Ian Corless: El fotógrafo de Skyrunning

corredordemontana.com

I am very honoured and flattered to be interviewed by corredordemontana.com in an article titled  – Ian Corless: El fotógrafo de Skyrunning.

You can read the full interview in Spanish HERE

For my English speaking friends and followers. Here is a transcript in English.

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Tells us about how you got involved with Skyrunning reporting

I was invited to Transvulcania La Palma in 2012. The ISF (International Skyrunning Federation) invited media specialists from all over the world to witness what turned out to be a turning point for Skyrunning. It was a key moment. World-class athletes travelled from all over the world and in doing so created what turned out to be a classic race. It elevated Skyrunning to a new level and certainly placed Transvulcania on the ‘to do’ list of many runners.

 

How long have you been at it now?

I started to work with the ISF as a media partner after Transvulcania in 2012. I went to Zegama-Aizkorri and then followed this by attending many (but not all) Skyrunner® World Series events in 2012. In 2013 I attended most races on the calendar. As you know, the Skyrunner® World Series is made up of five races in each of the categories – VK, SKY and ULTRA. In 2014 I continued this format working on pretty much the whole calendar with the exception of the two races in the USA.

 

What exactly do you do? Does it take up all your time or do you combine your Skyrunning photography with other jobs? 

I work freelance in the world of ultra, mountain and trail running. I work on many other projects and not just Skyrunning. For example in 2014 I worked on The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica, Marathon des Sables in Morocco and this month I go to Nepal for Everest Trail Race and then South Africa for the Salomon SkyRun. I have a very busy calendar and at my last count, I will have worked on thirty-one races in 2014. Depending on what my clients require will very much depend on what services I provide, however, it usually consists of writing and photography to help promote a race and provide feedback for the ultra, trail and mountain running community worldwide. In addition to all this, I have my podcast, Talk Ultra which is available every two weeks for free on iTunes and via my website.

 

Your opinion of the state of Skyrunning in 2014 and how things might develop next season

Skyrunning has grown incredibly over the past few years. We have all witnessed the boom! The vision of Lauri van Houten and Marino Giacometti is certainly coming to fruition. They had a vision of what Skyrunning may be… risks taken in 2012 at Transvulcania have paid off. However, many forget that Skyrunning dates back to 1989 when Giacometti first ascended the Monte Rosa. I most definitely believe they were ahead of the time. We are all just catching up… I also believe that Kilian Jornet has been an incredible vehicle for the sport, His rise and dominance has coincided with the growth in Skyrunning.

You will notice that the 2015 Skyrunning calendar has recently been announced and we see some changes. In addition the Skyrunner® World Series we now have the Continental Series. This shows how the sport is growing and how the ISF needs to appeal to a worldwide audience. It’s very exciting.

 

Any amazing anecdotes to tell from last season?

I am very fortunate to spend a great deal of time working with, photographing and talking to some of the best athletes in the world. I truly feel blessed. I have so many great memories and moments. If I had to pick one surreal moment, I think back to Matterhorn Ultraks. Kilian Jornet didn’t run the race but decided to take photographs and support his Salomon teammates. I had climbed just over 1000m vertical to get to a location that would allow me to photograph runners as they came to me with the Matterhorn in the background. I waited for hours, photographed all the front-runners and I was about to make my way down the long descent to make my way to the finish when I received a text from Kilian asking:

‘Are you making your way down?’

I replied, ‘yes!’

‘I will wait for you,’ Kilian said.

I added my cameras to my large pack (it weighs about 10-12kg) and then I made my way to the long and technical descent. After 10-minutes or so, I saw Kilian waiting. We then ran all the way down to the finish… it was ridiculous. I was following the best mountain runner and definitely the best downhill runner in the world with a huge pack and trying to keep up. However, Kilian was extremely kind and ran well within himself. I however was at my limit! But to follow and see his ability first hand was a highlight of the year.

 

Do you plan to be present at all ISF race events next season?

