Episode 121 – ELS2900 and Big Red Run

A_GRAVATAR

Episode 121 – On this weeks show we speak with ELS2900 race director, Matt Lefort, about his super tough Andorran race. Niandi brings us a selection of audio, recorded in the Simpson Desrert, as Australia’s 2016 Big Red Run took place. Ian is interviewed by a Portuguese magazine and Speedgoat is back co-hosting!

RUNNING BEYOND BOOK is now available in Germany, Spain, Italy and the English language versions will be posted out on November 3rd. News in that the book will now also be translated to Swedish – HERE

00:09:12 Interview with Ian by Rute Barbedo from a Portuguese magazine also listen to Ian’s 1-hour interview by Tom Williams for Marathon Talk HERE

00:31:34 NEWS

LIMONE VK

  1. Philip Goetsch – SWS champ 2016
  2. Stian Angermund
  3. Patrick Facchini
  1. Christel Dewalle – SWS champ 2016
  2. Valentina Bellot
  3. Hilde Alders

LIMONE SKY

  1. Alexis Sevennec 2:46
  2. Hector Haines
  3. Kiril Nikolov

Tadei Pivk SWS 2016 champ

  1. Megan Kimmel 3:17 and CR and SWS 2016 champ
  2. Laura Orgue
  3. Celine Lafaye

THE OTTER

Marc Lauenstein defended his Otter African Trail Run title in South Africa, and set a new course record in 3:54. Robyn Owen and Stevie Kremer placed 1 + 2 with Owen winning in 4:49 to Kremer’s 4:52. Full results.

BIG DOG BACKYARD ULTRA

A 4.16-mile loop of trail every hour. Those that finish the loop in an hour move on to the next loop and this continues until the last runner standing!Babak Rastgoufard won in 28:48 and gets a place in the  Barkley Marathons.

OCR

Jon Albon becomes OCR world champion again

AUTUMN 100

Centurion Running’s Autumn 100 had 2 course records from Mark Denby 14:07:39 and Susie Chesher 15:22 – Suzie was so quick she finished 2nd overall results here

ELS2900

6,700 meters  of elevation gain over just 70k (44 miles). Thirty-nine competitors started the race, and 24 managed the improbable finish. Xavier Teixido, finished in front at 13:49. Vivien Reynaud and Òscar Perez were second and third in 15:18 and 15:38.

Sonia Regueiro became a two-time finisher and winner, this time 18:59, three hours faster than her finish last year, and Cati Lladó was second in 21:26. 

00:54:56 INTERVIEW with ELS2900 RD – Matt Lefort

Pete Kostelnick if you don’t know already is aiming to break the trans-US running record, which stands at 46 days, 8 hours. Pete will likely finish in around 41 or 42 days early next week, which is utterly insane when you think about the fact that he could shave nearly five days off this record. He’s averaging 71 miles a day for the last 36 days, or in Aussie speak, that’s 114kms a day. Bowsers. Read HERE

Kilian Jornet looking for a VK record? Read HERE

02:03:30 INTERVIEW from Big Red Run

UP & COMING RACES

Australia

Queensland

Blackall 100 | 100 kilometers | October 22, 2016 | website

Blackall 100 – 50 km | 50 kilometers | October 22, 2016 | website

South Australia

Heysen 105 | 105 kilometers | October 22, 2016 | website

Victoria

Ned Kelly Chase 100km – Wangaratta Fitness Fun Addicts | 100 kilometers | October 23, 2016 | website

Barbados

Midnight 50 | 50 kilometers | October 30, 2016 | website

Canada

Ontario

50 km | 50 kilometers | October 22, 2016 | website

Costa Rica

Q50 Costa Rica Ultramarathon | 86 kilometers | October 22, 2016 | website

Croatia

109,8 km | 109 kilometers | October 21, 2016 | website

161.4 km | 161 kilometers | October 21, 2016 | website

57 km | 57 kilometers | October 22, 2016 | website

France

Aveyron

Grand Trail des templiers | 76 kilometers | October 23, 2016 | website

Intégrale des Causses | 63 kilometers | October 21, 2016 | website

La Solitaire | 65 kilometers | October 21, 2016 | website

Trail des Hospitaliers | 75 kilometers | October 30, 2016 | website

Corse-du-Sud

Corsica Coast Race – 170 km | 170 kilometers | October 23, 2016 | website

Corsica Coast Race – 95 km | 95 kilometers | October 27, 2016 | website

Germany

North Rhine-Westphalia

Röntgenlauf Ultramarathon | 63 kilometers | October 30, 2016 | website

Greece

Rodopi Advendurun 100 miles | 100 miles | October 21, 2016 | website

Guadeloupe

Le Grand Raid | 57 kilometers | October 22, 2016 | website

Hong-Kong

50 km | 50 kilometers | October 23, 2016 | website

Salomon LT 70 | 70 kilometers | October 29, 2016 | website

India

West Bengal

Himalayan 100 Mile Stage Race | 100 miles | October 24, 2016 | website

Indonesia

Bromo Tengger Semeru 102K | 102 kilometers | November 04, 2016 | website

Bromo Tengger Semeru 170K | 170 kilometers | November 04, 2016 | website

Bromo Tengger Semeru 70K | 70 kilometers | November 04, 2016 | website

Israel

Ultra Marathon Sovev Emek – 100 Km Run | 100 kilometers | October 28, 2016 | website

