Hayden Hawks – C’min’ At Ya, Fast! on IRUN4ULTRA

hayden-hawks_irun4ultra

On February 18th, Hayden Hawks will toe the line of Moab’s Red Hot 50k. If I was a betting man, I’d be having a punt and naming Hawks as the victor. Yes, this guy is on fire – he proved it in December when he pushed Zach Miller all the way to the line at San Francisco 50. Zach took the day and the $10.000 prize purse but the duo both went under the old course record, as Hawks says, “I broke the course record by over 10 minutes and did everything that I possibly could today but Zach just had a little more than me.”

But who is this 25-year old from Utah? In 2016 he burst on the scene with victory at Speedgoat 50K, sponsorship with Hoka One One followed and victory at Capstone 50K in November laid the foundations for that very memorable head-to-head with Miller.

“I am excited to get going this year. To be honest with you, right now, I’m ready to race and I’m just getting anxious, I want to race so bad and I want to travel so bad but for now I need to get a good base in training and then I’m going to go out there and be ready to go…!”

Read the full and in-depth interview with Hayden Hawks on IRUN4ULTRA HERE

irun4ultra_logo

Jim Walmsley – Western Sates and Beyond Interview

Earlier this year, off the back of a stunning run at Lake Sonoma, Jim Walmsley said he was going to go to Western States, his first 100, and not only win it but potentially set a new course record. It was quite the statement and of course it turned heads. What followed was one of those golden days on the trail when Jim looked to float over the course. With every step he creeped under the old Western States course record. A new record looked almost certain until disaster struck…

I caught up with Jim just a week after the 2016 Western States and delved into his mind about maybe one of the most memorable runs of the year.

The Interview

IAN: I’m joined by Jim Walmsley after an incredible, memorable, inspiring, heart-wrenching, everything Western States. How do you feel Jim? Do you feel good?

Jim Walmsley: Right now? or during the race?

IAN: No, now that you’ve had an opportunity to recover.

Jim Walmsley: Now is going good. I started shuffling again. I called just my shuffle recovery. It’s what I try doing until my legs start coming back to me a little bit, I have started that process things are good. Yes.

IAN: Yes. Okay, before Western States, a lot of people particularly over in Europe and in the UK won’t have really known who you are. You were definitely a dark horse. People in the sport like myself who look at names and follow trends were looking at you. In all honesty some of the claims that you made prior to Western States, were very bold.

I love it when somebody comes into a race and they say, “You know what, I’m going to go hard, I’m going to go for the course record and that’s it.” And deep down you think brilliant, absolutely brilliant I hope he does it. But the reality is, he’s possibly going to crash and burn. Up until about 92 miles it looked like you were just going to make probably one of the most memorable Western States ever. First of all, what gave you the confidence to be so bold with your predictions?

Jim Walmsley: First and foremost, it was my training; it had been going so well. I did a big 50-mile race in April and I ended up getting a course record at Lake Sonoma 50 mile. A lot of big guys have run that in the past. Basically, I felt like I’d only built off of that. As far as confidence wise I knew I was more fit than I ever have been at least in my ultra-career.

I could feel in my training runs that faster paces were feeling more comfortable. I thought I would surrounded myself with a good team to go on a Western States and go knock that out. I guess the other thing with it being my first hundred, it’s one of those things that everybody has got to make that jump from whether it be 50 mile or 100K up to a 100-mile distance. That’s the next benchmark of distance up. I mean, everybody’s got to do it, some people do great with it, some people don’t but I think my journey had been ready to make that jump.

IAN: If we look back at your results and really from my perspective looking at your results they only really go back one year. Back to say May 2015 where you ran Don’t Fence Me In Trail 30K, and then you did Speedgoat, and then you won JFK, 3rd at Moab, 5th at Lake Sonoma, 1st at Black Out Night Run 13K, then Flagstaff Extreme Pine.

There’s a whole list of other races but for me when I was looking at the race there was a couple of significant results. JFK 50 miler you won that in 2014, 2015 Bandera 100K and then of course that Lake Sonoma run in April. You look and you think, “Wow. This guy is fast.” But like you’ve just said, fast at 50 miles and then coming to the 100-mile distance is a big difference. How did you prepare yourself physically for the unknown?

Jim Walmsley: I start knocking out the most miles I’ve ever tried before Lake Sonoma, I did my first 140 mile weeks not sure what that is in kilometres.

IAN: It’s a long way, 200+K.

Jim Walmsley: Okay. Yes. It’s 200K thereabout, and then from Lake Sonoma up to Western States my big training block ended up being back-to-back 140 mile weeks, followed by 120 and a 100, and then I went into my taper for two weeks. The first 120-mile week I did all in single runs. Probably the point where I knew I was feeling really good was when I was climbing and running really good at the Grand Canyon. I have a loop I do in Grand Canyon. I go down Bradenton it’s about seven to nine miles of mostly downhill and then you come back up South Kaibab, it’s about a seven mile up hill and then you finish on a four-mile flat kind of finish so it’s about a 21-mile loop.

That went really well, but then the next day I did a big workout on or just by Pace in Arizona. That was 30 mile run with 8,000 feet of vert up and down. That was huge back-to-back days, even at the end of that week I still did a long run with a bunch of the marathoners in town. I think this one might have been the one that I ran with Andrew Lemoncello, he’s a Scottish guy that lives in Flagstaff. I think we came through in like 2:01 for 20 miles but we went out in the first half and maybe like 65 mins. We were really cooking on the second half, kind of finish that big long run that week end was super huge. That was one of the main things too is that long run in my training it has just became comfortable to start running those 20 miles in about 2 hours. Things were really clicking.

IAN: I mean 120, 140 mile weeks that is huge. How do you maximize your recovery from those types of training sessions? Is that something that you’ve built upon year-on-year or have you just suddenly pushed the envelope and find that you can adapt to it?

Jim Walmsley: In high school I ran 90 miles a week for the last two years, I was a big mileage kid when I was young. But then I look around even less than that in college. I had won 1500 oriented coach. It’s been the first time where I felt comfortable to try to add on more miles and experiment with that. The only main thing I really did to try to help out with recovery, I started trying to take just calories and proteins stuff right immediately after races. I just have a little recovery shake after a run. That’s all I really added in after Lake Sonoma for the most part it’s just kind of being a bit lucky of staying healthy because I wasn’t sure what was going to happen.

IAN: The recovery side of things seem to be working well. Is there anything else that you did in terms of nutrition? Anything that you’ve found out that works well for you or if you are just eating the normal healthy balanced diet?

Jim Walmsley: I mean, that is the only thing that I have changed recently. The other thing is I don’t eat meat but it’s not dietary reasons, it’s just a whole bunch of reasons of why I don’t necessarily want to support a lot of those bigger companies in the industry here in the US. I don’t eat meat for good and for bad but I don’t worry about making up that protein deficit. A lot of people think that I need to make it up somehow. I just eat whatever, I mean I do eat a lot! I eat a ton of junk food. I kind of joke that the amount of junk food I do eat and processed sugar actually gives me just a super rock solid stomach on race day. I’m taking a bunch of gels and a bunch of processed sugar on race day and I eat a lot of that pretty regularly. It almost helps me with having a more solid stomach on race day.

