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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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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Pyrenees Stage Run 2021 – Stage 3

The longest day of the race travelling from Puigcerdà to Encamp in Andorra. A tough and challenging 47.5km with 2600m+ over some stunning and remarkable terrain that would leave the runners weary from the effort but rejuvenated by the views.

The early km’s were easy but soon the trail pointed to the sky and by 18km’s Guils-Fontanera had been passed and Refugi de Malniu opened up the gateway to the try challenges of this stage.

The climb to Portella D’Engorgs at 2696m sapping the energy of all only to be followed by a descent to Cabana D’Esparvers at 2060m and then another climb to 2543m and Coll de L’Illa. Looking at the profile, one may think that the final 15km is all downhill… Think again, it’s a challenging run with many false flats and technical terrain only to sap the legs and energy before the arrival in Andorra.

The day was always going to be feared and rightly so, 47km is never an easy run, even when fresh, let alone after already a couple of challenging days. The weather forecast also was less than favorable with storms and rain forecast for the afternoon, gladly it only arrived at 4pm and lasted for 30-minutes.

Relentless in beauty, the stage had it all with wide open valleys, technical single-track, tough and hard climbs and leg busting descents. It was a day to survive for many, the promise of an easier 20km stage the day after.

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As in the previous days, the results were the same, “Tuga Canarias” team of Gilberto Molina and Carmelo Gonzalez once again won. However, second place went to “The Ultrazzz” team of Wim Debbaut, Thomas Swankaert and Kurt Dhont with Jesús and Mario Delgado of the “The Sigobros Century” placing 3rd.

In the female category, Marcela Mikulecka and Petra Buresova of “Runsport Team” dominated followed by mother and daughter, Jeanette Rogers and Kerrianne Rogers of “Running Holidays France.”  

Jaroslaw and Natalia Haczyk of “BeerRunners” lead the mixed category ahead of “B-Running” team Bastian Mathijssen and Birgit Van Bockxmeer are followed by Steffen Rothe i Kathrin Litterst of “Black Forest.” 

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.

Stage 4 is just 20k but with 1900m+.

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.

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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Pyrenees Stage Run 2021 – Stages 1 and 2

The Pyrenees Stage Run 2021 got underway yesterday, Sunday August 29th from Ribes de Freser. The challenge? 240km over 7-days allowing participants to fully appreciate the beauty of the Pyrenees. 

A linear route, the journey concludes in Salardú with a 32.8km distance and 2300m+ 

Running in teams of 2 or 3 participants, the Pyrenees Stage Run arguably is a running holiday, with tough and challenging days and then relaxing post-race with a shower, bed, fresh clothes and excellent dinner each evening.

Stage 1 concluding in Queralbs after 34.3km and 2180m+ with highlights of Emprius de Pardines, Balandrau at 2585m (the highest point peak of the day), Col de Tres Pics, Coma de Vaca and finally Santuari de Núria before the drop to Queralbs. It was a successful day with all runners achieving the cut-off times. However, as always happens in any run,, injury hit forcing one runner not to make the start for day 2.

The ‘Tuna Canarias’ team of Gilberto Molina and Carmel Gonzales dictated the pace over the challenging terrain in Capçaleres del Ter I Freser Natural Park. A highlight of the day was the panoramic views from Balandrau Peak. Passing Refugio de Montaña the temptation to stop, take a cold drink and snack may well be tempting distraction but the Santuari dr Núria was waiting and then the finish.

Stage 2 started with the Cremella train journey back to the finish line of day 1 and a relatively late start of 0815. The 37,4km that lay ahead with 1700m+ was in comparison to stage 1, ‘easy’ running!

Concluding in Puigcerdà the route was almost 100% GR11 track with little technicality but some stunning views. 

Starting with a climb over the first 7km to Collet De Les Barraques, the route then dropped down to Can Fosses at 10km and the second lowest elevation point of the day. The following 12km was all about gently climbing  to Coll de la Creu de Meians at 1992m via the pretty town of Dòrria. Coll Marcer followed and then the route dropped to Vilallobent before 5km of road to the stage 2 conclusion in the capital of Cerdanya, Puigercerdà.

The race is so far it is dominated by “Tuga Canarias” team of Gilberto Molina and Carmelo Gonzalez. Jesús and Mario Delgado of the “The Sigobros Century” follow and the “The Ultrazzz” team of Wim Debbaut, Thomas Swankaert and Kurt Dhont are 3rd in the in the men’s category. 

