Mike Wardian #FKTIsrael 2019 – Day Ten (Part One)

Sleeping on the floor of a run store has never felt so good. The shower before sleeping on the run floor would normally have been even better… But when you are working 18-20 hours a day, sleeping gets the nod and Mike agreed.

Day 9 had been tough, but Mike finished with pace. The short drive from his finish point to our impromptu sleep station was worth the short drive in comparison to crawling in to tents for a potentially chilly night. 

We discussed the day over a late dinner, and it was decided that there was no real point to give Mike an early start when a good sleep would potentially set him upon for what was going to be a long day, night and another long day to get the FKT done.

Our calculations confirmed that Mike had somewhere between 170 – 190km to cover, to achieve that in 24-hours after the previous 9-days was an impossible ask, so, we all were well aware that the new FKT would be 10-days, ‘x’ hours and ‘x’ minutes. Whatever the finishing time is, this record will stand for some time. The Israel National Trail is a brute and what Mike has achieved and will achieve is off the scale.

So, we awoke at 0645, had breakfast and the departed for the start.

Mike wasn’t feeling it. He looked and felt jaded and yes, emotional. I have experienced this journey with him with the rest of the team. Have seen the high and low points and therefore know better than anyone the undertaking. But I still cannot fully comprehend the depths that Mike has gone to, to achieve this FKT. For sure, it is going to take Mike some considerable processing time in the days and weeks that follow.

To clarify, he has been to a place that he has never been before.

The route today was another green tunnel day with much climbing, some paved roads and early on, passing through congested streets. The Israel National Trail is so diverse. Nazareth and Galilee key names on the days agenda.

At 0814 day-10 got underway. Mike had no pacers and he was glad of the time to reflect and be alone. I joined him multiple times over the first 4-hours running with him, taking photos and encouraging him.

He laughed and complained about his pathetic 4-mile per hour pace. “Dude, this sport is so funny. One minute you feel like you are being stabbed in the heart 50 times and then moments later, you can feel great. I love the depths this sport can take you!”

Route marking was a real issue, and unfortunately this did not help Mike’s mood. The early parts of the day were a struggle and it was so hard to see Mike fight the demons. But this is the sport and Mike knows it, “Quitting is not an option!” Mike said.

Climbing to Mt Tabor, finally things seemed to become a little better and at the summit at 1344 three pacers joined the journey. Finally, Mike would have some constant company.

1438 and Gazit Junction provided a major refuel point and the four pushed on. There were one or two navigation errors, but the mood started to lift, and Mike was beginning to feel better.

At Yardenit (1930) I treated Mike to 4 large fries from McDonalds and Erez prepared race and avocado burritos. Now an ‘elite’ pace team was ready for the darkness and Mike said, “Now the temperatures are cooler, I feel good!”

They left and the pace lifted. Tiberias came at 2108 and make was pacing the pacers. They all commented on how fast he was moving!

At 2223, the team arrived at Arbel, the entrance to the National Park.

National Park rules say that you are not allowed to be in them during darkness, so, to abide by the rules, an impromptu camp was arranged, and Mike will depart at first light with pacers.

Friday is a new day, with 100km to go, who knows what the new FKT will be? One thing is for sure, it will be 10-days, ‘x’ hours and ‘x’ minutes – that for me is remarkable.

More to come… GO MIKE!

Follow #fktisrael

#thenegevfriendlydesert
#running-vacation
#canaanrunning
#trailrunning

#goarava #arava_way

Friendly Negev Desert

Follow on:

Instagram – @iancorlessphotography

Twitter – @talkultra

facebook.com/iancorlessphotography

Web – www.iancorless.com

Web – www.iancorlessphotography.com

Image sales –www.iancorless.photoshelter.com

 

 

 

Mike Wardian #FKTIsrael 2019 – Day Nine

Finishing before 10pm, having a warm shower, a good dinner and a sleep in a real bed can work wonders… It did! After a difficult day-8, Mike needed everything to click into place over the night to make day-9 manageable.

At breakfast, he confirmed it was the best night’s sleep for a long time and definitely the best night during the FKT.

It was a short drive to Aqueduct Beach where the previous day’s endeavors had finished (at 12km’s per hour!) Mike got rolling at 0722 with a pacer and along the way he picked up and lost pacers for the duration of his run.