IAN: Okay, you’re very much booking the trends of the moment of low GI and low sugar and going paleo. You’re old school?

Jim Walmsley: Yes, I guess I am?

IAN: Okay, let’s talk about the race, Western States. You were very bold with your pre-race predictions and that puts a big target on your back. I don’t think I’m wrong in saying this, but I think a lot of the favourites for the race, respected the fact that you said what you were going to do. You did sort of say that you would try and take it easy early on. That didn’t really seem to happen. Sage Canaday and David Laney and yourself were pushing right from the start. Did you feel comfortable with that?

Jim Walmsley: Yes. I did feel comfortable with it. I was probably 30 something place at the first climb. I was trying to just slow down, walk and almost even stop a lot on the first climb out of Squaw Valley, to try to basically get some of the other favourites to get rolling and kind of run their own race. I mean I could see them and they were looking back a lot.

It was just one of those things where I felt it was almost pointless to slow down more and more and more, because I was either going to run their race, or my game plan would be to try to go off a feel and start running some splits. Those splits that we initially had started with the course record splits. Can’t understand how those felt, if they felt easy, if they felt hard and kind of base things off the feel from that.

IAN: Yes. I mean, it’s unusual in ultra-running for somebody to come into a race with an idea of splits with a real intention of breaking the record. Course records tend to come because it just turns out to be one of those days, when everything clicks and everything aligns and then course records happen.

You’re almost bringing into this marathon running perspective we’re it’s easier and more consistent to run the minute mile pace, because the terrain is more uniform, more predictable, whereas here, Western States. You’ve got elevation, you’ve got trail, you’ve got heat, you’ve got so many variables, but yet you seem to be very well planned and very well controlled that’s quite unusual.

Jim Walmsley: Well, how I did it was… I’ve never ran a marathon, but it’s a little different than just splits. Between each aid station I had average pace that I needed to hit, for that section. It was very course dependent and terrain dependent. I figured things were at least close enough, when you’re going four mile splits.

If you’re going up a hill, it’s okay to lose some time on that. That’s how I based it off, then it kind of ended up being where I was just able to taking chunks and chunk off of those average splits that I already had.

IAN: Now, the other thing that you seem to be taking in your stride and I loved the retro shirt look…. The heat! You’d obviously come into this race acclimatized to the heat. Was that something that you’d really concentrated on?

Jim Walmsley: I’m originally from Phoenix Arizona. I live in Flagstaff, which is about two and a half miles north. I have lived in flagstaff for the last year. But before that, I lived in Colorado, California and Montana. A little cooler, but as far as heat, I know I can handle it. I know I can run really well in it. But the main question was whether I can handle running in the heat all day, during the middle of the day. WSER was going to be the first big test. Being from Phoenix there’s a lot of people that have their little tricks and tips to stay a little bit cooler on their arms. I kind of pick up on those, just kind of keeping your wrists cool, always staying wet. I wore a hat and sunglasses the whole time.

IAN: Yes.

Jim Walmsley: I think both of those contribute to a perception that it’s a little cooler. I try to keep my shoulders covered with the crop top shirt I had, rather than going on with singlet with skinnier shoulder bands. The shirt in general was kind of it held water better, the holes helped ventilation and then, it also helped with sun protection. Yes. You’re just trying to find different elements of what’s making you hotter and trying to mitigate those, and then always staying wet. If you see a creek lie down in the creek, it’s worth that time.

IAN: Yes. You went out to WSER for a running camp, is that correct?

Jim Walmsley: Yes, it is.

IAN: Was that a double edged sword? Or it was an opportunity to be on a training camp, an opportunity to go and heat acclimatise and also to get some training in?

Jim Walmsley: It was really nice weather, as opposed to anything uncomfortable. I wasn’t getting out on the actual Western States trails. It was more run in the Tahoe Rim Trail and a couple trails more in the Flume trail and stuff, but I hadn’t really spent time like that out in Tahoe. It’s just this wonderful beautiful place that was really awesome to do for sure.

I really enjoyed working with John Fitzgerald and Stan Myers, now at the mountain post running camp. The initial debate was whether I go back to Flagstaff for two weeks and then come back, or whether I stay out there… I had a couple friends that were supposed to do the Broken Arrow race in between those two weeks, and they ended up both dropping out, or scratching and not doing it.

But, I had made plans to just stay out there and kind of stuck with trying to stay out there. After that, I think next year I would really like to stay in Flagstaff, stay where I can get some bigger climbing consistently, because I just know that all the different runs where I live. I can just really dial it in on what I want to focus on most.

IAN: Yes, I see the logic in being in Flagstaff and then it’s easy to go down to Phoenix. I guess.

Jim Walmsley: Yes. Phoenix or if you want to get in a big running day the Tetons. I like heat training in the canyon because it gets pretty high and then also it has a similar reflection of the heat down there off of the rocks. The rocks really release a lot of heat out of them and make it feel a lot hotter than what it might– the ambient temperature might be.

IAN: Yes. Let’s go back to the race. By the time you got to half way, you had around about 20 minutes under the course record. Everybody was getting super excited and of course it was that 50:50 scenario. Is this going to be the most incredible run? Or at any point is he going to blow up and it certainly didn’t look like you were going to blow up? You were keeping yourself cool, like you said you put in plenty of water on yourself. You were submerging yourself in the rivers and water whenever you possibly could. You did almost end up going for a bit of a long swim… Do you want to just touch on what happened there? I mean, that was what, mile 70 something?

Jim Walmsley: It was mile 78, 79. I heard that Rob Crow last year swam across and that was the fastest most efficient way to cross the river. I started holding on to the rope and paddling with one arm and then, before I knew it, I gave it a couple swim strokes to get across. And then, before I knew it like I looked the rope was right there on my left and then it was 7 to 8 feet away and I couldn’t reach it. It became basically me against the river. You have this life vest on which is great that keeps your float but at the same time, it’s a big old kite in the current and it really pulls you downstream.

I think actually Rob totally ran passed the life vest which might help swimming if he did swim. I’ll definitely keep my hand on the rope next year. I basically started to get swept downstream. Eventually, I had to try to basically figure out how I can get some floating on some rocks.

Then there was that boat that came out and they posted a video online. I guess that boat wasn’t part of the race at all. It was a spectator and they weren’t supposed to be down there. They had different separate safety boats that they weren’t worried about it in this situation. But at the same time, people’s reactions were dramatic at the time. But probably the biggest thing from that is the one bottle… I had two bottles when I got in the river and I filled one at the aid station on the bank before the river and that’s the one that ended up floating off down the river. I didn’t have any water going up from the river up to Green Gate which is only a 1.8 mile climb out but it’s really exposed in the sun and then it is a steep climb and just not having something to drink there, was a little rough and I just took my time… I think that’s the one split that I did lose I think a minute or two.

IAN: Yes. I was going to say, I think probably by the time you were in America River you had to run about 30, 32 minutes under the course record. By the time you got a Green Gate you’d probably given away about five or six minutes but I guess that was with the swim as well.

Jim Walmsley: Yes, part of us just maintaining composure. You just need to maintain composure and make sure that you don’t over exert if something like that does happen. It’s all just relaxing, take your time it’s not a big deal. I think at that point course record starts really playing more and more of a factor and almost working out where I have time.

