I recently caught up with South Africa’s Ryan Sandes after his impressive victory at the 2017 Western States. You can listen to a full and in-depth interview HERE on Talk Ultra podcast.
Ryan’s story is one that inspires and it just shows what is possible.
“An impulsive decision one Sunday afternoon completely changed my life back in 2008. Could I run 250km, self-supported through a Desert? Without another thought, I maxed out my credit card and entered a race I knew almost nothing about. The lead up to the Gobi Desert Race consumed me but most importantly it enabled me to dream.”
This is Episode 114 of Talk Ultra and we have two interviews from Western States – Ladies champion Kaci Lickteig and the incredible Jim Walmsley who looked to break all WSER records only to go off course at 92 miles. We also speak with Joanna Williams, the outright winner from South Africa’s Richtersveld Transfrontier Wildrun. We have the news, ultra chat and Ryan Sandes co-hosts!
Andrew Miller 15:39
Didrik Hermansen 16:16
Jeff Browning 16:30
notable Paul Giblin from UK 5th 16:53
Kaci Lickteig 17:57 4th fastest lady ever
Amy Sproson 18:54
Devon Yanko 19:10
00:27:42 INTERVIEW KACI LICKTEIG
RICHTERSVELD TRANSFRONTIER WILDRUN
Joanna Williams 22:23:01
Tobias Mews 22:42:00
Dawid Kaswarie 23:07:34
Daniel Meyes 25:18:20
Linda Doke 25:43:52
John Cuff 26:41:19
Ryno Bakkes 26:52:04
Elisabet Barnes 27:01:56
Christiaan Vorster 27:23:19
Stephen Cunliffe 28:23:19
01:04:45 INTERVIEW with JOANNA WILLIAMS
BIG RED RUN
Elisabet Barnes 19:47:39
Jamie Hildage 20:54:34
Andy Dubois 21:25:02
Top 3 ladies:
Elisabet Barnes 19:47:39
Helen Durand 23:35:04
Anna Bennett 25:54:10
Top 3 men:
Jamie Hildage 20:54:34
Andy Dubois 21:25:02
Braddan Johnson 22:29:18
*Audio for Big Red Run to follow in the next show
Andy Symonds 12:15:06 new CR
Gediminas Grinius 12:23:06
Javi Dominguez 12:36:45
Andrea Huser 14:32:39
Uxue Fraile 15:13:09
Fernanda Maciel 15:20:57
MONT BLANC 80K
Caroline Chaverot 11:40 (winner Transgrancanaria)
Diego Pazos 10:52 (3rd at Transgrancanaria)
David Norris 41:26 broke KJ’s record from last year by 22 secs
Christy Marvin 51:02
Denali Forager Stabel
WMRA in Slovenia
Annie Conway from UK world champ! ahead of Antonella Confortola and Lucija Krkoc
Alessandro Rambaidini beat Marco De Gasperi and Mitja Kosovelj
Robert Young of the U.K. appears to have succumbed to a foot injury somewhere around Indianapolis, falling short in his attempt at a Guinness world record for the transcontinental run. The tracker has not moved since June 17. Though no concrete resolution was reached on the claims of cheating, the run’s final week was mired in controversy and is likely to remain a polarising topic? “Skins’ are investigating… HERE
Timmy Olson – American Tarzan…. Discovery Channel HERE“When Tim gets low on energy, he goes into his trademark “Animal Mode,” and enters the “Pain Cave” to get through it – training which will serve him well in the jungle!”
Coming up – Hardrock 100, High Trail Vanoise, Dolomites SkyRace and the Skyrunning World Champs
Shane Ohly and Ourea Events have pioneered the growth of trail, mountain and navigation events within the UK in the last couple of years. It’s a boom time and as we all gain more knowledge and experience, the more we demand from an event… this may be increasingly difficulty to provide; longer distances, mountain marathon style navigation or maybe a combination of the two. It’s not easy to come up with a new concept!
Enter the inaugural Berghaus Trail Chase.
It’s a great concept and one that stems from Ohly’s multiday experience. However, we are not all supreme navigators! Importantly, we may not want to navigate but are looking for a concept and a style of racing that not only provides a new stimulus but also a new experience.
New for 2015!
FRIDAY NIGHT – BEST OF SHAFF – BEER, FILMS & FOOD
The Event Centre opens from 1800 on Friday evening. Please join us on Friday evening when we will be serving food, showing a program of the Best of Sheffield Adventure Film Festival (ShAFF) and serving beer. Hot Meals and tickets for the Best of ShAFF need to be booked in advance via SI Entries. Beer and cake are for sale on Friday night and do not need to be booked in advance.
Three spectacular courses located in the North York Moors National Park provide the setting for ‘the chase.’ Starting on Saturday, runners are transported from the event centre to their respective starts for the adventure to begin. Using a colour-coded format pioneered in skiing, Ohly offers three fully way marked courses: long course as one would expect is black, middle course will be red and the shortest course will be blue.
A choice of three, waymarked, marshalled and colour coded courses for novice to experienced runners alike:
Blue = 16km Day 1 / 14km Day 2 / 30km Total
Red = 27km Day 1 / 19km Day 2 / 46km Total
Black = 37km Day 1 / 21km Day 2 / 58km Total
Starting simultaneously, all three courses, black, red and blue will converge at the same overnight campsite at the end of the first day. The only difference for runners will be the distance covered. Day-1 camp will provide a relaxed and friendly atmosphere with an emphasis on an opportunity to relax, have fun and share stories of the adventure day-1 provided. A large marquee will be available providing music, bar and food… sounds great!
