Covid-19, lockdown, social distancing and so on has resulted in so many crazy and inventive ideas. Virtual running and racing have never been so popular as it has provided an opportunity to daily focus on a larger goal that one can undertake with others.
Race directors, runners, shops, stores, magazines and so on have created opportunities.
In Norway, Runners World NO have a series of events, ‘Trail Challenge,’ ‘100 Minutter,’ 5 Sommernattsløpet 5k,’ ‘Soomer Maraton,’ and ’Til Himmels Race.’ The latter translates, ‘To the Skies’ or ‘Sky is the Limit!’
Fueled by the challenge of gaining as much vertical meters as possible in one month, Elisabeth Borgersen and Abelone Lyng, both decided to set themselves a challenge within a challenge. How many meters could they gain in just one day!
Initial plans were to use a ski slope and gain permission/ access to use the chairlift down, therefore concentrating on vertical meters without the impact of running down. However, due to Covid-19 this was not possible.
“If we were going to do it, then we would have to run down too,” Lyng said in advance of the challenge. With a little research, they found a ski slope, pretty much void of snow, the ‘Wyllerløpa’ part of the ‘Wyller Express’ series of slopes.
‘The Wyllerstua’ has a car park and we have immediate access to the slope,’ said Lyng. ‘We plan to set up our own aid station and then we can go up and down as many times as we wish.’
On the map below, Lyng and Borgersen would use the route marked 11. With 300m vertical gain for each ascent, the distance would be approximately 1.3km up and 1.3km down.
May 21st had been set aside by Runners World as ‘the day’ to see who could gain the most vertical meters.
‘At 8848m, Everest is a logical and mind-blowing target to aim for, so, that is the dream goal. However, for me, I think Mont Blanc at 4810m or Mount Kilimanjaro at 5895m is more realistic,’ Lyng explained. ‘Elisabeth on the other hand has the potential to climb to the top of the world, albeit virtually!’
It was an early start to the day with the duo waking at 0300 and meeting at the Wyllerstua at 0400. Gladly, the day was already starting and the need for a head-torch was not required. One of the advantages of being in Norway.
At 0430 they were off, starting steady, the plan was to spend as much time together as possible, each pushing the other.
Calculations allowed for 2000m every 4 hours and therefore, a projected Tim for 9000m+ could be estimated at 18-hours.
It’s easy to get pre-occupied by the vertical gain and the lofty, albeit virtual, summit of Everest at 8848m. But what goes up, must come down, and the impact and stress of descending a 300m slope would almost certainly have a far greater physical impact than the vertical meters.
The early hours passed and soon they were taking the first of many breaks. Nothing too lengthy. Just an opportunity to consume calories, hydrate and then push on.
3300m+ was accumulated with relative ease in well under 8-hours and the challenge was starting to fall into place. Borgersen looked solid, powering up the climb but maybe more impressively, still running down the 300m/ 1.3km slope with what appeared to be relative ease.
Lyng was holding the pace but openly admitted, ‘Everything is fine, it just hurts everywhere in my body, but that’s part of the game.’
The height of Mont Blanc was achieved, and that milestone was rewarded with a smile. The duo continued to motivate each other, almost metronomic in the ascent but Borgersen always looking more at ease on the descent.
With 10-hours elapsed, Borgersen was resolute that today was the day to achieve Everest. She was hurting but it was easier to push on. The thought of coming back and trying again was too daunting. No stranger to long-distances and vertical gain, Borgersen has pedigree, she has completed TDS and the 90km Mont-Blanc placing 6thin both. She also placed 8th at MIUT.
For Lyng, she was in new territory, far exceeding any previous vertical gain for one day. A lover of the mountains, Lyng’s recent successes have come with multi-day racing, placing 4th at The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica and winning, The Ice Ultra.
‘I was getting very tired and I was well aware that the ability to continue on for many more hours would result in injury. I therefore set the target of Mount Kilimanjaro at 5895m. But I also had a desire for 6000m.’
Lyng achieved Mount Kilimanjaro in 12 hours and then the 6000m mark in 12-hours 37-minutes with a total distance of 54km. Her day was done.
Borgersen once again arrived at the car park. It was close to 6pm. But there was no hesitation, just a brief chat and then an about turn to once again head upwards.
‘I have some work left to do, but if all goes well, I think I can be finished before 10pm.’
The evening passed and gladly, Borgersen’s husband arrived with pizza offering a welcome break, refuel and then the final push. Darkness was slowly starting to arrive as the goal was achieved after 77km’s.
‘I love to challenge myself to see what I am actually capable of. Going up and down the same 300m slope close to 18-hours (17h 40m) was for sure a big challenge. But to finally reach Everest, 8880m to be exact, I am pretty darn proud of that!’
2020 will be remembered by us all as an Annus horribilis due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Amidst the gloom, the isolation, quarantine, the changes of routine, the loss of work, the disruption to life and the horrendous death toll, it is possible to still find reward and growth. It may come in the strangest of ways, one just needs to be creative.