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In the female category, Marcela Mikulecka and Petra Buresova of “Runsport Team” have a strong lead after another excellent day, followed by mother and daughter, Jeanette Rogers and Kerrianne Rogers of “Running Holidays France.” 

Finally, in the mixed category Jaroslaw and Natalia Haczyk of “BeerRunners” lead “B-Running” team Bastian Mathijssen and Birgit Van Bockxmeer are followed by Steffen Rothe i Kathrin Litterst of “Black Forest.” 

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

The event enters Andorra on Tuesday for stage 3, the longest of the race at 47km and 2600m+ The runners have 12 hours to finish the route.

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.

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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Episode 212 – Beth Pascall

Episode 212 has an interview with Beth Pascall who won the iconic Western States 100-mile. The show is co-hosted by Abelone Lyng.


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NEWS

Firstly, apologies for the lack of a show recently. It’s been one of those periods when life and travel have taken over and after the rollercoaster of the last 18-months, I personally decided to go with the flow and not force anything. Abelone, who is co-hosting with me, has joined me on many and adventure recently and we have enjoyed the disconnect and trail time. We have run many miles, climbed many mountains, fastpacked, camped wild and soaked in the best of what Norway has to offer… July has been a good month to re-connect. I also started to travel again with races, a stunning trip to Lofoten for The Arctic Triple, a race in Hardanger, a four day (the UT4M) in France and just recently, the Stranda Fjord Trail race and this weekend, as the show is released, the Rondane 100.


Next week I head to Chamonix for build up to UTMB and some news on that to follow later in the show.


Scott Jurek is back on the Appalachian Trail and Speedgoat Karl is with him. Scott is once again taking on the 2190-mile journey  travelling south looking to set an FKT for the second time, he departed August 4th at 0730. Scott set the record in 2015 travelling north. Karel Sabbe holds the fastest time of 41-days, 7-hours and 39-minutes. *Update, news came in after recording that Scott had to stop after injury.


Talking of FKT’s, Timmy Olson set a new record on the Pacific Crest Trail, 51-days, 16-hours and 15-minutes for the 2653-mile journey. Supported by his family, Krista his wife heavily preganant, this journey was far more than just running. From the outside looking in, it was a truly inspirational journey. We hoe to chat with Tim soon!


Simen Holvik set a new record for the Norg Pa Langs (road) in Norway, 25-days 15-hours and 20-minutes. 


Kilian Jornet once again the legendary Sierre-Zinal for the 9th time. 31km, 200m of vert in 2:31, the dude is a GOAT. Huge shout to the UK1s Robbie Simpson in 2nd and Cesare Maestri in 3rd. Maud Mathys won the women’s race (already a 2x champ) in 2:46 ahead of Nienke Brinkman and Anais Sabre.


Tromso Skyrace was won by Therese Arvik and Lars Olaf Haaheim, the race usually has excellent competitors from outside Norway, however, the ongoing Covid restrictions impacted on an international field.


Abelone and myself were in Stranda, Norway, for the Stranda Fjord Trail Race – I focussed on the 100km but there was a 48km and 25km. This course needs to be experienced – it is stunning! Please read the race report and view the images.


TransRockies in Colorado was won by Cody Reed and Grace Staberg, the duo running the 6-day solo in 15:59 and 18:35.


Next week the build up to UTMB starts and Talk Ultra is going to be providing in-depth content, behind the scenes of the adidas Terrex Team. We are going to be discussing many subjects and although the full line up of interviews are not confirmed, you can expect chat with the team manager, in-depth chat with one of the shoe designers, emphasis on women in trail running, chats with legends of the sport and of course, chat with up and coming stars.

FKT’s? check the FKT website HERE


NEW REVIEWS


RAB Mythic Ultra Sleeping bags HERE


Hoka One One ZINAL shoe review HERE


Big Agnes Fly Creek solo tent HERE


adidas Terrex Speed Ultra long-term review HERE

OLDER ARTICLES:

Hypothermia – Be Prepared HERE

Mandatory Kit HERE

inov-8 Trailfly Ultra G300 Max Review HERE

VJ Sport ULTRA shoe review HERE

VJ Sport ULTRA

La Sportiva CYKLON shoe review HERE listen to Episode 208 of Talk Ultra is a special show with DANIEL FEENEY and Jonathan Wyatt discussing the collaboration between BOA and La Sportiva for the new, Cyklon shoe.

