The Superior Trail 100 was founded in 1991 when there was no more than ten 100 mile trail races in the USA, back then if you wanted to run a 100, you had choices like Western States, Hardrock, Leadville, Wasatch, Cascade Crest, Umstead, Massanutten and Superior . Superior quickly earned it’s reputation of its namesake today – Rugged, Relentless and Remote and is known as one of the tougher 100 mile trail races. Superior lives on now as one of the “legacy 100 milers” and is considered by many to be one of the most challenging, prestigious and beautiful 100 mile trail races in the country. Shortly after the inception of the 100, the Superior 50 was started and in the early 2000’s the Moose Mountain Marathon was added. None of the history or tradition of this race has been lost and is a great event for those looking for a world-class event with a low-key, old-school 100 miler feel. The Superior Trail Race is put on by ultrarunners for ultrarunners.
You can read a full preview of the 2017 Superior 100
I recently caught up with South Africa’s Ryan Sandes after his impressive victory at the 2017 Western States. You can listen to a full and in-depth interview HERE on Talk Ultra podcast.
Ryan’s story is one that inspires and it just shows what is possible.
“An impulsive decision one Sunday afternoon completely changed my life back in 2008. Could I run 250km, self-supported through a Desert? Without another thought, I maxed out my credit card and entered a race I knew almost nothing about. The lead up to the Gobi Desert Race consumed me but most importantly it enabled me to dream.”
It has been a whirlwind 36 hours and I would like to make one thing clear, I have grabbed this positive EPO test at UTMB® by the horns not because I wish to humiliate the guilty runner, cast doubts on UTMB® or UTWT but because this is the first official EPO test of a runner in a trail running event (as far as I know).
I believe strongly that if we get it right NOW then this can only help in the future. For me and yes, I may be naive, but it appears that the current process has huge flaws!
This test being confirmed, listed on the IAAF website and a ban put in place.
However, the test was taken on the day of UTMB® and ‘we’ the public have only found out on July 18th/ 19th and this was down to the eagle eyes of UK ultra runner Robbie Britton.
I picked up the case and contacted all the relevant people and within 24 hours we had a UTMB® release stating disqualification. See HERE.
The above are positives but how was it possible that the UTMB® did not know of this positive test? I asked for clarification and Michel Poletti at the UTMB® provided a response HERE.
Michel Poletti eluded to the facts:
Indeed, the anti-doping procedure is so discreet that :
The organizer has no information about the doping controls operated on his race.
When a national or international federation make a decision, this decision is published on the web site of the federation, with no other announcement.
Thus, if an organizer want to know something about the anti-doping controls which were made on his race, he should need to look every day on the web site of the federations…or to wait to be warned by someone else…
It seems crazy to me that a race (any race) would not be informed of a positive test. How are the race meant to action on this? Like Michel Poletti implies above, he or the race would need to check monthly, weekly and/ or daily for results to be posted? This is a major flaw and I hope that we can somehow instigate from this a better procedure so that races and those in charge receive results asap!
I must stress that I don’t think that this positive test is a negative thing for UTMB®, on the contrary, it’s a positive! They have had tests, the tests have worked and the sport is a little cleaner.
What I am worried about is the protocols and procedure.
This morning I emailed the IAAF and I also found out that AFLD provided the testing procedures at UTMB®. The procedures are HERE but importantly look at the screen shot below:
By the above ‘After Controls’ one has to assume that Gonzalo Calisto was informed of his positive test in September 2015 (the above says, within 3 weeks maximum.) Calisto lives in Ecuador so if he requested a B sample this would take us to the middle of October but lets assume the worst and it was November.
What has happened since November 2015?
Luckily as I was asking theses questions (somewhat bemused and flabbergasted) the IAAF emailed me and they clarified the following points:
In this case, the Testing and Results Management process was performed by the French Anti-Doping Agency (AFLD): https://www.afld.fr/ Normally we would expect that they would have informed the organisers but in this case as it was handled at a national level we do not have confirmation of this.
As you will see, some major flaws in my opinion. This is bad for the UTMB®, UTWT and ALL runners who want to compete on a level playing field.
