Ultra Pirineu 2016 Preview – Skyrunner® World Series

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The 2016 Skyrunner® World Series championship for the ULTRA distance will be decided in Spain this coming weekend at the Ultra Pirineu located 2-hours north of Barcelona in the Parc Natural del Cadí Moixeró.

A 110km race with 6800m of ascent, Ultra Pirineu is a seriously tough way to end a season. As the last race in the calendar, a 20% points bonus is available and therefore a good placing is required to guarantee a podium place for the 2016 series.

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Cristofer Clemente, recent winner of the RUT placed 5th at Ultra Pirineu in 2015 and this year is leading the Skyrunner® World Series ranking. He will be looking for a strong showing in the race but more importantly, he will be working out calculations to make sure that he retains his position at the top of the series.

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Roger Viñas has been a revelation in 2016 consistently racing and performing to accumulate points and place within the top-3 of the Skyrunner® World Series. His presence at Ultra Pirineu is two-fold just like Cristofer, have a good race but more importantly retain his position within the ranking.

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Legendary runner Miguel Heras, will toe the line and he is no stranger to the Ultra Pirineu. He placed 1st in the race in 2010 and 2011 and in 3rd in 2015. Miguel is one of the most talented runners in the world but is often prone to injury. When he is in-form, he is often unstoppable and he may well be looking for the good old days of 2010 and 2011 in 2016. ©iancorless.com_Transgrancanaria2016-0586

Pau Capell has consistently grown as a runner over the past few years and this was confirmed with victory at the TDS and a strong performance at Transgrancanaria earlier this year – along with Cristofer, I see Pau being a potential winner of the race. ©iancorless.com_Transgrancanaria2016-0993

Yeray Duran, although not contesting the Skyrunner® World Series is a potential winner of the race and like Pau has slowly but surely impressed over the last couple of years with strong and dominant performances. ©iancorless.com_HTV2016-2444

Dimitry Mityaev had a stunning race at High Trail Vanoise which unfortunately left him injured. However, if he is fit and has the form shown in France, he may well be a podium contender. ©iancorless.com_HTV2016-2710

Marcin Swierc currently is placed 4th in the Skyrunner® World Series and his placing and the placing of Roger Vinas and Cristofer Clemente may well be instrumental in his opportunity to move up and on to the podium – remember a 20% bonus is available.

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Nuno Silva (5th) Remigio Huaman (6th) and Fulvio Dapit (8th) are all top-10 contenders on the Skyrunner® World Series and with this race coming so late in the season, many possibilities are available for a jump upon the rankings.

Francesc Soler, Cristobal Adell and Toti Bes make up the other main contenders for the top-10 places.

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In the ladies’ race, Ida Nilsson is without doubt the hot favourite for victory after showing fine form at the season’s opener in La Palma, Transvulcania! Recently, Ida backed this up with victory at the RUT. Ida does like to run and the relentless 6800m of vertical in Spain will test her. ©iancorless.com_Rut2015-7685

The USA’s Hillary Allen (2nd on ranking) is making the long journey to Spain to participate in the final race of the series in the hope to gain more points after placing 2nd at Ultra SkyMarathon Madeira and 3rd at the RUT.

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Gemma Arenas, like Hillary, has been consistently gaining points in the Skyrunner® World Series in 2015. She won in Madeira and last year placed 4th at Ultra Pirineu. A recent ‘dnf’ at UTMB may well leave Gemma feeling a little tired? It’s all to fight for in Spain.
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Anna Comet (6th) and Kristina Pattison (5th) have been ever-presents on the 2016 series and they have both placed consistently. Here in Spain, they may well find that little extra to move up the rankings and gain additional important points. Tina Bes will also be a contender for the podium.

©iancorless.com_SWC2016-6255 A huge ball may well come from Maite Maiora who usually prefers the SKY distance. In recent years she has raced longer distances and we have seen her on the podium at races such as Transvulcania. Recently she was crowned Skyrunning World Champion at the Buff Epic. The terrain here in Spain suits this fierce competitor.

As with any race, we can expect surprises. Action starts on Saturday and you can follow as the race unfolds via the usual social media feeds and live via tracking on the race website.


Thanks to the support of our Partner Migu Xempower, Sponsor Alpina Watches and Official Pool Suppliers, Scott RunningCompressport and Salomon.

About Skyrunner® World Series
Skyrunning was founded in 1992 by Italian Marino Giacometti, President of the International Skyrunning Federation which sanctions the discipline worldwide and sports the tagline:
Less cloud. More sky.

The Skyrunner® World Series was launched in 2004 and has grown to represent the peak of outdoor running defined by altitude and technicality. In 2016, the Series, composed of four disciplines, features 23 races in 15 venues on three continents.

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

Social Media Logos

Facebook/iancorlessphotography
Twitter (@talkultra)
Instagram (@iancorlessphotography) 

Follow the Skyrunner® World Series on social media platforms

Facebook.com/skyrunning
Twitter @skyrunning_com
Instagram @skyrunning

RUN the RUT 2016 ULTRA Summary and Images – Skyrunner® World Series

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Mike Foote, race director for ‘The Rut’ races had to make the tough call this morning at 0500 and confirm that the ULTRA race would go to a plan B route. Rain, snow, cold temperatures were all rolling in and the potential hazard to all participants was too high. It’s a decision no race director wants to make but as the day unfolded it was the correct decision.