The calendar for 2015 is larger as we now have the World Series and the Continental Series, so, it will not be possible to attend all events. However, I will hopefully attending as many as possible and following the series as it unfolds.

 

How do the logistics work out when you travel to new race locations & have to discover where you need to be for your photos?

It is all about preparation. I usually arrive at a race venue two days before the race. I do my research. I look at maps, talk to staff and race officials and then I plan where I want to be to capture the best images. Longer races are easier as they allow me more flexibility. By contrast, a race like Limone Extreme is just over 2-hours from start to the first finisher, so you need to be 100% prepared. A real plus is that I am able to fulfill my passions for the sport in photography, words and podcasting but also get some exercise. I usually have to climb or hike to many of the locations I work from. Occasionally we are spoilt with a helicopter but that does not happen very often! Trofeo Kima is a perfect example where myself and other photographers/ cameramen are transported all over the course by helicopter. Kima or me is still a favourite race, it is so extreme and visually stunning.

 

Do you always find the right place to get decent pictures at races? Does it ever not quite work out?

Yes, I always ensure that I am in the correct place. That is my job. However, I may not always get ‘the’ image I want. It is what is so great about our sport and what I do. Nothing is guaranteed and I work on adrenaline to help me maximize my potential.

 

Tell us about your unfortunate “incident” at the Transvulcania 2014.

2014 has been an interesting year with a couple of incidents that I hope don’t happen again…

In May at Transvulcania La Palma I had photographed the race start and then I was making my way to the mountains to a location I had found to photograph the front-runners. On the coastal road I felt my car twitch and then I lost control. I veered to the right and lost control. A huge concrete block stopped me going over the edge. I was not going too fast but the car was completely written off. I jumped out of the car with no personal damage. I was so lucky! My first priority was that I needed to get to the mountains…

Later in the year I had a second incident. I was in Barcelona transferring to go to a race in Catalonia. I was at a restaurant and I had ALL my camera equipment and computer stolen. It was horrendous as you can imagine. My whole life in my bag: gone! It was a pretty tough two weeks that followed and my insurance only covered two thirds of the cost of all the stolen items. However, I managed to replace everything.

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Ronda dels Cims 2013 – Trail Magazin, Germany

Ronda Spread 1

Ronda Spread 2

The latest edition of Trail Magazin is available on line and can be downloaded for just 4€ from HERE

Transcript:

Julien Chorier and Francesca Canepa dominate the 177km 2013 Ronda dels Cims.the second race in the Skyrunning Ultra series.

It was without doubt an incredible and dramatic race in Andorra. Due to late season snow and potential storm risk on Friday night of the race, certain safety measures had to be made and the course was modified to ensure runners safety. It did mean a little less elevation, however, this was compensated for by the race organisers adding additional km’s, making the final distance 177km with a total elevation gain of 12,200m.

An International field lined up in Ordino, Andorra on Friday 21st June for the 0700 start. The awards ceremony on Sunday afternoon affirmed the International representation present at the race with five different nationalities on the podium.

Described as one of the hardest 100+ mile races in the world, it did not disappoint. Warm sunshine in the early stages of the race where followed with torrential downpours of rain and cooler temperatures as night arrived. However, the weather cleared and as the full moon glowed in the night sky, temperatures dropped. It was a long and cold night for the runners turning many sections of the course into unpredictable slippery sections. A new dawn and a new day, the sun burnt the mist away and temperatures rose revealing blue skies and a perfect day and night in the mountains to welcome runners home.

Frenchman Julien Chorier dominated the race from the front and I have to say, it is possibly one of the most impressive performances I have been fortunate to witness. He looked so calm, relaxed and focused. Kenichi Yamamoto from Japan placed second and along with his impressive entourage of photographers and camermen proved not only his ability to run but also how popular he is with the crowds and supporters. Matt Copper from Australia completed an impressive podium and produced a really solid run. He had been at the front of the race over the initial twenty kilometers and then settled in third, however, a fall into a stream during the night meant extended time at a refuge to warm up, this saw him loose a couple of places and drop to fifth. However, as daylight broke his batteries became recharged and he pushed as hard as he could to gain places and eventually finish third.