It’s time to lobby for a change and YOU as runners, followers of the sport or whatever capacity you have as a fan need to ensure that we all act now and make sure that the following happens:
Positive tests are confirmed to the athlete asap
Due process is allowed for a B sample
The race, race director and management team are notified immediately
A press release is issued by the race and or organisation
IAAF, WADA, AFLD and so on list and make results public asap
I am still struggling to understand how it has taken till July for us all, UTMB® included to find out of a positive test and a ban that must have taken place in November, December at the latest.
This is Episode 103 of Talk Ultra. A very happy new year! Talk Ultra is 4 years old and to signify this landmark we are bringing you 4 interviews from our back catalogue, one from 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015. In addition, we may well bring you a few sounds, music and memories.
Niandi is back with me….
The La Palma story continues – watch our GoPro story of tackling the Transvulcania route (GR131) over 2 days HERE
La Palma, (Transvulcania) photo galleries can be viewed HERE (more to follow)
00:01:31 Show Start
00:28:30Remember the 10 Commandments?
00:32:16Remember the Christmas Do’s and Dont’s from 2013? Don’t mention Mingling
Guess what, very little news… but hey David Laney and Magdalena Boulet were voted ultra runners of the year via UltraRunning Magazine.
The incredible Ed Ettinghausen aged 53 ran 481.86 miles at the Across the Years 6-day to beat David Johnson’s 450.37. Full results from the weekend are HERE
00:50:49 MUSIC The Comrades special is still maybe one of our most popular shows and I am pleased to say we have had countless messages about how we inspired so many to run this iconic race. Episode 8 way back in 2012. A magic show and too long to replay here but due to popular demand here is Shozolossa – I can’t listen to this without a tear in my eye and we interviewed the Comrades King –
00:53:01 INTERVIEW Bruce Fordyce
In episode 48, we featured Nepal and the Everest Trail Race, hiking down a mountain on the 2nd day I was joined by Nepalese children who sand for me… pure magic!
And in the last episode in the wee hours of a December morning I walked the streets of La Palma with Niandi listening to the amazing sounds of Divinos san Francisco.
01:24:19 INTERVIEWOkay our first interview comes from 2012 and it is from Episode 12 and the inspiring and mind blowing story of Timmy Olson.
02:16:44 INTERVIEWIt may come as no surprise but in 2013, episode 43 I interviewed Kilian Jornet just a day after his incredible Matterhorn Summit record.
02:52:21 INTERVIEWEpisode 57 in 2014 provided an inspiring interview with David Johnston about his incredible Iditarod Trail Invitational record breaking run.
03:42:24 INTERVIEWAnd finally, the Jureks from episode 95. Scott and Jenny nailed the AT and provided one of the most insightful and entertaining interviews ever.
Believe me, choosing 4 interviews from 4 years has been incredibly tough. I can’t tell you how many amazing memories and moments there are. It has been incredible to refresh my mind by looking back. Please go back to the archives and take a look – Ryan Sandes, Marshall Ullrich, Gordy Ainsleigh, Eliie Greenwood, Max King, Lizzy Hawker, Anna Frost and so on and so on…
05:01:35 INTERVIEWConsidering Niandi is co-hosting it only seems appropriate that we give you a bonuss interview from Episode 78 with legendary, Sir Ranulph Fiennes
So last week we discussed training at the correct intensity during long, endurance sessions. This week, we are following a similar theme but we are focusing more on race strategy and how to pace yourself during an event. Many of the things we’ve discussed in the past weeks are critical not just for training but also during competition, so let’s complete an overview of past topics and how they relate to race pacing:
For longer events, fat utilisation is critical to prevent glycogen stores depleting quickly. You should have optimised this in training beforehand, but during your race, riding and running at the correct intensity is critical. If your race pace is too quick, then you are in danger of running your glycogen stores low, resulting in a poor performance.
Maintain a constant intensity and avoiding spikes is also critical. If you push hard on uphills and recover on the downhills, your intensity will vary greatly throughout the race. Remember, when you pick your intensity for any event, average figures (average heart rate or average power) or pretty useless as a guide. You need to hold the intensity constant, with little change in intensity. If you aim to ride or run at a heart rate figure of 130 beats per minute, then set yourself a tight range of 125-135 for the duration of the event. Slow on the uphills and hold pace on the flat and downhills.
