Tom Evans to run the 2018 The Coastal Challenge

Tom Evans placed 3rd at the 2017 Marathon des Sables, the highest ever placing by a British male. His result was a complete surprise. He arrived on the start line an unknown, by the end of day one he was a dark horse turning the heads of journalists and runners.

It was no one day wonder. Evans matched the Moroccans stride-for-stride and pushed them all the way to the end. His result was a breakthrough performance!

Not happy to become a multi-day specialist, Evans has since tested himself in mountain races, the Eiger Ultra 101km and the CCC – in both races he placed 4th. With a road marathon coming up, Evans now looks ahead to 2018 and a multi-day training camp in Lanzarote (HERE) where he will coach and run, quickly followed by the 2018 The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica.

I caught up with Evans and fired of ten quick-fire questions.

Images from the 2017 TCC with Anna Frost, Anna Comet, Ester Alves, Jason Schlarb, Sondre Amdahl, Elisabet Barnes, Chema Martinez, Tom Owens and many more.

  1. You placed 3rd at MDS this year, quite a result, what has the following months been like for you?

It’s been pretty crazy since that surprise result at MdS. This year, I wanted to find out more about my running and really learn what my strengths and weaknesses are. I raced in the Eiger 101km and the CCC. Both went really well considering 95% of my training is done in and around London. I have been juggling my military career with my new-found love of running.

  1. How did you train for MDS and what top 3 tips worked that you can pass on?

My training for MdS was pretty limited as I was away with the Welsh Guards in the build-up to the race. I managed to get a week long trip to Lanzarote to focus on the race and get some quality miles in my legs. My top 3 tips are:

  1. Train how you race. Train with the kit and food you are going to use.
  2. Heat acclimatisation is so important. It can be done anywhere hot eg Bikram yoga!
  3. Stay injury free. If you start developing a niggle, get it sorted ASAP! Better to turn up less fit but injury free.

  1. You have followed MDS with mountain races, the Eiger and CCC, is this to broaden your skill set – what is the attraction?

Yes. I wanted to develop my running skills in all different environments. I love being in the mountains and discovering new places. The mountain races have really pushed me outside my comfort zone. I think to be a top quality ultra-runner you have to be a well-rounded athlete. I have learnt so much in the mountains that I will use in the rest of my career.

 

  1. Technical trails, climbing and challenging terrain will be in abundance in Costa Rica, is that one of the attractions of the race?

I have always wanted to go to Costa Rica. I love traveling and I also love running so thought that this was a perfect opportunity. I am really looking forward to the varied terrain in the race and pushing myself to the limit.

 

  1. What else attracts you to TCC? 

TCC is an iconic race that attracts a great crowd. I have loved spending time getting to know lots of different athletes in the past 6 months. I love that everyone has come from a different background and all have such different stories to tell.

 

  1. Heat and humidity in Costa Rica is brutal, very different to MDS and other races you have done – how will you prepare?

I am going to be doing lots of my winter training at St Marys University who have got one of the best chambers in the country. This will help me to understand the effect of humidity and heat on my body. I am also going to Lanzarote for the Pre-MdS training camp. This will give me a great opportunity to do some heat training in great company.

 

  1. You are not self-sufficient at TCC so you can run free – is that an appeal or do you like self-sufficiency?

I am really looking forward to being able to run free and use the aid stations. I have heard great things about what is on offer at the aid stations, especially fruit, which is far more appealing to another energy gel! Having said that, I do like all the preparation for the self-sufficiency races. I am a bit of a sports science nerd and like doing all the research before the races.

 

  1. Any races before TCC?

Yes, I am in my final block of training for Frankfurt Marathon. I am using this to focus on my speed and efficiency before going back to the longer distances. There are a couple of great UK races in December and January that I will probably look to use for training. I will also be racing the XC season, I think the fast training is really important, even for ultra-runners.  I don’t want to race too much though, I want to make sure that I am fit and injury free on the start line in Costa Rica so I can give it my all.

 

  1. What does the future hold beyond Costa Rica?

There are a couple of big races that I am targeting for 2018. The first being the World Trail Championships in Penyagolosa in May. After that, I am going to be focussing on fast 100k races, with ambitions to race in the 100km World Championships in September. I will also be doing a couple of UTWT and Skyrunning races, but haven’t fully worked out which ones. There are so many amazing races all over the world but I don’t want to race too much too soon!

 

  1. And finally, Michael Wardian from the USA has won TCC and placed 3rd at MDS – he is back in 2018, is the battle on?

Michael is a fantastic athlete and one of my inspirations to get into running. It will be a honour to be on the start line with him in Costa Rica. I am really looking forward to the journey and I guess we will have to wait and see what happens!

The 2018 edition of TCC is already looking like a stunning race. Two-time MDS champion Elisabet Barnes will return to Costa Rica and the UK’s Marcus Scotney who won the Cape Wrath Ultra and the Dragons Back Race has his first TCC experience ahead of him. – read HERE.

TCC as it is affectionately known is a multi-day race starting in the southern coastal town of Quepos, Costa Rica and finishing at the stunning Drake Bay on the Osa Peninsula. It is an ultimate multi-day running experience that offers a new challenge even to the most experienced runner. Taking place over 6-days, the race hugs the coastline of Costa Rica, traveling in and out of the stunning Talamanca mountain range. Even the strongest competitors are reduced to exhausted shells by the arrival of the finish line due to the combination of technical trails, dense forest, river crossings, waterfalls, long stretches of golden beach, dusty access roads, high ridges and open expansive plains.

You can read and view images from the 2017 edition HERE

Follow #TCC2018

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The Coastal Challenge

Facebook HERE

Website (UK) HERE

Website (Global) HERE

Episode 130 – Sondre Amdahl, Jason Schlarb, Anna Comet, Cherie Soria, Dan Ladermann and Jim Mann

Episode 130 of Talk Ultra brings you some audio from The Coastal Challenge with Sondre Amdahl, Jason Schlarb, Anna Comet and an in-depth chat with Cherie Soria and Dan Ladermann. We also talk with UK based fell and mountain runner, Jim Mann.

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00:18:31 NEWS

Riverbank One Day

Courtney Dewaulter ran 250km (155.3 miles) to set a new American record beating Sabrina Littles best by more than 3-miles. Dewaulter will join Katlin Nagy, Traci Falbo, Jenny Hoffman and Pam Smith in Ireland for the IAU 24-Hour Championships. – That is a seriously strong ladies team!

Transgrancanaria

What a stunning race that turned out to be a Pau Calpell and Azara Garcia show. The two respectively lead from the front to take great victories. Pau (13:21) smashing the old course record set by Didrik Hermansen who placed 3rd in this years edition. Second place went to Lithuanian, Vlaidas Zlabys (13:35) who is going to be one-to-watch this year! Although Azara won the ladies’ race (16:25), she was 1-hour slower that Caroline Chaverots 2016 time. Chaverot dropped at 30km not feeling good! Andrea Huser placed 2nd (17:150 and Melanie Rousset 3rd (17:30).