IAN: Was your plan to have that big buffer of say 30 minutes or 20 minutes? Whatever it might have been so that you could slow down… because you anticipated slowing down, because one of the things that I always think of in these scenarios is you actually only need to beat the old record by one second. You don’t need 30 minutes. Where you just having an amazing day?

Jim Walmsley: No. I don’t think any of that was pre-planned at all. If you told me that I was going to be even 20 minutes up on the course record at any time. I think I would have had a laugh… that would be a pretty good day. I remember seeing my crew ready to the station and just going like I’m trying to slow down but I’m trying to run comfortable and this is just comfortable… I know I’m running too fast based on time and stuff but at the same time I feel like I’m running easy and I’m running comfortable. I was just trying to go with that.

IAN: I remember speaking to Ian Sharman when he had that amazing run on Rocky Racoon, Timmy Olson re Western States, Rob Krar re Western States, Kilian Jornet with this countless records. I’ve often said there is one day for every runner where everything aligns and it becomes the perfect run. Sharman has gone back to the Rocky Racoon and never found the same day and the same form that he had when he did that blistering 100-mile time. I just wonder for you, was this that day? Was this that time when everything was aligned apart from the 92-mile void of going off course? We’ll come into that. But do you think now looking back that it was just the most incredible day?

Jim Walmsley: It definitely was an incredible day. Whether I’m going to be able to replicate this next year or in the future, I’m not sure? I think I have to approach it as why shouldn’t I be able to? But that was one of the first things of reflecting on the race is just, I don’t know if I’ll ever have… because so many little things have to go right. In nutrition, your stomach there is so many just unknown valuables. I didn’t step and twist an ankle or anything. I don’t know if I will ever have as good of a chance as that to break the course record again.

At the same time, I was able to take away a lot of experience, a lot of tips from the course. I know I’m going to be planning to go out there probably for a week earlier in the year to very much scout the course and make sure I’m getting everything on detail right about what I want to do for 2017. I think I can meticulously attack it next year. It will be interesting. I don’t know about trying to get another half hour up on the record though…

IAN: [laughs] I mean, sometimes you can’t plan these things. I think the thing is you went into this race saying that you’re going for the course record. The fact that you got 30 minutes under the course record is significant and it shows that your form, shows your ability is there. You said sometimes you can’t account for certain things that happen on race day… so tell us about the disaster.

Tell us about going off course and I know obviously you didn’t realize that you’d gone off course, otherwise you’d have turned around pretty damn quickly. But what was the point where you realized, “Shit, I’ve gone the wrong way.” Then was it panic, distress? What happened?

Jim Walmsley: It was probably three and a half miles after Bar Aid station that I really had the sinking feeling that I missed the turn. I ended up probably going on another three-quarter of a mile to the actual highway because at that point I could see it. I could see a hill and I’m on such an obvious dirt road at the time. I was like maybe this section is just much less marked than most the other course but things started to not make sense and that sinking feeling started getting in my stomach. I think it started with missing this turn off –  it’s this huge wide like 20 to 25-foot dirt road that two cars can totally pass on and then you go up this little tiny trail to the left. I was told it was about three miles past the aid station. In reality, I think it was about two and a quarter or two and a half. That’s about three to four minutes’ difference, probably closer to four minutes’ difference?

I just wasn’t looking for the left at that moment! I remember seeing three miles and going, “Crap, the turn should be right here”. Then after that I’m like, “All right. I haven’t seen a flag in a little while”. I thought, I’m going to give it another half mile and just look for flags. I wasn’t seeing any flags, at that point that was the three-and-a-half-mile mark of “oh crap, this might not be good”. But at the same time I was able to see were the road I was on connects with the high way that I’m supposed to get to. I was just like trust it, hopefully it works out, it might not, but hopefully it works out. I wasn’t able to convince myself to turn around yet. It’s a really hard thing to do when you’re having that day.

I think when I got to the road and I stop and I look down the road. There’s a bunch of cars parked on that road that you can see as you’re approaching it too. There’s a ton of cars up here maybe there is an aid station? But I think it’s a recreation area where a bunch of just random cars parked. Yes. It was when I really popped out on the road that I just had this demoralizing feeling of I had missed something. I wouldn’t tell you what the trail was marked when I went passed it, because obviously I didn’t see it. Initially, people were saying that flags might have gotten pulled, from what I’ve heard flags weren’t pulled. The 2nd and 3rd runner made the turn…?

IAN: Yes.

Jim Walmsley: Both of them made the turn with the same flagging that was there… but I missed the turn. But at the same time I’ve also seen heard other things… some guy posted that he remarked it? He was running back to Brown Bar Aid Station. He saw Andrew Miller and he knew that it was going to be Andrew Miller’s day, sort of thing. It was one of those things that chronologically doesn’t make tons of sense. It was really odd; I just don’t know… All I can say is that I had my head down and was just trying to crank away. I think I was still running under nine minute miles at that point. I was moving really well. Yes, I can’t explain why I missed that turn necessarily other than; I don’t think I was looking for it yet.

IAN: When you back tracked and when back to the turn point you obviously would have seen the marking of the direction you should have gone. Was the marking good then when you managed to re-navigate yourself back?

Jim Walmsley: Yes. They re-flagged everything and they made it extremely obvious and well-marked by the time I got back there and saw it for the first time.

IAN: Right. Is that because they knew you had gone off-course?

Jim Walmsley: Yes. They just exaggerated the left hand turn a lot more because I ended up going of course. Basically, everyone else had it very, very, well marked by the time they hit that.

IAN: Right. By the time you got back to that point, how much time had you lost?

Jim Walmsley: I don’t know… probably one of my biggest regrets about it is I really felt the competitive side of me really quit when I came out on Highway 49. I wished I had more fire and hunger in me. I wish I had hit highway 49 and just turned around, and said, “I’m not letting this ruining my day”, I wish I had attacked it a lot more. The information I had at the time was that I was only 12 minutes up. I was only 15 minutes under course record. In reality I was still about 25 to 30 minutes up on the course record, almost a full hour ahead of second place. Hearing that now – that part really sucks of just how missed informed I was. Having everybody… or should I say, thinking that everybody was so close, and then knowing that I went off the trail by a mile and a half or two miles.

That really crushed me, just crushed my spirits. My reality at the time was, I’m not winning, I’m not getting a course record, this whole sinking feeling. I just need to take a break really quick, try to get your composure again and refocus. At that point I was just not doing good. I was out of calories completely, it just became a negative, I thought I’m going to just walk it back to the next aid station. Between some of the medical staff, and the two photographers that found me on highway 49, I’m actually friends with them. They just encouraged me to start walking back. At the time I’m not a hundred percent sure I would have made that decision by myself. But in retrospect I’m really glad I did. As far as competing for top three or top 10. It just wasn’t what I was hoping for at the time.

IAN: It’s interesting, I can’t imagine the frustration.

Jim Walmsley: It was just wasn’t important to me of how things were going, how things went. Yes. I ended up winning two of the golden races, or golden ticket races, to get in the Western States. To race in the Western States is not a big — I don’t view it as a big deal, obviously it is. I feel very capable of racing back in next year. Top 10 in that stuff just — It was more.