La Sportiva Cyklon

INSTINCT XX20L Pack review HERE

Instinct XX 20L

HOKA ONE ONE Torrent 2 Review

La Sportiva Lavaredo Ultra Trail Review and Images.

NEED A TRAINING PLAN?

12 – 24 Week Multi-Day Training Plans now available HERE

100-Mile Training Plan now available HERE

We also have several places that have become available for bespoke coaching and training plans. Like more information? 

Listen to the show here or via links:

LINKS:

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ITunes HERE 

iOS HERE

Android HERE 

Web player 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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Stranda Fjord Trail Race 2021 Race Summary

Kristian Aalerud arriving at the first summit at 0500 hours.

The words epic, beautiful and brutal get used a great deal in ultra-running and I get it. For many of us, any journey can entail all those things on a personal level and that is why you toe the line…

However, here in Stranda Fjord, Møre go Romsdal, Norway, one of the most truly spectacular experiences is waiting for you to toe the line.

Missing in 2020 due the Coronavirus pandemic, the Stranda Fjord Trail Race returned with three races, 25km, 48km and the new 100km distance. The latter offering a full and immersive 360 experience of what this magical area of Norway has to offer.

VIEW THE IMAGE GALLERY HERE

Let’s be honest, Norway as a location is arguably one of the most beautiful places in the world, and as a runner or outdoor enthusiast, the options and possibilities are endless, be that in the south or north.

Stranda, part of the Sunnmøre region, is a small place located on one of the west Norwegian fjords. Often accessed via ferry from Liabygda, it can also be accessed by road from Grodås. In proximity to Alesund, Åndalsnes, Loen and others, it’s a wonderful and magical area to explore.

No better place for sunrise!

The 25km and 48km races use much of the opening miles of the 100km route, however, after reaching the summit of Fremste Blåhornet at 1478m they return to Stranda via Heimste BlåhornetLøfonnfjellet and Rødesthornet. The 25km then concludes in Stranda and the 48km continues for another loop summiting at Roaldshornet at 1230m and then following on to Blåfjellet and Skurdahornet before descending all the way down to the finish line. Both races are tough, challenging, and demanding and should not be underestimated. There is little easy running here, the climbing is hard, the descents can be tricky, and the terrain varies in technicality, at times harsh on the body and mind, the only easy running is in the final sections of road to the finish line. This is reflected in the winning times, Jack Kosky 6:16:21 and Sara-Rebekka Færø Linde 7:14:34 taking top honours in the 48km and Anders Haga and Anita Iversen Lilleskare winning the 25km in 2:31:01 and 3:12:17 respectively.

Øystein Røen

The main event of the weekend, the 100km race. Is for many only a dream. To say it’s tough would not do the course justice, it’s mind blowing in the challenge. Beautifully brutal as one runner said. Offering a 360 clockwise experience of this stunning area of Norway, the Stranda Fjord Trail Race 100km route is quite simply, one of the most stunning routes I have experienced.

Relentless is the only way to describe. The course does contain some areas where you can switch off and just run, but they are few and far between.  The opening miles maybe offering many a false illusion of the severity to come. The hard work starts to really kick in with approximately 20km covered at Liavarden. What follows are walls of grass, rock, scree, stone slabs, technical ridges, vertical climbing and challenging descending.

The race is truly a hands on experience.
Linda Hovde had lead the race early on, probably starting to hard.

Reaching the summit of Fremste Blåhornet at 1478m, 23km covered, and every runner was under no illusion of the challenge ahead. The terrain rocky, slow and hard, the panoramic views at sunrise quite simple stunning. Following on to Lissje Blåhornet and a technical ridge section offered exposure and scrambling before dropping down to the valley and easier running to the aid station on the road of Dalevegen and 28km distance.

Descending Slogen

A short section of road was followed with more climbing, an out-and-back to another peak and then the Liasætra aid station.

Easy running before Slogen.

Valley running to Patchellhytta DNT cabin and then the relentless out-and-back climb to the iconic Slogen at 1564m. This climb being one of the highlights of the route offers a challenge, especially near the top when hands-on-knee climbing turns to scrambling and easy climbing.

