Episode 197 of Talk Ultra brings an interview with Finlay Wild. Speedgoat discusses his 19-years of 100-mile victories. We have a sound bite from Kilian Jornet after his road 10km. Stephen Goldstein talks Covid-19 and we bring you Clay Williams, Ian Radmore, Richard McChesney and Miriam Gilbert with their Covid stories.
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Speedgoat Karl wins his 43rd 100-mile race and completes 19-years, consecutive, of winning a 100!
Kilian Jornet runs 10km on the road in 29:59 read HERE
00:38:50CLAY WILLIAMS – In 2017 I was one of the runners in Canada’s first 200 mile trail race. Unfortunately I didn’t finish and was only able to run 150 miles in that event (long story). That DNF planted a seed, and I have had this need to finish a 200 miler ever since. So I registered to run Three Days at the Fair in New Jersey in May. Of course it was deferred from May until September due to Covid. And then I couldn’t cross the border to get there. I’m 60 years old so I can’t keep putting this off, so I made my own arrangements. With local crew support I ran “Three Days in the Park” starting at 9am October 1st. My raced director friend Tony Martin plotted out a one mile course for me, and I ran it at 200 times. It took me 75:46 to finish, and I’m happy with that As always, I’ll be carrying The Flag (ask me about The Flag), and dedicated the run to the Mood Disorders Society of Canada’s Defeat Depression campaign.
01:02:50IAN RADMORE – Going into lockdown back in March had the idea that we should & would support each other, along with building a training program that involved running as well as various workout activities. We looked to do something different every other day so to keep our minds & bodies active. It’s about having the correct attitude & not allowing the four walls of our home to take over. Inspiration was also taken from Captain Sir Tom Moore who before his 100th birthday decided to raise money for the NHS by walking around his garden. If that’s not inspiring I don’t know what is!!Damian Hall who broke the long time standing Pennine Way set by John Kelly. With these in mind they motivated me & drove me on the complete my half marathon training. This I ran on Sunday 4th October 2020 finishing in a respectable time 2hours 44minutes & 58seconds. Then the very next day entered the Inverness/Lockness marathon next October 2021 fingers crossed.
01:19:40RICHARD MCCHESNEY – In September, inspired by the recent FTK’s for the Wainwrights, I decided to see how long it would take me to visit all 270 London tube stations on foot. I’m a walker rather than a runner due to a long term impact related injury, but I managed to complete the 325 mile journey in 5 days and 20 hours. This has now been recognised by FastestKnownTime.com as the fastest self-supported time for this adventure and sets the bar for someone to try and beat it. Like the people doing the Wainwrights and similar FKT’s, I spent plenty of time mapping out what I thought would be the most efficient/shortest route but I think there is probably still some improvement that can be made here. I also did about 15-20 bonus miles due to some getting lost and also a tunnel closure.
01:47:20MIRIAM GILBERT – My experience as a cancer caregiver to my husband Jon after he was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in March 2018 inspired me to create Ultra Care for Cancer Caregivers, a GoFundMe campaign to benefit cancer caregivers and provide them some joy and respite during their difficult journey as a caregiver. I named my GoFundMe campaign Ultra Care for Cancer Caregivers because I am also an ultra runner. I combined my running ultra miles and fundraising to raise money for cancer caregivers. I kickstarted my fundraising by running the Dawn to Dusk to Dawn 24hr 50K+ Solo Challenge in my neighborhood in May. Then on June 1 I began running the Tip to Tip Great Florida Traverse 128 miler. And I have 161.5 miles to go at the All the Way 901 mile. I am happy to say my husband Jon was declared in remission in May. He joins me on my virtual miles on his ElliptiGo.
Zerei Kbrom Mezngi ran 28:20 at Hytteplanmila 10km Road Race on Saturday, taking the overall win ahead of Narve Gilje Nordâs and Bjønar Lillefosse, 28:28 and 28:45 respectively. For the women, it was a record day for Karoline Bjerkeli Grøvdal who ran 30:32 breaking her old course record of 32:25 set in 2017 and the long-standing national record held by the legend, Ingrid Kristiansen set in 1989. It was a huge day for Karoline!
The Hytteplanmila 10km Road Race is a big deal in Norway attracting the best-of-the-best. Normally, 1000’s would toe the line but 2020 and Covid-19 changed all that and instead it was an invitation race only with specific criteria, 37.20 (38.20 *) for women and 31.20 (32.00 *) for men (10,000 meters / 10 kilometers in 2019/2020, or equivalent achievements) * If there are vacancies in the heats. The race took place in waves, 1 minute separating each with no more than 25-runners per heat.
The Ingebrigtsen brothers would toe the line, Jakob having won the race and set the course record in 2019 with a sub 28:00 performance. However, eyes were on mountain running legend, Kilian Jornet, who would toe the line in his first ever official road race.
Despite the profile of the race, it’s a low-key affair taking place the community of Hole, close to Hønefoss and approximately 1-hour from Oslo. The morning was cold, grey and mist was low making for an almost ethereal feel ahead of the 1330 start.
Kilian arrived in his camping car and despite having specific media documenting the process, his presence was not acknowledged by the rest of the runner’s. This is a Scandanavian thing but also an acknowledgement that although Kilian maybe a star on the mountain, ultra and trail scene, in a road race, he is unknown…
Donning a face mask, his number was collected and he returned to his vehicle to prepare. I asked him how he felt ahead of the challenge:
“I feel good but I have been carrying a tibial injury which has impacted on training for the last 2-weeks, but I hope for around 29:30. We shall see…”
The chill in the air was noticeable for all and 30-minutes before the start, Kilian added a jacket and hat and moved to the opening mile of the race route and gently warmed up.
Around him, the road was full of runners. Looking on it was apparent, with the exception of one or two, that Kilian was one of the oldest competitors amongst this elite field. His 32-years by no means old, but the average age was late teens or early 20’s. They ran up and down the road striding out, sprinting and looking focussed, almost blinkered. Kilian by contrast looked calm, relaxed and happy to do his own thing.
At 1345 the sound of a gun announced the start of the first group of 25 and amongst them was Kilian. A lead car showed the time. Several bikes had cameramen to live stream the race and Kilian had his own following bike and live feed.
Kilian was mid-pack and striding out looking relaxed and focused. No doubt looking around and trying to find his place. He went on to say post-race, “It’s a fun experience to race with so many talented runners but I am not used to having other people so close and I found it hard to find a place and avoid other peoples feet, especially in the early stages.”