Let’s be clear here, the Israeli run community are rallying around this FKT in a way that has never been seen before in this country. There is a buzz, an excitement going around. In one way or another, people want to be involved in history being made. I get it! In years to come, when stories are told about the crazy American guy who ran from the south to the north in ‘x’ days, they will be able to say, ‘I was there!’

Day 9 for me will be remembered as the ‘Green Tunnel’ day. Miles and miles of green provided a backdrop to the challenges the Mike and the pacers faced. Dense and overgrown sections of forest that had hidden markers and narrow path less than a body width. In the first two thirds, it was climbs, descents, mud and technical sections. It was no easy day!

As the day passed and the miles clicked by. It was clear to see that Mike was finding the heat and the endless terrain difficulty a challenge. I think it was frustration more than anything. Miles were meant to pass quickly today, be finished as early as possible and then rest and recover for the huge final push to get the FKT done. But the terrain was not playing ball. It was slowing Mike to a pace that could only lengthen the day and reduce recovery time. Zichron at 0923, then Offer 1150, Meaeot Creek at 1355 and then at 1600.

This last technical climb and descent coming at 1600 would finally see a gradual end to the days tough terrain and change to more runnable trail.

Mike was consuming many calories all day, he is really feeling the impact now of all the time and distance. He basically cannot eat enough to compensate for the losses. Sandwiches, Pringles, bars, the occasional gel, bread, avocado, egg, omelets – to be honest, providing it was vegan, he would pretty much eat it.

All the time, despite his fatigue, despite his aches, pains and despite his frustrations, Mike never lost his cool. He was composed, constantly chatting with his pacers and always giving thanks.

When he arrived at Isfiya at 1805, there was a change in him. The runnable terrain had woken the competitive edge inside him and the ability to run excited him. He was now clicking of the km’s. Yagur came at 1900 and with approximately 15km to go, a 10pm finish was on the cards. 

For the final sections of the days trail, he had an entourage of runners, all keen to embrace an opportunity to say, ‘I was there!’ They left the final checkpoint at 2125, the final km’s of the day would soon pass and before long, Mike would be showering, eating and preparing to sleep.

As day-9 concludes. All eyes turn to day-10. We urge you all, come and find a moment, be it on Thursday or Friday, to run with, cheer, clap, smile or basically send a message to Mike to encourage him to his goal.

I have seen the depths Mike has gone to, to make history.  

I have seen the pain, witnessed the smiles and the agony. I have captured the moments from morning to night in images and in the future, when someone says,

‘Do you remember that crazy American who ran from the south to the north of Israel in ‘x’ days?”

I will be able to reply, “I was there!”

#iwasthere

Follow #fktisrael

#thenegevfriendlydesert
#running-vacation
#canaanrunning
#trailrunning

#goarava #arava_way

Friendly Negev Desert

Follow on:

Instagram – @iancorlessphotography

Twitter – @talkultra

facebook.com/iancorlessphotography

Web – www.iancorless.com

Web – www.iancorlessphotography.com

Image sales –www.iancorless.photoshelter.com

Mike Wardian #FKTIsrael 2019 – Day Eight

It may have been 1100pm, but Pizza is what Mike craved and Pizza was our mission. Thank goodness for Google maps and the opportunity to find out what options are available close by. Of course, finding a vegan Pizza does makes things a little harder but we did it.

Mike was in his tent when we arrived at our stop camp, cozy tents all in a line and Erez at his 4×4 with a spread of food laid out. Pasta, salad, pancakes and more options. This is life on the road and working on an FKT.

A shower would have been nice, the last one was 3-days ago. But hey, we all smell as bad as each other. Day-7 had been a good day and we all went to sleep as soon as possible. I have to be honest, I was the first to climb in my sleeping bag, I was wasted!

Morning and our 5:45 alarm soon came. Breakfast was laid out for us, once again Erez excelling at camp life and life on the road. Without a doubt, Mike is feeling his runs now. It takes him a little longer to prepare in the morning. It’s understandable, very few people are able to do just 1-day of this FKT let alone string 10 of them together.

At 0725 the day started with several pacers, one in particular, Refael, had aced Mike in the desert and he was back for more.

The transition from the desert today achieved a new level, the arrival of Tel Aviv mixed city and trail together. This is what is so wonderful about the Israel National Trail, it is the variety that a runner or trekker can experience while travelling the length of the country.

