’ve managed to encapsulate a journey without talking about the running. You’ve talked about the important things about the journey, which is the impact that your journey can have now with fundraising and how it will affect people’s lives. You questioned yourself whether it is valid. Of course, it’s valid because I think sometimes we can look at these things and think, “Well what is the positive? What is the negative?” You only must change a handful of people’s lives for the journey to be valid because everybody has validity in an existence and a continued existence. I think you can create a knock-on journey which hopefully will continue to perpetuate.

Samantha: You’re right. This project is something that has had an impact. Its right we push ourselves in these types of way and yes we want to make an impact to other people’s lives but I think you should always be clear that the bigger impact is probably going to be on your life too. That’s okay because that’s how we push ourselves in endurance sports. It’s to see what we’re capable of doing and how far can we push our minds and how far can we use these thing, which is our bodies, to be able to do that.

Ian: You’re the type of person, Sam, that always has something planned. [laughs] Dare I ask, is there another project at the back of your mind that you’re thinking of for two years’ time or three years’ time?

Samantha: I wanted to do this since 2011. It was when I was running across South Africa with Mimi that I was like, “Yes, I think I’m ready now to tackle this,” because it wans’t just tackling the run and it wasn’t just fundraising. It was also to work with a not-for-profit and try and change the way that they connect with people as well.

World Vision being one of the — I think is the largest not-for-profit globally, this was a radical project for them to get behind. When so much is happening in the development sector at the moment with funding and foreign aid, it was an intense time to push the boundaries. I think I had to just be so strong with this project was important to doing and that for two years I was lucky enough to have a champion in World Vision that was willing to do the fight with me. I did a couple of trips to India and went to see the project. It was a lot. There was so much more to this than any other project I’ve ever done.

I think what I now need to do is to not plan for a little bit. This is the lawyer side in me. I like to plan and I can’t help but get obsessive in that planning process which is why I can do something like this. But I’m planning to do the Western Arthurs hike in January which is very technical hike in Tasmania. I’m doing that with another female endurance athlete. I want to look at kind of collaborating with other female endurance athletes in different types of, I suppose, adventures. I’m doing that in January and then in February I’m doing a multisport event in New Zealand called Coast to Coast.

These are just more light hearted things. I’ve been enjoying multisport hikes, cycling and kayaking now and it’s good to use my body in a different way. Yes, there is a project still in that region that I am interested in doing but I’m not planning anything right now. That part of the world (India) is still fascinating to me and obviously, the Himalayan area.

Ian: Can I ask you, your background as a lawyer? How much help does that give you in what you do now?

Samantha: You don’t need to be a lawyer, but my background helps, also my experience in performing arts. I think the two of them, that capacity for communication, for rational thought, for logistics understanding culture and bureaucracy and obviously, a lot of that was relevant in India.

On the flipside, being a strong independent, and I’m going to put it out there, fiery abrupt woman was also part of the negatives in India. One day there was a bit of a crisis over payments or something and I was being taken advantage of. I should have been calmer but I fired off an abrupt email.

You must change sometimes your style of communication

Ian: Yes, I am sure you do. Well, look, it’s been fascinating to get just a little insight into this journey. Where can people go to get more information? I mean the runindia.org.au website has got a lot of information on there and people can still go there and donate, but is there anything else out there Sam?

Samantha: So, in the runindia.org.au website has a lot of videos and I think the videos captures the imagination of what happened and provides a better insight than me rambling at times.

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Episode 125 – Zach Miller, Caroline Boller, Samantha Gash

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Episode 125 of Talk Ultra is our Christmas Show – Happy Christmas everyone! We have interviews with Zach Miller, Caroline Boller and Samantha Gash. We also have a review of the year and Niandi Carmont is co-hosting.

00:01:30

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.

Need a run coach for 2017? Check out coaching with Ian and Niandi HERE

00:18:26 NEWS

Read the REVIEW of 2016 article HERE

00:23:00 INTERVIEW with Caroline Boller

01:30:35 INTERVIEW with Samantha Gash

02:20:45 INTERVIEW with Zach Miller

UP & COMING RACES

Belgium

Wallonia

53 km | 53 kilometers | December 17, 2016 | website

French Guiana

100 Bornes du Père Noël | 100 kilometers | December 16, 2016 | website

Germany

Lower Saxony

  1. Lauf PSV Winterlaufserie 100 KM| 100 kilometers | December 17, 2016 | website
  2. Lauf PSV Winterlaufserie 50 KM| 50 kilometers | December 17, 2016 | website
  3. Lauf PSV Winterlaufserie 100 KM| 100 kilometers | December 18, 2016 | website
  4. Lauf PSV Winterlaufserie 50 KM| 50 kilometers | December 18, 2016 | website