Sunday is when the real excitement begins and the true ‘chase’ commences. Runners will depart in the order they finished on day-1. The objective? Front-runners will try to hold the lead and respective places while behind a battle royal will commence as you CHASE the runner in front. It’s simple, catch a runner, you gain a place!
A real head-to-head race will develop and tactics will come into play. Go out too hard and you may blow up… go out to easy and you will possibly loose places. The Berghaus Trail Chase brings an innovative format to trail running and one that not only provides a new incentive and experience to each and every runner, but also really does put the fun back into racing.
The stories been told many times, 1974, lame horse, decided to do it on foot and Gordy Ainsleigh pretty much invented modern day 100-mile trail running. I have never seen or witnessed the Western States course and that does frustrate me. However, we have many stories, videos and race reports to fill the gap. It’s not the toughest course out there but it has the history and it’s fair to say that if you are going to Western States to do well, you need to be a runner!
Looking at the top contenders, the female race all looks relatively simple. We have a host of past stars turning up and therefore it’s relatively easy to look on predict where the action will come from.
Stephanie Howe as the past champion is a hot favourite. Steph doesn’t race a great deal but when she does she makes it count: 3rd at TNF50, 2nd at Way To Cool 50k and most recently victory at Lake Sonoma – all looks good!
Larisa Dannis was 2nd last year and has had a 2nd at Overlook 50k, and 2 victories at Berkley Trail 50k and Door Country Fall 50 but what about results in 2015? I can’t find any which leaves me with a question mark.
However, expect curve balls from Magdalena Boulet and Michele Yates. Stephanie Howe may well be the defending champion and Larisa Dannis may well have placed 2nd in 2014 but I see the Boulet/ Yates duo rocking the front of the field and potentially winning and taking 2 of the top 3 podium places. In particular I see Yates as a hot favourite for the win!
Emma Roca from Spain is an interesting inclusion to the race with an entry via the UTWT. Emma is an all round tough lady from an adventure racing background who has excelled at mountain races, I wonder if WSER will be too much of a running race?
One lady who has to be watched even though she openly admitted to me that her form is not 100% is Nikki Kimball. Nikki has won the race 3 times, placed top 5 another 6 times and this year returns for her 10th race. Irrespective of the finish time or position, it’s going to be a special year for Nikki.
Aliza Lapierre was 3rd in 2012, 6th in 2013 and in 2014 won Bandera 100k. A fast lady, if she is on form. I certainly expect her to make her presence known amongst the top 5 but no results for 2015?
2009 winner, Anita Ortiz is returning after extensive injury and although 5 years have passed since the golden feeling of a WSER victory, one has to assume that if Anita is toeing the line, then she feels ready to race.
Pam Smith was 4th last year and won WSER in 2013. It certainly seems that Pam can blow hot or cold. Ask Speedgoat Karl, he dismissed her in ‘13’ and she smoked him on the course. If she is feeling good and not too tired from training, she may well win again. However, she could quite easily just scrape in under 24 hours?
My last shout goes to Kaci Lickteig, who placed 6th last year. She had a win at Javelina Jundred (100 mile) in late 2014 and a 2nd and 5th over the 50-mile distance in 2015. I think this year we will see a different run from Kaci
Ones to watch:
Denise Bourassa 7th last year
Meghan Arbogast 8th in 2014
Nicole Struder Rocky Raccoon win
Joelle Vaught 8th at Tarawera
Claire Price UTWT entrant
The men’s race to coin a phrase is stacked! It’s an interesting mix of talent with a couple or maybe even a triple of potential winners but also several runners who have all the potential to shake things up and mess the podium party.
It may come as no surprise that Rob Krar is the out-and-out favourite. Rob has become one of the most impressive runners to watch and follow in the past couple of years and his rise has been incredible. 100-mile wins in 2014 at WSER, Leadville and Run Rabbit Run absolutely make him the man to beat.
Francois d’Haene like Krar was unbeatable in 2014. He too had 3 100-mile victories but on completely different courses to Krar: UTMF, UTMB and Raid de la Reunion (Diagonale des Fous). Notice the difference? Mountain races! Francois can run but I just don’t think WSER will be lumpy or hard enough for the Frenchman.
Ryan Sandes by contrast has placed 2nd at WSER before and although he does well on tough, challenging and mountainous courses, he can also run fast with the best of them. He told me in the latter half of 2014 that WSER would be a priority this year and he has spent a month in the area preparing. We must point out that it has been a rocky road for him recently and dropping at Transvulcania was not ideal preparation. However, we can all have bad days!
Dylan Bowman placed 3rd last year and I have to say has been on fire recently. He is the man in form and may well be the one who pushes Krar and possibly passes him? However, Dylan has already got plenty of racing and victories in his legs whereas Krar is fresh. It may well be the difference between 1st and 2nd.
Seth Swanson placed 2nd last year and won Cascade Crest 100. In 2015, he was 2nd at Sean O’Brien and 6th at Sonoma. I have to be honest, I know little about him and just he surprised others and me in 2014, he may well do the same again!
Ian Sharman is rock solid at WSER. Over the years he improved year-on-year with 2014 being an exception. He has been quiet recently which is a great sign. It almost certainly means that he has been preparing meticulously, I really hope that he makes the podium.