“Due to current freezing rain conditions in the alpine and potential significant snowfall later today, we have made the tough choice to go with our plan B course for the 50k.”

The plan B route unfortunately removed all the key Skyrunning elements of the original course leaving the opening third unchanged with the first 12.1 miles remaining the same as the original course (Soul Hole-Tango-Challenger service road-Moonlight-Ullery’s Lake loop-Madison Connector-Madison Village-Moonlight Loop trail-Elkhorn trail).

The middle section of the course, Headwaters Ridge and Lone Peak sections of the original course were simply too exposed and technical to be safe for runners or safety personnel in the event of a major storm on race day and they were therefore removed.  This therefore confirmed that “Plan B” would be in place and the new route would remain approximately 50% true to the original course.  This change would mean that the course would stay off the high exposed ridgelines and not go to the summit of Lone Peak – the Skyrunning element was gone and ultimately this would have a huge impact on the race.

At Swiftcurrent lift where the runners would have turned right for the tough and challenging climb to Lone Peak followed with the technical descent off the summit was replaced with a run along an access road and a descent through a rocky boulder field before heading back up to Dakota lift and rejoining the original course for the run to the line.

In the opening 2-hours low mist hung around and temperatures were actually surprisingly warm despite the forecast and I am sure many were thinking, we could have run the original route. Then at Swiftcurrent, about 16 miles into the course the rain started to fall and then the snow. The temperatures plummeted and suddenly it was difficult to remain warm. The front end the race was moving fast and generating heat but as you moved through the pack and as time past, the pace of runners changed and those who were starting to walk were really feeling the impact of the conditions.

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With the main climbing and technical sections removed, the new route most certainly suited those who can run… Chad Trammell from Alaska was dictating the pace followed by Scott Patterson who placed 3rd in Friday’s VK. Salomon Team Manager, Greg Vollet pursued as did Cristofer Clemente and last years 3rd on the podium Matt Shyrock.

©iancorless.com_Rut2016_ULTRA-3531As the terrain became more challenging, Greg Vollet used his downhill skills to take the lead but Cristofer Clemente was playing the wise game, just as he did in Madeira. He slowly moved up into 3rd and then on the final descent he unleashed an all out effort to catch and pass Greg and Chad. Cristofer cruised into the line in 3:51:53. Greg finished +1:38 later just managing to hold off Chad who took the final podium place just 16 seconds later. Cristofer’s victory here follows on from victory in Madeira and he therefore heads the 2016 Skyrunner® World Series with everything to fight for in late September at Ultra Perineu.

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In the ladies’ race, the revised and more runnable course played into the hands of Ida Nilsson. Ida who was victorious at Transvulcania earlier this year opened up a gap in the early stages and extended it and extended it. At halfway, her lead was over 10 minutes and victory was never in doubt. Although some of the more challenging terrain may well have slowed her in the final stages, it was never enough for her to lose such a strong lead, Ida crossed the line in 4:27:30.

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Pre race favourite and winner of the High Trail Vanoise, Anne-Lise Rousset, was running a strong race no doubt being challenged by the wet and cold. But just behind her, Hillary Allen (who podium at the Rut in 2015) was pursuing closely followed by Kristina Pattison. The pressure was on and in the closing stages it was touch and go who would placed 2nd…

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Anne-Lise held on finishing +16:22 after Ida but just behind Hillary could be seen, the gap after crossing the line just 36 seconds. Kristina Pattison held on for 4th, +22:21. Martina Valmassoi who placed 3rd at the Rut last year withdrew from the race and Anna Comet Pascual finished 8th.

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Ultra Pirineu on the 24th September concludes the Ultra Skyrunner® World Series and it’s all to fight for with a 20% points bonus on offer.


Thanks to the support of our Partner Migu Xempower, Sponsor Alpina Watches and Official Pool Suppliers, Scott RunningCompressport and Salomon.

About Skyrunner® World Series
Skyrunning was founded in 1992 by Italian Marino Giacometti, President of the International Skyrunning Federation which sanctions the discipline worldwide and sports the tagline:
Less cloud. More sky.

The Skyrunner® World Series was launched in 2004 and has grown to represent the peak of outdoor running defined by altitude and technicality. In 2016, the Series, composed of four disciplines, features 23 races in 15 venues on three continents.

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

Social Media Logos

Facebook/iancorlessphotography
Twitter (@talkultra)
Instagram (@iancorlessphotography) 

Follow the Skyrunner® World Series on social media platforms

Facebook.com/skyrunning
Twitter @skyrunning_com
Instagram @skyrunning

Tromsø SkyRace® 2016 Preview – Skyrunner® Extreme Series

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Skyrunning goes EXTREME this weekend with the Tromsø SkyRace® the first race of three in the new Skyrunner® Extreme Series which also includes the iconic Trofeo Kima and the soon to be iconic, Salomon Glencoe Skyline in the UK.

A double whammy weekend of running that starts with the Blåmann Vertical Kilometer® and concludes with the Tromsø SkyRace® is the brainchild of Kilian Jornet and Emelie Forsberg. Needless to say, the dynamic Skyrunning duo have something quite special in store.