The 2019 Ultra Mirage El Djerid 100k #UMED rolls closer. Now in its 3rd edition, this 100km desert race based in Tozeur, Tunisia, North Africa brings 300 runners from all over the world to experience something very special in a unique environment.
The 1st edition had just 60 runners from 12 countries, for 2018, these numbers escalated to over 150 and a remarkable 20+ countries for 2018 and now 300 will toe the line.
A single-stage race that takes runners across a wide diversity of terrain, the start is at Mos Espa, famous as a movie set and tourist attraction as it was the home of Luke Skywalker in the original Star Wars movie. The film set still exists and provides all involved a great opportunity for a photo before or after the race!
Soft sand, small dunes, rocks, dried river beds and multiple oasis, participants have 20-hours to finish the race with very specific deadlines to reach each of the checkpoints which will be between 15-20km apart. Starting at 0700, the race concludes at 0300.
Offering 4 ITRA points and equal prize money for the top female and male athletes, the 2019 edition of UMED looks set to be a great race: #1 EUR 3000, #2 EUR 1500, #3 EUR 500.
2018 Champions, Rachid El Morabity and Elisabet Barnes return to defend their crowns, can they beat the course records? Mohamed El Morabity has a faster time from 2017, (08:48:11) but the race route was very different! Elisabet Barnes set the 2018 record, 10:12:12. However, the 2019 route does have approximately 20% course change, and in the words of Race Director, Amir Ben Gacem:
“From cp3 at 50km is identical to last year: straight long lines in the desert. The first part will be the same for the first 20km across Chott el Gharsa. But between 20km and 50km we are probably changing the route to skip the road section in favour of plain desert. It will be more difficult as there will be no shade at all except at check points, and there will be more soft sand.”
Rachid is the outright favourite and little more needs to be said, he is the desert king. Rachid’s brother, Mohamed, will also return. The duo, both desert specialists, encountered difficult races in 2018 – the intense heat challenging them. Rachid collapsed at the finish line with dehydration and exhaustion, his brother making the podium after a very difficult final 20km. As desert experts, Rachid a multiple champion at Marathon des Sables, Mohamed equally a desert expert, but often in the shadow of his older brother, they are without doubt favorites for the 2019 title.
Sondre Amdahl from Norway will also return after making the podium in 2018 and nearly upstaging the desert king, Rachid. The final 10km really was a spectacular battle as they traded run stride and cadence to be champion. Sondre has raced at Marathon des Sables where he placed in the top 10. Certainly, the single-stage format and 100km distance will suit him as he proved last-year, however, he has been injured recently and therefore his form may well be below his own exacting standards.
Christophe Le Saux, France, also toes the line. He is a long distance expert, has a great history with MDS and he loves the desert. The men’s race will be interesting in 2019!
The UK’s Ben Whitfield will not be a name you know, but mark my words, you will after the 2019 UMED!
Two-time Marathon des Sables champion, Elisabet Barnes, will head up the women’s race and after placing 4th overall, setting a CR in 2018, she is without doubt the favorite. A solid June and July saw Elisabet clock some great training miles which she has tried to maintain throughout August.
Bouchra Lundgren Eriksen will push Elisabet for the victory, a very accomplished marathon runner and podium finisher at MDS, she may well be the one person who challenges the MDS Queen, Elisabet, for victory.
Oriane Dujardin placed 2nd in 2018 and ran a solid and consistent race. With more experience and one year of training, she will once again contend the podium.
Rebecca Ferry has experience in multi-day racing and ultra-running, particularly at the 100km distance. She recently ran CCC and DNF’d, however, she has kept her powder dry since. If she has a good day, she will definitely contend the podium.
Chefia Hendaoui is the female Tunisian hope and she made the podium in 2018 – can she place higher?
As in any race, nothing is guaranteed. As the distance takes its toll, the soft-sand wears the runners down and the heat exhausts, anything can happen. Stay tuned for the action as it unfolds in Tunisia. No doubt, some names will shine that are not mentioned here.
One thing is for sure, the desert, Tunisia and the UMED organisation will provide a special experience for all.
Runners will start to arrive in Tunisia from Thursday 28th and transfer to Tozeur. Friday is registration and briefing and then the action starts Saturday, 0700.
You can obtain more specific information from the race website, HERE
The 2019 The Coastal Challenge today came to an end on the stunning beaches of Drake Bay on the Osa Peninsula.
Pere Aurell and Ida Nilsson are the champions after a masterclass of multi-day running. The duo ran amazing races and Ida obliterated the 2018 record of Ragna Debats and in the process set 4 female stage records and placed 2nd overall. Holly Page set two stage records also.
The 22km final day is a stunning day, starting and finishing on Bahia Drake, the loop is like a mini Coastal Challenge all compressed into one stage. Waterfalls, rainforest, plantations, dusty fire trail, water crossings, beaches, coves and the stunning Pacific as a backdrop as the runners make the way to the finish.
