The ICEBUG XPERIENCE

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I had a weekend off and although I attended a race, this time it was as a client/ runner and not photographer, of course, I did take a camera….

I had been told about ICEBUG XPERIENCE multiple times by my partner Abelone and her friend, Karin. They both get excited about running, exploring and adventures almost continuously, this time though it was different… The talk was all about fun, no pressure, great camping, food, organization and an all-inclusive experience that was for all, any ability and pretty much any age!

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So, I had to find out more.

Located in Bohuslän, Sweden. The Icebug Experience West Coast Trail is all based around Ramsvik Stugby & Camping on Ramsvikslandet which is the hub for the weekend. Here there is a restaurant, cabins, camping and fixed spaces for motorhomes or caravans. Located on Sotefjorden and surrounded by water, it’s the perfect location for a weekend.

THE EVENT

“The whole purpose of Icebug Experience Bohuslän is to show that a race can be so much more than a race.”

And I couldn’t agree more.

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Quite simply, Icebug have created an event that starts before the start line and goes on long after the finish line. As the name suggests, it is an ‘Xperience’ and one that I only wish I could experience more often.

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Consisting of three days, Icebug Xperience offers 3 routes that can be undertaken as a run, a run/ walk or a walk. Start times are 0900, 0915 and 1100 respectively.

While a medal (wooden) is rewarded for completion at the end, the event is much more about experience and memories than results.

Day 1 – 22km 455m+

Day 2 – 30km 603m+

Day 3 – 25.6km 435m+

Start line and finish line is different each day, however, day 1 starts at the race hub and day 3 concludes at the same place, offering an excellent 360-deg journey exploring the very unique surroundings and trails this area has to offer.

Transport is included as part of the race, be this by coach or boat. It’s all seamless, perfectly organized and works with military precession.

Route marking was superb ©iancorless

Route marking is some of the best I have witnessed with a plethora of red/white Icebug tape strewn throughout the trails no more than 20m apart.

Each day when you cross the line you are rewarded with beverages and a stunning locally sourced vegetarian lunchbox that was exceptional.

KIDS

Crab fishing ©iancorless

One key element that makes this event a standout is the kids club. I cannot express how excellent this is. Starting everyday 15-minutes before race departure (either race start or travel departure) a full 3-day itinerary is available to keep little ones happy while parents run.

Who doesn’t like catching crabs? ©iancorless

Look at the schedule below:

The start and the end will be at Ramsvik camping every day at the playground. There will be nine adults responsible for the Kids Camp group, who will split into four groups during some activities. Beside the lunch, the children will also be served fruit and beverages in the morning and afternoon and an ice cream surprise!

The Kids Camp will take place from early morning to 17.00, or until you pick them up upon arrival to Ramsvik.

FRIDAY 2/9 – Excursion Day at Ramsvikslandet

08:30 Welcome to Icebug Xperience-Kidscamp at Ramsvik camping: Get to know each other on the beach in the morning.

09:30 4km/3km/1,5km walk from Ramsvik to Tångevik. Back at Ramsvik beach we will have our lunch over the open fire.

14:00 Back at Ramsvik, opportunity to play beach soccer, beach volleyball and crab fishing.

17:00 Kids Camp close for today.

From 17:00 Kids Camp dinner with parents (for the children staying at Ramsvik).

SATURDAY 3/9 – Nordens Ark day

06:45 Welcome to a new day at Kids Camp, sign in at Ramsvik camping. Drop-in until 09:00.

09:30 Bus transport to the famous zoo Nordens Ark.

11:45 Lunch at the Zoo.

14:30 The bus leave Nordens Ark, back to Ramsvik for further activities at the beach.

17:00 Kids Camp close for today.

From 17:00 Kids Camp dinner with parents (for the children staying at Ramsvik).

SUNDAY 4/9 – Sailing and Kids Race day

07:30 Welcome to a new day at Kids Camp, sign in at Ramsvik camping.

09:30 We take the Zita boat from Ramsvik to Hunnebo/Sotefjorden yacht club. Our leaders are very experienced with teaching children how to sail! If your child has sailed before they will sail in an Optimist on their own. If not, they will sail in slightly bigger boats with a sailing instructor. Your child needs to have swimming skills to sail in the Optimist/boats with instructor. The smaller kids with no swimming skills can try an inflatable boat close to the shore. Please send me an e-mail if your child will not sail/take a ride in the inflatable boat. For those not sailing we will have activities on the pier. Life jacket is off course mandatory. If the weather doesn’t allow sailing, we will stay on land with other activities.

11:30 Lunch at Sotefjorden yacht club

13:00 Leaving Sotefjorden yacht club back to Ramsvik and get ready for the Kids Race!

14:00 Kids Race (1,7K same distance for all kids)

Kids race, 1.7km ©iancorless

15:00 Medal ceremony

16:00 End of Kids camp for this year

It’s hard to express the insight, thought and attention to detail that Icebug and the team have put together to create such an amazing child experience that keeps everyone happy. It’s often so hard to find time for parents to run when they have children, especially run together. Here, the Icebug Experience breaks new ground and creates a template that I only wish more events would copy.

INCLUSIVITY

Age, gender or ability – everyone welcome ©iancorless

In a time when there is much talk of making events more inclusive and increasing female participation, Icebug once again break new ground.

Not racing is almost encouraged, this I love. Take the time, enjoy the terrain, enjoy the experience and if you wish run, if you’d like to mix it up, walk and run. If either of those are too much, just walk.

It wasn’t only about running… ©iancorless

The weekend was very much a bonding exercise where it was easy to see how work colleagues had tempted co-workers to join them. Running clubs had put teams and groups together and most notably, the presence of women runners was extremely high.

Post-race I checked, the weekend had more female participants than men.

Think about it, why?

I think the answer is clear to see…

Age was not limiter. Speed was not important. What shall we do about the kids(?) was taken away.

Trust me, more events need to be like this.

