Big Red Run 2016 – The Interviews, Part One

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Niandi Carmont has joined me at Big Red Run (pictured above), she was originally going to run the main event but a foot fracture after The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica relegated her to the sidelines and recovery. However, injury progressed well and although not up to full speed or endurance, Niandi decided to run the Little Red Run (150km) which is the sister event to the the bigger, 250km main event.

It was always planned that Niandi would accompany my photography with a selection of interviews for web and Talk Ultra podcast. Here are the first two.

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The Turner Threesome: Dennis Turner, Megan Turner and Vicki Turner

Now what a nice day to spend a family holiday! Running 250km in the Australian outback is what I would call an off-the-beaten track holiday if ever there was one. I look at the three tired, dusty, smiling faces in front of me and I think it’s probably not such a bad idea. A father and 2 daughters taking time out to do something different, something that probably tightens and strengthens family bonds in the name of a common cause: type 1 diabetes.

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Vicki’s 9-year old daughter Ella has type 1 diabetes.

Dennis explains: Vicki was the instigator behind all this. She asked me if I wanted to go for a walk. I said yes and here we are. I also spent a lot of time out in the desert in the 70’s with the oil exploration crew and I’ve travelled across the desert 4 or 5 times since then. It’s a beautiful country. It’s very green at the moment and a bit wet compared with what it normally is. Usually it is very  dry and desolate with not much covering the dunes.

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Vicki: Dad loves walking. He walked from one side of England to the other last year. As for myself I’ve never experienced the outback like this.We’re from South Australia.

Younger sister Megan chips in excitedly: I’m here for the fun of it. It’s all an adventure really. Once my father was convinced, he got me into doing this. He phoned me up, told me we were going to go on a trip across the desert but he failed to mention it involved walking 150km. We’ve stuck together so far as he likes to keep an eye on me (giggles).

But then her father goes on to explain that they’ve not taken the event light-heartedly and spend most weekends getting in mileage on the beaches and in the dunes as well as training a couple of times during the week. We get on pretty well. The desert brings out who you are, your character and your stamina. We love the outback all 3 of us, we’ve done a lot of travelling in it over the years.  But it is a real challenge mentally and physically to do it at my age.

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I ask him if he’s proud of his daughters and there’s no hesitation in his reply: Absolutely. I’m very proud of them. 

I can see on their faces that they are touched by the compliments and as I leave then I cannot help but think that the three of them will look back on this privileged time spent together in a remote part of their beautiful country with the conviction that they had chosen the right time in their lives to take up the challenge together.

***END***

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Sabrina Paxton: Thelma & Louise Oz-style.

A long-legged blonde with blue eyes and a self-mocking, bubbly style, Sabrina is a gutsy lady. You can see she’s an outdoorsy girl. Mother of 2 young boys and a passionate yoga teacher, she loves to share her experiences (and food) with others. Here, have some of these pine nuts in your freeze-dried Mexican rice. Good fats. And here’s a bit of mint dark chocolate too.

I warm to this runner who almost didn’t make it to the start. In fact she DIDN’T make it to the start.

I missed my interconnecting flight. My first flight from Sydney into Brisbane was a bit late. I missed check-in cut-off time. The hostess wouldn’t let me on. I sat in the airport for a while panicking. My friends on social media and Quantas pointed me in the direction of Isa, to hire a vehicle to come down here. So I hired a commercial vehicle with big headlights and I drove across the outback through the night. There wasn’t ever really a moment where I thought I was going to give up, I had so much community support. So many people have gotten behind me to enter this race. I knew when things didn’t go according to plan that I had to explore every possible avenue to get here. Admittedly I was a bit scared, I’d never driven through the outback before, never mind 700km alone at night just before a 250km multi-stage.

I ask her what gave her the adrenaline to think straight and react so quickly.

I guess I was in the frame of mind I had put in so much preparation and there was so much expectation. You just need to draw strength and reserves to pull it together. I was so focussed on getting here. I was pretty wired actually. There was only one point where I was quite fatigued so I stopped and got about 40 minutes rest, I set my alarm for 40min. I drove at about 70 to 80km an hour. It was at least 10 hours solid driving. I had the whole day in Brisbane to plan this carefully and did some research on the internet on distances and fuel stops so I took 2 jerrycans of fuel with me. I flew into Brisbane at 6.30, picked up the car, filled up the 2 jerrycans and even then I only just made it with the fuel gauge needle in red the last 80km to go. 

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This lady is not only gutsy but she can think on her feet. A little perplexed I ask her why she hadn’t planned her connecting flights any better.

I am a sole parent to 2 boys who have never spent a day away from me really so I couldn’t orchestrate any different times where my kids could be looked after by a person they trusted. It was my only option to get that flight. There was a 2-hour buffer time. It is just unfortunate hat that flight landed so late.

Sabrina has other qualities too, which are no doubt very important in long-distance endurance events. She turns negatives into positives and manages her expectations.

Looking back, I really enjoyed that ride into Birdsville, with sun up and all the beautiful landscapes. I felt very privileged. I had missed the start but it was no big deal as the organisers dropped me off at check-point one. Once I got out the car I pretty much put my race-kit on and started running. At the finish they had added a 13km section for me to make up for missing the first part. 

So all is well that  ends well. I believe that you can still do what you want to do even if it feels like life has thrown you a bit of a hard situation.

***END***

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Is running about social media or running?

Why do you race?

  1. Are you looking to achieve new goals?
  2. Are you looking to enhance your life?
  3. Are you looking to push yourself to a limit?

Maybe, it is all those things….

However, racing (and life) today is very different to say just 5-years ago. Social media has changed all that. Our lives are shared daily, hourly or by the minute in some cases.

Is racing about ‘the selfie?’

Mariepaule Pierson here takes a look at the ‘race report’ and provides an enlightening insight into why we run…. THE BLOG!

Dear friends and Facebook followers, I cannot thank you enough for the support you have provided me in my times of need, as this mostly faithful account will show.

As you know, I attempted the infamous Parish Walk on a remote Island of the Irish Sea, cut off from all civilisation for as much as 2 or 3 days a year when the weather is more adverse than an English summer. Their flag is a mess of three human legs, quartered and reassembled in a grotesque spurred star; at least I knew the score, should I fail to finish.

 

Bracing myself for the task ahead, involving a trip to Gatwick in the not-so-early hours of Friday morning, I just made it in time on the pavement outside my house, amazed by the sheer strength of human resilience so early into the day before a race event. Luckily, I still had Wi-Fi connection and hypothermia was only just a mere possibility on the scale of unlikely disasters ahead.

