The days are getting shorter and bad weather is just around the corner. Wet, wind, snow and ice are all part of the norm if you are going to keep training and racing outdoors through the months of November, December, January, February and if you (we) are lucky, the weather may start to improve with the arrival of March.

Getting outdoors when the days are dark and the weather is inclement can be difficult. But if you have the correct apparel, these days can actually provide some of the most inspiring experiences. Pretty sure you have heard the saying, ‘No such thing as bad weather, just bad equipment!’

Although this article is a review of two key items of apparel to keep you warm and dry while out on the trails or in the mountains. I should clarify first and foremost a couple of good protocols that will make any run in winter better.

Layering is key so that you can regulate temperature.

Start with a base layer that will keep you warm but also wick away sweat. Merino wool is a great fabric.

Use 3/4 or full length tights. Some runners like to continue running in shorts through winter. It all comes down to personal preference but keep in mind conditions. For example, snow and ice can burn.

Have gloves, hat and a buff like product and ideally use a specific run sock, again, Merino wool is best.

Depending on conditions, the length of run you are undertaking and how high (altitude) you will go, taking a mid-layer is probably a good idea.

Two options exist:

  1. A ‘down’ filled jacket that will pack small, weigh very little and provide excellent warmth. The main problem with down is that it must not get wet!
  2. A ‘Primaloft’ jacket (or similar) will pack a little larger than down and weigh a little more but the big advantage is that a product with a synthetic filling can get wet and retain warmth. For mountain, trail and fell runners this is a better choice.

With all the above boxes ticked. Any runner who ventures into the fells, mountains and any challenging environment should take a high quality waterproof jacket and over trousers. This is where inov-8 step in with the AT/C Racepant and AT/C Stormshell.

The current trend of moving fast and light has seen runners take less and less to the mountain. Light is great providing you can move fast, the two go hand in hand. I’ve often heard many a runner say, ‘Waterproof jacket, waterproof trousers… pfffff! I don’t need them to race. If I am using them then my race is over!’

And that is exactly the point. Warm layers, waterproof layers are there for when unpredictable conditions hit or when you (the runner) have an unexpected or unplanned incident. A sprained ankle for example can stop you running and result in a slow walk. One thing is guaranteed to happen and that is your core temperature will drop and hypothermia won’t be far away.

With the AT/C Racepant and Stormshell you can still travel light but have the luxury of two excellent products that will keep you dry, warm and protected from the wind.


•Colour : BLACK

•Weight : 175g / 6.2oz

•Material : 55% PU / 45% Polyester

•Gender : Unisex

•Specification :

•4-way stretch, super micro soft hand touch.

•Knee length YKK Aquaguard zips with locking zip heads.

•Elasticated front, flat back waist band and hem.

•Ergonomic fit.

•Packs away into pocket.


The RACE PANT weighs ****g rolls up small and will fit in any pack and pretty much any waist pack. They are simple in design with a thick waist band, an internal pocket with elastic loop so you don’t loose keys, a tapered leg and a lower leg zip on both legs that allows the pants to be added or removed without removing shoes. In regard to size, they are a streamlined and tapered product and therefore should you have a bigger leg, you may want to check on the appropriate size for you. For example, I wear medium in all inov-8 products but I chose large in the Race Pant.

These pants fit so well that they cause no discomfort or odd feeling when running. This is often a problem with any over trouser as the additional layer can feel claustrophobic. I used the Racepant with shorts, 3/4 tights and full length tights underneath. Without doubt, the Race Pant is more comfortable with 3/4 or full length tights underneath as a layer of fabric stops the Race Pant sticking to your leg.

The AT/C Race Pant is breathable and retains warmth very well. Of course, if conditions improve and the ambient temperature rises, it’s advisable to move the Racepant asap otherwise you will get hot quickly.


The AT/C Race Pant is a quality product and is comparable to the TNF Storm Trouser (which is very lightweight) and in my opinion is a considerably better product than the OMM Kamleika Race Pant which I found too hot and a little heavier.




•Colour : RED

•Weight : 150g / 5.5oz

•Material : 100% Nylon ripstop face, PU Laminate

•Gender : MENS

•Specification :

•Deep centre front YKK Aquaguard 2 way front zip with internal storm flap and locking zip heads.

•Roll-away hood with wired peak and single hand adjustment.

•YKK Aquaguard chest pocket zip with fully taped seams.

•Lycra bound cuffs with integrated thumb hole.

•Includes stuffsac.

The Stormshell is a pullover product with a two-way zip that stops mid-chest. The hood is fully adjustable, zips high and has a peak to protect from wind and rain. The sleeves are longer in length and include a thumb hole, so, should you need extra hand warmth or protection, you call pull your hand inside the sleeve. At ***g it’s seriously lightweight and it also packs small. It’s a product that really personifies fast and light without a compromise on quality or protection from the elements.