Bonding on the trails ©iancorless

THE XPERIENCE

I was a client for the Icebug Xperience, I wasn’t working as a photographer, I wasn’t given a free place to help PR. I signed up and soaked up the event.

Our home from home ©iancorless

Arriving Thursday night, we pitched our tent, a nice large three-man Nordisk that would act as our base for the weekend. For reasons of comfort and ease, Abelone and I signed up for the food package which offered buffet breakfast (superb) and dinner. A superb lunch was provided as part of the race.

Yoga on the beach ©iancorless

Kids club was approximately 50-euros per day (+/-) and while I appreciate that this may prove costly for some, it was worth every penny. To see the kids’ bond, play and have the most amazing time put a smile on everyones face. In all honesty, I was tempted to sign up for the kid’s club and miss out on the running, the schedule was so good.

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Ramsvik Stugby & Camping was the perfect hub for the weekend located 2.5-hours’ drive from Oslo or roughly 2-hours from Gothenburg. It offers something for all in a hard-to-beat archipelago idyll on the West Coast.

Our weather was wall-to-wall sunshine with warm temperatures, yes, we couldn’t have had it better, especially with the location. The was maybe even more important for the children who played on the beach, went fishing, sailed and had a day at the zoo. But trust me, many an adult jumped into the water post-run to cool off and soak in the atmosphere.

Event village had an Icebug shop and shoe test possibilities ©iancorless

The key to any successful weekend is great organisation and the Icebug Xperience excelled. Everything was like clockwork which made everything so calm and relaxing. There was no worry if a bus would turn up, will the ferry be there? What about breakfast? Where do I drop my child? Everything was clearly communicated, and all happened at the times specified.

The routes offered a great challenge and were superbly marked with a distance marker every 2km’s and either 2 or 3 aid stations.

Day 1 started at Ramsvik race village and ended in the picturesque village of Hunnebostrand.

Day 2 started at Bohus-Malmön and the finish line was at Kungshamn. An interesting route that was split starting with 10km, a ferry (timing stopped) and then a 20km course to the finish and then a bus or boat back to Ramsvik.

Day 3 started in Smögen and concluded at the race village in Ramsvik, a special day that lets you fully experience the Ramsvik rocks.

Race start on day 1 ©iancorless

Three special days that follow the ocean: old fisherman’s villages, heaths, canyons, and a huge amount of red-colored granite rocks. Three stages – three different Xperiences.

CONCLUSION

Icebug Xperience ©iancorless

The process and the journey are what provides the memories for me, and while I fully appreciate racing a clock and others has its place, weekends like Icebug Xperience bring a whole new level of full absorption, not only for the runner but for the family. Nobody is left out here, everyone is looked after, everyone has their own experience and then it all comes together towards the end of the day to share the experience over dinner and whilst hanging out in your chosen accommodation.

New friends, new xperiences ©iancorless

There is much to learn from what happens here in Sweden.

The number of female participants. The planning and structure to look after children. The inclusivity of providing an experience for everyone irrespective of age, ability, or gender.

Congratulations Icebug on producing something very special.

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VJ Sport XTRM2 Shoe Review

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A new VJ Sport shoe is always exciting, this time, the XTRM2, which I guess is not really a new shoe but a re-working of a VJ classic. The XTRM has been a popular shoe in the trail, fell and mountain running world for a very long time, sitting in the middle ground of the aggressive iRock and the MAXx.

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The key to any VJ shoe is the outsole and the incredible grip that this outsole provides. The XTRM had 4mm lugs, the same as the MAXx but not as long as the iRock and therefore it was the ideal shoe for say skyrunning.

However, two things were often heard when fellow runners discussed the XTRM:

  1. I just wish there was a little more cushioning.
  2. I wish they could be just a little wider.

Well, the XTRM2 addresses both these issues and brings a couple of newer developments.

THE SHOE

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You should never judge a shoe by how it looks, and yes, some of you may love the look of the new XTRM2, I do not! Red is always great and when combined with black, superb. Look at the VJ Sport iRock HERE – now that is a nice-looking shoe! But this XTRM2 looks like someone had a little too much alcohol and dope in Hawaii and then designed the shoe. It’s a ‘me’ thing. Sorry.

Gladly, I can get past the looks because I know that a VJ Sport shoe will do all that I want and do it well.

As mentioned, the XTRM2 is designed to fit between the iRock, which is a short distance and soft-ground shoe and the MAXx which is a longer distance trail/ mountain shoe. Of course, there is now the ULTRA too. That is for the long stuff.

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Quite simply, if you loved the XTRM, the XTRM2 is going to make you smile. I had no issues with the original version, however, straight out of the box I welcomed the extra cushioning and the slightly rounder, more spacious toe box.

Drop is 4mm with 10mm cushioning at the front and 14mm at the rear. For perspective, the iRock has 8/14mm and the MAXx 12/18mm.

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With a reshaped last, CMEVA cushioning and a rock plate, the XTRM2 is the perfect mountain/ skyrunning shoe.

Pulling the shoe on there is a notable difference with the tongue, it is fastened on both sides. One of the issues in the previous XTRM and MAXx for that matter, was the tongue would move when running – often moving to the left or the right. This has now been addressed and in all my test runs so far, the tongue has remained in place and secure.

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Fitlock is a VJ Sport secret weapon and is one of the USP’s of the VJ brand. Once you have put your foot in the shoe, as you tighten the laces, the Fitlock grabs hold of the instep/ arch and holds it tight and secure – exactly what is required in mountainous and technical terrain when you need the shoe to be precise. With the more spacious XTRM2 toe box, this new Fitlock is even more welcome. I was initially worried if I would lose some of the precise feel at the front end, not so, the Fitlock compensates.

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The lacing is classic with 6 eyelets and the addition of a 7th eyelet on both sides should you require to lock lace or similar. There is reinforcement here ensuring that the laces can be pulled tight without causing any issue to the upper.