Avoid the fast start or you’ll suffer later in the event. It’s very clear watching ironman races, marathon and ultra races that at least 90% of the field start at a quicker pace than they finish. There are 3 main reasons for this: The first is that you are fresh, so going hard feels easy. Coupled with this, you have an adrenaline shot at the start, so this exaggerates how good you feel. The killer shot is the fact that everyone else feels the same, so they all go too quick and it takes a very brave person not to react and follow everyone else!
There is an element of sheer panic for many people during the first hour of an event, when riders and runners are streaming past them at a quicker pace. From a psychological standpoint, this is incredibly difficult to handle, so we inevitably end up going with the flow of traffic and picking up our pace.
Here’s the thing, most of those people passing you in the early hours of an ironman bike course, or the opening miles of an ultra race, will be walking huge chunks of the event in the latter stages. If your better pacing means that you are still running in the latter stages, any time losses now will be erased and reversed without any issues whatsoever. In fact, many of them might actually drop out and not even finish!! This is the most important race of the year for you, having spent 12 months preparing, are you going to blindly follow someone who is pacing the event badly? Knowing deep inside that you’re riding or running at the wrong pace, are you going to chase them, only to ‘blow up’ in spectacular fashion later in the day and destroy your chances of a great performance? Sound stupid? Well that’s how a lot of people race.
Focus on the process and not on the outcome
Let’s make this very simple. In a long distance endurance event, you can only go at the pace that YOU are able to sustain for the duration of the event, what everyone else does, should not affect your race strategy. Prior to your event, you should have a pre-set intensity that you are intending to sustain. You may have a power meter on your bike to measure watts or you may have a heart rate monitor to gauge how hard you are working. Once you have that pre-set intensity, you should stick to it and ignore all other competitors. This concept is termed ‘process orientated’ as opposed to ‘goal orientated’ racing.
What’s the difference?
Goal orientated is simple, you set a target of 12 hours for your event and you swim, ride or run as fast as required to achieve that 12 hour time. It doesn’t matter if you’re going quicker than you can handle, you simply chase the pre-set time. Process orientated refers to you focusing on the process of swimming, cycling and running at the right pace. Following a nutrition plan and doing all the things you’ve trained to do beforehand. You focus on the process only and ultimately, when you reach the line, the finish time is whatever the finish time is. What’s key, is that is you focus well on the processes, your finish time will be the best you are capable of on that day.
Process orientated racing works best in longer events as tactics play less of a role. You can’t control who enters the event and you can’t control how well those people race. As a consequence, you cannot control your finish position at the end of the day. The only thing you CAN control is your own pacing and race strategy, to give you the best possible chance of achieving the finish time you hoped for.
Live in the here and now
Ultimately, whilst you will have a pre-set pacing plan, you will have to be flexible on the day. Your pacing strategy and other actions should be based on the ‘here and now’. You should be making regular checks and asking yourself how you feel at that moment in time and whether there is anything you need to do as a consequence. For example, if you had planned to run at 5 minutes per Km pace and you feel that pace slowing, then you should not panic. Instead, think about what you need to do at that time to solve the problem. Do you need to eat and drink? Do you need to slow a little? Be flexible, don’t just continue in a blind manner trying to hold the same pace or it will result in a major collapse.
One of the key things to remember when competing in long distance events such as Ironman or ultra running is that energy can fluctuate. In a simple marathon race, you tend to feel ok at the start and then gradually get worse as the event progresses. In an Ironman marathon or ultra race, you can have patched where you have to walk because you feel so low, but 5 miles later, you may be running at a strong pace.
When you have a drop in energy, don’t lose focus and don’t lose your head. That’s the point where lots of people just give up, start walking and never start running again. Focus on the here and now, what do you have to do to solve the problem and get back to the plan? Whatever happens, you can only be as good as you can be on that particular day. If you focus on the processes, you’ll know that when you cross that line, that’s as good as you are, for today at least.