The dynamic of the day was the staggered start for the top-6 after the mass start at 0700.
They were released as follows:
6. Ragna Debats 07:01:00
5. Holly Page 07:03:00
4. Jorge Paniagua 07:06:00
3. Marcus Scotney 07:10:00
2. Ida Nillson 07:15:00
1. Pere Aurell 07:21:00
The race was on between Jorge and Marcus and in the early stages, Jorge opened a gap on the technical trail. However, as soon as the trail became more runnable, Marcus unleashed his natural fast pace and secured his 3rd overall on GC.
After a tough stage 5, Pere was keen to make sure he won the 2019 TCC and by the waterfall, he had caught Ida for the 6-minute time gap. He then ran to the line and secured his victory ahead of the incredible Ida, who placed 2nd overall and dominated the women’s race.
Ida won 4-stage CR bonus’ worth $250 each and $2500 for a new CR – That is $3500 for her week in Costa Rica.
Holly Page was the first to cross the line holding off the top-5 runners and catching all those before her – in the process she set a new stage CR and in addition to her female CR on stage 4, she netted $500. On timing, Pere was the stage winner just missing Tom Evans 2018 stage-6 record. Marcus was 2nd and Holly 3rd.
The finish-line was full of emotion as an epic journey has come to an end. The 2019 TCC will go down in history for the incredible performances of all the runners, but the truly inspiring story his how the top-3 women placed in the top-6 overall, with Ida 2nd on the podium – truly epic!
For now though, it’s all about Pere and Ida celebrating victory. This evening, the awards will take place on the beach with a roaring camp fire. 2020 will see the 16th edition of the race and I am sure we can expect another spectacular race.
It was the longest day of the 2018 The Coastal Challenge and what a day! At 49km, it was only 2km more than day 3 but coming at this stage in the race, it is always a tough one.
Runners departed camp via bus for a short bus ride to the Sierpe river and then a ferry across to the other side with the arrival of daylight. At 6:15am, they were released.
Much of todays race is very runnable on wide gravel roads and much of that chat pre-stage was that it was ideal for Ida and Marcus. It’s great if you can run, but for many it’s a tough day. Technical forest sections break up the distance and then at 2/3rd of the race covered, the runners turn right on a loop around the peninsula, running through forest trails before finally dropping to the beach and taking a small boat from one side to the other. Once across the estuary, it is 9km’s to the line with the final sections on the beach to the stunning Drake Bay, a Unesco Heritage Site
It was a day of drama, with the main podium contenders all running close together to checkpoint. Notably, Jorge was running side-by-side with Pere at the head of the race. Ida chased and then Marcus. Just before the right turn for the loop around the peninsula, Pere made his move and pulled away from Jorge.
Behind, Ida chased and Marcus was looking strong and gaining time.
Holly Page was some way back but looking relaxed and comfortable in the intense heat.
At the peninsula. Pere was first in the boat and crossed with no sign of any other runners. Jorge and Ida arrived together and shared a boat. Minutes later, Marcus arrived. It was all going to come down to the final 9-km’s!
What happened next, could not have been predicted. Pere struggled with exhaustion, the heat and sickness from a restless night before. He was reduced to a walk. Ida on the other hand went from strength-to-strength.
Ida left Jorge, pursued Pere, passed him and once again won the stage outright obliterating the previous female stage CR set by Ester Alves by almost 45-minutes – it was an incredible performance.
Marcus bided his time. Closed on Jorge and the duo fought an epic battle to the line. Marcus was 2nd just over 30-seconds ahead of the Costa Rican runner.
Pere finally arrived 20-minutes after Ida – he looked broken!
With the final stage tomorrow, an epic battle will unfold between Jorge and Marcus for the final podium spot on GC. Also, Pere and Ida have a potential fight. Pere has a lead of 17-minutes, one would normally say that is more than enough. However, after today, anything can happen…!
Holly Page finished 2nd woman and Ragna Debats lost time in the closing miles due to a navigation error, however, she did finish 3rd on the stage.
Tomorrow’s stage is a loop of Drake Bay – it’s a stunning day that manages to encompass all the previous 5 days in one loop. The top 6-runners will depart after the main group.
The Coastal Challenge reaches new heights in 2019 celebrating 15-years of amazing racing.
The 14th edition completed in February 2018 at the stunning Drake Bay on the Osa Peninsula, was a record breaker! Yes, course records were broken daily and Tom Evans and Ragna Debats elevated the overall CR’s to a new level obliterating the 2017 records set by the UK’s Tom Owens and New Zealand’s Anna Frost.
Time never stands still and to make the 15th edition of TCC extra special, race director’s Rodrigo Carazo and Sergio Sanchez have confirmed a new incentive for the 2019 edition of the race.
Feel like a fast start to 2019? It comes no faster than the 15th edition of The Coastal Challenge!