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The upper is Swiss Schoeller Keprotec® which is more durable than previous incarnations of the XTRM and it is also more pliable, allowing it to fit the foot better. Look at the old XTRM HERE – I reviewed this shoe back in 2018. Notably look how different the upper is… The original XTRM had many reinforced panels on the upper with a solid extension from the toe box and heel area. It’s a major change. I wondered, by contrast, if the new XTRM2 would feel less secure and sloppy – no. Foot hold has been excellent. The upper is excellent and repels moisture, water and mud.

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The heel area is slightly padded but not excessively, importantly it holds the foot and there is no slipping when climbing.

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Toe protection is adequate but could maybe be a little more? Certainly, in a skyrunning scenario when rocks, boulders and hard mixed terrain will be encountered.

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The outsole is a notable difference, the previous XTRM had 4mm lugs, they have now been increased to 6mm and in doing so, they now match the iRock. This is a key and notable change. For me, I would now only need an XTRM2 and MAXx (which has 4mm lugs). I do appreciate though, that the narrower and more precision fit of the iRock would be preferable for some.

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The outsole pattern is newly designed to optimize grip on all terrains and with the 6mm lugs, you now have an outsole that can handle softer ground. There is little to say about the grip of the outsole, VJ have the tagline ‘bestgripontheplanet’ and it is. No outsole from any other brand matches the grip, wet or dry, of a VJ outsole. However, be warned, that grip comes from a wonderful soft and grippy superior contact – it will not last and last and if you run too much road, that longevity will be reduced greatly. You cannot have amazing outsole grip and long life.

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There is a torsional rigidity in the shoe that is very noticeable when running on uneven and rocky terrain. If you have the Fitlock laced up and tight, the XTRM2 gives superb precision.

Flex and life are superb, and the propulsive phase is superb. There is a real ping behind the metatarsals when pushing off.

Weight is incredible, VJ list 250g for a UK8. My UK10 is 289g.

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I am always a UK9.5 in test shoes, however, I have noticed with extended use in VJ that I have often wished I had gone a half-size larger, so, with the XTRM2 and SPARK (review to follow) I decided to go to UK10. It was a good choice; I have found that extra space welcome. So, you may want to check this when purchasing.

CONCLUSION

Fitlock and a VJ outsole and you have a perfect shoe when precision and grip are required. The XTRM2 with a new upper, a new last, more cushioning and lugs increased to 6mm, and you now have the perfect trail/mountain and skyrunning shoe for short to middle distance. There are few shoes out there that can compete with VJ when this combination of elements is required. It is highly recommended.

Are there any negatives? I found prolonged running on hard surfaces (gravel road a good example) eventually tiring, but that is no real surprise. The outsole is soft and sticky and if you use on the wrong terrain, it will not last. I really dislike the look of the shoe, which is a petty thing to say, but the ‘look’ could put some people off before ever having the chance to run in the shoe and then find out how good it is. However, I may be alone in finding the look displeasing?

Ultimately, the XTRM2 is a superb shoe with incredible fit and grip.

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Scarpa Golden Gate Kima RT – Shoe Review

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Ask any experienced mountain or skyrunner, what is the ‘best’ race and route, more often than not, the answer will be ‘Kima!’

Trofeo Kima in Italy has long been the dream of many a runner who loves a challenge at the max level. Taking place every other year, the race really gained notoriety when UTMB was hit by bad weather and a certain Kilian Jornet decided to take a fast exit out of France and stand on the start line of Kima the next day.

History was made, Kilian has returned again and again and, in his words, it is one of ‘the’ best races in the world that mixes running and alpinism – skyrunning!

Therefore, any shoe that is named after this iconic route had better be good!

Enter, the Scarpa Golden Gate Kima RT.

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Let me just say, from the start, this may well be ‘one of’ the best mountain running shoes I have ever tried. I place it up there with the best that VJ Sport offers in terms of fit, comfort and grip. Trust me, if you read my shoe reviews, you know I regard VJ as the Holy Grail when it comes to perfect shoes. It also matches the best from La Sportiva.

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Scarpa in recent years have gone from strength to strength with shoes and design. A huge contributing factor was the arrival of legendary WMRA and skyrunning champion, Marco de Gasperi. Marco was there on the slopes of Alagna, aged just 16 when skyrunning was born. There are few that know the sport better!

And as for the Trofeo Kima route, he has raced it and in recent years set the FKT (7:53:41) for the completion of the course.

“…mountain lovers who face this technical and very hard route take three days, sleeping two nights in the refuges: a journey that is completed by dancing from rock to rock along with eight alpine passes above 2,500 meters (Barbacan, Camerozzo, Qualido, Averta, Torrone, Cameraccio, Bocchetta Roma and Corni Bruciati) before jumping headlong towards the finish line.”

All of the above can be felt in this remarkable shoe.

I could stop here and just say, go buy them! But at £190.00 a pair, you may take a little more convincing.

The Shoe

Out of the box, a great looking shoe, a mix of black/blue/grey which Scarpa list as Grey-Azure. The women’s version is light grey/ aruba blue here. They are light, especially for such a robust looking shoe. Noticeable is the toe bumper, the cushioning/ outsole and the high heel area that is designed to protect and support the achilles.

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With a 6mm drop, they fit that wonderful middle ground between a 4 and 8mm that will suit most people.

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Cushioning is 22mm at the rear, 16mm (women’s 21mm/ 15mm) at the front and the addition of an enclosed carbon plate only makes the 290g (UK8) weight even more unbelievable.

Carbon plate visible in the middle.

When I saw the carbon plate, I flinched a little. My experience so far with carbon plates in trail shoes has not been good – often it has added weight and made for a lifeless feel with little or no flex. Not here in the Golden Gate Kima, on the contrary, I was not aware of the plate until I ran and then two key things were noticeable: 1. There is a return in energy and comfort, particularly on hard, technical trail/ rock. 2. The plate act as a rock-plate offering increased protection. Quite simply, this is the best shoe I have tried with a plate and in all honesty, I am putting it out there now and saying that the Golden Gate Kima is arguably the best mountain shoe I have ever used… A bold statement!