The Coastal Challenge

Anna Frost won in 27:08. Anna Comet (Spain) and Ester Alves (Portugal) were second and third in 27:58 and 28:23, respectively. Tom Owens dominated the men’s in 22:29. Chema Martinez (Spain) 23:43 and Jason Schlarb 24:34 were second and third. We caught up with Sondre Amdahl, Anna Comet and Jason Schlarb for a post TCC chat.

00:25:10 INTERVIEW with Sondre Amdahl, Anna Comet and Jason Schlarb

The Coastal Challenge images HERE

At TCC Cherie Soria and Dan Ladermann were a constant inspiration to all competitors. Niandi caught up with them and ‘Coastal’ the dog, back in our hotel in San Jose.

01:30:14 INTERVIEW with CHERIE SORIA and DAN LADERMANN

Iditarod Trail Invitational

David Johnston once again won the 350-mile journey from Knik Lake to McGrath. Conditions this year were very tough with many drops. This is Johnston’s 5th victory – he finished in 5-days, 21-hours, 43-minutes. Second was Kyle Durand… 2-days later! I am not sure if any woman finishes, results don’t show this HERE

Red Mountain 55k

Once again saw ‘one-to-watch’ Hayden Hawks take another victory in 4:15. Rachel Cieslewicz won the ladies’ race in 5:38. Results HERE for the men and HERE for the ladies.

Way to Cool 50k

Cody Reed won in 3:16 and Megan Roche in 3:52 results HERE

SkiMo

Not many race results yet, still early in the calendar but if you are missing watching some of the top runners in the world, take a look at ski mountaineering. The cross over between mountain running and skimo is growing and growing – Kilian and Emelie have long been exponents but runners like Rob Krar, Nick Elson, Mike Foote, Jason Schlarb and so on are turning to skis over the winter months. Currently the iconic Pierra Menta is happening – it’s the Hardrock (on a much bigger scale) of skimo. Read here.

RUNNING BEYOND BOOK

I will be also going to Sofia in Bulgaria on the 17th, 18th and 19th March for a trail, mountain and Skyrunning expo.

Jim Mann is a low-key highly accompolished fell and mountain runner in the UK. However, he like to keep a low-profile. Recently, Jim completed all 3 UK rounds in 1 month… in winter! On the 22nd January Jim set a new winter record for the Charlie Ramsay Round completing it in 22:23. Three weeks later (11th February) Jim completed the Paddy Buckley Round in 21:37. And then theBob Graham Round in 20:26. I had to chat with him!

02:37:17 INTERVIEW with JIM MANN

UP & COMING RACES

Canada

British Columbia

50 km | 50 kilometers | March 11, 2017 | website

Yukon

Likeys Ultra 6633 – 120 Mile | 120 miles | March 10, 2017 | website

Likeys Ultra 6633 – 350 Mile | 350 miles | March 10, 2017 | website

Costa Rica

51 km | 51 kilometers | March 18, 2017 | website

80 km | 80 kilometers | March 18, 2017 | website

France

Ardèche

Trail sud ardéchois | 50 kilometers | March 12, 2017 | website

Haut-Rhin

Trail du Petit Ballon | 52 kilometers | March 19, 2017 | website

Paris

80 km | 80 kilometers | March 18, 2017 | website

Hong-Kong

Translantau 100 km | 100 kilometers | March 10, 2017 | website

Translantau 50 km | 50 kilometers | March 11, 2017 | website

Hungary

BSI Lake Balaton Marathon+ Fonyód – Szigliget | 52 kilometers | March 24, 2017 | website

BSI Lake Balaton Supermarathon | 195 kilometers | March 23, 2017 | website

Italy

Veneto

Ultrabericus | 65 kilometers | March 18, 2017 | website

Malaysia

TITI 100KM | 100 kilometers | March 18, 2017 | website

TITI 200KM | 200 kilometers | March 16, 2017 | website

TITI 250KM | 250 kilometers | March 17, 2017 | website

TITI 50KM | 50 kilometers | March 19, 2017 | website

Morocco

Morocco Tizi N’Trail | 120 kilometers | March 24, 2017 | website

Ultra Trail Chaouen 85K | 85 kilometers | March 11, 2017 | website

Nepal

Kathmandu West Valley Rim 50km | 50 kilometers | March 18, 2017 | website

Netherlands

South Holland

50km | 50 kilometers | March 19, 2017 | website

New Zealand

50 km Mountain Run | 50 kilometers | March 18, 2017 | website

Northburn Station 100 km Mountain Run | 100 kilometers | March 18, 2017 | website

Triple Peaks Challenge | 50 kilometers | March 11, 2017 | website

Nicaragua

SURVIVAL RUN NICARAGUA | 80 kilometers | March 11, 2017 | website

Norway

70K | 70 kilometers | March 18, 2017 | website

Philippines

All Women Ultra-Marathon | 50 kilometers | March 11, 2017 | website

TRD80 Ultramarathon | 80 kilometers | March 18, 2017 | website

Réunion

Caldeira Trail | 74 kilometers | March 18, 2017 | website

South Africa

100 Mile Trail Run | 100 miles | March 11, 2017 | website

44 km Trail Run | 44 miles | March 12, 2017 | website

76 km Trail Run | 76 kilometers | March 12, 2017 | website

Spain

Catalonia

UT les Fonts | 120 kilometers | March 10, 2017 | website

UT les Fonts – Trail de les Fonts | 70 kilometers | March 11, 2017 | website

Taiwan

100 km | 100 kilometers | March 11, 2017 | website

120 km | 120 kilometers | March 11, 2017 | website

60 km | 60 kilometers | March 11, 2017 | website

Turkey

85 km | 85 kilometers | March 18, 2017 | website

United Kingdom

Aberdeen City

D33 Ultra | 33 miles | March 11, 2017 | website

Andhra Pradesh

Red Rose Ultra | 40 miles | March 19, 2017 | website

Bradford

Haworth Hobble | 32 miles | March 11, 2017 | website

Dorset

Jurassic Coast Challenge | 78 miles | March 17, 2017 | website

East Sussex

Coastal Trail Series – Sussex – Ultra | 34 miles | March 18, 2017 | website

Highland

2XU Jogle | 860 miles | March 24, 2017 | website

North Yorkshire

Hardmoors 55 Ultramarathon | 55 miles | March 18, 2017 | website

USA

Alabama

Lake Martin 100 Mile Trail Race | 100 miles | March 18, 2017 | website

Lake Martin 50 Mile Trail Race | 50 miles | March 18, 2017 | website

Arizona

50K | 50 kilometers | March 18, 2017 | website

50M | 50 miles | March 18, 2017 | website

Arkansas

3 days of Syllamo | 150 kilometers | March 17, 2017 | website

California

Marin Ultra Challenge 50K | 50 kilometers | March 11, 2017 | website

Marin Ultra Challenge 50 Mile | 50 miles | March 11, 2017 | website

Colorado

High Line Canal 100K | 100 kilometers | March 18, 2017 | website

Florida

100K Individual | 64 miles | March 18, 2017 | website

100K Team ( 3-4 Person Teams ) | 64 miles | March 18, 2017 | website

50K Individual | 32 miles | March 18, 2017 | website

Cross Florida Route 40 Romp | 116 miles | March 11, 2017 | website

Cross Florida Route 40 Romp – 2 Person Relay | 116 miles | March 11, 2017 | website