We have already announced Lucy Bartholomew and Ida Nilsson, now the El Kott twins, Lina and Sanna! The twins been a revelation in 2018. They first made an appearance on the skyrunning circuit in 2016 and 2017 but it was really this year that the duo made an impact. They have raced all over the world, at times relentlessly, covering single-stage, multi-day and just recently an adventure race. The twins are going to love Costa Rica and the challenges that the race throws at them.
Lina speaks first…
What attracts you to Costa Rica?
Lina: The exotic environment! I’ve only been in jungle when I was little so that is very exciting!
Sanna: The nature differs so much from the Swedish, it is just totally different from what I am used to, so I am eager to explore the jungle and the beaches!
This is the 15th edition of the TCC, a special one – what do you know about the race?
Lina: That it is tough, humid and… tough. So tough I said it twice!
Sanna: I have heard stories from friends who have been running it before. And I have watched a few videos from previous races. It will for sure be a challenge!
Heat and humidity will play a major factor in the race, how do you plan to adapt?
Lina: I haven’t planned at all, going directly from low minus degrees in the Swedish winter with lots of skiing. May not be the prefect plan, but I think it’s almost impossible to adapt to those circumstances anyway…
Sanna: I don’t really have a plan to adapt to that. I’m by then in the middle of the ski season in Sweden, so there will be the opposite; cold and crispy days. But I think I can handle it.
Ragna Debats and Tom Evans set incredible course records in 2017. There is prize money available for a new CR in 2019 – does that motivate you? Can you break the record?
Lina: It’s mostly the challenge itself that motivates me. I’m not looking for breaking any record, but if I feel in good shape of course I would try to 😉
Sanna: That’s is such a fun carrot to catch. Though for me it will be really hard. I want to say YES I can break it. But this time, I doubt that. It is many flat parts, and with heat as a combination, it will not be my strongest side.
Multi-day racing brings many different challenges to a single-stage race – what are you most looking forward to? What are you most fearful of?
Lina: To discover new trails and places everyday! To get injured…
Sanna: That’s what I like with this race. I have done a few stage races before, and that gives me new chances every day. Motivation after another. I look forward to cross some rivers during the race, since I think it will be wanted! My biggest fear is dehydration, I have struggled with that on other races, and nothing I want to face again..
The elite line-up is incredible for 2019, you will need to be in the best shape, does that excite you?
Lina: That’s amazing! I’m really looking forward to race with these strong and inspiring people. Despite I’m now suffering with a knee injury myself, I really hope that I can recover well and start training properly before…
Sanna: It really motivates me to do good training for the races because of that. And it will be so exciting to compete against so strong athletes!
February is early in the season, what will your winter training look like, so you will be ready for February?
Lina: It’s usually a lot of snow where I live in Sweden so there will mostly be cross country skiing and skimo, but hopefully I’ll manage to squeeze in running everyday too!
Sanna: There will probably be a lot of cross country skiing, but I always run a few sessions a week. Maybe I’ll put in some flat faster sessions, to get the legs used to those parts. (I know they can climb already).
I am sure you have looked at past editions of the race, viewed the stages, the profile – it is a tough race that suits a rounded athlete. You need to be able to climb, descend, handle technical trail and run on the flat – where will your strengths be?
Lina: I’m definitely an uphill runner so I’m looking forward to those hills!
Sanna: My strengths.. hmm, I guess the diversity of it. That it is really variated, and definitely that it last for several days. Stage 4 might be my best day. Good elevation, everyones’ legs are a bit tired after three days of racing. I hope I still will have good speed.
What experience do you have of multi-day racing?
Lina: I have done Transalpine two times and Transrockies one time in duo-team with Sanna. A lot of suffering, a lot of happiness and memories! I also do adventure racing which is Non-stop racing for days with navigation, trekking, mountain biking and kayaking. So I’m quite used to being out for long.
Sanna: I have experience from both Adventure Racing (where you change diciplines between, running, trekking, mountain biking, kayak, and other sports, during several days, non-stop racing) and stage races. I’ve done TransAlpineRun two times, and TransRockiesRun, though together with Lina. This time will be the first multi-day racing as solo runner.
Racing starts very early in Costa Rica, with the sun! An early finish allows for relaxation on the beach, you can even have a beer – combining racing and relaxation is a key of TCC. It is a ‘Pura Vida’ race – tell us about your hopes and desires for the 2019 edition.
Lina: One of the best things is absolutely to take a swim after a run, and also to eat fresh fruit, so if I have got both of these I’m more than satisfied!
Sanna: A beer doesn’t appeal me, buth maybe a smoothie? I am excited for the fruits, and hope that they will taste sooo good. I hope we will have nice weather, but that means for me, some clouds on the sky. Otherwise it will be only suffer party.
What three music choices would sum up your racing style?
Lina: That’s a hard one since I never listen to music when I’m running… But if I’m in real race mode, some hard rock or up-tempo music for sure fits. I usually run in a steady pace all the race, so maybe some classic music would suit my style too?
Sanna: I’ll for sure choose Avicii. Any of his hits makes me always be a bit faster. Then some more sing along music tunes, but most likely pop, and in the finish line, Bobby McFerrin “don’t worry, be happy” for relax.
Tell us about your nutrition and hydrations strategies for the race?
Lina: I’ve done both eating too little, and eating too much on races. The key is HYDRATE with both water and electrolytes. Eat something little if hungry…
Sanna: I will probably have gels with me, and get fresh fruit, salty stuff and electrolytes on aid stations.
Tell us about key equipment such as shoes and apparel that you will use?
Lina: A loose thin tank top from GORE wear, either loose shorts or tight shorts, will try both on the race I guess. Light but steady shoes, probably All Out Crush 2 or Tough Mudder 2 from MERRELL. I really like to go light weight, but on long races and stage races it’s important to have some stability too.
Sanna: Gore Wear tank top and shorts, thin gococo sportwear socks (that never get blisters!), Merrell All Out Crush 2 and Ultimate Direction Halo vesta. There you have it!
Please list a summary of your career highlights for 2017 and 2018:
Winning Transalpine 2 years in a row with Sanna
Winning Expedition Oregon (Adventure race) in 58 hours with Team Leki/Merrell.
Winning Skyrace Comapedrosa and Olympus marathon.
To run on amazing places around the world, in Yading, China for example!
Complete the ELS2900 in Andorra 2017 with Sanna as the only female team.
Racing good and being in the top ranking of the Skyrunning series.
Being better and better on vertical races and manage to be on the podium on every one I entered.
Travelling between races in a van during the summer calling myself an elite athlete for the first time!
TransAlpineRun winners both 2017 and 2018
Second in Olympus Maraton and High Trail Vanoise, just one week in between. (where I did a multisport race).
Sprint with Sheila for third place at Comapedrosa in Andorra.
Winner of Hornindal Rundt in Norway 2017.
Winner together with TEAM LEKI/MERRELL in Expedition Oregon 2018
Totally 5th in the Skyrunner World Series 2018.
A few podium places on vertical races.
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, travelling 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 and the the 2018 edition HERE
Last year I finally got my hands on a pair of VJ Sport IRock 2 (HERE). I was blown away by pretty much everything about the shoes. The upper, the way they held one’s foot, the durability of the materials used, and the outsole was just incredible – the most amazing grip. The only reservation that I had, was how long I could run in these shoes… They are pretty minimal and although cushioned, the cushioning for me would probably only take me to 3-4 hours of running.
OCR World Champion and Skyrunner World Series Champion, Jonathan Albon, agreed. In some of the longer races, Trofeo Kima for example where the terrain is hard, rocky, muddy, has snow, maybe the odd glacier thrown in and when the male winning time is over 6-hours, although the IRock 2 was perfect on grip, the cushioning made a really long run like this tiring for the feet.
With Jon’s feedback, VJ Sport went back to the drawing board, took all the best elements of the IRock 2 and created a new shoe:
The king is dead, long live the king!
Let me just say in simple terms everything that was brilliant in the IRock 2 has been transferred to the new VJ XTRM and what VJ Sport have done, in my opinion, they have created the most perfect mountain running shoe for when the trails are demanding, rocky and throwing all sorts of variables at the runner.
So, what is new in the VJ XTRM.
Two new cushioning units have been added to the front and rear.
A full-length RockPlate.
A medium last.
A little extra room in the toe box.
As I mentioned, much of the IRock 2 crosses over. For example, the outsole is the amazing Butyl Rubber which for me offers the best grip I have encountered on any mountain shoe. The outsole studs are 6mm which offers a good compromise between grip on muddy/ wet trails and excellent grip on smooth and easy single-track.
At 250g for a standard UK8, the shoe is light and 4mm drop sits in a comfortable middle ground for the zero drop fanatics and those who like a more comfortable and relaxed 8mm drop.
Kevlar and Polyester make the upper and the IRock 2 has been the most durable shoe I have ever used, so, I don’t anticipate the VJ XTRM to be any different. There is also Fiberclass stability control.
Slipping one’s foot into the VJ XTRM one immediately feels the snug and precision fit. However, the slightly wider toe box is noticeable. Don’t get me wrong here, this is not a wide and spacious toe box, so, if that is what you personally need, this may well be not the shoe for you. Please remember though that this is a specific mountain/ skyrunning shoe that will be used on technical mountainous terrain, so, a shoe for this type of running should be precision.
Pulling the laces tight, the FITLOCK takes hold and provides the most secure and comfortable hold of my foot. It is the best I have tried, no question. The laces are excellent, they pull tight and stay tight.
The upper is a mix of materials and is extremely durable. Although it is too early to comment on longevity of the VJ XTRM upper, the materials and comparisons with the IRock 2 are very close. My IRock 2 have been through everything and are still going strong. The heel box has minimal padding but holds the foot secure and is extremely comfortable. The toe box is well protected and ideal for mountain terrain.