 Channel 5 News also joined us on the route today and did an impromptu interview midway through the run.

Green vegetation moved over for paths and roads. Trees were replaced by buildings and then the beach and the sea arrived. Today was truly a pot pourri of visual experiences that contrasted against the first 5-days of this FKT wonderfully.

Mike was joined by runners all day, at times, 20-people were with him. It was wonderful to see Mike chat, laugh and share the journey with so many. The miles clicked along despite muddy conditions early in the day. The sun came and at times it felt much hotter than the 25 degrees displayed on our watches. Mike is attentive to the heat and when possible, we supply ice to cool him.

 He arrived at Tell Afek at 08:25, Tel Aviv beach 12:18, Hertzella Siri Beach 13:22 and then the wheels came off… At Poleg Beach (16:47) disaster almost struck. Mike was freezing cold as the wind whipped in off the sea. Wrapped in blankets, he could not get warm. Adding layers including two jackets and woolly hat also didn’t seem to help. He finally decided to move and left at a slow pace looking more like a polar explorer that a runner departing to set an FKT record.

 Moving slowly with Refael by his side, he finally raised his core temperature and like Lazarus, he rose once again to start back jogging and then running.

The duo arrived at Bet Yani 19:20, picked up more pacers and then pushed on to Give Olga arriving 20:50.

The final push of 12km to Aqueduct Beach in Caesura would round out 105km for the day – he finished before 10pm. 

Job done!

Day-9 tomorrow and the plan will be to cover, once again, approximately 100km. It’s all about management now and getting Mike ready for the final day-10 push when it looks like he will travel approximately 100-miles.

I have witnessed many great runs and many great runners in my time as photo/ journalist. Mike on this FKT has continually blown my mind.

Follow #fktisrael

#thenegevfriendlydesert
#running-vacation
#canaanrunning
#trailrunning

#goarava #arava_way

Friendly Negev Desert

Follow on:

Instagram – @iancorlessphotography

Twitter – @talkultra

facebook.com/iancorlessphotography

Web – www.iancorless.com

Web – www.iancorlessphotography.com

Image sales –www.iancorless.photoshelter.com

Mike Wardian #FKTIsrael 2019 – Day Seven

If you read my day-6 report, you will remember I said:

“Now the delicate balance of when to carry on and when not to carry on must be considered. To continue covers miles and leaves less distance for the overall target, but it also means less rest. Not enough rest and the pace the following day may well drop substantially.”

“Ask yourself, what would you do?”

“It’s a tough call.”

Well, at 10pm on day-6, Yarom (who had run with Mike all day) and Mike decided to push on for another 12km. It was a touch and go call, but the duo said they felt good and therefore we all agreed to allow a final push and get 120+km.

Turned out, that 12km was a really tough challenge. The trail was overgrown, route markers were hidden and the two of them got lost. They eventually finished 30-minutes past midnight, and they looked broken.

Had we snapped the elastic? 

Mike said he felt nauseous. We wrapped him in a jacket and immediately departed for Yoram’s house – he had kindly offered a bed for Mike and the floor for me, Zoli end Eres. 

Mike showered and ate. We were all asleep by 2am having agreed on a 7am wake-up and Mike starting the day at 0830! 

Running an FKT is a balancing act and in retrospect, the additional 12km on day-6 was a mistake. It would have been better to stop on a good note. Have a good sleep and start the next day with the sun. 

Lesson learnt!

I have to say, I was worried waking at 5am. Mike was the first to rise and when I asked him, ‘How are you?’

His reply, ‘I feel awesome man, so good!’ 

I keep saying this, but he really is a freak of nature.

At 0829 he was on the trail with a pacer and if day-7 will be remembered for anything, it will all be about the Israeli run community. They came out in force to join Mike on the trails and look after him.

He was accompanied throughout the day, at times it looking like a scene from Forest Gump. Mike loved the company and relished the opportunity to switch off and let others find the trail markers. It was a huge boost. It was also a notable day for passing through the Jerusalem mountains and gently touching the outer edges of the city. The sun shone, it was a hot day and it everyone was relishing the #fktisrael

Day 7 times:

  • 8:28 Atziona
  • Tzur Hadasa 10:30
  • Jerusalem 1247
  • Sataf 14:45
  • Mesilat Tzion 17:05
  • Latrun 18:22

A marathon was soon covered. Then 50km. At 61km Mike was still saying how good his legs were and at 73km darkness came and for the first time in the day he was alone on the trail.