Idaho

Pickled Feet 100 Mile Run | 100 miles | March 24, 2017 | website

Kentucky

50 mile run | 50 miles | March 11, 2017 | website

60k | 60 kilometers | March 11, 2017 | website

Mississippi

Spring Equinox 50K | 50 kilometers | March 18, 2017 | website

Spring Equinox 50 Miler | 50 miles | March 18, 2017 | website

Nevada

50K | 50 kilometers | March 11, 2017 | website

50M | 50 miles | March 11, 2017 | website

Vegas Moonlight Ultra 100 Mile Run | 100 miles | March 11, 2017 | website

North Carolina

Badwater Cape Fear 50 km | 50 kilometers | March 18, 2017 | website

Badwater Cape Fear 51.4 Mile | 51 miles | March 18, 2017 | website

North Dakota

Extreme North Dakota Sandhills Ultra Run Experience 100K | 100 kilometers | March 18, 2017 | website

Extreme North Dakota Sandhills Ultra Run Experience 50K | 50 kilometers | March 18, 2017 | website

Pennsylvania

Lt. J. C. Stone 50K UltraMarathon | 50 kilometers | March 18, 2017 | website

South Carolina

Palmetto200 Relay | 200 miles | March 24, 2017 | website

Tennessee

Music City Trail Ultra 50K | 50 kilometers | March 18, 2017 | website

Ragnar Relay Tennessee | 196 miles | March 24, 2017 | website

Texas

100k | 100 kilometers | March 11, 2017 | website

50K | 50 kilometers | March 11, 2017 | website

Prickly Pear 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | March 12, 2017 | website

The Grasslands 50-Mile | 50 miles | March 18, 2017 | website

Utah

Antelope Island 100 Mile | 100 miles | March 17, 2017 | website

Antelope Island 50K | 50 kilometers | March 18, 2017 | website

Antelope Island 50 Mile | 50 miles | March 18, 2017 | website

Vermont

PEAK Snowshoe 100 Mile Race | 100 miles | March 10, 2017 | website

Virginia

50K | 50 kilometers | March 11, 2017 | website

50 mile | 50 miles | March 11, 2017 | website

Elizabeth’s Furnace Fat Ass 50K | 50 kilometers | March 11, 2017 | website

Washington

Chuckanut 50 K | 50 kilometers | March 18, 2017 | website

03:18:10 Close

03:23:30

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The Coastal Challenge 2017 #TCC2017 – Pre Race

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Runners have arrived in San Jose and the 2017 of The Coastal Challenge is now building up to what is anticipated to be one of the most competitive editions of this race ever.

Chema Martinez - San Jose

Chema Martinez – San Jose

The men’s race sees the return of Chema Martinez who raced in 2016. He has experience of the course, the heat and the humidity and that will prove invaluable. However, Sondre Amdahl from Norway and Tom Owens for the UK arrived in Costa Rica one week ago to spend time on the coast and adjust to the heat – they will provide strong competition.

Tom Owens

Tom Owens

Hardrock 100 winner, Jason Schlarb arrived just 1-day before the race from the snows of Colorado, he may be in for a surprise on day 1 as the heat hits.

Jason Schlarb loosening up on San Jose trails.

Jason Schlarb loosening up on San Jose trails.

Local competition is expected to come from Ashur Youssefi-Dizagetakieh who has raced at TCC on several occasions, he knows the course, is adopted to the heat and will be a strong presence at the front of the race.

iancorless-com_tcc2017-06471

Ashur Youssefi-Dizagetakieh


iancorless-com_tcc2017-0871

Erick Agüero

An unknown to Europe audiences, Erick Agüero from Costa Rica will take part in his first multi-day experience here at TCC and race director, Rodrigo Carazo says, ‘he’s one to watch!’

Of course, a surprise can come from anywhere… the 2017 edition of the race has the most Costa Rican’s ever entered in the race and strong representation comes from Spain and the UK.

iancorless-com_tcc2017-0943

Anna Frost

For the ladie’s last minute entry of Anna Frost has certainly made the other female competitors, stop, look and ask questions about the form of the New Zealand. This is ‘Frosty’s’ third time racing at TCC and is third a charm?

Ester Alves

Ester Alves

2016 champion, Ester Alves has returned and without doubt she will be looking for repeat victory. She will have her hands full with the return of the 2015 champion, Veronica Bravo from Chile and 2015 Marathon des Sables champion, Elisabet Barnes who also raced here in 2016.

iancorless-com_tcc2017-06380

Elisabet Barnes

Anna Cometi from Spain has won the Everest Trail Race on two occasions so she knows how to race over multiple days, the big question will come in regard to her adaptation to the heat and humidity. One last name to look out for will be Katelyn Tocci.

With 22-countries represented, the 2017 edition of TCC is going to be a classic! Will it be the most memorable? Time will tell.

With registration taking place today, Saturday 11th. Runners have loosened up on the local trails to freshen up from travel. Race briefing is this evening and then tomorrow it’s a 0400 start to head to the coast and the start of the race.

Daily reports and images will be posted on this website when connection allows.

You can also follow on Facebook HERE, on Twitter HERE and on Instagram HERE

#TCC2017

Lanzarote Training Camp 2017 – Day 8

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All good things come to an end and today, unfortunately, was the last full day of the 2017 #multidaytrainingcamp.

It started at 0800 with a run to our hill rep volcano (by popular demand) and after a 30-minute easy run, we then played on one of the most amazing natural obstacle courses that provided everyone with a great workout and stunning views.

A short break and then at 1100 we had a 2-hour talk on nutrition looking at the day-to-day needs of a runner at a typical self-sufficient multi-day race. All aspects were covered and of course a few surprises made many of the camp attendees raise an eyebrow and then quickly write a note to make sure they didn’t forget these pearls of wisdom for the future.

Lunch was followed with our last group runs. By popular demand they were easy, really easy. Elisabet ran 8km at ‘long-stage’ pace to provide an insight for the ‘faster’ runners of how to pace an 80+km stage. Niandi and Ian ran nice and easy for 12-15km and Marie-Paule took the walkers out for a long 5-6 hour hike.

That’s it.

I will update more in the coming days on the many highs of the 2017 camp.

As I write this, the bar is open and many camp attendees are practicing re-hydrating… it would be a shame to miss out!

Want to join us in 2018? Go HERE

Lanzarote Training Camp 2017 – Day 7

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Day 7 started with two sessions – a tempo/ fartlek run of 5 to 8-miles or a technique session on using poles. Both were valuable sessions. Sondre Amdahl (9th overall at the 2016 Marathon des Sables) lead the fast men in a hard tempo session, Elisabet Barnes (2015 MDS ladies champion) pushed the pace for the second group and then Niandi Carmont lead group three with Marie-Paule leading the walkers. At the run track, Ian Corless provided a technique session on using poles. Many had the question answered, ‘should I take poles?’ Yes! was the unanimous answer. The awkward 20-30minutes of adapting to the technique required was rewarded with a faster pace for less effort.

At 1100, Marie-Paule talked, ‘Zero to Atacama’ where she told the story of how she went from little interest in endurance sport to completing the 2016 Atacama without running a step! The power of walking!