The Race Jacket has become my ‘go to’ waterproof layer when running or working. It’s so light and small there really is no reason NOT to take it! The benefits it brings when the weather changes are huge and although looks shouldn’t come into the equation, it’s a fine looking jacket too!

It’s minimalist in design so you wont find many pockets. A chest pocket is the only addition.

Fully taped seams guarantee that the jacket remains waterproof. A pull cord around the waist allows you to adjust the fit. The hood has adjustment on the front  left and right sides and on the rear of the hood is a pull cord so you can tighten up any excess fabric. The peak has a flexible reinforced section that allows you to bend the peak to your preferred fit. This reinforcement also stops the hood collapsing. The hood can also be rolled up and secured inside the jacket by a fabric loop with velcro fastening. As mentioned, the zip is two-way which will allow you to have the jacket fastened under your chin but with the zip open should you require some ventilation. The zip goes up high, almost to nose height and if you have the hood adjusted correctly, you rally can protect yourself from the elements with just your eyes showing. The chest pocket is big enough for a phone or similar sized product and it also include a drawstring bag (the size of my hand) that the jacket can fold into.

Like the trousers, the jacket fits snugly and you may want to check sizing based on your intended use, particularly if you may want to use an insulating layer between the base layer and the outer layer.

The jacket for me is a real winner. I’d go as far as saying that it’s one of the best products of its type that I have tried and tested. The combination of weight, size and features is incredible. It has so many pluses that it’s difficult to find a negative. The only negative may well come in durability? However, I have nothing to base this question on. For 6-months this jacket has performed exceptionally well.

Highly recommended!


In Summary

The AT/C Racepant and Stormshell work together like cheese and pickle, like gin and tonic; they are a match made in heaven. They may not be the cheapest products on the market but with lightweight and waterproof products, you get what you pay for! I have tested many different trouser/ jacket combinations and if you want to move fast and light with maximum protection, this duo is hard (impossible?) to beat. The only time I would exchange the AT/C Racepant and Stormshell for something more substantial, like a Gore-Tex Active product is if I knew that I was going to be spending many hours in a tough, cold and unpredictable environment and moving at a slower pace. The benefits of the AT/C Racepant and Stormshell is they are so light and small, you really have no reason not to take them with you. That’s a real plus! If you are racing in the mountains, nearly all races now require an ever increasing mandatory kit list. I can pretty much guarantee that at the top of that list will be: ‘waterproof jacket and trousers with taped seams’ – inov-8 have provided you with a perfect solution with no comprises; low weight, small size and 100% protection – what more could you want?

More detailed photographs and action photos to follow.

Limone Extreme 2016 #VK – Skyrunner® World Series


Torrential rain and thunderstorms started in the morning of the VK and continued on through the day and resulted in a course change instigated by the race organisation for safety reasons. The resulting course was very different to the original route and considerably longer at 6km. Less steep, less technical and considerably more runnable. Of course this may very well have changed the dynamic of the race but the usual protagonists for the VK distance still performed at the highest level.

Philip Götsch and Christel Dewalle won the race and in the process set two new course records for the ‘B’ route – incredible under such tough conditions.

Race director, Fabio Meraldi, made the decision earlier in the day with advice from mountain rescue that the original vertical route would not be possible in such bad conditions.

Although 289 runners were entered into the race, only 180 started in the inclement conditions. Leaving the warmth of a large tent, the 180 headed up 6km covering a total gain of 1200m.

Stian Angermund lead the race in the early stages but it was Philip Götsch who won the race, 32 seconds faster than Remi Bonnet in 2015 to finish with a CR 43:19. Stian finished just 1-second slower in an agonising 43:20. Patrick Facchini placed 3rd in 43:47.

Christel Dewalle ran an incredible time of 49:59 to go 48 seconds faster than 2015 and also set a new CR. The expected battle with VK specialist Laura Orgue did not happen with Laura deciding to rest ahead of tomorrow’s SkyRace. Valentina Belotti placed 2nd 53:15 and Hilde Alders placed a solid 3rd in 54:50.

Attention now turns to the Limone Extreme SkyRace which will start at 1100 tomorrow.

Thanks to the support of our Partner Migu Xempower, Sponsor Alpina Watches and Official Pool Suppliers, Scott RunningCompressport and Salomon.

About Skyrunner® World Series
Skyrunning was founded in 1992 by Italian Marino Giacometti, President of the International Skyrunning Federation which sanctions the discipline worldwide and sports the tagline:
Less cloud. More sky.

The Skyrunner® World Series was launched in 2004 and has grown to represent the peak of outdoor running defined by altitude and technicality. In 2016, the Series, composed of four disciplines, features 23 races in 15 venues on three continents.



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Follow the Skyrunner® World Series on social media platforms
Twitter @skyrunning_com
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“Within the landscape…” – 2017 Calendar now available to order


The 2017 calendar is now available to order.

