Episode 140 – Hector Haines and Ragna Debats

Episode 139 of Talk Ultra brings and we bring you a full and in-depth interview with Hector Haines who is having a great year in the Skyrunning Extreme Series. We also speak with Ragna Debats about the IAU World Trail Championships and her rise in the Skyrunner World Series. We have the news and Speedgoat is back!
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00:32:21 NEWS
Speedgoat 50K
Anna Mae Flynn and Jim Walmsley set two new CR’s 6:18 and 5:04 respectively. Kelly Wolf and Brittany Peterson placed 2nd and 3rd for the ladies and Tim Tollefson and Dylan Bowman were 2nd and 3rd for the men.
Comapedrosa SkyRace read HERE
Jan Margaret did it again, he followed up victory at the Dolomites SkyRace with victory here – a star of the future! Marco De Gasperi was 2nd and Run Ueda 3rd.
Laura Orgue won the race in 2016 and it looked like a repeat performance when she crested the summit with a strong lead, however, a stomach issue caused problems on the descent and Sheila Aviles passed for victory. Laura placed 2nd and Takako Takamura 3rd.
Nolans 14
Jared Campbell and Gary Robbins completed in 56hrs 39min after a tough outing. Ikea Karrera set a stunning new FKT 47hrs 40min smashing Andrew Hamilton’s previous best.
Angeles Crest 100
Jerry Garcia and Rachel Ragona took respective victories ahead of Branden Bollweg and Dominic Grossman for the men and Serena Eley and Diana Treister for the ladies.
World Mountain Running Long Distance Champs
Petro Mamu took the top slot ahead of Francesco Puppi and Pascal Egli – 3:12, 3:14 and 3:18. Silvia Rampazzo took the ladies’ title ahead of Katie Enman and Denise Dragomir – 3:56, 3:57 and 3:59.
Tromso Skyrace read HERE
Jon Albon did it again ahead of Him Gurung and Michel Lanne – 7:01, 7:11 and 7:27. For the ladies’ Maite Maiora once again took another win ahead of Ragna Debats and Nuria Picas – all three ladies’ under Jasmin Paris’s 2016 CR of 8:42 – their times 8:21, 8:25 and 8:39.
Our thoughts and love go to Hillary Allen who took a terrible fall from the Hamperokken ridge. We are pleased to say, it looks like she will have a good recovery. See HERE.
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00:58:37 Interview with HECTOR HAINES
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02:01:00 Interview with RAGNA DEBATS
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UP & COMING RACES

Australia

New South Wales

100 km | 100 kilometers | August 25, 2017 | website
50 km | 50 kilometers | August 25, 2017 | website

Northern Territory

Alice Springs 60K Ultramarathon | 60 kilometers | August 20, 2017 | website
The Malbunka | 133 kilometers | August 11, 2017 | website
The Namatjira | 80 kilometers | August 11, 2017 | website

Queensland

64km Kuranda to Port Douglas Ultra Trail Marathon | 64 kilometers | August 20, 2017 | website
Kuranda to Port Douglas Ultra Trail Marathon | 64 kilometers | August 20, 2017 | website

Belgium

Flanders

100 km Dodentocht® | 100 kilometers | August 11, 2017 | website

Wallonia

100 km | 100 kilometers | August 12, 2017 | website

Bulgaria

Orehovo Ultra | 52 kilometers | August 19, 2017 | website
Persenk Ultra | 157 kilometers | August 18, 2017 | website
Wild Boar Ultra | 104 kilometers | August 18, 2017 | website

Canada

Alberta

Iron Legs 50 Miler | 50 miles | August 12, 2017 | website

British Columbia

Black Spur Ultra – 108km | 108 kilometers | August 19, 2017 | website
Black Spur Ultra – 54km | 54 kilometers | August 19, 2017 | website
Fat Dog 100 Trail Race: 120 mile | 120 miles | August 11, 2017 | website
Fat Dog 100 Trail Race: 50 mile | 50 miles | August 12, 2017 | website
Fat Dog 100 Trail Race: 70 mile | 70 miles | August 12, 2017 | website
Squamish 50 | 50 miles | August 19, 2017 | website
Squamish 50/50 | 130 kilometers | August 19, 2017 | website
Squamish 50K | 50 kilometers | August 20, 2017 | website