Having run 29:42 in training straight after a VK, it was realistic that Kilian could achieve 29:30 or faster. As the race unfolded, the front of the race forged ahead. Kilian, jokingly said before the race, “I am no 9 but I will not finish in this position!”
The brothers did not have their day, Jakob had not looked good warming up and he dropped from the race. His brother, Filip would finish in 29:03.
Zerei Kbrom Mezngi was the winner opening up a significant gap and powering in the final stretch for the uphill finish crossing in 28:20, 8-seconds ahead of Narve Gilje Nordâs.
Attention then turned to looking down the road and the arrival of Kilian. Five runners went sub 29:00 and then 8-runners followed to go sub 29:30. The next runner 29:41, 29:44, 29:46 and then Kilian emerged at the bottom of the slope with the motorbike to his right hand side. One runner was ahead of him who crossed in 29:54.
Kilian was now in full flight, both feet off the ground and he was pushing for the line. No doubt desperate to go sub 30:00.
While those around him collapsed to the floor grasping for air, Kilian crossed the line, smiled, his 29:59 did not show… 18th place.
He looked content, and was soon able to provide comments on his first experience racing on the road.
“I felt the injury, so I am a little disappointed for that. It was very interesting, very different to when you go training, you can keep a steady pace. Here it was fast at the beginning and I am not used to so many people and being so close. It’s difficult to understand my place. The first km was fine as it is downhill. It was a great experience and it motivates me to have another try…!”
“I don’t think the injury is a real problem but I need to rest a little and get rid of it. When I run a VK the effort is typically 30-minutes but this is different. In terms of cardio, for me it was kind of easy all the time. It’s the legs, you need to feel light and keep the speed. It’s very different. The first 4 to 5km with more people was a challenge as you are almost cm’s from the other runners. I need to get used to that. I learned a great deal. I will try again, at least in the short term, but next year I want to climb… I have some specific goals. I just need more experience.”
Kilian said only 18-months ago that running on a road had no interest for him. But now we see him testing himself over a 10km distance. From conversations, I know he has the desire to toe the line of a road marathon. On paper, that would suit him better allowing him to combine speed with endurance. For now though, we can marvel at 29:59 and speculate what is to come in the future.
Embrace winter, mercury dropping in the thermometer is no excuse to put outdoor adventure on hold. On the contrary, the new season brings a whole new set of adventures that could not be entertained during the months of Spring and Summer – read an article HERE on ‘Embracing Winter for New Adventures.’
Fastpacking is often looked upon as a good weather activity and not something that can be entertained or planned for the winter months. I disagree! Winter brings multiple possibilities and although fast packing in spring/ summer has many carry overs to autumn/ winter, some distinct differences are notable and important.
I have produced two articles on Fastpacking, one HERE and the other HERE looks at going lighter. Quite simply, fast packing is about finding the perfect and optimal balance between equipment and weight. To move fast, one’s pack needs to be as light as possible. In spring and summer, that job is easier as one requires less equipment. For example, sleeping bag will be lighter, tent will be lighter, clothing will be reduced and so on. Winter brings added challenges of balance and if you get it wrong, not only can it mean a miserable time, it can also be extremely dangerous.
WHAT TYPE OF TRIP?
I like to think of winter fast packing adventures primarily falling in two categories:
1. Self-sufficient with tent.
2. Self-sufficient and staying lodges, cabins, tea houses or even hotels.
To clarify, when I say ‘self-sufficient’ I mean carrying everything one needs for the adventure you are undertaking. If one is travelling with a tent, you will almost certainly be carrying all your food too. However, if staying in lodges, cabins, tea houses or hotels, then access to food will be possible and therefore the need to carry such items will be reduced.
For the purposes of this article, I am going to look at point 1 as this requires more planning, more equipment and a great deal more thought. For point 2, the equipment list would be as point 1 with the ability to remove items.
A fastpacking trip can be as simple as two days with one overnight stop or it can be a lengthy trip of multiple days or even weeks. As an example, in recent years I have taken myself to Nepal in December and fastpacked for ten days plus using tea houses for accommodation. Read an article on the ‘Three Passes Trek 2018: Ultimate Trek in the Everest Region’ HERE.
Any length of trip is valid and if new to winter adventures, it makes sense that maybe a first trip involves just one overnight so that you can fine tune what does and does not work for you.
Fastpacking in winter is the same as summer, but the need for more substantial equipment increases. Key is multi-purpose so that as mentioned previously, balancing minimal weight with equipment is optimal.
Planning is also essential so that one understands what equipment is needed and required. It goes without saying that winter conditions can bring anything, so, being prepared is an absolute no1 priority.
Will I have rain?
Will I have snow?
Will I have ice?
Am I going to high altitude?
Is the terrain technical?
Will I be climbing?
Questions as above are a starting point when deciding what to take. A prime example being that an ice axe, crampons and maybe even a harness will be required on a fastpack trip – If you don’t have them, that could be a BIG problem!
Do the research, understand the trip, understand the distance you will be covering and understand the amount of days the journey will take.
Once you have answers to the above, you can plan the equipment.
Top Tip: While solo adventuring is exciting and exhilarating, winter adventures with another person make a trip safer and, in my opinion, more enjoyable. It also means you can share the additional tent weight and supplies weight.
A winter tent will be heavier and more durable as the impact of the weather is greater and the need for protection is increased. The first question, is size? Many of us will not have the option or luxury to have several tent options that allow us to choose a solo, two or three-person tent. So, if purchasing for the first time, the best option would almost certainly go for a 2-person tent.
The tent needs to be 4-season unless you know in advance that your winter adventure will not have weather extremes. If the latter is the case, you may well get away with your 3-season tent.
Heavier fabrics, more substantial poles and less mesh make 4-season tent shopping a challenge. Budget is also a key consideration. A tunnel tent is optimal and if pitched correctly, it will withstand strong winds and harsh weather. Use a well-insulated, all-season tent designed to withstand strong winds and the weight of snow, as well as a full nylon inner to prevent as much heat loss as possible.
My favourite tent is the Hilleberg NALLO which comes in several sizes, 2,3 and 4 person and the ‘GT’ versions have greater storage which is not a consideration for me but could be a consideration if bike packing? The NALLO 3 is 2.6kg and one of the lightest all-season tents on the market.