“Within the landscape…”

Price £20.00 (free postage UK)

The calendar provides a new perspective, of runner within the landscape. Countries featured are:

Canary Islands, USA, Spain, Andorra, Australia, UK, South Africa, Norway, Costa Rica and Morocco.

Delivery of all calendars will take place in November with the last orders posted on or before November 29th.

Delivery is guaranteed for Christmas and the print run is limited.

There will be no re-print.

To order a calendar please use the contact form below and choose your postage option. You will be invoiced via PayPal.


Superior 100 2016 Race Images and Summary


Frank Pipp, ‘pipped’ everyone to the line at the 2016 Superior 100 in a time of 20:24:00 in what turned out to be a dominant performance. Pipp (Iron Mountain, Michigan) was a professional cyclist from 2005 to 2013 and Superior 100 was hist first 100!

In the ladies race it was three ‘outa’ three for Mallory Richard in a time of 23:51:00. Her performance was strong enough to rank 5th overall.

Joe Uhan and Timbo Jenkins placed 2nd and 3rd in 22:46:00 and 22:59:00 respectively with 2014 Superior 100 champion, Adam Schwarz-Lowe placing 4th in 23:00:00.

Tina Johnson was 2nd lady some way behind a dominant Mallory in 29:50:00 and Stephanie Hoff placed 3rd in 30:52:00.


Images are available to purchase from HERE

You can view the ladies 100-mile results HERE

You can view the men’s 100-mile results HERE

Images from Day One

Day 2 – The Green Tunnel

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Follow the Skyrunner® World Series on social media platforms
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Superior 100 is featured in my new book, RUNNING BEYOND (information here)


Matterhorn Ultraks 46k 2016 Race Summary and Images– Skyrunner® World Series


The Matterhorn provides a stunning backdrop for Switzerland’s Matterhorn Ultraks race, a 46km Skyrunning race with 3600m of positive and negative gain. Now in its 4th edition, the race once again is in the Skyrunner® World Series – a magical race that provides a circular journey that starts and concludes in the picture postcard mountain town of Zermatt.


The day started well with wispy white clouds penetrating the blue of the sky, we all knew though that it wasn’t going to last… with 2 hours of running the sky turned grey, the rain arrived and low mist enveloped the mountains; the beautiful Matterhorn was gone!


Wild expansive space, high mountains and the 3100m Gornergrat provides the high point of the race and the first indication of how this mountain game of chess was going to play out. Christian Mathys was a surprise arrival pushing the pace closely followed by Marc Lauenstein (pre-race favourite) and Nepalese runner, Tirtha Tamang.


In the ladies’ race, Megan Kimmel from the USA was already dictating the race and the pace opening up a substantial gap on a chasing Elisa Desco from Italy and Michaela Mertova who was looking very strong.

It’s a brutal opening 14km to open any race and as such, those opening km’s can be decisive in who crosses the finish line first.

Megan Kimmel from the USA ran hard from the gun in 2015 setting the pace against a world-class field, “Anytime you get the rhythm in the up, the down, or the flat, the body is abruptly put into one of these other actions.  It is steep enough to grind you to a walk on a lot of the uphill and has fair bits of technical descent.”

A 1000m drop from the summit is broken by a small climb at Riffelalp and then Furi follows at 24km at 1880m. Two short sharp climbs follow, the first to Schwarzsee at 2583m and approximately 28km covered. Here Mathys was leading Tamang and Launstein followed minutes behind. It was difficult to tell if Lauenstein was going through a bad patch, he just smiled and pushed on.



Kimmel picks up her race, “I was comfortably leading the race for the first 30k. When I mean comfortable, I mean it seemed fairly effortless in a racing sense.  I was moving with the terrain on the uphill’s and I was holding back on the descents because it was a long race with a lot of transitions.” Kimmel’s lead was substantial and she was running her own race. Behind, barring an accident, the other ladies were running for 2nd.


A drop down to 2200m from Schwarzsee was followed with another 500m+ climb and then what follows is mostly a flat runnable plateau that gently weaves up, down and left to right all the way to Trift. Lauenstein had taken the lead now and was flying, Mathys chased but the gap was opening up with every minute that passed.


A short kick up of 100 to 200m follows Trift and then a fast and furious drop of almost 1000m over a distance of 6km leads to the finish line in Zermatt and the assembled crowds. Lauenstein sealed victory in 4:47:01, just a few minutes outside Kilian Jornet’s course record. Mathy’s held on for an excellent 2nd in 5:51:56 and Tamang placed 3rd in 4:53:03. Once again Hassan Ait Chaou ran an excellent 4th place and last year’s winner and course designer, Martin Anthamatten finished 6th.

Kimmel, the 2015 Dolomites SkyRace winner, after strongly leading the ladies race for the whole race, clinched victory with 20+-minute lead to Michaela Mertova, their respective times 5:23:15 and 5:46:21. Cilia Chiron backed up her great Dolomites SkyRace performance with 3rd and Oihana Kortazar placed 4th. Elisa Desco who had run in 2nd place did not finish due to a fall.