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There are so many aspects to this shoe that are so right, that the moment you slip them on, you smile. The fit is just amazing. It has a ‘sock-like’ internal construction which when laced up just holds the foot secure, reassured and comfortable. Everything I want in a mountain shoe. Amazingly, even when laced tight, they manage to avoid hot spots or pressure points.

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The heel area is superbly padded and goes high offering the ultimate comfort and protection – a level I have not experienced before in any shoe.

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At the front, the shoe opens up in to a wide toe box, which on a scale of 1-5 (1 being narrow) sits at a 4. This is quite unusual for a shoe that is so obviously designed for technical and challenging running. But it works. There is room for those with wider feet and for those with narrower feet, you get toe splay. Normally this would not work for me in a mountain shoe, I like my foot to feel held, secure and un-moveable, this only confirms how good the middle of the shoe is and how the lacing and sock-like fit gives you all the security you need.

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The upper has a double construction with structure coming from microfibre and anti-abrasion mesh which adds durability but still allows for breathability.

Toe box is superb with arguably one of the most protected front ends I have found in a run shoe.

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The outsole is Scarpa’s own Presa which I must be honest and say in past Scarpa shoes has left me perplexed. Not here in the Golden Gate Kima. There has been a significant re-working and the ‘SuperGum’ 4mm lugs are a dream on rock offering stunning grip. However, on wet UK Lakeland rock they were less secure.

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Cushioning is unusual. They are neither cushioned or firm but sit somewhere beautifully in the middle offering a superb feel for the ground without being harsh. The cushioning allows for comfort but without being squidgy. The combination of elements, which has double density foam wrapped around a 1mm carbon fiber plate gives an amazingly precise, lightweight, cushioned and reassured ride that adds energy to the run. I don’t know how Scarpa have managed it, but they have! This shoe has ground feel, precision, comfort and energy rebound in a package that feels light and fast. Flex behind the metatarsals is superb, so, the propulsive phase is not compromised. It’s difficult to believe a plate is in the midsole, but it is, you can see it.

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In Use

Women’s shoe with 100’s of KM’s and the 65km Transgrancanaria race in them.

It’s one of the best mountain/ skyrunning shoes I have used. The Golden Gate Kima goes head-to-head with VJ Sports XTRM and MAXx and dare I say it, equals them! The VJ’s are the go-to choice for many based on the stunning outsole and superb foot hold. However, many say that VJ are too narrow and are not cushioned/ protective enough. The Golden Gate Kima addresses all those issues and summary provides:

  1. Cushioned comfort without a loss for ground feel or control.
  2. Incredible foot hold with a superb sock-like fit and lacing.
  3. Superb heel protection.
  4. Wider toe box.
  5. Caron plate which adds protection and rebound without compromising ground feel and control.
  6. Lightweight.
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I could go on about how great these shoes are. Out of the box and straight in to a 25km run and I was smiling and a little amazed at how Scarpa have upped their game in the shoe world. There was much talk about the Ribelle Run but for me, this Golden Gate Kima places Scarpa at a whole new level.

Hard trail, rock and even some road, the shoes just perform. The compromises coming on muddy ground, the outsole lugs are not long enough and some types of wet rock. This is a mountain shoe designed for hard trail and rocks, be that wet or dry and they perform.

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Comfort is superb, energy return excellent and importantly precision and control is top-notch. It’s a shoe that can eat time and miles and most certainly, 6-hours in a shoe like this would not be a problem. Of course, this is personal. If you like Hoka-like squidge, bounce, roll and lack of control, this is not a shoe for you. How long could you run in them? It’s so personal it is hard to say, for me a good mountain day out maxing at 12-hours would be a limit.

Although neutral, there does feel to be a little additional support in the arch of the foot. It is noticeable, but not unpleasant. This is no doubt due to the combination of sock-like fit, dual cushioning and carbon plate.

Conclusion

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Buy them! It’s as simple as that… If you are heading to the mountains, running technical trails and want a combination of superb features all wrapped up in a lightweight good-looking shoe, you can’t go wrong with the Golden Gate Kima RT.

I have found it difficult to find fault in the shoe. For some, maybe the cushioning is not enough? But remember, the balance between ground feel, control, precision, and comfort is delicate – these are the best out there that I have found along with VJ. In prolonged runs I got some toe rubbing (2nd toe from the right) on my right foot (only the right) – It is where the toe bumper stops and the upper mesh starts. It may be unique to me, my foot shape etc, but worth noting.

The name ‘Golden Gate’ I find confusing. Scarpa make a shoe called Golden Gate ATR which is highly cushioned and a world away from this Kima RT model. The Golden Gate reference initially made me think it was a development of the ATR model.

It looks as though sizing is whole sizes, EU 40, 41, 42 and so on. This may make a compromise for some. I use EU 44 and they were perfect, true to size for me.

At £190.00 they are not cheap, blame Brexit! Much cheaper in Europe. However, based on how darn good they are, for me, they are worth it.

As always, there are other shoes that offer options and VJ with XTRM or MAXx are definite rivals which maybe get the nod due to the outsole. Also, La Sportiva Akasha are a more robust and cushioned shoe and if I was going longer, wanted more security and more long-term comfort, they would win out. The Goldengate Kima RT is without doubt a shoe that will regularly appear in my shoe rotation.

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Transgrancanaria 2022 – A Dream! A Goal!

Pablo Villa

Imagine starting in the far north on a volcanic island and travelling to the southern tip by foot. During a night, a day and maybe even another night, it is possible to cross mountain peaks, run through deep valleys, past incredible rock formations, through pine forest and along dry riverbeds taking in the flagship race that makes the Transgrancanaria ‘Classic’ race – now 20-years old.

“I love Transgrancanaria because it’s the ultimate race. It has everything. Technical paths, flow paths, heat, running through the night and both terrain and time of day change. The atmosphere is top notch, both among the runners and those who cheer.” – Margrethe Fjetland Løvold

A rollercoaster, both mentally and physically, the trip will require you to dig deep, but in the process create unforgettable memories. Night trails to Teror and Artenara. The village of Tajeda. Sunrise at Roque Nublo. The steep climbing and descent to San Bartolomé de Tirajana and then the dusty, rocky and sandy trails that lead to the finish in Maspalomas.

