‘UNBREAKABLE’ – The Western States 100

I was fortunate to interview JB and Jennifer Benna early on in the life of Talk Ultra, you can listen to the episode 26 HERE

UNBREAKABLE for many ‘is’ the iconic Western States movie as it documented a golden age of the race (2010) featuring Geoff Roes, Anton Krupicka, Kilian Jornet and Hal Koerner who had won the race twice.

‘Unbreakable: The Western States 100’ follows the four lead men on this amazing journey. Hal Koerner, two time defending Western States champion, and running store entrepreneur from Ashland, Oregon. Geoff Roes, undefeated at the 100-mile distance, an organic chef from Juneau, Alaska. Anton Krupicka, undefeated in every ultramarathon he has ever started, a graduate student living in Boulder, Colorado. Kilian Jornet, the young mountain runner and two time Ultra-trail du Mont-Blanc champion, from Spain.

Thanks to JB and Jennifer

“UNBREAKABLE, The Western States 100,”

has been made available for free.

The Western States Endurance Run, known commonly as the Western States 100, is a 100-mile long (161 km) ultramarathon that takes place on trails in California’s Sierra Nevada annually, on the last weekend of June. The race starts at the base of the Squaw Valley ski resort and finishes at the Placer High School track in Auburn, California. Runners climb a cumulative total of 18000 feet (5500 m) and descend a total of 23000 feet (7000 m) on mountain trails before reaching the finish. Because of the length of the race, the race begins at 5:00 A.M. and continues through the day and into the night. Runners finishing before the 30 hour overall time limit for the race receive a bronze belt buckle, while runners finishing in under 24 hours receive a silver belt buckle. – via wikipedia.

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inov-8 Trail Talon 290 V2 Shoe Review

inov-8 TRAIL TALON 290 V2

TRAIL TALON 290 (8mm drop) is one of my favourite all-round trail shoes of all-time, the previous incarnations were always a ‘go-to’ for everyday running and when travelling, they were the perfect shoe to take as they managed to cover a multitude of uses, be that road, hard trail, rocks and yes, even some mud and very soft-ground.

The new version of TRAIL TALON, named TRAIL TALON 290 V2 is all that the previous incarnation was with a new upper.

The plus side from the off, is the new TRAIL TALON 290 V2 has that all important 8mm drop that is great for everyday use, not too low and too high. Therefore, it’s perfect for those longer days.

The outsole has 4mm lugs with a classic configuration, the TRAIL TALON 290 V2 is very much a dry trail/ mountain shoe that can handle a little sloppy stuff if required.

The TRAIL TALON 290 V2 is wide (fit 4 – Shoes with the higher numbers on our scale will suit athletes with a wider foot and those wanting that extra comfort in the toe box) and it has plenty of room and it allows the toes to move and splay just as in the previous model but not at the loss of a secure feel and reassurance when on more technical trail.

When running long your toes have room to move and should you be prone to swelling, the shoes have room for the foot to expand. This ‘standard fit’ is something that inov-8 have worked on and by contrast, some shoes in the inov-8 range can be purchased on ‘precision’ fit which offers a tighter and narrower toe box. The TRAIL TALON V2, when running on long, flat and consistent terrain excel with a plush ride, great return in the push-off phase and all-day comfort.

The 6mm POWER FOOTBED and TWO PIECE POWERFLOW midsole provide a cushioned ride with 1imm at the front and 19mm at the rear.  This only adds to the thoughts of inov-8 that the TRAIL TALON is a long-distance shoe, if going out for a long session or a day in the mountains, the Trail Talon 290 V2 would be ideal. Also, ideal if running a multi-day race like Marathon des Sables or similar. The higher drop allows more leeway and flexibility and I must add that the TRAIL TALON 290 V2 is a superb shoe to walk in. This is really important for those who are running long or doing multi-day races. Often, shoes are tested just running with no consideration of how the shoe transitions to a change of gait when walking. For me, the TRAIL TALON 290 is one of the best run shoes I have used when walking, the transition is seamless and comfortable no doubt attributable to the ADAPTERFIT met-cradle for better mid-foot comfort.

I am always wary of buzz words like ‘Powerflow’ and ‘Adapterfit’ as in real terms they can mean nothing. Breaking the words down, the TRAIL TALON 290 V2 has great cushioning and great mid-foot comfort.