The final push to Slogen summit.
The view from Slogen.

The summit offering a stunning panorama but there is little time to enjoy the view. Descending via the way you came, eventually you turn left in the valley and make your way to Velleseter, Brunstadsætra, Storevatnet, and then the road section that leads to the final section of the course, 80km covered.

Felix Weber approaching Roaldshornet.

The climb to summit Roaldshornet at 1230m is long, the summit at 86km and it would be easy to think it’s all downhill from here. Considering what has gone before, it’s fair to say that it is. Eventually the 100km joins with the final section of the 48km track and the run in to the finish is welcome and hard earned.

Rocks and more rocks.

Be warned, this route is tough!

Kristian Aalerud set a hard pace at the start of the race and while nobody really knew how long this 100km would take, best estimations were 17-hours for the winning time. Kristian crossed in 15:49:31. A spectacular time.

Øystein Røen for much of the day had run in 2nd place, however, Felix Weber moved ahead to take the 2nd podium spot, Øystein settling for 3rd, 17:03:12 and 17:25:38 respectively.

Ida Jahren Herud ran a smart race

Ida Jahren Herud ran a smart race, easing in to the day and eventually taking over the lead to finish in 22:25:12. Linda Hovde had lead the race early on, probably starting too hard she slipped down the field and eventually finishing in 28:29:34 in 2nd place. They were the only two women to complete the course!

In total, 20 completed the distance reflecting the severity of the challenge. It’s also important to note that the start list was drastically reduced to ongoing restrictions from the Covid pandemic.

One thing is for sure, running 25km, 48km or 100km in this area of Norway is not easy, ask anyone who toed the line of the respective distances.

There is something truly magical here, I can only encourage and emphasise that you ‘need’ to add Strand Fjord Trail Race to your bucket list.

Beautiful and Brutal!

You will not be disappointed with the experience of racing here, BUT come prepared, you are going to earn that finish medal.

RACE WEBSITE HERE

Slogen

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Episode 211 – John Stocker Backyard Ultra World Record Holder

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Episode 211 has an interview with John Stocker who ran more than 337 miles in 81 hours at the Suffolk Backyard Ultra to set a new WR ahead of Matt Blackburn who pushed him all the way to the line.


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INTERVIEW : JOHN STOCKER

NEWS

Check FKT website for latest updates HERE

Hypothermia – Be Prepared HERE

Mandatory Kit HERE

Latest Reviews

inov-8 Trailfly Ultra G300 Max Review HERE

VJ Sport ULTRA shoe review HERE

VJ Sport ULTRA

La Sportiva CYKLON shoe review HERE listen to Episode 208 of Talk Ultra is a special show with DANIEL FEENEY and Jonathan Wyatt discussing the collaboration between BOA and La Sportiva for the new, Cyklon shoe.

La Sportiva Cyklon

INSTINCT XX20L Pack review HERE

Instinct XX 20L

HOKA ONE ONE Torrent 2 Review

La Sportiva Lavaredo Ultra Trail Review and Images.

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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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Hoka One One Torrent 2 Cotopaxi Review

It has been a long time since I slipped on a Hoka One One shoe, 2012 to be exact. Almost 10-years ago and while I could write my reasons why, it’s best to read an article I wrote called ‘Minimal, Maximal or the curious question of Drop.’

So, I have avoided Hoka One One and maximal cushioned shoes ever since.

However, when you test as many shoes as I do, I didn’t feel it correct to neglect Hoka, however, I also felt that no matter how impartial I try to be in reviews, I probably would still hark back to the pre 2012 days.

Recently though, I have been testing and loving trail shoes that somehow sit in the middle, not minimal cushioned or maximal, a nice middle ground. Currently, my shoe of the year is the adidas Speed Ultra and if I need more grip and an aggressive outsole, the VJ Sport Ultra has been great.

With this in mind, many who read my reviews suggested that I try the Torrent 2 by Hoka One One. One thing was universal in all the comments, ‘It is the least Hoka like shoe that they do.’ Ultimately, it is the least cushioned and bouncy shoe currently in the Hoka range… This may change with the new ‘Zinal!’

So, Hoka One One in Norway kindly sent me a Torrent 2 Cotopaxi to test. Cotopaxi is ‘an innovative outdoor product and experience that funds sustainable poverty relief, move people to do good, and inspire adventure.’