Skyrunning is not just about the uphill and more often than not, it’s the downhill that determines the winner. Today was all about patience and consistency. Racing is often a mental journey as much physical, Kimmel and Lauenstein today proved this at the Matterhorn.

Results for all race HERE

Thanks to the support of our Partner Migu Xempower, Sponsor Alpina Watches and Official Pool Suppliers, Scott RunningCompressport and Salomon.

About Skyrunner® World Series
Skyrunning was founded in 1992 by Italian Marino Giacometti, President of the International Skyrunning Federation which sanctions the discipline worldwide and sports the tagline:
Less cloud. More sky.

The Skyrunner® World Series was launched in 2004 and has grown to represent the peak of outdoor running defined by altitude and technicality. In 2016, the Series, composed of four disciplines, features 23 races in 15 venues on three continents. is the official photographer and media partner for the Skyrunner® World Series Follow on:

Social Media Logos

Twitter (@talkultra)
Instagram (@iancorlessphotography) 

Follow the Skyrunner® World Series on social media platforms
Twitter @skyrunning_com
Instagram @skyrunning

La Sportiva BUSHIDO Review


La Sportiva have been making shoes for a long time, 80+ years! So it feels somewhat crazy that it’s only now that I have slipped on a pair of La Sportiva shoes for a test. I travel a great deal, particularly in Italy and it’s fair to say that Italians are loyal to the Italian brand that are based just outside Canazei in the Dolomites. Adding to the irony, I have driven past the La Sportiva factory many times on my way to the Dolomites SkyRace, year after year.

To provide a perspective of the foothold (pun intended) that the brand has in this area, La Sportiva shoes are the ‘norm’ and yes, even Salomon take 2nd place. The brand is that big!

I digress, needless to say, 80+ years of history and a desire to bring technical footwear to consumers so we can enjoy the playground is the heritage that La Sportiva trade on.


The BUSHIDO shoe (which means way of the warrior) is not a new shoe, not at all. But it is a popular shoe and one that I have been recommended time and time again. So, finally I took the plunge and grabbed a pair.

Like all shoes, different colour ways are available and the BUSHIDO comes in a pretty cool looking black and yellow. I unfortunately got a pair of turquoise and orange (?) – not my favourite colours. Oh vanity…

The BUSHIDO doesn’t look light and at 300g (give or take) they are certainly at the heavier end of shoes that I wear. But then again, everything is relative, this shoe looks like it means business and therefore, as in the way of the warrior, maybe the build quality and weight needs to reflect that?


Slipping the shoe on I was really surprised with the hold the shoe had on my foot. It has a gusseted tongue which La Sportiva call an ‘Internal Slip-On Construction’ and I have to say that the BUSHIDO comes close to Salomon’s ‘Endofit’ as witnessed on the ‘Sense’ range for example. This is a huge compliment to the La Sportiva shoe. I test and wear shoes all the time and Salomon is still the benchmark in terms of how a shoe holds a foot.

Standing up things didn’t feel right? I did my usual walk around, flex the forefoot, bounce around a little and then I stopped. I asked myself the question internally, ‘are these shoes neutral and what is the drop?’

I checked – 6mm drop and neutral.

After running over 100 miles in these shoes I still really question these facts. The BUSHIDO for me does not feel neutral. Actually, I would almost go as far to say that they have a pretty aggressive arch support. I noticed it immediately and the more I ran in the shoes, the more I noticed it.

A 6mm drop should have had me feeling comfortable mid to forefoot striking but no, I felt as though the heal of the shoe was getting in the way. I haven’t had a low drop shoe feel this way before. It may well come from the 13mm to 19mm cushioning at the front and the rear? Yes, the BUSHIDO is a cushioned shoe. The Scott Kinabalu Supertrac (for example) has plenty of cushioning, loads of grip and an 8mm drop and they feel considerably ‘lower’ than the BUSHIDO. I use 8mm drop day-to-day and for long runs and I regularly use and run in 4mm drop for shorter/ faster sessions. However, the BUSHIDO never felt like a 6mm drop. I have found it difficult to pinpoint why but at all times I felt the heel was too pronounced.


Running at first felt somewhat awkward and cumbersome with the shoe lacking flex and feel. It’s rare these days that shoe feels so stiff out of the box. I thought, a few runs and they will soften up. They never did…

I have to say, I was on a slippery slope. I had waited to try the BUSHIDO for quite some time and with every run I was realising that I disliked them more and more.


