Elisabet Barnes dominated the 2015 Marathon des Sables by winning every stage of the race against a high quality field of competitors. What followed was a series of races and victories – a win and course record at Trail Menorca and victory (and everyday stage wins) at Oman Desert Marathon.
2016 kicked off with a multi-day training camp (here) and in February, Elisabet placed 2nd at Costa Rica’s The Coastal Challenge.
I caught up with Elisabet just two days before she flies out to Morocco to discuss how she feels, how 2016 will be different to 2015 and how life gets in the way of ‘just’ training.
The 2016 Transgrancanaria concluded in Maspalomas this morning at 5am after many runners battled through two nights and a long hot day to achieve the goal of completing the 125km journey from the north to the south of the island. It’s a race of many challenges!
The first big European race on the calendar, Transgrancanaria always attracts a high quality elite field and this year was no different. Starting at 2300 hours on Friday under warm skies, runners left the coastal town of Agaete and then weaved a route through many climbs and descents on what is a very demanding island to run on.
Aurelien Collet and Caroline Chaverot started the race like two possessed animals, constantly pushing and dictating the pace at the front. Chaverot was not a surprise after her string of recent high quality results and her 2nd place in Transgrancanaria last year. Collet though was a surprise!
As the runners ran into the night, Artenara was one of the first key aid stations and it soon became clear that the evening temperatures were causing many problems. A wind had started to increase off the coast and with it temperatures dropped.
By contrast, day temperatures were very warm and in the men’s race Roque Nublo became a significant point in the race as 2015 winner, Gediminas Grinius closed on Collet who had dictated the pace from the start.
Hermansen was also closing on Grinius and we knew the race was on!
In the ladies race, Chaverot’s lead was so huge it would have taken an injury for her to lose her lead, particularly after the withdrawal of Nuria Picas in the night with an injury. Emelie Lecomte, Andrea Huser and Uxue Fraile were pursuing but they were in a different race.
Hermansen finally took hold of the race in the section between Garanon and Pico de las Nieves when he overtook Collet. Grinius pursued but Hermann was committed to victory, something that he had prepared meticulously for having placed 2nd in 2015. He stopped the clock in 13:41:48 which established a new course record*
Pau Capell, winner of Transgrancanaria’s Advanced race in 2015, moved up a notch to finish on the podium jointly with Diego Pazos for third.
Caroline Chaverot was in a league of her own this year, committed, focused and dedicated, she was like a machine! Despite her huge lead, Chaverot continued to push the pace all the way to the finish and she also, like Hermansen, set a new course record and finished in the top-20 overall. Her closest rival was Andrea Huser who was almost 2 hours behind. Uxue Fraile finished 3rd.
*This years course has now been changed over the final 25km which is slightly less distance but more technical.
This is Episode 106 of Talk Ultra. This show is all about The Coastal Challenge multi-day race in Costa Rica. We talk in-depth about Niandi’s experience and we bring you a selection of interviews to give you a feel for the race.
Book writing – RUNNING BEYOND will be released in November 2016 by Aurum Publishing.
00:01:04 Show Start
ACONCAGUA – Fernanda Maciel established the first women’s FKT on , Aconcagua, earlier this month and I caught up with her immediately afterwards.
Fernanda said at the time should the weather be okay for a 2nd attempt that she would return. Return she did to established the first women’s FKT on the longer route. She traveled from the Horcones entrance gate to the summit and back – 60 kilometers and 4,100 meters of climb in 22:52. The mens record is almost have this time set by Karl Egloff who took the record from Kilian Jornet
ADDO ELEPHANT in South Africa
“As the only national Park in the world that offers visitors a chance to see the ‘Big Seven’ (elephant, lion, leopard, rhino, buffalo and the southern right whale and the great white shark in the marine area), we’re thrilled to be hosting the race again this year,” says Fayroush Ludick, SANParks Regional Communications Manager. “Because athletes will be running through areas of the park that they wouldn’t traditionally have access to, they will experience the park and its residents as never before.”