As soon as the car arrived, I felt a surge of gratitude. My lack of training had not been in vain. Here I was, stepping in the front passenger seat, treated like a VIP even before proving my worth over the coming days, while three brave athletes were narrowly confined on the backseat, feeble squashed morning thoracic cages sacrificing their airspace for my comfort. As you, my trusted FB friends, know it well, this kind of incredible support you can get from complete strangers is what life is all about, the likes and encouragement messages without which hardly any one save the hardest hardened survivor can even consider doing any sporting event at all.

In any case, we reached Gatwick, and thereupon, the Isle of Man. Digging very deep within myself, and in spite of the absence of blisters or joint pain, or even the dreaded dehydration which is so prevalent on low cost airlines, I made it to the luggage reclaim and we piled up in the car, this time using every bit of mental strength remaining to take my place in the rear seat. In such conditions, when team work is essential for survival, it is the unconditional support of one’s fellow compatriots, even though we were in effect not far from asylum seekers from three different countries, which sustains one.

 

The traversée of the Island was no mean feat. The 10 miles from the airport to Peel, with luggage in tow, as well as the necessary water, food and supplies for the Parish Walk the following day and night, were only achieved thanks to the clarity of mind and sharpness of spirit of our driver, who, well ensconced at the wheel, allowed us a little detour via Snaefell, the highest mountain and the (only) summit higher than 2,000 feet on the Isle of Man, at 2,034 feet above sea level. The summit is crowned by a railway station, cafe and several communications masts. And, let’s add for the sake of accuracy, by a statue of Joey Dunlop, motorcyclist icon who won the Isle of Man TT 26 times. My poor suffering knees will bear witness of the truth of this brutal ascent. Grass, sheep, even a cloud, nothing would stop us from reaching the café at the top, and we gave it our all, throwing caution to the air and risking everything for the foggy lack of breath-taking view, limbs screaming for relief, hands numb from the unforgiving dampness of the wind… this will be a loosening up stroll I will never forget.

I agree, I hadn’t trained enough. My fault entirely. Only on small occasions had I managed a whole day without internet, and had not done a multiday event in months. God knows where I found the inner strength to stay nearly a whole day and a half without social media, but sometimes the unsurmountable difficulty, the exhaustion, the grandiose scenery, make you forget all your misery for a last surge of raging resolve. The hotel didn’t have Wi-Fi and the island, although a financial tax haven, on a purely telecom basis, is inhospitable and social media averse. We decided on the sheer shock of the revelation, to gather our resources and share our remaining data. Eyes sore from straining on tiny screens, fingers swollen to twice their size and numb from typing digits and letters, neck and shoulders in need of deep tissue massage from the relentless effort of looking down on our devices, oh the pain and mental blistering. But it was all worth it. We were connected! We could all sit at the breakfast table the next morning, typing to each other via our mobiles, communication restored! I had felt so alone, but the memories of those dark times are fading in the light of the amazing connectedness we all felt. Thank you again, my FB friends, for your likes and oohs and aahs and wonders and words of encouragement and congratulations. This would not have been possible without your faithful and deep addiction to other people’s news feed.

The next day was the 85 miles’ parish walk, then we flew back to London without incident.

We would love your feedback. Let us know does this post ring true for you, are you the blogger, are you the reader, are you the participant….

Why do you run?

Suunto Spartan Ultra – New Sports GPS

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Suunto introduces its next generation multisport solution with a new family of GPS watches and a renewed Suunto Movescount.com

                      Press Release by Suunto

The long-awaited next generation of Suunto multisport watches is soon here. Today, Suunto introduces Suunto Spartan Ultra, a premium multisport GPS watch for athletes and adventurers. At the same time, Suunto is renewing its online sports service Suunto Movescount with a range of new features and improvements.

People have been asking about what’s next after Ambit3 for quite some time now,” notes Sami Arhomaa, Performance business unit director at Suunto. “So it’s a great pleasure to announce our next generation Suunto Spartan solution for athletic and adventure multisport.” The solution comprises of the Suunto Spartan Ultra watches, a renewed Suunto Movescount service and mobile applications for both iPhone and Android.

“In a fast-paced world with an overwhelming flood of information, athletes need better tools to determine how to efficiently achieve their goals,” explains Arhomaa. “People who are driven by the passion to progress want to know if they are doing things right. More and more people are reaching out to communities of like-minded people for guidance and inspiration. With the Spartan solution, we are building on the insights we’ve gained through our constant dialogue with athletes and coaches around the world. The new Suunto Spartan multisport solution will offer customers new community powered tools to progress. We are convinced these tools will help them progress beyond their expectations.”

Suunto Spartan Ultra – the GPS watch for athletic and adventure multisport

Adventure proof

Suunto Spartan Ultra watches are hand-made in Finland and built to last in any conditions. Water resistant to 100 meters, the watches sport an extremely durable color touch screen with a wide viewing angle and great visibility in bright sunlight. The watch is built with a glass fiber reinforced polyamide casing, sapphire crystal glass and a grade5 titanium or stainless steel bezel. For your multisport adventures, Suunto Spartan Ultra offers guided route navigation, barometric altitude with FusedAlti™, a digital compass, as well as a competitive battery life.

Sports expertise and insights

The Suunto Spartan Ultra is a true multisport watch. With GPS, FusedSpeedTM, heart rate measurement and in-built accelerometer, it accurately tracks your training and provides versatile insights on your progress for a multitude of sports.  It  offers  dozens of preset sport modes, e.g. for triathlon, swimming, cycling, running, adventure racing, and snow sports – including modes for specific types of training, racing and activities.  If you are a runner, for example, you can choose a basic running mode that offers the essential information for running, or an interval running mode, a trail running mode, and more.  The Suunto Spartan Ultra also provides you visual overviews on your training load, rest&recovery status and your progress to help you plan your training. With the watch you can also track your feeling after each workout.

In addition, Suunto Spartan Ultra monitors your overall activity 24/7 with daily and weekly steps, calories and active time. Pair the watch with Suunto Movescount App to get smart mobile notifications. The watch will also keep you up to date on your personal bests by sport.

Community powered progress

In connection with the launch of the Spartan solution, Suunto deploys big data methods for turning the community generated sports data into valuable training insights. Suunto has been analyzing tens of millions of endurance sport sessions to provide both existing and new consumers with answers to the questions like where should you train and how are you progressing. The first tool utilizing this data are sports-specific heatmaps, available from today in Suunto Movescount. Later, the toolset using the data will grow with tools for peer group comparison and insights.