The build quality is somewhat bullet proof: good toe protection in a TPU toe cap, a dual density compressed rock guard in the midsole, a TPU shank and IPS (impact brake system) and my conclusion? This shoe is completely over engineered and just doesn’t allow me to feel or enjoy the trail in a way that a good shoe should. For a ‘neutral’ shoe I felt as though I was being ‘guided’ with every foot strike as though my mind and my foot were saying, ‘let’s do this’ and then the BUSHIDO would step in and shout at me, ‘NO – YOU ARE DOING THIS!’

This relationship wasn’t going to last.


The outsole is unique with round edges and has two different sections, black and white. In simple terms it’s two different compounds that provide grip on a multitude of surfaces. This works well on dry trail, rocks and gnarly terrain and they grip well on wet rock. However, the outsole won’t handle mud – it’s just not aggressive enough. The black compound is sticky and grips whereas the white compound is more durable provide traction for off camber and irregular trail. Underneath all this you may well just see a flicker of blue? This is the rock plate which protects you (and your foot) from anything sharp, irregular or nasty. Like I said this shoe is bullet proof but all of the above and 13/19mm cushioning make for an unresponsive shoe which lacks feel.

The TPU cradle adds to the problem. This cradle wraps up into the midsole and holds the foot firm. It provides a cradle which the foot sits in. This for me is not really a ‘neutral’ shoe. I want my foot to be free and neutral – not guided.


In the rear of the shoe you can see a little orange piece of plastic which is called ‘STB Control’ – again, the word ‘control’ – I think you are beginning to realise that the BUSHIDO is fighting me and my feet. Also at the rear is another cage like system that holds my heel. More stability, more support designed to hold the foot and stop it rolling or losing control.



The upper is soft and breathable and as I mentioned has the gusseted fit which really is the high point of the shoe. There are no seams so you could, if you wish, go sockless. The tongue is slightly padded adding to the comfort and should you really want to pull your laces tight, this will add some additional protection.


On the sides of the upper there is some reinforcement going into the lace zone and the lace section is additionally reinforced allowing laces to be pulled as tight or as loose as possible. This area follows the theme of the shoe in my opinion – stability, reinforcement and guiding.

The heel cup is tight and secure and is too high potentially causing an issue on the achilles. My left heel rubbed on run one and continued to rub on every run after causing me to add some protection for the test runs.

The toe box has a narrower and more precision fit which works really well for me. The BUSHIDO is designed for the mountains and I don’t want my toes moving left to right when I need reassurance. Of course, if you need a wider toe box this may well not suit you so make sure you try them. Toe protection is excellent.

I wear a UK9.5 and these shoes were true to size. I think it would be easy to think that the BUSHIDO sizes small on first impressions but I would say no! The shoe is designed to fit and hold your foot and so therefore, my advice would be start off with like-for-like sizes and see how you get on.

In conclusion, I have to say that the BUSHIDO and myself just didn’t get on. The shoe has loads of pluses, in particular the sock like fit. On paper I should have liked the shoe – 6mm drop and neutral fit rings all the correct bells. But no! The BUSHIDO at all times felt over engineered, too supportive, lacking feel and I have to say, of all the shoes I have tested in the last few years, this is one shoe that I won’t go back to.

But, many runners out there like this shoe so maybe I am the odd one out? If you are looking for a durable shoe, with loads of protection, a low ‘ish’ drop and plenty of security and guidance – this is the shoe for you… the BUSHIDO does all these things well, maybe too well?


Specs from La Sportiva

Weight 300g

Upper AirMesh/ Thermal Adhesive Microfiber/ High Frequency Welded Ripstop/ TPU Toe Cap

Lining Mesh/ Highly breathable lateral mesh inserts/ Stretch AirMesh Tongue

Rear/ Front Cushioning 19mm/ 13mm

Drop 6mm

Cushioning midsole 32A

Midsole Compression Molded MEMlex/ 1.5mm Dual-Density compressed EVA Rock-Guard in forefoot/ TPU Shank Dual-Density FriXion® XT V-Groove™ with Impact Brake System™

With performance driven design, the Bushido is perfect for technical terrain and provides added stability over stones, roots and branches on the trail.  The “STB Control” construction utilizes a TPU frame that wraps under foot to provide maximum stability, responsiveness, and reduce overall weight.

  • Internal slip-on construction fits the foot like a sock without causing excessive pressure.
  • Outsole lugs have rounded edges and wrap over the midsole to provide added traction and enhance stability on off camber terrain.

La Sportiva website HERE

DRUGS in Mountain, Ultra and Trail #EPO #UTMB


Last week and the week before, EPO, DOPING and the UTMB was the hot topic after Gonzalo Callisto’s positive test. Everyone was talking about it… this week it’s all gone quiet. That can’t happen! You can catch up on my posts below.

Post 1 UTMB faces positive EPO test HERE

Post 2 Michel Poletti HERE


Post 4 Update IAAF and Catherine Poletti HERE

Post 5 Gonzalo Calisto statement HERE

Post 6 ITRA statement HERE

There are far too many questions unanswered, there are far too many people being quiet and if we want to eradicate doping from Mountain, Ultra and Trail running – we need to keep talking and discussing.