Cotopaxi joins brands, such as Hoka One One to ultimately ‘do good’ and they bring some unique colours and designs. The Torrent 2 celebrates the kaleidoscopic wonders of this great planet in what I think is a stunning colour way, but I fully appreciate that this may well be too much for some. I love the uniqueness, the colours, and the fact that the left shoe is different to the right.

THE SHOE

Love the colour way, it’s a winner for me.

The Torrent 2 is light, 278g from an UE44/ UK9.5.

The tongue is well padded and comfortable, the lacing excellent and additional eyelets exist should you need to lock lace or similar.

The upper is extremely durable and yet breathable using a mesh upper that utilises recycled post-consumer plastic waste to make a Unifi REPREVE yarn. Reinforcing exists to help protect the foot but there is little to no toe protection.

Heel box is padded and holds the foot well with no slippage when climbing.

The outsole is a nice middle ground trail grip that is extremely comfortable on dry trails and road but yes has enough grip when the trails become sloppy. The lugs are multi-directional which work exceptionally well and even on wet rock, the grip has been reassuringly good.

Toe box is on the wider side and allows good toe splay and comfort over longer distances. On a 1-5 scale, 1 being narrow, the Torrent 2 is a 4 for me.

Cushioning is somewhat a revelation, and, in all honesty, I expected to not like the feel or the ride. I was completely wrong. The Torrent 2 feels nothing like the Hoka’s I used pre 2012 and I understand why many say, ‘It is the least Hoka like shoe.’ The cushioning was firmer, had less roll and quite simply provides wonderful comfort over any distance. Cushioning is PROFLY.

The footprint of the shoe is wider, and this helps compensate for additional stack height reducing any inward or outward roll, and thus provides more precision and stability when the trails become more technical. The reason I defected from Hoka was I got way too much roll from the super soft cushioning and maximal nature of the shoes – note here.

IN USE

Well, I never thought I would be writing this, but, the Torrent 2 has become a real favourite shoe and has been in a regular rotation with my adidas Speed Ultra, which I love! The Hoka and adidas are in many ways similar but at the same time, very different. The adidas without doubt better on more technical terrain and excellent if not superb on the road.

The Torrent 2 is just a great everyday shoe that works on most terrain and provides comfort over short or long distance. The landing and cushioning from PROFLY is excellent and the propulsive phase are not lacking. There is a firmer feel to the Torrent 2 and I can anticipate that Hoka One One fans (who like the maximal bounce) will find this shoe maybe not to their liking. For me, it’s perfect!

A neutral shoe it allows my foot to respond to the terrain in a natural way and the shoe has great response, the 5mm drop adds to that ‘at one with the ground’ feel despite this being a more cushioned shoe with 18mm at the front and 23mm at the rear. The female version has less cushioning, 16/21 and I applaud Hoka for understanding that women need their own specific shoes, not smaller versions of the men’s shoe. Roll is present, especially when on rocky terrain, tree routes and so on, however, it’s completely manageable and within parameters I would want and expect from a shoe with more cushioning. The wider footprint goes a long way in providing more comfort and less roll. There is no rock plate in the shoe and in all honesty, I found no issues or problems. My regular trails are littered with rocks, tree roots and demanding sections. Nothing came through to impact on my foot.

On a scale of 0-100% for rigidity, I would say the Torrent comes in around the 50% mark offering reassured comfort that sits in a perfect middle ground. By contrast, the adidas Speed Ultra is considerably more flexible sitting around 75/80%.

The outsole I am assuming is ‘in-house’ but does have some resemblance to Vibram. Apparently, the outsole has been re-worked from the original Torrent and while not mega aggressive, it performs exceptionally well on most terrain but excels on dry trail. The grip works well in soft ground but if heading into muddy terrain, you will no doubt need a more aggressive outsole. Some compromise comes on wet rock.

Fit for me was excellent providing plenty of toe room and the lacing held my foot well. They are true to size.

The upper is a little hot, especially on hot days and in the wet, I found that the shoe drained well but the upper did retain some water.

CONCLUSION

Everything is personal and I love the Torrent 2, I will be clear, I didn’t expect to! I like them ultimately because they are not what I expected, and I am used to from a Hoka One One shoe. They are firmer, lower to the ground, provide adequate cushioning and allow great comfort over any distance and pretty much any terrain. They are a great everyday shoe.