Lunch was followed with arguably one of the highlights of the #multidaytrainingcamp – a walk, run/ walk or run of 20-30km to an overnight bivouac inside a volcano.

It’s this ‘real’ experience that provides everyone on the camp a true understanding of what will lie ahead at future multi-day race. For many, it was the first time running with a pack that had food, sleeping bag, mat, clothing etc. A learning curve. For some the experience was rewarding and a confirmation they had made the correct choice of items. For others, alarm bells were ringing… the wrong pack, the wrong sleeping bag, the wrong sleeping mat, the wrong food and so on! This experience is invaluable in making sure that all the questions marks, all the potential problems are eradicated now so that the race experience is a good one!

A windy but relatively warm night under the stars and it was a self-sufficient breakfast before another 20+km run that included dunes.

As everyone arrived back at Club La Santa, there was a buzz. The last 24-hours had made the future ‘race’ a reality.

Interested in joining out Multi-Day Training Camp in 2018? Go HERE

Lanzarote Training Camp 2017 – Day 6

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It was another great day in Lanzarote. The sun shone, the sky was blue and the temperatures were in the 20’s.

It was a long day with a coastal run, some technical trail and stunning views. The walkers covered 24km with Marie-Paule, the ‘mid-pack’ runners covered 28km with Niandi and the faster runners covered 36km with Elisabet.

Lots of smiles, lots of laughs and as this camp progresses, the confidence of each runner is growing; it’s on view to see! One-by-one, they are slowly but surely understanding what it’s going to take to complete, their next multi-day adventure.

The arrival of Sondre Amdahl on the camp (9th at MDS, 6th at Oman Desert Marathon) was a real boost and within hours, Sondre was proactive in a talk/ demonstration of what goes in a typical multi-day pack. This talk was very much directed to Marathon des Sables. Niandi, Elisabet and Sondre all discussed what to, and what not to take to the race. Of course, all three had unique ways of looking at the race and what was and what is and what is not important.

An early evening run of just 20 or 40-minutes with a disappearing sun concluded the day. Tomorrow is a full-on day and tomorrow, the participants of the 2017 training camp will bivouac inside a (dormant) volcano.

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Interested in our 2018 training camp? Go HERE

Episode 126 – Stevie Kremer, Trails Are Free Movie, Sondre Amdahl

A_GRAVATAR

Episode 126 of Talk Ultra is here, Happy New Year! – We have an interview with Stevie Kremer, we chat with Lindsey Topham about her movie, ‘The Trails Are Free’ and Sondre Amdahl tells us about racing in Hong Kong and how is preparation for The Coastal Challenge is going… Speedgoat is back too!

New Year and Talk Ultra needs your help!

We are five year’s old this January and as a show we are proud that we have produced a wealth of content for free. The show will always be free! However, demands on time, production costs, editing really impact on Talk Ultra, therefore, if you love the show please help us out. You can make a one-off donation, a yearly donation or maybe donate monthly… just £1 or $1 would make a huge difference. We are currently in the process of setting up a Patreon page that will allow you to gain access to the Patreon Activity Feed that will be for Patreon supporters ONLY! This is the easiest way to support Talk Ultra and help us continue to create!

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RUNNING BEYOND BOOK is travelling the world and of course I recommend it as a great Christmas present… we mentioned in the last show about Running Beyond Event which will take place 3, 4 and 5th March in London, plans are progressing for that… in addition, Niandi and myself will now be in Amsterdam on Feb 3rd, 4th and 5th for a Trails in Motion event and Running Beyond book signing with Mud Sweat and Trails and I will be also going to Sofia in Bulgaria on the 17th, 18th and 19th March for a trail, mountain and Skyrunning expo.

00:26:32 NEWS

Across The Years – 24, 48, 72-hours and 6-Days

24: Kelly Agnew and Chavet Breslin ran 124 and 119-miles

48: Karen Bonnett Natraj and Alex Ramset ran 140 and 177-miles

72: Iso Yucra and Anne Lang ran 248 and 200-miles

6-Day: Ed Ettinghausen and Liz Bauer ran 451.4 and 418.9-miles

Ultra-Trail Tai Mo Shan

Gediminas Grinius and Andrea Huser won the 100-mile in 20:04 and 26:01.

Sondre Amdahl and Marie McNaughton won the 115km in 16:15 and 16:20

“TCC will be my main target for the winter/spring of 2017. I have had a couple of easy months after a DNS at the Tor des Géants (due to injury). I have had a good block of training in November, December, I raced at Ultra-Trail Tai Mo Shan in Hong Kong (115km) on New Year’s Eve which I won and then in January I will go to Gran Canaria to prepare for TCC.”

00:53:34 INTERVIEW with Sondre Amdahl

Read a preview of the 2017 The Coastal Challenge HERE

01:20:36 INTERVIEW with Stevie Kremer

02:12:14 INTERVIEW with Lindsey Topham about the film ‘The Trails Are Free’

The Trails are Free tells the story of how Boston based trail running club, the Trail Animals Running Club (TARC), promotes and preserves the culture of ultra running through a series of grassroots, community based races in the greater Boston area. The film captures the history of the club and how it has grown from a few members to over 4000 since its founding in the early 1990’s. From its start TARC has been more focused on camaraderie and community among runners than on competition and winning. The club’s motto “Leave No Animal Behind” exemplifies their welcoming spirit, as well as their humility, level playing field, and love for the outdoors. Trail Animals come from all walks of life and all abilities and there is no pecking order.

The club’s rapid growth has mirrored a nationwide trend in the sport in recent years. Where ultra running used to be considered an oddball sport, it is now the subject of many books and is gaining more mainstream coverage in film and on television. The threat of this community spirit becoming consumed by competition and commercialisation is becoming a realistic, legitimate concern.

In 2011 the club introduced the TARC Trail Series, a group of 10 trail races of varying distances, from 10K to 100 Miles. This film documents the ways these races have become a vehicle for preserving, promoting, and sharing the culture of the sport with new members. Race organisers keep race costs down by organising volunteers to mark courses, maintain trails, and provide support, provisions, and food for potluck-style aid stations. First place finishers win handmade trophies. There is no prize money.

“The Trails Are Free” was shot on location at various TARC races over the years. It is quintessentially New England. There is snow, mud, peepers, rocks, roots, and bright foliage.