For the ladies, Francesca Canepa from Italy dominated after 65km’s and never looked back. She is a specialist in long distance races such as TNF UTMB and Tor des Geants, so, a top performance was expected here; she didn’t disappoint. She did say after the race that it was the hardest race she has ever done!. A late surge by Olga Mankò from the Ukraine elevated her to second on the podium and Emilie Lecomte, from France, after leading the race over the first 35% of the race faded but bravely battled for a hard won final podium place.

 

Men

1. Julien Chorier (FRA) – Salomon – 28h41’06”

2. Kenichi Yamamoto (JAP) – Houdini) – 31h12’00”

3. Matt Cooper (AUS) – Salomon – 31h24’54

Women

1. Francesca Canepa (ITA) – Montura-Vibrio – 36h18’55”

2. Olga Mankò (UKR) – 38h19’47”

3.  Emilie Lecomte (FRA) – Quechua -39h30’14”

Trans D’Havet – RACE SUMMARY

Trans D’Havet was the concluding race in the ISF European Skyrunning Championships. Following on from the VK and SKY race in Canazei last weekend, the 80km Trans D’Havet was always going to be a test of many aspects of human will and the power to dig deep and find something from within. However, little did we know how deep some people are able to go?

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Runners assembled in Piovene Roccchette for the 0100am start. It was quite a site, local revelers were dancing and drinking while around them, lycra clad runners milled around waiting for the off. The arrival of Kilian Jornet, Luis Alberto Hernando, Nuria Picas, Emelie Forsberg and Philipp Reiter created some additional buzz as locals and participants in the race looked for a photo opportunity or an autograph.

With five minutes to go, it was already 27 degrees, it was going to be a very hot race! Missing from the start line was Luis Alberto; he had unfortunately received some devastating personal news. After some contemplation, he decided to run. Goodness knows what he felt like. Of course we can only guess and this is not the place to pursue that thought. With his decision to race confirmed, on the stroke of one, the masses disappeared into the dark.

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The route is a spectacular one, which winds through the Piccole Dolomiti between the Veneto and Trentino Alto Adige on the Pasubio and Carega group. These mountains are the setting for some of the bloodiest battles in the First World War. Starting with 1000m altitude to Mount Summano the course goes up and down taking in, Forte Rione on Monte Novegno, Monte Alba and Passo Xomo. Taking in fifty-two tunnels that have total distance of some 6km the course offer much variety. With over halfway completed, runners pass Monte Cornetto and then the final big climb to the highest point of the course at 2238m, leaving the Passo Campogrosso runners climb to the Faccaroli refuge. From here the course looks to be downhill but 12km of ups and downs await before the finish line in Valdagno.

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Luis Alberto and Kilian Jornet started together and finished together. Matching each other over every meter of the 80km course, it would maybe appear that a decision was made to race the rest of the field but not each other. They had occasional time gaps but that was more due to natural breaks and feed stations. Ultimately, the decision to cross the line together was the correct one, the statement made in the finishing straight said far more that any one individual victory. Today was ’really’ about trail and Skyrunning. Kilian has a photo book titled, ‘Trail running for me is not about running’ and today both he and Luis proved it. It was an honor to witness that moment.

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Csaba Nemeth from Hungry was doing a great job in the European Championships and his efforts paid off, his consistent pace and strong climbing in the growing daily temperatures secured him a third place. Podium prospect Philipp Reiter unfortunately had to pull out of the race after falling and damaging his knee.

©copyright .iancorless.com._1160274The ladies race was always going to come down to a battle between Nuria Picas and Emelie Forsberg. Emelie has had a stunning 2013 and her calendar of late has seen her race multiple times and place 2nd at Mont Blanc Marathon, 1st at Ice Trail Tarentaise, 2nd at Dolomites VK, 1st at Dolomites Skyrace and then of course she was coming to Italy to tackle 80km’s with over 5000m+ of vertical gain and ascent against a fresh Nuria.