USA

California

Woodside Ramble 50K | 50 kilometers | December 17, 2016 | website

Florida

Ancient Oaks 100 Mile Race | 100 miles | December 17, 2016 | website

Indiana

HUFF 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | December 17, 2016 | website

Ohio

First Day of Winter 50K | 50 kilometers | December 18, 2016 | website

Tennessee

Lookout Mountain 50 Mile Trail Race | 50 miles | December 17, 2016 | website

Texas

50K | 50 kilometers | December 16, 2016 | website

Houston Running Festival 100K | 100 kilometers | December 17, 2016 | website

Houston Running Festival 100 Mile | 100 miles | December 17, 2016 | website

Houston Running Festival 50K | 50 kilometers | December 17, 2016 | website

Houston Running Festival 50 Mile | 50 miles | December 17, 2016 | website

Virginia

Seashore Nature Trail 50K | 50 kilometers | December 17, 2016 | website

 

03:30:00 Close

03:34:18

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REVIEW of 2016 in Trail, Mountain, Ultra and Skyrunning

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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.

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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 HERE and read HERE

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?

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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 HERE and as Sondre corrects me, Didrik ran 6:45 and 6:38 for 100k.

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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).

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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.

Be great to hear from you…

Anna Frost and Samantha Gash : 2-weeks and counting #TCC2015

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The Coastal Challenge 2015 (#TCC2015) is point-to-point race starting in Quepos and finishing in the stunning Drakes Bay close to the border of Panama. The 230km route weaves in and out of the Talamancas (a coastal mountain range in the south west corner of the country) providing a true multi terrain experience.

Participants are required to balance the distance, severity of the terrain and a tropical climate to reach the finish line. Jungle, rainforest trails, mountain trail, single track across ridge lines, highlands and coastal ranges lead into pristine beaches, rocky outcroppings, reefs, river valleys, river and estuary crossings to provide an ultimate journey.

I caught up with two of the male contenders for overall victory in the 2015 edition just the other day:  Joe Grant and Speedgoat Karl Meltzer (read HERE.) Today we have a catch up with Anna ‘Frosty Frost and Samantha Gash.

Anna Frost – Salomon

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You have been back home in the Southern Hemisphere over the Christmas period, what have you been doing to prepare for TCC?

Well, it only seems like yesterday the 2014 race season finished. So I have been having a break and catching up with family and friends after a long race season away from home. It has been a wonderful hot summer so I have naturally been getting used to the heat and enjoying some beach runs and swims! It is a perfect time to be in the mountains on overnight adventures so I have taken the opportunity to get some long days back to back. 

You managed to experience the TCC race in 2014 without racing, how beneficial has that been in preparation for the 2015 race?

 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 have been making the most of living beside the beach and doing most of my runs there. 

Your mum is joining you out in TCC. That’s going to be quite special. Are you planning making this a holiday race?

Yes, my mum is joining me which will be fabulous to be able to share this part of my life with her. Stages races are so social and exciting everyday so for spectators to get involved is really nice for everyone. I got my travel blood from my parents so she is definitely looking forward to seeing somewhere new and in a new way through my race. (Im not sure what you mean by a holiday race) I am not fully back into race mode or training hard as I have a long season ahead, but this race will most definitely give me a good base to kick start the year.   

Any tips for all those taking part?

Drink lots of water, anytime you go past water submerge yourself to fully cool down, drink some replacement fluids afterwards and even in the morning and then drink some more water. It is so hot there…we are all going to need it. 

Anna Frost ©iancorless.com

Samantha Gash

Sam Gash

You have been back home after South Africa, what have you been doing to prepare for TCC?

I spent Christmas and New Years in New Zealand with my partner and fellow ultra running friends. It was only my second overseas trip in four years that didn’t revolve around a race! We spent everyday outside, running some incredible trails and hiking hard up some mountains. Although it wasn’t planned to be so, it was great training for TCC. 

You had a wonderful no racing multi day experience in South Africa. Great preparation for TCC but have you recovered?

To be honest I wouldn’t say I have recovered 100% yet. I get more tired after a run and mentally my mind isn’t yet committed to doing long runs for the purpose of training. It would be easier to be hard on yourself for feeling weaker whilst climbing hills and weary after a 20km run, but it is to be expected after what we experienced – both from a running and preparation perspective.