The Suunto Spartan Ultra collection includes four models: Suunto Spartan Ultra All Black Titanium, Suunto Spartan Ultra Stealth Titanium, Suunto Spartan Ultra White and Suunto Spartan Ultra Black – each available with or without Suunto Smart Sensor for heart rate monitoring. The RRP price of the Suunto Spartan Ultra Titanium will be £585 and Suunto Spartan Ultra £545. Prices with a HR sensor are £40 higher.

Further details of the product will be released in July 2016.  The watches become available in August, and the solution will continue to grow in functionality via SW, service and application updates during the remaining year.

Read more about the Suunto Spartan Ultra at www.suunto.com/spartan

Ultra Skymarathon Madeira 2016 #SWS2016 – Race Images and Summary

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The 2016 Skyrunner® World Series arrived in Madeira, Portugal for the Ultra Skymarathon Madeira (USM) – a tough and challenging 55km ultra with 4000m of vertical gain. The 2016 edition had a minor change to 2015, an extra section that added more technicality and potentially more time… could the times of Ricky Lightfoot and Stevie Kremer be beaten?

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The USM course is a unique one. Weaving up and down mountains, around beaches, through dense undergrowth, up a riverbed and of course plenty of climbing and descending. It’s not your ordinary Skyrunning course!

Departing the start line at 0600 on the dot, the runners disappeared down a darkened lane with only head torches for company, it was going to be a great day – the sky was clear and the stars were sparkling in the sky. Just 1km to warm up and then a climb of 1400m straight up to the highest point of the island – pure Skyrunning.

The runners climbed and a section of via ferreta was the prelude to the new course addition, instead of following the stone steps to the off-path climb to the summit, runners dropped down once again to take in a technical descent and ridge climb. A final push to the summit; It wasn’t easy going. The sky was blue, the sun was beating down but despite the picture postcard, it was hard graft.

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Andre Jonsson (Sweden) and Dimitrios Theodorakakos (Greece) were the first to appear. The contrast between the two striking, Andre is tall and with an ultra runner beard. Dimitrios is stocky, well built and all power.

They matched each other step-by-step. A string of runners appeared all looking relatively calm and relaxed considering the severity of the course – it was early days!. At the summit of Pico Ruivo the ladies arrived, first was Anna Frost, closely followed by Gemma Arenas.

Running the ridges and several more climbing sections, the front of the race didn’t change until a decisive phase around the 36km mark. Climbing from the sea and beach, Andre Jonsson continued to lead looking strong. However, Dimitrios looked to be struggling a little and Cristofer Clemente was closing. After 5km of ridge running and a technical descent, a riverbed with boulder hopping awaited. Cristofer made his move and passed Dimitrios and went in pursuit of Andre.

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The final long climb needed to be ascended and descended before the finish line and here the podium changed. Andre crumbled after leading the race all day:

“I had felt great, running within myself and in the riverbed I cooled down but then in the early section of the final climb I just had no energy, the heat hit and that was it!

Cristofer took the lead, opened a gap and won the race by a clear margin. Dimitrios held on for 2nd and local runner, Luis Fernandes went past Andre to take 3rd.

Gemma Arenas was almost in another race by the time the riverbed came and the final climb she held that margin to take a convincing victory. Anna Frost who had lead the race for much of the day was relegated to 2nd by Gemma but then faded to 3rd – a strong performance from US based Hillary Allen reeled ‘Frosty’ in and she sealed 2nd. Frosty said post race:

 “I really gave it everything today, on the ups and the downs, I just didn’t have that extra oomph but what a great (and tough) course!”

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The 3rd edition of the Ultra Skymarathon Madeira has been a great success. Despite a potentially more difficult course, both the men’s and ladies records were broken! The top 2 men and top 5 ladies all broke the previous records. This is extremely significant and reflects the quality of the male and female line-up – world-class runners pushing hard for victory and resulting in fast times. João Canning Clode, USM co-director and PR commented, “We didn’t expect to break the standing records but given the good weather this year and the strong competition, it was a welcome surprise.

Madeira is an amazing island with a tough and challenging course. The future looks bright for this new addition to the Skyrunner® World Series.

Results: (official times to follow)

  1. Cristofer Clemente 6:00:28
  2. Dimitrios Theodorakakos 6:09:06
  3.  Luis Fernandes 6:11:34
  1. Gemma Arenas 6:59:51
  2. Hillary Allen 7:13:12
  3. Anna Frost 7:17:00

Cristofer Clemente now takes over the Ultra Series ranking lead for the men and Gemma Arenas for the women. Look out for the next Ultra Series race with the new High Trail Vanoise in the renowned ski resort of Val d’Isère, France on July 10.

Later this month the Skyrunner® World Series will head for North Eastern Italy with the Santa Caterina VK and the Livigno SkyMarathon® on June 24 & 26.

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Skyrunner® World Series is supported by Migu Xempower, Alpina Watches, Compressport, Salomon and Scott Sports.

iancorless.com is the official photographer and media partner for the Skyrunner®World Series Follow on:

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Northern Traverse 2016 – Eoin Keith takes victory!

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The rain came in through the night, the wind blew and blew. The mist dropped and it would have been easy for Eoin Keith to stay in the back of the van at the Lion Hotel and not attempt the final push for the line… but races of this length are won in the mind.

Eoin Keith is a remarkable athlete (as are all those who participate in this 190 mile journey) but his mind and his strength of will and tenacity are maybe what sets him apart from his peers, he has a capacity to keep going, even when the legs say no.

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At one point, it did look as though Eoin may come in in just under 2 days for the 190 miles. Early on day 3 though when about 22 miles from the line, one could see the fatigue.

Over the final 10km he really slowed, of course it is to be completely expected. However, as he entered Robin Hood Bay he smiled and ran to the line – job done.

We have an unofficial time of 2 days, 3 hours and 38 minutes – tbc

It’s an incredible, awe-inspiring run. The distance alone is jaw dropping but the weather conditions, terrain and total elevation gain make this a true beast. Attention now turns to all the other runners who are still out on the course and have till 0800 on Saturday to complete the journey.

For now, enjoy Eoin’s finish and I feel a little sad that I can’t be around for the coming days to document the remaining journey; another race beckons…

Follow the liv tracker HERE

Race website http://www.northerntraverse.com

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The Cape Wrath Ultra™ 2016 – Day 6

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Day 6 was ’just’ 45 miles and what a day – the longest day of the 2016 Cape Wrath Ultra. The early stages were remote and isolated but in the latter stages, the mountains loomed and single-track trail lead the runners into camp. It was another day of wall-to-wall sunshine and many are saying, me included, that we may never come back to Scotland as the weather could never be this good again!