 

Zoli and I were a little worried to leave him out there alone, so we tracked him closely and then 45-minutes later, at a trail head, he was met by two runners who agreed to pace Mike to the end of his day. At 9:15pm, he had covered 89km at ‘Mitzpe Modiin’ and then he departed for a final leg to close out the day at 100km.

In regard to planning and daily distances, after day-6, lessons have been learnt and as a team we are going to ensure Mike gets adequate rest. Therefore, we are more flexible on the distance covered per day, but equally, we will also be more flexible on the following day start time.

Mark my words, from Thursday morning, Mike will be in for one big push to achieve the FKT in 10-days and ‘x’ hours and minutes.

I have never seen anyone so mentally strong and committed to the challenge. 

One thing is for sure, Mike will need all the help he can get for that big final push – we know the Israeli run community will come out and help.           

Follow #fktisrael

#thenegevfriendlydesert
#running-vacation
#canaanrunning
#trailrunning

#goarava #arava_way

Friendly Negev Desert

Follow on:

Instagram – @iancorlessphotography

Twitter – @talkultra

facebook.com/iancorlessphotography

Web – www.iancorless.com

Web – www.iancorlessphotography.com

Image sales –www.iancorless.photoshelter.com

Mike Wardian #FKTIsrael 2019 – Day Six

The rain, mist and cold of yesterday did not disappear! To say we were disappointed is an underestimation. But Mike smiled regardless. “I slept so well, I feel fresh and I am ready to go!”

How does he do it?

Last night we were hosted by a family and we need to give a huge thanks to David and Mira for a wonderful meal, warm shower and a bed for the night, this gesture personifies our experience on our Israel National Trail adventure. We have received such warm support throughout our journey, it really is a great feeling.

Mike departed for a big day at 0629 with two pacers, Uri and Yarom, the latter would run the whole stage with Mike. A huge challenge and one that Mike really appreciated.

For the first 30km or so, conditions were a challenge. Intermittent rain, cold temperatures and grey mist made it feel very much like the UK. The red and warmth of the desert was soon a distant memory. Now trees, green and lots of mud would accompany the runners for day 6.

From 30km, Mike and Yarom pushed on alone and the duo were setting a solid pace. Zoli and myself wondered if it were not a little too fast? But the duo confirmed all was good.

The grey slowly disappeared, and patches of blue penetrated the grey mass above us. Slowly but surely the balance of the sky started to change and white was replaced with blue, the warmth of the sun a welcome return.

As in all previous days, food is an important element of a successful FKT run and Mike is pushing noodles, sandwiches and soup to a whole new level! Ice cream even made an appearance.

Today felt very different to the first 5-days. Not only because of the terrain but mostly due to the amount of support Mike received. Throughout the day runners joined him. At no point was he left alone. The boost this makes is remarkable, it allows Mike to ‘just’ run with the pressure of navigation taken on by a pacer.

From 50km. Mike picked up 3 additional runners, one of them ‘Yair’ aged 74yrs! He clicked off the miles with Mike and Yarom and made it look effortless. Yair finally left the duo to it and was replaced by 4 runners who had travelled from Jerusalem to run with Mike over the latter stages of the day in support #fktisrael – this FKT is becoming a ‘thing!’

For the support team. The previous days rain had caused endless problems making getting around the course extremely difficult. Standing water made certain sections of the trail difficult to pass and finally, Zoli and myself had to make a detour to miss a river crossing. It was a tricky time causing us to miss a checkpoint to provide support for Mike. We did the best we could to minimize the damage but of course, all the time, we were stressed that we were leaving Mike without the valuable support he needed.

Darkness soon came and Mike pushed on through the mud with the support of 5 runners, including Yarom. At ‘Beit Govrim’ he had completed 98km by 8pm. He took a longer break, changed socks, ate soup, noodles and multitude of other items and then left for another 12km.

Before 10pm, 110km had been completed in 15.5 hours. 

Now the delicate balance of when to carry on and when not to carry on must be considered. To continue covers miles and leaves less distance for the overall target, but it also means less rest. Not enough rest and the pace the following day may well drop substantially. 

Ask yourself, what would you do?

It’s a tough call.