Website HERE

vimeo trailer HERE

UP & COMING RACES

Australia

Victoria

Two Bays Trail Run 56km | 56 kilometers | January 15, 2017 | website

Brazil

Brazil 135 Ultramarathon | 135 miles | January 12, 2017 | website

Brazil 281 Relay | 281 miles | January 12, 2017 | website

Chile

Ultramaratón Licanray – Villarrica | 70 kilometers | January 08, 2017 | website

Ecuador

100 km Relevos | 100 kilometers | January 07, 2017 | website

150 km Relevos | 150 kilometers | January 07, 2017 | website

Germany

Lower Saxony

  1. Lauf PSV Winterlaufserie 100 KM| 100 kilometers | January 14, 2017 | website
  2. Lauf PSV Winterlaufserie 100 KM| 100 kilometers | January 08, 2017 | website
  3. Lauf PSV Winterlaufserie 100 KM| 100 kilometers | January 07, 2017 | website
  4. Lauf PSV Winterlaufserie 50 KM| 50 kilometers | January 14, 2017 | website
  5. Lauf PSV Winterlaufserie 50 KM| 50 kilometers | January 08, 2017 | website
  6. Lauf PSV Winterlaufserie 50 KM| 50 kilometers | January 07, 2017 | website

North Rhine-Westphalia

Nord Eifel Ultra | 56 kilometers | January 08, 2017 | website

Hong-Kong

Vibram® Hong Kong 100 Ultra Trail® Race | 100 kilometers | January 14, 2017 | website

Italy

Friuli-Venezia Giulia

S1 TRAIL – LA CORSA DELLA BORA | 57 kilometers | January 06, 2017 | website

Spain

Valencian Community

GR10-Xtrem Valencia Ultra Trail | 93 kilometers | January 14, 2017 | website

Sweden

82 km | 82 kilometers | January 15, 2017 | website

United Kingdom

Buckinghamshire

Country to Capital | 45 miles | January 14, 2017 | website

Derbyshire

Montane Spine Challenger | 108 miles | January 14, 2017 | website

Montane Spine Race | 268 miles | January 14, 2017 | website

USA

Arizona

50K | 50 kilometers | January 07, 2017 | website

California

50 miler | 50 miles | January 14, 2017 | website

Avalon Benefit 50 Mile Run | 50 miles | January 07, 2017 | website

Pacifica Foothills Trail Run 50K | 50 kilometers | January 14, 2017 | website

Steep Ravine 50 km | 50 kilometers | January 14, 2017 | website

Florida

100K | 100 kilometers | January 14, 2017 | website

100M | 100 miles | January 14, 2017 | website

Croom Zoom 100 Km Run | 100 kilometers | January 07, 2017 | website

Croom Zoom 50 Km Run | 50 kilometers | January 07, 2017 | website

Hawaii

H.U.R.T. 100 Mile Endurance Run | 100 miles | January 14, 2017 | website

Idaho

Wilson Creek Frozen 50k | 50 kilometers | January 14, 2017 | website

Illinois

Frozen Gnome 50K | 50 kilometers | January 07, 2017 | website

Iowa

Tripple D Winter Ultramarathon Run | 50 kilometers | January 15, 2017 | website

Louisiana

Wild Azalea Trail Challenge 50 | 50 miles | January 07, 2017 | website

Maryland

PHUNT 50K | 50 kilometers | January 14, 2017 | website

Michigan

Yankee Winter Trail 50K | 50 kilometers | January 07, 2017 | website

New Jersey

Watchung Winter Ultras Trail 50k | 50 kilometers | January 07, 2017 | website

North Carolina

Salem Lakeshore Frosty 50k | 50 kilometers | January 07, 2017 | website

Salem Lakeshore Frosty 50k Relay | 50 kilometers | January 07, 2017 | website

Salem Lake Shore Frosty Fifty | 50 kilometers | January 07, 2017 | website

Weymouth Woods 100k Trail Run | 100 kilometers | January 14, 2017 | website

Oklahoma

Ouachita Switchbacks 50K | 50 kilometers | January 14, 2017 | website

South Carolina

Harbison 50K | 50 kilometers | January 07, 2017 | website

Tennessee

Swampstomper 50k | 50 kilometers | January 15, 2017 | website

Texas

Bandera 100km | 100 kilometers | January 07, 2017 | website

Bandera 50km | 50 kilometers | January 07, 2017 | website

Big Bend 50 | 50 kilometers | January 15, 2017 | website

West Virginia

Frozen Sasquatch Trail 50k | 50 kilometers | January 07, 2017 | website

Wisconsin

Frozen Otter Ultra Trek – 32 Miles | 32 miles | January 14, 2017 | website

Frozen Otter Ultra Trek – 64 Miles | 64 miles | January 14, 2017 | website

Tuscobia Winter Ultramarathon 150 Mile Run | 150 miles | January 06, 2017 | website

Tuscobia Winter Ultramarathon 35 Mile Run | 35 miles | January 07, 2017 | website

Tuscobia Winter Ultramarathon 75 Mile Run | 75 miles | January 07, 2017 | website

02:42:05 Close

02:47:07

ITunes http://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/talk-ultra/id497318073

Stitcher You can listen on iOS HEREAndroid HERE or via a web player HERE

Libsyn – feed://talkultra.libsyn.com/rss

Website – talkultra.com

The Coastal Challenge 2017 Preview on IRUN4ULTRA

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The Coastal Challenge is multi-day race over 6-days starting in the southern coastal town of Quepos, Costa Rica and finishing at the stunning Drake Bay on the Osa Peninsula. Considered by many an ultimate multi-day running experience, it challenges even the most experienced runner.

The 2017 The Coastal Challenge is just weeks away from starting. Runners from all over the world will arrive in San Jose and then travel to the start in Quepos for the 13th edition. And what a line-up the race has… Reigning ladie’s champion, Ester Alves is back along with Elisabet Barnes, Anna Comet and Veronica Bravo. For the men, Jason Schlarb, Sondre Amdahl, Chema Martinez, Tom Owens and Vicente Juan Garcia Beneito head up a quality line up.

Read all about it on IRUN4ULTRA HERE

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Marathon des Sables 2016 #MDS2016 Race Preview

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MDS, Marathon des Sables, The Toughest Race in the World… whatever you want to call it, the 31st edition is just around the corner. Think about it, 30-years. It’s quite incredible how this race has grown and has become ‘the’ multi-day race to do irrespective of experience. It was the first and is still the best race offering an ultimate adventure for novice and experienced runner.

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It’s more than a race. It’s an experience, it’s escape and it’s a challenge. The combination of self-sufficiency, life in bivouac and running 250-km’s through the heat of the Sahara is something that those that have experienced it will never forget. It is the story of life, a story of men and women who have come to the heart of the desert to rid themselves of the superficial to keep only the essentials and get in touch with their true selves.

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“What concerns me the most is the runners’ safety, and our capacity to ensure rapid medical intervention and emergency health evacuation. The weather is another worry, but unfortunately totally out of our hands.” – Patrick Bauer

For the past three decades, some 19,000 runners have signed up for this experience, so, with the imminent running of the 2016 edition, it’s fair to say that race will see a great number of participants returning.

To summarise the impact on participants over 30 years:

(statistics provided by MDS media team/ official press documentation)
  • 30-40% are returning,
  • 70% are international,
  • 30% are French,
  • 17% are women
  • and 45% are veterans thus confirming that you are never too old to take part!

2016 will see 1200 runners participate, a huge increase from 1986 when only 23 runners took part.

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“The desert strips you bare, all the more so on a race like this. Values like sharing, solidarity, and respect for differences and cultures are omnipresent. So of course, friendships develop between the brothers and sisters of the desert who have no more barriers or boundaries and are all united to achieve the same goal.” – Patrick Bauer

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Lasting six days’ participants must be self-sufficient carrying everything they need in a pack. Water is provided but rationed and a tent (bivouac) is provided each evening that must be shared with seven other participants.