The views, the scenery, the landscape and the mountains have been magical – almost alpine! It has been quite an amazing week and journey. Of course, the race is not yet over.

Day 6 was a long day and not all runners made the finish but those that did were all home by 2100 hours. With over 30 miles tomorrow for stage 5, it is starting to look likely that many who start tomorrow will finish the 2016 Cape Wrath Ultra. But as Shane Ohly says, ‘After this many days running, bodies, minds and legs are tired and stage 7 is a tough day, certainly over the first half!’

Marcus Scotney and Ita Emanuela Marzotto, once again were the male and female 1st placed runners on the day, that is 6 out of 6 for Scotney and in all honesty, he made it look it easy.

Thomas Adams gain ran a strong 2nd and Andrew Biffen/ Stuart MacDonald, for the ladies, Laura Watson finished 2nd and Louise Staples 3rd.

Overall standings after day-6

Marcus Scotney 32:21:17

Thomas Adams 34:22:47

Pavel Paloncy 39:31:48

Ita Manuela Mariotto 49:03:02

Laura Watson 51:18:08

Louise Staples 52:11:49

 

Follow the Cape Wrath Ultra live on http://www.capewrathultra.com

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Transvulcania Ultramarathon 2016 Preview – Skyrunner® World Series

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The island of La Palma one more prepares for the biggest weekend of the year:

Transvulcania!

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The Skyrunner® World Series 2016 kicked off just last weekend in China with the Yading SkyRun, now, it’s the big start for the European calendar and what a start. Transvulcania has become one of THE races to do. It’s reputation for stunning organisation, the majestic and beautiful trails of ‘La Isla Bonita’ and yes, a world-class field that that sets the bar.

Over the years, since 2012, the race distance has always been a point of conjecture. Now though, many of us are happy to say the races sits somewhere between 73-75km, which is approximately 46-miles that includes 3000+m of vertical gain.

It is a stunning race and one that is completely logical for a runner’s perspective. The point-to-point journey from sea to summit and back to sea personifies Skyrunning. The trails, although not overly technical, are some of the best trails to run on – they are stunning!

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Starting at Fuencaliente lighthouse, runners basically climb for 50km (with a drop down to El Pilar) to the caldera and the impressive Roques de los Muchachos. Many have considered this huge and impressive cauldron to be a Volcano, it is not, it is actually a large water erosion crater.

The trails, the landscape and the stunning vistas are beyond impressive. Depending on weather systems, an inversion can take place and therefore the runners run ‘above the clouds.’

Since 2012, the race has been transformed, directly attributable to Skyrunning, the ISF and the vision of Marino Giacometti and Lauri van Houten. 2016 once again steps up the reputation of the race with a stunning line up, yes, to coin a phrase, the field is stacked!

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Luis Alberto Hernando is the two time defending champion and returns in 2016. His performance in 2015 was off the scale and his course record was beyond impressive. Lies really has become a star of the sport but yet still remains a relatively low key character despite being a Skyrunning World and European Champion and having placed on the podium at UTMB. Luis is without doubt the outright favourite, he knows the course like the back of his hand. He became a father in 2015 and clearly stated that he would race less in 2016 to place an emphasis, that can only mean one thing, the races he does do he will be fired up for and at 100%.

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Sage Canaday has been close but no cigar many times on the island of La Palma. His achilles heel in comparison to the pure Skyrunners is his descending ability and unfortunately for Sage, Transvulcania drops from the high point of the course right down to the sea (2400m) in one 18km drop that not only requires 100% attention but great skill. Therefore, Sage has always employed the tactic of run hard from the start, build a buffer and then hopefully hold on. On the podium twice before, Sage missed 2015 and now he is back – can he topple Luis?

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Andy Symonds for me is the one who has all the potential to not only make the podium but push Luis all the way to the one and possibly pass him. Andy was there in 2012 when Dakota Jones took top honors ahead of Kilian Jornet. It signified a break through for Andy and what followed was disaster and series of issues and problems. He finally made a comeback in 2015 and he gained some notable success especially at Mont Blanc 80km, ELS2900 and most recently at Transgrancanaria. A move from Salomon to Scott has rejuvenated Andy and he has a new enthusiasm for the sport, he is back and I think Andy can win.

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Miguel Heras is an enigma, at times inspirational and at other times frustrating, His injury woes are a continual saga and it is just impossible to predict if he will run well or not. All I can say is, if he is on form he will be up there and he has every chance of contesting the podium as he did at Ultra Pirineu in 2015. However, the odds are increasingly stacked against him with such a young and talented field, but this is Miguel Heras – you cannot rule him out!

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Ricky Lightfoot like Andy Symonds has all the potential to win Transvulcania. Just last weekend he placed 2nd at the Three Peaks in the UK sandwiched between two fellow Salomon teammates. Ricky works full time, has a family and therefore often has to fit races in at last minute and occasionally he has to cancel at last minute. He can run with the best as he proved at the IAU World Trail Championships and his fell running background sets him up perfectly for anything technical.

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Cristofer Clemente placed 7th in 2015 but went on to have a very sold 2015 Skyrunning season. He’s a quiet guy who sits below the radar and therefore is often able to surprise. His 2nd place at The Rut was arguably his best performance of 2015 and although he is maybe not always a podium contender, he is consistent if nothing else – exactly what you need for the Skyrunner World Series.

Adam Campbell is somewhat a surprise entry; I didn’t see that one coming. Since his stunning Hardrock performances, Adam took a lower profile and took to skis and ski mountaineering – no bad thing, Kilian and many others have been doing that for years. Adam’s last experience at Transvulcania in 2013 was a character building lesson in persistence and survival. His finish despite huge problems earned him respect. He has the race skills and speed for Transvulcania and if he finds his run legs, he will be a contender.

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Mike Murphy is a fellow Canadian of Adam Campbell and although you will not see his name mentioned or talked about in any previews, take note, he is one to watch! Mike is one of the gutsiest and committed athletes I know. He doesn’t race much but when he does it is at 110%. We discussed his participation at Transvulcania in 2015 and I know he has been preparing for this showdown.

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Zaid Ait Malek is a runner who embraces life and the trails. He loves life and he loves running. Even though he won Matterhorn Ultraks in 2014 one could arguably say his best performance was placing 2nd to Kilian Jornet at Ultra Pirineu in 2015. Zaid does have a habit of blowing hot and cold though. I hope he has a good race in La Palma.