You have multi day racing dialled. What for you are the secrets of racing/ running day after day?

Be strategic in how you attack each stage. I personally like to think of the entire race as an arch as opposed to separate stages. There will be times where you may choose to run more conservatively to complete the entire arch. Nutrition and how you choose to recover between the stages is also important. So, I will aim to get some rest after each days run in addition to a good nights sleep. 

Any other tips for all those taking part?

Have fun, look around and get to know the other competitors. These are the things you will probably remember more than how you placed. 

Sam Gash2

The 2015 #TCC2015 starts on January 31st and finishes on February 7th. Daily reports and images will be available on this website and you can follow Facebook and Twitter#TCC2015

The Coastal Challenge Facebook page is HERE and the race website is HERE

Route book and profiles available on PDF Here

Top images of Anna Frost – ©paulpetch.co.nz

Episode 74 – Anderson, Gash, Nelson, Forsberg

EP74

Episode 74 of Talk Ultra has Mimi Anderson and Samantha Gash talking about their epic South African journey. Luke Nelson talk about his running career, recent 100-mile success and how going out hard can pay off! Melie Forsberg is back for Smiles & Miles and Marc Laithwaite talks the long run in Talk Training. Tne News, a Blog, up & Coming races and Niandi Carmont co-hosts.

NEWS

Skyrunner(R) World Series and Continental Series announced for 2015 – HERE

LIKE THE WIND pop-up – photo workshop, Seb, Jez Bragg


BLOG
 
Kilian Jornet blogs about his passion for photography – HERE
 
INTERVIEW

Samantha Gash & Mimi Anderson
 
INTERVIEW
 
Luke Nelson


TALK TRAINING 

Marc Laithwaite is back with how long should your long run be?

 
SMILES & MILES with EMELIE FORSBERG

UP & COMING RACES

Antartica
Antarctic Ice 100k | 100 kilometers | November 20, 2014 | website

Argentina
The North Face® Endurance Challenge Argentina – 50 km | 50 kilometers | November 23, 2014 | website
The North Face® Endurance Challenge Argentina – 80 km | 80 kilometers | November 23, 2014 | website

Australia
Victoria
Upstream 50km Challenge | 50 kilometers | November 15, 2014 | website

Cambodia
The Ancient Khmer Path | 220 kilometers | November 28, 2014 | website

Costa Rica
Transtica Costa Rica’c-venture – Course Aventure | 120 kilometers | November 19, 2014 | website
Transtica Costa Rica’c-venture – Course Extrême | 195 kilometers | November 19, 2014 | website

Egypt
100 Km Pharonic Race | 100 kilometers | November 21, 2014 | website

France
Haute-Loire
Raid nocturne Le Puy-Firminy | 68 kilometers | November 23, 2014 | website
Nord
Trail Extrème Lillois – 75 km | 75 kilometers | November 16, 2014 | website

Germany
Bavaria
Chiemsee-Ultramarathon November | 108 kilometers | November 15, 2014 | website
Lower Saxony
1. Lauf PSV Winterlaufserie 100 KM | 100 kilometers | November 22, 2014 | website
1. Lauf PSV Winterlaufserie 50 KM | 50 kilometers | November 22, 2014 | website
Rhineland-Palatinate
Kleiner KoBoLT | 106 kilometers | November 22, 2014 | website
KoBoLT | 140 kilometers | November 22, 2014 | website

Hong-Kong
Oxfam Trailwalker Hong Kong | 100 kilometers | November 14, 2014 | website

Italy
Emilia-Romagna
Ultra K Marathon | 50 kilometers | November 16, 2014 | website

Luxembourg
Trail Uewersauer | 50 kilometers | November 16, 2014 | website

Malaysia
Putrajaya 100 km | 100 kilometers | November 22, 2014 | website
Putrajaya 100 Miles | 100 miles | November 22, 2014 | website
Putrajaya 52 km | 52 kilometers | November 22, 2014 | website
Putrajaya 78 km | 78 kilometers | November 22, 2014 | website

Namibia
Desert Ultra | 250 kilometers | November 14, 2014 | website

New Caledonia
Evolo Kura to Mount | 300 kilometers | November 28, 2014 | website

New Zealand
Kauri Ultra | 70 kilometers | November 22, 2014 | website
Molesworth Run | 84 kilometers | November 15, 2014 | website