1 – Bennie Roux and Tom Adams finished together 21:45:08
2 – Chris Darke 22:24
3 – Ryno Griesel 24:55
1 – Linda Doke 29:25:34
2 – Kim Van Kets 33:34:12
ROCKY RACCOON 100
1 – Ian Sharman 13:45, Paul Terranova 2nd and Will Swenson 3rd.
1 – Sabrina Little ran the 2nd fastest lasted time of 14:55, Amy Clark and Olga Buber were 2nd
Notably, WSER legend Gordy Ainsleigh ran 28:31 to gain his WSER entry slot which many feel should have been guaranteed anyway!
Jonas Buud won the race in 8:00 followed by David Bryne in 8:22 and Ryan Sandes 3rd in 8:30
Fiona Hayvice won the ladies race in 10:34 despite Ruby Muir leading for much of the race and then dropping with injury. Melissa Robertson and Fiona Eagles placed 2nd and 3rd with 10:56 and 11:24.
This weekend as the show comes out Transgrancanaria will be staring and it is quite a stacked field, certainly the first big race of 2016. Read the preview HERE
The 2016 The Coastal Challenge was an incredible race, year-on-year the race grows and it is now one of the most respected multi-day races on the calendar. Following the classic multi-day format, runners travel in the south of Costa Rica on foot covering approximately 250km’s. Like races such as Marathon des Sables, the TCC is not self-sufficient. Don’t be fooled into thinking that this makes the races easier… read on!
View the full 2016 The Coastal Challenge image gallery HERE
“Hugging the coastline, the race travels in and out of the stunning Talamanca mountain range via dense forest trails, river crossings, waterfalls, long stretches of golden beaches backed by palm trees, dusty access roads, high ridges and open plains. At times technical, the combination of so many challenging elements is only intensified by the heat and high humidity that slowly but surely reduces even the strongest competitors to exhausted shells.”
“Encapsulating the true sense of adventure, TCC requires a runner to be more than ‘just’ a runner. The race manages to make or break the most experienced competitor. Hopping from rock-to-rock, traversing a ridge, clambering over slimy boulders, swimming river crossings or running up and down single or double track, the race truly requires a rounded athlete to gain victory.”
“The men’s race looked all set for a group run to the line with Don-Wauchope, Calisto and Martinez running side-by-side over all of the first 25km. Don-Wauchope safe in 1st place, Calisto safe in 2nd and Martinez no threat to the overall standings.”
“But where was Sa?”
“Sa was trailing a few minutes back. When the trio entered the river bed, Sa apparently flew past like a man possessed. It was a last ditch effort to secure 2nd place ahead of Callisto.”
It’s with great pleasure that I can announce that Salomon International Athlete, Skyrunning Ultra World Champion and recently crowned Skyrunning Ultra European Champion, Emelie Forsberg, will run the first edition of the Salomon Glen Coe Skyline (Scotland) in August 2015.
Speaking after the Dolomites VK and just before the Dolomites SkyRace (where she placed 4th) Emelie confirmed that she will travel to the UK on August 20th to participate in the Salomon Glen Coe Skyline.
Emelie in recent years has become one of the most important mountain/ skyrunners in the world after a string of high profile victories and podium performances in distances ranging from VK to 100-miles.
Ironically, it all started in 2012 when Emelie raced The Three Peaks (UK) where she placed 2nd behind Sarah O’Neil. This race was quickly followed by running the iconic Zegama-Aizkorri where she placed 3rd after an incredible display of downhill running behind Oihana Kortazar and Nuria Picas. We knew then that Emelie was special!
Arguably, Emelie was unstoppable in 2013 and victory at Transvulcania Ultramarathon, Trans D’Havet and other high profile races only confirmed that a new multi-talented star was amongst us.