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Stephan Hugenschmidt placed 5th in 2014 and the stage was set for stardom, what followed, didn’t actually follow the script that many had written. Despite a win at the TransAlpine and other wins in smaller races, the ‘big’ victory didn’t follow which leaves a huge question mark for Transvulcania 2016. My gut feeling says that we will see him top-5 again!

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Fulvio Dapit loves to run and run regularly, the distance of Transvulcania will suit him as will the technical aspects – he is a pure Skyrunner. On his day, we can really expect him to contend the top-5, however, he is prone to stomach issues which can often ruin his racing.

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Gerard Morales like his Buff team mates of Zaid and Pau has the potential to be top-10 but may just lack the additional oomph and speed to penetrate the top-5.

Pau Bartolo won TCC in 2014 and although on his day we can expect him around the top-10, I don’t see him making any inroads on the top-5.

Sylvain Court leaves a huge question mark for me? He was the winner of the IAU World Trail Championships on home ground in Annecy. Was it home advantage a purple patch? I don’t know, I really don’t. However, the trails around Annecy need respect and Sylvain did beat a tired Luis Alberto Hernando that day – what do you think?

Nicolas Martin however placed 3rd at CCC, 2nd at Templiers and was 7th in Annecy at the IAU World Trail Championships and that balance of results elevates him to a potentially higher overall placing at Transvulcania over Sylvain.

Chris Vargo had a tough 2015 but prior to this had excellent 2013 and 2014 seasons. The hard packed single-track that Transvulcania offers will suit Chris, however, the black soft sand, technical trails around the Caldera and the 18km drop to the sea may suit him less?

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Vajin Armstrong is a top class runner from the Southern Hemisphere who has all the potential to be top-10 and if he has a good day, he may come close to 5th but I don’t see the podium as a possibility.

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Vlad Ixel has raced Transvulcania before and was forced to withdraw as his shoes fella apart…. at the time of dropping, he was in and around the top-10 and looking good. Based in Hong Kong he ha regularly has a string of top quality results and like Vajin Armstrong I see him in the top-10.

Benoit Cori is a two times winner of Templiers and a recent winner of the SainteLyon night race. Two of Frances biggest races outside of the UTMB. Although Benoit can obviously run, I don’t see him beating the like of Luis, Andy, Ricky, Miguel, Sage and Zaid on a cause such as this – I may be wrong?

Ones to watch:

Julien Codert has placed 6th at Transvulcania previously.

Yeray Duran is from the Canaries and will be fired up for this race.

Aurelian Collet another French runner who like running French races.

Ion Azpiroz

Florian Reichert – been training on the island and looks fired up for a good race.

Marcin Swierc

Marco Ranchi

Nuno Silva

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and finally a huge nod of the hat for Bruno Brunod who is along with Marino Giacometti, the father of Skyrunning. In recent years he has run and raced the Tor des Geants. I for one will be interested to see how the legend performs on these wonderful trails.

 

LADIES

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Anna Frost heads up the ladies’ race and I have to say, if ‘Frosty’ is on form she will win the race. No disrespect to the other ladies but Frosty knows and loves this course, holds the course record and when in beast mode; is unstoppable. But will she be 100% fit? Her ability to climb hard, descend fast is un-matched by any other lady in the field with the exception of Mira Rai. Frosty missed the race last year with injury but won Hardrock 100, a race she will go back to this year.

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Mira Rai just placed 2nd at the Three Peaks in the UK. A clear sign of pure class… fell running is far removed from what she is used to. Mira’s story is an inspirational one and along with Jo Meek, I believe that Mira has all the potential to contest the top of the podium. Mira in my opinion will get the edge over Jo due to her technical ability – the 18km descent is going to be a crucial element of the race.

Jo Meek TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Jo Meek TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Jo Meek had some tough times with injury but she returned in late 2015 placing 2nd at Everest Trail Race and then 8th at TNF50. I would say in both of those races she was on the comeback trail and although Transvulcania will throw some significant obstacles at her, I do believe her natural fast speed will be a huge advantage. I can’t help think that Jo will adopt a Sage Canaday approach, pushing hard in the early stages when she can run looking to build a time buffer and then when the trails get gnarly, she will do her best to consolidate. A bonus for Jo is the final push from Tazacorte to the finish. If in contention, Jo will have the speed to close out the race.

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Ida Nilsson is my dark horse for the race and top tip for the podium. I can hear you all say now, Ida who? Believe me and trust me, barring injury or problems, Ida will be contesting the podium.

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Anna Comet finished 2nd at Transvulcania last year and had a great year of Skyrunning. I think it’s fair to say that Anna may well have raced too much in 2015. I think she learnt that lesson and will race less in 2016. The podium is there for the taking and I have no reason not to see Anna top-5.

Alicia Shay falls a little in the Jo Meek category. She is a fast runner who is looking to find her trail feet. Transvulcania offers a good mix and does allow the ‘runner’ to perform as Sage Canaday has shown. Alicia will be looking to follow in Sage’s footsteps but I do think she is in for a European learning curve. I see Jo and Alicia leading the race early on, what happens from the Caldera to the sea with all come down to bravery and adaptation.

Uxue Fraile will start steady and work her way through the field. She knows how to race this course and races tactically. It’s one of caution. She allows the other ladies to race hard and then detonate and then she does what she does best, close with great skill and consistency and picks up the pieces for a top-5. Her 2015 was stunning with a win UTMF and 2nd at UTMB. I do believe though that Transvulcania is not long enough or hard enough for Uxue to win.

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Christel Dewalle is the known un-known if that makes sense. A VK specialist, Christel has had good results in many ultras and her inclusion into Transvulcania is an interesting one. My gut reaction tells me that we may well see a surprise.

Gemma Arenas is a runner who may well drift under the radar but her 4th place at Ultra Pirineu confirms her ability.

Magdalena Laczak was 5th last year and went on to improve throughout 2015. In many respects she is a dark horse.

 

©iancorless.com_Rut2015-7699Hillary Allen may well be the hottest property from the USA in regard to Skyrunning. She may not be the fastest of the American ladies but she can handle and embraces the technical trail. Hillary proved this at Mont Blanc 80km and on home soil at The Rut.

Anne-Lise Rousset placed 5th in 2014 and she has the potential to place in a similar position in 2016. Considering the competition, she would need a stunning run (or others to have a bad run) to make the top-3.

Jodee Adams-Moore will be between top-5 and top-10 based on previous form but she does have the potential for a break through performance. Had Transvulcania not contained the Caldera and the 18km drop to Tazacorte, I would rate Jodee’s chances higher.