Ultra Marathon Sovev Emek – 100 Mile Run | 100 miles | October 28, 2016 | website

Ultra Marathon Sovev Emek – 200 Km Run | 200 kilometers | October 28, 2016 | website

Ultra Marathon Sovev Emek – 61 Km Run | 61 kilometers | October 29, 2016 | website

Italy

Campania

Amalfi Coast Trail | 87 kilometers | October 23, 2016 | website

Piedmont

Lago d’Orta Ultra Trail – 55 km | 55 kilometers | October 22, 2016 | website

Lago D’Orta Ultra Trail – 80 km | 80 kilometers | October 22, 2016 | website

Malaysia

100K | 100 kilometers | October 29, 2016 | website

50K | 50 kilometers | October 29, 2016 | website

Namibia

Namib Desert Challenge | 220 kilometers | October 24, 2016 | website

Nepal

Annapurna 100 | 110 kilometers | October 22, 2016 | website

Annapurna Ultra-Mountain | 85 kilometers | October 26, 2016 | website

Solukhumbu Trail | 289 kilometers | October 28, 2016 | website

New Zealand

Blackmores XTERRA Trail Challenge Waihi Ultra Marathon | 60 kilometers | October 22, 2016 | website

Taranaki Steelformers 100 mile Around the mountain Solo | 100 miles | November 04, 2016 | website

Oman

Oman Desert Marathon | 165 kilometers | November 04, 2016 | website

Réunion

La Mascareignes | 67 kilometers | October 21, 2016 | website

Trail de Bourbon | 93 kilometers | October 22, 2016 | website

South Africa

Bonitas Golden Gate Challenge | 70 kilometers | October 21, 2016 | website

Spain

Andalusia

Ultima Frontera – 166 km | 166 kilometers | October 22, 2016 | website

Ultima Frontera – 55 km | 55 kilometers | October 22, 2016 | website

Ultima Frontera – 83 km | 83 kilometers | October 22, 2016 | website

Ultra-Trail Gran Vuelta Valle Del Genal | 125 kilometers | October 29, 2016 | website

Basque Country

Long Trail Apuko Extrem | 68 kilometers | October 29, 2016 | website

Ultra Trail Apuko Extreme | 110 kilometers | October 29, 2016 | website

Sweden

Markusloppet | 50 kilometers | October 22, 2016 | website

Turkey

Cappadocia Trail 60km | 62 kilometers | October 22, 2016 | website

Salomon Cappadocia Ultra Trail | 110 kilometers | October 22, 2016 | website

United Kingdom

Derbyshire

Dusk’til Dawn Ultra | 50 miles | October 29, 2016 | website

Durham

Original Mountain Marathon | 52 miles | October 29, 2016 | website

Scottish Borders

Three Peaks 38 mile ultramarathon | 38 miles | October 29, 2016 | website

Suffolk

Coastal Trail Series – Suffolk – Ultra | 34 miles | October 22, 2016 | website

USA

Arizona

100K | 100 kilometers | October 29, 2016 | website

50K | 50 kilometers | November 04, 2016 | website

50 mile | 50 miles | November 04, 2016 | website

Javelina Jundred 100 Mile Endurance Run | 100 miles | October 29, 2016 | website

California

50 km | 50 kilometers | October 22, 2016 | website

Lake Hodges 50K | 50 kilometers | October 22, 2016 | website

Florida

80 Mile Relay | 80 miles | October 22, 2016 | website

Jacks 50k Trail Race | 50 kilometers | October 23, 2016 | website

Mutual Mine 50K | 50 kilometers | October 30, 2016 | website

“Running for the Bay!” 50K | 50 kilometers | October 23, 2016 | website

Illinois

Chicago Lakefront 50K | 50 kilometers | October 29, 2016 | website

Kansas

Kansas Rails-to-Trails 100 Mile | 100 miles | October 29, 2016 | website

Prairie Spirit Trail Fall Classic 50K | 50 kilometers | October 29, 2016 | website

Prairie Spirit Trail Fall Classic 50 Mile | 50 miles | October 29, 2016 | website

Maryland

Patapsco Valley 50K | 50 kilometers | October 22, 2016 | website

Minnesota

Surf the Murph 50K | 50 kilometers | October 22, 2016 | website

Surf the Murph 50M | 50 miles | October 22, 2016 | website

Nebraska

G.O.A.T.z 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | October 23, 2016 | website