“Transgrancanaria is a race I have dreamed of for several years. Standing on the starting line with 700 other like-minded ultra-runners in an insane mood is difficult to describe. There are people everywhere on the trail, at all hours of the day, cheering you on. One of my highlights as an ultra-runner!” – Frode Wiggen

This is Transgrancanaria! A point-to-point race that allows one to experience some of the best trails that Gran Canaria has to offer. The race is world famous and attracts thousands of runners from around the world. Here the elite gather to compete for the honor and glory in Europe’s first big race of the season.

Abby Hall in the night to Teror.

It’s a race for all, not just the elite. The 2022 edition was won by Pablo Villa and Ragna Debats, but most who start just dream of a finish. Winning in 13-hours for the 128km race is far removed from those who will battle one day and two nights to finish in under 30-hours. No matter what time, the welcome is incredible.

Pau Capell fights the cold.

The 2022 edition will be remembered for a wild and challenging night – cold temperatures, strong winds, rain and even snow. It was a challenge for all! But soon after Roque Nublo, dropping below the cloud, the weather changed and warm sun and blue skies welcomed participants. It was unbelievable to witness and no doubt challenged each runner as they tried to adapt.

Pablo Villa – happy!

Pabo Villa paced himself through the night and took a convincing lead as daylight arrived. He was pursued by Pau Capell – the duo finished side-by-side in 2020. However, Pablo was too strong and he took an incredible win ahead of Pau and Pere Aurell.

Ragna Debats

For the women, Abby Hall lead the way through the night feeling very strong. However, Ragna Debats eventually caught the adidas athlete and passed her to forge ahead for victory in 16:21:29, a lead of 21-minutes over Abby. Claudia Tremps completed the podium.

Tom Evans – what a victory!

In the Advanced race, Tom Evans had one of those classic stories that you read in many magazines… Plagued by injury, he had some serious operations in 2021, started a long rehabilitation process and then returned to a big race and won! What a story. Aritz Egea pushed the adidas athlete but in the end, Tom was too strong, Aritz finished 10-minutes later. Matthieu Delpeuch finished 3rd.

Advanced women’s podium.

Ariana Wilhem finished ahead of Johanna Antila and Leah Yingling for a closely fought female Advanced podium.

Sebastien Ljungdahl – A surprise win!

In the marathon, Sebastian Ljungdahl and Sara Alonso ran too incredible and fast performances to take victory. Sara’s performance a course record. Despite the speed, they were close races with Marten Boström and Antonio Martínez completing the men’s podium. For the women, Toni McCann had a great first race in Europe placing 2nd and Anna Comet placed 3rd.

Sara Alonso

Full results listed below.

The Classic and the Marathon races feature in the Spartan Trail World Championships.

IMAGE GALLERIES HERE

Transgrancanaria has distances for every runner, the organization realise that a north-to-south journey is too much for many. Therefore, they offer multiple options: Advanced (62km), Marathon (43km), Starter (26km) or Promo (15km) – all taking place on sections of the full route.VK El Gigante, new for 2022, is a great 1000m climb starting from San Pedro in the Ageate area of the island.

Abelone Lyng

Experienced ultra and mountain runner, Abelone Lyng toed the line of the Advanced race after a full-on week pre-race, exploring the island.

“The weather was wild in the first 30 km with gusts of wind that almost blew me over a couple of times. We had mud and believe it or not, snow! But the last half of the race was cloudless skies and scorching sun. I liked the trail after Roque Nublo, it was steep and technical.”

The iconic Roque Nublo – a stunning backdrop.

With stunning beaches, sea, stunning weather, trails and mountains, this island in the Canaries is one of ‘the’ go-to places for racing or training. It’s no coincidence that Transgrancanaria is now in its 21st year – a clear example of why this island is a Mecca for trail and mountain runners. So, what are you going?

Words and Text by Abelone Lyng

CLASIFICACIÓN CLASSIC

Men’s

1. Pablo Villa (SPA). 13:37:30

2. Pau Capell (SPA). 13:58:47

3. Pere Aurell (SPA). 14:12:02

Women’s

1. Ragna Debats (NED). 16:00:14

2. Abby Hall (USA). 16:21:29

3. Claudia Tremps (SPA). 16:45:35

CLASIFICACIÓN ADVANCED

Men’s

1. Tom Evans (GRB). 05:10:39

2. Aritz Egea (SPA). 05:20:25

3. Matthieu Delpeuch (FRA). 05:31:44

Women’s

1. Ariana Wilhem (SUI). 06:06:16

2. Johanna Antila (FIN). 06:10:29

3. Leah Yingling (USA). 06:35:49

CLASIFICACIÓN MARATÓN

Men’s

1. Sebastian Ljungdahl (SUE). 03:02:00

2. Marten Boström (FIN). 03:05:07

3. Antonio Martínez (SPA). 03:08:02

Women’s

1. Sara Alonso (SPA). 03:30:10

2. Toni McCann (ZAF). 03:34:03

3. Anna Comet (SPA). 03:37:26

CLASIFICACIÓN STARTER

Men’s

1. Alberto Vender (ITA). 01:35:51

2. Eduard Hernández (SPA). 01:38:34

3. Damián Ramis (SPA). 01:40:50

Women’s

1. Mélina Grosjean (FRA). 01:57:45

2. Ainara Uribarri (SPA). 02:00:20

3. Georgia Tindley (GRB). 02:04:11

CLASIFICACIÓN PROMO

Men’s

1. Daniel Pattis (ITA). 00:44:31

2. Jürgen Lui (GER). 00:53:38

3. Jorge Álvarez (SPA). 00:54:14

Women’s

1. Sasa Torkar (SLO). 01:07:47

2. Lara Cordero (SPA). 01:08:28

3. Mar González (SPA). 01:08:36

CLASIFICACIÓN YOUTH 

Men’s

1. Mael Allaire (FRA). 00:46:40

2. Saúl Rodríguez (SPA). 00:51:47

3. Aarón Felipe (SPA). 00:53:23

Women’s

1. Noelia Santana (SPA). 01:28:35

CLASIFICACIÓN KV EL GIGANTE

Men’s

1. Chris Richards (GBR). 00:39:05

2. Ricardo Cherta (SPA). 00:41:33

3. Yoann Stuck (FRA). 00:42:48

Women’s

1. Gisela Carrión (SPA). 00:48:50

2. Georgia Tindley (GBR). 00:49:40

3. Mélina Clerc-Grosjean (FRA). 00:53:23 

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Lanzarote Multi-Day Training Camp 2022 – Day 3