Portugal
Arrábida Ultra Trail | 80 kilometers | November 16, 2014 | website
Trail AM | 60 kilometers | November 23, 2014 | website

Réunion
Mafate Trail Tour | 65 kilometers | November 22, 2014 | website

South Africa
Salomon Sky Run 100 km | 100 kilometers | November 22, 2014 | website
Salomon Sky Run 65 km | 65 kilometers | November 22, 2014 | website

Tunisia
Marathon des Oasis | 111 kilometers | November 16, 2014 | website

United Kingdom
Powys
Beacons Ultra | 45 miles | November 15, 2014 | website
Swansea
Coastal Trail Series – Gower – Ultra | 34 miles | November 15, 2014 | website

USA
Alabama
Dizzy Fifties 40 Mile Trail Run | 40 miles | November 15, 2014 | website
Dizzy Fifties 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | November 15, 2014 | website
Dizzy Fifties 50 Mile Trail Run | 50 miles | November 15, 2014 | website
Tranquility Lake 50K Trail Race | 50 kilometers | November 22, 2014 | website
Arizona
Pass Mountain 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | November 15, 2014 | website
California
Chimera 100K | 100 kilometers | November 15, 2014 | website
Chimera 100 Miles | 100 miles | November 15, 2014 | website
Malibu Canyon Trail Run 50 km | 50 kilometers | November 16, 2014 | website
Mt. Tam Trail Run 50 km | 50 kilometers | November 15, 2014 | website
San Joaquin River Trail 50K Run | 50 kilometers | November 15, 2014 | website
San Joaquin River Trail 50 Mile Run | 50 miles | November 15, 2014 | website
Spirit of the Rock 50M | 50 miles | November 23, 2014 | website
Florida
Wild Sebastian 100 Fall Edition – 100 Miles | 100 miles | November 15, 2014 | website
Wild Sebastian 100 Fall Edition – 50 Miles | 50 miles | November 15, 2014 | website
Wild Sebastian 100 Fall Edition – 75 Miles | 75 miles | November 15, 2014 | website
Maryland
JFK 50 Mile | 50 miles | November 22, 2014 | website
Stone Mill 50 Mile Run | 50 miles | November 15, 2014 | website
Massachusetts
Nougat Trail 100K | 100 kilometers | November 15, 2014 | website
Nougat Trail 50K | 50 kilometers | November 15, 2014 | website
New York
Madhattan Run | 32 miles | November 22, 2014 | website
Ohio
Flying Feather 4 Miler | 43 miles | November 27, 2014 | website
Texas
Texas Trail 50K Run | 50 kilometers | November 22, 2014 | website
Texas Trail 50 Mile Run | 50 miles | November 22, 2014 | website
Wild Hare 50K | 50 kilometers | November 22, 2014 | website
Wild Hare 50 Mile | 50 miles | November 22, 2014 | website
Washington
Doppler 50k | 50 kilometers | November 23, 2014 | website
Grand Ridge 50 K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | November 15, 2014 | website
CLOSE
 

LINKS:

http://traffic.libsyn.com/talkultra/Episode_74_Gash_Anderson_Nelson_Forsberg.mp3

ITunes http://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/talk-ultra/id497318073
Libsyn – feed://talkultra.libsyn.com/rss
Website – talkultra.com

FROST – KIMBALL – GASH : The Coastal Challenge, Costa Rica 2015

TCC Ladies 2015

The 2015 multi-day The Coastal Challenge gets underway in less than 3-months. Runners from all over the world will arrive in San Jose in preparation for the journey down to the coast to Quepos and the 11th edition of the “TCC.”

After a stellar line-up for the 10th edition, Rodrigo Carazo and the TCC team have once again excelled in providing a top quality elite line up making TCC arguably one of the ‘must-do’ multiple day stage races in the world.

Come race day, elite runners will toe the line in Quepos with everyday runners, with one purpose in mind, to embrace an ultimate challenge in the remarkable Talamancas.

Unlike other multi day races, the TCC is supported. Each day camp is moved ahead and awaits the runner’s arrival at the finish. Running light and fast, runners are able to keep equipment to a minimum and as such, racing is extremely competitive. The 2015 edition of the race is proving to be extremely exciting, particularly when one looks at the line up of runners.

Heading up the ladies field is a trio of hot talent that will without doubt make the race one to remember.

KIMBALL – FROST – GASH

NIKKI KIMBALL

Nikki Kimball on her way to victory in the 2014 MDS.