I was approached by Outside Magazine and they asked me a few questions. I am pretty sure that what gets used or published will be an edited version and with that in mind here are my thoughts, un-edited.

In light of the latest news from UTMB, what you think this positive test means for the sport? 

One has to embrace the positive test as a good thing as it confirms that preventative measures against doping are working. This positive was an ‘in competition’ test which only confirms the need for out of competition testing and blood passports. Of course, the answer is always that testing is too expensive. We have to act now and be proactive. I don’t have the answers but I do feel that we could start to address certain issues that would help. Maybe it’s time that we ask (for example) the top 100 male and top 50 female runners as listed on ITRA to pay for a regular medical? Sage Canaday recently released a full report on his medical status to ‘prove’ he is clean; that’s a good thing! (See below). Athletes of course may well say that they can’t afford it but this is where sponsors come in maybe? We cannot keep making excuses as to why we can’t but find ways to make sure we can! We are at the very early stages of doping in our sport and if we don’t act now it will only become worse and God forbid, we could end up like cycling or athletics.

Do you think doping is really becoming something to worry about, or is this a case of an outlier?

We need to worry, yes! This is not the first positive test, it maybe a high profile conviction, but it would be foolish to think that this is an isolated incident.

Are people starting to talk about doping more in ultarunning than before? Or maybe a better way of asking this is how are the athletes you know, talking about this subject and what it means for the sport?

I certainly have witnessed more discussion about doping and of course this was highlighted at the end of 2015 at San Francisco 50. This was a moment when the sport really looked at itself and many questions were asked. It actually became quite nasty at times and I think a sense of perspective was lost. For example, WMRA (World Mountain Running Association) and Skyrunning have been testing athletes for many years. They have very much paved the way but they acknowledge they can only do so much. In competition testing costs 1000’s of euros or dollars for one event and of course, only urine can be tested. Many say it takes an idiot to to be caught ‘in competition’ but it happens. I go back to blood passports – we really need them for elite, professional and sponsored runners. Some races do not have a ‘PED’ policy and San Francisco highlighted the need for races and RD’s to address this in the rules of the race. Western States for example has re-written its race rules to say that any runner who has had a positive conviction cannot race. Many runners have asked for a lifetime ban for any positive test and they have been vocal about this. I personally am reluctant to go down this route… I do believe that mistakes can happen in drug testing but I am not an expert. This creates a whole new debate and raises questions about the lasting effects of a doping program. For example, we used to have two positive tests and out, I liked that but apparently that has been deemed unfair?

Are people starting to test more for doping than in previous years? What has this looked like?

As mentioned previously, WMRA and Skyrunning have been testing for many years but not at all events. Skyrunning for example had its World Championships in Spain in July, they had three events, VK, SKY and ULTRA and WADA performed tests at all three race distances. The problem comes, once again with cost. At the Skyrunning World Championships, 12 athletes were tested. The make and female winner in each category (making 6) and then 6random tests. Let’s assume testing at an event is $10,000 – who pays? Do we add a surcharge on every runners entry fee? Does that race find a sponsor to cover the cost? Do we rely on a wealthy donor or do we approach all the major brands in the sport and say, you must pay! It’s a complex matter and this is why doping control is a rarity in contrast to the norm. Let’s look at races such as Speedgoat 50k, Run Rabbit Run and San Francisco 50 – these races have some substantial prize money, in some scenarios it could mean a pay check of $10,000+ for a win. Yet nobody has any idea if the winner is clean? Moving away from trail running and looking at ultra road running, Comrades in South Africa has huge prize money and it has a very chequered past with doping: Max King, Ellie Greenwood, Sage Canaday and Michael Wardian (amongst others) have all witnessed the impact of it first hand.

What is your own experience with testing?

I attend races as a photographer and a journalist so in reality, I have little experience of the drug testing process. However, I am a media partner for Skyrunning and I have been present and seen the processes undertaken at several major events where doping control has been in place by WADA. For example, I was at the Skyrunning World Champions on July, 22, 23rd and 24th. I also experienced doping control at Limone Extreme in 2015 and Mont-Blanc 80k in 2014 amongst others.

Do you think the tests, or the conversation about doping in general in ultras is lacking? What could be done better?

Certainly the positive test of Gonzalo Calisto has raised some major flaws in the communication process. I have done extensive research over the last weeks and my conclusions have been quite worrying. I will elaborate:

  • Gonzalo Calisto was tested after placing 5th at UTMB by French drug control – AFLD In August 2015.

  • AFLD have a written policy that a positive test is given to (in this case) the runner within three weeks.

  • The runner is then entitled to appeal and ask for a B sample test.

  • This process can then go backwards and forwards for several weeks and in this scenario (as I understand it) months. Don’t get me wrong, the runner has rights and it’s only fair that he or she has every opportunity to clear his or her name.