Day 3 of the Lanzarote Multi-Day Training Camp kicked off with volcano hill reps. This session has been on the camp for 6-years and is always a favourite.

Leaving Club La Santa we pass through La Santa village and then arrive at Subida el Picacho for the hill reps. We recommend 6 loops, some do a little less, some do a little more. Ultimately, with the warm up and warm down, most get over 16km and 500 to 700m vert. A great session.

Of course, each loop has a downhill section that allows recovery time but also the possibility to practice downhill run technique on challenging terrain.

An extended break for lunch was followed with an 8-mile/ 12-km run/walk for an overnight bivouac. This session is done in a self-sufficient manner (with the exception of tents/ water which are transported) allowing each participant to test packs, sleeping bag, clothing and food.

Tents pitched, we had a fire and beautiful calm and warm night was relished by all as they tested dehydrated meals.

Eventually bed called…

During the night, the wind came in full force making for a sleepless night for all. With most participants using pop-up or cheap tents (for convenience) it proved for some comical experiences. Sorry Liz 😉

The morning was an hilarious mess of broken tents and tired bodies. Everyone somehow seeing the funny side of the experience.

With a new day, new challenges…

More to follow!

Want to join us in 2023? Info HERE

Image galleries HERE

Please support this website. I believe everyone deserves to read quality, independent and factual articles – that’s why this website is open to all. Free press has never been so vital. I hope I can keep providing independent articles with your help. Any contribution, however big or small, is so valuable to help finance regular content. Please support me on Patreon HERE.

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Lanzarote Multi-Day Training Camp 2022 – Day 2

It was day-2 of the Lanzarote Multi-Day Training Camp and the first full day. It started with a brilliant 23.5km/ 15-mile coastal run starting from Club La Santa and heading out along the coast passing through La Santa village, circumnavigating a volcano and then hugging a single-track all the way to Caserio de Tenezar before travelling around Teneza Peak and then re-tracing back to Club La Santa.

View images from the day HERE.

We had four groups with Pierre Meslet leading the fast group, Sondre Amdahl and Ian Corless leading groups 2 and 3 which combined running with walking and then Inge Nijkamp leading the walkers.

The trail offers stunning views and a mixture of technical trail, dirt roads, rocks and sand.

After lunch, Elisabet Barnes did a 2-hour talk on multi-day racing, self-sufficiency, planning and preparation.

With a long day almost done, at 1730 an easy 3-5km (3-miles) run concluded the day to loosen off the legs.

Please support this website. I believe everyone deserves to read quality, independent and factual articles – that’s why this website is open to all. Free press has never been so vital. I hope I can keep providing independent articles with your help. Any contribution, however big or small, is so valuable to help finance regular content. Please support me on Patreon HERE.

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adidas INFINITE TRAILS 2021 Summary

Three runners. Three loops. One Team. The concept of the adidas Infinite Trails is a bold one. Take three run routes of varying distance, take three runners, each running their own loop varying in distance from 15km to 40km. Quite simply, add the three individual finishing times together to see who the fastest team can be.

Now in its third edition, 2018 being the first followed by a hugely successful 2019 edition that elevated the event to a whole new level. As such, 2020 was hugely anticipated edition rolling on from the growth of 2019, unfortunately, a certain pandemic changed those plans.

Working within very specific parameters, the 2021 edition had less runners, new loops for the relay race of 20, 30 and 40km, a new solo 65km/15km race and a smaller athlete village. It would be easy to think that the 2021 version would be disappointing… Not at all! Mike and Sonja of Planet Talk, with the help of a truly dedicated team, once again managed to pull off an event that sets the benchmark for all running events.

Incredible organization and planning are at the hub of adidas Infinite Trails and it’s why the event is a success. No stone is left unturned, every eventuality is looked at and planned for. It’s a dream event to run and work on. 

The weekend started with a very controlled registration process meeting COVID guidelines. Race briefing was done digitally, and one has to wonder if race briefings in the future will always be done this way? It’s time efficient and arguably more thorough.

The ‘Market Run’ started in the afternoon and with it, racers of all ages tackled shorter distances around Bad Hofgastein. Of course, the highlight was the children. It’s so special to see kids run and run fast with no thought of pace. 

Saturday was race day and this is where the format changed to previous editions. In 2019, runners ran the first loop only first and then passed the timing chip to their teammate on completion at the finish. The second runner would then go on their own loop of a new distance to repeat the process once again. The third loop would follow the same process and the conclusion at the start/finish area would provide a total accumulative time. 

For 2021, all loops started at the same time with the three team members lining up and then departing on their respective loops at 0700.  The 65km solo loop started 30 minutes earlier, the solo 15km starting at 0900. The format worked extremely well and provided a plethora of finishes starting firstly with the 15km loop and lastly with solo runners arriving at darkness for the 65km loop. 

Austria and Gastein is a playground for trail runners, the three loops providing a perfect showcase for the highlights of the area. Only the 65km loop provided a full 360 journey including the highlights of Gamskarkogel, Graukogel and Tischkogel.

Races within a race bring an exciting element to adidas Infinite Trails. There is individual accolade as each runner passes their own finish line, but it’s only at the end that three runners will know if they have won the event; the three individual times added together to bring one finish time. 