Nikki Kimball on her way to victory in the 2014 MDS.

Nikki Kimball is a legend of female ultra running. A multiple winner of the iconic Western States her palmares are longer than my arm… just this year, Nikki won Run Rabbit Run 100 and the 29th Marathon des Sables. Nikki’s presence in Costa Rica is a defining moment for the TCC. It is a confirmation of the credibility of the race and Nikki’s years of experience will be something to embrace, not only for the other runners but all those involved in the experience.

‘I loved MDS and am excited to add TCC to my stage racing experience.  I’ve run MDS, Transrockies (3 times), Jungle Marathon and each was very special in its own way.  Each experience will help me in my preparation for TCC.  Transrockies, like TCC, transported runner gear and set up their tents, which gives me a sense of racing daily with the speed allowed by running without gear.  The Jungle Marathon exposed me to rain forest and the accompanying heat and humidity.  And MDS gives me a more recent experience of racing in extreme conditions against great competition. I absolutely loved, though occasionally hated, each event. As for direct comparison with MDS, a few points are obvious: I will be exchanging dry oppressive heat, for humid oppressive heat; varied types of sandy surfaces for wet and rocky footing; desert vistas for close forests and ocean views; and nearly full self sufficiency for the relative luxury of camps with food and sleeping supplies I do not need to carry.  I recommend MDS very highly to fellow runners, and believe I will finish TCC similarly impressed.’

Running without a pack and all the weight, do you think it will be a fast race?

‘I actually love the challenge of carrying my entire kit for MDS, but am looking forward to the freedom from gear that TCC will give. Yes, the running is much faster without a heavy pack, and TCC will be very fast in places.  Hopefully the technical elements will slow the pace down a bit, as I run more on strength, endurance and technical skill than speed.  This is particularly true in the winter when nearly all my training is done on skis.  I think anyone peaking her running training for TCC will be running quickly.’

How excited are you to race in Costa Rica?

‘As we said growing up in Vermont, I’m wicked psyched!  Seriously, running has given me access to parts of the world I would never otherwise see.  And I’ve run in Mexico and South America, but never run between the two.  I feel I gain so much from playing with other languages, exploring other cultures and environments, and bonding with runners throughout the world.  I cannot wait, not only to run in Costa Rica, but to spend a few days before the event picking up a few more Spanish phrases, meeting local people and splashing in the water while knowing that my friends at home are playing on top of a much colder form of water.’

You will be racing against Anna Frost and Samantha Gash amongst others…. does this excite you?

‘I do not know Samantha, but I very much look forward to meeting her.  And, like anyone who has spent time with Anna, I absolutely adore her.  I love racing with/against anyone, and Anna is certainly a great talent.  But more than that, she is a fantastic person with a depth of character that far exceeds her running achievements. I get to hang with Anna for a week, and that is always great.  For that matter, every stage and ultra race I’ve been in (and over 16 years there have been many) attracts great people.  From volunteers to elite athletes to less experienced racers looking to see what’s possible, the people of this sport keep me doing it.  I’m excited by the top end competition and just as excited to hear stories from TCC participants I have yet to meet.’

 

ANNA FROST

Anna Frost Skyrunning World Championships 2014 - Chamonix

Anna Frost Skyrunning World Championships 2014 – Chamonix

Anna Frost arrived in Costa Rica for the 10th edition but unfortunately couldn’t race due to an injury set back which was really disappointing for the New Zealander. However, Costa Rica was a cathartic process… Frosty followed up her TCC experience with victory and a course record at Transvulcania La Palma, Speedgoat 50k and Bear 100.

‘I gained so much energy and pleasure out of just being in Costa Rica that I came home almost injury free. I cant wait to get back to explore further and see all of the course. The atmosphere is so much fun, great food, wonderful campsites, beautiful beaches and rain forests and HOT weather! IM SO EXCITED!’

The Coastal Challenge is a supported multi-day race and therefore allows runners to run fast and free. Looking at the quality of the ladies field, I asked Frosty about the 2015 race and if she expected it to be fast?

‘There are a lot of fast trails and dirt roads, long flat beach sections and smooth trails. But in between that there is hard, steep, trail-less, muddy, rain forest covered dirt, spiders, noises? and more to keep the challenge high. But luckily the race has many aid stations so you don’t need to carry too much which means you can move as fast as possible through all of that!’