IAN: You wanted to win?

Jim Walmsley: I definitely wanted to win.

IAN: Yes. You wanted to win.

Jim Walmsley: Those spirits were crushed.

IAN: Yes. Once the win wasn’t there I guess it was a case of second is not good enough, third is not good enough…

Jim Walmsley: A little bit, but I don’t know, I was in the lead for so long it’s just… I guess maybe at the time second, third wasn’t enough, but I don’t know, it become just making it more manageable, or whatever… I don’t know?

IAN: I had to look at your river splits. It seems as though from that point where you started to back track that you hardly run a step. I was looking at it and I was trying analyse it. Of course, you’ve gone in many ways explaining to what your thought process was. It’s easy for me for me from the outside looking in and thinking why didn’t you just run and chase down? You had that 30-minute buffer, or maybe 25 minutes’ buffer.

Jim Walmsley: Yes. The information I had was 15 minutes.

IAN: Was it just mentally so demoralizing for you that you just couldn’t get yourself back onto your game, or was it other factors? Yes, mentally you’ve been crushed, but also you were lacking the energy. Maybe you had burned yourself out a little bit? I’m just trying to get an insight into the mind of what it was like at that point.

Jim Walmsley: Yes. I would say mentally I was crushed. But then between taking a little bit of a break and mentally not focussed, somewhere I was just not wanting it any more. My muscles and body started really wanting to be done. Just the walking and trying to jog after that was extremely difficult. After that moment and realizing that everything slipped away. Yes. I definitely did bonk after that. I think if that didn’t happen I absolutely don’t think I would have bonked. But it’s one of those things… I think the mental thing had to happen first, and then my body soon followed that… it was just extremely hard to rally.

When I got back to my crew and stuff, they could see I was just completely demoralized. They were totally okay with just walking it in with me. That just became my game plan. At that point it became about the silver buckle more than anything. Not being out there for the longest period time it just became just one step at a time, and we’ll just get to the finish and we’ll take those positives.

IAN: You got the buckle, and that’s super important.

Jim Walmsley: I think this also goes back to in retrospect of ”Now I think about the race”. That is one of my bigger regrets of it. I wish I did react better mentally, and then I did go and actually try to still race again. I do regret that a bit.

IAN: What I’m interested in here is the duality of you as a person, because I think pre-race a rookie 100-mile runner saying, “I’m going to go to Western States and I’m going to go for the course record.” Of course people in the community look and think, “Who’s this guy? Gees, who’s he to say this?” But then what I’ve witnessed afterwards, and what I’m witnessing now in this interview is an incredible humility, an incredible respect, there’s no bitterness. You’re not actually bitter, you’re not questioning course marking. You’re questioning you not noticing the course marking, but you’re not blaming anybody. You’re only blaming yourself I think that’s absolutely fantastic.

I think that would really warm you to the audience. Have you thought in depth about that process of how you’ve handled pre-race and post-race?

Jim Walmsley: Well, I totally get how pre-race it rubs people the wrong way, but just pre-race and post-race I feel like I’m honest guy and I’ll tell you my goals and what I think I can do pretty blatantly. Pre-race too I would also say it’s a mental approach of trying to convince myself that I can do it. It’s also mental tricks with myself of, “I can do this.” Saying that out loud, saying that publicly does set up for a lot of scrutiny, but at the same time I think that goes so far as far as mentally how you’re going to be in the race and making you tougher to stick to that.

Post-race, I would like to think that I’m just being me and being honest. I don’t think getting bitter about things is going to make anything better or positive. At the end of the day, it was an amazing run. It was an amazing experience. It was a great adventure. I finished my first hundred. There are so many positives to still take away from that day. As an athlete, I think two things are important as well, one, short term memory loss. You get to forget about it and move on as far as bad things that happen like that especially in running. That’s part of our sport. I think most people can relate to making a wrong turn at one time or another.

IAN: For sure. They just don’t make it 92 miles into Western States when looking to set the course record. [laughs]

Jim Walmsley: It’s pretty tough when that happens for sure, yes. The other thing too about being a more competitive athlete is I think you have to focus and build off of the positives rather than beat yourself up about the negatives. I don’t think it’s beneficial for you to dwell on the mistakes. I think it’s beneficial to say, “Look, you did this really well.” One of the biggest things that I am extremely happy about that I think I can take forward into a lot more races is just how well I did in that heat. I think I surprised myself a little bit with that. It was almost 30 degrees warmer than 2012 when Tim Olsen ran his course record.

Yes, little things like that are huge just building off of those and it’s all a process. It’s a learning process, but it’s something that I want to make a career. Yes, it’s going to building off of this to hopefully running even better next year.

IAN: The next question is you had 93 miles of really good running where you were functioning the way that you wanted to in your first hundred-mile race. It was a complete learning curve, and it was an incredible learning curve. You were almost… it was almost a textbook run. Is there anything that you’ve learned that will improve your running for next year? Other than a recce of the course and making sure you know where to turn is. But physically, if you’ve done 120, 140 mile weeks, you can’t really add anymore volume? Will there be more speed work? How will you reflect on this and improve, or maybe you don’t need to improve, what you just need is another repeat performance like this year?

Jim Walmsley: Yes, you’re spot on with that. The biggest thing is going to be able to try to at least replicate what I was able to do in my training next year. With those 140 mile weeks, one of the weeks was 22,500 feet of vert. One thing personally, I think I can do a bit more consistently is getting out to that Grand Canyon and run in it maybe twice a week instead of just once a week. It’s huge to be able to do those long, long down hills. I know it’s something I’m very interested in. I’ve done it once, and it completely punted me on this day. We called it double tapping South Kaibab. South Kaibab is the steepest trail in the Grand Canyon, and basically FKTs go through South Kaibab because it’s just shorter, but it’s steeper.

My friend and I we went down it, up it, and then one more time down it, and up it. It ended up being over 11,000-foot vert day in less than 30 miles. It was just a massive, massive day. I think that was much earlier in the year, but I think focusing days like that. You can only train as hard as you can recover, and it’s a lot about mitigating stress in other parts to your life so that you can recover better on the running stress. Yes, I think a really important part of this year was that I was able to do longer tempo runs that I haven’t been doing since I’ve gotten into ultras in the last 2 years.

I am doing these long runs with a lot of the marathoners in town. If some of these guys they’re like, “Hey, I got this workout today, anybody want to hop in?” I just say like, “Yes, I’ll do that with you.” They’re not planned workouts, but hopping in with guys that are doing sessions works out. That’s been really beneficial as well in getting that foot speed going. That’s where like I’m running these splits and I’m trying to slow down, but look I’m efficient and I don’t feel like I’m over exerting. I think that’s how those things happen. It’s just foot speed wise, I was so prepared almost where things were just butter smooth and I was able to chip away at it a couple of minutes you’d split.

IAN: It was an incredible run, and it was an inspiring run. You have the Ultra community just sitting there aghast at the performance. The question is now, where do you go from here? Obviously a priority will be getting qualification for Western States next year. I quite like the way that you said that’s not really an issue. That’s that confidence side of you that I really like. You’ll prepare yourself, you’ll choose your race, you’ll get your slot, and I’m convinced you will be at Western States next year. Now, with this run, people have got an eye on you. I’m sure races are sending you some invites to attend their races. Where do you go from here? What’s lined up for the rest of 2016?