Weighing up the pros and cons, it was decided that Mike would push on at 10pm from ‘Mitzpe Mesua’ for another 12km making for a daily total of 122km. Yes folks, 122km!

Think about it.

I have been saying all along that Mike is a machine, to be honest, I cannot find the words to express what Mike is achieving here in Israel.

Go Mike!

Follow #fktisrael

#thenegevfriendlydesert
#running-vacation
#canaanrunning
#trailrunning

#goarava #arava_way

Friendly Negev Desert

Follow on:

Instagram – @iancorlessphotography

Twitter – @talkultra

facebook.com/iancorlessphotography

Web – www.iancorless.com

Web – www.iancorlessphotography.com

Image sales –www.iancorless.photoshelter.com

 

Mike Wardian #FKTIsrael 2019 – Day Five

We camped about 2-minutes from Mike’s day 4 finish. Several 4×4’s, small tents, a roaring fire, a BBQ, a few beers and the stars shining in the sky. What a way to end a tough and long day! It was 2130 when Mike finally came off the trail and nobody was asleep until 2330. That allows for approximately 5-hours sleep.

Running a ‘FKT’ is no easy task. The days are 24/7 and nobody switches off. Mike says he falls asleep with visions pf the ‘INT’ marker before his eyes.

Day 5 morning was cloudy, cold and windy. We were aware of some bad weather that would hit us during the day, and we were also aware of flash flood warnings, so, it was important for all of us to be alert.

 

Despite a tough day 4, Mike was on the trail just after 6am and was clicking off the miles. It was his last day in the desert and although there were some difficult sections to slow him down, it was nothing like what the first 4-days had thrown at him.

Word on the trail is getting out and now Mike is being met by more-and-more runners who are specifically coming out to cheer him on or run with him for a short while. We expect this to increase and increase over the latter five days as we move north and into more populated areas.

 Today, the weather was the challenge. Constant gusting wind and very heavy rain showers. One shower in particular drenched Mike to the bone and he was pretty cold for a while. He eventually warmed up.

Despite the challenge, the conditions and the sleep deprivation, Mike is always positive. His determination and commitment blows my mind. His inner belief and strength are truly astonishing and confirms that only a select handful of people are capable of running such an epic challenge.

Having multiple pacers has helped Mike relax and switch off from worrying about finding the trail markers. It’s a huge relief for him.

As the hours passed throughout the day, so did the miles. Mike is like a machine. The only rest comes at our planned aid stops and here he rarely sits. Standing is preferable and today, his diet needs have changed. Hot soup, noodles and sandwiches have been a preference. I think the cold has impacted but also the previous 4-days. His body is now craving calories and he must keep putting them inside him.

Darkness soon came and Mike pushed into the night from ‘Arad’ with Chanan and David to ‘Del Arad’ (an ancient city within a national park). The rain poured down at times, the wind gusted and buffeted, and I thought aloud, “I do not know how he does this!

Del Arad marked 91km’s for the day.

Day 6 will mark a new chapter of the #FKTIsrael – we have now left the desert and move to new experiences and new scenery.

Running an FKT is all about management and efficiency. You need to tick off the miles, but you also need to rest, recover and look after yourself. The whole team is constantly making ‘on the go’ decisions to help Mike achieve his goal and also to protect Mike… When you have been running for 12, 14 or 16 hours, the runner is not always the best person to make a decision. Mike is very self-aware and understands the requirements he must place on himself to achieve his desired FKT. Day 5 or 6 are not the days to push over the edge, as a team, decisions will be made on day 7 on what is needed over the final couple of days. Mike is prepared for that and quite simply it may well come down to one or two very long days and then a big rest. As Mike says, ‘I can push because when it is done, it’s done!’

Mike has an incredibly positive mindset. The saying that ultra-running is 90% in the mind and 10% in the head is very true, especially on an FKT like this. But Mike’s physical ability and powers of recovery is blowing the minds of the whole crew supporting him.

Go Mike!

Follow #fktisrael

#thenegevfriendlydesert
#running-vacation
#canaanrunning
#trailrunning

#goarava #arava_way

Friendly Negev Desert

Follow on:

Instagram – @iancorlessphotography

Twitter – @talkultra

facebook.com/iancorlessphotography

Web – www.iancorless.com

Web – www.iancorlessphotography.com

Image sales –www.iancorless.photoshelter.com

 

Mike Wardian #FKTIsrael 2019 – Day Three

Mike had a sleepless night. He woke often and found the need to stretch his legs, surf on his phone and hope that the morning would come quickly. I am convinced that he is a freak of nature? The rest of the crew were desperate for sleep, slept like babies and didn’t wake up – especially at the 0430 alarm.