– Marc Laithwaite
Sports Science lecturer for 10 years at St Helens HE College.
2004 established The Endurance Coach LTD sports science and coaching business. Worked with British Cycling as physiology support 2008-2008. Previous Triathlon England Regional Academy Head Coach, North West.
In 2006 established Epic Events Management LTD. Now one of the largest event companies in the NW, organising a range of triathlon, swimming and cycling events. EPIC EVENTS also encompasses Montane Trail 26 and Petzl Night Runner events.
In 2010 established Montane Lakeland 50 & 100 LTD. This has now become the UKs leading ultra distance trail running event.
In 2010 established The Endurance Store triathlon, trail running and open water swimming store. Based in Appley Bridge, Wigan, we are the North West’s community store, organising and supporting local athletes and local events.
The North Face are stepping things up for 2015 with three new shoes that will allow all of us to choose a specific shoe designed for the trails and conditions we are running on. Just the other week we had a first look and several test runs in the ULTRA MT (read HERE). The ULTRA MT is a bullet proof shoe built on a firm last, 8mm drop and a super grippy Vibram sole.
The ULTRA MT
Sticking to their guns, TNF now have the ULTRA TR II and the ULTRA CARDIAC. As a brand, TNF have obviously decided that 8mm drop is the perfect sweet spot and comprise when coming to a one drop for all scenario. I have to say, I agree! Purest and low drop enthusiasts out there will say, no, no, it needs to be 6mm, 4mm or even lower. To an extent I agree and understand but when you are only making three shoes, you need to commit. For many, particularly when running long, 8mm provides a great compromise and as we run longer and our run style and technique fades, 8mm drop allows for some leeway. I run in 4mm and 6mm drop shoes on a regular basis and I find the 8mm option a pleasure and a joy. Ultimately, there is no shortage of shoes on the market and a selection of drops. If TNF and an 8mm drop shoe is of interest, read on.
TNF ULTRA TR II
The 2014 Ultra Trail shoe received much praise for it’s look and feel when running on dry trail. However, it did gain some criticism for the the longevity of the upper! So, the launch of the Ultra Trail II is a great sign that all previous pluses and minuses have been pooled to create a new and fast shoe.
The Vibram sole of the Ultra Trail was arguably one of the highlights of the shoe, it’s great to see this carried over to the Ultra Trail II. Vibram are synonomous with grip and this sole had an abundance of grip on dry trails, rocks and road. I do think that the Ultra Trail will work very well as a shoe that can switch between road and dry trail seamlessly.
Influenced by cross-country spike shoes, the upper is a featherlight rip stop upper that provides a snug fit. As one would expect, the shoe is using TNF’s CRADLE technology to offer support in the heel and the midsole.
The Ultra TR II is a lightweight performance shoe that will weigh 230g (UK8) and without doubt, the shoe is all about speed and feel for those faster training sessions or races on dry trails. It is anticipated that the shoe will be available in two colours for men and one colour for ladies.
Pebax® heel CRADLE™ for support and proper foot positioning
Glove-like heel fit with protective suede overlays
Suede forefoot and toe protection
16 mm heel
8 mm forefoot
Dual-injection-molded EVA CRADLE™ GUIDE midsole platform
Vibram® full-length road-to-trail outsole engineered for optimal traction and balance
8 mm offset
Approximate Weight: 460 g (pair) *based on Men’s 8
TNF ULTRA CARDIAC
The Ultra Cardiac looks to be an exciting shoe… I have long hailed my love for the Ultra Guide (no longer made by TNF) and on first looks, the Cardiac may well take off where the Ultra Guide finished. I hope so!
As mentioned, the Ultra Cardiac follows on with an 8mm drop providing a great sweet spot for many runners. Unlike the Ultra TR II, the Cardiac will ideally suit runners as a one-stop shoe. It will provide grip through a Vibram sole on a multitude of terrain: road, hard trail, rocks and wet/ muddy trail (providing it’s not too muddy.)