  • In June 2016 the IAAF released its current banned list.

  • On July 18/19th British Ultrarunner Robbie Britton noticed that Gonzalo Calisto was convicted of EPO and banned till March 2017.

  • I picked up the case and contacted UTWT and UTMB directly and asked were they aware of this conviction? I later found out, no!

  • Within 12 hours, UTMB released a press release disqualifying Gonzalo Calisto of doping.

The above raised so many questions for me:

1. How was it possible that Gonzalo Calisto had tested positive but UTMB did not know?

2. Why was his period of exclusion dated till March 2017 when he had been tested in August 2015?

3. Why had the IAAF only published this in June 2016?

I asked questions of the UTMB and the IAAF. In both scenarios they were both helpful. 

1. To cut a long story short it would appear that when an athlete is tested positive, the testing control, in this scenario AFLD, are not required to inform the race. REALLY? A race has a runner place 5th, the runner is tested, the runner is found guilty, due process is run and then a positive is confirmed and a sanction is put in place without the race being told…. C’mon that HAS to change! Had it not been for the eagle eyes of Robbie Britton and me grabbing the bull by the horns, nobody ‘may’ have known?

2. IAAF explained the ‘due process’ to me and although they were not able to supply specifics, they did say that these things can often take much longer than we would all like and that 6 months is not unusual. Considering Calisto was tested on the last day of August, that potentially could take us to February or March the following year.

3. The IAAF then confirmed that an error had been made! As I pointed out to them, why was Calisto banned till March 2017? The answer: Calisto’s ban and records were amended from a memo dated March 2016 and it was therefore human error. Calisto’s ban dates actually run from March 2016 to March 2018. This coincided with point 2 above and a lengthy due process where one assumes Calisto tried to clear his name.

4. From the March conviction, Calisto’s records then entered the IAAF system and his conviction was uploaded to the ‘sanctioned athletes’ list in June 2016.

5. The IAAF confirmed to me that AFLD did not have to notify UTMB of a conviction but they would look into it?

So, for UTMB to be aware that an athlete had cheated at a previous edition of their race it would appear that the only option open to them is to check daily on the IAAF website for any additions to the sanctioned athlete list.


I could go on…

Why do you think the sport has stayed clean for so long, and what might be changing that would compel people to cheat? 

The sport hasn’t been clean for so long. That is a naive viewpoint. Doping has existed in trail running for ages but if you don’t have testing or a blood passport, how would you know that…? I like to use an example and I must be clear here, I don’t doubt the integrity of the runner I use as an example. Karl Meltzer, my co-host for Talk Ultra podcast has won more 100 mile races than anyone. He has even won Run Rabbit Run and he took home $10,000+ He has been running ULTRA’s for 20+ years. You know how many times he has been tested for PED use?  NEVER. Need I say more… This is why our sport has bean ‘clean’ for so long, no testing!

For the most part it seems like the conversation around doping in ultras is relatively new, and also that cheating might be a new thing too. Do you think there’s a chance for race directors, athletes, etc. to get out in front of this and keep the sport clean before it becomes the kind of large-scale issue it is in some other sports?

The Calisto case has raised eyebrows, we need to latch on to that momentum and we need to consider many of my points above but let’s be clear, Calisto is not the first!

On a final note we need to keep this discussion open, we need to keep asking questions and we need to find answers and solutions. It’s too easy to say it’s too expensive, too difficult and so on. We could start by:

  • Blood passports for runners
  • Regular in and out of competition testing
  • Positive results MUST be sent to a race or RD as soon as possible if a positive test came from a race.
  • IAAF need to find a way to communicate ‘new’ sanctioned athletes to the relevant sport discipline. This is where ITRA or maybe an athlete commission could be set up.

We, as runners, journalists, sponsors and so on must be loud and clear that doping is not welcome and we must do all we can to work together. In the Calisto case I have still not seen or heard any public statement from his sponsors, Movistar and Compressport. Compressport did contact me to say that they were ‘looking into it!’ What does that mean…? They also said that Callisto’s sponsorship with Compressport was with a local distributor and not the International division. As far as I am concerned, local or International, Calisto is still representing a brand and that brand gains attention. And also what about the races that Calisto has run and placed in in post August 2015?  The IAAF now confirms the suspension dates back to that time and until March 2018. Not one word, not one public statement from any race that I have seen… do these races condone doping? What about the runners who placed top 5 or top 10 only to loose a place… come on, speak up!

Update August 12th and Compressport respond

A great place to start is here, Sage Canaday has just recently posted his results online for all to see. Let’s lead by example!


I welcome your thoughts!

RUNNING BEYOND BOOK now available on pre-order

Book Cover

I am pleased to say that my new book, RUNNING BEYOND is now available on pre-order at Amazon (HERE). English version will be available November 3rd and Spanish, Italian, German and US versions will be available tbc.