Nikki Kimball has won MDS and WSER and Sam Gash has just run for 1-month all over South Africa, two real solid runners. How excited are you to test yourself over the multi-day format against these ladies?

‘It will be fantastic to share this race with them. They are both super strong girls and also great friends, so it is going to be so much FUN!’

You ran your first 100-miler recently, do you think that will be a benefit in Costa Rica?

‘Definitely. With each race I undertake I am beginning to understand more about myself, my limits, and what challenges me. This process allows me new ways to overcome obstacles. It will be good to put what I have learnt in practice.’

‘Visiting Costa Rica again. The people and places we see along the way are wonderful! And being able to share that with all the other runners in the Coastal Challenge is so awesome!’

 

SAMANTHA GASH

Samanha Gash ©samanthagash

Samanha Gash ©samanthagash

Samantha Gash is the youngest lady to ever complete ‘The Four Deserts’ and was one of the featured runners in the film, ‘The Desert Runners.’ Just last week, Sam has completed an epic journey…

‘Oh boy I have just been on an adventure of a lifetime, one that took me close to 2 years to prepare for. I ran with Mimi Anderson from the UK and side-by-side we ran an ultra every day for 32-days through some pretty challenging terrain. Our run focused on supporting a South African based initiative, so it was pretty special to run through some incredibly remote & rural locations.’

‘It was great preparation for Costa Rica in the sense that a multi day format suits me. However my run along South Africa was an expedition not a race, so the pace was very different. It’s been less than a week since I’ve finished the biggest physical & mental challenge of my life so I’m looking forward to letting both recover for the month of November. Come December I will evaluate how my body is going & hopefully begin to train for the Coastal Challenge. Once I start training again I will need to put my legs through some serious speed work.’

Kimball and Frost need no introduction. Are you looking forward to racing them? 

‘Geez these ladies are of a different caliber to me and I predict they will place at the top of field outright. I’ve met Anna a couple of times so I’m looking forward to catching up again & meeting Nikki too. Just to race with them both will be an absolute pleasure; they have had incredible years. Great to see Anna dominate in her first 100-miler; I had no doubt she would also excel over that distance.’ 

I recently watched ‘The Desert Runners’ again and I must say I love the film and the experiences that you all had, how significant was that process for you?  

‘When I did the 4 deserts it was my first experience to ultra running. I fondly look back on that year (2010) as it started my passion into a sport & lifestyle I never really knew existed. What I love about multi stage racing is the relationships you develop with other competitors & volunteers over the duration. Of course there are moments when you are intensely racing but then there are other moments where you are relaxed and are enjoying banter with people you’ve just met. Some of the closest people in my life are people I’ve met in these types of races. I also like the build up you can have over the days. I tend to start a touch more conservatively to let my body adapt and then work into the longer stages.’ 

You have been fortunate to travel with racing. Costa Rica will be a new experience for you, are you excited?

‘The setting for the race looks spectacular and Rodrigo seems like a top-notch race director. I am also drawn to the race because it offers variety in terrain – mountains, river crossing, single track, rock and glorious beaches.’

Would you like to join these incredible ladies in Costa Rica?

Entries are open in the UK HERE

or HERE for outside the UK.

Links

Official race website HERE and Facebook HERE

You can view images from previous editions HERE

And race day reports from 2014 and 2013 HERE

Tor des Geants 2013 – Race Preview

tordesgeant-_logo_net

Today is the day. The Tor des Geants begins and 757 brave souls will depart to tackle 330km’s in an individual way. Sounds funny doesn’t it, an individual way, but you see, the organization do not impose any compulsory stages. You start and it is the first to the finish. The runner who completes the race in the shortest time is the outright winner and therefore, this race is not only about putting one foot infront of the other, it is also about when you stop and for how long. It is a tactical race.

Map

The race is the first of its kind to cover an entire region. Taking place in the Gran Paradiso National Park and the Mont Ayic Regional Park, the route takes in the spectacular paths at the foot of the highest ‘Four Thousanders’ in the Alps.

It is a unique race. It is survival!

Young American, Nickademus Hollon, the youngest ever runner ever to complete the infamous ‘Barkley’ has been specifically training in the area for months and just yesterday he said:

“Tomorrow I embark on probably one of my greatest ultra-running adventures to date. The Tor des Geants. 330km (205miles) and 24,000m (79,000ft) of elevation gain. I’ll be honest with you all, my minimum goal is 72hrs, that’s 4hrs beneath the previous years course record. To do this I’ll need my mind, body and spirit all aligned. Quite like the magic that possessed me during the fifth loop of the Barkley Marathons this year. I’ll be calling on that again shortly. I ask that you all be the wind at my back and help propel me forward : ) This will hopefully be a great leap forward for the United States in the Spain dominant European running world. Thank you all for your past and continued support!”