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Emelie had a small gap in the early stages but as per usual, both Emelie and Nuria ran together again, on the final big climb from Campogrosso, Emelie had a two-minute lead and then extended that, continually pulling away. With the throttle open, the gap extended and she scored a convincing victory. Equally impressive, once again she placed 10th overall.

©copyright .iancorless.com.P1170625 Nuria arrived in Valdagno and looked to be a spent force. The temperatures were now around the mid 30’s and the combination of heat and pace had cooked her. She said after the race. ‘The miles just didn’t tick past today. I had to push for everyone and it was a tough day’.

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©copyright .iancorless.com._1070726The third podium spot actually turned out to be an exciting battle. Taken by Uxue Fraile, less than a minute after Nuria, this confirmed the stranglehold by Spain both in the men’s and ladies events over the ultra distance.

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The ISF Skyrunning European Championships have been a great success. We have seen some incredible racing over VK, Sky and Ultra and the locations, terrain and temperatures have been varied; what more could you want!

Full results and classifications of how the European rankings stand will be posted later today.

Results:

Men

  1. Kilian Jornet (Spain) 08:59:47
  2. Luis Alberto Hernando (Spain) 08:59:49
  3. Casaba Nemeth (Hungary) 09:43:25

Ladies:

  1. Emelie Forsberg (Sweden) 10:21:32
  2. Nuria Picas (Spain) 10:33:34
  3. Uxue Fraile (Spain) 10:34:20

Links:

Skyrunning HERE

Trans D’Havet HERE

RACE DAY IMAGES HERE

Caldera de Taburiente – La Palma

La Isla Bonita - Transvulcania La Palma

La Isla Bonita – Transvulcania La Palma

Niandi and myself have arrived on the island of La Palma – ‘La Isla Bonita’ – the home of the Transvulacania La Palma.

We are here for a working holiday. By that I mean we are here on holiday but still working as and when we feel like. We both have commitments that we need to fulfil while out on the island but we plan to be really flexible… of course I have another episode of Talk Ultra to get out. Based on how slow the wifi is here in our apartment that may be a real challenge.

Anyway, we decided NOT to to ease ourselves into this and went out for a full on 8 hours on the trail on our first day. Considering the longest run I have done in the last 17/18 weeks has been 75 min (due to dodgy knees) that was somewhat optimistic. However, I knew that this was not gong to be a run… more of a tough long hike with some jogging (mostly downhill).

The Transvulcania course starts in the south of the island and heads up the spine to the dramatic Roque de Los Muchachos at 2426m and then from here you basically have a 32-36k drop back to the sea at Tazacorte and then a run into the finish at Los Llanos.

Niandi and myself don’t have the luxury of multiple cars or drop/ pick ups so pretty much all our days out will be out and back.

Today we went from the sea at Tazacorte Port and went straight up to 2400m, had a picnic, turned around and came straight back down.

An incredible day on the trails and while friends back in the UK struggled with snow and ice we had T shirts and shorts on for the whole trek. The course offers some tough technical terrain, the views are dramatic and once above the cloud one really does feel like a ‘Skyrunner’ quite literally.

I personally had a great day. The longest on my feet for months BUT dropping from 2400m to sea level in one go DID test the knees. It wasn’t pretty at times but I am happy.

Here are some images from the day:

No warm up, from Tazacorte you go up for 18k

No warm up, from Tazacorte you go up for 18k

Caves in the rock face - once homes!

Caves in the rock face – once homes!

Follow the GR markers

Follow the GR markers

Niandi has a break

Niandi has a break

About 1800m up, still a way to go...

About 1800m up, still a way to go…

Running through the cloud was incredible

Running through the cloud was incredible

Just stunning

Just stunning

Once through the cloud layer the views are incredible and the temp was 20+ deg

Once through the cloud layer the views are incredible and the temp was 20+ deg

After 7 hours on the trail, with just 1 hour to go we get to see the sun disappear.

After 7 hours on the trail, with just 1 hour to go we get to see the sun disappear.