The winds came in last night and sand was blowing everywhere. We were expecting a really tough day and yes, rain was possible.  

At 0620 Mike was moving and early on he said he was, ‘feeling great!’

 With 10km covered, the fog like sand disappeared and the sun started to burst through the clouds and then disappear. It would remain that way all day. The wind however persisted, at times this was a blessing keeping Mike cool. At other times it was a pain as it made running difficult and, on the ridges, potentially dangerous.

The stage was stunner, with incredible terrain and majestic views. Trust me folks, this is one of the most remarkable deserts I have visited. It is a spectacular wonder of surprises.

Early on, the region of En Rahel provided a stunning backdrop as Mike climbed and the sky cleared with bursts of sunlight. Later Har Yahav was spectacular providing a stunning climb, exposed ridges and wonderful descent to the riverbed. Har Sharonim was void of sunlight but no less spectacular and then later in the day, as darkness started to approach, the climb from the Ramon River, up to the ‘The Green Backpackers’ and then Mitspe Ramon was a great way to almost bring a day to a close.

 Mispe Ramon towards Mahmal Fort brought a conclusion to the day at  1900 hours. Mike, as the previous day, was robot like. He maintained a consistent pace. At no point did he say he was tired, on the contrary, at all times, he said, ‘I feel so good!’

He clicked the miles off, and go the day done!

Despite the early morning predictions of bad weather, the day was a good one. Cooler than the previous days and intermittent sun, but this all helped Mike. It was a tough day for crewing as access is limited and the easiest way to capture images was to run along on key sections.

There were little changes to Mike’s nutrition today. He seems to have found a strategy that works for him, but a huge salad sandwich was a welcome kick late in the afternoon. Another change came with Pitta filled with Pringles – have to say, they are good!

As with all the day’s, anything of this length requires a long-term view and recovery is key. Mike has the most amazing powers of recovery – he defies logic. There is still a long way to go, but Mike is getting the job done and he is getting amazing support from the run community, not only in Israel, but worldwide. That really boosts him, so, keep that support coming!

Follow #fktisrael

#thenegevfriendlydesert
#running-vacation
#canaanrunning
#trailrunning

#goarava #arava_way

Friendly Negev Desert

Follow on:

Instagram – @iancorlessphotography

Twitter – @talkultra

facebook.com/iancorlessphotography

Web – www.iancorless.com

Web – www.iancorlessphotography.com

Image sales –www.iancorless.photoshelter.com

Mike Wardian #FKTIsrael 2019 – Day One

One year of planning finally came to fruition today, when US based ultra-runner, Michael Wardian departed Eilat at 0546 to head north covering a total of 631-mile on the Israel National Trail in a target goal of 10-days. 

It’s a huge undertaking and the man who came up with this idea, Zoli Bihari of Canaan Running Adventures knows only too well. He did a similar route over 3-years ago, it took him 23-days.

Michael is a legend in the ultra-running world and his reputation precedes his prolific achievements and his desire to run. Just recently he won the World Marathon Majors, running 7-marathons on 7-Continents. He then added 3 additional marathons so that he could set a world-record for the fastest average time for 10-marathons in 10-days.

Never one to refuse an adventure, Michael and Zoli met at the 2018 The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica. The duo chatted and the idea for #fktisrael was created.

It is normal for trekkers to travel from the north and finish in the south. However, there are restrictions on the trails (in terms of movement in darkness) in the south, therefore, Zoli and Mike decided to start in the south and then if required, they could run in to the night later in the challenge and gain extra miles and time.

For a couple of days, Mike and the team explored the trails in advance of the FKT. It allowed some adjustment, planning, photo opportunities and also gain some relaxation time before a huge challenge.

Placing his hand on the metal post with the ‘INT’ markers, he looked eager and motivated for the challenge ahead. For several days he had been saying he felt good. He was off…!

The landscape and scenery on day-1 is truly spectacular. I would go as far to say, that it is some of the most impressive I personally have witnessed. Beauty comes at a price though – the trails are technical, have plenty of climbing and descending and then add some intense heat.