Jim Walmsley: Well, I was just really hoping that I would nail a hundred miles out of a hundred miles, or 100.2 out of 100.2 miles at Western States, because one of the biggest things is I do want to travel on. I do want to take opportunities to do all these great races across the world but the way that things went this year and my own personality and just realizing what I can do at Western States, 2017 is totally going to be about… at least giving it one more shot of having that perfect day. Maybe things fall apart again and I need to step back and maybe I’ll revisit it in a couple of years but it’s going to definitely build towards that. Right now, I’m trying to stay pretty disciplined and not put on too many races on my plate.

It’s extremely easy to do that. I don’t want to fall into the trap that a great deal of runners fall into. No matter what happens, because sometimes its injury, sometimes it’s over-training syndrome, but people are stereo-typing that all the elites are getting into this over-training syndrome. I don’t think that’s quite accurate. I think if you do look at the marathon world, their training is so much harder for so much longer.

You just don’t see that topic come up in that side of the sport. This year though, I kind of have a little bit of a gap right now, what I’m going to be racing. I’m taking advantage of it. I’m taking some really good down time. I’m going to try to get little things that had been bothering me for the last six months fixed and be hopefully healthy.

I’m going to try holding out until JFK to do another big race, but at the same time my plan for this year is to try to do a really big block of training in the fall and try to pull out a JFK North Face San Francisco Double. They are two weeks apart, they’re both 50 Milers which JFK being first in November and then the North Face 50 in San Francisco being the first weekend in December. I would like to try doing that double and seeing how that goes.

IAN: Okay, big difference in prize money between those two races.

Jim Walmsley: Yes. Yes, a little bit.

IAN: You’re not tempted by the Run Rabbit Run 100 for the prize money?

Jim Walmsley: I definitely am. I’ve been talking to the race director and it was even something on my radar before this. Run Rabbit Run this year though hinders that block of training and this is the biggest reason not to do it this year…  I guess what I’m saying is I want to do the double, I want to try to win both.

To get in the fitness required to be competitive and to recover so fast and then to run again, you’re talking a couple months of big mileage, hard running training to get ready for JFK where it’s not going to dig you in that big of a hole that it takes weeks and weeks to get out of that sort of thing but I want to be able to recover quick and then be able to race in two weeks.

That’s the biggest reason not to do Run Rabbit Run. The other thing I guess is what’s maybe keeping me from falling down that slippery slope is I’m kind of hoping a contract works out soon but we’ll see.

IAN: How’s that process going? I’m assuming that with you saying that there’s been some interest.

Jim Walmsley: Yes. Things are really positive. There’s definitely interest which more than that I ended up getting an agent because when I’m contacting these companies, it’s more in ultra-world. It’s kind of a weird thing because athletes are a lot of times trying to contact companies to ask for sponsorship, ask for this and that. A lot of times what I found out is I’m getting connected with the wrong people or people too low on the totem pole to really make decisions.

They’re like, “Look, we just have to wait until the end of the year” sort of thing. I ended up getting an agent after the race. The best part about that is that he’s able to work with people much higher up that if they want a contract done, they’ll get a contract done now instead of waiting until the end of the year when most people are renewing their contracts and stuff.

IAN: Well, it’s an exciting time. Certainly, the ultra-community is going to be very interested to see what happens over the coming months and year right up to Western States 2017. I just want to thank you so much for giving us an hour of your time and talking in depth about what has been quite an inspirational Western States.

Post Western States, Jim went on to set a Rim-to-Rim record in the Grand Canyon and a Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim record, smashing the previous record set by Rob Krar to a new level of  5:55:20 – 26-minutes faster than Krar’s 6:21:47. As Jim eluded to in my interview, his main objective for the end of the season was the ‘double’ at JFK50 and San Francisco 50. Just last weekend, the first race took place. Jim ran the JFK50 and smashed the old course record setting a new time of 5:21:28. The stars are aligning for Jim Walmsley, San Francisco and a potential huge pay day awaits… Is Jim Walmsley the next big thing in the ultra world?

 

Emelie Forsberg – Downhill Demon

Trofeo Kima copyright Ian Corless

Trofeo Kima copyright Ian Corless

Emelie Forsberg, Team Salomon Running.

Emelie burst onto the running scene in 2012 with a 2nd place at the Three Peaks in the UK. Throughout 2012, taking one step at a time, Emelie progressed through the Skyrunning calendar with consistent top 3 placing’s. She crowned her 2012 season off with a Skyrunning World Championship and a stunning win at San Francisco 50. Speaking from her home in Sweden, I catch up with her just before her 2013 run season starts. Cinnamon buns are in the oven and the hot chocolate is steaming on the table…

iancorless.comEmelie Trofeo Kima 3

IC Welcome to Talk Ultra

EF Thank you Ian.

IC We all have followed your progress in 2012 and it has been a quick progression in the sport, but many ask, what were you doing before?

EF I have been a student for some years. Whilst studying I have lived and worked in Swedish and Norwegian mountain resorts.

IC You have mentioned work, I’m interested. By work I am assuming you don’t mean skiing or running?

EF Baking. I am a baker. In fact, I am actually baking bread right now.

IC So this is why you always post photos of you and food on Facebook. You have a secret passion.

EF (laughs) I love good bakery!

IC You love bakery but you also love Nutella if my memory serves me well?

EF Yes, I love Nutella too.

IC So you are a baker but you also worked in hotels too, I assume you must have been doing sport during this time. You are an accomplished skier, is that your sporting background?

EF Skiing is my sport as well as climbing and some running. But I only started running in the last 4 years. I run mainly in the mountains. I love being outside.

IC What was it at the end of 2011 that made you decide that you would come away from your home and start to basically to race around the world.

EF It was my Swedish brand ambassador for Salomon who asked if I would join the Swedish Salomon Team initially and then Greg Vollet, Salomon Team Manager, asked if I would join them for a weeks training? After that a decision was made that I should try some international races. I have just progressed. I wanted to take each race at a time. I didn’t want to put too much pressure on.

IC It has been a meteoric rise for you, Three Peaks was a low-key start in the UK and you got 2nd place. At Zegama, it was your first proper mountain race against an international field. You had no hiding place. But despite that pressure, you performed tremendously in what was a new experience for you.

EF Yes, a new experience. Actually, I was a little disappointed. I hadn’t run much before Three Peaks and Zegama. Of course I was happy to do well but I could have done so much better. I learnt I need to start running before racing.

IC Funny, you say you should run before racing. Seriously, you did no running before Three Peaks? What had you been doing?

EF I had a weeks running in April with the Salomon Team but when home I was doing SkiMo (Ski Mountaineering) or I just ran a couple of miles to University each day. So I wasn’t doing much. Certainly not to race. I do ski with heavy ski’s to add resistance and that really gets you fit and strong.

IC One thing that becomes apparent with mountain runners is that SkiMo plays a big part in winter prep. For example Kilian Jornet, Nuria Picas, and Philipp Reiter amongst others spend months during the winter doing this. Skiing really does transfer across well. Is it just great endurance training or does is provide other strengths.