2.6kg may sound heavy, especially when fastpacking but if you divide that weight between 2 (1300g each) or 3 (866g) it compares with lightweight solo tents such as the NEMO Hornet which would not stand winter conditions.
Ultimately invest in a tent as it will serve you well and last a great deal of time. Cutting costs early on will only come back later and bite you later.
Using a Tarp or Bivvy bag is not a consideration for me in winter unless in an emergency.
Packs are very personal and the correct one for you comes down to too many variables. I have said previously that I feel the ideal fastpack size to be 20-25 ltr. However, in winter, I usually go to 30 ltr and in Nepal I have gone to 40 ltr.
Montane Trailblazer 30 is a personal favourite as it fits like clothing with a vest-like fit and it has a waist belt.
Think about simple and effective storage space, minimum fuss, good fit and comfort.
Ultimate Direction Fastpack
Six Moon Designs
After the tent, the sleeping bag is going to be the next largest and heaviest item. However, think cleverly about sleeping bag and also consider the key phrase, multi-purpose.
Because you may experience -15 at night during a fastpack, this does not mean you require a -15 sleeping bag…. Personal favourite is the RAB Mythic Ultra 360.
“Smart lightweight campers have been using their clothes to boost the warmth of their sleeping bags for years and climbers do it when they have to. Yet most of us are still carrying bags much bulkier and heavier than we need.” – Peter Hutchinson Designs
Layering in a sleeping bag (just like in clothing) is key to regulating temperature and a perfect way to carry a lighter sleeping bag without compromising on warmth and comfort. Read an in-depth article HERE on ‘Choosing a Sleeping Bag for an Adventure.’
Key points to consider:
Am I using the sleeping bag in a dry or wet climate?
Is the weight of the bag really important? Normally the answer here is, if you are carrying it, yes, the weight is important.
Do I need the sleeping bag to pack as small as possible?
Do I need the bag to work in one or more situations? Another way of looking at this is, do I need to compromise on points 1-3 to get value for money.
Ask some personal questions:
Do I sleep warm?
Do I like to be warm and if not warm, am I miserable?
Am I prepared to be a little cold to be as light as possible?
Do I need a full-length zip, half-zip or am I happy to have no zip?
Consider other factors:
If you are tall, wide, have big shoulders etcetera, etcetera then some sleeping bags will just not work for you as they will be too small.
If you are small/ petite an off-the-shelf sleeping bag actually could be too big for you, this is not a huge problem, but if you wanted the bag to be as small and light as possible, you could go custom made.
Top Tip: Down is the lightest and packs the smallest. However, down cannot get wet. If it does it loses warmth and effectiveness. Some brands now offer ‘treated’ down that can withstand weather variables, so, consider this. If you are going to be in a wet/ damp climate, a synthetic filling may well be the best choice. Do not put your head inside the sleeping bag – make sure you breath out and not inside the bag as the moisture is not good.
If you are in a tent during the winter, you NEED insulation between you and the ground. Do not compromise here. No matt and you are guaranteed a cold, sleepless and restless night. There are many variables to look at and while weight is crucial, so is warmth. The weight of one’s body presses a sleeping bag flat when sleeping and therefore the warming properties are reduced. Cold comes up from the ground, which can be very dangerous.
It is possible to purchase insulated matts and they are obviously heavier. Ask questions about your personal needs and self-asses. Do you sleep warm?
Look at the ‘R’ number of a sleeping mat. The higher the R number, the more insulation it gives.
If you are going to be pitching a tent on snow or ice, the R needs to be 3 at a minimum and ideally 4 or higher.
Sea to Summit produce an Ultralight mat with an R of 3.1 at 480g in regular length. By contrast, the Comfort Plus XT with an R of 4.7 is over 1000g
While your spring/ summer gas canister system will work in winter, many choose to use a liquid fuel system as the pressure in the bottle can be maintained by pumping. MSR do a product called WhisperLite that can use gas or liquid fuel.
I personally use a Jetboil Flash or my MSRWindBurner which both boil water very quickly and work exceptionally well in windy weather.
I simply need to boil water and/ or melt snow.
Food is a significant consideration for winter and personally the need for warm and nutritious food increases. Dehydrated food is a staple both for breakfast and dinner and while many brands are available, Firepot Food is my favourite. A *typical meal is around 125g in weight and offers upwards of 500 calories. Baked Apple Porridge is superb in the morning and Chili Con Carne has spice and great taste. Options are available for larger packs. Taking Chili Con Carne as an example: the 135g pack has 600 cals and they have a 200g pack with 890 cals.
I take coffee for the morning and sachets of hot chocolate for the evening.
There is no one answer to clothing and many questions to ask. To start, I will assume for the purpose of this article that you are a runner who will be moving fast (er) than a hiker.
Key considerations re weather:
Will it be dry and cold?
Will it be wet and cold?
Will it be wet/ dry and cold?
Understanding the answer to the above helps clarify clothing choice. For example, Nepal in December will be cold and dry (usually) therefore the need for wet weather clothing can be reduced. It also means that down will be the main insulating layer. By contrast, if exploring the mountains of northern Norway, you will potentially experience all weather variables and therefore the need for synthetic insulating layers may be preferable to down and the requirement for waterproof jacket and trousers almost essential.
I see apparel in three scenarios:
What I wear in the day.
What I wear when I have finished for the day.
What I wear to sleep.
Remember the key word, multi-purpose.
Layering is essential to regulate temperature and at all costs, you need to reduce sweating, especially in subzero conditions as the sweat can freeze against the skin. Accept that you will need to move slower and that you will need to be diligent in stop/ starting to add and remove layers. It’s easy to feel too warm or a little cold and not stop because it impacts on your rhythm, this can be a really bad decision. Make sure you add/ remove as required.
Eyes: Wear glasses, especially in snow.
Body: Long-sleeve merino base layer top.
Hands: Merino base layer gloves.
Legs: Winter run tights.
Feet: Merino socks.
Shoes – These will be specific to the task and weather conditions. Obviously, I will not be carrying options (unless climbing,) so, my shoe choice will be based on the most demanding conditions. As a starting point, my standard trail running shoes with aggressive outsole would be ideal for mud and soft snow. If I was going to encounter ice I would either take micro-crampons to use on my trail shoe or use a specific shoe such as the Arctic Talon by inov-8. Extreme cold, challenging conditions and many variables and I would use a boot but a lighter option that is designed with a runner in mind, Roclite (370 or 400) by inov-8 works exceptionally well.