The colours of the upper are a little bright. They wouldn’t be my choice, I certainly loved the red & black combo of the IRock 2, but colours are just colours and after a good muddy run, the colours soon become muted.
Like the IRock 2, the VJ XTRM looks heavy, pick them up and you realise they are not, they are super-light!
The bottom of the shoe is what helps VJ Sport stand out amongst the competition and why they have such a following. The Butyl Rubber they use is the best outsole I have ever tested and on rock terrain, dry or wet, they are the most reassuring footwear ever! The 6mm studs are the same as on the IRock 2 and this is significant, the IRock 2 provided the best grip ever, so, to see this transferred over to the XTRM is superb.
The IRock 2 last-year was the best mountain shoe I have ever used. This has now been replaced by the VJ XTRM and for me, moving forward, I would always purchase the VJ XTRM and not the IRock 2. For me, VJ Sport may well have killed the IRock 2 because the VJ XTRM is so good.
To all intents and purposes, the IRock 2 and VJ XTRM are very similar shoes. One difference is 6mm drop for the IRock 2 and 4mm drop for the VJ XTRM, this may be a decision maker for some? However, the new additions to the VJ XTRM just make it a much more versatile shoe without compromising what made the IRock 2 great, no, superb!
The added cushioning doesn’t compromise feel for the ground, control, stability for faster shorter mountain running but what it does allow is more cushioning and comfort for longer runs.
The RockPlate is a no brainier, it is added protection and added comfort for little to no additional weight.
The new Fitlock holds the foot as well, if not better than the Fitlock on the IRock 2.
The toe box has been widened to allow for a little more room and toe splay when running longer but not at the compromise of precision and feel.
The upper is as the IRock 2 with Kevlar and outstanding durability.
The outsole is the same, 6mm studs in the amazing Butyl Rubber.
The additions make the VJ XTRM the perfect all-round mountain shoe be that for short or long outings. Whereas, the IRock 2 was a shoe that I personally would not want to be out in for much longer than 4-hours.
This is the best mountain running shoe I have ever used. For skyrunning, it is THE perfect shoe and for me, all other shoes that I test for that intended use will be compared to the VJ XTRM. Jonathan Albon’s influence can be felt in this shoe and I am sure his feedback with VJ Sport has been paramount in retaining all that was brilliant in the IRock 2 and then tweaking it to add what Jonathan and many other runners wanted; more cushioning, a RockPlate and a slightly wider toe box.
I personally am unable to find any negatives.
Obviously, the Butyl Rubber outsole works so well because it is soft and grippy, so, if you start running on roads and pavements, be aware, the outsole won’t last.
But the VJ XTRM is a formula 1 shoe and not a Ford Escort or similar. Maybe the VJ XTRM should make an appearance for those special runs or races?
However, if you are like me, I think the shoes are so awesome that if I am going to run anything technical, wet or dry, I want these shoes on my feet.
Episode 139 of Talk Ultra brings and we bring you a full and in-depth interview with Hector Haines who is having a great year in the Skyrunning Extreme Series. We also speak with Ragna Debats about the IAU World Trail Championships and her rise in the Skyrunner World Series. We have the news and Speedgoat is back!
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Anna Mae Flynn and Jim Walmsley set two new CR’s 6:18 and 5:04 respectively. Kelly Wolf and Brittany Peterson placed 2nd and 3rd for the ladies and Tim Tollefson and Dylan Bowman were 2nd and 3rd for the men.
Jan Margaret did it again, he followed up victory at the Dolomites SkyRace with victory here – a star of the future! Marco De Gasperi was 2nd and Run Ueda 3rd.
Laura Orgue won the race in 2016 and it looked like a repeat performance when she crested the summit with a strong lead, however, a stomach issue caused problems on the descent and Sheila Aviles passed for victory. Laura placed 2nd and Takako Takamura 3rd.
Jared Campbell and Gary Robbins completed in 56hrs 39min after a tough outing. Ikea Karrera set a stunning new FKT 47hrs 40min smashing Andrew Hamilton’s previous best.
Angeles Crest 100
Jerry Garcia and Rachel Ragona took respective victories ahead of Branden Bollweg and Dominic Grossman for the men and Serena Eley and Diana Treister for the ladies.
World Mountain Running Long Distance Champs
Petro Mamu took the top slot ahead of Francesco Puppi and Pascal Egli – 3:12, 3:14 and 3:18. Silvia Rampazzo took the ladies’ title ahead of Katie Enman and Denise Dragomir – 3:56, 3:57 and 3:59.
Jon Albon did it again ahead of Him Gurung and Michel Lanne – 7:01, 7:11 and 7:27. For the ladies’ Maite Maiora once again took another win ahead of Ragna Debats and Nuria Picas – all three ladies’ under Jasmin Paris’s 2016 CR of 8:42 – their times 8:21, 8:25 and 8:39.
Our thoughts and love go to Hillary Allen who took a terrible fall from the Hamperokken ridge. We are pleased to say, it looks like she will have a good recovery. See HERE.
