Episode 171 of Talk Ultra is here… We bring you a full and in-depth interview with Dan Lawson talking about his Jordan FKT, his ReRun Project and ’ Training for…’ UTMR in conjunction with MyRaceKit. We also bring you an interview with Eric Senseman and Elisabet Barnes co-hosts.
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“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So, throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain
Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay (Sherpa Tenzing) are the stuff of legends; real comic book heroes for this modern era. They had the RIGHT STUFF! You know what I mean, stiff upper lip and the ability to ‘take it on the chin.’
Think back, 50+ years ago clad in wool and leather boots they departed Kathmandu on what is now considered one of the most iconic journeys ‘ever’ on the planet. A journey that would take the duo and a British expedition step-by-step, stride-by-stride from Kathmandu to Everest Base Camp; a journey to climb the highest mountain in the world, Everest.
To follow in the footsteps of these pioneers, to follow in the footsteps of Hilary and Tenzing and retrace the ‘53’ journey is beyond running. It’s a life affirming and life changing experience and one that the Everest Trail Race provides.
Kathmandu is just the most incredible place. It’s a cacophony of noise, colour, people, cars and dust. Nothing can really prepare you for the assault on your senses. A dichotomy for the mind; I embrace the poverty around me and I make it look amazing with stunning photos. Am I a fake? It’s a question I often ask. Do I prostitute the locals for my own gain? I think the answer is yes! But with each photograph captured I receive a smile, an acknowledgement that I have made them happy.
Departing Kathmandu, the road to Jiri is a twisting and gut-wrenching series of bends and miles. At 1905m altitude base camp 1is warmed by the glow of yellow tents. As the sun lowers behind the surrounding mountains, anticipation of the journey ahead is high. Sherpa’s and porters prepare dinner and we spend a first night under canvas. Suddenly, the journey ahead feels very real.
The Everest Trail Race (ETR) follows the route of Hilary and Tenzing from Jiri all the way to Tengboche and then turns around and heads back to Lukla, thus facilitating an easy and manageable exit point to fly back to Kathmandu.
At 100-miles in distance an experienced ultra-runner may well think the race to be easy. Think again. The combination of relentless climbing, long descents, technical terrain and high altitude makes the ETR, mile-for-mile one of the toughest races of its type.
Broken down into manageable chunks, the race is divided into 6-stages with daily distances of approximately 22, 28, 30, 31, 20 and 22km. Altitude gain starts at 3000m and builds to 6000m. The ETR is a journey to widen one’s eyes and lungs. The visual splendor of the Himalayas is beyond words. The mountains, trails and people arguably provide one of the most stunning backdrops to any race on the planet. It’s easy to become stuck in the moment; the moment of relentless forward motion, then something stirs, you look up and as your jaw hits the floor, the visual splendor takes what little breath remains away; you are left gasping, breathless at the beauty.
Large eyes, dried dirt, runny noses and wide-open welcoming smiles; the Nepalese people really are the salt of the earth. Living in a harsh, demanding and remote environment they have adapted to the surroundings and have found a peace and humility that we can all learn from.
The trekking route, on which we travel, is the motorway of Nepal. We are the tourists, a constant stream of heavy goods vehicles surround us: porters, mules or yaks. Porters transport goods and services up and down this trail motorway daily, an important lifeline to the whole community. For £10 a day they will carry 30kg’s on their backs covering high altitude and long distances with the ease of mountain goats. Experienced porters have been known to carry up to 120kg per day. It is beyond belief or comprehension. It is easy to look on from the outside and nod disapprovingly. However, this is normal. No roads exist here, the only method of transporting any goods along the trail are by porter, yak or mule.
Day 1 to Bhandar eases runners into the racewith 3700m+/- of vertical gain and descentand approximately 21km in distance. The mind is released, and the legs and lungs try to follow. The sound of horns from local villagers announce the race is underway.
Bhandar to Jase Bhanjyang is a beast and arguably day 2 is considered one of the toughest of the race. It’s a brute! A brute of epic proportions; it leaves every runner questioning the journey ahead and the possibility of completion. Deviating from Hilary and Tenzing’s route, the ETR does not circumnavigate Pikey Peak at just over 4000m but goesover it! As one runner said, ‘It would certainly appear that day 1 really had been just a hors d’oeuvre and the race would miss the entrée and go straight into the main course, ready or not!’