When running, the feel of the shoe and the comfort level is high. In the 290 has a great ‘feel’ for the ground despite the extra comfort, really important for me, I never want to lose that connection with the surface I am running on.

As in the previous 290, the TRAIL TALON 290 V2 incorporates the unique on-the-shoe gaiter attachment so that should you require a Gaiter you can purchase the item separately and attach/ de-attach with ease.

The lacing system and a gusseted tongue are winners contributing to the great out-of-the-box comfort. I have been saying this for ages, but a gusseted tongue just makes sense; It helps hold the foot in place, it stops the tongue moving and sliding to the left or right as you run and maybe most importantly it adds an additional protection to stop debris entering the shoe.

The lacing is added ‘on to’ the shoe by what effectively is a folded plastic layer. This works so well as it allows the shoes to be laced tightly or loosely as required but it also allows the front to swell within the shoe.

Toe protection on the shoe is good but not ridiculous. The heel box is snug, cushioned, holds the foot well and caused no rubbing on long sessions, even when walking.

Grip is compromised on any muddy trails but then again, the TRAIL TALON 290 V2 is not intended for this type of terrain, you are much better looking at a Mudclaw or similar which is designed for specific off-road and muddy use.

The key change and hence the V2 title; the upper. It is lighter and more breathable without a compromise to durability. Recently, inov-8 have had some complaints re upper durability but here in the 290 V2 I have no complaints. I have put 150-miles in them on a mixture of terrain and the shoes are holding up really well, both the upper and outsole.

Finally, the TRAIL TALON 290 V2 is gladly very similar to the previous incarnation and for that I am very happy. Often a brand feels the need to tweak a shoe looking for constant improvement when in reality, what they had was already fine! Gladly here, the V2 has just an upper change and that works perfectly well.

This TRAIL TALON 290 V2 was a winner before and it still is. I would go as far to say, that it is inov-8’s best shoe. It is most certainly the best all-rounder and if you were looking for one pair of trail shoes to handle many scenarios, the 290 V2 is perfect.

Specs from inov-8 (web here)

  • Iconic inov-8 rubber outsoles with multi-directional claw-shaped 4mm studs, each with a wide contact area, allow the quick release of debris and provide unrivalled grip and stability over rocky terrain.
  • The two-piece POWERFLOW midsole, constructed from two compounds – one designed to optimize comfort and the other to maximize energy return – delivers 10% better shock absorption and 15% better energy return than standard midsoles. An inbuilt Dynamic Fascia Band (DFB) mimics the “Windlass Effect”, delivering a kick of energy with each step, helping you run faster more efficiently.
  • An 8mm drop offers comfort, while new highly durable lightweight upper materials offer breathability and protection. Built around the natural anatomic structure of the foot, the next generation ADAPTERFIT met-cradle adapts to the natural movement and swelling of the foot on longer runs.
  • An External Heel Cage (EHC) wraps around the rear of the shoe and provides support in the heel – aiding foot stability and helping maintain a better gait when fatigued.
  • The new upper features extended welded TPU overlays and a rubber toe bumper to protect the foot from sharp rocks and stones. On-the-shoe gaiter hooks allow you to attach an ALL TERRAIN GAITER for additional protection, keeping loose debris out of the shoe.

______

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Episode 183 – Kaytlyn Gerbin, Cody Lind and Janine Canham

Episode 183 of Talk Ultra brings you interviews with Kaytlyn Gerbin and Cody Lind, the winners of the 2020 The Coastal Challenge. We also chat with Janine Canham about her 7 marathons on 7 continents in 7 days. Speedgoat co-hosts.
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*****
00:25:15 KAYTLYN GERBIN
*****
01:15:09 CODY LIND
*****
01:58:30 JANINE CANHAM
*****
Total 03:26:40
*****
Please listen to the INTERVIEWS – please follow the show
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Transgrancanaria 2020 Preview

The 2020 Transgrancanaria gets underway at 2300 hrs this coming Friday. Runners from all over the world will race the length of the island taking in many of the sights and iconic places that make Gran Canaria such a desirable place for a trail running holiday.

The men’s race is headed up by the defending champion (and 2017/2018 champ) and 2019 UTMB champion, Pau Capell. Without doubt, he is the hot favourite for 2020 victory.

The line-up this year is a hot list of talent and Jared Hazen and Pablo Villa are two hot contenders to shake the Pau Capell show. Villa rocketed up the elite rankings in recent years and notably won TDS with a consummate and dominant performance, if he shows this form in Gran Canaria, we will see an epic battle. A recent signing to the adidas Terrex team, we can expect to see Villa a great deal in 2020.