The adidas Terrex Team fielded a star-studded line up, even more impressive coming so soon after hard efforts at UTMB. As always, the #oneteam ethos was paramount and for those who would not race, they would crew and support the others. 

Importantly though, the 2021 edition was all about inclusion and participation, of course, there were individual and team winners, but importantly, there were no losers. The adidas Infinite Trails was full of achievement, happiness, and pride. It was good to all come together again, enjoy the trails, a great atmosphere, and all glory in a combined stunning weekend of running joy, very much the #oneteam ethos working for a whole community of likeminded people who wanted to celebrate the sport!

Bad Hofgastein provided a perfect hub for a weekend like this and the after party achieved a whole new level of awesomeness as it moved to the Alpentherme for water, music, drinks, and food. 

2021 may well have been a transition year for the adidas Infinite Trails, one thing is for sure though, we all received a resounding confirmation that the race is here to stay. Something this good should be a must for all. 

I said this in 2019, but I’d love to see other brands field teams to go head-to-head to see who the best with three runners over three loops can be. And you? Plan now, find two friends, create a team name and join us in Bad Hofgastein next year for the adidas Infinite Trails. Or if you fancy the full and immersive 360 journey, why not contemplate the 65km solo run, it’s a toughie, but very rewarding. 

Race website HERE

Please support this website. I believe everyone deserves to read quality, independent and factual articles – that’s why this website is open to all. Free press has never been so vital. I hope I can keep providing independent articles with your help. Any contribution, however big or small, is so valuable to help finance regular content. Please support me on Patreon HERE.

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Ultra Trail Snowdonia 2021 Summary #UTS

Josh Bakker-Dyos

Persistent rain, low cloud, poor visibility, mud, bogs, wet rocks, climbs and descents that made even the most adapted legs scream in pain, yes, that was Ultra Trail Snowdonia 2021.

Missing in 2020 due to the dreaded ‘C’ word, the UTS returned in 2021 to Capel Curig as part of the Ultra Trail World Tour and supported by Hoka One One to confirm the dream of Michael Jones of Apex Running – A big UTMB style weekend of racing in the heart of Wales.

VIEW THE IMAGE GALLERY

With distances of 50km, 100km and the whopping 165km, one word was touted pretty much everywhere all weekend, brutal! And it was… A savage weekend of racing but as Michael says, ‘beautifully beyond belief, savage beyond reason.’

Despite the rain, despite the lack of views, Wales was a stunning playground for trail running. Let’s be clear here, there is no ‘easy’ running at UTS. The 50km is a wonderfully challenging route that may well have surprised many with some of its technical challenges, particularly the climb from Ogwen up to Carnedd Dafydd, compensated for what could be then considered a ‘relatively’ easy run in to the finish via Lyn Cowlyd and Blaen-Y-Nant.

The 100km route followed the early miles of the UTS50 all the way to Pen-Y-Pass but then headed along the Miners’ Track for an extended loop to return via the Pyg Track heading off to Y Garn, a loop around Tryfan and then head up to Carnedd Dafydd via a different route to the 50km and then follow the same run in to the finish.

The 165km is well, just a monster! As expected, it created carnage amongst the competitors. It’s a relentless beasting of mind and body that passes through the whole of Snowdonia. The 100km and 50km routes all utilizing sections of this all-encompassing journey but only the 165km giving the full perspective of how beautiful and hard the Welsh mountains are. As with all races at UTS, it started and concluded in Capel Curig. Heading off to Blaenau Ffestiniog, Croesor it then picked up the 50km and 100km routes to Pen-Y-Pass. Nantmoor, Moel Hebdog, Llyn-y-Gadair and then after Yr Wyddfa it followed the Snowdon Ranger Path for an extended loop before returning via the Snowdon Massif and Pyg Track to Pen-y-Pass. From here, the 100km and 165km routes were identical all the way back to Capel Curig.

Tremayne Dill Cowdry summed it up:
“45 hours to do just over 100 miles and every minute of that was a hard slog.
Mountains, bog, wet rock, tough nav on a marked course, sleep deprivation, mist, rain and the terrain!! Very little was even runnable. I can’t imagine a 100 miler more difficult than that. Easily the hardest I’ve done and definitely the hardest in the UK. I was going ok although I would have happily dropped given the chance but my feet succumb to the permanent wet and I had to hobble the last 20-ish miles…

Stunning landscape

As with all races, someone has to cross the line first, and of course there was stunning performances all weekend. However, the real sense of achievement came firstly from toeing the line and being in with a chance of completing a journey. The second came from completing the journey. Every medal was hard earned.

Josh Bakker-Dyos

In the 165km event, Josh Bakker-Dyos lead from the start and while many expected him to blow up, so fast was his pace, he never did. He was relentless and consistent crossing the line in 28:51:43. It was easy to say, ‘he made it look easy!’ But for every other runner who crossed the 165km line, it was very clear, there was nothing easy on this route! Toby Hazelwood was less than 60-minutes behind in second, 29:45:17, another stunning run! Adam Jeffs rounded the podium with 34:09:54. Alice Sheldon and Becky Wightman were the only female finishers, 45:09:55 and 47:41:06 their hard-earned efforts stopping the clock – a brutal two nights and days out in the Welsh mountains. Only 32 completed the race.

Mark Darbyshire

The 100km route was won, but not dominated by Lakeland 100 champ, Mark Darbyshire ahead of Josh Wade and Jack Scott. Mark crossed in 14:25:47 with 14:33:36 going to second. It was 16:02:05 elapsed before the third crossed the line. Sarah Stavely (21:41:03) won the women’s race with Kajsa Holgersson and Julie Finn in second and third, 22:28:49 and 22:44:53.