Okay, now it gets tricky.
Brendan Davies had a great run last year, he is a runner and as such, WSER suits him and he should do well.
Julien Chorier is meticulous, an incredible runner and if this race was full of mountains he’d be my top tip along with Francois. However, the course is not lumpy and as such I don’t think it’s a race for Julien to shine. I still expect a top 10 from him though.
Gediminas Grinius is a new star with an incredible history. Like Francois and Julien I think he needs mountains to excel. One plus for him is the distance, he certainly likes to run longer and his recent victory at Transgrancanaria is proof that if he is feeling good in the latter stages, you better watch out!
Sondre Amdahl is another newbie revelation. An incredibly nice guy, he moved out to the US to prepare meticulously for WSER. He did the same for Transgrancanaria and although he had a great result, I do wonder if he wanted the win too much! This may apply at WSER but I have a feeling that we will see Sondre shine. I expect good things from him.
Ones to watch:
Alex Varner 7th in 2014 and recent victory at Lake Sonoma 50
Andrew Tuckey 6th at UTMB and 3rd at TNF 100. I can’t help but think that Andrew may well be a surprise package and a dark horse in this race.
Thomas Lorblanchet Leadville winner 2012
David Laney 19th in 2014 and 2 victories in 2015 at Bandera 100k and Chuckanut 50k
Cape Town (South Africa) – Almost a year to the day after he and Ryno Griesel set the record for the Drakensburg Grand Traverse (in a lightning-fast time of 41h 49m), Ryan Sandes decided it was time for a new challenge. In 02h02m13s, Sandes set the ‘Fastest Known Time’ for 15.1km route (with 1070m ascent and 949m decent) across Cape Town’s famed Table Mountain.
Press release by Kelly Burke – Flux
Mention the name ‘Ryan Sandes’ and it immediately conjures thoughts of the ultimate trail runner adventuring through breath-taking landscapes. Not one to lie back and take it easy, Sandes’ decided to be the first to set the Table Mountain record.
Having started out at 6:30 am at Suikerbossie Restaurant, Ryan ventured his way across the sandstone and fynbos checking through 3 designated points before finishing at SAN Parks Information Centre on Lower Tafelberg Road.
“Anything under 50km is a bit of a sprint for me so racing a route under 16km was a shock to my system, “ Sandes joked. “I felt really good, and really enjoyed myself on the route as it is super technical.”
“I’ll definitely have another crack at the FKT when I get another chance this year as I would like to go under two hours. I think that is the beauty of the project – runners can challenge themselves and run the route a couple of times to try better their times.”
FKT chasing has become somewhat of a phenomenon in the ultra-running world over the last few years. Essentially, an FKT is a course record for a given distance on a trail, usually set on trails where a race with many participants would be detrimental to the area.
Would-be contenders should head to http://www.redbull.co.za/FKT where they’ll be able to pit themselves up against Sandes’ time using any GPS device or the Strava App. A simple registration process and uploading the GPS data from their run is all that stands in the way of getting their name on the Table Mountain FKT leader board.
Just by running the route and uploading their result they stand a chance of joining Sandes’ support team as he travels to compete in the Grande Raid Réunion in October. The race, set on the picturesque volcanic isle, is arguably the world’s toughest 100 miler, with over 10 000m of climbing.
“Get out there, hit the mountain and push past what you think is possible! It’s more about challenging yourself and taking in the beauty that the mountain has to offer. I’ve had the opportunity to run all over the world and what we have in Cape Town is pretty special,” says Sandes.
Image copyright Craig Kolesky
For more information regarding the route and to see the current leader board please visit the website – http://www.re
With 5-summits over 2000m, the Raid de la Reunion (Diagonale des Fous) is a great season closer for the UTWT. Now in its 22nd edition, ‘Reunion’ as it is affectionately known has gained legendary status within ultra running circles, not only because of some epic battles that have taken place on the course but also because of the fans, terrain and the tough 164km course and 9000m+ of ascent.
Francois D’Haene, winner of the 2013 edition and recent winner of the TNFUTMB is without doubt the hot favourite. Currently, he is arguably one of the best 100-mile mountain runners in the world.
Lithuanian, Grinius Gediminas who is 2nd in the overall UTWT ranking may well be a surprise package after a solid and impressive 5th at TNFUTMB and 3rd place at Lavaredo. Will Reunion be one race too many? I don’t think so. He seems to have his head screwed on.
The ever-present Antoine Guillon who recently placed 3rd at Tor des Geants lies 3rd in UTWT rankings and is a consistent performer. I don’t see him winning but a top place is a distinct possibility. Reunion is a tough and long race though. As we have seen in past editions, anything can happen.
Xavier Thevenard after winning the 2013 TNFUTMB seemed to go into a little bit of a meltdown with the weight of expectation placed upon him. However, he recently came out of the whole with a win at TDS. In doing so, he became the only runner to win at UTMB, CCC and TDS, quite a result. Xavier may well feel at home on Reunion. I think we will see a good run.
Iker Karrera is a machine on tough courses as his 2013 Tor des Geants confirms. He raced well at Reunion in 2012 but his recent joint 2/3rd with Tofol Castanyer behind Francois D’Haene is a sure sign that he is in form for the 164km adventure. Question is, can he beat Francois?