Kristina Pattison was 6th at Mont Blanc 80km and Transvulcania in 2015 and therefore along with Hillary Allen, is the best prospect for an American breaking the top-5.

Ones to watch:

Manu Vilaseca

Zoe Salt

Gabriela Sanchez Cabezas

Adrian Vargas

Juliette Benedicto

 *****

The 2016 Skyrunner® World Series is brought to you with a new management company, Geneva based SkyMan SA.

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The well-established, Sky, Ultra and Vertical format is joined by the Extreme Series presented by Alpina Watches, which more than ever expresses the true spirit of Skyrunning defined not only by distance, but vertical climb and technical difficulty.

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Iznik Ultra 2016 – Race Report and Summary

The sands of the Sahara lured me away from the Iznik Ultra this year. A real shame as this race has been a fixture on my calendar all the way back to the 2012 edition when I won the 60km race. Iznik and Turkey are special places and the Iznik Ultra provides a wonderful opportunity to combine running and sightseeing.

 

The people are magical, the calm tranquility of the lake Iznik is sublime, the surrounding mountains are impressive and the combination of great food, hospitality and a committed and dedicated race team headed by race director Caner, make this experience a ‘must’ for the enthusiastic runner.

 

Not wanting to miss out on the action, I asked good friend and fellow photographer Jordi Saragossa and adventure journalist/ athlete Tobias Mews to work on behalf of iancorless.com at the 2016 edition of the race. 

 

Enjoy the journey!

 

Words by Tobias Mews/ Images by ©jordisaragossa

‘You’re first time in Turkey?’ the old man remarked in surprisingly good English, as I watched the sun behind Lake Iznik, the third largest lake in Turkey.  The water was incredibly calm with not a ripple in sight, despite being 32kms long and 10kms wide. It was also mind blowingly beautiful, offering an unparalleled level of peace. I couldn’t help but wish I had a stone to skim along it’s smooth surface.

‘It is,’ I reply, although I was already silently vowing to return.  As through thrilled with this fact and despite my protests, he offers me a cup of tea – not a cup of Earl Grey, but one of the Turkish variety. They drink the stuff by the gallon.  Sipping away, I mused on the notion that I no idea how stunning this country was or how kind everyone is. Turkey, I would soon discover, is a truly magical place.

I’ve often said that if you’re going to put yourself through any degree of suffering during an ultra, and let’s face it, who doesn’t have a moment where they question their sanity, then you might as well do it somewhere beautiful. It’s a mantra that I’ve held to my core and to date, have not been left disappointed through my travels and races as an adventure journalist.

Rather embarrassingly, and perhaps to my shame, I’d not considered Turkey a running destination, which is perhaps why I’d never visited this ancient cradle of civilization.  Too many lasminute.com cheap package holidays, slightly less than positive press, terrorist attacks and an unsettled political climate have not helped Turkey solidify its position in the ‘must visit’ destinations lists. But thanks to the likes of Caner Odabasoglu, the Race Director and founder of the Iznik Ultra, things are changing and running events are becoming more common place.

Indeed, when the Iznik Ultra launched in 2012, it was the second ultra to be established in the country.  Now, there are three road three road marathons and seven ultras. It is, as he puts it, ‘booming at the moment’.

Since I first began running competitively, just under a decade ago, I’ve suffered a serious case of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). Perhaps due to the fact that I’m stubborn and a sucker for punishment, when faced with a choice of distances, I’ve always picked the furthest/hardest race on offer, especially if the race is named after this distance, such as Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc or Transvulcania. I want to get the full race experience, not just an excerpt. So, it was with a certain amount of trepidation that I chose to take part in the 80k option as opposed to the main event.

Besides the main event, there are in fact four other races on offer – 5k, 15k, 50k, 80k –  all of which follow parts of the full 130km course around the lake. Considering the course was actually 86kms with 2600m of ascent/descent, it is by no means a distance to be sniffed at and after all, still an ultra!

Keen to show buy support I made my way to the midnight start of the 130k event. After more than 200 races including dozens of ultras, I’m more than familiar with the shit that goes through your head as you toe the start line of a big race, especially one that begins in the middle of the night. But curiously enough on this occasion, I didn’t see the usual thousand-yard stare that you might expect to see from a runner as he or she prepares to run 136kms non-stop (it’s slightly further than the advertised 130k). Instead I saw smiles, laughter, lots of slapping on the back, hugs and the sort of banter you might expect to see at a running club Monday night fixture. The only thing that was missing was a lack of women (only five amongst the relatively small field of 63).

The race favourite, Aykut Çelikbas looked as cool as the proverbial cucumber as he chatted with his fellow Team Salomon Turkey runners, Faruk Kar and Elena Polyakov. Hardly surprising considering Aykut had competed in the previous four editions of the race, coming third last year. He’s also a two-time finisher of Spartathlon, so knows a thing or two about pushing the pain barrier.

And then, as just after the stroke of midnight, they were off, a luminous streak of smiles as a small army of intrepid ultra runners disappeared into the night. Feeling a mixture of sadness and guilt that I wasn’t amongst them, I trotted back to my hotel and went to bed, in preparation for my race, 9 hours later.

After a 45-minute bus ride to Orhangazi, a medium sized town situated in the Bursa province about half way around the lake, and a countdown from 10 in Turkish, we set off in pursuit of our 130k brethren. With a police escort to accompany us, a couple of Turkish competitors went off a little too fast before looking around and realising they were in the lead, sheepishly slowed down. Which left yours truly at the front.

Before the race, people had asked me what my expectations were. But with my wife recently having a child and moving house to the French Pyrenees, my training had temporarily taken a bit of a nose dive for worse. In fact, I’d even told my wife that I was doing the 50k, so she wouldn’t give me grief for doing one of the main events on next to no training.

Seeing that no one was willing to take the lead, I strode out at a 4.30 min/km pace, making the most of the 19kms of flat terrain. It follows a stretch of road out of Orhangazi before meeting the edge of the Lake Iznik and a sandy beach that brought back to me a a few memories of the Marathon des Sables. From the perspective of race tactics, it’s an opportunity to put some distance between you and your opponents. But go out too fast and you’ll later hit an 800-meter-high wall of pain and that later on in the race will come to bite you not just in the arse, but in your quads and calves.

Somewhat conscious that I might be going too fast, for the next 4 hours I steadily overtook around 30 odd runners from the 130km race, exchanging broken pleasantries in Turkish as I went.  I couldn’t help but feel a pang of guilt, watching a number of them hobble along in that all too familiar death march.  I had come with no expectations of winning the race, but for a while I genuinely thought I had a chance.