The Tor des Geants will start on the 8th September at 1000am and the imposed deadline of 1600 hrs September 14th is in place. A maximum allotted time of 150 hours.

Participants must have the following mandatory equipment:

◦       A backpack

◦       A supply of water (1 liter minimum)

◦       ACup

◦       Food supply/reserve

◦       Two torches in good working condition with replacement batteries

◦       Survival blanket

◦       Whistle

◦       Adhesive elastic tape for making bandages or a strapping (mini 80cm x 3 cm)

◦       Water-proof gear for protection against bad weather conditions in the mountains

◦       Running trousers or leggings covering at least the knees

◦       Hat or bandana

◦       gloves

◦       phone

◦       altimeter

◦       warm clothing

The Route

The race starts and finishes in Courmayeur. The route takes place through the two High Aosta Valley roads. Participants, can choose their speed and must complete the race in less than 150 hours. Runners are partially independent and more than 40 supply points are available throughout the route

Measuring 330 km long with 24,000 vertical meters, the route takes the High Road No. 2 to the lower valley. The return is the Haute Route No. 1 to Valdigne and Courmayeur. It crosses in particular the natural park of Mont Avic National Park Gran Paradiso. During the race the runners will pass 25 passes at over 2000 meters, 30 lakes and reach a high point of 3300 meters.

Winning times from 2012:

Oscar Perez 75h 56m 31s

Francesca Canepa 85h 33m 56s

Who should you watch?

First things first. 330km is a long way and anything can happen. 757 runners are listed on the start sheet and of course I don’t know all of them or even pretend to. I have selected several people that I know and who do well over this type of terrain and distance. Without doubt I will miss several names, so, if you know a ‘one to watch’ let us know on the reply form below.

The Men

Last year’s winner, Oscar Perez is back and gets no1 billing. He knows the route, the course and knows how to manage the race, come out the other side and win.

Gregoire Millet, 2nd in 2012 is back and will be looking to go one place higher and top the podium. He was only three hours behind Oscar last year and I am sure he will have been looking at his stretgy and thinking, how can I make up three hours? Less sleep maybe…

Christophe Le Saux at MDS 2013 ©iancorless.com

Christophe Le Saux at MDS 2013 ©iancorless.com

Christophe Le Saux is also back. Like Oscar, he knows the course like the back of his hand and he knows how to manage his effort. He placed 2nd in 2011 in a time of 84:09:46 and 3rd in 2012 in 80:14:14.

Pablo Criado Toca at Ronda dels Cims ©iancorless.com

Pablo Criado Toca placed 3rd in 2011 and returns this year. His time of 89:43:07 is a long way from Oscar’s 75:56:31 but as I keep saying, anything can happen and experience is paramount in a race like this.

Iker Karrera ©iancorless.com

Iker Karrera ©iancorless.com

Iker Karrera is the big name joining the fold and as many of you will know, this Salomon athlete is meticulous in his planning. Iker however isn’t coming to this race fresh. He recently raced and won the Grand Raid des Pyrenees (160km and 10,000m+) in 24:54:56 which was just on the 24th August. For sure, great prep but that must leave you tired? Iker is one to watch and potentially win at Tor.

We have mentioned Nickademus Hollon, he hasn’t raced here before and he has been very open about the challenge ahead. However, he has been in the mountains for weeks and been all over the course. He knows what he is doing! Without doubt, Tor des Geants is as much about the brain as the legs and Nickademus is a master of this. He has proven it with a finish at Barkley. I think we will see Nickademus create a surprise in the Aosta valley.

Arnau Julia Bonmata ©iancorless.com

Arnau Julia Bonmata ©iancorless.com

Arnau Julia Bonmata won TDS last weekend and like Francesca Canepa, he attempts the double! It’s a tough ask, particularly when you look at the competition at the front. He’s a great guy and if anyone can pull something out of the bag, it is Arnau but he is going to feel his TDS efforts for sure.

Of course I have to mention Bruno Brunod. I don’t think Bruno will contest the win but a legend of Skyrunning deserves a tip of the hat. I wonder; what can he do…? I also wonder if we may well see Kilian Jornet pop up on route to offer some support and encouragement.