Pascal Blanc is serious contender and knows the course like the back of his hand. He has a string of top-10 finishes, his highest place being second. In this field his experience will really count.
Julien Chorier impressed me no end at Ronda dels Cims in 2013 and then placed 2nd behind Kilian at Hardrock 100. He is meticulous in planning and if he has no back issues, he may very well be the one who can push his fellow Frenchman, Francois D’Haene to the line.
Jason Schlarb (current interview on Talk Ultra) surprised me with 4th at UTMB. He has certainly honed his European mountain skills in 2014. Reunion however is a little more extreme and may well shock Jason. He seems motivated though and the opportunity to race such a quality field will excite him. Expect him to be out of the mix early on and then work his way through the devastation.
Freddy Thevenin placed second last year behind Francois D’Haene but I don’t see him making the podium this year. He is a top-10 contender for sure.
Christophe Le Saux never stops… I am not sure but I think he has done every race in the 2014 UTWT. That is seriously impressive. He will be in the mix, likely top-10 but not a contender for the podium.
I am going to give a shout out for Stuart Air. He’s a Brit who has had quite a year… he ran Hardrock 100 and now Reunion. Great to see someone local, (a Brit) mixing it up with the best in the world.
Ones to watch:
David Pasquio – 5th in 2013
Sondre Amadahl – 7th at UTMB
On a final note, Ryan Sandes leads the 2014 UTWT rankings but will not race.
Nathalie Mauclair returns as the 2013, defending champion and I wouldn’t want to bet against her. She ran a great race in 2013 ahead of Emelie Forsberg and in 2014 the French lady has had a string of great results, notably 3rd at UTMB and Western States, Nathalie has speed and endurance; a lethal combination. However, the speed can sometimes upset the apple cart by running too hard/ fast too early.
Julia Bottger won the 2014 Ronda dels Cims and knows the Reunion course well. She loves long and technical mountain races and as her results at Tor des Geants show, she will be a definite podium contender here on the island. Julia has had a busy year though. It started in Costa Rica at The Coastal Challenge and post Reunion she still has the Salomon SkyRun to do.
Nerea Martinez like Julia embraces tough. She placed 2nd at Ronda dels Cims and has had a string of top results ranking top-5 at Transgrancanaria, UTMF, TDS and she placed 6th at Lavaredo.
Uxue Fraille knows how to pace herself and can play the waiting game. As the other ladies falter and fail, expect Uxue to move up and contend the podium. Placing 3rd at Transvulcania was a great result early in 2014 and recently placing 5th at UTMB confirms that a podium place at Reunion is a distinct possibility.
Denise Zimmerman placed 3rd at Tor des Geants and although I am sure the other ladies have acknowledged her presence in the race, she may well be a surprise to watchers and followers. Denise is no one trick pony as she has made the podium at Transgrancanaria and placed highly at UTMB in the past.
Finally, Lisa Borzani may mix things up and although she finished 2nd at the 2014 Tor des Geants, I don’t see her having the gusto to rally once again for another big effort. Particularly when you look at her recent results. Back-to-back podium places at Tor and TDS must leave you jaded.
Alexandra Rousset may pull something out of the bag. She placed 4th in 2012 and has won the race previously (2004).
Notably, UTWT series leader Nuria Picas will not run and in addition, neither will Fernanda Maciel and Francesca Canepa.
2500 runners will toe the line and more information is available HERE
Trail running extraordinaire, Ryan Sandes, who by the way is currently leading the Ultra Trail World Tour (UTWT) rankings, is going back to where it all began and will be taking part in RacingThePlanet’s seventh Roving Race, on the picturesque island of Madagascar from the 31st of August 2014 to the 6th of September 2014.
“I am really excited to be travelling to Madagascar for the first time, to take part in Racing the Planet Madagascar. This is going to be an epic experience with lots of wild life and some pretty crazy conditions,” says Ryan. “As this is a self-supported multi day race I will need to get used to running with a 7-9kg backpack again. I have taken a 4 week break after Western States 100, so I am feeling well rested and looking forward to the next adventure.”
Starting from the beaches of the Indian Ocean, the course follows the coast along white sandy beaches, lush green rice paddies and across vast savannah. It includes Baobab trees, red and grey limestone formations known as Tsingy and a mixture of flora and fauna found only in Madagascar. The format of the course follow is the same as previous races in the 4 Deserts Race Series – 250km, 7 day, 6-stage completely self-supported endurance race.
Madagascar, sometimes known as the Eighth Continent, is the world’s fourth largest island. As with previous RacingThePlanet races that Ryan has taken part in, on day’s 1 to 4, competitors will run 40km each day, then have a long day on day 5 – 80km – and a short 10km sprint on the last day for the final finish line.
With temperatures averaging between 30-40°C accompanied by humidity, Ryan should be in his comfort zone. Approximately 250 competitors from 40 countries around the world will compete, made up of roughly 80% male and 20% female competitors. The race leaders are expected to complete the race in around 26 hours, with the slower competitors taking up to 70hours. For more info on the race please visit the race website or follow Ryan Sandes and Facebook and Twitter.
Ryan was kind enough to forward d me the excellent photo at the header of this post.
‘Here’s a photo you are welcome to use of me running with crocs. Credit is Craig Kolesky. See you soon!’ Ryan Sandes
I asked Ryan, ‘Is it a real situation or a photo comp?’