EF Endurance is key. It is great uphill training too and the speed in SkiMo is great. The speed going downhill is great for downhill running. You learn not to be afraid, it builds confidence.

IC What is apparent is that you can go downhill really quickly. You have already gained a reputation for this. You put this to great use at Pikes Peak when at the summit you had a 10 min deficit but you pulled it back on the descent and got the win! What is that enables you to run downhill so quickly?

EF I love the speed and freedom. I love fast! You don’t need great power. During my life I have always been moving in technical terrain, which gives me confidence to recognize different kinds of trails and decide the correct route. I am not afraid. It’s a combination of no fear and confidence.

Trofeo Kima 2012 copyright Ian Corless

Trofeo Kima 2012 copyright Ian Corless

IC I think back to Trofeo Kima in 2012, you said before the race that you wanted to just have fun! You even took sandwiches…. On one of the toughest courses in the Skyrunning calendar!

EF I did

IC Admittedly you didn’t get time to eat them… the course was too hard. But I love the mentality. You wanted to enjoy it. I love that balance that you bring to your sport. You want to do well but ultimately you want to have fun. You have struck that balance so well. At Trofeo Kima you ran with Nuria Picas and then Nuria pulled away but you weren’t bothered, however, that competitive edge came in at the end when you could sprint for 2nd place. You put the ‘speed’ you love to good use then.

EF It’s a combination for sure. I want to have fun and I like to win. Running is great fun, for sure, my life is running. It’s liberating, it’s a big part of me. I must enjoy it. I need to enjoy what I do. Competition is great, I love to feel strong and I do love to race. Winning is great and once you have won, you think, I would like to win more but I need to keep balance.

IC I feel fortunate to have witnessed most of your races in 2012, the exception San Francisco when you won. I saw you on multiple podiums. But I also saw both sides of you… the fun person and the racer. For me, the race of the year was Cavalls del Vent. You are great friends with Nuria and Frosty and pre race you three hang out together. You laugh, giggle, drink coffee and even when racing you are great friends having a laugh. At Cavalls, all three of you battled in tough conditions. As it turned out Nuria won and Frosty was 2nd but for you 3rd was not a disappointment. It was your first long race. Did you feel intimidated by the distance?

EF I wanted to try a longer race. If you have never tried then you don’t know what it feels like.  I needed to push myself. I actually started at Cavalls quite fast and I lead for almost half the race. I felt super strong. I could eat, I could drink, it was cold but I could manage it. In the end when Nuria and Anna passed me, I was mentally tired. Just super tired in my brain. I couldn’t push even though I wasn’t tired. Running uphill with Anna I couldn’t go with her. It was very unusual. We probably only had 40 mins to the finish of the race and Anna screamed at me “Come on Emily, push”. But I was just tired. I learnt something in that race.

IC What did you learn, what did you take away from Cavalls?

Cavalls del Vent copyright Ian Corless

Cavalls del Vent copyright Ian Corless

EF I think I need to work on my mind and my physical. I need to connect them and I need to be stronger. It was my first long race and it was much longer than I had ever run before. To be honest, it is good to run with others too. I learnt that maybe running with others is better than running alone.

IC It is interesting what you say about running with others and talking. That is one thing that Kilian likes. I noticed it at Cavalls, he always seemed as though he wanted some company. In that race it was Anton Krupicka. Of course when it comes to the end, he runs away for the win. I guess time passes so much easier and quickly with company…

From Cavalls you went to La Templiers in France, which starts in Millau. It’s a big race in France. You raced Nuria and Lizzy Hawker. Nuria once again won. But you really gritted your teeth and outsprinted Lizzy for 2nd.

EF Yes it was satisfying but that race was problematic. I had stomach issues and I had to stop six or seven times. So that took energy. Plus I couldn’t eat. I felt I could have done so much better. I could have run with Nuria but I don’t know if I could have won? At the end I almost felt rude sprinting past Lizzy…

IC Racing is racing Emelie and Lizzy would have done exactly the same so don’t feel guilty.

Lets move to the final of 2012. Ultimately your best race, not only a stunning victory but a nice payday too, eh! (First prize in the Ladies race was $10,000)

EF Yes! a nice payday.

IC San Fran, funny, so many races have had difficult and tough with bad weather. It was no different here. Do you perform better when the conditions are like this?

EF Maybe not better but I am used to harsh conditions and I don’t worry.

IC San Fran was a great win. Talk me through it. Pre race I actually predicted you wouldn’t win because I thought you maybe had a little too much time skiing after Templiers. However, you proved me wrong, I hang my head in shame; I should have had more confidence in you. Talk me through it.

EF I wanted to start with Lucy and Maud Gobert. They are famous for being fast starters. I tried to keep up with them but very early on I thought I can’t go this fast… I was a little scared. Normally it is ME that starts fast. I slowed down. I felt confident and I was feeling okay and then two American girls passed. I then thought, wow, have I not run enough and have I had too many buns and hot chocolate (laughs) After about 20k I could see them again and I started to reel them in. I passed Lucy; she wasn’t having a good day. When the American girls picked up pacers I passed them too, this was about 30k into the race.

IC Early on then?

EF Yes, I still felt confident. I was not tired and I was looking forward to keeping on running at the same pace. Just before I picked up Anna Frost, my pacer, I passed Maud Gobert who was leading the race. I was now in the lead! I thought, I can do it… I had started the race slower and it was working. It was a great confidence boost. Anna was such a great pacer. We had such fun. She kept telling me “you can win”. It was great to be at the front, leading. It was fantastic. At the finish I was almost nervous, I had never won a long distance race before. When you think you can win, you really want it and then the nerves strike. I had a perfect day out.

iancorless.comEmelie Templiers

IC It was a stunning win and a great way to end an incredible 2012. Can I ask, you say you started slower, it payed dividends in the latter stages, do you think that is something you will now transfer to other races? Maybe patience is good and you should hold back?

EF Yes and no. Sometimes I just want to run the way I feel like and not have tactics. I wonder to myself if can go fast all race without slowing, so why start slow (Laughs) Greg Vollet would not agree! He thinks I should start slower.

IC Shhhh we wont tell Greg. Greg, if you are reading this, she didn’t say that!

EF (Laughs)

IC I understand, lets say for example you are racing Nuria and Anna; you would rather be with them instead of watching them run away. Better to be with them and then you can adjust your pace accordingly, it may well be that you are running easy?

iancorless.comEmelie Nuria Frosty Templiers

EF Yes, maybe.

IC What is on your 2013 calendar? Tarawera kicks off the year but that will be a low-key start as you are doing a relay. So will Transvulcania be the first big race?

EF Yes, I am not ready for 100k at Tarawera yet. I have planned to do some run coaching holidays and then I will go to Transvulcania La Palma. Transvulcania will be my first ‘proper’ race of 2013.

IC Superb, it’s a wonderful course and it will be great to see you racing Frosty and Nuria and some other great competitive ladies. Another classic battle lies ahead. After that, where do you go? Zegama?

EF Yes, Zegama.

IC Zegama is two week later and is a Sky marathon so will the remainder of the year be decided after these two races or do you already have 2013 planned out.