However, any thoughts of podiums were far from my mind. I was simply reveling in the scenery as I ran through olive groves, along beaches, charming little villages before going high into the hills surrounding the lake, which offered panoramic views to die for.

But then, for the first time, I heard the the pitter patter of feet of Hasan Öztürk, who unbeknownst to me had been doggedly following me. With my two words of Turkish vocabulary and his non-existent English, conversation was brief as we trotted alongside each other, silently pushing one another slightly harder than we’d have liked.

That’s of course the problem with being out front, and what I imagined Aykut and Faruk were going through. They had decided to run together and hold on to the lead. But lovely though it is to be out front, you simply don’t know how fast your pursuers are going – so you push on harder than might be wise.

Until now, the terrain had been very runnable. But new to 2016, Caner had inserted in a rather technical and simultaneously hilly section smack in the middle of the 80k and about 87k into the main event. Very steep descents which often involved hanging onto tree routes and branches slowed us all down, less for the odd mountain goat. Some might say it was too difficult (it added a minimum of two hours on to most people’s time), but I think it was bloody marvelous, even though I was cursing at the time.

The checkpoints are spaced between 10 and 15k apart – about right for a course of this nature. As to be expected, they were a welcome reprieve and a chance to fill our water bottles, as the warm sun was thirsty work. It was during one of these moments that I noticed third place man, Mehmet Yildirim catching me up.

Cutting short my replen, I hobbled off and spent the next 20kms looking over my shoulder like a man being chased. Just shy of 10kms from the finish, my legs began to object and I regrettably waved Mehmet on with a ‘bravo’. Unbeknown to me, a similar situation had happened several hours early in the main event, where Aykut and Faruk separated. Aykut maintained the lead, finishing in 17hrs 10mins, leaving Mehmet Arslan to claim second place in 17hrs 30 and Faruk third, 18 minutes later.

As I arrived into Iznik I felt like a warrior returning from war. Covered in dust but grinning from ear to ear, I must have looked a strange sight to the Iznik locals who had come to watch the runners roll in.  Knowing that I didn’t have long left, I picked up the pace, even though I was way over what the time I estimated it would take me to run 86kms to cross the finish line 3 seconds shy of ten and a half hours and a full 55 minutes behind Hasan who’d I’d not seen again.

After collecting one of the most fabulous medals I’ve ever seen, a locally made ceramic tile, I made my way back to the edge of the lake I had been standing at almost 24hours previously. Digging into my pocket, I picked out a smooth pedal I’d found in a river bed, and with my last remaining energy, skimmed it along the still smooth waters, trying to count how the bounces. The old man, who I’d seen yesterday, was still here and shuffled over to me.

‘What do you think? You like?’ he asked, his eyes sparkling with curiosity.

‘I loved it’ I replied.  And that’s the truth!

130k results

33 finishers from 58 starters (57% finishers rate)

Men

1st Aykut Çelikbas 17.10:12

2nd Mehmet Arslan 17.30:43

3rd Faruk Kar 17.48:46

Women

Elena Polyakova 22.49:45

Bakiye Duran 24.43:19

80k

65 finishers from 84 starters (77% finishers rate)

Men

1st Hasan Öztürk – 9.35:55

2nd Mehmet Yildirim 10.19:28

3rd Tobias Mews 10.29:57

Women

1st Alessia De Matteis 11.10:28

2nd Martine Nolan 12.02:31

3rd Asli Sertcelik 12.08:23

all images ©jordisaragossa – all rights reserved

IZNIK ULTRA WEBSITE HERE

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Images from the 2015 edition by ©iancorless.com below

BARNES is BACK! The Coastal Challenge 2017 #TCC2017

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2017 UK registrations now open HERE

The Coastal Challenge are pleased to announce that Elisabet Barnes (Sweden/UK)), female winner of the 2015 Marathon des Sables, Oman Desert Marathon and runner up in the 2016, The Coastal Challenge will return once again to Costa Rica in 2017.

“TCC is a magical race and this has been echoed by so many participants after the 2016 edition. I loved the variety of the course, the challenges in terms of heat, humidity and terrain and the friendly atmosphere. I am really looking forward to returning in 2017 already!”

A multi-day race over 6-days starting in the southern coastal town of Quepos, Costa Rica and finishing at the stunning Drake Bay on the Osa Peninsula, The Coastal Challenge is an ultimate multi-day running experience that offers new challenge even to the most experienced runner.

“I now know what aspects of the course and the terrain I coped well with and what aspects I can improve on.” Elisabet said after the 2016 edition. “The good thing is that I have quite a few improvement areas on this type of terrain so if I manage to do specific enough preparations there is certainly potential to do better next time around. I think this is encouraging and it will help me develop as a trail runner, broadening my skill set.”

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Intense heat, high humidity, ever-changing terrain, stunning views, Costa Rican charm, exceptional organisation; the race encompasses Pura Vida! Unlike races such as the Marathon des Sables, ‘TCC’ is not self-sufficient, but don’t be fooled, MDS veterans confirm the race is considerably harder and more challenging than the Saharan adventure.

“Not carrying equipment makes the running easier and that is nice of course. However, if I look at my strengths I like the completely self-sufficient races too. I am tall and strong and I run well with a backpack. In many cases this means I can get a relative advantage over runners who are less experienced running with a pack or who have a smaller frame than me. I still felt that the TCC was a tough race due to the humidity and terrain and if it was self-sufficient it would be incredibly hard.”

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Hugging the coastline, the race travels in and out of the stunning Talamanca mountain range via dense forest trails, river crossings, waterfalls, long stretches of golden beaches backed by palm trees, dusty access roads, high ridges and open expansive plains. At times technical, the combination of so many challenging elements are only intensified by heat and high humidity that slowly but surely reduces even the strongest competitors to exhausted shells by the arrival of the finish line.

“You always have an advantage when you have done a race once. I know the course and the challenges better now. In terms of the heat and humidity I found it tough but not a major problem. Time was a limiting factor before the race but ideally I would have spent a bit more time acclimatizing to the conditions.”

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2017 will signify the ‘lucky for some’ 13th edition and building on the success of the 2016 edition, Central America’s most important multi-day race looks set to elevate itself to new heights. The race has already announced that Anna Comet, winner of the 2014 and 2015 editions of the Everest Trail Race will participate in 2017. Anna Comet in recent years has shot to fame as a trail and mountain runner after a very successful career as an Alpine skier and ski mountaineer. Her 2014 victory at the Everest Trail Race (also a multi-day race) paved the way for a strong and consistent Skyrunning year in 2015.