Foreword is by Kilian Jornet.

©iancorless.com_RunningBeyondBook (6 of 278)

“Ian has been there to witness the stories. He knows the sport, he practices it and he has been involved in many different aspects, all of which provides him with a great overview. He has the strength and character to work many hours, even practicing his own ultra with cameras in order to capture the emotions and the passion from inside the sport. Ian has immense enthusiasm, and his commitment to following a race knows no bounds.” – Kilian Jornet



by Ian Corless

Foreword by Kilian Jornet

Published by Aurum Press

Available in the UK from November 3rd 2016

Translated into French, Spanish, Italian and German (release dates to follow)

“Ian has been documenting trail running since I can remember. His images, writing and podcasts have played a major role in showcasing our sport and growing it into the global sport it has become today… Ian is extremely passionate and really understands what trail running is about, and this you can see in his incredible images. Ian’s images capture the runners emotion; the natural beauty and race atmosphere – making me want to put on my shoes and head out the door for a run. Running Beyond is a must get book for all trail runners.”

– Ryan Sandes

©iancorless.com_RunningBeyondBook (46 of 278)


ITRA release statement on #EPO positive for Gonzalo Calisto


This morning I posted the long awaited statement from Gonzalo Calisto after testing positive for EPO at the 2015 UTMB. If you are new to the story, please read the posts below.

Post 1 UTMB faces positive EPO test HERE

Post 2 Michel Poletti HERE


Post 4 Update IAAF and Catherine Poletti HERE

Post 5 Gonzalo Calisto statement HERE

Today, I have now received a statement and clarification from ITRA into the process that Gonzalo Calisto has gone through:

July 25th 2016


On June 29th  2016*, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) published on its web-site in newsletter 174 a list of athletes who had been sanctioned for doping. On this list figures M. Gonzalo CALISTO for a positive test of EPO on August 29th 2015 at the finish of the  UTMB®.


The term  «health policy» designates actions which  aim at increasing the prevention and the protection of the health of the sportspersons.

The ITRA, in particular, offers organisers the chance of setting up a preventative action concerning health matters. This action has neither the vocation nor the competence to be a substitute for  current national and/or international regulations regarding the anti-doping fight but has the aim of strengthening the medical supervision within the framework of the health security plan set up by the organisation. This action is led by a Medical Counsel, uniquely made up of doctors, who are able to take advice from experts of their choice and who are charged with giving consultative advice to the Race Jury on the medical state of participants.

More information about the ITRA health policy :


Within the framework of the health policy set up by the ITRA, M. Gonzalo CALISTO submitted a first blood sample on May 28th 2015 at 13:077 (World Trail-Running Championships in Annecy (France) organised by the IAU in collaboration with the ITRA)

M. Gonzalo CALISTO’s  haematological profile presented several abnormal values which led to the athlete being summoned, on May 29th 2015, before the start of the race, to a meet with the event’s medical commission of 2 doctors and an expert from the Association «Athletes For Transparency» with a more specific responsibility for aspects concerning the anti-doping fight.

The Ecuadorian origin of M. Gonzalo CALISTO, which according to scientific literature, maybe be responsible for specific haematological profiles (Quito, altitude of 2850m), as well as the argument put forward by the athlete of having very regular exposure to very high altitudes  (>5500m) were retained to classify his haematological profile  as  « atypical » (rather than « abnormal ») and so authorised him to take the start of the race for the World trail-Running Championships in Annecy.

The information relating to  M. Gonzalo CALISTO’s  « atypical » profile was transmitted by telephone on May 29th 2015 to an organisation responsible for the anti-doping fight. The two possible options were retained by  the Association «Athletes For Transparency» to explain this « atypical » profile knowing that a specific genetical profile or the taking of EPO were then evoked.

The « atypical » profile of the athlete was once again brought up in a telephone conversation in June 2015 (no precise date) with an organisation responsible for the anti-doping fight.

M. Gonzalo CALISTO submitted a second blood sample on August 27th 2015 at 13:45 before the start of the UTMB® within the framework of the ITRA’s Health policy. His haematological profile once again showed several abnormalities.

With the reason, of the always possible specific genetic profile linked to his Ecuadorian origins, the athlete’s haematological profile was again classed as « atypical » and he was authorised to take the start of the UTMB®.

The ITRA learnt, on August 29th 2015 the urinary anti-doping tests at the finish had been able to specifically target M. Gonzalo CALISTO.

On April 21st 2016 information relating to  M. Gonzalo CALISTO were sent by email to the Association «Athletes For Transparency» by an organisation in charge of the anti-doping fight.


The role of the ITRA following a positive test is:

–          To ensure the disqualification of M. Gonzalo CALISTO from events in which he would have been able to participate in during the period of disqualification  (as from August 19th, 2015).

–          To ensure the non-participation in any race which is a member of the ITRA during the period of  M. Gonzalo C