His reply, ‘No it’s real;-) we put Perspex on water for me to land on but I was nervous – the crocs weren’t too big though. Only big enough to eat my leg, not my whole body;-)’
We wish the ‘Sandman’ all the very best on his journey back in time.
An incredible weekend of trail and mountain running will unfold on the 27th – 29th of June. In Europe, the Skyrunning World Championships will take place on the trails of the endurance capital of the world, Chamonix.
Across the pond in Squaw Valley, the super bowl of trail will take place. The best male and female trail runners will arrive to do battle over the 100-mile distance in what is arguably, the most iconic ultra race in the world, Western States.
One could say that WSER has come a long way since the 70’s when Gordy Ainsleigh blazed a trail, but in reality, little has changed. WSER is still a relatively low key 100-miler that gains worldwide attention due to the history and the quality of the competition.
2014 will not have previous winner and course record holder, Ellie Greenwood on the start line. Equally, we will not have 2-time winner, Timothy Olson. So, does that mean it’s wide open?
Unlike me, I am going to make a prediction from the off!
Men’s champion 2014 – Rob Krar
Ladies champion 2014 – Nathalie Mauclair
I can hear the gasp! Nathalie who?
You may be right, I am sticking my neck out here and although Nathalie Mauclair hasn’t run Western States before, I am going to go on my gut feelings, the love of a dark horse prediction and basically put it all on the line and say, Nathalie can do it! Nathalie was a relatively unknown last year and a quality run at Transvulcania La Palma placed her on the map. Winning the World Trail Running championships proved it was no fluke and then to top it all, Nathalie only went on to win Raid de la Reunion, arguably one of the toughest 100-miles races on the calendar. Those three results alone show fast running over technical terrain, just good old fast trail running and the ability to endure, hike and last on a trail for a long time. Nathalie may well turn heads at WSER and although UTMF didn’t go to plan earlier this year, if Nathalie has good form and she has no injuries I am going to stick to my guns and say, Nathalie for the win!
Last years winner, Pam Smith has experienced both ends of the WSER spectrum and understands what it is like to be on top of the podium and way down the field struggling just to finish. Post WSER in 2013, Pam went on a blitz with a 14:11:26 at Desert Solstice for 100-miles, a win at ORRC Autumn Leaves 50m and 5th at Run Rabbit Run. A relatively quiet start to 2014 can only mean one thing, Pam has been in hiding and training; training hard!
Nikki Kimball cannot be ruled out in any race, especially WSER. Nikki knows how to run the race, loves the heat and although she may not be the fastest lady, (on paper) experience counts for so much. This came to fruition last year with 2nd place. I remember Nikki crying at the finish of Transvulcania, she said, ‘I am back!’ Injury issues put to one side, Nikki now races less but when she races, she makes it count. Great proof of this is her win at the 2014 edition of Marathon des Sables. Nikki will be in the mix.
Stephanie Howe if the early 2014 performances are anything to go by, is on a roll. A 2nd place 7:33:24 at Lake Sonoma 50m and a win at Mesquite Canyon 50km must have the female competition looking over and thinking, ‘we gotta keep an eye on her!’ They do. I think Stephanie will move up and almost certainly break top-5 and to be honest, any podium place is for the taking if it all comes together on the day. A 2nd behind Emelie Forsberg at UROC and a win at Speedgoat 50k just proves the potential.
Kaci Lickteig is not a runner I know a great deal about. But what I do know is that she ran 6-races in 2013 and won every one! In 2014, Kaci placed 2nd at Rocky Raccoon 100-mile, 3rd at Sonoma just 10-min behind Steph Howe’s first place and recently won Ice Age Trail 50m in May. That is a lot of racing and will either mean that Kaci will be in the form of her life in Squaw or just a little jaded. If it’s the former, I see top-5!
Emily Harrison placed 7th last year in 20:28 but on recent form at Lake Sonoma 50m (7:26:15 for the win) and Casumett 50k (3:15:01), one has to think that Emily will break top-5 and stir things up. One year on with more experience, Emily will potentially have a break through performance.
Meghan Arbogast like Nikki Kimball knows WSER like the back of her hand and to put this in perspective she placed 4th last year and 2014 will be Meghan’s 8th WSER. A recent 5th place at Tarawera in New Zealand shows good form but in reality, it may well mean nothing. Meghan now lives on the WSER course and in 2014 we may well see her in the best form ever. Can she get the coveted sub 18:30 time she so desires? It may not be politically correct but you have to take your hat off to this lady, not many 50+ runners can kick the butt of runners considerably younger.
Rounding out the top-10 or maybe sneaking top-5
Liza Howard in 2014 was 1st at Umstead 100-mile and 2nd at Bandera but I don’t think will race?
Denise Bourassa has finished WSER twice and placed 8th in 2013
Leila Degrave placed 9th in 2013
Beth Cardelli arrives from the Southern Hemisphere where she is a consistent top performer. Beth run WSER in 2011 and placed 12th with 22:16:28. If she has a good day, top-10 is within her potential for sure.
Shaheen Sattar took her WSER slot with 3rd at Rocky Raccoon and backs up her place with 2nd at Leadville in 2013.