But Elisabet Barnes is a multi-day expert and before 2017 comes around, a very busy calendar awaits:

“First I am going back to Marathon des Sables in April and it will be my third race. I am looking forward to it and I predict a very competitive women’s race this year with several top runners coming back from previous years and also some new, extremely competent runners participating. It should be interesting. After this I am going to Richtersveld Transfrontier Wildrun in South Africa in June, followed closely (1 week!) by the Big Red Run in Australia. Later in the year I am going to the US for Grand to Grand. I am very excited about all of these races and the year ahead.”

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The 2016 edition of TCC tested Elisabet and unlike the MDS, the race is not self-sufficient. In many respects it was a learning curve but 2017 will be very different.

“The TCC is not self-sufficient so you can afford to take some more luxuries like a fresh set of running gear for every day, a few pairs of shoes etc. Also not having to cook reduces admin time in camp and means you can spend more time relaxing. From the perspective of the terrain it is completely different with a lot more ascent and descent and technical parts of trail. It requires a different skill set than running in sand and over flat hard packed desert terrain. Finally, the humidity makes it a different beast. Heat is always tough but when you add humidity you have another element to deal with and possibly have to monitor your body even more closely. The same is true with all the water you run through which means that your feet are wet pretty much 100% of the time.”

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Anna Comet will no doubt push Elisabet every step of the way on the 2017 TCC journey and of course, at this stage, other female elite racers may decide to enter the race. The TCC has a long history of top female competition – Anna Frost, Jo Meek, Julia Better and Nikki Kimball to name just a few. Of course, Elisabet’s main concern may well be the possibility that 2016 champion Ester Alves from Portugal may return?

“It was great to race against Ester in 2016. She is a lovely girl and a genuinely nice person. I am very happy for her that she won the race. I now know more about her strengths relative mine and how I can improve to reduce the gaps that led her to victory. I know that Ester is very focused though, so should she decide to return I am sure she will work very hard to keep improving too. If our paths don’t cross in TCC next year, I am sure we will see each other in another race before long.”

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In a very short space of time Elisabet has rose through the ranks to be one of the most respected multi-day races in the world. A very busy 2016 will only add to that reputation! The 2017 TCC is already looking like an incredibly exciting race.

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All images ©iancorless.com – all rights reserved

Contact Information

Email: HERE

Website: HERE

Facebook: HERE

Twitter: @tcccostarica

Global Contacts: HERE

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More information:

Read the full 2016 TCC race story HERE

View and purchase images from the 2016 TCC race HERE

You can read daily reports from the 2016 TCC edition HERE

 

The North Face #TNF Ultra TRII Shoe Review

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I keep saying it but TNF are really getting their act together with run shoes, no doubt the signings of Timmy Olson, Rob Krar and so on are having a huge influence in how the brand not only look at run shoes, but design them. The Ultra TRII is a shoe that has elite (or should I say fast) runners written all over it. It’s a light shoe designed to tackle long runs that can include road and dry trail trail. Ultralight, this durable running shoe has been designed with a glove-like fit and the non aggressive Vibram® soles provides excellent traction.

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The TRII is an update to the award-winning Ultra TR and the shoe has the same exceptional traction and featherlight ripstop construction that has taken influences from track shoes or a racing flat.

The TRII has an 8mm drop which for me is just perfect, I keep saying it but 8mm (for me) is the perfect all round drop and particularly when running longer, the 8mm allows for a little more leeway when technique gets sloppy with fatigue.

 

These shows feel fast before you even run in them. A neutral shoe, they are designed for runners with a good run style. When you slip them on, they feel like slippers and the tongue of the shoe is attached to the upper enhancing that glove like feel. Toe protection is minimal but the shoe has ‘Snake Plate’ and the TNF ‘Cradle’ to offer excellent protection for road or trail.

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The heel ‘Cradle’ in particular is something that TNF have used for sometime and it most certainly helps with foot positioning, support and energy return.

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The shoe has ‘Airmesh’ and is designed to keep the foot cool and thus avoid hot spots, using FlashDry™ fibres in the lining adds to the plush feel. The upper is ripstop fabric from the tent industry and it therefore should be very durable. The shoe has a suede forefoot and the black/ silver upper contrasts nicely against the brightly coloured sole.

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Cushioning is good with 8mm at the front and 16mm at the rear, drop as mentioned is 8mm. The weight is very good at 230g (UK8).

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The sole is Vibram, say no more. It works exceptionally well for its intended use; dry trail, rocky terrain or road.

In Use

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The shoe feels great the first time you slip it on and the upper is seamless and snug. The shoe feels light and fast but yet it still has plenty of cushioning for long runs.

8mm drop for me is perfect, it provides a drop that allows me to run longer and when I can’t keep my form, the extra height allows for some compensation, especially with the 16mm cushioning at the rear.

The shoe is not for muddy runs, not at all. It’s a shoe that excels of dry trail, rocky trail (wet or dry) and road. It has actually become my preferred road shoe and at least once or twice a week I have used this shoe for shorter/ faster road sessions. They feel great and actually encouraged me to run faster. Feel for the ground is great and the Vibram® full-length road-to-trail outsole engineered for optimal traction and balance really does a great job.

On trail, the shoes feel great and for example, I can see this shoe have a great influence from Rob Krar. I can almost certainly see him blazing a trail to another Western States victory in a shoe like the TRII. As mentioned, it’s a dry trail shoe and on the odd occasion when I have encountered mud, the shoe has had little grip. That is not a criticism as the shoe is definitely not designed for anything other than dry, slick or rocky trail.

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The heel box holds the foot secure with no slipping. It’s snug and reassuring. The toe box is generous but not wide, so you would need to try the shoes on if you have a wider foot. Because this shoe is designed for faster running and due to the influences from track spikes, the TRII should have a snug feel as this adds to the security when running on technical trail. It’s all about personal preferences, for me, they are spot on!

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The relatively seamless upper and sewn in tongue really holds the foot secure and has given me no hot spots, the very breathable upper obviously adds to this.

Sizing is true to size. I use a UK9.5 and this shoe fits perfectly.

Conclusion

Using the ripstop technology and minimising cushioning definitely has definitely paid off. The upper is very breathable, the laces are slightly textured and stay fastened; ideal! The Vibram sole has enough grip for the intended purpose.

It’s a great shoe for those who want something light, fast, 8mm drop and will run on road and dry trail. It’s not an all rounder and therefore if you are looking for a ‘one shoe does all’ this is not it. It’s a shoe to add to other shoes and one that you will use every now and gain for specific runs. It would make a great race shoe.