Please support Talk Ultra by becoming a Patron at www.patreon.com/talkultra and THANKS to all our Patrons who support us. Rand Haley and Simon Darmody get a mention on the show here for ‘Becoming 100k Runners’ with a high-tier Patronage.
IAU World Trail Champion and Skyrunning European Champion Luis Alberto Hernando has confirmed he will join the 2017 Marathon des Sables Champion Elisabet Barnes on the start line of the 2017 Everest Trail Race.
Luis Alberto is not new to the ETR (Everest Trail Race), he participated in 2013. After winning the first stage he was unfortunately reduced to a walk but went on to complete the whole race and in the process, he had an incredible experience soaking in the best of what the Himalayas and Nepal must offer. he needs no introduction to the mountain running world, Luis Alberto is the best! His race results, experiences and friendly nature have made the Spaniard one of the most admired and respected runners in the world.
His recent victory at High Trail Vanoise crowned him the Skyrunning European Champion and in the coming weeks he is preparing for the UTMB. Nepal has an impact on a person – the people, the landscape, the scenery, the trails – it really is a magical place and Luis Alberto is obviously keen to return in November to race after his 2013 experience.
Two-time Marathon des Sables Champion Elisabet Barnes is certainly tipping her toe into new experiences and new challenges in 2017. A specialist in multi-day running, the ETR format will suit her.
However, mountains, elevation and technical terrain are all part of a new learning process. In 2017, Elisabet will test her ability at altitude and challenging terrain at Transrockies in the USA. This will be followed with a shorter multi-day race in a colder climate. The two races no doubt providing an excellent base for the 160km journey from Jiri back to Lukla via Tyengboche in November.
Tracing the footsteps of Sir Edmund Hilary, the ETR is wonderful mountain experience that all abilities can embrace. It’s tough for sure – elevation gain, technical terrain and variable temperatures bring a unique challenge. Add to this self-sufficiency (runners must carry all they need for the week but food and a tent is provided) and the race becomes so much more than about wining and times; it’s a journey for the mind and the body. First time participants are changed when they experience Nepal and the Himalayas on foot. The 2017 edition of the race will be no different. Iconic mountains such as Everest, Lhotse, Ama Dablam, Tamseku, and Makalu amongst others provide the most stunning backdrop to the race.
Excellent organization and a small field make the ETR one of ‘THE’ bucket list races in the world. Images tell the story and you can view galleries and read reports from the 2016 edition using the links provided.
You cannot look at Trofeo Kima with the eyes of a pure runner; It’s beyond running! For over twenty years, ‘Kima’ as it is affectionately known, has blown the minds and the legs of all those lucky enough to toe the line.
The race is arguably the pinnacle of the Skyrunning calendar and as such it has gained a reputation as one of the most demanding and challenging races in the world. At 52km in length the distance is not intimidating, however, 8,400m of ascent and descent put the race in perspective.
Passing over seven passes of the Sentiero Roma, a well-known GR route, the race in its current form is the brainchild of the International Skyrunning Federation president, Marino Giacometti. So tough is Kima that it has a capped field of just 250 participants and the race is held every other year to add to its allure. This is a race that one aspires too; you need to earn a place on the entry line. The challenge comes no greater. This is confirmed in the words of the previous course record holder, Kilian Jornet:
‘Picture a mountain terrain that has no paths, amidst glaciers; it is all crests, rocks, stretches of via Ferrata and all over a course that stretches 52-km. Kima is not athletics, it is mountaineering; pure Skyrunning!’
Kima takes place on mountain paths that are unmarked. Simple flickers of colour show the way through rock, granite, snow and ice. Sections of the course are so severe that fixed ropes and chains provide the only secure way to traverse vertical walls of rock or exposed ledges. Needless to say, a head for heights, an ability to look after oneself and excellent fitness make each runner’s journey on the Sentiero Roma one that they will never forget. Scaling incredible terrain on foot and at times by hand, participants will reach a high point of 2,950m at Cameraccio Pass. It is the challenging terrain that truly sets the race apart, as Giacometti describes: ‘Kima crosses the group of technical mountains in the area and passes through all of the seven refuges situated on the route. It’s a very technical race and ultimately it has become a beacon of Skyrunning’
‘Kima’ was the nickname of Pierangelo Marchetti, who with friends founded the first helicopter equipe in Italy. The mountains were Perangelo’s life; he loved them and he embraced them. Unfortunately, on July 8th 1994, while attending a rescue mission via helicopter, Pierangelo’s life was taken. Trofeo Kima was created in his memory to ensure his love and dreams of the mountains would live on.
During the 20-year history, Kima has seen the best in the world perform over this challenging course. Now part of the Skyrunner® Extreme Series, Kima is one of three ‘extreme’ races that provides points for an overall Sky Extreme Series title where two out of three races must be completed. The first race in the series was Tromso SkyRace, the second Trofeo Kima and the third being the Salomon Glen Coe Skyline in Scotland.