Known for her incredible strength, endurance and break neck downhill running, she has also become an inspiration to men and ladies all over the world by her infectious passion and love of life which she daily shares via social media. No matter how hard the race, no matter how tough the conditions are, no matter how bad she is feeling, Emelie is guaranteed to provide a smile.
Emelie recently has an incredible start to 2015. A last minute decision to run Transvulcania Ultramarathon (off skis) was rewarding once again with a dominating victory. This was followed with a new course record and victory at the iconic Mount Marathon in Alaska.
“What a week! Mount Marathon and now European champion in ultra-distance Skyrunning! I’m really happy. I climbed summits and glacier and ran on beautiful trails. Thank you everyone standing along the course talking to me and cheering me on.”
Never one to rest, 5 days after the ITT, Emelie ran the Dolomites VK and then placed 4th at the highly competitive Dolomites SkyRace just 2 days later.
“I need a little rest now but I am so looking forward to Scotland and this incredible course!”
Emelie’s presence in the UK is something that fans of mountain and trail running have wanted for some time, so, to finally have this come to fruition is extremely exciting. From day one my aim and desire with Skyrunning UK has been driven in providing UK runners challenging courses that would give them an insight into what is available in Europe. However, with careful planning and some great work with quality race directors, we are slowly but surely building a series of races that can offer a challenge to anyone! This was proven in 2014 when Stevie Kremer raced the Mourne Skyline MTR. Emelie’s presence in Scotland later this year is a dream come true but it’s only the beginning. I had a plan that in 3 years we would bring a host of world class talent to the UK to race and I can now see that coming to fruition, it’s a really exciting time!
Shane Ohly form Ourea Events along with Gary Tompsett have worked tirelessly to put the Salomon Glen Coe Skyline race together and it hasn’t been without some raised eyebrows and concern (excellent article HERE). But the plan has been very clear from the start:
“We are not creating another mass participation fell or trail running event, but rather a world class Skyrunning course for experienced and competent participants. The Glen Coe Skyline is a fusion of mountain running and alpinism where competitors need to be skilled at both disciplines to negotiate the course.”
On hearing that Emelie would run the inaugural Salomon Glen Coe Skyline, Shane was very clear in his thought process:
“It is an honor that Emelie has decided to race at the inaugural Salomon Glen Coe Skyline and I am delighted that this world class Skyrunning course we have conceived has attracted a Skyrunning World and European Champion.”
Emelie will not have an easy race! Finlay Wild, Es Tressider, Jim Mann and Dragons Back Race 2015 ladies champion (also 2nd overall) Jasmine Paris will also run the race.
‘We sincerely hope that aspirational races like the Salomon Glen Coe Skyline will contribute to the growth of the sport both in terms of participation and general awareness within the wider running and outdoor community within the UK,” said Ohly.
“I would love to see the same kind of community engagement and atmosphere at a UK SkyRace as I have personally experienced at European skyRaces like Zegama-Aizkorri. Certainly this is my goal for the Salomon Glen Coe Skyline and we will be working hard to achieve this.”
The Salomon Glen Coe Skyline™ follows in the finest tradition of the most prestigious Skyrunning races, fusing mountain running and alpinism in a pure test of speed, endurance and skill on an uncompromising, world-class course.
The Salomon Glen Coe Skyline™ will take place on Saturday 22nd August 2015 and will be part of the Skyrunner UK Series. The event is only suitable for highly experienced competitors and all aspirant entrants will be vetted for experience.
Entries are limited to 200 max. The current entry list is HERE.
Sunset Relay (sunsetrelay.com) is an event organized by Garnier Ambre Solaire in partnership with Association of European Cancer Leagues (ECL). The purpose is to raise awareness of the dangers of the sun. As the name suggests it takes the form of a relay, in which participants race the sun for 96 hours / ~1300km. The line-up included top athletes, business people, bloggers, journalists and celebrities who would run, cycle, row, paddle or roller skate.
Staged in the mythical and beautiful Swedish Lapland during the midnight sun, three main sections forming a triangle constituted the course of this first edition: Luleå à Hemavan à Abisko à Luleå. I took part in the second section with six other trail runners (Olof Häggström, Sylvain Court, Jonathan Wyatt, Elina Usscher, Linus Holmsäter & Maud Gobert) and we were running the famous national trail Kungsleden (”King’s Trail”) northbound from Hemavan to Abisko. This trail is 430km long and offers a great variety of terrain, much of which is more technical than one might think for such a popular trail. In this part of Sweden there is still snow in June and with an exceptionally cold start to the summer it was too deep to run in places. We therefore had some last minute alterations to the route and a helicopter was on hand to help us get to the runnable sections.
Kungsleden is an undulating path. Its highest point is the Tjäkta Pass at 1150 m above sea level. The ground is very varied including rock, trails in the woods with plenty of roots and stones, miles of narrow boards over swampy wetland, meadows, and stream crossings. Although challenging it made the journey on this trail interesting and varied. The views were simply stunning and with the midnight sun it was easy to lose track of time. Was it 2am or 12pm? It was impossible to say without a watch apart from the temperature being a bit cooler at night.
I thoroughly enjoyed the running on Kungsleden. Sweden is my home country and although I spent time in the north as a child skiing and walking in the mountains it was a long time ago. Travelling on this trail felt almost magical. I cherished this unique moment which seemed to encourage me to be present in the now, soaking up the beauty of the surroundings, listening to the roar of the water in the streams I passed and the birds singing in the trees. Occasionally I heard the sound of a branch cracking or leaves rattling on the ground as I disturbed some wildlife. I must admit that I was a bit worried about bears as I ran on the single track through those beautiful mountain birch woods by Abiskojaure Lake. However, it was probably very unlikely I would actually encounter any and all I saw were a few lemmings.
It was a great privilege to get the opportunity to take part in this event. Aside from the experience of the trail running I met some wonderful people. I would love to go back for an ultra-trail event or maybe run Kungsleden in its entirety. It has been done before by at least a couple of Swedish runners and makes for a beautiful but demanding holiday…
SPARTATHLON is a historic ultra-distance foot race that takes place in September of every year in Greece. Arguably, it is one of the most difficult and satisfying ultra-distance races in the world because of its unique history and background.
The Spartathlon revives the footsteps of Pheidippides, an ancient Athenian long distance runner, who in 490 BC, before the battle of Marathon, was sent to Sparta to seek help in the war between the Greeks and the Persians. According to the ancient Greek historian Herodotus, Pheidippides arrived in Sparta the day after his departure from Athens. Inspired by the report of the Greek historian, in 1982 five officers of the British Royal Air Force (RAF), who were also long-distance runners, traveled to Greece, led by Colonel John Foden. Their purpose was to ascertain whether it was possible to cover the 250 kilometers separating the two towns in one and a half days. The enthusiastic British team showed that the report by Herodotus was entirely plausible.
A man is indeed able to cover 250 km in less than two days and in fact in less than 40 hours. After the success of the project, the architect of the feat, John Foden, began to envision the establishment of a race that would bring long distance runners to Greece from around the world to run on the trail of the ancient runner Pheidippides. The next year a multinational team of British, Greek and other enthusiastic supporters of the idea, led by Michael Callaghan, a philhellene, organized the First International Spartathlon (Open International Spartathlon Race), wherein the name for the race combines the Greek words for Sparta and Feat.
The race was held with the approval and supervision of the Athletics Federation with the participation of 45 runners from 11 countries and included the participation of women. The organizational success of this inaugural race and its broad appeal were decisive to the subsequent establishment of the annual race.
Accordingly, in 1984 the International Association “Spartathlon” was founded. Since then a yearly race has been organized each September. Why September? Because that is the time reported by Herodotus for Pheidippides run to Sparta.
The 2013 edition of the race will start on Friday 27th September with 350 participants and for any last minute dropouts; this entry list will be topped up from a waiting list of 160 runners.
Mimi Anderson *
Robbie Britton *
Sweden, Poland, Australia, Japan, Germany, Italy, Hungary, Denmark, France, Spain, Netherlands, Finland, Argentina, Portugal, China, Malta, United States, Uruguay, Belgium, Austria, Brazil, Mexico, Czech Republic, Faeroe Islands, Switzerland, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Hong Kong, United Kingdom and of course Greece.
Spartathlon, for many is a bucket list race. It has a magic that cannot be found at other races. The distance, strict cut-off times, the heat and so on all add to the drama. The course is conducted point-to-point and elevation ranges from sea level to 1,200 meters (3,937 ft), over tarmac road, trail and mountain footpath. Aid stations are placed every 3 to 5 km and are provisioned with food, water and other refreshments as well as the runners’ personal supplies. The race is run under police and medical supervision with doctors, physiotherapists, and emergency vehicles being on call throughout the 36-hour race duration. The race is very demanding.
The course is not the most spectacular and 153 miles of roads may not appeal to many, particularly if coming from a trail or mountain running background. However, I’ve yet to meet anyone who has run this race and not loved it. For sure, the Greeks, French, Japanese, German and now a growing UK participation love this race and demand is continuing to grow.
Lizzy Hawker raced in 2012 and not only won the ladies race in 27:02:17 but placed third overall. The outright winner was Stu Thoms from Germany in 26:28:19.
For the 2013 edition of the race, all entrants are of interest. For many, Spartathlon is a journey about completion and not competition. However, two people are of interest and for opposite reasons. Firstly, Robbie Britton from the UK is coming to Spartathlon for the first time but he is potentially an exciting prospect for the overall with a solid 100-mile result at the South Downs Way 100 in a time of 15:43:53 and 239.008km at the World 24-hour championships. Robbie has said in his blog, “I’m right excited about getting to Sparta now and can’t wait for the great challenge of this historic race. We’ve got a solid British team heading out there; including a few Grand Union Canal Race winners, one of whom is attempting a double Spartathlon and it should be a great atmosphere out there. After a strong showing from the Brits at UTMB and The Grand Slam of Ultra Running, I guess we best put a bit of effort into Spartathlon now too…” Bog here
Secondly, Mimi Anderson will be doing Spartathlon her own way in 2013… she raced in 2011 and surprised herself with her performance. So much so, this year she is coming back to do it twice! Yes, twice.
Mimi’s press release:
‘Marvellous’ Mimi Anderson, the 51 year-old grandmother from Smarden in Kent who is a triple long distance running Guinness World Record holder and already the legendary finisher of several ‘doubles’ of extreme long distance races for which the one-way normal run would be beyond most mere mortals, is about to attempt probably her most daring double – a two-way run of the iconic Spartathlon race held in Greece each year.
Traditionally there are about 20 runners from the UK each year and Mimi first ran the race in 2011 when she finished 3rd lady overall and the 1st UK finisher in 32 hours 33 minutes 23 seconds. She has decided to return in 2013 and having completed the normal race on her previous visit, she will be attempting the double this year (a distance of 306 miles), which is believed to have only ever been done once before. It has certainly never been done by anyone from Britain and no female has ever attempted it.
Mimi’s plan is to do the race first then, all being well, start the return leg at midnight on Saturday night. She will be running the race itself to achieve the best time she can and then attempting the return leg in in the same tough 36 hours maximum time allowed for the race.
Her husband Tim and friend Becky Healey will be crewing for her during the event and the reason for starting the return leg at midnight on the Saturday is to enable the crew to get some sleep – otherwise it becomes too dangerous for them to be driving safely!
Mimi will be running to raise money for her usual cause – the 10 Million Metres Campaign, which was set up by Alex Flynn when he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease 4 years ago. People can donate on the Justgiving site at www.justgiving.com/marvellousmimi1
The 2013 event for sure will be exciting for all involved and for those watching. If you would like more information, please go to the race website.
Trans D’Havet was the concluding race in the ISF European Skyrunning Championships. Following on from the VK and SKY race in Canazei last weekend, the 80km Trans D’Havet was always going to be a test of many aspects of human will and the power to dig deep and find something from within. However, little did we know how deep some people are able to go?
Runners assembled in Piovene Roccchette for the 0100am start. It was quite a site, local revelers were dancing and drinking while around them, lycra clad runners milled around waiting for the off. The arrival of Kilian Jornet, Luis Alberto Hernando, Nuria Picas, Emelie Forsberg and Philipp Reiter created some additional buzz as locals and participants in the race looked for a photo opportunity or an autograph.
With five minutes to go, it was already 27 degrees, it was going to be a very hot race! Missing from the start line was Luis Alberto; he had unfortunately received some devastating personal news. After some contemplation, he decided to run. Goodness knows what he felt like. Of course we can only guess and this is not the place to pursue that thought. With his decision to race confirmed, on the stroke of one, the masses disappeared into the dark.
The route is a spectacular one, which winds through the Piccole Dolomiti between the Veneto and Trentino Alto Adige on the Pasubio and Carega group. These mountains are the setting for some of the bloodiest battles in the First World War. Starting with 1000m altitude to Mount Summano the course goes up and down taking in, Forte Rione on Monte Novegno, Monte Alba and Passo Xomo. Taking in fifty-two tunnels that have total distance of some 6km the course offer much variety. With over halfway completed, runners pass Monte Cornetto and then the final big climb to the highest point of the course at 2238m, leaving the Passo Campogrosso runners climb to the Faccaroli refuge. From here the course looks to be downhill but 12km of ups and downs await before the finish line in Valdagno.
Luis Alberto and Kilian Jornet started together and finished together. Matching each other over every meter of the 80km course, it would maybe appear that a decision was made to race the rest of the field but not each other. They had occasional time gaps but that was more due to natural breaks and feed stations. Ultimately, the decision to cross the line together was the correct one, the statement made in the finishing straight said far more that any one individual victory. Today was ’really’ about trail and Skyrunning. Kilian has a photo book titled, ‘Trail running for me is not about running’ and today both he and Luis proved it. It was an honor to witness that moment.
Csaba Nemeth from Hungry was doing a great job in the European Championships and his efforts paid off, his consistent pace and strong climbing in the growing daily temperatures secured him a third place. Podium prospect Philipp Reiter unfortunately had to pull out of the race after falling and damaging his knee.
The ladies race was always going to come down to a battle between Nuria Picas and Emelie Forsberg. Emelie has had a stunning 2013 and her calendar of late has seen her race multiple times and place 2nd at Mont Blanc Marathon, 1st at Ice Trail Tarentaise, 2nd at Dolomites VK, 1st at Dolomites Skyrace and then of course she was coming to Italy to tackle 80km’s with over 5000m+ of vertical gain and ascent against a fresh Nuria.
Emelie had a small gap in the early stages but as per usual, both Emelie and Nuria ran together again, on the final big climb from Campogrosso, Emelie had a two-minute lead and then extended that, continually pulling away. With the throttle open, the gap extended and she scored a convincing victory. Equally impressive, once again she placed 10th overall.
Nuria arrived in Valdagno and looked to be a spent force. The temperatures were now around the mid 30’s and the combination of heat and pace had cooked her. She said after the race. ‘The miles just didn’t tick past today. I had to push for everyone and it was a tough day’.
The third podium spot actually turned out to be an exciting battle. Taken by Uxue Fraile, less than a minute after Nuria, this confirmed the stranglehold by Spain both in the men’s and ladies events over the ultra distance.
The ISF Skyrunning European Championships have been a great success. We have seen some incredible racing over VK, Sky and Ultra and the locations, terrain and temperatures have been varied; what more could you want!
Full results and classifications of how the European rankings stand will be posted later today.