WARMTH and WATERPROOF
Using the above as a starting point, the need to add layers will depend on the conditions you are experiencing.
Head: You lose a great deal of heat through your head, so simply adding and removing a hat is a simple way to regulate temperature. There are many options here that typically fall in 3 categories:
I often like the head band option as it keeps my ears warm but still allows some heat to escape through the top of my head. If it is really cold, I will use a beanie.
Neck: In colder temperatures I like to have a Buff/ wrap around my neck. This is especially useful as the temperature drops as you can pull the item over your mouth and nose. They can also be used as a hat if required.
Body: A simple and extremely light windproof is great for adding and removing to regulate temperature. In colder conditions, the need to add insulation will be required and as mentioned, this can be down or synthetic. Ultimately, this layer, especially if still moving fast does not need to be too bulky or too warm. A Rab Kaon is a current favourite which has the best of both worlds by using treated down in a small and lightweight package. Rain, wet conditions and strong wind can make any trip miserable, so, a good and lightweight jacket with taped seams is essential. The Stormshell by inov-8 is perfect. Top Tip: Consider the size of the waterproof jacket, sometimes going one size bigger is better to allow for insulation underneath.
Hands: I struggle with my hands and particularly with my fingers, so, I do not compromise. I wear Merino wool base layers and then Mitts over the top by inov-8. If I need the use of my fingers, I will use a Gore-Tex glove by Rab. Importantly I carry a spare set of Merino base layer gloves and even a pair of more substantial mitts if conditions dictate. My hands are my weakness!
Legs: Winter run tights such as the inov-8 Winter Tight are ideal in all conditions and they are my ‘go-to’ for all runs. In rain I will use just the run tight. However, if the temperature drops to zero or below and the wind gets up, the need to add another layer becomes important and I use the Trailpant by inov-8 over the top.
Feet: Merino socks are essential as they work extremely well when wet. I often use an Injini 5-finger Merino as a base layer and then a Smartwool Merino sock over the top. On occasion I have used Neoprene socks as an extra warm layer.
Shoes: As discussed above but if going to extreme conditions and climbing I use La Sportiva boots, the G5 is perfect for snow conditions with crampons. Also consider that maybe you need snowshoes?
AT THE END OF THE DAY
You have finished fast packing for the day, you are warm, and the priority is pitching the tent. Before you do that, make sure you:
Add an insulated layer.
Add a windproof.
Wear a hat.
Put on gloves.
Once you have done the above, pitch the tent and get inside.
Priority is to remove layer and importantly remove base layers if they are damp or wet. Putting on a dry base layer is essential to keep warm
Replace run tights with Merino base layer tights.
Remove socks and put on dry socks.
Now add the insulated layers such as jacket, hat and gloves. If extremely cold, get inside your sleeping bag and retain the heat you already have.
Depending on the conditions and the environment, you may very well have additional warm layers that were not mentioned above. Three essentials for me in extreme conditions are:
The above 3 items can pack small and the warmth to weight ratio can make a huge difference. Trekking in Nepal or a similar place in winter and they are essential items.
Hut/tent slippers are a great addition for warm feet and allow you to get out of run shoes/ boots. They are light and can roll up. They fall in the luxury category but if you have space and don´t mind a little extra weight, they can be very worthwhile.
Be specific with the choice of insulated layer. There are many options available that balance weight/ warmth delicately.
First and foremost, make sure you are warm when going to sleep. If not, you will waste energy trying to get warm. If conditions allow, don’t hesitate to do some press ups, jog on the spot, do star jumps and so on before getting in a sleeping bag.
As a start point, I will wear:
Long sleeve Merino base layer top.
Long leg Merino tights.
Merino liner gloves.
The above provides me with a starting point. Of course, if conditions allow, I can remove some of the items above to regulate temperature.
If it is cold, I will wear a down jacket.
Extremely cold and I will wear my down pants and socks.
It all goes back to layering, multi-purpose and why I initially said that a lighter and less warm sleeping bag can often work providing you have the options to add warmth.
A good night’s sleep is essential.
Top Tips: Put clothes inside the sleeping bag to stop them getting cold and damp. Put all batteries/ phone etc inside the sleeping bag, they will last longer. Need a heat boost? Boil some water, add it to a very secure water bottle and put inside sleeping bag – the ultimate hot-water bottle! Have a bottle for taking a pee in or a FUD if you are a woman. Getting out of a tent in the middle of the night in wind, rain and/ or snow is not a good idea.
TOP TIPS FOR THE WINTER
Prepare and plan a trip meticulously understanding the weather conditions you will encounter.
Have the correct equipment for the trip.
Make sure you have a phone, the ability to charge and re-charge it and have a tracking device such as a Garmin InReach.
Tent must be durable and correct for the conditions.
A tent can be made warmer by reducing ambient space – use packs etc around you and don’t be afraid to ‘spoon’ a tent-mate.
Prepare ground for camping, particularly important in snow/ ice conditions. If possible, clear snow to reveal the ground underneath.
Use a mat as insulation between you and the ground.
Layer and regulate temperature.
Add hot water to a drink bottle for the perfect sleeping bag warmer.
Put clothes inside sleeping bag.
Have ear plugs and blindfold.
Eat and drink warm food and snacking in the middle of the night is a great idea.
Have a pee bottle or suitable device if a woman. Holding a pee in is not a good idea as this will waste energy and heat,
Insulated bottles are essential to stop water freezing. Turn bottle upside down.
Use poles when conditions dictate.
Use dry bags to keep all clothing dry.
Have plastic zip-lock bags for emergencies.
Make sure you have a first aid kit.
Zip ties, Gorilla tape and a small tube of super glue can go a long way for ‘on-the-go’ repairs.
Carry a multi-tool knife.
Use a long-handled spoon for dehydrated meals.
Eye protection is crucial.
Take a pillow.
Decide on the correct fuel for the stove. Subzero, go with liquid fuel.
Melt snow for water.
Carry a water filtration system.
Have a method for removing toilet paper and waste.
Have wet wipes or similar.
Sunscreen in snow is essential along with lip balm.
If possible and allowed, make a fire.
If possible and allowed, make a fire.