Nevada

Ragnar Relay Las Vegas | 195 miles | November 04, 2016 | website

New Hampshire

Ghost Train Ultra Race 100M | 100 miles | October 29, 2016 | website

Ghost Train Ultra Race 45M | 45 miles | October 29, 2016 | website

Ghost Train Ultra Race 60M | 60 miles | October 29, 2016 | website

Ghost Train Ultra Race 75M | 75 miles | October 29, 2016 | website

Ghost Train Ultra Race 90M | 90 miles | October 29, 2016 | website

North Carolina

Triple Lakes Trail 40 Mile Run | 40 miles | October 29, 2016 | website

Tuna Run 200 | 200 miles | October 21, 2016 | website

Tuna Run 70 | 70 miles | October 22, 2016 | website

Uwharrie 100K Trail Run | 100 kilometers | October 22, 2016 | website

Uwharrie 100 Mile Trail Run | 100 miles | October 22, 2016 | website

Ohio

Run With Scissors Double Marathon | 52 miles | October 29, 2016 | website

Stone Steps 50k Trail Run | 50 kilometers | October 23, 2016 | website

Pennsylvania

Quad State Quad Buster | 46 miles | October 22, 2016 | website

Tussey mOUnTaiNBACK | 50 miles | October 30, 2016 | website

Tennessee

100 Miler | 100 miles | October 22, 2016 | website

50K | 50 kilometers | October 22, 2016 | website

Texas

50k | 50 kilometers | October 22, 2016 | website

50K | 50 kilometers | October 24, 2016 | website

Big Cedar Endurance Run 100 Miler | 100 miles | November 04, 2016 | website

Big Cedar Endurance Run 50K | 50 kilometers | November 04, 2016 | website

Big Cedar Endurance Run 50 Miler | 50 miles | November 04, 2016 | website

Cactus Rose 100 Mi Trail Run | 100 miles | October 22, 2016 | website

Cactus Rose 50 Mi Trail Run | 50 miles | October 22, 2016 | website

Trans-Pecos Ultra | 163 miles | October 23, 2016 | website

Utah

Goblin Valley Ultra 50K | 50 kilometers | October 22, 2016 | website

Pony Express Trail 100 | 100 miles | October 21, 2016 | website

Pony Express Trail 50 | 50 miles | October 21, 2016 | website

Virginia

50K | 50 kilometers | October 22, 2016 | website

50 Mile Ultra | 50 miles | October 22, 2016 | website

West Virginia

Run Around the Gorge | 69 kilometers | October 22, 2016 | website

Wisconsin

50K | 50 kilometers | October 30, 2016 | website

03:07:14 CLOSE

 

03:10:28

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Website – talkultra.com

Big Red Run 2016 Race Summary on RUNULTRA

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“A down jacket protected me from the cold wind and the low temperatures, amongst the dunes of the Simpson Desert, the sky was not dark, it was black. A lack of light pollution, a lack of people, I was remote and alone in the outback of Australia. Above me the sky glowed with a series of glitter balls. It was like a child’s artwork creation, you know the ones I mean – black card, some glue and then throwing glitter at the card until it sticks. To say the sky was amazing would be a complete understatement. I could see all the constellations, I could clearly pinpoint stars and for a moment I was lost, overwhelmed by the enormity of my location and my insignificance within the world in which we live.”

Read the full article on RUNULTRA HERE

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Read daily race reports form Big Red Run HERE

View the Big Red Run IMAGE GALLERIES HERE

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RACE WEBSITE HERE

Picture of the Day (Big Red Run) – The Guardian

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Always a pleasure to have a picture in THE GUARDIAN. Here is a photo of Elisabet Barnes taken on the 84km long stage of the Big Red Run, Australia. See the post HERE

View the image HERE

Have to give a huge thanks to Greg Donovan and the Big Red Run team for the opportunity to travel and work in the ‘outback’ of Australia on this race and Elisabet Barnes for a stunning and inspiring run.

Also thanks to my helicopter pilot, Mitch. Great arial photography happens when you have a pilot who understands what it takes for a photographer to capture the shots he wants. Mitch did a great job, no worries mate!

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Big Red Run 2016 – The Interviews, Part Three

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Niandi Carmont brings us her final two interviews from the 2016 Big Red Run, Alistair Nicol: A Lease on Life and The Tansley Tandem: Carlie and Jade Tansely.

Alistair NICOL: A Second Lease on Life

“To have your childhood dream realized is a really big deal.” – Maya Rudolph

It’s a bit of a process. Three years ago I had some heart problems, mainly due to the extreme stress of building a 3-storey functioning windmill in The Rocks down in Sydney. I found myself in hospital having my heart shocked back into rhythm. My cardiologist suggested I do some exercise and from there a little bit of running led to more focussed training and setting challenges. I’m also interested in the beautiful locations where you can do these challenges. My Dad was a photographer and travel writer for the Automobile Association and when I was a kid he’d come back from his trips and show me these stunning images of magnificent landscapes, remote regions and the outback. He’d interview local personalities and all of that made me dream – I knew then I wanted to visit those places. I got caught up in the stress of life and it’s only when I had my health issues the I took a step back and realised that I’d let go of my legacy.