The 2016 edition of the race will be 257-km’s offering a series of challenges that will test the mind and body in equal measure.

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“We try to convey happiness, enthusiasm and positive thinking through what we do and the sense of belonging is particularly intense for the runners, almost tribal, after ten days of sharing the adventure and fulfilling the same dream. Another thing I’d say was very important and a big part of the marathon’s success is the security and care that we bring the runners. The average age of participants is about forty, and most of them have children and have opted for a mishap-free adventure. In any case, when your family is far away, you count on quality organization.” – Patrick Bauer

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The Route

On a course punctuated by difficulties, competitors will get to see all of the Sahara’s different facets. Runners will have to cross ergs (dune fields), djebels (mountains), stony plateaus, dried-up lakes and oueds in which only sand flows, as well as oases, nomad camps, and traditional, rammed-earth villages. The desert has its secret gardens and those taking part in MARATHON DES SABLES will be lucky enough to contemplate them as a recompense for their efforts.

Stage 1 – 10th April

12km of majestic dunes kick off the race anddunes conclude the stage for the last 3km before competitors reach the bivouac. In-between, runners will have the time to appreciate the difficulty of making their way down a sandy oued and crossing a ghost village. Although not confirmed, I would anticipate that the Erg Chebbi Dunes may start the 2016 race. These dunes finished the 2015 edition on the charity stage. This will most definitely mean a longer transfer from the airport to the start of the race and these dunes are tough! “The dunes of Erg Chebbi reach a height of up to 150 meters in places and altogether spans an area of 50 kilometers from north to south and up to 5–10 kilometers from east to west lining the Algerian border.”

Stage 2 – 11th April

A long stage, with a wide variety of terrains. The standard dunes will be accompanied by stony plateaus where time stands still, rammed-earth villages inhabited by courageous souls farming arid land, and some steep djebels. As beautiful as it is difficult.

Stage 3 – 12th April

MARATHON DES SABLES will merit its name on this stage. The first part will go fast but, before the 1st check point the dunes will emerge… and then carry on, with more before and after the 2nd check point and a few more before the bivouac. The desert will go up and down with a slight climb before some slopes of over 20% that will put it all into perspective.

Stage 4 – 13/14th April

Known as “the long one” by old hands, this is the most testing part of the race, where you really need to manage your energy. The list of remarkable sites along this stage is particularly long. It’s the kind of stage that made MDS’s reputation. In less than 35 hours, runners’ minds and bodies will have had their fill. Running through the sand at night under the stars teaches all of them about humility. No one emerges from this long pilgrimage unchanged.

Stage 5 – 15th April

The Marathon stage. For those who thought they’d seen it all, get ready for a revelation. This entirely new route will take you through some splendid sites and end in a battle for the leading places. The less hurried will take their time to admire the landscapes. A lot more dunes and hills for 42.2km.

Stage 6 – 16th April – SOLIDARITY UNICEF legs

This obligatory stage is timed but does not count in the MDS ranking. You have to cross the finish line to feature in the ranking of the 31st MDS and receive a finisher’s medal. When they reach the small village in which the final finish line is located, competitors, sponsors and families signed up on this stage will make up the caravan and be able to appreciate the beauty of the landscape, all wearing the colours of UNICEF, which supports projects for impoverished children. This stage is mostly a chance to reflect on the experience of this amazing human adventure, and raise awareness of solidarity before returning to civilization.

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ONES TO WATCH AT MDS 2016

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Elisabet Barnes is the defending champion and has become a dominant force in the world of multi-day running. She followed MDS victory in 2015 with victory in Oman and placed 2nd lady at the recent The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica. Recent life changes have impacted on Elisabet’s preparation for the 2016 edition of the race but she knows the desert, she knows the sand and she knows how to race over multiple days.

PRE RACE INTERVIEW WITH ELISABETH BARNES HERE

“I have a lot more experience than I had in 2012. I do train a little more, but it’s really that I understand more about pushing myself further and how to manage my food and water. My bag was also a lot lighter than in 2012, my 2015 bag only weighed 7 kilos compared to 11 kilos in 2012.”

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Fernanda Maciel is a newbie to the Sahara and multiple day racing despite victory at the 2013 Everest Trail Race. One thing is for sure, the heat should not be a problem for the Brazilian ultra runner. An experienced competitor, Fernanda recently spent a long period of time at altitude in an effort to set a ‘FKT’ (fastest known time) on Aconcagua. Something she achieved! Her success at races such as UTMB, Transgrancanaria and Ultra-Trail Mt Fuji will almost certainly mean that she will be a force to be reckoned with.

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Nathalie Maculair will without doubt shake things up at the 2016 edition. Her results speak for themselves and her ability to run fast, climb, handle technical trail will (and quite rightly so) intimidate her competition. Nathalie has raced well at Transvulcania, become a world trail champion and also won the ridiculously tough, Grand Raid de la Reunion (Diagonale des Fous). This will be Nathalie’s first multi-day race but she has raced in ‘Raids’ before. Her small size will without doubt be a huge disadvantage in the early stages.  A wife and mother, this may well be the ultimate escape for her.

“Given my small size, transporting 6-7 kg will be quite a challenge. But I’ve already run with a large bag on multisport raids. I enjoy the period when you prepare the bag and start picturing yourself on the race and thinking about what you’ll need. Once I’m in that phase, part of me is already there.”

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Laurence Klein has won the race multiple times (2007, 2011 and 2012), and knows the sand and the race better than anyone else. You van never rule her out! In recent years’ things have not gone to plan in the big sand pit, but Laurence is back once again, that can only mean one thing; she believes she can win!

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Liza Howard ran MDS last year and placed 16th which does not reflect her ability. She has real experience of ultra running as she proved with victory at Leadville 100 in late 2015 (she also won Leadville in 2010) and I am sure that she learnt valuable lessons in the 2015 edition of MDS that will only make her stronger and more resilient in 2016.

Aziz Raji a name I initially missed but a hot contender for the podium after great runs at Trans Atlas Marathon and in Oman.

Meghan Arbogast is another USA based runner that has all the credentials and history to make a real impact in the dunes and the hard packed sand of the Sahara. A fast runner, particularly over 100km, Meghan’s race history dates back to 1996 and is compulsive reading.

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Natalia Sedykh placed 3rd last year and like Elisabet Barnes was an unknown entity. She had a steely grit and determination and I can’t help but think that 1-year on, she will come to the race meticulously prepared with just one objective; overall victory!

Ladies to watch:

Frederica Boifava, Annick Ballot, Gweanelle Coupon, Elise Delannoy, Sophie Laversanne, Claire Price, Holly Zimmermann, Maree Jesson and more.

The MEN

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Rachid El Morabity has won the race three times, is defending champion, has local knowledge and is the man to beat, need I say more?

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Franco Colle is a surprise entry as he loves the mountains. He had an incredible 2015 racing on the Skyrunner World Series and by contrast he has won the epic and demanding, Tor des Geants. He has strength, technical ability and is used to carrying a pack in the mountains, this is his first MDS but don’t rule him out!