EF It’s almost planned out but I need to be flexible and I need to listen to my body. So I will change races if I need to

IC Can you tell us what your plans are?

EF I have several races in Sweden, mainly half marathons. Then I want to do Mont Blanc Marathon and the Vertical Kilometer, I will follow these two races with the European Champs (Skyrunning), I may even do Ice Trail Tarentaise.

IC Will you do UROC for the final of the Skyrunning Ultra champs?

EF Yes, I hope so. It will be my first 100k. It will be more distance than I have run before, so, I need to feel good but if I do, I will run.

IC An exciting year ahead and all those races are pretty much Skyrunning events. Exciting.

Trofeo Kima copyright Ian Corless

Trofeo Kima copyright Ian Corless

I have some questions from fans for you, is that okay?

EF Sure

IC James Stewart asks, “Have you had a VO2 test?”

EF No, I have not. I’m not interested. Maybe some day.

IC I guess in principal a VO2 test doesn’t matter, you are running well and you can run quickly. That is all we, and you need to know.

Cavalls del Vent copyright Ian Corless

Cavalls del Vent copyright Ian Corless

IC Who would you like to race in the future?

EF I would love to race against so many, I enjoyed racing Lucy at San Francisco. Maybe it would be nice to race more of the American runners. They are very good and they have a different approach. I’d also love to race Ellie Greenwood.

IC If you do some races in the US, particularly Speedgoat and UROC then that wish may come true. I think Ellie is doing Speedgoat 50k.

Daniel Caulderon asks, “What is your nutrition plan?” Not sandwiches at Trofeo Kima and not cinnamon buns with hot chocolate.

EF I don’t have a nutrition plan. I recommend that you listen to your body. I always eat what I want. But I do eat lots of vegetables, beans and salad. But I love hot chocolate and cinnamon buns too!

IC Jill Suarez says, “I want the recipe for Nutella Brownies”

EF Shall I tell you the recipe now?

IC No, email me and we will add it afterwards.

RECIPE

Kladdkaka

2 eggs

2 dl (0.2 l) sugar

5 big spoons of kakao

A small spoon of vanilla sugar

Very little salt

100 g butter

1 dl (0.1 l) Wheat

A little coffee

Stir the and the eggs and sugar very gently ( no whisking!)

Things to add in the cake: everything you like! I prefer nutella, walnuts, m&m´s or chocolate pieces.

Then add all the ingredients, put it in the owen at 175 Celsius. 15-20 minutes depending how you like the consistent to be like!

Enjoy!

This was what I eat during my first mountain marathon! Nyam nyam!

Apparently best served with Almond Milk….

Emelie, I want to finish and once again thank you for your time. It’s a pleasure to spend time with you. You are one of the most ‘smiley’ people on the ultra scene. What you do in racing is reflected in your smile. You love it and that is great to see. Have a fantastic 2013 and I am so looking forward to catching up with you in the mountains during the coming year.

EF Thank you so much Ian.

iancorless.comEmelie Nuria Frosty

Read more SKYRUNNING interviews HERE

Emotions of 2012

What a year! what a year indeed… it is the last day of 2012 and like so many others I wanted to sit down, reflect on what has happened and put a post together documenting some of the special moments of 2012. But as I looked back, so many sprung to mind… many moments I witnessed through social media such as Facebook and Twitter and others I witnessed first hand. So I have decided to select key moments that I witnessed personally, however, before I do that I do want to give a ‘nod’ to some key moments that I didn’t witness first hand…

Australian Pat Farmer finally made it to the South Pole after starting at the North Pole (view here). Pat is a multiple world record holder for endurance running. He has run around Australia and across North America twice.

Salomon launched the Sense. A shoe that created a stir and a buzz that could only be compared to the same sort of buzz around an iPhone, iPad or equally another key moment of 2012, the Suunto Ambit.

Ryan Sandes arguably one of the best ultra performers in 2012 started of his year in style with a win at the Vibram 100km in Hong Kong.

051211AS004

Micah True passed way from heart related issues while out running in Mexico. The ultra community bonded together as initially he was lost for days causing Scott Jurek and Chris McDougall (Micah was made famous in the book ‘Born to Run‘) to travel to Mexico and aid the search for him.

Jez Bragg won the Fellsman race for the 3rd time in preparation for his attempt on winning the UTMB. Unfortunately Jez was plagued throughout 2012 with stomach issues. We are pleased to say that he now seems to have rectified these issues and is currently blazing a trail on ‘The Long Pathway‘ in New Zealand.

Kilian Jornet announced his new project ‘Summits of my Life‘. A long term project that will take four years, during which he will travel to the greatest mountain ranges in the world attempting to climb some of the most breathtaking peaks and come back down again as fast as he can. Unfortunately on the first project, the crossing of Mont Blanc, the project was struck with disaster as Kilian’s ski guide and partner for the project, Stéphane Brosse fell to his death. Kilian devestated by the incident spent time with Stéphane’s family and withdrew from Western States.

muntanyes

The big dance, Western States did not disappoint with two incredible performances and two course records. Timothy Olson beat Geoff Roes record with an incredible performance made all the sweeter when you hear his incredible life story… (listen to our interview on Talk Ultra) Ellie Greenwood confirmed herself as possibly the greatest female ultra runner of the moment breaking Ann Trason‘s long standing (considered by many unbeatable) course record.

Ellie greenwood

Dakota Jones after a storming win at Transvulcania La Palma went to Hardrock 100 as the one to beat… as it happened, Hal Koerner took the win with Joe Grant in second place.

Speedgoat 50K raised the question about trail, course markings and when and when you should not deviate from a course… ultimately our one and only Speedgoat made a decision that relegated Kilian Jornet from the top of the podium and replaced him with his team mate Rickey Gates. It all got a little crazy and of course RD’s will now make sure they specify the ‘rules’ when putting a race briefing together.

UTMB – It rained, it snowed, the cloud came in, the course got shortened and Lizzy Hawker won her fifth UTMB albeit NOT the UTMB as it was not a full course, so, Lizzy will be back! Francois d’Haene however was very pleased with his win over the shortened course.

Just a week after the UTMB, Francesca Canepa from the Vibram Team turned up at the super tough and long Tor des Geants and won it… amazing considering just 7 days before she was second behind Lizzy Hawker.

Lance Armstrong… need I say more!

Mike Morton had an incredible 2012 with a stunning performance at Badwater 135 just missing the CR by 75 seconds. In addition to this, Mike ran and won may 100’s all around the 13 hour mark. However his performance of the year came in Poland at the 24 hour Championships. Running 277.54 kms he dislodged Scott Jurek as the Amercan holder and set a new benchmark.