Ones to watch:
Larisa Dannis in 2014: 3rd Ice Age Trail 50m, 1st Land Between The Lakes 50m and 4th at Rocky Raccoon
Tera Dube in 2014: 4th at Miwok 100k, 9th Lake Sonoma 50m. 4th Ray Miller 50m
Sally McRae in 2014: 6th at Lake Sonoma and 2nd at Ray Miller 50
Silke Koester in 2014: 2nd Zane Grey 50m. and 4th at Bandera 100k
Rob Krar was on fire in 2013. Relatively unknown until that incredible win at Leona Divide and then the FKT in the Grand Canyon. I remember interviewing him post that incredible rim-to-rim-to-rim and he spoke about WSER and how the 100-mile distance was a complete mystery to him and how he would give it the utmost respect. Well, the respect worked and he took out 2nd place. Following that up with a stomping UROC win ahead of Dakota Jones and then TNF50 victory gave Rob the award of Ultra Runner of the Year and rightly so! With no Timothy Olson in the race, Rob along with Ryan Sandes will have huge targets on their backs. Rob can handle that pressure and for me is the hot favourite.
Ryan Sandes missed WSER last year after getting injured and what followed was a year to forget for Ryan. However, he has more than put that annus horribilis behind him with an incredible start to 2014 with a win at Transgrancanaria, a FKT on The Drakensberg Traverse and quality run at UTMF behind Francois d’Haene. Ryan knows how to run WSER and his 15:03:36 behind Olson’s 14:46:44 in 2012 shows he has all the potential to top the podium, providing he isn’t too tired. Krar ran 15:22 last year against Olson’s 15:17 so a battle royal is predicted.
If in form, Miguel Heras could very well upset the apple cart. Miguel has had a real rollercoaster with injury and just earlier this year had to miss Marathon des Sables with injury. Word is, that Miguel is in great shape and ready, if that is true, watch out! Looking back to 2011, Miguel had 6-victories that included Transvulcania La Palma, Ronda dels Cims and Cavalls del Vent, that is some result sheet. Add to that his incredible 5:33:13 at San Fran 50 in 2012 and 2nd at UTMB in 2013 and Miguel can win WSER, no doubt!
Ian Sharman has been very quiet, sacrificed a quality run at Comrades and for one reason only, to have the best run possible at WSER. Ian has a great record at WSER and has continually moved up through the ranks, 5th in 2012 and 4th in 2013. Pulling off 4th whilst continuing on for ‘Grand Slam’ victory and a new Grand Slam record was nothing short of miraculous. Ian will have his work cut out in 2014 against a top quality field.
Tough guy, Nick Clark needs no introduction. He’s pushed and pushed at WSER and last year pushed Ian Sharman for the Grand Slam and actually held the combined CR, albeit for just 30-min or so before Ian took it over! Clarky is focused on WSER once again and so desperately wants that top slot. He has placed 3rd twice and run under 16-hours a couple of times. Now a vet, statistics would say that in this field he would be hard pushed to podium but you can NEVER rule him out. He would be a popular winner!
Along with Nick Clark and Ian Sharman, British hope will rest in Jez Bragg. I had actually forgot what great results Jez had had at WSER. In 2009 he placed 3rd in a time of 16:54:35 and 4th in 2011 going 1-hour quicker in 15:55:08. Placing 15th male in 2012 was a blip and of course since then, Jez had a little ‘jolly’ in New Zealand. The Te Araroa expedition needed considerable rest and recovery. Placing 10th male at UTMB in 2013 shows us that Jez is on his way back. However, WSER has moved on in the last couple of years and Jez is going to need to be in great shape to contest the top-5.
Dylan Bowman has changed his training and outlook since the 2013 UTMB, a race he was forced to miss with a last minute injury. Getting back in shape and improving fitness gave D’Bo 5th at San Fran 50 in December 2013. Following this up with a great 9th place at Transgrancanaria, Dylan was truly devastated with the effort that Canarian race took. I don’t think I have ever seen anyone so affected by a race. Jump ahead and for sure, we can expect a prepared and ready D’Bo for WSER. His recent win at Ray Miller 50 in 6:23:17 means a great deal and his WSER record of 5th in 2013, 7th in 2012 shows that a break through performance is due. 2014 may well be the year?
Excitement will circulate around the 100-mile debut performance of Max King. Max is super talented with incredible depth and ability over a variety of distances. A WMRA world Champion, a fast marathon runner and consistently performant over the 50k and 50m distances, Max potentially could be an unstoppable force over the WSER route. However, I don’t think it will be this year! Records show that as the race gets longer, Max starts to slow a little and more importantly has terrible trouble with his stomach. I think Max is going to need a consistent WSER run just to find his feet. The difficulty will be if Max can hold back the reigns in the first half of the race. If he does, we may well see him in the top-10. If not… it may be a struggle to finish. In 2014, Max has already had to great results with a win at Ice Age Trail 50m in 5:41:07, 7th Lake Sonoma 50m in 6:37:20 and a win at Chuckanut 50k in 3:35:42. I wonder, could he hold that pace for 100-miles?
Rounding out my potential top-10: Thomas Lorblanchet, Brendan Davis and Jorge Maravilla.
Thomas Lorblanchet seemed to disappear after his victory at Leadville. He left Salomon and joined Asics and then just recently the click started to happen. Thomas won Course des Templiers, arguably one of the biggest trail races in France at the end of 2013. His recent 6th at Trail Du Ventoux 46km in March provides little information on his current form. But I often assume, no news is good news and he has the potential to be a surprise package.
Brendan Davies is so focused on WSER. I posted a recent photo of him training on a treadmill, fully dressed with a face maravillamask on and heaters blowing on him. Pure dedication! Maybe too dedicated? He races a lot and races fast. Already this year he has toed the line Narrabeen all nighter 12-hour, MSIG Sai Kung 50, Tarawera, UTMF and TNF100 in Australia. Brendan likes to run and prefers trail if it’s not too technical. So, WSER will play into his hands.
Finally, Mr. Smiler, Jorge Maravilla will be looking to improve on his 8th at WSER from 2012. Jorge had a blip in 2013 placing 23rd but his recent win at Bandera 100km and US Trail Championship title must go a long way in boosting his confidence.
To be honest, WSER has so much depth that a winner and certainly a top-10 finisher could come from anywhere, so, although the following names don’t make my top-10 prediction, anyone of them could!
Chris Price may well be the big surprise after 4th at Hardrock and 2nd at Zane Grey.
Karl Meltzer is preparing for the AT and lacks the speed of many of the other guys but he can run 100-miles with his eyes closed, knows how to pace the perfect race and loves to sweep up as everyone crumbles.
David Laney has already raced a great deal in 2014 – 2nd at Chuckanut 50k and Bandera 100k. This will be his 1st 100-miler.
Matt Laye won Rocky Raccoon 100 in February… should he be in the top-10 prediction?
Vajin Armstrong has been a dominant force in the Southern Hemisphere running for some time and in 2013 he ventured to Europe and placed 2nd at Swiss Alpine Marathon and Zugspitz. A win at Bedrock 50 in 2014 is backed up with 3rd at Tarawera, 4th at Hong Kong 100 and 13th at Transvulcania.
Yassine Diboun placed 9th at WSER in 18:44.
Dominic Grossman winner of Angeles Crest 100 in 2013.
Ones to watch:
And a notable mention for Steve Spiers.
Who have I missed and what do you think?
One thing is for sure; it’s going to be quite a race.
Episode 63 of Talk Ultra – We have a great interview with Queen of the Fells, Nicky Spinks. An in-depth interview with Morgan Williams all about the Bob Graham Round and we speak to Greg Felll from The African Attachment about what it’s like producing iconic ‘trail’ films such as Travailen w/ Ryan Sandes and Ryno Griesel, Wandering Fever and the Salomon running series of films. We also catch up with Jo Kelsey (Meek) on that incredible 5th place at Comrades Marathon and in Talk Training, we speak with Richard Fluck, the UK’s expert on kidneys and the effects of NSAID’s. The News, a Blog, Up & Coming races and Speedgoat Karl Meltzer is back from the wilderness….
Results from comrades.com
Nedbank Running Club KZN
Nedbank Running Club GN
Samancor Chrome Marathon Club LP
Pietersburg Road Runners
Maxed Elite – KZN
Nedbank Running Club International
Manoko William Mokwalakwala
Maxed Elite International
Samancor Chrome Marathon Club LP
TOYOTA ATHLETIC CLUB
Nedbank Running Club
Toyota Athletic Club
Nedbank Running Club GN
Zola Budd Pieterse
Nedbank Running Club
Pietersburg Road Runners
Toyota AC CG
We have an interview with 5th placed lady at Comrades – JO MEEK
NICKY SPINKS completes the Ramsey Round in a new CR and adds to an impressive list of other ‘Rounds’ records. Hear about this amazing lady…
MELTZER MOMENT with Speedgoat
MORGAN WILLIAMS discusses the Bob Graham Round
TALK TRAINING with Dr Richard Fluck we discuss NSAID’s (Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) and sport.
DR. Richard Fluck, Consultant Physician, Derby City General Hospital, Clinical Director Renal Services and Service Director of Medicine.
Richard went to Trinity Hall, Cambridge and the London Hospital Medical College, London University
He has developed all aspects of nephrology within Derby looking at service delivery, planning, education, teaching, training and research. In his role as Service Director, his major projects have included Emergency Care Reform (Project Lead, Trustwide), EWTD (Directorate) and undergraduate teaching programme (Strategy document for Directorate)
Prior to Derby he was honorary senior registrar and lecturer to the medical unit and the renal unit, within the Royals NHS trust and Queen Mary Westfield College, London.
He divided his time between the medical unit, covering acute general medicine, with interests in diabetes and metabolic disease, and the department of nephrology.
In the last 18 months Richard has been elected onto the Renal Association, and sits on the Clinical Advisory Board. He has designed and led an audit of vascular access in all renal units in the United Kingdom.
He has been a programme chair for the British Renal Society’s Annual Conference in 2005 and 2006 and is involved in the production of Criteria for Success.
His renal research interests included the myopathy of renal failure and disorders of cellular calcium control in uraemia,
It was never going to be easy. Making an arduous journey never is, however, the Drakensberg Traverse has a history and in the opening minutes of this 30-minute visual candy, we are introduced to that history, not only in words but mages.
Ryan and Ryno explain the process of how they met at the Salomon SkyRun years earlier and how a seed was planted, a seed that would grow and blossom into the Drak Traverse.