For many, this iconic Skyrunning and mountain running race is still unknown. It’s like a precious jewel, hidden away for fear of someone stealing it. With each edition, one link in the securing chain is removed and the extreme beauty of Kima is being revealed to an audience of adrenaline junkies. Kima is not for everyone, but if you have the experience and the courage, the Sentiero Roma rewards each who ventures on to its tough and technical terrain.
This year, Tom Owens was riding high after a string of successful results and many had tipped him as the pre-race favourite. However, a day of intense heat and clear skies most definitely played with the rule book throwing several curve balls.
In the ladies’ race, the 2016 Kima will no doubt be remembered as the return to top level racing for Emelie Forsberg. Recent surgery on her knee after an ‘acl’ injury had deprived Emelie (and us) of her presence in a race. A couple of forays into shorter races had tested her fitness and recovery but could Emelie stand 7+ hours on ‘this’ course.
Early action came from Alexis Sevennec and Leo Viret who dictated the pace up the very long first climb pursued by Marco De Gasperi and Nepalese runner, Bhim Gurung.
Constantly fighting the terrain and each other, Sevennec and Viret lead the race for much of the way with Gurung moving up into 3rd place after Qualido. In the latter stages of the race though, De Gasperi made a move as Sevennec and Viret faded. Gurung joined the Italian Skyrunning legend and in the closing stages the two dueled to the line… in the closing stages it was Gurung who made the break crossing the line to a stunning victory and new course record time of 6:10:44. De Gasperi crossed the line also under the old course record of Kilian Jornet a spent force. He dropped to the ground exhausted from the effort and heat. Vireo closed 3rd and Sevennec smiled his way across the line in 4th. Tom Owens finished 5th after a tough and hard day in the office – his first at Tromso and 5th here still securing his place at the top of the Sky Extreme Series.
The ladies race was all about come back girl Emelie Forsberg and she didn’t disappoint. Leading the race from beginning to end, Emelie smiled her way to the line, pretty in pink! Yes, this was one of those great comebacks that even Emelie questioned, “I planned to take it easy early on and not push too hard. My operation removed some of my hamstring and this has made my leg weaker so I need to be careful. But everything felt good today and I am so happy, this was not about winning a race, although that is great! It was about coming back with no problems and feeling good.”
Emelie finished in 7:49:06 outside Nuria Picas’s course record time of 7:36:21. Ruth Croft from New Zealand pursued Emelie all day and had a great run often hovering around 10-minutes behind.
At the line the gap was 17+ minutes and Ruth confirmed that her skills on such technical terrain are not good enough in comparison to Emelie. Kima legend and previous winner of the race, Emanuela Brizio upheld her incredible history with this race crossing the line in 3rd, 8:21:42.
Thanks to the support of our Partner Migu Xempower, Sponsor Alpina Watches and Official Pool Suppliers, Scott Running, Compressport and Salomon.
About Skyrunner® World Series
Skyrunning was founded in 1992 by Italian Marino Giacometti, President of the International Skyrunning Federation which sanctions the discipline worldwide and sports the tagline: Less cloud. More sky.
The Skyrunner® World Series was launched in 2004 and has grown to represent the peak of outdoor running defined by altitude and technicality. In 2016, the Series, composed of four disciplines, features 23 races in 15 venues on three continents.
iancorless.com is the official photographer and media partner for the Skyrunner® World Series Follow on:
This is Episode 111 of Talk Ultra and it’s all about Transvulcania. We speak with Chris Vargo who placed 5th, Alicia Shay who placed 4th and Ida Nilsson who blasted around the course to take the ladies victory. We have the news, a chat with Holly Rush and Speedgoat Karl is back
80 days to the AT for Karl
Luis Alberto Hernando – 7h04’44”
Nicolas Martin – 7h10’40”
Sage Canaday – 7h14’16”
Andy Symonds – 7h25’04”
Chris Vargo – 7h26’53”
Ida Nilsson – 8h14’18”
Anne-Lise Rousset – 8h31’53”
Ruth Croft – 8h33’32”
Alicia Shay – 8h49’46”
Hillary Allen – 8h54’57”
00:36:54 INTERVIEW Chris Vargo and Alicia Shay
Paddy O’Leary 9:35
Bob Shebest 10:07
Lon Freeman 10:51
Magdalena Boulet 10:58
Erika Lindland 12:22
Annie Rutledge 12:24
Cody Reed 9:04
Chiara Omine 9:13
Franz Van Der Groen 9:16
Aliza Lapierre 10:25
Bree Lambert 10:55
Katie Arnold 11:16
No full results online yet but Holly Rush blasted around the ladies course to smash the CR and finish 4th overall (time 7:11) and Neil Kirby 6:57 for the men’s win
01:40:17 INTERVIEW Holly Rush
DOUBLE BOB GRAHAM ROUND
Nicky Spinks has done it only the 2nd person and 1st lady to complete a double BGR in 45:30