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It is surprising when you look at Alistair as he doesn’t look like a candidate for heart problems. He’s  young, lean and lanky and looks athletic.

I was working with site managers and production directors at festivals and events. You end up taking other people’s stress,people who are just not pulling their weight. My tendency is just to make a job happen. After a few years of that, it started catching up. I probably could have been exercising more and I could have been eating a slightly different diet.

For Alistair the Big Red Run is a real challenge and an opportunity to reunite with his father’s legacy.

The first day was the my first marathon too! It’s not always easy to find training time although I have put in a lot of training the last 9 months. My legs are feeling pretty good. I’ve taken a producer, managerial approach to running in that I’ve been working with so many physics and chirps and other sports people. I’m actually not feeling too bad today – I might feel differently in 3 days time. (lLaughs).

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I ask him if he’s happy with his preparation.

On account of the rain, I think I should have taken half a dozen pegs to hang up and dry out my kit! Seriously, I think i might have over-catered on the food. I definitely took more than I needed. Also I had planned to do the Big Red Run but with the soft tissue issues I’ve had with my knee, I’ve had to switch back to the shorter version the Little Red Run. 

And his impressions of the ambiance, camp life?

It’s funny how there are people from all walks of life. They are all completely different in their personalities. I suppose it’s natural for an event like this in such a remote area that brings people together, people you’d otherwise probably not get to meet. There’s a sense of looking after everyone’s well-being.

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The Tansley Tandem: Carlie and Jade Tansely

Endurance and passion for the outdoors definitely run in the Tansely family. In 2015 father Shawn Tansely ran the Big Red Run and his wife Carlie and 2 daughters volunteered. This year Shawn is back running the BRR, accompanied by his wife and daughter, 18-year old Jade. Their youngest daughter is volunteering. Jade is also the youngest participant in the BRR. I caught up with them just after stage 4.

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I ask Jade about her impressions so far:

Pretty sore but I’m still OK. The hardest so far is knowing you have to get up every morning and go again. It’s amazing out there – I was struck by the size of the sand dunes, they are massive. This is my first multi-day – I’ve never done anything as weird and wacky. My friends at uni think I’m insane.

Do they train together?

Carlie: We stuck together the first 2 days and then Jade decided to do today by herself, just to find out if she could.

Jade: I needed to know if I could get myself from start to finish without Mum’s help and obviously I could, cos I finished today. It was bit of a confidence boost. I definitely needed to prove to myself that I could be autonomous and independent.

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We move on to the topic of race preparation and training.

Carlie: We didn’t always train together because of our different schedules, juggling with uni and work. Endurance and the love for the outdoors is something the girls have grown up with. They have been camping and hiking since they could walk. It’s just part and parcel really.

I wonder if Jade is mature enough to step back and analyse her performance. I ask her if she would do things differently next time.

A whole lot more training. I’d probably try to do some events and longer distances beforehand to be better prepared mentally. 

I ask Carlie about her takeaways on doing this event with her daughter.

I think it has bonded us. I get to see how Jade has developed as an adult and how she can stand on her own two feet and achieve. I’m very proud of her. Today was very tough, knowing I wasn’t with her. I was a bit stressed but she made it and it’s fantastic. Tomorrow for the long day we will stick together at Jade’s pace, walking, running, whatever!

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Big Red Run 2016 – The Interviews, Part Two (The Winners)

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Niandi Carmont catches with Elisabet Barnes and Jamie Hildage on the finish line of the 2016 Big Red Run.

Swedish multi-stage expert Elisabet BARNES claims victory at this year’s edition of the Big Red Run, 1st overall and first female. Brit living locally Jamie HILDAGE  finishes second overall and first male.

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Elisabet: I did the Richtersveld Transfrontier Wildrun the week before last, 200km in South Africa on the border to Namibia, where we finished the race. I finished 3rd woman and 8th overall. I had a great time. The scenery was absolutely spectacular. The trails were a bit more technical than I was used to. It’s not my strength perhaps so under the circumstances I am happy with the result. Because of the terrain and the amount of ascent and descent, I actually did a lot of hiking in Richtersveld so it’s quite different to the Big Red Run which is reasonably flat, where you do a lot of running so my legs worked in a different way. It probably helped me prepare from a fitness perspective  and I had a week between the 2 races and although a lot of that was taken up by a lot of travel I did have a couple of days on the Sunshine Coast in Australia,  allowing me to relax a little before the race.

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I ask her if she had adopted a race strategy before the event?

I took a good lead already on Day 1 because I thought people were running a bit slowly so I naturally opened up a gap, which I managed to hold. In multi-stage racing you take each day as it comes. You can’t think too far ahead and this race was a prime example of that because a lot of things changed during the race due to rain and flooding. If you run one day at a time, it can work in your favour.

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Jamie, first male and second overall ran his second edition of the BRR this year and beat his time last year by massive chunks of time, even though this year’s edition was a marathon short because of the adverse weather conditions which meant Stage 3 had to be cancelled and proclaimed a day of rest by the RD Greg Donovan to ensure the safety of the runners.

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Jamie: Last year’s race was very hot, dry and arid. It was completely different race to this year. This year there was a lot of bush to run through as it has been wet here in the Simpson Desert. I certainly didn’t come back with some expectation of some finishing place. I kind of came for some fun and I’m just very happy about the way it has worked out. Also last year I hadn’t done a lot of preparation and since then I entered a lot of events to try and improve my focus as I don’t have a coach. I was trying to find a way of concentrating my efforts. I did a couple of 50km mountain races last year, a hilly 20km race, the Two Bays in Melbourne in January and I finished off with the Australia 50km just 6 weeks ago. The preparation i put in for those put me in good shape for coming into this event.

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Fun? It didn’t look like fun to me when Jamie crossed the finish line. He had really pushed himself to his limit. 

Jamie: This morning we joked between the 3 of us running out there this morning. Andy Dubois, a very popular ultra-running coach here in Australia, was running with us. He went out very very hard this morning and almost blew all 3 of us up. We were lucky to dig ourselves out and finish in some shape that wasn’t too bad. 

So the three men in the leading pack got checked if I’m not mistaken?

Jamie: (laughs) It’s a regular thing in the ultra world here. I think i’ve done one race only where I didn’t get checked. I think I spent a lot of time in a dip in that race so the lady behind didn’t see me!  I think the distances are a real leveller and Elisabet is incredibly strong and does really well at these events.

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And the highlights of the BRR 2016 for both of them?

Elisabet: I think it’s a really friendly race. Experiencing the camp life has been great. From a running perspective, today has been great, just coming in, knowing I had won the race. Today’s course was beautiful as well, although we ran really really hard and it was quite painful.

Jamie: (Laughs) Running with Elisabet was my highlight.It’s a beautiful place to run and just how much different the course is this year both physically, geographically and also for me having put in so much effort trying to prepare myself for it.

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Big Red Run 2016 – Stage 4 ‘Sprigg Sprint’ 31km (revised route)

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Day 3 of the Big Red Run unfortunately had no racing due to freak weather conditions during night 1 and throughout the day on race day 2. It left the Simpson Desert a mud bath of sticky clay. However, the runners embraced the day and used it for personal admin a real sense of group spirit came together where everyone helped each other to make uncomfortable camp conditions considerably better. The sun shone all day it is quite remarkable how the earth dried out. Overnight the temperatures really dropped (2 deg) leaving one or two runners with an uncomfortable night. Braddon DB Johnson whilst holding a hot mug of steaming coffee said. “It was in interesting night… I had every item of clothing on and was still a little chilly!”

As the early morning mist burnt off, a glorious day welcomed the runners for a revised stage 4 that left camp via Big Red dunes. A clockwise loop with a couple of dog legs thrown in then re-navigated the runners back to Big Red and the finish line from which they had started.

James Kohler has been trying all week for victory, often leading the stages in the early kilometres only to find in the latter stages. Today though, the 30km racing distance and a days rest played into his hands and from the off he opened just a slight gap from the usual protagonists of Elisabet Barnes, Andy Dubois, Jamie Hildage and Braddan DB Johnson.

As the run progressed, James slowly pulled away but it was a very slender margin and Elisabet made sure she kept him in sight throughout the day, she had said early in the morning, ‘Today is all about being sensible and making sure I don’t extend too much energy ahead of tomorrow’s 80km+ long stage!’

No doubt Andy, Jamie and Braddan had similar thoughts. James though seized his opportunity and ran a great stage 4 to take 1st place in 2:56:03. Elisabet crossed the line 2nd in 2:59:45 and Andy Dubois placed 3rd in 3:01:04.

It was a close day with the top 3 men and ladies all finishing within a 30-minute window. Jamie Hildage placed 4th and Braddan DB Johnson 5th, their respective time of 3:04:06 and 3:08:58. Helen Durand was the 2nd lady 3:20:03, she has performed consistently throughout the race and Anne Bennet seized the 3rd place in 3:33:27.

Tomorrow is the long day and runners will be resting up in camp and preparing for a long day ahead. Weather and ground conditions have improved dramatically over the last 24-hours and although a new route has been planned, hopefully it will include much of the terrain of the original proposed route. Camp will be moved tomorrow and although it may not be located in the original camp 5 location, it will be placed close leaving the final stage 6 ‘fun run’ as close to 8km as possible. After all, there is a very serious barbecue, cold beers, showers and some entertainment planned for post race recovery.

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Big Red Run 2016 – The Interviews, Part One

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Niandi Carmont has joined me at Big Red Run (pictured above), she was originally going to run the main event but a foot fracture after The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica relegated her to the sidelines and recovery. However, injury progressed well and although not up to full speed or endurance, Niandi decided to run the Little Red Run (150km) which is the sister event to the the bigger, 250km main event.

It was always planned that Niandi would accompany my photography with a selection of interviews for web and Talk Ultra podcast. Here are the first two.

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The Turner Threesome: Dennis Turner, Megan Turner and Vicki Turner

Now what a nice day to spend a family holiday! Running 250km in the Australian outback is what I would call an off-the-beaten track holiday if ever there was one. I look at the three tired, dusty, smiling faces in front of me and I think it’s probably not such a bad idea. A father and 2 daughters taking time out to do something different, something that probably tightens and strengthens family bonds in the name of a common cause: type 1 diabetes.

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Vicki’s 9-year old daughter Ella has type 1 diabetes.

Dennis explains: Vicki was the instigator behind all this. She asked me if I wanted to go for a walk. I said yes and here we are. I also spent a lot of time out in the desert in the 70’s with the oil exploration crew and I’ve travelled across the desert 4 or 5 times since then. It’s a beautiful country. It’s very green at the moment and a bit wet compared with what it normally is. Usually it is very  dry and desolate with not much covering the dunes.

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Vicki: Dad loves walking. He walked from one side of England to the other last year. As for myself I’ve never experienced the outback like this.We’re from South Australia.

Younger sister Megan chips in excitedly: I’m here for the fun of it. It’s all an adventure really. Once my father was convinced, he got me into doing this. He phoned me up, told me we were going to go on a trip across the desert but he failed to mention it involved walking 150km. We’ve stuck together so far as he likes to keep an eye on me (giggles).

But then her father goes on to explain that they’ve not taken the event light-heartedly and spend most weekends getting in mileage on the beaches and in the dunes as well as training a couple of times during the week. We get on pretty well. The desert brings out who you are, your character and your stamina. We love the outback all 3 of us, we’ve done a lot of travelling in it over the years.  But it is a real challenge mentally and physically to do it at my age.

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I ask him if he’s proud of his daughters and there’s no hesitation in his reply: Absolutely. I’m very proud of them. 

I can see on their faces that they are touched by the compliments and as I leave then I cannot help but think that the three of them will look back on this privileged time spent together in a remote part of their beautiful country with the conviction that they had chosen the right time in their lives to take up the challenge together.

***END***

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Sabrina Paxton: Thelma & Louise Oz-style.

A long-legged blonde with blue eyes and a self-mocking, bubbly style, Sabrina is a gutsy lady. You can see she’s an outdoorsy girl. Mother of 2 young boys and a passionate yoga teacher, she loves to share her experiences (and food) with others. Here, have some of these pine nuts in your freeze-dried Mexican rice. Good fats. And here’s a bit of mint dark chocolate too.

I warm to this runner who almost didn’t make it to the start. In fact she DIDN’T make it to the start.

I missed my interconnecting flight. My first flight from Sydney into Brisbane was a bit late. I missed check-in cut-off time. The hostess wouldn’t let me on. I sat in the airport for a while panicking. My friends on social media and Quantas pointed me in the direction of Isa, to hire a vehicle to come down here. So I hired a commercial vehicle with big headlights and I drove across the outback through the night. There wasn’t ever really a moment where I thought I was going to give up, I had so much community support. So many people have gotten behind me to enter this race. I knew when things didn’t go according to plan that I had to explore every possible avenue to get here. Admittedly I was a bit scared, I’d never driven through the outback before, never mind 700km alone at night just before a 250km multi-stage.

I ask her what gave her the adrenaline to think straight and react so quickly.

I guess I was in the frame of mind I had put in so much preparation and there was so much expectation. You just need to draw strength and reserves to pull it together. I was so focussed on getting here. I was pretty wired actually. There was only one point where I was quite fatigued so I stopped and got about 40 minutes rest, I set my alarm for 40min. I drove at about 70 to 80km an hour. It was at least 10 hours solid driving. I had the whole day in Brisbane to plan this carefully and did some research on the internet on distances and fuel stops so I took 2 jerrycans of fuel with me. I flew into Brisbane at 6.30, picked up the car, filled up the 2 jerrycans and even then I only just made it with the fuel gauge needle in red the last 80km to go. 

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This lady is not only gutsy but she can think on her feet. A little perplexed I ask her why she hadn’t planned her connecting flights any better.

I am a sole parent to 2 boys who have never spent a day away from me really so I couldn’t orchestrate any different times where my kids could be looked after by a person they trusted. It was my only option to get that flight. There was a 2-hour buffer time. It is just unfortunate hat that flight landed so late.

Sabrina has other qualities too, which are no doubt very important in long-distance endurance events. She turns negatives into positives and manages her expectations.

Looking back, I really enjoyed that ride into Birdsville, with sun up and all the beautiful landscapes. I felt very privileged. I had missed the start but it was no big deal as the organisers dropped me off at check-point one. Once I got out the car I pretty much put my race-kit on and started running. At the finish they had added a 13km section for me to make up for missing the first part. 

So all is well that  ends well. I believe that you can still do what you want to do even if it feels like life has thrown you a bit of a hard situation.

***END***

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Big Red Run 2016 – Stage 2 ‘Adria Downs Marathon’ – 42.195km

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Mud, mud, glorious mud, nothing quite like it for cooling the blood… follow me follow, down to the hollow and let us wallow in mud glorious mud!

Oh yes, the 2016 Big Red Run had mud and then some today. The overnight pit patter of rain unfortunately increased heavier and heavier and as morning came, the camp site, located on a lower ground clay bed, became a ‘claggy’ mud bath. Within four walking strides, shoes, doubled, trebled and then quadrupled in not only size and weight. It was brutal – really brutal.

The 0630 call for breakfast was a mix of laughter and very worried looks. The rain was still pouring and it was not forecast to dry out until after darkness. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that it was going to be a tough day; not only for runners but all those working on the race.

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Maximum mandatory kit was requested by the race director, needless to say, a waterproof jacket was going to be essential and for once, not something that remained in the pack as a ‘just-in-case’ but something that should be worn from the gun! Thermal layers for the top and bottom were added to packs as a back-up scenario should an enforced rest, injury or stop should occur. It was a good call, conditions were tough.

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Leaving camp, the course was one that would loop on itself several times and finally return back to the same camp for the end of day 2, a classic marathon distance stage of 42.195km.

Early running was hard as the soft clay ground just stuck to the runners shoes making not only the size but more importantly the weight of the shoes considerably challenging. Add to this all grip being removed due to the volume of wet, sticky clay that built up in the soles. Watching the runners almost required a classic 1920’s silent movie soundtrack, you know the ones I mean, fast, comical and high-paced. Off course, the runners were the opposite – slow, cumbersome and with a high potential to fall at any minute.

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In the early stages many of the day four protagonists ran together, Braddan DB Johnson, Jamie Hildage, Andy Dubois and race leader, Elisabet Barnes. The foursome forged ahead at an excellent pace despite the conditions.

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After the halfway mark, Elisabet Barnes made a move and accelerated away from her running buddies and gave another excellent performance to win the stage outright in 4:17. To run this time in these conditions was extremely impressive, something that Elisabet acknowledged:

“I am amazed at the time. Today was ridiculous in places, my shoes were four times the normal size and weight. It was like running with ankle weights. I was running with my iPod and I just kept saying to myself, one song at a time and one foot at a time!”

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Jamie Hildage (4:26) lives in Australia but he’s a Brit born and bred – he’s used to these conditions and actually revelled in them, so much so he finished 2nd on the day ahead of stage 1 2nd place, Andy Dubois (4:44) and Braddan DB Johnson (4:53) taking the 3rd male place and 4th overall. Interesting statistic when one looks at the results, 3 of the top 4 were born or live in the UK – surely an advantage for the testing conditions.

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Helen Durand (5:16) continued to run strong on day 2 and replicated her 2nd place on the ladies podium and Karla Johnson (5:50) moved up from 6th on day 1 to 3rd on day 2. Amon Sheddon who had placed 3rd on day 1 had a tough day and finished down the field.

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Camp this evening full of stories of mud, sweat and tears. It’s funny how adversity brings out laughter… however, it has been a tough day for Greg Donovan and his team. Greg has had to take the very tough condition of cancelling any racing on day 3. It’s a call that no RD wants to make but currently the camp is bogged down in some of the worst mud I have seen.

 “To break camp down and move it to a new location while racing was underway would stretch the whole logistics and potentially compromise safety. I will update on this tomorrow during the rest day,”

– Greg Donovan

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Big Red Run 2016 – Stage 1 ‘Birdsville Marathon’ – 42.195km

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The 2016 Big Red Run got underway today, Saturday June 25th from the ‘Outback’ town of Birdsville on the edge of the Simpson Desert.

Located in the ‘Northern Territory,’ the Simpson Desert is a large area of red sand and dunes that currently resembles a green pasture due to excessive rain in recent weeks and months. It’s quite a contrast to the Sahara. The Simpson Desert is an erg described as a broad, flat area of desert covered with wind-swept sand. Erg means ‘dune field’ in Arabic and ironically it should have little or no vegetation… not so currently here in the Simpson.

The first European explorer to visit this region was the explorer Charles Sturt and today, Elisabet Barnes from Sweden (who resides in the UK) followed in the footsteps of Sturt and set a blistering pace over the marathon distance to win the stage outright by over 15-minutes. Elisabet’s finish time of 3:59:59 confirming her as one of the most impressive desert runners currently racing.

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Elisabet pulled away from the group of runners before they had even left the suburbs of Birdsville and she never looked back. Opening a gap slowly but surely, Elisabet extended her lead throughout the day to win by a clear margin.

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“I felt very good today considering the extensive travel, jet lag and only racing the Richtersveld Transfrontier Wildrun in South Africa just last week. But the terrain was very runnable and I was happy to run… maybe too quickly? We shall see tomorrow!”