Hazen is a speed merchant and if one looks at the 2019 Western States, we see him squeezed between Jim Walmsley and Tom Evans for 2nd place and a super-fast time that would have normally won the race. He recently placed 5th at Hong Kong 100 which shows good form, the question will be how quickly he can climb and descend?

Dylan Bowman has been a tough time of late, but when on form, he is unstoppable. He excels in the mountains too, he has been 7th at UTMB and 2nd at TDS, if on form, Bowman can rock the Transgrancanaria podium.

Diego Pazos has placed 3rd at Transgrancanaria and a top-5 is a distinct possibility and if all goes well, the podium could beckon him. It would take a remarkable performance for him to win.

Gediminas Grinius has a great history with Transgrancanaria and has placed 2nd. Having run the ‘Grand Slam’ of ultras in 2019 his ability to last the distance is not in question, will he have the speed to push the podium?

Ones to watch:

PEIQUAN YOU, MATHIEU BLANCHARD, HARRY JONES, ROBERT HAJNAL, LUÍS FERNANDES, SANGE SHERPA and I will put my head on the block as a dark horse being, PETER VAN DER ZON.

Elite list here

Kaytlyn Gerbin placed 2nd here last year, placed 6th at Western States and recently (three weeks ago) won The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica. Without doubt, Gerbin is a favourite here in Gran Canaria. The question mark will come on her recovery post TCC.

Azara Garcia has experience of Gran Canaria, she won in 2017! On her day, is one of the best in the world. As the tattoo on her leg says, she is the storm and she will bring it to the race.

Mimmi Kotka has excelled at 100km or less with victories at CCC and Mont Blanc 90km to name just two. However, above 100km she has struggled to get things right? On paper, she is a favourite for victory in Gran Canaria.

Audrey Tanguy won the 2019 TDS (and the 2018 edition) and that relates to Gran Canaria very well. She is a class act who manages to mix distances, terrain and speed. She is a hot favourite for the 2020 Transgrancanaria title.

Fuzhao Xiang, Kaci Lickteig, Andrea Huser, Nathalie Mauclair and Fernanda Maciel are an incredible force of five who all will impact on the top-10 and if they have good day’s, they will impact on the top-5 and podium.

Ones to watch:

LISA BORZANI, ILDIKO WERMESCHER, LEIRE MARTINEZ HERRERA and CLAIRE BANNWARTH.

Elite list here

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The MIRA RAI Initiative

I was fortunate in November 2019 to visit the home of Mira Rai in a remote part of Nepal.

I first met Mira, in 2015 as she rose through the racing ranks in Europe. Her ensuing story of success on the trails and then giving back to her community is the stuff of dreams. From our first encounter, I knew she was special. She was strong, dedicated and had a strength of character based on survival, perfect for long-distance running. She spoke no English, had a huge infectious smile and laughed when we couldn’t communicate, simply saying “Namaste.”

My images and story of the journey is now available in Trail Runner Magazine in the USA. Spread over 5-spreads/ 10-pages.

I met her parents, walked the trails, visited her school, shared meals, fed the animals and shared a magical time in Bhojpur.

As I went through the doorway, the bright and intense outside light gave way to darkness. It took a while for my eyes to adjust. A small window on the left allowed some light to penetrate the darkness and behind a pillar, I could see the outline of a woman, a glowing fire and simmering pan to her right.

Mira Rai’s mother looked up and her smile broke the darkness. Huge white teeth with a gap in the middle provided the warmest welcome. She gestured to the floor and we sat.

“Namaste” was universally offered with hands pushed together, palm against palm as though praying. Three metal plates were laid out and large portions of sticky rice were added, then vegetables and small pieces of chicken. Dahl was added to a small bowl for each person and we enjoyed our first dahl baht.

We were deep in Nepal, isolated in the green verdant lands of Bhojpur, the home of Mira Rai.

Trail Runner Magazine available HERE

The Mira Rai Foundation HERE

VIEW THE FULL IMAGE GALLERY HERE

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The Coastal Challenge #TCC2020 – Stage 2 40.2km

The Coastal Challenge, Costa Rica’s number one multi-day race moved to stage 2 after the runners had a good nights sleep near the Savegre River in a purpose built campsite.