The upper has FlashDry technology and it really is a great multipurpose shoe with enhanced cushioning: 20mm rear and 12mm at the front. When compared to the Ultra TR II (16mm/ 8mm) it’s easy to see how these two shoe differ not only in weight but cushioning and purpose. The Ultra Cardiac is a shoe that you can slip on, run all day on mixed terrain and not get home battered and bruised from the experience.
Despite a full length Vibram sole, fast drying upper and great cushioning the Ultra Cardiac still weighs in at a lightweight 275g (UK8) which is extremely appealing.
Available in one colour for men, the ladies colour option is as below and will size from UK4 to UK9.
Ultra Airmesh and FlashDry™ keep you cool and dry
Zonal protection in the heel and toe
Pebax® heel CRADLE™ for proper heel positioning and support
Luxurious cushioning in the collar lining and tongue for a comfortable fit
20 mm heel /12 mm forefoot
Vibram® full-length outsole engineered for optimal traction and balance
8 mm offset
Approximate Weight: 548 g (pair) *based on Men’s 8
A full review of both shoes will be available in the coming months. The ULTRA TR II and ULTRA CARDIAC will be available from March 2015 prices are expected to be £85 and £105 respectively.
Read a ‘first impression’ review of the new, TNF ULTRA MT HERE
Following on from the extremely successful and popular T2 Kinabalu (review HERE and ladies review HERE) Scott have produced an out and out trail running race shoe aptly named the Trail Rocket. The original Trail Rocket (Feb 2014) when released gained plenty of initial praise. I praised them! However, it soon became apparent that the sole had some serious issues. The black nodules as seen on the image below literally would just come off. For me, my shoes did last a while before I had issues, however, some runners had problems within 50-miles.
The new 2015 shoe has addressed this issue and the sole is now far more resilient and long lasting.
The orange section of the sole is now a moulded compound and the grip is not ‘added’ as in the previous model. So if you have used the Trail Rocket in the past, like them but refused to go near them again because of longevity issues, don’t worry, Scott have addressed this!
If mud is your thing the Trail Rocket is not for you. The Trail Rocket 2.0 is for fast running on hard pack trails, rocks, gravel and so on. They can withstand a little mud but not too much. They perform well on wet ground but the compound used in the orange section of the sole is relatively hard and on occasion I have felt the shoe slip. It’s only a minor slip but nonetheless it does make you take a breath and then you question what will grip be like later in the run?
Following the trend for low drop shoes, the Trail Rocket 2.0 has a 5mm heel to toe drop in comparison to the 11mm drop of the T2 Kinabalu. The T2 Kinabalu is still a favourite shoe of mine even though it has an 11mm drop. This is mostly due to the ‘rocker’ sole which makes the shoe feel lower than it actually is. You can see one of the 2015 T2 Kinabalu 3.0 colour ways below.
Scott T2 Kinabalu 2015
The upper of the Trail Rocket 2.0 is very breathable with a slightly narrow toe box (precision) and a snug heel compartment that provides a solid and secure fit. Toe protection is okay but not great.
Sizing is true to size, however, if you are going without socks you may want to check what works for you. Lacing is solid and depending on your preferred lacing method the shoe holds firm to the foot and is extremely comfortable.
The laces provide a real secure and tight hold and once tied they hold firm and don’t come loose. An elastic bungee (Lace Locker) holds and retains any excess lace.It’s a really practical solution that was missing on the original Trail Rocket. It’s a simplistic solution to a problem that exists for all runners unless you use Salomon!
The Trail Rocket 2.0 is lightweight and versatile and designed for maximum performance for racing and fast training. The minimalistic design in combination with the eRide™ Technology promotes an efficient, natural and fast running style.
Arguably, the eRide™ (rocker) may not required for this model of shoe as a 5mm drop will almost certainly mean that your run form should already be good and mid to forefoot landing is normal. However, should you be transitioning to lower drop shoe (say from 8mm) the eRide™ will help guide you on your way.
As you would expect, the shoes weigh in at a light 260g (UK9) which is obviously due to the minimalist design and Aerofoam.