Take insoles out of shoes and put inside sleeping (providing they are not wet)
A second stove option and backup may be worthwhile. If using gas canister, the MSR pocket rocket burner is super small and light.
Ventilate your tent.
Protect extremities. Hands and feet. Consider hut/tent slippers.
Headtorch and spare batteries.
Depending on the length of the trip, luxuries are best kept at a minimum. However, on a lengthy trip in Nepal I did take an iPad mini as it allowed me to write, provided the option for movies and music and I could re-charge in tea houses. If I was self-sufficient camping, I would leave this at home.
Take a phone. Maybe use an old-style phone and not the latest smartphone. The latter is power hungry.
iPods and fancy earphones are great, but you cannot beat a pair of simple wired earphones as they do not need re-charging.
Take a notebook and pen (if not taking an iPad mini).
A battery for re-charging.
Remember, you need to carry any luxury so be ruthless.
Episode 196 – Kristian Morgan talks about setting an FKT on the South West Coast Path and multiple World Champion, Jon Albon, talks about ‘Finding My Feet’ for Endurancesports.tv.
Talk Ultra is now on Tunein – just another way to make the show available for those who prefer not to use iTunes – HERE You can download the Tunein APP HERE
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NEWS FKT’s posted on last show: * Franco Colle new FKT on Monte Rosa from Gressoney* Nadir Maguet – Gran Paradiso FKT 2:02:32* Erik Clavery GR10 9 days 9 hours and a few minutes* Davide Magnini Ortles FKT 2:18:15* Kim Collison 24h Lakes achieves 78 Peaks* Sabrina Verjeee Wainwrights (wishes not to claim)* Dylan Bowman Loowit Trail 5:11:49* Josh Pulattie Oregon Coast Trail 12 days 10 hours 25 min* Candice Burt Tahoe Rim Trail 2 days 12 hours 47 min* John Kelly Pennine Way 2 days 16 hours 40 min* Sarah Hansel (57:43) & Joey Campanelli (41:00) for Nolans 14* Tom Hollins Dales Mountain 30 (130 miles, 30 summits) 41 hrsAdam Kimble new FKT on Tahoe Rim Trail, USADamian Hall new FKT for the Pennine Way, UKAdam Jacobs new FKT for Hertfordshire Way, UKCarla Molinaro new FKT for the JOGLE, UKBeth Pascall new FKT for the Bob Graham Round, UK and set 5th fastest time.Rhys Jenkins sets new FKT on the Wales Coastal Path #fkt! 870 miles. Time TBC but 20 days 9hrs 35 mins – 2hr 20mins off the record. Lindsey Ulrich new FKT Pacific Crest TrailMarilyne Marchand-Gouin new FKT Clorado TrailMikaela Osler new FKT Colorado TrailWouter Berghuijs new FKT Via Alpina SwitzerlandChristof Teuscher new FKT Eagles 33 Pau Capell runs UTMB in 21:17Finlay Wild runs the Ramsey Round 14:42Carol Morgan 24hr Lakeland record with 65 topsWonderland Trail in the USA, Kaytlyn Gerbin set a new female FKT. Dylan Bowman (16:58) set the FKT only to have it broken 1-week later by Tyler Green, now 16:40:55Kirsty Hewitson Steve Parr Round 62 fells 117mDiego Pasoz on the Via Alpina new FKTDan Lawson JOGLE 9d 21h 14mRyan Sandes 13 Peaks Challenge 13:41:10Donnie Campbell continues his Munro challengeKilian does a VK in less than 30 min and then follows up with 10km on the road in sub 30 min
With the NEW documentary featuring Jon Albon (Finding my Feet) live on www.endurancesports.tv as of Friday 2nd October.
We’ve created a special code so that our listeners can access the documentary, and everything else on the channel using a limited edition 50% offer lasting 6 months, click this link http://bit.ly/50offReward and enter the code “50_Reward”.
Please support Talk Ultra by becoming a Patron at www.patreon.com/talkultra and THANKS to all our Patrons who support us. Rand Haley and Simon Darmody get a mention on the show here for ‘Becoming 100k Runners’ with a high-tier Patronage.
The passing of September and the arrival of October can signify dread and a sense of despair in many as daylight disappears and the weather changes. However, one of the secrets of ‘surviving’ this new season is to embrace it. Don’t look at the negatives, on the contrary, the perceived negatives are actually positives. Seasons exist for a reason.
Lethargy, low mood and the perceived feel to hibernate are all characteristics we feel during the winter months and first off, don’t fight it, accept that winter brings an opportunity to recharge, relax, read a book, catch up on some movies, light a fire, get a blanket and yes curl up on the sofa and relax. There is no harm or guilt in this.
SAD (Seasonal Effective Disorder) is something we all can feel and yes, some feel it considerably more than others, particularly if Serotonin is reduced and this is often treated with drugs. But light, or the lack of it, is a great contributor. Top tip – Look at changing the bulbs on your lights to ‘daylight’ balanced and when required, adjust brightness throughout the day to help simulate the natural passing of light. It’s a great and easy way to help simulate the variable light intensity changes in one normal day.
Mindset is a key factor to a successful winter and once you get the mind tuned, you will soon appreciate and embrace the possibilities that the winter season can bring, especially as a runner or someone who enjoys outdoor life and activity.
As in all things, we are individuals and as such, we all treat circumstances and changes in different ways. I personally see winter as an opportunity to do things I could not do in spring and summer. I see the challenges that winter will bring as a test, both physical and mental and I look upon it as an opportunity to learn and adjust. Resources and circumstances do go a long way in making my ability to adapt successful, so, to start off, look at these aspects and put yourself in a good place before the cold, wet and dark hits.
In a discussion with a friend over a glass of wine, I was surprised to hear our discussion begin to deteriorate…
“I just hate this time of year. The daylight is leaving us earlier and earlier each day, the light is already arriving so late in the morning and I can feel the damp starting to creep into my body. It will be only a matter of weeks before I am in perpetual cold and dark, I cannot wait for spring!”
It is easy to see from the above quote that before winter has begun, my friend is defeated. I smiled and laughed with him and turned the conversation around.
“Yes, the darkness is coming as is the cold, the wet, the snow and the ice,” I replied. “But what a remarkable opportunity this brings. Just think about it. Cozy nights at home with candles and a movie. Adventures in the snow. Running with a head torch. Learning a new skill. Reading and yes, I could go on and on. Winter for me is just a wonderful opportunity and I cannot wait for it to begin.”