The heat of day 1 had taken its toll with runners retiring to sleep soon after dinner at 1900 hours. It was a hot night with little air and the 0330 wake up call came all too early for many. Breakfast at 0400 and then with the arrival of the sun, runners departed for 40.2km.

The early morning sun was magnificent and the Costa Rican landscape glowed as the rays illuminated the landscape.

The day started with almost a disaster with many of the top men, including all the top-4 contenders going off course with women leader, Kaytlyn Gerbin. They lost over 15-minutes and what followed was a hard chase into the long first climb of the day.

The men’s race came back together with race leader, Mauricio Mendez catching Erick Agüero who had initially gone wrong, realised his mistake early and turned back. Cody Lind and Andy Symonds chased with Scott Maguire running on his own further back.

For Kaytlyn, it was over 2-hours before she finally caught all the women, the 2nd placed woman on GC being Natalia López Arrieta.

With order resumed at the front, the race could continue as normal over a very tough course. Relentless fire road descents making the going hard both physically and mentally. Mendez finally made a move around CP3 and pulled away from Agüero while Lind and Symonds pursued together. They would stay this way all the way to the line. Maguire faded in the latter stages of the day as the heat and course took its toll, he finished 5th once again.

“I think I was a little too focussed and early on we went wrong… Crazy! We wasted at least 10-minutes. I was in a group and we all backtracked. It was 10km before I caught Erick with Scott. I was then running alone with Rick to CP3 and then I made a move. I was feeling good, my legs were tired and the heat did not seem as hot as day 1. I was really happy to get a 2nd stage victory, but I need to be smart for day 3, I know it will be tough, I have lots to learn!” – Mauricio Mendez

Once Gerbin had hold of the front of the race she extended the gap and her lead. She looked strong, focussed and relentless for the pursuit of the line and a stage 2 victory. Behind Arrieta once again ran strong for 2nd and Norway’s Abelone Lyng entered into a battle with TCC regular and past woman champion, Veronica Bravo. At the final two water crossings, Lyng lead Vero but the gap at best was only a minute. Lyng fought hard and finished 3rd ahead of Bravo’s 4th. Ashton Keck Keck who placed 3rd on tase 1 finished 6th in 5:32:21.

“Veronica caught me and she looked strong but on the final beach sections I pushed hard and caught her again,” said Lyng. “I wanted to be finished and Veronica was looking tired so I pushed hard. It was a tough race to finish a long day but I am happy with the result. I have been worried about the heat but my adaptation seems to have worked, it is very hot but I am feeling good, that makes me very happy.”

Ranking:

Men:

Mauricio Mendez 3:50:48 – Leader on GC

Erick Agüero 3:53:58

Andy Symonds/ Cody Lind 3:56:16

Women:

Kaytlyn Gerbin 4:33:17 – Leader on GC

Natalia López Arrieta 4:44:57

Abelone Lyng 5:12:20

Stage 3 of #TCC2020 will depart with sunrise once again, ahead 47.5km to Marino Ballena. The ‘Adventure’ category will run 12.7km starting from aid station 2.

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Episode 182 – John Kelly and Damian Hall

Episode 182 of Talk Ultra brings you an in-depth interview with John Kelly, winner of the 2020 Spine Race and Damian Hall who set a new winter FKT in the UK.
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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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Many thanks to our Patrons who have helped via PATREON
Donate HERE
*****
00:49:37 DAMIAN HALL
*****
01:56:35 JOHN KELLY
*****
Please listen to the INTERVIEWS – please follow the show

Hosted on ANCHOR (HERE) the INTERVIEWS will also be available to listen on many other players, including SPOTIFY (HERE).
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03:27:22 SHOW LENGTH
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Importantly, go to iTunes and subscribe so that you automatically get our show when it’s released we are also available on Stitcher for iOS, Android and Web Player and now Tunein.
Our web page at www.iancorless.com has all our links and back catalogue.
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.
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the INTERVIEWS Season 1 – Episode 7 : Bruce Fordyce