Like any good meal, you can sometimes be a little over faced with the plate in front of you. Pikey Peak was such an indulgence. It was a climbing journey that made a vertical kilometer look like a small hill-rep. Front-runners can anticipate 2-hours plus of relentless climbing, the remainder of the field can spend 4, 5, 6 and maybe longer negotiating the steep slopes of these Himalayan foothills. From the summit; each step of pain is rewarded with a wonderful vista of the Himalayan range. In the distance Everest, Lohtse and Ama Dablam makingthis 4000m-peak dwarf with their7000m plus splendor.
Kharikhola providesanincredible end to day-3. A monastery perched atop a mountain. I have often heard how runners have discussed and explained out of body experiences while running. It’s not something one can pinpoint, like a mirage they come and go leaving one to question ones sanity. Kharikhola may well have provided such stimulus. ‘Is that real?’ one may ask and as the final steps arrive and the ETR finish banner awaits.
“Travel is the discovery of truth; an affirmation of the promise that human kind is far more beautiful than it is flawed. With each trip comes a new optimism that where there is despair and hardship, there are ideas and people just waiting to be energized, to be empowered, to make a difference for good.” – Dan Thompson,Following Whispers: Walking on the Rooftop of the World in Nepal’s Himalayas.
The trail changes and suddenly more trekkers, more porters, more mules and yaks populate the trail to Lukla and beyond. Dropping down and climbing up, the trail switches and twists and as you turn a bend at Kari La, the mountains hit you through the mist. They are no longer distant peaks but massive snow-covered monsters that make you realise how completely insignificant you are.
I see a woman carrying wood to her home. I stop her and ask for a photograph. Without hesitation she stops, looks me in the eye and patiently waits while I work my craft. Her face is leathered, full of lines and adorned with gold jewelry. She is beautiful. I can’t even remotely pinpoint her age, but her face tells me a multitude of stories. Each line an experience. A story of laughter, a story of childhood and I am sure many stories of hardship.
Tengboche, the finish line of day-5 offers a panorama to bring a tear to the eye. Everest, Lohtse and Ama Dablam are close and the finish line of the ETR frames them beautifully like a classic painting. Relief, emotions and an outpouring of tears make the journey worthwhile. So tough the journey, many a runner needs to be reminded to turn around, look, and see what is behind them. The reaction always the same, a huge intake of air, a hand to the face and then a lowering of the head.
Hillary and Tenzing carried on from Tengboche. In the process they created a new world, a world where anything is possible. They climbed to the top and looked down and in doing so they paved the way for all of us to set new horizons, new goals and they have made us all ask the question, what if?
“It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.”
Passing through Sagarmatha National Park, crossing Hilary Bridge, navigating through Namche Bazaar the final calling of Lukla confirms the end of the ETR.
Nepal and the Everest Trail Race provides more than a race experience, they provide a spiritual journey that transcends running. Running may be the vehicle but the trails of Nepal provide the highway, a highway to a new experience, to something magical and to something special.
The Compressport Trail Menorca Cami de Cavalls is a series of races, five in total, that take a 360-degree journey around the stunning island of Menorca. The shortest distance 32km’s and the longest, 185km’s. Rocks, technical trail, beautiful beaches, turquoise sea, lush green vegetation and coves that are hidden away that need to be discovered. The weekend of racing offers a simple concept, to provide runners of all ability an opportunity to see the best of what Menorca has to offer over. distances of 32km, 55km, 85km, 100km and 185km.
The TMCDC is the main event stating and concluding in Ciutadella in two waves, the first at 0830 and the second, for faster runners, at 1430.
Anything can happen in185km’s and the ladies’ race had its fair share of action and changes. Gemma Avelli was a clear favourite coming into the race as the 2017 champion. Despite cooler temperatures, less heat and no intense sun, things did not go well for the defending champion and shows forced to withdraw at 30km.
For the remainder of the day and into the night, Alice Modignani took the race by the scruff of the neck and dictated the pace ahead of Sasha Roig. The night took its toll and by dawn, Eva Orives had the lead. Tina Ameller also had passed Modignani and was now 15-minutes behind the leader.
Timing her race to perfection, Ameller closed gap and in the final 20km and took the lead, no doubt local knowledge providing a great help. Orives finished 2nd over 30-minutes later and Modignani fought hard for the final podium place with just over. 1-minute to spare over. 4th place.