Forefoot cushioning is 17.5 and rear cushioning 22.5 providing a shoe that still provides good cushioning and protection. How far can you run in them? Well it very much depends on your form, adaptation and technique. Without doubt I think we will see many efficient runners covering 100-miles in this shoe, however, for many the Trail Rocket 2.0 will be ideally suited for fast running on trail races up to 50-miles.
The Trail Rocket 2.0 has a ‘Rock-Protection-Plate’ too reduce any impact from obstacles on the ground and cushioning is good. I have had few issues with ‘feeling’ the ground beneath me.
Slipping the shoe on you have that confirmed comfort feeling inherited from the T2 Kinabalu, so, it’s fair to say that if you are a fan of its beefier brother you are going to like the Trail Rocket.
Overall comfort is great and you zip along feeling very light and fast. The shoe has great flexibility. They encourage you to move quicker, lighter and faster with increased cadence.
A real bonus is how good the shoe feels on road and/ or tarmac. Many of us need to transition to trail either by connecting roads or maybe you need to access trail with a jog to and from home? The Trail Rocket handles this well. It’s too early to say in testing what impact this will have on the wear and longevity of the sole.
The Trail Rocket is definitely a shoe for faster training sessions. Certainly if you are new to ultra racing or looking to complete rather than compete, the Trail Rocket may not be the shoe for you.
I really like the Trail Rocket. I enjoyed the first incarnation and had the sole not let me down I would have continued to use them. SCOTT may have an uphill battle convincing previous Trail Rocket owners back… that would be a shame! The 2015 edition of the shoe is exactly as before but now the shoe has a sole that can keep pace with your running.
For my English speaking friends and followers. Here is a transcript in English.
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.
I was recently contacted by Sebastien Chaigneau (The North Face) to be involved in a project to celebrate the D-Day landings in Normandy, June 6th 1944.
2014 is the 70th anniversary!
Representing 7 important nations from the D-Day landings, 7-ultra runners will join 7-soldiers from prestigious military academies:
The United States Military Academy West Point
The French Special Military School of Saint-Cyr
The British Royal Military Academy Sandhurst
The Canadien Royal Military College Saint-Jean
The officer of the Army School in Dresden
14-athletes will run 100-miles together and will stop at ‘check-points’ that will not only allow some downtime but will also allow an opportunity to commemorate past events.
This ‘Ultra-Trail’ will use a majority of paths and trails with respect of the environment and natural spaces.
“Honoured to be named as one of 7 international runners (along with 7 military runners) running together for 100 miles along the landing beaches/commemoration sites of France in June to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the D Day landings that changed the name of our game. Change your game by writing your own rules!”Jason Loutitt
The runners (tbc)
CANADA = Jason LOUTITT
USA = Dian Van DEREN
FRANCE = Bertrand COLLOMB PATTON
GERMANY = Philip REITER and Thomas WAGNER
POLAND = Natalia SIERANT
UNITED KINDOM =
Starting at 0400hrs on Thursday June 12th at Utah Beach, the 14-runners will progress along the 100-mile route with the objective to finish at the ‘Memorial’ in Caen at 1400hrs Friday June 13th.
It’s an incredible opportunity
This is an incredible opportunity for a UK ultra runner to be involved in a moment in history.
IS THIS RUNNER YOU?
If you think it is, please email email@example.com explaining why you think you should be considered and please provide a running CV.
IMPORTANT: A UK RUNNER HAS NOW BEEN CHOSEN. IF YOU’D LIKE TO BE CONSIDERED AS A RESERVE, PLEASE FORWARD DETAILS AS REQUESTED.
You must be able to run 100-miles within 32-hours, including breaks within the context of this D-Day project.
You must be available ideally June 11th – June 14th tbc.
All expenses will be covered
Deadline for application – January 22nd.
This event will be open to the public and the media. You will be representing your country in a key moment in history. Please, only email if you are serious and committed.
I am able to provide a PDF document that outlines the whole experience with more specific details should you require it.
When Scott asked me to test the Women’s T2 Kinabalu, I was very excited to try out a brand of shoe that is not as well known to UK and French trail runners… ‘Scott make bikes don’t they?’ was a typical comment!
Love at first sight… Like most female trail runners, I like a run shoe to look good and admittedly on the outside it’s a sexy shoe – bright green, sporty and light-weight.