I already felt like a winner as mentally I was prepared and excited for the opportunity, whereas my friend, was already starting the hibernation process.
EMBRACE THE WINTER
I strongly believe that embracing winter and making the most of the season starts with mindset. With a good mindset as outlined above, you will already be in a great place to start.
Marino Giacometti, founder of skyrunning also made the summit on race day – ‘for fun!’
As runner’s and outdoor enthusiasts, we are all at different abilities and yes, we all have different reasons why we do what we do. A great example being an elite runner may well look at winter as an opportunity to address weaknesses and maybe spend more time in a gym working on strength and core.
Monte Rosa Skymarathon
A running enthusiast may well just want to tick over, keep fit and maintain a healthy weight during winter months. And then there is the outdoor enthusiast who may well accept that running is something that will go on a back burner for the coming months and accept that walking, indoor cycling, skiing, gym work and so on is the way forward. Whatever group you fall in, take a couple of hours with a pen and paper and self asses how the last year has been and what you want to achieve the following year, this will help provide some specific goals over the winter to keep focused. This planning and assessment can be as simple as complicated as you wish.
As an example, mine is to embrace the season and the weather and to seize every opportunity. I will hone my head torch running. I will practice my ice and snow running. I will experience my first snow shoeing and I look forward to multi-day snow adventures that will carry me from one point to another in a self-sufficient way. But I also want to write more. I want to read a couple of books that I have never found the time for and I also want to embrace the downtime to rest and recover. My connection with nature and breaking from the digital world is integral to a healthy existence and that cannot stop just because the season has changed.
We have all heard it before, “There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.” It’s true I am afraid. Clothing is one of the key essentials that makes any winter adventure not only bearable and enjoyable. As outdoor people, we have never been as lucky. Technology in apparel has now progressed to a level that we can be warm and dry in super-light products. The downside of course is cost and yes, gearing up for winter can be expensive.
Layering is key with apparel, starting with warm layers against the skin, insulating layers on top and then waterproof and windproof layers as the final touch that will protect from the elements. Merino is great as a base layer and I have a long sleeve top and legs as a starting point. Now of course, I may or may not use them as this depends on the outdoor exercise I am doing. As an example, I would wear the top if running but not the legs. A mid-layer is more often than not either Primaloft, down or synthetic. Each has its place but if you could only choose one, Primaloft (or similar) would be the most versatile due to its ability to retain warmth when wet and still be lightweight. The outer layer should be waterproof and windproof with taped seams and again, it is essential to have jacket and trousers.
The above looks at the core, but if you are like me, the extremities are my most vulnerable in winter and after getting frost nip both in my toes and fingers on the summit of Monte Rosa several years ago, I know need to ensure that I have multiple options for keeping my feet and hands warm. I use Merino base layer socks and gloves which are very thin. For my feet, I then add thicker Merino socks over and inn certain scenarios I have even used Gore-Tex or Neoprene over socks. For my hands, mitts always provide the most warmth and I will use them as first choice. If I need finger dexterity, I often purchase gloves several sizes too big that will allow for multiple layers to retain warmth.
A hat, buff and glasses add the finishing touches. A good hat is one of the easiest ways to retain heat inside the body. A Buff is perfect for around the neck, pulled over one’s nose and mouth to keep out cold air or you can use as a hat. Glasses are an essential to keep out the elements from my eyes and particularly essential if doing any outdoor activity in snow.
Finally, footwear is an absolutely key element to make any outdoor activity successful. There is no one-stop solution here and as a runner, your everyday trail shoes may be ideal for a bulk of your runs, however, specific conditions require specific shoes.
Mud/ Wet – You need an aggressive outsole that will grip and gain traction not only of sloppy wet mud but also on tree routes, rocks, gravel and a multitude of other surfaces. Top recommendations are VJ Sport and inov-8 who have been producing shoes to handle the elements for years. Personal favorites are the XTRM (here) and X-Talon(here.)
Snow/ Ice – In soft snow, the shoes that you use for mud/wet will usually work fine providing adequate grip. However, ice brings new challenges and many runner’s avoid ice at all costs. However, products exist that allow for running in such conditions. Firstly, you can micro-crampons (Snowline or Nortec as examples) that simply adapt any running shoe for ice.
I personally prefer a specific shoe, such as the VJ Sport Xante (here) which as all the attributes of my favorite trail shoes and the added grip from 20 studs. Or the Arctic Talon (here) by inov-8.
As a final note on footwear, I use boots and more substantial crampons when venturing in to more alpine and challenging terrain. Read about a trip to the Atlas Mountains here. There is no one answer here but if moving fast and light, the new inov-8 Rocltite Pro G 400 (here) is a great cross over and then I use two specific mountain boots, La Sportiva G5 (here) or the Trango Extreme (here.)
There is no one solution here and having the options to adjust clothing based on weather conditions is key.
Carry a pack that will allow you to carry options of clothing. For example, it may well be dry when you leave but rain could come at any time, make sure you have waterproof layers with you.
Take off and add clothing as you exercise. When it’s cold, we often start with many layers as the first 15 min can feel uncomfortable. However, our core soon warms up. Take the layers off early to avoid sweating. Sweating is not your friend in cold climates. Be prepared to add and take off as required. One of the many reasons many people do not, is because it can disrupt the flow of exercise, however, a little time stopping pays dividends in the long term.
Avoid getting base or mid layers wet.
Carry an extra base layer.
Protect extremities – hands, feet, nose, ears and lips.
Protect skin with sun block as and when required and post-exercise use a moisturizer – winter is hard on exposed skin.
Start easy and build into any outdoor activity allowing for a gradual warm up.
Have appropriate footwear.
Don’t forget to drink.
Take snacks/ food and even a flask or consider the option to obtain hot drinks.
Even at the most basic level, winter brings extra challenges and risk. A simple road run has increased danger due to increased challenges not only for you as a runner, but for those who are sharing the outdoors with you – drivers! Reduced visibility, challenging conditions under foot and on the road can make that simple road run feel like an assault course, so, accept that sometimes staying indoors and or going to the gym is a better option. But we don’t want to be forced to stay indoors and why should we? If you have the correct apparel and footwear, all is good, yes? Well, nearly… Running on the road and I would most definitely consider adding the following:
Wear bright clothes or wear a reflective vest such as the Ultra Performance (here) which is minimal and light.