Ameller at the finish gave her thoughts, “I didn’t expect it as last year I had to retire. The only thing I wanted to do was to finish it one way or another. I corrected my mistakes. I ran very slowly for the first 100 km, but in the end it’s about your level of endurance. At Cala en Bosc I took the lead, but I had to run. During the last kilometers people were really encouraging me. I’m absolutely elated and now I’m going to enjoy it.”
Antoine Guillon was a firm favourite in the men’s race, he won last year, knows the island and 100-miles seems to cause this long-distance specialist little or no problems. He started the day relaxed hovering around 10th place. But after 20km’s he took the lead with. Gerard Morales and. The duo ran side-by-side for much of the first 100km. Pere Luis Garau like Guillon had started the day relaxed but finally moved to. 3rd in pursuit of the duo.
Guillon finally made a move around the 115km mark, the pace too fast for Morales. Guillon pushed on, now Luis Garau and Morales were together, workings a team and the question was all about whether they could close the gap?
At 130km, the aid station Cala en Porter, confusion hit as Morales and Luis Garau arrived first. Unfortunately, Guillon had got lost and wasted a valuable 35-minutes. Showing pure class, Guillon closed the gap to the duo and then pushed ahead, no doubt frustrated by his error. Luis Garau matched the Frenchman and Morales slowly slipped back to 3rd place.
The duo pushed at the front and it is unclear if Guillon could not drop Luis Garau or if they decided to finish together? Finish together they did, hand-in-hand, and just 3-minutes off Guillon’s 2016 course record time. It was great moment for Luis Garau, you could see his emotion on the finish line and Guillon gave him respect, “Pere Luís is very strong and I’m happy to have reached the finish line alongside him. I’ll return to Menorca next year to try to get under 19 hours, as I have realised that it’s possible for me to do that”.
Morales finished 3rd just over 10-minutes later looking very tired, a job well done achieving the final podium place.
News just in that John Storkamp, RD of Superior 100 has just won Arrowhead 135 – he’s won it before and has a great history with the race – so awesome.
HONG KONG 100
So, Jig Liang won the race in 9:28:35 – a new CR beating Francois D’Haene’s time. But was then disqualified – apparently he grabbed a water bottle from a hiker and the threw the bottle on the trail! Min Qi was then upgraded to winner with the USA’s Alex Nichols becoming 2nd and Run Yun Yu was 3rd.
Miao Yao was the ladies champ in a stunning time of 10:40 – that was 40-minutes faster than Nuria Picas! A returning to form Mira Rai was 2nd and Fu-Zhao Xiang in 3rd.
MOUNTAIN MIST 50K
David Riddle and Jackie Merritt took the wins in 3:53 and 4:40.
Pavel Paloncy won the race (109 hours 50min) for the men and Carol Morgan (130 hours 37min) for the ladies. Once gain it turned out to be epic with the early good and fast conditions getting worse as the days passed. By the end it was all snow, ice, blizzards and the race was even stopped at one point for safety.
INTERVIEW – CAROL MORGAN
LANZAROTE TRAINING CAMP
We were out in Lanzarote for our annual multi-day training camp. Once again an incredible week with over 40-athletes of all abilities taking part. Our coaches, MDS champ Elisabet Barnes, up and coming GB athlete Tom Evans and single and multi-stage runner Sondre Amdahl all lead specific based run groups – Marie-Paule Pierson took a walking group. I normally move between groups but this year took a specific group moving between fast walking and running. Stunning week and we have just opened booking for 2019.
What is great about the camp is seeing how people learn and progress. For example, Gemma Game placed 4th at MDS in 2015 and she was running in the fast group with Tom Evans. We had other runners nervous about the challenges a multi-day will bring and by the end of the week they were confident and ready for the next step. We also had one or two runners who actually were worried about just being on the camp but they soon overcame their fears. Got to give a shout out to Sue Ding who had a really tough day 1 with us and then overcame so many fears and obstacles to finish the week on a high.
Notable because Courtney Dauwalter once again won outright! She did the 52 mile race in 7:10. – this was 1 hr better than the male CR!
Please support Talk Ultra by becoming a Patron at www.patreon.com/talkultra and THANKS to all our Patrons who support us. Rand Haley and Simon Darmody get a mention on the show here for ‘Becoming 100k Runners’ with a high-tier Patronage.
The 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