Andy Dubois had trailed Elisabet with two other runners early on, Braddan DB Johnson and Jamie Hildage but Andy pulled away looking to close the gap on Elisabet. He didn’t make it and over the final 20km from Cp2 Elisabet held or marginally extended her lead.

Jamie Hildage, a previous competitor at the Big Red Run finished 3rd overall on the stage,

“It is so green this year and the ground is firmer making conditions underfoot very good. In addition, we had cool temperature and a constant breeze today; it made for great running conditions.”

Braddan dropped to 5th overall behind a strong run from 2nd lady and 4th overall, Helen Durand.

Completing the ladies top 3 was Amon Sheddon who finished 12th overall.

Official times to follow on completion of the stage.

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Tomorrow’s stage is  the ‘Adria Downs Marathon’ at another classic distance of 42.195km

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Big Red Run 2016 – Birdsville or Bust!

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It feels like I have been travelling for 6-days. The reality is, I have, sort of… I left South Africa on the 19th June, arrived in the UK on the 20th. Had an overnight stop in London and then departed to Australia via Dubai and arrived in Brisbane on Wednesday night at midnight. A day in Brisbane provided some RnR and then today, Friday 24th I had 4-hours of flying to arrive in Birdsville for the start of the 2016 Big Red Run.

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Birdsville is a small town located on land traditionally owned by the Wangkanguru People, in the Channel Country of Central West Queensland, Australia. It is 1,590 kilometres (990 mi) west of the state capital, Brisbane, and 720 kilometres (450 mi) south of the city of Mount Isa. Birdsville is on the edge of the Simpson Desert, approximately 174 km east of Poeppel Corner and the climate is very arid. Birdsville has a population of around 100… it’s what I expected an outback place to be and look like!

Today, runners from around the world have congregated in this small place to register and prepare for the 4th edition of the Big Red Run (BRR). The BRR is Australia’s first and only multi-day race participants are offered a choice of 2 different runs.

The Big Red Run – a 6 day 250km stage Race, starting and ending at the iconic Birdsville Pub

The Little Red Run– a 6 day 150km stage Race, starting and ending at the iconic Birdsville Pub. Ideal for those wanting to dip their toes into Stage racing, or equally achievable for trekkers and adventure hikers.

The Big Red Run

250km, 6 day stage, 7.30 am Sat 25th June - Thurs 30th June 2016
  • 5 marathons in 6 days.
  • Starting at Birdsville pub with a lap around Birdsville before heading west to the impressive Big Red sand dune, which will be home for the following 2 nights.
  • Day 1 = ‘Birdsville Marathon’ – 42.195km
  • Day 2 = ‘Adria Downs Marathon’ – 42.195km
  • Day 3 = ‘Arpilindika Marathon’ – 42.195km
  • Day 4 = ‘Sprigg Sprint’ 31km
  • Day 5 = 84.39km (the equivalent of two individual marathons back to back!!!)
    • Marathon 1 “Mohan Marathon”
    • Marathon 2 “Roseberth Marathon”
  • Day 6 = ‘Birdsville or Bust’ – final 8km run to Birdsville Pub, followed by a late afternoon awards BBQ and entertainment.

The Little Red Run

150km, 6 day stage, 7.30 am Sat 25th June - Thurs 30th June 2016
  • 2 marathons and 2 half marathons in 6 days.
  • Starting at Birdsville pub with a lap around Birdsville before heading west to the impressive Big Red sand dune, which will be home for the following 2 nights.
  • Day 1 = ‘Birdsville Marathon’ – 42.2km (same as Big Red Run)
  • Day 2 = ‘Adria Downs Half Marathon’ – 21.1km
  • Day 3 = ‘Arpilindika Half Marathon’ – 21.1km
  • Day 4 = ‘Sprigg Sprint’ 15.4km
  • Day 5 = Marathon 1 “Mohan Marathon” – 42.2km (Same as 1st day 5 Marathon of Big Red Run)
  • Day 6 = ‘Birdsville or Bust’ – final 8km run to Birdsville Pub, followed by a late afternoon awards BBQ and entertainment.

All runners from Big Red Run and Little Red Run finish the week together with the day 6 Birdsville Bust 8km run which is untimed, to celebrate their weeks achievement.

With registration complete, mandatory kit and all essential items for each runner had to be added to a bag with a maximum allowance of 14kg. Like other multi-day races, the BRR (and LRR) is self-sufficient, however, here in Australia it is with a difference. Food, spare clothes, sleeping bag etc is transported by the race team to await the runners on finishing. Runners must carry essential mandatory kit to ensure safety on the route but unlike say, Marathon des Sables, these requirements are considerably less. It may well be the perfect combination of ‘semi’ self-sufficiency.

Day 1 starts tomorrow, Saturday 25th June at 0730am (Australia time) with a 42km leg to the fist overnight camp.

Daily reports and images will be posted here on this website and through my normal social media outlets.

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