Bruce Fordyce (born 3 December 1955 in Hong Kong) is a South African marathon and ultramarathon athlete. He is best known for having won the South African Comrades Marathon a record nine times, of which eight wins were consecutive. He also won the London to Brighton Ultramarathon three years in a row. He is the former world record holder over 50 miles and the former world record holder over 100 km.
First recorded in 2012
Episode 0h 38m 46s
Talk Ultra back catalogue HERE
*****
Hosted on ANCHOR (HERE) the INTERVIEWS will also be available to listen on many other players, including SPOTIFY (HERE).
ANCHOR app on Apple HERE and Google HERE
Download links will be added in due course.
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TALK ULTRA podcast will be released as normal providing you long shows as it has always done with ideally two shows per month. The back catalogue will be released randomly via the INTERVIEWS and not chronologically.
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the INTERVIEWS Season 1-Episode 6 : Dean Karnazes

Dean Karnazes born Constantine Karnazes; August 23, 1962, is an American ultra-marathon runner, and author of Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner, which details ultra endurance running.
Karnazes has completed a plethora of endurance events, most notable achievements include:
  • Ran 350 miles (560 km) in 80 hours and 44 minutes without sleep in 2005.
  • Single-handedly completed “The Relay”, a 199-mile (320 km) run from Calistoga to Santa Cruz, eleven times
  • Ran a marathon to the South Pole in −13 °F (−25 °C) temperatures without snowshoes in 2002
  • Ran a marathon in each of the 50 states in 50 consecutive days in 2006
Other athletic achievements include:
  • Winner (male), Badwater Ultramarathon (135 miles (217 km) across Death Valley in 120 °F (49 °C) temperatures), 2004 (with five other top-10 finishes from 2000-2008)
  • Winner, Vermont Trail 100 Mile Endurance Run, 2006
  • Overall Winner, 4 Deserts Race Series, 2008
  • American Ultrarunning Team, World Championships, 2005, 2008
  • 148 miles (238 km) in 24 hours on a treadmill, 2004
  • Eleven-time 100-Mile/1 Day Silver Buckleholder at the Western States Endurance Run
  • Ran 3,000 miles (4,800 km) across the United States from Disneyland to New York City in 75 days, running 40 to 50 miles (65 to 80 km) per day, 2011
Other honors include:
  • Competitor magazine Endurance Athlete of the Year Award winner, 2008, 2006, 2005
  • ESPN ESPY Award winner, “Best Outdoor Athlete”, 2007
  • Men’s Journal, Adventure Hall of Fame, 2007
  • Outside magazine, Ultimate Top 10 Outdoor Athletes, 2004
First recorded in 2012
Episode 0h 38m 46s
Talk Ultra back catalogue HERE
*****
Hosted on ANCHOR (HERE) the INTERVIEWS will also be available to listen on many other players, including SPOTIFY (HERE).
ANCHOR app on Apple HERE and Google HERE
Download links will be added in due course.
Apple Podcasts HERE
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Castbox
Google Podcasts HERE
Overcast HERE
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Spotify HERE
Stitcher
*****
TALK ULTRA podcast will be released as normal providing you long shows as it has always done with ideally two shows per month. The back catalogue will be released randomly via the INTERVIEWS and not chronologically.
*****

Lanzarote Training Camp 2020 – Day 7

It was a cloudy day but the anticipated rain never came, thank goodness! In some respect, today was an easier day with just two run sessions and no talks.

But… the day did include the in-famous Volcano Hill Reps.

This kicks off with an easy 5km along the coast and then ideally, 6 repetitions of a loop up and down a volcano. It’s a perfect session that requires strength, running skill, an ability to handle technical terrain, good lungs and at time, nerves of steel.

The climb is approximately 100m up a narrow path of stoney sand. It requires commitment and depending on ability, some strong will and nerve.

The descent is very stoney with lots of loose rock, sand and gravel. As Elisabet Barnes said post the session:

“🌋 Volcano hill reps in a moody landscape was on the menu today. I’ve been nursing a cold so if I’m honest this shot was more a case of posing for the camera 😂🙈, but the others did work hard! 💪💪 I love this session. Some people just fearlessly bang out the reps and thrive on the technical terrain, but for others it’s a huge challenge and they may need to overcome fear of heights, fear of slipping or falling on the technical trail, step outside their comfort zone, and hopefully they leave a little more confident as a result.”

Elisabet nailed it in her words. It was great to see confidence increase along with speed on loops, 3, 4, 5 and 6. Several even did a 7th and even an 8th loop.

Back at Club La Santa, Shane Benzie was doing some one-to-one coaching sessions using his skills to improve running technique.

An extended break for lunch was followed with an ‘easy’ run for all groups to shake out the legs after what has been an intensive block of running.

2021 Training Camp dates and information will be available HERE soon.

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