Quebec

Trans Vallée | 70 kilometers | August 18, 2017 | website
Trans Vallée X | 90 kilometers | August 18, 2017 | website

Colombia

Ultra Trail Parque Los Nevados – 59 km | 59 kilometers | August 19, 2017 | website
Ultra Trail Parque Los Nevados – 93 km | 93 kilometers | August 19, 2017 | website

Estonia

Kalevipoeg’s Mythological Ultrarun | 376 kilometers | August 20, 2017 | website

France

Alpes-Maritimes

Ultra-Trail Côte d’Azur Mercantour | 140 kilometers | August 25, 2017 | website

Haute-Loire

L’Orleans-Océan | 410 kilometers | August 19, 2017 | website

Haute-Savoie

55 km | 55 kilometers | August 12, 2017 | website

Hautes-Pyrénées

Le Pyrénées Tour Trail | 100 kilometers | August 23, 2017 | website
L’Ultra Tour | 220 kilometers | August 24, 2017 | website
Tour des Cirques | 120 kilometers | August 25, 2017 | website

Isère

La Traversée Nord | 85 kilometers | August 25, 2017 | website
L’Echappée Belle Intégrale | 144 kilometers | August 25, 2017 | website
Ut4M 100 Master | 95 kilometers | August 17, 2017 | website
Ut4M 160 Challenge | 169 kilometers | August 16, 2017 | website
Ut4M 160 Relais | 169 kilometers | August 18, 2017 | website
Ut4M 160 Xtrem | 169 kilometers | August 18, 2017 | website

Maine-et-Loire

Défi Grand Moulin 51 km | 51 kilometers | August 19, 2017 | website

Pyrénées-Orientales

La Pottoka des Pyrénées | 180 kilometers | August 11, 2017 | website

Vienne

80 km | 80 kilometers | August 19, 2017 | website

Germany

Bavaria

Allgäu Panorama Ultra Trail | 70 kilometers | August 13, 2017 | website

Berlin

100MeilenBerlin | 100 miles | August 12, 2017 | website

Mecklenburg-Vorpommern

75 km | 75 kilometers | August 19, 2017 | website

North Rhine-Westphalia

Monschau Ultra-Marathon | 56 kilometers | August 13, 2017 | website

India

Jammu and Kashmir

La Ultra – The High 111 | 111 kilometers | August 17, 2017 | website
La Ultra – The High 222 | 222 kilometers | August 17, 2017 | website
La Ultra – The High 333 | 333 miles | August 17, 2017 | website

Ireland

Donegal

Quadrathon | 169 kilometers | August 17, 2017 | website

Galway

Connemara 100 | 100 miles | August 12, 2017 | website

Italy

Piedmont

Tre Rifugi Val Pellice Trail | 54 kilometers | August 17, 2017 | website

Japan

Hakusan Geotrail 100 K | 100 kilometers | August 20, 2017 | website
Hakusan Geotrail 250 K | 250 kilometers | August 20, 2017 | website

Madagascar

Boby Trail | 75 kilometers | August 12, 2017 | website

New Zealand

Great Naseby Water Race 160 km | 160 kilometers | August 25, 2017 | website

Norway

160 km | 160 kilometers | August 12, 2017 | website
85 km | 85 kilometers | August 12, 2017 | website

Peru

100K | 100 kilometers | August 25, 2017 | website

Poland

102 km | 102 kilometers | August 12, 2017 | website
80 km | 80 kilometers | August 12, 2017 | website
Bieg Grania Tatr | 71 kilometers | August 19, 2017 | website

Portugal

Ultra-Trail Nocturno da Lagoa de Óbidos | 50 kilometers | August 12, 2017 | website

Russia

TransUral | 110 kilometers | August 14, 2017 | website

South Africa

Namaqua Quest | 110 kilometers | August 24, 2017 | website
Peninsula Ultra Fun Run | 80 kilometers | August 19, 2017 | website

Sweden

Fjällmaraton Bydalsfjällen 50 km | 50 kilometers | August 19, 2017 | website
Tierra Arctic Ultra | 120 kilometers | August 11, 2017 | website
Trans Scania | 246 kilometers | August 11, 2017 | website
UltraVasan 90K | 90 kilometers | August 19, 2017 | website

Switzerland

Grisons

Trail Marathon 70 KM | 70 kilometers | August 12, 2017 | website

Obwald

MOUNTAINMAN Ultra | 80 kilometers | August 19, 2017 | website

Vaud

Ultra Trail du Barlatay | 87 kilometers | August 18, 2017 | website

Tanzania

Kilimanjaro Stage Run | 260 kilometers | August 19, 2017 | website

Ukraine

Chornohora Sky Marathon | 60 kilometers | August 19, 2017 | website

United Kingdom

Cornwall

Inov-8 Roseland August Trail – 32 Mile | 32 miles | August 12, 2017 | website
Inov-8 Roseland August Trail – The Plague | 64 miles | August 12, 2017 | website

England

Ultra Great Britain | 200 miles | August 19, 2017 | website

Gloucestershire

Oxford Ultra | 65 miles | August 11, 2017 | website
Windsor Ultra | 43 miles | August 12, 2017 | website

Greater London

T184 | 184 miles | August 25, 2017 | website

Moray

Speyside Way Race | 36 miles | August 19, 2017 | website

Sheffield

Ultra Tour of the Peak District | 60 miles | August 19, 2017 | website

South Lanarkshire

John Lucas Memorial Run | 50 miles | August 13, 2017 | website

Suffolk

Stour Valley Path 100km Ultra Run | 100 kilometers | August 12, 2017 | website

Wiltshire

Salisbury 54321 50K Ultra Marathon | 50 kilometers | August 13, 2017 | website

USA

Alaska

Nifty Fifty 50K | 50 kilometers | August 12, 2017 | website
Resurrection Pass 100 Mile Ultra Trail | 100 miles | August 11, 2017 | website
Resurrection Pass 50 Mile Ultra Trail | 50 miles | August 12, 2017 | website

California

100K | 100 kilometers | August 19, 2017 | website
100M | 100 miles | August 19, 2017 | website
50K | 50 kilometers | August 19, 2017 | website
50M | 50 miles | August 19, 2017 | website
Cinderella Trail Run 50 km (Aug) | 50 kilometers | August 12, 2017 | website
Cool Moon 100M | 100 miles | August 12, 2017 | website
Cool Moon 50M | 50 miles | August 12, 2017 | website
Trail 50k | 50 kilometers | August 19, 2017 | website

Colorado

GORE-TEX TransRockies Run – Run3 | 59 miles | August 15, 2017 | website
GORE-TEX TransRockies Run – TRR6 | 120 miles | August 15, 2017 | website
Leadville Trail 100 Run | 100 miles | August 19, 2017 | website
Ragnar Relay Colorado | 200 miles | August 25, 2017 | website
Reebok Ragnar Colorado | 200 miles | August 24, 2017 | website
Silverton Alpine 50K | 50 kilometers | August 19, 2017 | website

Idaho

60K | 60 kilometers | August 19, 2017 | website
Standhope Ultra Challenge | 83 miles | August 17, 2017 | website

Iowa

50K Run | 50 kilometers | August 19, 2017 | website
50 mile Run | 50 miles | August 19, 2017 | website

Kentucky

100K Relay (1-5 person relay) | 100 kilometers | August 19, 2017 | website

Massachusetts

TARC Summer Classic 50K | 50 kilometers | August 12, 2017 | website
TARC Summer Classic 50M | 50 miles | August 12, 2017 | website

Michigan

Marquette Trail 50 Kilometer | 50 kilometers | August 19, 2017 | website
Marquette Trail 50 Mile | 50 miles | August 19, 2017 | website

Minnesota

Ragnar Relay Great River | 200 miles | August 18, 2017 | website
Reebok Ragnar Great River | 200 miles | August 18, 2017 | website

Nebraska

50K | 50 kilometers | August 19, 2017 | website

Nevada

Marlette 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | August 13, 2017 | website

New Jersey

100k | 100 kilometers | August 12, 2017 | website
50k | 50 kilometers | August 12, 2017 | website
50M | 50 miles | August 12, 2017 | website

New York

Team Relay Race | 234 miles | August 11, 2017 | website
Twisted Branch Trail Run | 100 kilometers | August 19, 2017 | website

North Dakota

50K | 50 kilometers | August 12, 2017 | website
50 miler | 50 miles | August 12, 2017 | website

Oregon

Elkhorn Relay | 204 miles | August 11, 2017 | website
Hood to Coast Relay | 199 miles | August 25, 2017 | website
NUT 100K | 100 kilometers | August 19, 2017 | website
NUT 50K | 50 kilometers | August 19, 2017 | website
Oregon 100K Relay | 100 kilometers | August 18, 2017 | website
Post Canyon 50k | 50 kilometers | August 12, 2017 | website
Where’s Waldo 100k Ultra | 100 kilometers | August 19, 2017 | website

Pennsylvania

Eastern States 100 | 100 miles | August 12, 2017 | website

Rhode Island

100 miles | 100 miles | August 18, 2017 | website

South Dakota

Lean Horse Half Hundred | 50 miles | August 19, 2017 | website
Lean Horse Hundred | 100 miles | August 19, 2017 | website

Texas

50K | 50 kilometers | August 15, 2017 | website
Habanero Hundred 100k | 100 kilometers | August 19, 2017 | website
Habanero Hundred 100 miler | 100 miles | August 19, 2017 | website
Habanero Hundred 50k | 50 kilometers | August 19, 2017 | website
Moondance 50k | 50 kilometers | August 12, 2017 | website

Utah

55K | 55 kilometers | August 19, 2017 | website
Skyline Mountain 50K | 50 kilometers | August 19, 2017 | website

Vermont

100on100 Relay | 100 miles | August 12, 2017 | website

Virginia

Martha Moats Baker Memorial 50Km | 50 kilometers | August 12, 2017 | website

Washington

200 Mile S2S | 200 miles | August 18, 2017 | website
Bigfoot 200 Mile Endurance Run | 205 miles | August 11, 2017 | website
Ragnar Trail Rainier-WA, Presented by Salomon | 120 miles | August 18, 2017 | website

West Virginia

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CLOSE
02:35:40
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DRUGS in Mountain, Ultra and Trail #EPO #UTMB

EPO-Doping-Offers-No-Benefit-to-Athletes-286x300

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!

Marco De Gasperi – Vertical Kilometer® Hints ‘n’ Tips

Marco De Gasperi ©iancorless.com

Marco De Gasperi is a legend of mountain and Skyrunning. At the age of 16 he gained special permission to climb Monte Rosa with ISF president, Marino Giacometti and a small group of like-minded adrenaline filled mountaineers. It was the birth of Skyrunning.

The rest his history, Marco has six-world titles and a list of victories from races all over the world. Today at 36-years old, Marco is still one of the few runners who can push Kilian Jornet all the way to the line. In 2013 he did just that with an incredible race at Mont-Blanc Marathon and once again at the Dolomites SkyRace.

©copyright .iancorless.com.P1140350

Born in Bormio (in the Alps) a hub for skiing and short-track skating. Living at 1200m provided Marco with advantages, however, he only found his true vocation at the age of 10-years. Marco had tried to adapt to Skiing and Nordic Skiing but the reality was soon apparent; he just didn’t have the required size and bulk required to be competitive. The mountains beckoned; daily he would leave the town, climb a peak and return in the same day.

At 12-years old an encounter with Adriano Greco introduced him to the winter past time of ski mountaineering and running in the summer months. Adriano was very much a coach and guide for Marco. He was introduced to a new aspect of sport, a new discipline that was at its birth. In 1994, Marco ran his first Vertical Kilometer® on the slopes of the Matterhorn.

Marco’s knowledge is invaluable in regard to mountains and how to run them! I chatted to the ‘legend’ while he was helping to coach future stars of the sport on a training camp in Portugal

©copyright .iancorless.com.P1140155

Do you do any specific training for a Vertical Kilometer®?

My season always includes mountain races and races with plenty of climbing, so, I like to devote myself with specific training in the gym to build strength. For example, I use leg extension, leg press and other exercises such as squats. I also do up and down reps on a large box (60cm high), this is great for strength and endurance. It is also important to apply yourself outside and of course finding a steep incline of 30% and running at a smooth and consistent pace is ideal; it’s difficult to run all the way but I always try.

The Vertical Kilometer® is very demanding and runners incorporate different techniques to reach the summit in the fastest and most efficient way. Hands-on-knees and ‘poles’ are two methods; do you have a preference?

Application very much depends on the individual needs and demands of each runner and the course. For example, you will find many VK specialists come from a Ski Mountaineering background and therefore they are very well adapted and practiced with the use of poles. Certainly, when slopes become much steeper, poles offer an advantage as they help balance the center of gravity and thus provide a more advantageous position. In principal though, I prefer to try and run!

Marco De Gasperi ©iancorless.com

Aerobically it is very easy to just ‘tip over the edge’ with a VK, do you have any special techniques in training to help to pace yourself?

You need to train and understand the muscular and mental aspects that are required to race a VK well. The correct pace is easy to find if your mind is prepared for the challenge ahead. Take long hills in training at an easy pace, try to keep running and enjoy the process have fun! If I don’t have the possibility to train on long steep hills I like to find a short hill that is steep and I do reps at a faster pace than racing… I walk back down to allow recovery and then repeat

Walking for many will be a key element of a successful VK. I am well aware that you will try to run as much as possible. However, do you practice walking?

Long and steep mountains are very difficult, it’s all about efficiency and yes, sometimes it is far more efficient to walk. It’s about balance; I run for as long as possible but a good climber knows when to switch to maintain rhythm and speed. You want to avoid building up too much lactic acid. I consider myself to be a good ‘walker’ and I am happy to switch as and when required. As for practice, no not really, just go out in the mountains and hike. It’s a perfect way to combine fun and training.

Marco De Gasperi ©iancorless.com

You have already mentioned indoor training and strength work. Have you ever trained on a treadmill and what about core and stability training?

Core and stability is very important, without doubt it provides benefits. Every week I do 3-4 sessions of five key exercises to work on this. In regard to a treadmill; it’s not the best way to train for a VK but maybe you have limited options? It can obviously be better than nothing. Just make sure you have it at an incline and work hard.

In regard to particular VK training, is it better to train on shorter or longer mountains; do you have a preference?

I have many years in the sport, in my opinion; I think that too many long mountains are not good for the specific demands of a VK. In particular, as a race approaches keep sessions in the 30-50 minute bracket.

Tricky question for you Marco, other than yourself (obviously) who do you regard to be the best runners at the VK distance?

You are very kind! I am going to split this. Urban Zemmer with poles, Berny Dermatteis without using poles and Valentina Belotti. I guess it comes as no surprise that these runners are all Italian but the records show that they have the fastest times.

Finally Marco, if you had to provide three invaluable tips for running a Vertical Kilometer® what would they be?

  1. Do 6-7 reps 3 times on a trail that is not too steep, rest by walking down.
  2. Make sure you have easier days between hard sessions
  3. To race and perform well on race day, your legs must be very relaxed and recovered.

©copyright .iancorless.com._1040723

Marco De Gasperi is a true champion, not only on the trails and slopes of the mountains but also off them. A gentleman, professional and perfect ambassador for our sport, he gives of his time and experience freely.

As always, it’s a pleasure to speak and learn more about such a wonderful athlete. Thanks Marco!

SWS Vertical Kilometer® Calendar 2014

SPAIN: Transvulcania Vertical Kilometer® – May 8
FRANCE: VK Face de Bellevarde, Val d’Isère – July 11
ITALY: Dolomites Vertical Kilometer®, Canazei – July 18
USA: Lone Peak Vertical Kilometer® – September 12
ITALY:  Vertical Grèste de la Mughéra, Limone sul Garda – October 10

Links:

The Mother – Salomon Running TV S03 E04

screenshot_493“Running to me is a way to keep happy…” Kasie Enman

Kasie Enman hails from the small town of Huntington, Vermont where she lives with her husband and family. She was World Mountain Running Champion in 2011 and had a string of podiums in the 2012 SkyRunning Series before falling pregnant with her second child.

In this episode we discover Kasie’s home and family life as she shares her thoughts and feelings on running during pregnancy.

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Another great film from Salomon Running and The African Attachment that shows us the importance of balance and passion.

Kasie Enman is not your normal runner!  2011 World Mountain Running Champion, Olympic Trials Team Member, 2012 winner of the Skyrunning Giir di Mont and 2:39 marathon runner (Marathon PB 2:37:14 set in 2008) just 9-months after her first child was born.

Kasie has said many times before that her priorities changed after the birth of her first child;

“I’m not the same person any more in terms of priorities. Running is no longer as important as it used to be and I have to work a lot harder at hanging on to my goals and not letting opportunities pass me by.” credit http://www.baa.org

©TheAfricanAttachment ©salomonrunning

Credits:

Music:
“That’s When I Knew” & “Birth”
By SignPost
Written for The African Attachment & SRTV
http://www.signpostsound.co.za

About Mountain Running…

Yes, I openly admit I work for Skyrunning and I attend the events that they organize. I love the philosophy, the courses and the people.

To be honest, I love our sport. Don’t we all?

The WMRA – World Mountain Running Association, are once again making sure that WE understand what Mountain Running is and I guess what Mountaineering, Orienteering and Skyrunning is…

Taken from the WMRA website – link HERE

Mountain Running is Athletics. Differences with Mountaineering, Orienteering and Skyrunning.

To distinguish the sport of mountain running from mountaineering or orienteering or skyrunning we can look at the philosophy of each sport.

The philosophy of mountaineering is based on contact with and challenge to nature. The time factor is only important in relation to our planning and safety. Climbers seek their adrenalin rush climbing on rock faces, looking for new routes and overcoming the danger inherent in their sport. A considerable amount of technical equipment, (ropes, pitons, etc) is needed. It is a question of combat between man and nature.

The philosophy of orienteering is to work out the quickest router between two points. Speed is important but it is useless without map-reading, compass, and route finding skills. In a few competitions, orienteering moves out of the forest, its natural habitat, and onto the mountains but its philosophy is still distinct from that of mountain running.

The philosophy of skyrunning seems to be an adventure on the mountain, trying extreme difficulties: in fact skyrunning is the discipline of running in the mountains above 2.000 meters, where the incline exceeds 30% and the climbing difficulty does not exceed II° grade. Ski poles and hands may be used to aid progress.

The philosophy of athletics, in our case mountain running, is based on the time factor, how to reach the finish taking the defined way as fast as possible. This is the objective of those who take part in competitive mountain running. Courses are designed to eliminate danger. No equipment is needed, no ropes, no compass. Athletes find their challenge in matching their speed against that of other runners, a competition between man (woman) and man (woman).

Are we clear?

Just to make sure:

2013diack.jpgWMRA Council: definition of mountain running for IAAF Rule Book

During the final day of meetings for the WMRA Council in Monte Carlo, the definition of mountain running was discussed at length which resulted in proposed language for a new rule to appear in the IAAF rule book: this new rule numbered 251 could replace actual rule 250.10.
It was agreed by the Council that there are extreme variations in conditions in which Mountain running is practiced worldwide. The difference between very successful and unsuccessful events often lies in the natural characteristics of the venue and the abilities of the course designer.
The proposed rule from the WMRA Council is intended as a guide and incentive to assist countries to further develop Mountain running.
Guidelines are included to support worldwide race directors in the organization and logistics of their events.
The proposed rule will be forwarded to the IAAF for consideration with hopes for final approval by the IAAF Congress in August 2013, at Moscow.
The rule would then appear in the IAAF Rule Book