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Sondre Amdahl has been a revelation in recent years with a sting of world -class performances at UTMB, Western States, Transgrancanaria, UTMF and so on. He recently pulled out of the 2016 edition of Transgrancanaria and has then devoted himself to preparing for the Sahara. A fierce competitor, he will try his hardest day-after-day.

PRE RACE INTERVIEW WITH SONDRE HERE

“I’m not afraid of it, but I do have a great deal of respect for the race. I’m trying to prepare myself as best as I can, especially for the heat, sand and lack of food. I live in Norway, and it’s cold there right now, so I’ll spend some time in Spain and Morocco before the race.”

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Erik Clavery is the great French hope. He has said numerous times that MDS is a dream race and he has set his sights high.

“This weekend I set off to the dunes in western France once again with my 6.5 kg bag on my back. The hardest part will no doubt be getting used to the heat. It’s not easy to reproduce those conditions over here in the winter. So I work on my home trainer wearing a thermal jacket!”

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Carlos Sa has come close but never quite managed to smoke the MDS cigar. He placed 4th in 2012 and 7th in 2013. This year, Carlos has really set his sights on MDS and his recent run in Costa Rica at The Coastal Challenge was great training. We all know he can run in the heat as his 2013 victory at Badwater 135 confirms. I hope he makes the podium!

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Chema Martinez is a 2:08 marathon runner, he placed 6th at MDS last year and recently had a great run in Costa Rica at The Coastal Challenge. He’s a fun loving guy who loves to race and race fast. He made mistakes in 2015 and will look to put them right in 2016 – watch this space!

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Jason Schlarb is one of the USA’s top runners who has excelled at races such as UTMB. Just recently he skied (with 3 others) the Hardrock 100 course over 4-days. A world first and a huge achievement. Without doubt, MDS will be a huge learning curve for Jason but it’s a challenge he is embracing. He sees the race as one big adventure!

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The Moroccans

  • Aziz El Akad has been in the top 5 six times, so a repeat performance is highly likely.
  • Abdelkader El Mouaziz was 2nd last year and a super fast runner. He will be looking to oust Rachid for the top slot and he has the race to do it!
  • Samir Akhdar has never won MDS but has placed in the top 8 seven times.

Men to watch:

Jean-Sebastien Braun, Marco Olmo, Greg Dunning, Glenn McDougall, Alejandro Lopez Reyes, Ahmed Tahiri, Mohamed Faraj, Marco Pajusco, Juan Manuel Cortes and more.

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Crazy Statistics of the MDS

“The logistics are a big headache and we organize every last detail in advance! We’re a village of 2,000 people that has to be set up and dismantled every days and needs to be self-sufficient in energy, food, water and fuel. As one of my friends says, ‘Let’s expect the worst because the best will never surprise us!’ We also benefit from the infallible support of the Royal Moroccan Army, which makes available about 25 6WD military trucks to transport all of our equipment.” – Patrick Bauer

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▪    150 volunteers to supervise the race,

▪    450 general support staff,

▪    120,000 liters of bottled mineral water,

▪    300 Berber and Saharan tents,

▪    120 all-terrain vehicles and trucks,

▪    2 Squirrel helicopters and 1 Cessna plane,

▪    8 Transavia ‘MDS special’ commercial planes,

▪    30 buses,

▪    4 dromedaries,

▪    1 incinerator lorry for burning waste,

▪    5 quad bikes to monitor race environment and safety,

▪    72 medical staff,

▪    2.3kms of Elastoplast,

▪    12,200 compresses,

▪    6,000 painkillers,

▪    150 liters of disinfectant,

▪    1 editing bus,

▪    5 cameras,

▪    1 satellite image station,

▪    10 satellite telephones,

▪    30 computers, fax and internet,

▪    18,000 competitors since 1986

▪    30% returning competitors, 70% international, 30% French,
17% women, 45% veterans,
30% in teams,
10% walkers,
90% alternate walking and running,

▪    14 km/hr.: average maximum speed, 3 km/hr.: average minimum speed,

▪    15 years of age for the youngest competitor and the oldest, 83!

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30 Years of the MDS

1986 – Michel GALLIEZ (FRANCE) – Christiane PLUMERE (FRANCE)

1987 – Bernard GAUDIN (FRANCE) – Marie-Ange MALCUIT (FRANCE)

1988 – Bernard GAUDIN (FRANCE) – Marie-Ange MALCUIT (FRANCE)

1989 – Hassan SEBTAOUI (FRANCE) – Marie-Claude BATTISTELLI (FRANCE)

1990 – Hassan SEBTAOUI (FRANCE) – Claire GARNIER (FRANCE)

1991 – Hassan SEBTAOUI (FRANCE) – Monique FRUSSOTE (FRANCE)

1992 – Mohamed BENSALAH (MOROCCO) – Monique FRUSSOTE (FRANCE)

1993 – Mohamed BENSALAH (MOROCCO) – Irina PETROVNA (RUSSIA)

1994 – André DERKSEN (RUSSIA) – Valentina LIAKHOVA (RUSSIA)

1995 – André DERKSEN (RUSSIA) – Béatrice REYMANN (FRANCE)

1996 – André DERKSEN (RUSSIA) – Anke MOLKENTHIN (GERMANY)

1997 – Lahcen AHANSAL (MOROCCO) – Rosanna PELLIZZARI (ITALY)

1998 – Mohamad AHANSAL (MOROCCO) – Rosanna PELLIZZARI (ITALY)

1999 – Lahcen AHANSAL (MOROCCO) – Lisa SMITH (USA)

2000 – Lahcen AHANSAL (MOROCCO) – Pascale MARTIN (FRANCE)

2001 – Lahcen AHANSAL (MOROCCO) – Franca FIACCONI (ITALY)

2002 – Lahcen AHANSAL (MOROCCO) – Simone KAYSER (LUXEMBOURG)

2003 – Lahcen AHANSAL (MOROCCO) – Magali JUVENAL (FRANCE)

2004 – Lahcen AHANSAL (MOROCCO) – Simone KAYSER (LUXEMBOURG)

2005 – Lahcen AHANSAL (MOROCCO) – Simone KAYSER (LUX)

2006 – Lahcen AHANSAL (MOROCCO) – Géraldine COURDESSE (FRANCE)

2007 – Lahcen AHANSAL (MOROCCO) – Laurence KLEIN (FRANCE)

2008 – Mohamad AHANSAL (MOROCCO) – Touda DIDI (MOROCCO)

2009 – Mohamad AHANSAL (MOROCCO) – Touda DIDI (MOROCCO)

2010 – Mohamad AHANSAL (MOROCCO) – Monica AGUILERA (SPAIN)

2011 – Rachid EL MORABITY (MOROCCO) – Laurence KLEIN (FRANCE)

2012 – Salameh AL AQRA (JORDAN) – Laurence KLEIN (FRANCE)

2013 – Mohamad AHANSAL (MOROCCO) – Meghan HICKS (USA)

2014 – Rachid ELMORABITY (MOROCCO) – Nikki KIMBALL (USA)

2015 – Rachid ELMORABITY (MOROCCO) – Elisabet Barnes (SWE)

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A brief history of the MDS

1984: At 28 years of age, Patrick Bauer decided to make for the Sahara to try to traverse a 350km expanse of uninhabited desert, on foot, alone, where he wouldn’t come into contact with a single village, oasis or watering place. Totally self-sufficient, with a rucksack weighing 35kg and containing water and food, he set off on a journey that was to last 12 days. It was the starting point of what was to become the MARATHON DES SABLES.