It’s in the early section of the film that we are treated to an explanation of the challenge through an array of images accompanied by short interviews
Gavin & Lawrie Raubenheimer pioneered the trail in 1999 (104hrs 39min) and established a benchmark (and route) that must include the 6-peaks under self-sufficiency. Previous record holder, Stijn Laenen excitedly discusses the ‘Drak’ and how difficult a speed attempt will be. But ultimately, one of the most important characters is Cobus Van Zyl, a large man with a deep authorative voice. Cobus held the current record which he set with Ryno, but he shows no jealousy, no hint of contempt; in actual fact it is the contrary. Cobus actually becomes involved in the whole process, helping recce the route, plan logistics and during the attempt, Cobus is the ‘pin’ back at HQ following the tracker.
Ryan speaks softly and shows vulnerability throughout the whole film. He may well be a superstar with a list of palmarès to confirm his ascendance in the sport in such a short space of time. However, we see none of that in this film… no previous glories, no back slapping… in actual fact, the back slapping comes from Ryno who almost places Ryan on too high a pedestal.
‘I felt super vulnerable, out of my depth and out of my comfort zone’
Ryan tells us in the middle section of the movie where we are introduced to the extremities that the Drakensberg can throw at anyone. On the third day of a fast-pack attempt; Ryno, Cobus and Ryan are confronted by extreme weather and Ryan pulls the plug amongst snow-covered fields. One has to remember, Ryan is new to running, let alone extreme running and it becomes very clear in these moments, that although Ryan may very well be the vehicle of the film, this attempt would not be possible without the knowledge and experience of Ryno and Cobus. Ryan has no façade, he has no bravado, and he tells it like it is…
‘If things go wrong, I don’t think I’d be capable of looking after myself.’
Footage of the actual record completes the final third of the film and for me; the process of reducing 41hours 49mins of record-breaking time into approximately 11-12 minutes is where the true miracle happens. I know only too well as a photographer how protective I can become of images and moments. Dean Leslie and the crew at The African Attachment work wonders. It’s like a wonderfully crafted piece of music that actually takes instruments away, rather than adding, to make the whole piece larger, greater and more memorable. Switching for arial vistas and close ups; the story is told in a series of bold moments that encompass key moments during the traverse.
‘If I am not ready now, I never will be’
Ryan rushes to prepare in the final moments before the midnight start. At the stroke of 12, they depart into the night. Climbing metal ladders running through the night, head torches are replaced by the arrival of the sun.
Back at base, Cobus and Cindy Van Zyl follow Ryan and Ryno; they monitor each step via trackers.
‘You realize how quickly things can go wrong, how vulnerable they are… if you need to escape, it’s at least 6-hours hard hiking!’
Exhausted by the heat, Ryan and Ryno reach Cleft Peak at 08:39 and run on. Dreaming of milkshakes they become dehydrated and face the demons of trying to refuel at night at Giant’s Pass.
‘If you don’t get your nutrition right you will fail and you will simply stop’
Tired, exhausted and lacking concentration they move on into the night. Trying to sleep is almost impossible. The dawn of a new day shows us the impact of the terrain, the beauty, the magic and the splendor of the traverse. Here words aren’t required and the mix of visual and music takes us to a new level. This is more than a running movie. It’s art.
‘It’s about doing things that make you happy and doing it because you want to.’
Bushman’s Neck Border Post 5:49pm with 205km’s covered, Ryan and Ryno approach a Red Bull arch. It’s the first glimmer of the real world and the brand that made this attempt possible. No crowds, no razzamatazz, just a few friends and family…
‘Just a short run in the Drakensberg Mountains,’ Ryan says to camera.
As the film closes, quite rightly, respect is given to the history of the Drakensberg Traverse via visual snaps:
Cobus & Ryno
Andrew Porter (successful solo attempt and record)
Stijn & Andrew
Gavin & Lawrie
Travailen is not your usual showboating movie about running. It’s a honest piece. It shows vulnerabilities and how we overcome them. Egos and reputations are dismissed into a collective gathering of skill and experience. It’s a spiritual journey that I am sure will live on within each of those involved.
As a movie it is a visual feast handled with great skill by Dean Leslie and the team at the African Attachment. The blending and fading of subtle music provides a wonderful and balanced atmospheric to the pain and struggle of Ryan and Ryno. For such a tough challenge, the movie is a calm and tranquil homage to a very tough, rugged and gnarly mountain range. The characters involved, maybe it’s the South African accents, blend with the nature providing a wonderful silky smooth experience.
Runner or not, Travailen holds joys and pleasure for all. The film previewed on May 29th at The Labia, Cape Town. The film will be available for public release, however, the date has not yet been made available. I will update as and when appropriate.
READ MY DRAK TRAVERSE INTERVIEW WITH RYAN SANDES HERE
Thanks and credits:
I’d like to thank Ryan Sandes, Ryno Griesel, Kelly Burke, Dean Leslie, Greg Fell, Red Bull and The African Attachment for the opportunity to see an advance copy of Travailen.
The visually epic tale of Ryan Sandes and Ryno Griesel’s Drakensberg Grand Traverse record.
At midnight on Monday, March 24 2014, trail runners Ryan Sandes and Ryno Griesel set off into the darkness from Witsieshoek car park. Their goal: to complete the 210 kilometreDrakensberg Grand Traverse – the mother of all Drakensberg hikes – faster than anyone had before.
To rightfully claim the title they had to travel on foot, carrying all their own gear without receiving any form of support along the way. It was just them against the mountain elements. Against the clock.
Travailen is the thrillingly visual tale of their attempt. Dean Leslie, Director for Travailen, gives us some insight into the toughest assignment the The African Attachment have ever taken on.