Kilian Jornet went back to his ‘Summits‘ project and set a second record on Mont Blanc. This time crossing from Italy (Courmayer) to France (Chamonix) in 8hrs 40min. Article here

SML-Chamonix-Courmayeur_web-8

Fresh from a record attempt over Mont Blanc, Kilian Jornet went to Mt Kinabalu Climbathon in Borneo as part of the Skyrunning calendar, won and became World Champion…. again! Of course this race had some controversy as it didn’t go to the summit. Another outstanding performance was that of Emelie Forsberg, she won the ladies race and in doing so confirmed herself as one of the most talented and dominant females of 2012. Kilian now warmed up went over to Reunion Island and took on the tough ‘Raid de la Reunion‘. He made it look easy and he even had time to do interviews at the feed stations during the race… without doubt, Kilian is one of the most talented and gifted athletes in the world.

winner

Max King and Ellie Greenwood blazed a trail and set records (once again) at JFK 50… oh, did I mention Max’s run at UROC and did I mention Karl Meltzer and Lizzy Hawker winning at Run Rabbit Run… of course, what about Miguel Heras and Emelie Forsberg at San Francisco 50Darn it…. so many great moments…. what about Lizzy Hawker at Spartathlon, second overall and a new female record.

So finally Skyrunning announce the new calendar for 2013 and the big news is a simpler format, the inclusion of a 100 mile race and a season final in America at the Ultra Race of Champions. Without doubt (I am biased) Skyrunning was a game changer in 2012 and the new calendar has already created great excitement for the coming year…

uroc

Believe me, the above list is by no means comprehensive and I am sure I will look back and think… ooh, what about this and what about that… I could go on.

But now here is my pick of personal moments from a great year. Rest assured, I am picking one month; one moment!

JANUARY

Talk Ultra was launched and thank goodness the format of an ultra running podcast that was more than just interviews was accepted. Taking the risk to do a ‘long show’ seemed to pay off and the loyal followers and support has been fantastic. I can’t thank you all enough for the growth of the podcast and 2013 will see it grow!

Gravatar

FEBRUARY

For the 7th year running I went out to Club La Santa on Lanzarote and had another incredible week training in the sun with friends and clients. It has become a fixture in my year and never fails to disappoint. 2013 will see us arrive on the Canary Island once again for more fun in the sun.

Lanz

MARCH

A race fixture on my calendar for several years, the EcoTrail de Paris came around once again and I went out to Paris with Niandi for another great weekend of running and spending time in our favourite city. As it turned out we both had terrible races and DNF’d at the same time… you can always learn something!

524580_3332185540166_1910817433_n

APRIL

I was fortunate enough to be invited over to Turkey to take part in and report on the inaugural Iznik Ultra. I had only been to Turkey once before, many many years before and that was to the South. So I  was very excited to spend time in Istanbul with Niandi and then head down to Iznik. The race was superb offering a selection of race distances over a varied course. Both Niandi and myself took part in the 60k event. I was pleased to come away with a win and Niandi made the podium in 2nd place in the ladies race.

461289_3480435006310_1121848580_o

MAY

May signified a change in my year and very much set a format for what was to come… I was invited to the Transvulcania La Palma on the island of La Palma. Skyrunning had assembled one of the most competitive fields in ultra you will ever see or witness. It turned out to be a who’s who of ultra running. The whole experience is a memory I will never forget… training on the trails pre and post race with the best in the world, witnessing the race were Dakota Jones ran an incredible course record for the win and were Frosty (Anna Frost) set and smashed the old course record in what was to be one of the best performances of the year. This was followed with the conference ‘Less Cloud, More Sky‘ providing the ultra community an opportunity to help establish a direction for the sport in the future. We all then packed up and moved to mainland Spain for ‘Zegama‘ but that’s another story…

iancorless.orgIancorless_TVraceday_192

JUNE

Zegama arrived and the heat and sun of La Palma was replaced with rain and mud. Lots of mud. Kilian Jornet just 7 days earlier had collapsed on the finish line at Transvulcania La Palma with exhaustion. At Zegama he showed his recovery powers and showed everyone in the race how to run in the cold, wet and mud. Oihana Kortazar took out the win for the ladies ahead of Nuria Picas who was slowly becoming ‘runner of the year’.

Nuria Picas - Zegama

Nuria Picas – Zegama

JULY

The Pyrenees and an invitation from ARC’TERYX to go and test out the new clothing range called ‘Endorphin‘ on the Skyrunning Ribargoza VK course. Great friends, great memories and some stunning scenery.

Arcteryx - Pyrenees

AUGUST

Wow – Trofeo Kima and one of the most impressive run courses I have ever seen. I was told by Lauri Van Houten before the event that this course would blow my mind. Little did I expect what lay ahead… 6 hours being flown around via helicopter on the most stunning and awe inspiring run terrain I have ever witnessed. Kilian Jornet won the mens race and Nuria Picas won the ladies race. A stunning stunning race that signifies everything that Skyrunning is. Want to enter…? Don’t hold your breath. This race happens only every other year and typically only has about 125 places available.

Kilian 4

SEPTEMBER

Berga in September, the weather breaks and Cavalls del Vent turns into a race of survival. Despite runners struggling with hypothermia the race produced a classic. The mens race was competitive seeing Kilian Jornet once again taking the win but this time ahead of Tony Krupicka finally finding some form after over 18 months out of the sport due to injury. Finishing off the podium was Dakota Jones. The ladies race produced the race of the year for me… so often in the longer distance races we see an outright winner crossing the line with 10’s of minutes to spare… not here! Nuria Picas, Frosty and Emelie Forsberg pushed each other right to the line with Nuria taking the win on home ground.

iancorless.comP1060997cavallsdelvent

OCTOBER

Southern France in the town of Millau. The temperatures dropped and I slowly froze myself following the La Course des Templiers, the final in the Skyrunning calendar. I will remember this race for the incredible win by Nuria Picas ahead of a sprinting Emelie Forsberg who put Lizzy Hawker into third place. In addition to this, Kilian Jornet and Nuria Picas were crowned World Champions. Incredible performers in an incredible series of races.

iancorless.comP1020497a

NOVEMBER

The quiet town of Begeggi on the Italian coast and the Berg Trail. I had an invite from Salomon Carnifast to follow and photograph the race to help promote the first edition of the race. The race was being attended by mountain running legend, Marco de Gasperi. In the weeks before the race I contacted Stevie Kremer who had moved from America to Italy earlier in the year. We had met at Sierre-Zinal where Marco de Gasperi won the race and Stevie placed second. Marco unfortunately went of course in the Berg Trail and therefore spoiled any chances of a win. Stevie however showed her class winning the ladies race convincingly and placed top 10 in the overall. A name to watch for the future…

iancorless.comP1020981

DECEMBER

After a stunning year of following races, reporting and photographing I finally took some time out and headed back to the island of La Palma with my partner Niandi to play on the Transvulcania La Palma course. Two weeks of perfect weather and stunning trails provided the perfect end to a stunning year. It was great to spend that time on the trails in our own space and in our own time. Running when we could, hiking when we couldn’t run and walking when no other option was left… the latter half of the year was plagued by knee issues for me and although they havent gone, my time on the Transvulcania course with Niandi was a real highlight in an incredible year!

iancorless.comP1040137

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for the support I have received in 2012. From race organisers, athletes, team managers, brand managers and all those connected to the sport I love. In particular I would like to thank Niandi for her patience. I also need to give a special mention to Lauri Van Houten and Marino Giacometti from Skyrunning for the trust they placed in me for 2012 and the continued trust for 2013.

It has been an awesome year and 2013 is already looking like another year of moments, emotions and memories.

Sincere thanks to all of you