1986: The creation of the first MDS in the Moroccan Sahara. The 23 pioneers who took the start never imagined that their footprints would mark the start of a legendary event, which has today become a must among the major adventure sport meets. The creation of a non-mechanical competition in the Moroccan sands offers adventure runners a wealth of new prospects.

1987: Creation of the MDS logo: the face of a runner covered by a keffiyeh, the eyes protected by a pair of sunglasses and the pipette from the runner’s water container clenched between the teeth.

1989: 170 competitors take the start of the race.

1991: The gulf drama puts the MDS at a disadvantage and the financial partners withdraw. Fortunately, some runners answer the call. For these competitors, the true victory lies in meeting athletes from different backgrounds and their communion in the desert around the same goal. Sport proves once again that it can bring people together and create bonds.

1992: One and the same regulation for everyone. This year sees the establishing of unexpected draconian tests, to ensure that each participant properly transports all his or her gear from one end of the course to the other. A 30-point charter is drawn up.

First participation by the Moroccan Lahcen Ahansal

1994: Arrival of the Doc Trotters at the event.

1995: 10th anniversary. Since the start, over 1,500 men and women have left their footprint and their passion in the desert. Installation of water-pump for the inhabitants of the village of Ighef n’rifi (South of Er-Rachidia) – an idea by competitor Gilles Flamant and backed by Rolland Barthes and Patrick Bauer. Its success is to be repeated again and again

1996: First participation by Mohamed, a younger sibling of Ahansal. The two Moroccan brothers set off together and rank 4th and 5th respectively.

1997: This year heralds the start of the Ahansal saga. Morocco is honored with Lahcen’s first victory. He beats his two pursuers by nearly 30 minutes, despite them being international long-distance running champions.

1999: A mobile hospital on the MDS comes into being. There are around thirty practitioners on the ground, with doctors and nurses joining the caravan. A dedicated helicopter and ten all-terrain vehicles track the competitors each day. On- board these vehicles there are doctors of course, as well as high-tech equipment. The village boasts a genuine field hospital.

2000: Internet puts in an appearance in the large MDS village. The organization decides to broadcast the texts and photos of the race live, day after day. The competitors can communicate with their nearest and dearest and receive messages of encouragement.

2001: For the first time the long leg, traditionally called “The 70”, exceeds the 80km barrier to reach 82km. The threshold of 240km is also surpassed since the 16th MARATHON DES SABLES spans 243km. Another first relates to the fact that there are no Moroccans on the podium this year.

2002: This edition is punctuated by a sandstorm, involving headwinds, which lasts the entire week. The doctors invent a machine for ‘low pressure cleansing’ to rinse out the runners’ eyes. Despite the difficult conditions, there are few retirements to report as the wind considerably reduces the temperature.

2005: The Luxembourg runner Simone Kayser is the first woman to win 3 MARATHON DES SABLES. For this 20th edition, the total number of runners exceeds 700 for the first time, with no fewer than 777 runners taking the start.

2006: A drying wind and very high humidity levels cause damage to the runners’ bodies. Despite additional allocations of water, a whole series of retirements ensues. There are a total of 146 retirements ultimately, which equates to double that of the previous record… Race management decides to shorten the long leg by over 10km given how tired the runners seem.

2008: The Solidarité MDS association is created. The aim: to develop projects to assist children and disadvantaged populations in the domains of health, education and sustainable development in Morocco. 

2009: MDS is disrupted by flooding and the 1st and 6th stages are not able to take place. To avoid the flood zones, the organization is obliged to improvise new legs on a day-to-day basis. In this way, the edition goes down in legend for its 3rd leg, which is the longest ever contested: 92km of sand, loose stones and rocks… The leg even sees the retirement of Lahcen Ahansal… At the prize giving the 2 winners admit to having competed in their hardest MDS. However, it was also the shortest: 202km.

2010: For its 25th edition, the number of participations reaches a record high of 1,013 participants. It is to be the longest MARATHON DES SABLES. It spans 250 kilometers with a course considered by former entrants to be the most difficult ever organized.

2012: A dramatic turn of events on the longest leg as the then leader in the overall standing, Rachid El Morabity (MAR) injures himself one kilometer from the finish. Medical examinations reveal a serious muscular lesion in the quadriceps. After over five years on the 2nd or 3rd step of the podium, Jordanian Salameh Al Aqra secures the title.

2013: 1,027 competitors on the start line make this a new participation record. New feature: a final “Charity” stage sponsored by UNICEF and traversing the Merzouga dunes round off the race. Sports wise, Mohamad Ahansal and Megan Hicks are the champions of the 231.5km event. On a human level, all of the finishers pull off their crazy bet.

2014: 2011 winner, Moroccan Rachid El Morabity (MAR) wins the overall ranking and takes Mohamad Ahansal’s crown. In the women’s category, another American stamps her mark, Nikki Kimball. The French revelation is one Michaël Gras, 22 years of age, 8th overall and top Frenchman. A major athletics star, Moroccan Hicham El Guerrouj lines up to take the start of Saturday’s Unicef Charity leg.

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Transgrancanaria 2016 – Elite Press Conference

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Many of the top elite runners assembled in Maslpalomas, Gran Canaria yesterday evening for the Transgrancanaria 2016 elite press conference.

In the past few years, Transgrancanaria has grown as the first big European race that in many ways sets the scene for what is to come later in the year.

The 2016 edition of the race is no different.

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2015 champion Gediminas Grinius is back and looking to defend his crown but he is going to have a tough job. He said:

“I feels no pressure now but as I stand on the start, the tension will come and then will be soon released. I am here to perform to the best of my ability.”

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Seth Swanson from the USA is considered to be a dark horse, his repeat 2nd places at the past editions of Western States and 4th at UTMB not only means that he has pace to run fast but that he can also climb and descend.

“I’m really happy to be back in Europe and the opportunity to run across an island, from the top to the bottom, is one of the unique attraction of the Transgrancanaria race.”

Julien Chorier, Yan Long Fei, Antoine Guillon, Didrik Hermansen, Jonas Buud, Tim Tollefson, Sondre Amdahl, Andy Symonds, Seb Chaigneau, Yeray Duran are just some of the other top elite men who will contest the finish line on Saturday outside the Palais de Congress in Maspalomas.

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The ladies race has less depth but two time champion Nuria Picas is back and of course a hot favourite for victory. Last years 2nd placed lady, Caroline Chaverot is also one to watch:

“I want to have a good race, a pleasant journey and I hope I don’t get lost… last year I made a couple of mistakes.”

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The USA’s Angela Shartel was also present and excited to be racing in Europe for the first time.

Dong Li, Uxue Fraile, Manuela Vilaseca, Lisa Borzani, Anrea Huser and Silvia Trigueros are also hot contenders for the top-3 podium places.

Racing starts at 2300 (local time) on Friday March 4th

Read a full race preview HERE