Add a flashing light to your arm and ankle. Example here.
Use a head torch.
Take a phone.
Moving from road to trail and the risk from traffic is reduced greatly especially if one can start immediately on trail with no road running involved. Therefore, the need to wear reflective clothing can be reduced. But the risk of falling is greatly reduced and depending on where you are, that risk can be potentially life threatening. So, adjust safety measures based on:
When you are running.
Where you are running.
The duration of the run.
If running alone.
Running for 1-hour on a local trail is very different than a multi-hour adventure. I personally have a standard kit list and I take the basic on every run. It’s an overkill for the 1-hour runs and for the longer sessions, I add to it as required and dictated to by location and conditions.
Spare Merino base layer.
Lightweight waterproof jacket.
Lightweight waterproof pants.
The above, is my absolute basic kit that will go in a lightweight pack.
I then add equipment based on:
What am I doing?
Where am I doing it?
When I am doing it?
What are the options exist to cut short my adventure?
How remote will I be?
What are the risks involved?
What weather can I expect?
What is the worst-case scenario?
The above is a great start point. Even a local run has great risk if one is alone. Imagine running in the forest with snow on the ground, the temperature is just below zero and you are at least 30-minutes from anyone else. If you hit the deck, sprain an ankle, break a bone or whatever, you are suddenly stationary in subzero temperature. This is high risk.
Adapting to the environment, conditions and challenges is not something to be feared. It is actually fun! I go back to the mindset approach at the beginning, I see this as an opportunity, an experience to learn and a great potential to be taken out of my comfort zone.
What equipment/ advice can make a run/ adventure safer and address the list of questions above?
If possible, share any trip with another person. It’s more social and you have a backup.
Check weather conditions.
Tell a friend/ family member where you are going and when you will be back.
Have a phone and if necessary, an additional charger. It’s worth considering purchasing a phone that is not a smartphone – battery life is usually amazing.
Carry a tracker such as Garmin InReach or Spot.
Think layers and have base layer, warm layers, waterproof layers, hat, gloves and buff. On a personal note, I take spare gloves, socks and a base layer should I get wet and need the comfort and warmth of dry layers.
Know where you are going and have a map and compass. A GPX file is also a great option for watch/ smartphone.
Carry micro-crampons if you think snow/ ice is high risk.
Carry a bivvy bag which can be a life saver if stuck in a remote location with an inability to move.
Goggles are better than glasses if you are in a blizzard or strong winds.
Carry an ice axe if venturing anywhere with winter conditions.
Hand spikes for ice (more details below).
Snowshoes (more details below).
In many scenarios, common sense comes in to play and quite simply, a little extra weight and safety is far better than the alternative. Accept in winter that you will move slower and in a different way.
WHAT OPTIONS EXIST IN WINTER
This question can be asked in two ways, firstly, one’s head can be lowered, shoulders dropped, hands below the waste, a look of desperation on the face and, “What options exist in winter…?” The person asking this question has already decided that the answer is none!
For me, the way to ask this question is standing upright, huge smile on my face and the question, “What options exist in winter?” Already has me ready and primed to list a plethora of activities to keep even the most hardened sport enthusiast occupied for quite some time.
Learn something new.
Spend time with family and friends.
And the list goes on! Location, finances and available time all have a bearing on what is and what is not possible. One thing is for sure, possibilities are endless.
Quite simply, you need your run apparel and appropriate equipment as listed above. Importantly you need a head torch. Not all head torches are the same and an investment in the right kit early on saves money later. If you are running in the city with a great deal of ambient light and just the odd foray on trail, you may well get away with a budget torch and something around 200 lumens would work. However, if you are heading into the pitch black, running in forest, venturing into the mountains and pushing the darkness envelope, you are going to need a specific tool for the job. As an example, Norwegian lighting company Moonlight (here) provide head torches from 700 to 7000 lumens. Be specific on your needs and requirements and importantly consider autonomy, beam direction and spread, options for spare batteries and the option to keep the battery in apparel while still using the head torch, especially important in very cold environment when warmth will make the battery last longer.
Layer up so that you have the flexibility to reduce heat and get warm as required. In many scenarios, particularly soft snow, a good aggressive trail shoe will work. However, consider the risk of ice so carry micro spikes. If in the mountains, knowledge and experience of snow conditions would be advisable. Be prepared with additional equipment such as poles and ice axe. Needless to say, gloves are really important.
Use micro spikes for specific shoes as mentioned previously to ensure that you have grip and traction. In some places, Norway and Canada a good example, summer lakes freeze over and they become an incredible playground. Caution, safety and experience is required and if you have never run this way before, take advice from those that have. Importantly run with hand spikes (pictured below) available at all times should a disaster happen – these help you get out of a situation.
Measure the ice.
What is a safe thickness? 4 inches or more is ideal.
Check the ice colour – clear blue or green is good.
Fresh ice is best.
Know rescue techniques.
Mountains in winter offer an incredible playground and if you are new or inexperienced, the first option would be to sign up for a weekend trip with experienced professionals. The equipment requirements, techniques and safety measures vary considerably.
No need to venture outside. In 2019 as an example, I started on a series of indoor ice climbing lessons which has now set me up for experiencing ice climbing outdoors. There is obviously a need for specific equipment: helmet, glasses, harness, ice axes, boots and crampons. However, most places, indoor or outdoor, offer the option to hire equipment as part of the lessons.
A great winter exercise that provides an alternative to skiing or snowboarding that is an extension of running. Snowshoes basically allow you to float and not sink in the snow. But there is a difference to snow hiking and snow running, both in the shoe used and the type of snow. Run snowshoes are smaller, allow for a more natural gait and require the snow to be har packed. Whereas in soft snow, you need a much larger snowshoe to stop you sinking in the ground. Either option provides a great challenge and workout. Of course, races exist that require snow running both with and without snowshoes, so, if you are signed up or plan to race like this in the future, seize the opportunity. Abelone Lyng (here), winner of the Ice Ultra does winter snow shoeing trips in Norway.
Peak Design Field Pouch attached to a Montane Pack when Fastpacking in Nepal.
Snow, ice and cold weather doesn’t mean that multi-day adventures need to stop, on the contrary. Find a route, plan accordingly, have the correct equipment and off you go. These adventures can involve winter camping (you need a 4-season tent, appropriate matt and sleeping bag) or you can run/ hike form hut-to-hut or hotel-to-hotel. You are only limited by your imagination. Accept that you will move slower. Nepal is a magical playground for winter adventures.