 Mike was always going to play a, ‘Let’s see?’ Scenario on day-1 and he was keen not to get too carried away, starting at a crazy pace. With 50-miles to cover, it seemed a sensible target.

Throughout the day Mike moved steadily, always looking relaxed and in control. However, it was clear from the outset that Mike’s ‘hopeful’ target time for day-1 would be extended. Not a problem! After all, this attempt is going to last 10-days – one needs to think of the long game!

 At each check-point he arrived, smiled, said he felt good and then stocked up on ‘Tailwind,’ drank some Coconut water, snacked on food, re-filled his bottles and off he went. Rarely did he spend longer than 10-minutes at any one stop.

 A highlight of the day came at Timna Park. The trails, the landscape and the views here are truly spectacular – for sure, it is a bucket list location. I joined Mike for a second time in the day to climb over the key mountain, run the technical trails and the descend to our feed point at 51km covered.

 Mike was moving well, using poles when required and maintaining a good pace. At the feed, he went through a similar scenario as with all the other stations and then moved on.

At the final feed point, Beer Matak at 61.5km he was notably looking tired and fatigued from the day’s efforts. He was also feeling the heat from the last big climb of the day. It was time to dig deep and push on for a final 18km.

 It was here, as darkness came that disaster struck. Mike followed the marker of the ‘INT’ but unfortunately missed the turn to our bivouac which was off the INT route. He pushed on, following the markers and it was our support runner who notified us that he was ‘missing’ after hearing from another trekker that he passed some 30-minutes early. Our camp no cellular connection, so, we departed following the approximate route that Mike would take, It was here that technology took over. We managed to liaise with Mike via WhatsApp, we shared ‘live locations’ and we were able to navigate to him a long way down the ‘INT’ route. The route that he should have done on day-2!

 Mike was surprisingly in good spirits, but he had been out on the trail for almost 13-hours and 20-minutes, it was a tough first day! The only plus side coming that he had eaten in to tomorrow’s mileage.

 Back in camp, it was all about recovery. He hydrated, ate some snacks, wiped down and put on fresh clothes. He soon needed a nap. It had been a very long day, both physically and mentally. The priority was good rest, some quality food and then focus the mind for the challenges that day-2 would present.

Follow #fktisrael

#thenegevfriendlydesert
#running-vacation
#canaanrunning
#trailrunning

Friendly Negev Desert

Follow on:

Instagram – @iancorlessphotography

Twitter – @talkultra

facebook.com/iancorlessphotography

Web – www.iancorless.com

Web – www.iancorlessphotography.com

Image sales –www.iancorless.photoshelter.com

Pau Capell and Magda Laczak win the 2019 Transgrancanaria 128 km.

Pau Capell and Magda Laczak once again, win the Transgrancanaria 128 km providing the same result as 2018. For Pau it was his third time topping the podium in Gran Canaria.

Only American Hayden Hawks provided Pau with any competition, the duo ran the first stretch of the course matching each other, stride-for- stride all the way to Teror and beyond.

But Hayden could not match the relentless force of the Catalan. Pau extended his lead and just pulled away, not only from Hayden but the rest of the men. Twenty minutes became thirty and thirty minutes became forty. It was a masterclass of long-distance running and at the line, the 12:42:40 did not show on his face – an incredible victory.

Pablo Villa, Spanish champion of the RFEA 2018 and former champion of the Advanced in 2018, was the next to cross the finish line at Expomeloneras in 13:31:37. Canarian runner, Cristofer Clemente, 13:42:54, came in third position making a truly Spanish podium.

Magda Laczak won, once again after topping the podium as in 2018. In the early stages you ran comfortably as Chinese runner, Miao Yao dictated the pace. Miao dropped and Katlyn Gerbin took over the head of the race.

By Roque Nublo though, Magda took over the head of the race. It was no easy run… she was pursued by Kaytlyn Gerbin and Fernanda Maciel and it remained that way all the way to the line.

Magda did it though, she was the first to arrive in 16:22:56 and she stated, “It was such a hard race, at no point could I relax, I was pursued all the time, I had to push and keep pushing!”

Katlyn, 2nd at Western States in 2018, placed 2nd here in Gran Canaria holding off experienced ultra-runner and UTWT ever-present, Fernanda Maciel, their times 16:35:08 and 17:03:33.

As usual, the race ran on into the night as runners tried to achieve their own personal glory before the 0400 cut-off on Sunday 24th February.

High Resolution Image Gallery HERE

Web Resolution Image Gallery HERE

Follow on:

Instagram – @iancorlessphotography

Twitter – @talkultra

facebook.com/iancorlessphotography

Web – www.iancorless.com

Web – www.iancorlessphotography.com

Image sales –www.iancorless.photoshelter.com

Transgrancanaria 2019 Race Preview

Transgrancanaria is upon us once again. Arguably, it is the first big European race to kick-off a new racing season. Due to it’s timing, it’s a popular race for many high-ranking elites, European and from over the pond, it allows them to race hard and recover in time for the next big targets that will come in May, June, July or beyond.

Starting in the north of the island, the race travels all the way south covering many kilometres with vertical in abundance. Starting at night, the race involves many hours of darkness before the arrival of dawn. It’s a tough race, ask anyone who has done it and they will tell you, ‘It is a brute!’

The 2019 line-up as in previous years is spectacular.

The 2018 champion, Pau Capell, returns looking for another victory. Pau had a relentless 2018 campaign and will for sure come to the race ready to give it all.

Cristofer Clemente placed 3rd in 2018 and is a master of pacing. Expect him to be out of the top-10 early on and then move up the ranks with the arrival of dawn.

Julien Chorier just raced in Hong Kong at the two stage 9 Dragons. He won the first day and placed 2nd on day-2, he lost time due to the heat and humidity and finished 2nd overall behind Kazufumi Ose. He will be in great shape for Transgrancanaria.

The UK’s Damian Hall has been on a roll these past year’s. He seems to really be honing his craft and 5th at the 2018 UTMB proves it. He recently set a FKT with Beth Pascall on the Cape Wrath trail – expect Damian to do really well!

Hayden Hawks won Lavaredo in 2018 and this race will be a step-up for him. His natural running ability and speed will be beaten down by this relentless course.

Min Qi won Hong Kong 100km and as anyone knows, Hong Kong trails are super tough – I see Min being a force to be reckoned with.

Vaidas Zlabys placed 2nd at Transgrancanaria in 2017 and although he has raced many races since, he hasn’t quite fulfilled the expectation of that 2017 performance… Will we see something special in 2019?

***Dmitry Mityaev from Russia has grown over the last 2-3 year’s with a string of excellent performances, most notably on the skyrunning circuit. He won High Trail Vanoise in 2018 and for sure, that is a great indicator that he has the potential for a podium performance here in Gran Canaria. ***pulled out with injury

Pablo Villa is a force to be reckoned with, he has raced over the shorter distances in previous editions. This year he moves up to the full distance.

What follows is a list of runners who have excelled on this course or others, placing in the top-10 or just outside. They will all be ones to watch and for sure, any of them could pull of a big surprise:

Anthony Gay

Yeray Duran

Timothy Olson

Johan Lantz – notable story! Four years ago he broke his leg at Transgrancanaria while in 3rd place. This is his comeback…!

Andris Ronimoiss

Sebastien Sanchez

*****

The women’s line-up is a compelling one and certainly will provide a stunning race.

***Azara Garcia won Transgrancanaria in 2017 and she is back. She is always focused and fights hard – she will be difficult to beat. ***pulled out with injury

Magdalena Laczak, the 2018 champion, also returns for battle. If she, Azara and Caroline are in good form, we could witness an epic race!

Just 18-months ago, had I seen *** Caroline Chaverot’s name on a start list, I would have said, she is the one to beat. She really was unstoppable. However, the recent year and more has not been kind with a string of health problems. It’s great to see her on the start list here and I hope we see the Caroline of 2017! ***pulled out with a broken leg

Denise Zimmerman is a fierce competitor. She has been on the podium at UTMB so her long game is not in question.

Marianne Hogan may well be a surprise package? Her 2017 UTMB performance is a great indicator that she will be able to handle Gran Canaria’s tough trails.

Miao Yao like Min Qi won Hong Kong 100 in 2018 and that elevates her to a hot favourite on this course.

Lisa Borzani, Ester Alves and Ildiko Wermescher heads-up the remaining competition amongst others.

Action starts on Friday evening, March 22nd and the first runners can be expected in Maspalomas Saturday afternoon, March 23rd.