But what about the technical and practical specs which are equally important? Well, after having tested the shoe on 200km of intense rocky mountainous terrain in France over one week, I can definitely confirm it is:
• Energy efficient
The above qualities were exactly what I was looking for and all my expectations were met.
Durability, stability and eRide™ Technology
Usually after intense weeks on hard trail terrain like that, my trail shoes “have done their time” but I was surprised to find that the soles were hardly worn. I have an atypical and asymmetrical running gait, which means I heel strike heavily on one foot and the wear shows after only a few runs on my trail shoes. Not the Scotts though. But then the Scott shoe is built using the patented and scientifically-researched SCOTT’s eRide™ Technology – that unique rocker shape creating a very stable midstance which heel strikers like me strive for. Initially it took a few runs to get used to but I quickly felt the benefit of the rocking motion provided by the shoe and it meant I was heel-striking less and running more efficiently.
The shoe has an 11mm drop; in this current climate of ‘low drop is best’ it may mean the T2 will be snubbed by many! Don’t be too hasty. In use, this shoe feels like a much lower drop shoe, primarily due to the eRide™ (rocker). It keeps you on your forefoot with good technique. They are a pleasure to run in.
After the week on rock French trail my soles had hardly worn. My podiatrist who is an avid cyclist took one look at them and said “this is true Scott quality, great grip, rolling resistance, durability and ride quality”.
Shortly after that I departed on a 10-day multi-stage event to Northern India, Rajasthan and as I had luggage restrictions, was faced with the dilemma of taking only one pair of run shoes. I knew I would be doing a mix of trail, desert, tarmac and dirt road. No hesitation, my multi-purpose, train-adaptable Scotts were in my luggage. Although a winter shoe, they were perfect on all types of terrain. I had no issues transitioning from the Thar Desert to the tarmac road leading to the Taj Mahal. Conditions were hot and humid and as much as the shoes kept my feet dry and warm on muddy, wet British towpath and boggy fells, the breathable mesh upper equally kept my feet cool in Rajasthan. And although I didn’t use gaiters as the desert/dune stages were not too long, I had very little sand in my shoes.
The shoe features an Aerofoam midsole for reduced weight and it’s definitely lightweight at 265g (UK8) a bonus for me, especially over long ultra-distances or long training sessions. More importantly – it is lightweight but not at the expense of durability or stability. After several runs the midsole ‘bedded’ in and started to mould to my foot providing additional comfort. The sock liner is perforated and the midsole has ‘drainage’ ports to allow water to escape; great for water crossings or wet weather running.
Comfort and adaptability to varied terrain.
Comfort with a capital “C”. This is an important criterion for me whatever the shoe ….but even more so if I’m going to be running long distances on arduous, rocky terrain. Not a blister or hot spot and no chafing. I ran in mud, on dry dusty rocks, shingle, slippery descents – the shoe adapted to all the changes in terrain and weather. Not surprising as the shoe features wet traction rubber and a water-drainage system. The grip in muddy terrain is great and much appreciated by runners like me who prefer a drier terrain. I felt as in control tackling muddy, British bog as I did on dusty and slippery rocky mountainous French trail or even running down shingly, stony descents.
I also liked the bungee lacing system (elastic on the front of the shoe to stow laces) – extra security for a runner like myself who doesn’t want to be tripping over loose laces on a tricky, technical descent.
All in all, this is definitely a great winter shoe with great protection and traction at minimal weight.
Needless to say Scott thinks about us ladies too, not only as far as the colour is concerned but also the female-specific fit. By the way, I opted for the bright green colour but the shoe comes in a trendy girly pink too!
Love them! And I get noticed to:
“Are you wearing Scotts? Didn’t know they made trail shoes!” I get asked.
“Well you bet! And pretty damn good ones at that!” I quickly reply.
Niandi is South African born, a former resident of Paris, she now lives in the UK. A runner for over 20-years; Niandi has completed Comrades Marathon 13-times, Washie 100 2-times and has finished well over 100 marathons and ultras all over the world. Currently residing in the UK, Niandi splits her work life between the UK and France.