On Friday, 15 countries will participate in the tough, challenging, leg hurting, lung busting Blåmann Vertical Kilometer® as they climb 1000 vertical meters over the short distance of 2.7km. Starting on the shores of the sea, the race really does encompass the ethos of ‘sea-to-sky’ perfectly and concludes at the altitude of 1044m at Store Blåmann.

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Double Skyrunning World Champion (SKY and VK) Stian Angermund is without doubt the hot favourite for victory after two incredible performances in Spain. Running on home soil, Stian will without doubt be fired up to impress. Strong competition will come from Ferran Teixodo, Hannes Perkmann, Rolf Einar Jensen, Allan Spangler, Pieter Schnapps and Ferran and Jordi Lorenzo.

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Laura Orgue took silver medal in the Skyrunning World Championships just 2-weeks ago for the VK distance and last weekend she held off a charging Oihana Kortazar at the SkyRace Comapedrosa to take a stunning victory. Laura has said she is feeling a little tired but without doubt, she is the favourite for victory in Tromso. Yngvild Kaspersen, like Stian, will be running on home soil and although the VK is not her speciality, we can expect a top performance. Other strong competition will come from Natalia Tomasiak and regular VK competitor, Therese Sjursen.

Saturday’s Hamperokken SkyRace® is a beast of a course and has some of the most technical and challenging sections ever witnessed in a Skyrunning race. Designed by Kilian and Emelie the race has been instrumental in inspiring the new Extreme Series which harks back to the early pioneering days of Giacometti, Meraldi and Brunod.

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Covering a ‘new’ distance of 53km (the old distance was 45km) and 4600m of vertical terrain, the race really is a challenge for those taking part. This is reflected in the 2015 winning time of Jonathan Albon’s 6:08:41. Jonathan will return this year no doubt looking for a repeat victory as he starts his ‘Extreme’ journey in 2016.

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Arguably Jonathan’s biggest threat will come from the UK’s Tom Owens who is on fire at the moment. Tom placed silver at the Skyrunning World Championships for the SKY distance and last weekend took a stunning victory at the SkyRace Comapedrosa where he said post race, “I felt brilliant today, my legs were superb!” If Tom makes the journey to Norway, he will push Jonathan, no doubt!

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For me though, the one to watch will be Finlay Wild. Finlay spent his teens and early twenties mountaineering in summer and winter throughout Scotland and abroad. His local mountain Ben Nevis provided an obvious running challenge and he went on to win the Ben Nevis Race six times. In 2012, Finlay set new course records on Glamaig, Glen Rosa Horseshoe and Sliochmay. In 2013 he set a new record on Scotland’s Cullin Ridge knocking 15-minutes of the old record to set a benchmark time of 2:59. He may very well be the real surprise package of the race!

Also watch out for Andrew Fallas, another Scottish runner relatively unknown in Skyrunning circles but the ‘Extreme’ element is bringing the fell/ mountain runners into a new playground.

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Norwegian Rolf Einar Jensen made the podium at the Tromso race in 2015 and with race experience, local knowledge and an ability to run fast over this technical terrain, one can expect him to equal if not better his past results. Equally, Eirik Haugsness who won the first edition of the Tromso race 2-years ago brings experience to the start line. It’s going to be tight up at the front and Philipp Reiter will add to the pressure.

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Luke Nelson is flying over from the USA, he is a prolific ultra runner and an ever present on the Skyrunning circuit in the USA. This year Luke is looking to compete in the Extreme Series. Matt Cooper from Australia has experience of Trofeo Kima and once again will return this year, to the Italian classic; Tromso kicks off his ‘Extreme’ campaign and he will make his presence felt.

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Sota Ogawa makes up the last of the top men who will contest the podium after placing 9th at Sai Kung 50k in 2015.

Surprises will no doubt come from the UK’s Jim Mann who is an experienced fell runner and winner of the 2015 Dragons Back Race. Also watch out for Konrad Rawlik who has just married the ladies hot favourite for victory, Jasmin Paris.
ELS2900 race director, Matt Lefort will also run along with Zigor Iturrieta, Christophe Le Saux and Alfred Gil Garcia amongst others. It’s going to be a cracking race!

Finally a notable mention in the men’s race for Tim Shieff. Tim is one of the worlds most successful ‘Freerunners’ and is an expert in Parkour. In 2009 he was crowned World Champion after winning the Barclaycard World Freerun Championships. Although Tim is new to Skyrunning, he has completed the Skyrunning UK’s V3K and in a recent chat, Tim told me, ‘running is my new passion and particularly Skyrunning. The technical courses that Skyrunning offer are a great extension of Freerunning and Parkour.’  I wonder, could Tim surprise everyone like Jonathan did last year?

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The ladies race has less depth but Jasmin Paris from the UK, in my opinion, will make an impact on the circuit in a huge way in 2016. Last year she placed 2nd behind Emelie Forsberg at Glencoe Skyline and just a couple of weeks ago, Jasmin took the bronze medal at the Skyrunning World Championships for the ULTRA distance. This all came on the back of minimal training due to her recent wedding. Jasmin’s legs may well feel a little tired in Tromso but the course, the technical sections and all the climbing will suit her… watch out ladies!

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Martina Valmassoi recently placed well at Ultra SkyMarathon Madeira and comes to Tromso with plenty of high mountain experience. Both Natalia Roman Lopez (who placed 7th at the recent High Trail Vanoise and 26th at Transvulcania) and Kathrin Shambeck (who was 53rd at Matterhorn Ultraks last year and 27th Transvulcania in 2013) will also look to make the top-5.

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Malene Blikken Haukoy may well be a dark horse after a victory at Homindal Rundt 70k in 2015 and her 3rd place at the Tromso race in 2015. 

Both Blåmann Vertical Kilometer® and the Tromsø SkyRace® are capped for safety and environmental reasons. It’s an important element of running in such a stunning part of the world and they are both ecologically sustainable.

Gnarly, gruelling, technical, beautiful and challenging; Skyrunning goes EXTREME this weekend, don’t miss it!

Course records are 6:08:41 and 7:09:54 for the men’s and ladies’ races held by Jonathan Albon and Emelie Forsberg, will we see a new benchmark set in 2016?


Thanks to the support of our Partner Migu Xempower, Sponsor Alpina Watches and Official Pool Suppliers, Scott RunningCompressport and Salomon.

About Skyrunner® World Series
Skyrunning was founded in 1992 by Italian Marino Giacometti, President of the International Skyrunning Federation which sanctions the discipline worldwide and sports the tagline:
Less cloud. More sky.

The Skyrunner® World Series was launched in 2004 and has grown to represent the peak of outdoor running defined by altitude and technicality. In 2016, the Series, composed of four disciplines, features 23 races in 15 venues on three continents.

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

Social Media Logos

Facebook/iancorlessphotography
Twitter (@talkultra)
Instagram (@iancorlessphotography) 

Follow the Skyrunner® World Series on social media platforms

Facebook.com/skyrunning
Twitter @skyrunning_com
Instagram @skyrunning

DRUGS in Mountain, Ultra and Trail #EPO #UTMB

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Last week and the week before, EPO, DOPING and the UTMB was the hot topic after Gonzalo Callisto’s positive test. Everyone was talking about it… this week it’s all gone quiet. That can’t happen! You can catch up on my posts below.

Post 1 UTMB faces positive EPO test HERE

Post 2 Michel Poletti HERE

Post 3 IAAF HERE

Post 4 Update IAAF and Catherine Poletti HERE

Post 5 Gonzalo Calisto statement HERE

Post 6 ITRA statement HERE

There are far too many questions unanswered, there are far too many people being quiet and if we want to eradicate doping from Mountain, Ultra and Trail running – we need to keep talking and discussing.

I was approached by Outside Magazine and they asked me a few questions. I am pretty sure that what gets used or published will be an edited version and with that in mind here are my thoughts, un-edited.

In light of the latest news from UTMB, what you think this positive test means for the sport? 

One has to embrace the positive test as a good thing as it confirms that preventative measures against doping are working. This positive was an ‘in competition’ test which only confirms the need for out of competition testing and blood passports. Of course, the answer is always that testing is too expensive. We have to act now and be proactive. I don’t have the answers but I do feel that we could start to address certain issues that would help. Maybe it’s time that we ask (for example) the top 100 male and top 50 female runners as listed on ITRA to pay for a regular medical? Sage Canaday recently released a full report on his medical status to ‘prove’ he is clean; that’s a good thing! (See below). Athletes of course may well say that they can’t afford it but this is where sponsors come in maybe? We cannot keep making excuses as to why we can’t but find ways to make sure we can! We are at the very early stages of doping in our sport and if we don’t act now it will only become worse and God forbid, we could end up like cycling or athletics.

Do you think doping is really becoming something to worry about, or is this a case of an outlier?

We need to worry, yes! This is not the first positive test, it maybe a high profile conviction, but it would be foolish to think that this is an isolated incident.

Are people starting to talk about doping more in ultarunning than before? Or maybe a better way of asking this is how are the athletes you know, talking about this subject and what it means for the sport?

I certainly have witnessed more discussion about doping and of course this was highlighted at the end of 2015 at San Francisco 50. This was a moment when the sport really looked at itself and many questions were asked. It actually became quite nasty at times and I think a sense of perspective was lost. For example, WMRA (World Mountain Running Association) and Skyrunning have been testing athletes for many years. They have very much paved the way but they acknowledge they can only do so much. In competition testing costs 1000’s of euros or dollars for one event and of course, only urine can be tested. Many say it takes an idiot to to be caught ‘in competition’ but it happens. I go back to blood passports – we really need them for elite, professional and sponsored runners. Some races do not have a ‘PED’ policy and San Francisco highlighted the need for races and RD’s to address this in the rules of the race. Western States for example has re-written its race rules to say that any runner who has had a positive conviction cannot race. Many runners have asked for a lifetime ban for any positive test and they have been vocal about this. I personally am reluctant to go down this route… I do believe that mistakes can happen in drug testing but I am not an expert. This creates a whole new debate and raises questions about the lasting effects of a doping program. For example, we used to have two positive tests and out, I liked that but apparently that has been deemed unfair?

Are people starting to test more for doping than in previous years? What has this looked like?

As mentioned previously, WMRA and Skyrunning have been testing for many years but not at all events. Skyrunning for example had its World Championships in Spain in July, they had three events, VK, SKY and ULTRA and WADA performed tests at all three race distances. The problem comes, once again with cost. At the Skyrunning World Championships, 12 athletes were tested. The make and female winner in each category (making 6) and then 6random tests. Let’s assume testing at an event is $10,000 – who pays? Do we add a surcharge on every runners entry fee? Does that race find a sponsor to cover the cost? Do we rely on a wealthy donor or do we approach all the major brands in the sport and say, you must pay! It’s a complex matter and this is why doping control is a rarity in contrast to the norm. Let’s look at races such as Speedgoat 50k, Run Rabbit Run and San Francisco 50 – these races have some substantial prize money, in some scenarios it could mean a pay check of $10,000+ for a win. Yet nobody has any idea if the winner is clean? Moving away from trail running and looking at ultra road running, Comrades in South Africa has huge prize money and it has a very chequered past with doping: Max King, Ellie Greenwood, Sage Canaday and Michael Wardian (amongst others) have all witnessed the impact of it first hand.

What is your own experience with testing?

I attend races as a photographer and a journalist so in reality, I have little experience of the drug testing process. However, I am a media partner for Skyrunning and I have been present and seen the processes undertaken at several major events where doping control has been in place by WADA. For example, I was at the Skyrunning World Champions on July, 22, 23rd and 24th. I also experienced doping control at Limone Extreme in 2015 and Mont-Blanc 80k in 2014 amongst others.

Do you think the tests, or the conversation about doping in general in ultras is lacking? What could be done better?

Certainly the positive test of Gonzalo Calisto has raised some major flaws in the communication process. I have done extensive research over the last weeks and my conclusions have been quite worrying. I will elaborate:

  • Gonzalo Calisto was tested after placing 5th at UTMB by French drug control – AFLD In August 2015.

  • AFLD have a written policy that a positive test is given to (in this case) the runner within three weeks.

  • The runner is then entitled to appeal and ask for a B sample test.

  • This process can then go backwards and forwards for several weeks and in this scenario (as I understand it) months. Don’t get me wrong, the runner has rights and it’s only fair that he or she has every opportunity to clear his or her name.

  • In June 2016 the IAAF released its current banned list.

  • On July 18/19th British Ultrarunner Robbie Britton noticed that Gonzalo Calisto was convicted of EPO and banned till March 2017.

  • I picked up the case and contacted UTWT and UTMB directly and asked were they aware of this conviction? I later found out, no!

  • Within 12 hours, UTMB released a press release disqualifying Gonzalo Calisto of doping.

The above raised so many questions for me:

1. How was it possible that Gonzalo Calisto had tested positive but UTMB did not know?

2. Why was his period of exclusion dated till March 2017 when he had been tested in August 2015?

3. Why had the IAAF only published this in June 2016?

I asked questions of the UTMB and the IAAF. In both scenarios they were both helpful. 

1. To cut a long story short it would appear that when an athlete is tested positive, the testing control, in this scenario AFLD, are not required to inform the race. REALLY? A race has a runner place 5th, the runner is tested, the runner is found guilty, due process is run and then a positive is confirmed and a sanction is put in place without the race being told…. C’mon that HAS to change! Had it not been for the eagle eyes of Robbie Britton and me grabbing the bull by the horns, nobody ‘may’ have known?

2. IAAF explained the ‘due process’ to me and although they were not able to supply specifics, they did say that these things can often take much longer than we would all like and that 6 months is not unusual. Considering Calisto was tested on the last day of August, that potentially could take us to February or March the following year.

3. The IAAF then confirmed that an error had been made! As I pointed out to them, why was Calisto banned till March 2017? The answer: Calisto’s ban and records were amended from a memo dated March 2016 and it was therefore human error. Calisto’s ban dates actually run from March 2016 to March 2018. This coincided with point 2 above and a lengthy due process where one assumes Calisto tried to clear his name.

4. From the March conviction, Calisto’s records then entered the IAAF system and his conviction was uploaded to the ‘sanctioned athletes’ list in June 2016.

5. The IAAF confirmed to me that AFLD did not have to notify UTMB of a conviction but they would look into it?

So, for UTMB to be aware that an athlete had cheated at a previous edition of their race it would appear that the only option open to them is to check daily on the IAAF website for any additions to the sanctioned athlete list.

 

I could go on…

Why do you think the sport has stayed clean for so long, and what might be changing that would compel people to cheat? 

The sport hasn’t been clean for so long. That is a naive viewpoint. Doping has existed in trail running for ages but if you don’t have testing or a blood passport, how would you know that…? I like to use an example and I must be clear here, I don’t doubt the integrity of the runner I use as an example. Karl Meltzer, my co-host for Talk Ultra podcast has won more 100 mile races than anyone. He has even won Run Rabbit Run and he took home $10,000+ He has been running ULTRA’s for 20+ years. You know how many times he has been tested for PED use?  NEVER. Need I say more… This is why our sport has bean ‘clean’ for so long, no testing!

For the most part it seems like the conversation around doping in ultras is relatively new, and also that cheating might be a new thing too. Do you think there’s a chance for race directors, athletes, etc. to get out in front of this and keep the sport clean before it becomes the kind of large-scale issue it is in some other sports?

The Calisto case has raised eyebrows, we need to latch on to that momentum and we need to consider many of my points above but let’s be clear, Calisto is not the first!

On a final note we need to keep this discussion open, we need to keep asking questions and we need to find answers and solutions. It’s too easy to say it’s too expensive, too difficult and so on. We could start by:

  • Blood passports for runners
  • Regular in and out of competition testing
  • Positive results MUST be sent to a race or RD as soon as possible if a positive test came from a race.
  • IAAF need to find a way to communicate ‘new’ sanctioned athletes to the relevant sport discipline. This is where ITRA or maybe an athlete commission could be set up.

We, as runners, journalists, sponsors and so on must be loud and clear that doping is not welcome and we must do all we can to work together. In the Calisto case I have still not seen or heard any public statement from his sponsors, Movistar and Compressport. Compressport did contact me to say that they were ‘looking into it!’ What does that mean…? They also said that Callisto’s sponsorship with Compressport was with a local distributor and not the International division. As far as I am concerned, local or International, Calisto is still representing a brand and that brand gains attention. And also what about the races that Calisto has run and placed in in post August 2015?  The IAAF now confirms the suspension dates back to that time and until March 2018. Not one word, not one public statement from any race that I have seen… do these races condone doping? What about the runners who placed top 5 or top 10 only to loose a place… come on, speak up!

Update August 12th and Compressport respond


A great place to start is here, Sage Canaday has just recently posted his results online for all to see. Let’s lead by example!

SageDopingReport

I welcome your thoughts!

RUNNING BEYOND BOOK now available on pre-order

Book Cover

I am pleased to say that my new book, RUNNING BEYOND is now available on pre-order at Amazon (HERE). English version will be available November 3rd and Spanish, Italian, German and US versions will be available tbc.

Foreword is by Kilian Jornet.

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“Ian has been there to witness the stories. He knows the sport, he practices it and he has been involved in many different aspects, all of which provides him with a great overview. He has the strength and character to work many hours, even practicing his own ultra with cameras in order to capture the emotions and the passion from inside the sport. Ian has immense enthusiasm, and his commitment to following a race knows no bounds.” – Kilian Jornet

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RUNNING BEYOND BOOK

by Ian Corless

Foreword by Kilian Jornet

Published by Aurum Press

Available in the UK from November 3rd 2016

Translated into French, Spanish, Italian and German (release dates to follow)

“Ian has been documenting trail running since I can remember. His images, writing and podcasts have played a major role in showcasing our sport and growing it into the global sport it has become today… Ian is extremely passionate and really understands what trail running is about, and this you can see in his incredible images. Ian’s images capture the runners emotion; the natural beauty and race atmosphere – making me want to put on my shoes and head out the door for a run. Running Beyond is a must get book for all trail runners.”

– Ryan Sandes

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ITRA release statement on #EPO positive for Gonzalo Calisto

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This morning I posted the long awaited statement from Gonzalo Calisto after testing positive for EPO at the 2015 UTMB. If you are new to the story, please read the posts below.

Post 1 UTMB faces positive EPO test HERE

Post 2 Michel Poletti HERE

Post 3 IAAF HERE

Post 4 Update IAAF and Catherine Poletti HERE

Post 5 Gonzalo Calisto statement HERE

Today, I have now received a statement and clarification from ITRA into the process that Gonzalo Calisto has gone through:

July 25th 2016

PREAMBLE

On June 29th  2016*, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) published on its web-site in newsletter 174 a list of athletes who had been sanctioned for doping. On this list figures M. Gonzalo CALISTO for a positive test of EPO on August 29th 2015 at the finish of the  UTMB®.

ITRA HEALTH POLICY

The term  «health policy» designates actions which  aim at increasing the prevention and the protection of the health of the sportspersons.

The ITRA, in particular, offers organisers the chance of setting up a preventative action concerning health matters. This action has neither the vocation nor the competence to be a substitute for  current national and/or international regulations regarding the anti-doping fight but has the aim of strengthening the medical supervision within the framework of the health security plan set up by the organisation. This action is led by a Medical Counsel, uniquely made up of doctors, who are able to take advice from experts of their choice and who are charged with giving consultative advice to the Race Jury on the medical state of participants.

More information about the ITRA health policy : http://itra.run/page/261/Politique_sante.html

HISTORY AND CHRONOLOGY OF THE ITRA’S HEALTH POLICY

Within the framework of the health policy set up by the ITRA, M. Gonzalo CALISTO submitted a first blood sample on May 28th 2015 at 13:077 (World Trail-Running Championships in Annecy (France) organised by the IAU in collaboration with the ITRA)

M. Gonzalo CALISTO’s  haematological profile presented several abnormal values which led to the athlete being summoned, on May 29th 2015, before the start of the race, to a meet with the event’s medical commission of 2 doctors and an expert from the Association «Athletes For Transparency» with a more specific responsibility for aspects concerning the anti-doping fight.

The Ecuadorian origin of M. Gonzalo CALISTO, which according to scientific literature, maybe be responsible for specific haematological profiles (Quito, altitude of 2850m), as well as the argument put forward by the athlete of having very regular exposure to very high altitudes  (>5500m) were retained to classify his haematological profile  as  « atypical » (rather than « abnormal ») and so authorised him to take the start of the race for the World trail-Running Championships in Annecy.

The information relating to  M. Gonzalo CALISTO’s  « atypical » profile was transmitted by telephone on May 29th 2015 to an organisation responsible for the anti-doping fight. The two possible options were retained by  the Association «Athletes For Transparency» to explain this « atypical » profile knowing that a specific genetical profile or the taking of EPO were then evoked.

The « atypical » profile of the athlete was once again brought up in a telephone conversation in June 2015 (no precise date) with an organisation responsible for the anti-doping fight.

M. Gonzalo CALISTO submitted a second blood sample on August 27th 2015 at 13:45 before the start of the UTMB® within the framework of the ITRA’s Health policy. His haematological profile once again showed several abnormalities.

With the reason, of the always possible specific genetic profile linked to his Ecuadorian origins, the athlete’s haematological profile was again classed as « atypical » and he was authorised to take the start of the UTMB®.

The ITRA learnt, on August 29th 2015 the urinary anti-doping tests at the finish had been able to specifically target M. Gonzalo CALISTO.

On April 21st 2016 information relating to  M. Gonzalo CALISTO were sent by email to the Association «Athletes For Transparency» by an organisation in charge of the anti-doping fight.

THE ITRA’S MANAGEMENT OF A POSITIVE TEST

The role of the ITRA following a positive test is:

–          To ensure the disqualification of M. Gonzalo CALISTO from events in which he would have been able to participate in during the period of disqualification  (as from August 19th, 2015).

–          To ensure the non-participation in any race which is a member of the ITRA during the period of  M. Gonzalo CALISTO’s period of suspension, from March 17th 2016 to March 17th 2018. (The start of the period of sanction (March 17th 2016) is determined by the “test authority” in relation to the provisional suspension, interviews, appeals made by the athlete, etc….)

Patrick BASSET – President of the ITRA Health Commission

Pierre SALLET – President of the Association Athletes For Transparency

ITRA performance profile – Gonzalo Calisto HERE


ITRAperformanceprofile

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I would welcome clarification and statements from Gonzalo Callisto’s sponsors, MOVISTAR and COMPRESSPORT. I would welcome clarification from races that Gonzalo Calisto participated in after August 2015 – how will they proceed?

As usual I welcome your thoughts in this story and process

IMAGES from the Skyrunning World Championships 2016

VERTICAL KILOMETER

For the short and steep specialists, the BUFF® EPIC TRAIL VK is 2.8 km long with 1,030m positive climb. The average incline is 30.7% and reaches a mean 50.4% at the steepest point. It is capped at 250.

SKY

The rugged BUFF® EPIC TRAIL 42KM is a point-to-point race with 3,200m positive vertical climb. Again, a highly challenging extremely technical race with a nine-hour time limit capped at 500 runners.

ULTRA

The BUFF® EPIC TRAIL 105KM, with a grueling 8,000m elevation gain and a maximum gradient of 56%, is as tough as they come. Strict qualification standards were enforced for participants, which were capped at 250.

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Face de Bellevarde VK 2016 Race Summary and Images – Skyrunner® World Series

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Christel Dewalle and Xavier Gachet set the trails of the Face de Bellevarde VK on fire yesterday as they not only went in pursuit of victory but the opportunity to win the use of a BMW car for 1-year – a special prize offered by the race!

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Dewalle needed to beat Laura Orgue’s 40:52 and Gachet 34:51 set by Skyrunning legend, Marco De Gasperi who was also running in the race.

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They did it!

New records stand at 38:11 and 33:34.

Starting at 1700 hours, runners departed on timed intervals of 1-minute. Temperatures were cool and cloud cover removed any strong and direct heat thus making conditions excellent for a hard effort.

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Dewalle and Gachet was never going to have an easy run and strong threats came from A. Mollaret and E. Collinge in the ladies race, they crossed the line 40:33 (also under Laura Orgues’s old record) and 41:33.

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For the men, A Perret produced a surprise 33:41 and VK and Skyrunning specialist, R Bonnet crossing the line in 34:06.

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Bonnet had been a pre-race favourite but a niggling injury was still causing a little stress to the young body of the Swiss man. One runner who we had anticipated to do well was Zemmer – he did not start. Fern Tpeixido, Marco Moletto, Hannes Perkman, William Bon Mardion and Pascal Egli made up the rest of the main contenders in an impressive field.

Attention now turns to the Ultra – High Trail Vanoise which starts in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Read the race preview HERE


Thanks to the support of our Partner Migu Xempower, Sponsor Alpina Watches and Official Pool Suppliers, Scott RunningCompressport and Salomon.

About Skyrunner® World Series
Skyrunning was founded in 1992 by Italian Marino Giacometti, President of the International Skyrunning Federation which sanctions the discipline worldwide and sports the tagline:
Less cloud. More sky.

The Skyrunner® World Series was launched in 2004 and has grown to represent the peak of outdoor running defined by altitude and technicality. In 2016, the Series, composed of four disciplines, features 23 races in 15 venues on three continents.

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

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Is running about social media or running?

Why do you race?

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

Maybe, it is all those things….

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

Is racing about ‘the selfie?’

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Why do you run?

V3K Skyrunning UK 2016 – Race Preview

©iancorless.com_DragonsBack2015Day1-6632Skyrunning UK is set to reach new heights in 2016 for what will be the biggest year yet. Now in its third year, the calendar has grown and with it, so have the races. The V3K kicks off the 2016 calendar and like many races in the series, it’s a sell out!

Niandi CARMONT writes on behalf of iancorless.com and Skyrunning UK to provide a preview of this years race.


Ehed amser : time flies. It’s hard to believe that it’s once again time for the first race in the year in the UK Skyrunning Series. This is the third consecutive year that Skyrunning UK kicks off with the V3K. The race celebrates its 5th edition and there is no better way for the local Skyrunning aficionados to test their training and form than on this challenging and stunning course. What lies in store for the 234 entrants on June 18th? Well hopefully some clement spring weather although weather conditions can be very changeable. One thing is for sure, the course will take competitors over 53km of grassy fells, rocky mountainous terrain and up and down the Welsh 3000s – in all 15 (or 14) peaks over 3000ft. A Welsh roller-coaster ride across the Snowdon Massive, Glyderau and Carneddau taking in some of the most scenic and picturesque landscapes of the British Isles. The Race Director Kirsch Bowkler adds “If weather conditions dictate we will divert away from Crib Goch”. The latter is probably the most technical part of the course, a knife-edged arête in the Snowdonia National Park in Gwynedd. The name means “red ridge” in the Welsh language.

So what times are this year’s contenders looking to beat? Gareth Hughes won the 2015 edition in 7:34:11 and Sarah Ridgeway won the ladies’ race in 9:22:13. And by the looks of it, these year’s podium contenders look very promising.

In the male field, Shane OHLY is well-known in local Skyrunning circles. Shane, an elite and experienced navigator and climber but also race director of UK Skyrunning events, will be running on very familiar terrain. Based in the Lake District, Shane’s training has been very race-specific although in terms of volume he feels he could have done more “The sad reality is that I’ve been spending potential training time organizing events! Honestly, I am going for the experience”. We’ll see …

Charles SPROSON is another experienced fell-runner and navigator to look out for. Charlie also lives in the Lake District and organizes events. He is very familiar with the terrain and like Shane will do well on technical sections of the course. As a navigatorw and LSU coach he has plenty of opportunities to put his mountaineering and fell-running skills into practice in the Lakes. “I’ve been running over Striding Edge on a regular basis throughout the winter and into the spring, steadily bashing away at going up and down mountains and ascending Pinnacle Ridge with clients”. With the amount of time he spends on the fells, Charlie is definitely a podium contender next week.

Defending champion Oli JOHNSON from the Dark Peak Fell Runners and a member of Team Inov8 UK is not new to the V3K. Last year in 2015 he finished first in ex aequo with Gareth Hughes in a winning time of 7:34:11. He will be back to better that record no doubt and keep the male field on their toes. Like Shane and Charlie, he is an experienced and talented fell runner and orienteer. Oli COMPLETED THE Goretex Transalpine-Run in 2015, a multi-stage event covering 293km over 8 days in a time of 31:17:28 finishing 11th overall and 4th in his category. He has thus proven that he can stand his own against international competition on hard technical terrain.

Kim COLLISON

Kim placed 20TH in the IAU Trail World Championships in Annecy in 2015 over 85km and 1st in the Lakeland 50 in 2014 with a time of 7:48. Victory at the Mourne Skyline MTR and a string of other high profile results arguably elevates Kim as the hot favourite of the 2016 V3K.

Richard ASHTON

Richard has completed a few Skyrunning events and long-distance events– amongst other Transvulcania, Lavaredo Ultra Trail and the Peak Skyrace (3rd in 2015). Richard is also a keen mountaineer and ice-climber.

In the Ladies’ race local defending champion Sarah RIDGEWAY will be back after her victory last year in 9:22:13 where she placed 9th overall. Sarah will be looking to defend her title. This Welsh runner is based in Snowdonia, her back garden so to speak and will be running on home ground. Sarah has performed well in shorter local races and gets plenty of training preparing and coaching athletes for Skyrunning events. Sarah excels on technical terrain and placed third in the grueling and gnarly Glencoe Skyline last year behind Emilie Forsberg and Jasmin Paris in a time of 9:21:44.

Beth PASCAL is a challenger Sarah Ridgeway will need to look out for. Beth has been doing very well in ultra and extreme multi-stage events, Beth was 1st lady and 4th overall in the Montane Spine Race in 2015, 2ND in the Lakeland 100 in 2014. Beth certainly has the stamina and gutsiness required to aim for a top podium place in the V3K and potentially set a new course record. Beth will be attempting a podium after her recent victories over 50km at the Keswick Mountain Festival where she literally smashed the course record to finish in a winning time of 5:21, thus finishing 7th overall and at the Highland Fling in May, a 53-mile trail race following the West Highland Way set to be the British Trail Championships 2016. Although it was a much flatter and faster race than what Beth is used to, her speed work and tempo runs paid off and she finished well ahead of her rivals in 7:52:55. With her natural ability and stamina to perform well on mountainous, rocky terrain and over very long distances as well as her regular training in Snowdonia and the Peaks, she stands a good chance of setting a new course record and claiming victory next weekend.

Ciara DOWNES is relatively new to Skyrunning but this lady coached by Robbie Britton placed well in Marathon des Sables 2016 with a ranking of 243 overall in a field of 1200 participants and will be testing her fell-running skills on the V3K course. Ciara has had more experience of flatter and faster trail running on less technical terrain but who knows?

And so the countdown begins to the first of the Skyrunning UK events as the competitors taper towards what promises to be a very exciting race weekend

Pob Iwc! Or for those who don’t speak Welsh, Good Luck and may there be Less Cloud, More Sky!


Skyrunning UK is sponsored by RAIDLIGHT UK

Skyrunning UK website is available HERE

Skyrunning UK calendar HERE