If I wanted to race or move faster, I wouldn’t choose the Torrent 2. It’s a comfort shoe that allows me to relax and run over longer distances on easier run days or say when running a multi-day or fastpacking.

Hoka One One fans will like the Torrent 2 less I would imagine, I can hear the comments now, ‘They are too firm for me!’ And that is fine! What I like is that Hoka as a brand are looking beyond what made them famous (max cushioning) and understanding that many people (like me) would like what Hoka offer in a more ‘conventional’ shoe, the Torrent 2 does just that! The new Zinal looks to take that to a new level and I am keen to try them.

The collaboration with Cotopaxi is excellent providing a great colour way and some extremely positive ‘eco’ stats. Cotopaxi ties its earnings to impact by allocating 1% of annual revenues to the Cotopaxi Foundation. The foundation awards grants to outstanding nonprofit partners who are carefully selected for their track records at improving the human condition and alleviating poverty. This year alone, the foundation has awarded 34 individual grants, directly assisted 750,000 people, and donated over $400,000.

Ultimately, a great all-rounder over any distance and any terrain. It’s not a perfect shoe but there is little to complain about. It has low weight, comfort, toe splay and cushioning. Compare this to the latest Trailfly from inov-8 and we are talking chalk and cheese, I still struggle to understand how inov-8 could make such an awful shoe… But then again, some love it. Ultimately though, is the Torrent 2 as good as the adidas Speed Ultra? It’s a tough call, but the Speed Ultra would be shoe of choice. Trust me though, I have been rotating between the two and I am happy in both. The adidas gets the nod as it has more response, feels nimble, lighter and makes me want to run faster. If I compared the shoes as though cars, the Speed Ultra is nimbler and faster, say a Porsche, whereas the Torrent 2 is more a family saloon designed for comfort over the long haul, say a Toyota Rav4.

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.

Follow on:

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INSTINCT XX 20L Multi-Day/ Stage Racing Pack – First Look

It is finally here… I have been waiting to get my hands on the INSTINCT XX 20L pack ever since I laid my eyes on it and now I have one to test.

Unprecedented in design, the XX marks a new beginning for those seeking the ideal solution for multi-day trail races, ultra-distance events or their next self-sufficient adventure.Stunning in function and versatility, the XX’s intuitive design offers easy access to key elements in the most critical conditions. Extreme function allows customization in how gear/ clothing/ food/ hydration can be carried.The XX is evolutive in volume and brings intelligent, segmented storage.

This is not a review, this is a first look and importantly I have done a video that address questions that I have asked and asked…

How much liquid will it hold?

Will it take 750ml bottles both hard and soft?

Do they have different sizes?

Is there a female version?

Over the coming days I will be testing the pack completely and I will video packing and showing capacity and features.

Below shows the pack with a typical multi-stage equipment list.

I will then do a 2-day fastpack carrying all I need, including tent, to see how the pack performs with a loaded weight of 8kg.

Below shows the pack with a typical fastpacking set up.

To show packing flexibility, the above pack is as in the Fastpacking video BUT with the tent split between one of the mesh pockets and the main compartment. All other contents remain the same, just packed differently.

Initial impressions confirm the pack has vest comfort and amazing flexibility and fit. Notably, the pack has the option to adjust in size shifting from 24L to 18L – important in a multi-day like MDS when you eat food and the need for less volume is required.

KEY FEATURES : – Large back door = instant access to main compartment and easy viewing of internal items
– Independent roll-top pocket for increased storage
– Removeable top pouch carries smaller items (first aid kit, knife, etc). A stretch mesh pocket over the top allows instant access to jacket storage or a solar battery panel

COMFORT  & PROTECTION : 
– Entirely made of Cordura© Nylon 6.6 ripstop
– 3mm perforated EVA padding in back panel
– 3D mesh shoulder straps/back panel for ideal sweat dissipation

The XX allows : 
– 2 x 750ml+ bottles/softflasks in front
– 2 XL vertical front zip pockets
– 2 zipped shoulder pockets
– 2 XL mesh front pockets
– 3 fixing options for poles (front/back)
– Ice pick on back
– Shovel fixture
– Easy backside carrying of sleeping mat or other objects (ex: tent)
– Independent 3L water bladder pocket
– X-Large 2-in-1 overlapping stretch mesh pockets on lower backside

Follow here for full review, video and photos.

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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