Lauren Woodwiss

Harry Jones flew around the UTS 50 route and looked as strong at the finish as when he started, his 6:13:33 a stunning time. It was 6:56:54 elapsed before second place Will Simmons crossed ahead of Spencer Shaw in 7:14:53. Lauren Woodwiss, like Jones, lead from the start dictating an excellent pace over the 50km route and completed her journey in an excellent 7:54:18. Celia Waring placed second in 8:36:18 and Abelone Lyng from Norway, moved up from outside the top-10 women to eventually finish third in 8:43:16 after sprinting for the line ahead of Jenna Shail who was just 13-seconds behind.

VIEW THE IMAGE GALLERY

Abelone Lyng

As Capel Curig slowly returned to some normality on Sunday, it was easy to see that the UTS will become one of the ultimate trail running events not only in the UK but the world. It may not have all the glamour and glitz of Chamonix and the UTMB. It’s a much more grass roots event, some would say a ‘true’ trail running event. Ultimately though, Wales was the hero of the weekend offering stunning routes. This landscape combined with the vision of Michael Jones of Apex Running and a team of dedicated volunteers and supporters will make UTS a ‘one to do!’ However, if you are thinking about the 165 event? Think long hard and without doubt, train hard, it’s a beautifully brutal beast.

‘beautifully beyond belief, savage beyond reason.’

Please support this website. I believe everyone deserves to read quality, independent and factual articles – that’s why this website is open to all. Free press has never been so vital. I hope I can keep providing independent articles with your help. Any contribution, however big or small, is so valuable to help finance regular content. Please support me on Patreon HERE.

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Ultra Trail Snowdonia 2021 Preview

Coronavirus pretty much wiped out the 2020 racing calendar and unfortunately, UTS was a casualty at the 11th hour. Gladly, UTS returns for 2021 bigger and better than ever… Supported by Hoka One One® and now part of the Ultra-Trail® World Tour, UTS is the UK’s answer to other big European ultras! Learn more about the Ultra-Trail® World Tour HERE.

Michael Jones of Apex Running Co is a runner himself, so, he has understood the need and desire to race, but also abide by government guidelines and provide a safe race – a thankless task for anyone. Michael has been positive though, always looking ahead, planning and working within government guidelines to bring a safe and stunning weekend of racing to Wales.

Three events that show Snowdonia at its best. The 50km has a 14-hour cut-off, the 100km 33-hours and the 165km a whopping 50-hour limit. Needless to say, 3 very tough events in a tough and challenging part of the world. Covering an area of 827 square miles and established in 1951, Snowdonia is the second largest National Park in the UK and home to the highest peaks in the UK outside of Scotland. From its 37 miles of beautiful beaches where you can surf, to rugged, ridge-laden mountain peaks and an array of pristine lakes inbetween: there is something to please every outdoor enthusiast here! Keen to learn a bit more about beautiful Snowdonia? A great place to start is the Snowdonia National Park Authority website HERE.

The 165km event is the main event of the weekend starting at 11am on Friday 10th September. A route that starts and finishes in Capel Curig, it’s a monster of a challenge.

The schedule for the weekend is HERE

UTS Facebook HERE

UTS Instagram HERE

UTS Twitter HERE

Each distance features 3300/6700/10,000m+ elevation gain, on predominantly technical mountain trails. This makes UTS one of, if not THE toughest Ultra-Trail® events in the world. UTS isn’t just challenging for the sake of it though. With routes that explore Snowdonia’s most scenic valleys, rugged peaks and epic landscapes, these race routes are truly the most beautiful in the UK!

Entry lists are available to view via the UTS website. While most entrants are from the UK, there is a multinational feel with Poland, Sweden, Norway, South Africa, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, New Zealand, Portugal, Czech Republic, Australia, Spain, USA, Germany, Netherlands and more… listed on the start sheets.

The UTS 165 is the stand-out and flagship event offering a stunningly brutal and beautiful tour of the Snowdonia National Park. Starting in Capel Curig, the route takes in the most notable peaks of north Wales.

UTS 100 has technical trails, epic views and is a highlight tour of north Wales.

Arguably, the UTS 50 is an entry level race but still requires respect for the challenges that Wales and its mountains can bring.

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Pyrenees Stage Run 2021 – Stage 6

It was the penultimate day of the 2021 Pyrenees Stage Run, 26.6km with 1820m+ starting in Tavascan and concluding in Esterri d’Àneu.

Crossing the last part of the Pallars Sobirà region to face Vall d’Aran, past participants had enthusiastically proclaimed that this was a spectacular day, and they were correct.

The early 6km of climbing to La Pleta del Prat (1720m) were mostly on forest trails, however, from the ski station, the landscape opened up offering stunning views of the surrounding mountains. The highlights of the day were the lakes of Estany de Mascarida and Collada dels Tres Estanys.

The highpoint of the day coming at 2646m and with it scree slopes, rope sections and after Collada dels Tres Estanys some small chained sections.

It was a wow day, the landscape truly spectacular.

VIEW THE IMAGE GALLERIES

Pont de Graus and Unarre broke up the long 16km downhill to the finish that would sap tired legs.

Parc Naturel de L’Ailt Pirineu gave way to Parc Nacional d”Aigüestortes I Estany de Sant Maurici and the finish in Esterri d’Àneu was a welcome conclusion to a beautiful day.

Tomorrow, stage 7 will conclude the PSR and while the runners bodies will welcome the conclusion of a tough 240km journey, there is already a hint of sadness that this experience is coming to close.

The PSR is most definitely a run experience that gives an all encompassing run journey through a remarkable part of the world. Of course, there are those who will finish first, but this 7-day journey feels much more like a run than a race.

The PSR can be followed live through the website of the race, https://psr.run, and every day a video and photographs of the stages will be published on their social networks.

The Pyrenees Stage Run would not be possible without the main sponsorship of Turga Active Wear, Garmin, Puigcerdà, Encamp (And) Vall del Madriu-Perafita-Claror and bifree sports.

Please support this website. I believe everyone deserves to read quality, independent and factual articles – that’s why this website is open to all. Free press has never been so vital. I hope I can keep providing independent articles with your help. Any contribution, however big or small, is so valuable to help finance regular content. Please support me on Patreon HERE.

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