Wrap up and include the family. Sport and our pursuit of it can often be selfish, not purposely, but we can get engrossed in challenge and adventure and often exclude the ones we love. Share the journey.
Consider a training camp, maybe this could be something in warm weather to break up the winter months. I have been organizing a warm weather camp every January in Lanzarote for over 10-years, info here.
Sign up for a challenge.
Make it social.
Train in the home.
Learn something new.
Enroll in a class.
Ultimately, don’t letter winter get you in a spiral of mood swings, depression and locked indoors. It’s all about the mind and understanding that the variety winter brings is actually far more exciting and challenging than good weather and dry predictable trails.
Seize the conditions. Plan accordingly. Have the correct equipment. Test yourself with something new and trust me, by the time Spring comes around you may well be a little disappointed.
Running long, fastpacking or journeying for multiple days, either racing or training, and the need for water is a constant problem. It’s impossible to carry all that you would need and therefore, one must either resort to one of the following options:
Getting support from friends or using aid stations.
Purchasing from shops when possible.
Taking water from the trail.
In many scenarios, the latter option is often the ONLY option. However, how can you be safe knowing that the water you will drink, will not cause any issues or onward problems?
Step in the Katadyn BeFree.
With a capacity of 600ml, it is possible to access water from anywhere, filter it through the BeFree filter and then be confident that you are drinking safe water.
“The Filter removes bacteria, cysts and sediment with its pore size of 0.1 micron (0.0001mm). The output is up to 2L/min. and the capacity up to 1000L, depending on the water quality. 100% PVC and BPA free. “
Lightweight (59g), portable, ideal for on the go and easy to clean. The Katadyn BeFree is an essential item for any adventure.
Check out the latest edition of TRAIL RUNNING Magazine Feb/Mar 2015
It has a nice ‘DPS’ on the Everest Trail Race (HERE) by yours truly and a whole host of other great info for the budding and experienced trail runner.
Trail Running, the UK’s only mag dedicated to the adventurous world of off-road running, is on sale now!
FREE with this issue – Start Running Now training guide with expert fitness and nutrition plans for every level from 5k to marathon.
Run all winter with confidence – We share the secrets from 14 elite trail runners from running on snow and ice to motivation to get outside in the first place
Trail Running Saved My Life – From binge drinking and public nakedness to race wins and a GB vest, be inspired by our exclusive interview with elite endurance athlete Robbie Britton, plus more athletes and readers saved by trails
Easy Quick Fitness – how to lose flab and run faster with no extra training effort!Ditch the gym – no expensive memberships, get fit by running with our easy 2-week plan
Run your first ultra – go from 10k to 30 miles with our 24-week plan from the Mammut Dig Deep Races experts
Gear tests – Budget trail shoes, winter gilets, hydration bottles, bumbags & packs and the top 20 running apps
Chocolate’s good for you! – Made you look, yes, we reveal the healthy way to enjoy this treat
Episode 48 of Talk Ultra brings you sounds and interviews from Nepal and we have an interview with ladies winner and 2nd place overall, Fernanda Maciel. We have an interview with Dakota Jones and we catch up with Anna Lupton and discuss fell racing and Skyrunning. Recently, Steven Sleuyter placed 2nd overall at the Grand to Grand ultra and we discuss his racing and how he plans and prepares for multi stage racing. We have the news, a blog, up and coming races and speedgoat Karl!
Nepal, such an amazing place and what an experience.
I went out on a sightseeing tour and here our tour guide, Prackasa provides an insight.
INTERVIEW with Tour Guide Prackasa
Leaving Kathmandu and heading to the start in JIRI was quite an epic journey, It involved a long journey on twisting winding roads that lasted 7-hours plus. When we arrived I spoke with Brit, Lynden Kemp.
INTERVIEW – Lynden Kemp
With the race underway I had so many remarkable experiences. Being a photographer in this environment is a dream come true.
While I was out on the trails I constantly came across animails, farms, sherpa’s, porters and children, in particular while descending from 4070m at Pikey Peak I came across three boys carrying huge baskets on their backs supported by the Nepalese head strap. They joined me for the descent and sand a song for me.
AUDIO – Children singing on the descent from Pikey Peak
The race ultimately was about Upendra Sunuwar who dominated the men’s race and Fernanda Maciel who not only dominated the ladies race but placed 2nd overall.
INTERVIEW – I caught up with Fernanda Maciel when we arrived back in Kathmandu and you can listen to her thoughts and experiences of racing in Nepal.
On the last day of our trip, I was involved in a charity event with Fernanda Maciel. Running through the streets of Kathmandu we were joined by children from the Kalaish Children’s Home. This was an event created by Fernanda with the sole purpose of providing aid to children who are from poor or deprived homes. It was a wonderful way to end a trip and extremely rewarding.
The Everest Trail Race, Nepal and the Himalayas have been an incredible experience. The terrain and altitude provides a tough challenge but the rewards are high. It really is a place and a race experience I can’t recommend enough. You don’t have to be a great runner to take part but you do need to be fit!
Nepal has been quite an enlightening experience from so many aspects. I have written a daily post on my website – iancorless.com and I have provided links to all my images if you are interested.
“As you can see, I’m far from being ready to be 30. Does this mean I get to push it back until I’m ready? I say yes! I think 30 is just jealous that I got called Teagan’s sister the other day and someone assumed I went to the kids school when I had my backpack on the other day.
So 30, suck it! I may have to say I’m “30″, but I refuse to grow up!”
Interview – Anna Lupton
TALK TRAINING – Trevor Prior talks to us about feet.
Dakota Jones has had a relatively quiet 2013, however, when he has run he has been on top form. Here we discuss his thoughts and plans for the future.
I don’t think many words are needed here… I think we can all find something in this and relate to it.
“I love technical running… from what I hear, the closest running to the type of running that I like to do is European Skyrunning” Ruby Muir
Ruby Muir is one of New Zealand’s most promising young trail runners. At just 21 she had won the Kepler, Tarawera Ultra and nearly every other event she’d entered. This is the story of how she discovered running, what drove her to it and how it has helped her heal. This film was shot in one day at Eskdale Mountain Bike Park near her home in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand.