Transgrancanaria 2022 – A Dream! A Goal!

Pablo Villa

Imagine starting in the far north on a volcanic island and travelling to the southern tip by foot. During a night, a day and maybe even another night, it is possible to cross mountain peaks, run through deep valleys, past incredible rock formations, through pine forest and along dry riverbeds taking in the flagship race that makes the Transgrancanaria ‘Classic’ race – now 20-years old.

“I love Transgrancanaria because it’s the ultimate race. It has everything. Technical paths, flow paths, heat, running through the night and both terrain and time of day change. The atmosphere is top notch, both among the runners and those who cheer.” – Margrethe Fjetland Løvold

A rollercoaster, both mentally and physically, the trip will require you to dig deep, but in the process create unforgettable memories. Night trails to Teror and Artenara. The village of Tajeda. Sunrise at Roque Nublo. The steep climbing and descent to San Bartolomé de Tirajana and then the dusty, rocky and sandy trails that lead to the finish in Maspalomas.

“Transgrancanaria is a race I have dreamed of for several years. Standing on the starting line with 700 other like-minded ultra-runners in an insane mood is difficult to describe. There are people everywhere on the trail, at all hours of the day, cheering you on. One of my highlights as an ultra-runner!” – Frode Wiggen

This is Transgrancanaria! A point-to-point race that allows one to experience some of the best trails that Gran Canaria has to offer. The race is world famous and attracts thousands of runners from around the world. Here the elite gather to compete for the honor and glory in Europe’s first big race of the season.

Abby Hall in the night to Teror.

It’s a race for all, not just the elite. The 2022 edition was won by Pablo Villa and Ragna Debats, but most who start just dream of a finish. Winning in 13-hours for the 128km race is far removed from those who will battle one day and two nights to finish in under 30-hours. No matter what time, the welcome is incredible.

Pau Capell fights the cold.

The 2022 edition will be remembered for a wild and challenging night – cold temperatures, strong winds, rain and even snow. It was a challenge for all! But soon after Roque Nublo, dropping below the cloud, the weather changed and warm sun and blue skies welcomed participants. It was unbelievable to witness and no doubt challenged each runner as they tried to adapt.

Pablo Villa – happy!

Pabo Villa paced himself through the night and took a convincing lead as daylight arrived. He was pursued by Pau Capell – the duo finished side-by-side in 2020. However, Pablo was too strong and he took an incredible win ahead of Pau and Pere Aurell.

Ragna Debats

For the women, Abby Hall lead the way through the night feeling very strong. However, Ragna Debats eventually caught the adidas athlete and passed her to forge ahead for victory in 16:21:29, a lead of 21-minutes over Abby. Claudia Tremps completed the podium.

Tom Evans – what a victory!

In the Advanced race, Tom Evans had one of those classic stories that you read in many magazines… Plagued by injury, he had some serious operations in 2021, started a long rehabilitation process and then returned to a big race and won! What a story. Aritz Egea pushed the adidas athlete but in the end, Tom was too strong, Aritz finished 10-minutes later. Matthieu Delpeuch finished 3rd.

Advanced women’s podium.

Ariana Wilhem finished ahead of Johanna Antila and Leah Yingling for a closely fought female Advanced podium.

Sebastien Ljungdahl – A surprise win!

In the marathon, Sebastian Ljungdahl and Sara Alonso ran too incredible and fast performances to take victory. Sara’s performance a course record. Despite the speed, they were close races with Marten Boström and Antonio Martínez completing the men’s podium. For the women, Toni McCann had a great first race in Europe placing 2nd and Anna Comet placed 3rd.

Sara Alonso

Full results listed below.

The Classic and the Marathon races feature in the Spartan Trail World Championships.

IMAGE GALLERIES HERE

Transgrancanaria has distances for every runner, the organization realise that a north-to-south journey is too much for many. Therefore, they offer multiple options: Advanced (62km), Marathon (43km), Starter (26km) or Promo (15km) – all taking place on sections of the full route.VK El Gigante, new for 2022, is a great 1000m climb starting from San Pedro in the Ageate area of the island.

Abelone Lyng

Experienced ultra and mountain runner, Abelone Lyng toed the line of the Advanced race after a full-on week pre-race, exploring the island.

“The weather was wild in the first 30 km with gusts of wind that almost blew me over a couple of times. We had mud and believe it or not, snow! But the last half of the race was cloudless skies and scorching sun. I liked the trail after Roque Nublo, it was steep and technical.”

The iconic Roque Nublo – a stunning backdrop.

With stunning beaches, sea, stunning weather, trails and mountains, this island in the Canaries is one of ‘the’ go-to places for racing or training. It’s no coincidence that Transgrancanaria is now in its 21st year – a clear example of why this island is a Mecca for trail and mountain runners. So, what are you going?

Words and Text by Abelone Lyng

CLASIFICACIÓN CLASSIC

Men’s

1. Pablo Villa (SPA). 13:37:30

2. Pau Capell (SPA). 13:58:47

3. Pere Aurell (SPA). 14:12:02

Women’s

1. Ragna Debats (NED). 16:00:14

2. Abby Hall (USA). 16:21:29

3. Claudia Tremps (SPA). 16:45:35

CLASIFICACIÓN ADVANCED

Men’s

1. Tom Evans (GRB). 05:10:39

2. Aritz Egea (SPA). 05:20:25

3. Matthieu Delpeuch (FRA). 05:31:44

Women’s

1. Ariana Wilhem (SUI). 06:06:16

2. Johanna Antila (FIN). 06:10:29

3. Leah Yingling (USA). 06:35:49

CLASIFICACIÓN MARATÓN

Men’s

1. Sebastian Ljungdahl (SUE). 03:02:00

2. Marten Boström (FIN). 03:05:07

3. Antonio Martínez (SPA). 03:08:02

Women’s

1. Sara Alonso (SPA). 03:30:10

2. Toni McCann (ZAF). 03:34:03

3. Anna Comet (SPA). 03:37:26

CLASIFICACIÓN STARTER

Men’s

1. Alberto Vender (ITA). 01:35:51

2. Eduard Hernández (SPA). 01:38:34

3. Damián Ramis (SPA). 01:40:50

Women’s

1. Mélina Grosjean (FRA). 01:57:45

2. Ainara Uribarri (SPA). 02:00:20

3. Georgia Tindley (GRB). 02:04:11

CLASIFICACIÓN PROMO

Men’s

1. Daniel Pattis (ITA). 00:44:31

2. Jürgen Lui (GER). 00:53:38

3. Jorge Álvarez (SPA). 00:54:14

Women’s

1. Sasa Torkar (SLO). 01:07:47

2. Lara Cordero (SPA). 01:08:28

3. Mar González (SPA). 01:08:36

CLASIFICACIÓN YOUTH 

Men’s

1. Mael Allaire (FRA). 00:46:40

2. Saúl Rodríguez (SPA). 00:51:47

3. Aarón Felipe (SPA). 00:53:23

Women’s

1. Noelia Santana (SPA). 01:28:35

CLASIFICACIÓN KV EL GIGANTE

Men’s

1. Chris Richards (GBR). 00:39:05

2. Ricardo Cherta (SPA). 00:41:33

3. Yoann Stuck (FRA). 00:42:48

Women’s

1. Gisela Carrión (SPA). 00:48:50

2. Georgia Tindley (GBR). 00:49:40

3. Mélina Clerc-Grosjean (FRA). 00:53:23 

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Lanzarote Multi-Day Training Camp 2022 – Day 3

Day 3 of the Lanzarote Multi-Day Training Camp kicked off with volcano hill reps. This session has been on the camp for 6-years and is always a favourite.

Leaving Club La Santa we pass through La Santa village and then arrive at Subida el Picacho for the hill reps. We recommend 6 loops, some do a little less, some do a little more. Ultimately, with the warm up and warm down, most get over 16km and 500 to 700m vert. A great session.

Of course, each loop has a downhill section that allows recovery time but also the possibility to practice downhill run technique on challenging terrain.

An extended break for lunch was followed with an 8-mile/ 12-km run/walk for an overnight bivouac. This session is done in a self-sufficient manner (with the exception of tents/ water which are transported) allowing each participant to test packs, sleeping bag, clothing and food.

Tents pitched, we had a fire and beautiful calm and warm night was relished by all as they tested dehydrated meals.

Eventually bed called…

During the night, the wind came in full force making for a sleepless night for all. With most participants using pop-up or cheap tents (for convenience) it proved for some comical experiences. Sorry Liz 😉

The morning was an hilarious mess of broken tents and tired bodies. Everyone somehow seeing the funny side of the experience.

With a new day, new challenges…

More to follow!

Want to join us in 2023? Info HERE

Image galleries HERE

Please support this website. I believe everyone deserves to read quality, independent and factual articles – that’s why this website is open to all. Free press has never been so vital. I hope I can keep providing independent articles with your help. Any contribution, however big or small, is so valuable to help finance regular content. Please support me on Patreon HERE.

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Lanzarote Multi-Day Training Camp 2022 – Day 2

It was day-2 of the Lanzarote Multi-Day Training Camp and the first full day. It started with a brilliant 23.5km/ 15-mile coastal run starting from Club La Santa and heading out along the coast passing through La Santa village, circumnavigating a volcano and then hugging a single-track all the way to Caserio de Tenezar before travelling around Teneza Peak and then re-tracing back to Club La Santa.

View images from the day HERE.

We had four groups with Pierre Meslet leading the fast group, Sondre Amdahl and Ian Corless leading groups 2 and 3 which combined running with walking and then Inge Nijkamp leading the walkers.

The trail offers stunning views and a mixture of technical trail, dirt roads, rocks and sand.

After lunch, Elisabet Barnes did a 2-hour talk on multi-day racing, self-sufficiency, planning and preparation.

With a long day almost done, at 1730 an easy 3-5km (3-miles) run concluded the day to loosen off the legs.

Please support this website. I believe everyone deserves to read quality, independent and factual articles – that’s why this website is open to all. Free press has never been so vital. I hope I can keep providing independent articles with your help. Any contribution, however big or small, is so valuable to help finance regular content. Please support me on Patreon HERE.

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Lanzarote Multi-Day Training Camp 2022 – Day 1

After missing the 2021 edition of the Lanzarote Multi-Day Training Camp due to the global pandemic, it was a wonderful day to welcome 32-clients at Club La Santa for the 2022 edition.

Needless to say, the last 6 to 8-weeks have been a trying time with no guarantee that travel would be possible. However, travel has happened and the blue skies of Lanzarote and glowing sun welcomed everyone.

Day 1 is all about relaxing after travel, making new friends and then a 1-hour run to settle any nerves before the camp really starts.

With just 1-hour of running, day-1 is an easy day to settle nerves. Starting at 1700hrs though, does allow everyone to experience the best light of the day as the sun slowly drops and disappears on the horizon.

With 4-coaches, all paces are accommodated, from walking all the way through to running. There is no pressure, there is a group for everyone and the initial 1-hour run allows everyone to access which group they will go in come the first full day which starts with a 15-mile coastal run.

A group briefing at 1900 was then followed with a dinner and gladly, the 2022 Lanzarote Multi-Day Training camp was underway…!

With two-times Marathon des Sables champion, Elisabet Barnes and top-10 finishers, Sondre Amdahl and Pierre Meslet, the clients of the 2022 camp have never been in better hands.

Now the anticipation for the first full day!

Interested on the 2023 camp? Go HERE

Please support this website. I believe everyone deserves to read quality, independent and factual articles – that’s why this website is open to all. Free press has never been so vital. I hope I can keep providing independent articles with your help. Any contribution, however big or small, is so valuable to help finance regular content. Please support me on Patreon HERE.

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12-WEEKS to a MULTI-DAY Adventure or RACE

It’s 12-weeks before you start a multi-day, be that a race or a personal challenge, one thing is for sure, NOW is the time to focus and fine-tune training to be at the start in the best shape possible.

First and foremost, have a complete understanding of the task ahead. This is key not only in the physical adaptations that are required, but also the mental adaptations. There is a huge difference in doing something supported and in doing something self-sufficient. Marathon des Sables a prime example, understand the nature of the event…

MDS is an extreme event that takes place in the Sahara. The nature of the event is self-management both physically and mentally to endure the challenge, survive and reach the finish line. The weather (heat) is one of those challenges and surviving the weather is integral to the nature of the event. As is the ‘self-sufficient’ nature. Other than rationed water and a bivouac, be prepared to endure and complete this event with no outside assistance. Of course, help is at hand, but that help is and should be a safety element that is required in emergency. Equally, if undertaking a solo multi-day experience, do the research, plan routes, look at back-up options, can you re-supply with food, is water available?

Plan and prepare.

TRAINING

We are all unique and individual. Some of us are faster, some are mentally tough, some have a capacity to go for hours and hours and even days and yes, some runners combine all those elements.

Therefore, a multi-day training plan must be used as a template and framework to provide a structure for you, the individual, to achieve your personal goals and targets.

Be sensible and adjust training plans so that they fit your ability, goals, aspirations, training history and time available.

Think about when you place rest days, when you do long runs and when you work on hills and faster running. A training plan is like a jigsaw puzzle and managing the pieces and adding them together sensibly is how you make a successful and complete picture.

Any training plan is designed to progressively build strength, endurance, and confidence with gradual load increases. Rest is an important element of any training plan, so, rest with the same intensity that you train. Ultimately, you have decided to undertake this adventure, so, enjoy the process and make it fun.

Be specific. Make sure the training terrain, as much as possible, simulates your target event.

Always focus on the goal. Training plans for me start with the goal date and I then count back in time to a start point. That start point for you may well be before the 12-weeks but once you start the plan, focus on the target, and always make every session is as specific to the goal as possible.

For example, if participating in Marathon des Sables, you already know some key and important information:

  1. It will be hot.
  2. You will need to deal with hard and rocky plateaus, but you will also need to deal
    with soft sand and dunes.
  3. You will be on rationed food/ calories.
  4. You will only be supplied water to drink, and this is *rationed. In extreme weather such as the October 2021 edition, water rations were increased.
  5. Everything (not the tent) will be carried in a pack, on day 1 this will be at a minimum weight of *8kg. (*Minimum pack weight is 6.5kg but you must carry 1.5 liters of water which equates to 1.5kg.)
  6. You will sleep in an open tent, on the floor using a mat and sleeping bag.
  7. The long day comes on day 4 after approximately 90-100km of running, so, you
    need to be able to run for consecutive days and manage your pace and effort.
  8. The long day is (typically) between 70 and 90km and you have one full day, one night and most of the next day to complete it.
  9. After the ‘rest day’ is a marathon.
  10. You can complete the race by covering just 3km’s per hour.
  11. In 2019, the MDS was won by Rachid El Morabity and Ragna Debats in 18:31:24 and 22:33:36 respectively. The last runner was Ka Chun Chan from China in 69:29:16. For perspective, Rachid could have run the race nearly four times in 69:29! We are all individual.
     

Key elements each runner needs for a multi-day like MDS.

  1. You need to be mentally tough.
  2. Physically strong to endure multiple days of back-to-back exercise.
  3. Strong enough to carry a loaded pack and still move at a good pace.
  4. Adapted to function on restricted calories and food choices.
  5. Able to drink only water.
  6. Adapted to perform and function in heat.
  7. You need to be able to walk.
  8. You need to be able to handle un-planned situations.
  9. Have A, B and C goals.
  10. Be self-sufficient.

Multi-day racing and multi-day adventures are unique and particularly self-sufficient ones when you must carry all you need for the duration of the event. In a race, you will carry clothing, sleeping bag, sleeping mat, essential items and food for the duration of the event. At MDS minimum weight is 6.5kg plus water. Just as you prepare physically and mentally, also be meticulous with equipment and food preparation. You ideally need your pack to be 6.5kg and no more… Additional weight is additional stress.

If fastpacking, you may possibly be as above, but you will need to carry your own tent and you will need to re-supply with water en-route either using natural water supplies or utilizing retail outlets.

Be specific and understand the demands of the event you are undertaking and plan accordingly.
 

WHAT SHOULD A TRAINING PLAN LOOK LIKE?

All plans need to be progressive and geared towards the end goal of a multi- day like Marathon des Sables or a fast-packing adventure.

Remember, we are all individual, so while a generic plan may provide a guide and structure from which to work from, it’s important to adapt and tweak to individual needs. For example, the training plan for someone who is trying to be top 100 at a race will vary greatly to someone who hopes to complete and not compete.

Each week will typically have one or two rest days.

A simple strength training structure that can be done at home or in a gym.

Hill sessions and speed sessions (tempo/ intervals/ fartlek) have a place in any training plan, but the quantity and duration will depend on what type of runner you are and what your aspirations are.

Long sessions are essential and most certainly, an element of back-to-back sessions will help adapt the mind and body for the challenge ahead. However, injury risk goes up with any block like this, so, it needs to be placed carefully with adequate rest and recovery.

Learn to walk. There is a huge difference walking with purpose and pace to ‘just’ walking. Except for the top runners, walking is an integral element to a successful completion of a multi-day race or adventure. Many only realise during the event. Get walking dialed in training.

Do some specific work with a pack and weight BUT be careful as it is easy to get injured.

Think of training as blocks of 4-weeks, build for 3-weeks and then rest/ take it easier on the 4th. An example could be as below.

The final phase of a training plan should taper to allow you to be strong and fresh when the start comes, typically this 2 or 3-weeks long. This a perfect time to add specific race adaptations such as heat training, preparing for humidity, preparing for a cold environment and of course fine-tuning equipment and packing.

CONCLUSION

Multi-day racing is exciting and adds many more elements to think about than ‘just’ running. Taking time to plan training and work to a goal is worthwhile and of course, any 12-week plan would assume that you already well training and adapted so that you can start a specific phase like this. If not, your training plan may need to be 24-weeks or even longer.

Further reading:

  • MDS 2021 Summary HERE
    The Ultimate Guide to Desert Multi-Day HERE
  • Fuelling for a Multi-Day HERE
  • How to find your Running Shoe size and fit HERE
  • Sleeping Bag for an Adventure HERE
    Ten Top Tips for Multi-Day HERE
  • Top Tips to better Multi-Day Running HERE
  • Multi-Day Running in a Rainforest HERE
  • Fastpacking – A Guide HERE
  • Fastpacking Light – HERE
  • Fastpacking and Camping in Winter HERE
  • Fastpacking in Nepal HERE
  • Poles for Running and Walking HERE


Recommended Races:

  • Marathon des Sables, Morocco (self-sufficient)
  • The Coastal Challenge, Costa Rica (supported)
  • Everest Trail Race, Nepal (semi self-sufficient)

Please support this website. I believe everyone deserves to read quality, independent and factual articles – that’s why this website is open to all. Free press has never been so vital. I hope I can keep providing independent articles with your help. Any contribution, however big or small, is so valuable to help finance regular content. Please support me on Patreon HERE.

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Episode 221 – Speedgoat Karl Meltzer

Episode 221 of Talk Ultra is with Speedgoat Karl who recently won his 45th 100-mile race and maintained a 20-year streak of winning at lest one 100-mile race every year!

NEWS

Check FKT website for latest updates HERE

Hypothermia – Be Prepared HERE

Mandatory Kit HERE

LATEST REVIEWS

inov-8 Trailfly Ultra G300 Max Review HERE

VJ Sport ULTRA shoe review HERE

La Sportiva CYKLON shoe review HERE 

INSTINCT XX20L Pack review HERE

Asics Winter Shoe Review HERE

The BEST and WORST shoes of 2021 HERE

Julien Chorier at MDS

NEED A TRAINING PLAN?

12 – 24 Week Multi-Day Training Plans now available HERE

100-Mile Training Plan now available HERE

Pyrenees Stage Run

Read about the Pyrenees Stage Run HERE – Entries are now open for the 2022 edition, go to HERE

adidas Tech Pro

adidas Terrex Agravic Tech Pro Review HERE

See who is joining The Coastal Challenge 2022 HERE

Listen to Episode 221 below:

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Marathon des Sables 2021 #MDS – GALLERY SLIDESHOW

The 35th edition of the MARATHON DES SABLES will go down in the history of the race as one of, if not the toughest edition.

Due to the Covid pandemic, the April 2020 edition was postponed three times to finally take place in October 2021.

Heat and conditions in October for the Sahara and Morocco are usually very similar to April, however, this year, the race had intense heat from beginning to end. Add to the mix sickness, and only 50% of the race completed the 250km journey. Rachid El Morabity won his 8th edition and Aziza Raji her 1st. A final race day summary is here.

Enjoy this highlight gallery of the race.

All images are © protected and must not be copied, saved or shared. If required, you can can view purchase options both in high-resolution and web resolution.

Images are available to purchase HERE.

Please support this website. I believe everyone deserves to read quality, independent and factual articles – that’s why this website is open to all. Free press has never been so vital. I hope I can keep providing independent articles with your help. Any contribution, however big or small, is so valuable to help finance regular content. Please support me on Patreon HERE.

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Marathon des Sables 2021 #MDS – Stage 4 (The Long Day)

The long day. The description and course distance for the toughest day of Marathon des Sables had been ket secret until the end of day-3. This in itself mentally challenged each and every runner. It played with the mind and of course, many asked questions of what the day would entail. In the end, the distance was a classic 82.5km with the unique challenge of climbing Jebel El Oftal during the night, except for the top and fast runners.

The mood of day 4 was mixed, there are two starts, the masses departing at 0815, the top-50 departing later at 1115.

Unfortunately, the devastation of heat and sickness and once again took its toll during day 3, during the night and in the morning of day 4. The exact drop out rate to be confirmed but certainly, statistics are showing that it is highly likely that less than 50% of the field will finish the 35th edition of this iconic race.

The illness and sickness has not only impacted on runners but also staff, logistical and medical teams making the race, at times, almost feel like a war zone.

However, the race goes on and with it, for some, a very well and hard earned medal at the finish.

Stage 4.

With over 20km’s of soft sand and dunes, the climb and descent of Jebel El Oftal, intense heat and balancing hydration and sickness, stage 4 of MDS was never going to be easy for anyone. This became apparent early on with many struggling to reach CP1.

The plan for most was to keep control and reduce stress during the day and then make the most of the cool night to gain time and ground.

Few were running. It was all about marching, one foot ahead of the other and survive.

Of course, the elite wave was slightly different with the top men and women still setting a relentless and excellent pace.

Aziza Raji for the women showed local knowledge and an understanding of the heat, the terrain and the race to excel on the 82.5km stage and take a convincing win. Aichi Omrani had showed great intention on day-1 of the race but has learnt as the race progressed that sometime less, is more. This was the case for the long day. She paced herself with Aziza but then settled at her own speed to maintain  a 6th place finish but her overall podium standing remaining 2nd. Race revelation, Tomomi Bitoh from Japan has run consistently well all race and on the long day she excelled finishing 3rd, always with an amazing smile and happiness. Severine Gaillez started in the early race start but set a great place to finish 2nd on the stage.

For the men, the expected challenge from French duo Mathieu Blanchard and Mérile Robert started well but sickness ruined Mathieu’s chances and while Mérile tagged Rachid El Morabity for a good percentage of the race, in the end, the Moroccan’s dominance and experience was just too great. Rachid took over the reigns at the front and ran a superb race.

Mohamed El Morabity once again finished 2nd behind his brother and Mériile finished 3rd.

Now the runners are fighting through another day for a coveted long day finish and the opportunity to tow the line of stage 5 and receive a 2021 35th edition medal from Patrick Bauer. The allocated time is 32-hours to complete stage 4’s 82.5km.

The elation of crossing the line is a special one.

Day 4 results (provisional):

  • Rachid El Morabity 8:46:16
  • Mohamed El Morabity 9:00:25
  • Mérile Robert 9:44:26

  • Aziza Raji 12:22:26
  • Severine Gaillez 14:45:57
  • Tomomi Bitoh 15:17:50

Please support this website. I believe everyone deserves to read quality, independent and factual articles – that’s why this website is open to all. Free press has never been so vital. I hope I can keep providing independent articles with your help. Any contribution, however big or small, is so valuable to help finance regular content. Please support me on Patreon HERE.

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adidas INFINITE TRAILS 2021 Summary

Three runners. Three loops. One Team. The concept of the adidas Infinite Trails is a bold one. Take three run routes of varying distance, take three runners, each running their own loop varying in distance from 15km to 40km. Quite simply, add the three individual finishing times together to see who the fastest team can be.

Now in its third edition, 2018 being the first followed by a hugely successful 2019 edition that elevated the event to a whole new level. As such, 2020 was hugely anticipated edition rolling on from the growth of 2019, unfortunately, a certain pandemic changed those plans.

Working within very specific parameters, the 2021 edition had less runners, new loops for the relay race of 20, 30 and 40km, a new solo 65km/15km race and a smaller athlete village. It would be easy to think that the 2021 version would be disappointing… Not at all! Mike and Sonja of Planet Talk, with the help of a truly dedicated team, once again managed to pull off an event that sets the benchmark for all running events.

Incredible organization and planning are at the hub of adidas Infinite Trails and it’s why the event is a success. No stone is left unturned, every eventuality is looked at and planned for. It’s a dream event to run and work on. 

The weekend started with a very controlled registration process meeting COVID guidelines. Race briefing was done digitally, and one has to wonder if race briefings in the future will always be done this way? It’s time efficient and arguably more thorough.

The ‘Market Run’ started in the afternoon and with it, racers of all ages tackled shorter distances around Bad Hofgastein. Of course, the highlight was the children. It’s so special to see kids run and run fast with no thought of pace. 

Saturday was race day and this is where the format changed to previous editions. In 2019, runners ran the first loop only first and then passed the timing chip to their teammate on completion at the finish. The second runner would then go on their own loop of a new distance to repeat the process once again. The third loop would follow the same process and the conclusion at the start/finish area would provide a total accumulative time. 

For 2021, all loops started at the same time with the three team members lining up and then departing on their respective loops at 0700.  The 65km solo loop started 30 minutes earlier, the solo 15km starting at 0900. The format worked extremely well and provided a plethora of finishes starting firstly with the 15km loop and lastly with solo runners arriving at darkness for the 65km loop. 

Austria and Gastein is a playground for trail runners, the three loops providing a perfect showcase for the highlights of the area. Only the 65km loop provided a full 360 journey including the highlights of Gamskarkogel, Graukogel and Tischkogel.

Races within a race bring an exciting element to adidas Infinite Trails. There is individual accolade as each runner passes their own finish line, but it’s only at the end that three runners will know if they have won the event; the three individual times added together to bring one finish time. 

The adidas Terrex Team fielded a star-studded line up, even more impressive coming so soon after hard efforts at UTMB. As always, the #oneteam ethos was paramount and for those who would not race, they would crew and support the others. 

Importantly though, the 2021 edition was all about inclusion and participation, of course, there were individual and team winners, but importantly, there were no losers. The adidas Infinite Trails was full of achievement, happiness, and pride. It was good to all come together again, enjoy the trails, a great atmosphere, and all glory in a combined stunning weekend of running joy, very much the #oneteam ethos working for a whole community of likeminded people who wanted to celebrate the sport!

Bad Hofgastein provided a perfect hub for a weekend like this and the after party achieved a whole new level of awesomeness as it moved to the Alpentherme for water, music, drinks, and food. 

2021 may well have been a transition year for the adidas Infinite Trails, one thing is for sure though, we all received a resounding confirmation that the race is here to stay. Something this good should be a must for all. 

I said this in 2019, but I’d love to see other brands field teams to go head-to-head to see who the best with three runners over three loops can be. And you? Plan now, find two friends, create a team name and join us in Bad Hofgastein next year for the adidas Infinite Trails. Or if you fancy the full and immersive 360 journey, why not contemplate the 65km solo run, it’s a toughie, but very rewarding. 

Race website HERE

Please support this website. I believe everyone deserves to read quality, independent and factual articles – that’s why this website is open to all. Free press has never been so vital. I hope I can keep providing independent articles with your help. Any contribution, however big or small, is so valuable to help finance regular content. Please support me on Patreon HERE.

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Ultra Trail Snowdonia 2021 Summary #UTS

Josh Bakker-Dyos

Persistent rain, low cloud, poor visibility, mud, bogs, wet rocks, climbs and descents that made even the most adapted legs scream in pain, yes, that was Ultra Trail Snowdonia 2021.

Missing in 2020 due to the dreaded ‘C’ word, the UTS returned in 2021 to Capel Curig as part of the Ultra Trail World Tour and supported by Hoka One One to confirm the dream of Michael Jones of Apex Running – A big UTMB style weekend of racing in the heart of Wales.

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With distances of 50km, 100km and the whopping 165km, one word was touted pretty much everywhere all weekend, brutal! And it was… A savage weekend of racing but as Michael says, ‘beautifully beyond belief, savage beyond reason.’

Despite the rain, despite the lack of views, Wales was a stunning playground for trail running. Let’s be clear here, there is no ‘easy’ running at UTS. The 50km is a wonderfully challenging route that may well have surprised many with some of its technical challenges, particularly the climb from Ogwen up to Carnedd Dafydd, compensated for what could be then considered a ‘relatively’ easy run in to the finish via Lyn Cowlyd and Blaen-Y-Nant.

The 100km route followed the early miles of the UTS50 all the way to Pen-Y-Pass but then headed along the Miners’ Track for an extended loop to return via the Pyg Track heading off to Y Garn, a loop around Tryfan and then head up to Carnedd Dafydd via a different route to the 50km and then follow the same run in to the finish.

The 165km is well, just a monster! As expected, it created carnage amongst the competitors. It’s a relentless beasting of mind and body that passes through the whole of Snowdonia. The 100km and 50km routes all utilizing sections of this all-encompassing journey but only the 165km giving the full perspective of how beautiful and hard the Welsh mountains are. As with all races at UTS, it started and concluded in Capel Curig. Heading off to Blaenau Ffestiniog, Croesor it then picked up the 50km and 100km routes to Pen-Y-Pass. Nantmoor, Moel Hebdog, Llyn-y-Gadair and then after Yr Wyddfa it followed the Snowdon Ranger Path for an extended loop before returning via the Snowdon Massif and Pyg Track to Pen-y-Pass. From here, the 100km and 165km routes were identical all the way back to Capel Curig.

Tremayne Dill Cowdry summed it up:
“45 hours to do just over 100 miles and every minute of that was a hard slog.
Mountains, bog, wet rock, tough nav on a marked course, sleep deprivation, mist, rain and the terrain!! Very little was even runnable. I can’t imagine a 100 miler more difficult than that. Easily the hardest I’ve done and definitely the hardest in the UK. I was going ok although I would have happily dropped given the chance but my feet succumb to the permanent wet and I had to hobble the last 20-ish miles…

Stunning landscape

As with all races, someone has to cross the line first, and of course there was stunning performances all weekend. However, the real sense of achievement came firstly from toeing the line and being in with a chance of completing a journey. The second came from completing the journey. Every medal was hard earned.

Josh Bakker-Dyos

In the 165km event, Josh Bakker-Dyos lead from the start and while many expected him to blow up, so fast was his pace, he never did. He was relentless and consistent crossing the line in 28:51:43. It was easy to say, ‘he made it look easy!’ But for every other runner who crossed the 165km line, it was very clear, there was nothing easy on this route! Toby Hazelwood was less than 60-minutes behind in second, 29:45:17, another stunning run! Adam Jeffs rounded the podium with 34:09:54. Alice Sheldon and Becky Wightman were the only female finishers, 45:09:55 and 47:41:06 their hard-earned efforts stopping the clock – a brutal two nights and days out in the Welsh mountains. Only 32 completed the race.

Mark Darbyshire

The 100km route was won, but not dominated by Lakeland 100 champ, Mark Darbyshire ahead of Josh Wade and Jack Scott. Mark crossed in 14:25:47 with 14:33:36 going to second. It was 16:02:05 elapsed before the third crossed the line. Sarah Stavely (21:41:03) won the women’s race with Kajsa Holgersson and Julie Finn in second and third, 22:28:49 and 22:44:53.

Lauren Woodwiss

Harry Jones flew around the UTS 50 route and looked as strong at the finish as when he started, his 6:13:33 a stunning time. It was 6:56:54 elapsed before second place Will Simmons crossed ahead of Spencer Shaw in 7:14:53. Lauren Woodwiss, like Jones, lead from the start dictating an excellent pace over the 50km route and completed her journey in an excellent 7:54:18. Celia Waring placed second in 8:36:18 and Abelone Lyng from Norway, moved up from outside the top-10 women to eventually finish third in 8:43:16 after sprinting for the line ahead of Jenna Shail who was just 13-seconds behind.

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Abelone Lyng

As Capel Curig slowly returned to some normality on Sunday, it was easy to see that the UTS will become one of the ultimate trail running events not only in the UK but the world. It may not have all the glamour and glitz of Chamonix and the UTMB. It’s a much more grass roots event, some would say a ‘true’ trail running event. Ultimately though, Wales was the hero of the weekend offering stunning routes. This landscape combined with the vision of Michael Jones of Apex Running and a team of dedicated volunteers and supporters will make UTS a ‘one to do!’ However, if you are thinking about the 165 event? Think long hard and without doubt, train hard, it’s a beautifully brutal beast.

‘beautifully beyond belief, savage beyond reason.’

Please support this website. I believe everyone deserves to read quality, independent and factual articles – that’s why this website is open to all. Free press has never been so vital. I hope I can keep providing independent articles with your help. Any contribution, however big or small, is so valuable to help finance regular content. Please support me on Patreon HERE.

Follow on:

Instagram – @iancorlessphotography

Twitter – @talkultra

facebook.com/iancorlessphotography

Web – www.iancorless.com

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