Stuart Air leading Terry Conway at Ronda dels Cims ©iancorless.com

Stuart Air leading Terry Conway at Ronda dels Cims ©iancorless.com

Finally, a surprise package may very will come from Brit, Stuart Air. Stuart placed in the top 20 at Ronda dels Cims and then Ice Trail Tarentaise. He will be pretty much unknown to all the others in the race but he has grit, determination and he comes to this race prepared. A surprise package for sure!

Other names to watch: Franco Collè, Mario Gazzola and Patrick Bohard.

The Ladies

Francesca Canepa ©iancorless.com

Francesca Canepa ©iancorless.com

Francesca Canepa pulled off the remarkable double in 2012. She placed 2nd behind Lizzy Hawker at the shortened TNFUTMB and then just 7 days later, turned up at Tor des Geants and won in 85:33:56. Francesca has had a great year and her win at the tough Ronda dels Cims is surely a great sign for Tor. However, she dropped from last weeks TNFUTMB. Francesca is odds on favorite.

Patricia Penza placed 2nd in 2011 in a time of 102:25:42 and placed 3rd last year in 97:06:15. It’s all about experience and being able to put one foot infront of the other. Patricia may not be the fastest but she can last the distance and time and sometimes that is all it can take to win!

Giuliana Arrigoni placed 3rd in 2011 and was just a minute slower that Patricia Penza. Pretty sure she will be back to move up the podium and be one place higher than Patricia in 2013.

Sonia Glarey is back after a strong 2nd place in 2012, her time of 96:59:54 was nearly twelve hours slower than Francesca, but if Francesca is not 100% we may see that gap close and a real battle unfold.

Nerea Martinez  ©iancorless.com

Nerea Martinez ©iancorless.com

Nerea Martinez is also on the start list but I had heard rumours of injury. This has not ben confirmed. If she is in good shape and fresh I predict a podium place.

Australian, Samantha Gash is also on the start sheet. This will very much a departure for Samantha. However, she is used to long days and repetitive days on the trails. The Tor course though is something very different to what she has experienced in the past. It may well just be a big learning curve but she does have the grit to push, survive and make it to the front of the race. It’s an exciting prospect and one the Europeans won’t be expecting.

Other names to watch: Moses Lovstad, Giuliana Arrigoni, Cecile Bertin, Fedrica Bifana, Patrizia Cantore and Janet Ng.

Live Tracking:

Episode 16 – Samantha Gash

On the show we speak to South African Linda Doke in Zinal, we catch up with Terry Conway from the UK and break some great news upon the ultra world. Ian Sharman joins the show for the news and Talk Training is back. Our interview is with Australian, Samantha Gash and Speedgoat Karl chews the ultra fat in a Meltzer Moment. We mention three blogs, discuss the up and coming races and get ready for UTMB.

 Listen now | Direct download | iTunes

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Show Notes

00:00:00

00:00:45 Show Start

00:02:23 Linda Doke –  Linda been running for about 18 years, always with a preference for long distance and ultras. She was a roadie for the first 10 years, but came to her senses in 2004, when she moved to Cape Town and found trail. And she has never looked back…. I caught up with Linda just before she ran Sierre Zinal.

00:19:50 Terry Conway – Press Release HERE

00:25:00 News with Ian Sharman

00:52:10 Talk Training with Marc Laithwaite

01:11:30 Blogs

  • Linda Doke who I do a short interview with in this weeks show has a nice write up about Sierre Zinal. BLOG
  • Craig Thornley writes an interesting blog post on Ham Radio. BLOG
  • Jared Campbell writes about his Nolans 14 success – an epic Mountain Adventure in the Sawatch Mountains of Colorado. The route was 104 miles and tokk Jared and Matt Hart 58 hrs 58 min. BLOG

01:12:14 Interview with Samantha Gash –  As a recent graduate of a double degree in Law and Performing Arts (with honours), Samantha Gash may seem like another run-of-the-mill 20-something-year-old struggling to find the right balance and direction for her life to take… it takes less than a minute’s worth of conversation with Samantha to realize that she is exactly the opposite. Even the briefest glance at her life experiences to date reveals a truly outstanding, unique, and above all, inspiring student, worker, athlete and person. Incredibly well rounded with a finger in every high-achieving pie, Samantha has found time where no one else could to work up an impressive and ever-growing list of life achievements.

01:58:20 A Meltzer Moment with Speedgoat Karl

02:15:25 Races

02:17:00 Show Close

02:19:31