FIZKULTURA, Bulgaria w/ Dean Karnazes, Sean Conway and more!

Inspiration comes in many forms and ways. I have just been to Sofia, Bulgaria for Fizkultura – a one day event put together by Begach Running Club. The event is geared towards inspiring Bulgarian runners to embrace new challenges, it may be just to start running, or maybe move from marathon to ultra-running, or why not try something bold and new like creating their own running challenge.

My participation was facilitated by the Begach Running Club and the British Embassy – I was joined by ‘the beard!’ The crazy, inspiring and distinctive looking adventurer, Sean Conway

Arriving in the early hours of Friday morning, Sean and myself were working right from the off with a breakfast at the Embassy and an improvised individual presentation – good job this ‘on-the-spot’ request didn’t phase us… some years back, I’d have immediately melted into a ball of nerves; not now!

Sofia is without a doubt Eastern European in feel and architecture. There are bold, brazen and striking monuments everywhere to remind us that Russia is not far away. But I was surprised. The centre had a distinct feeling of wealth with a multitude of high-end shops, plenty of bars and a huge selection of hotels. A backdrop of impressive snow-capped mountains made me feel relaxed.

A drive to the mountains and a leisurely lunch (in an incredible restaurant) provided us all with an opportunity to bond. It’s here that I had a little more time to get to know Sean and extend my introduction to Irina Daniela from Romania who is slowly but surely inspiring Romanians to run and notably empowering women to siege their futures by foot power. Irina recently ran a sub 3h for the marathon and in doing so has shown what is possible for the women of Romania. She’s a striking person – tall (too tall for Sean and myself), great figure, long dark hair and striking features. It’s easy to see how she will inspire those around her. She’s a bundle of energy and enthusiasm but Fizkultra is her first big ‘gig’ out of her homeland. Website here.

Sean by contrast looks like a lion under a mane of ginger. He’s a small and a slight figure who brims with confidence and an accent that’s hard to work out – South African, Irish and British public school make an interesting mix that is captivating to the ear. He casually talks of his up and coming challenge of cycling ridiculous daily distances in Australia to set a new world record. He has a simple motto – to be the first or the fastest – it works for him! His list of achievements is impressive, but more on that later. Website here.

It was early evening before I finally met Dean Karnazes. Dean, aka ‘Marathon Man’ is someone who I have emailed and spoke too on many times but this is my first face-to-face. He taps me on the shoulder. I turn, he grabs my hand and pulls me in close in a tight embrace and says, ‘Ian, finally, good to see you man!’ For once I feel tall, Dean is my height and we are both taller than Sean and if Irina had not been in our presence, for once I may well have been the tallest – just! However, Dean looks incredible – he’s ripped, chiseled, has a Californian tan and he’s swearing shorts. His legs bulge with muscles and I suddenly realize that the reality of meeting Dean didn’t disappoint. This guy, for me, helped change the way the sport of ultra has grown in the last 10-years. It was his book, Confessions of an all Night Runner’ that suddenly made ‘others’ aware of the crazy sport of running long; ultra-running! Website here.

Dinner took place in ‘Checkpoint Charlie’ and we joke, discuss love, life, running and politics. Bed soon arrives for Dean, he has no idea what day or time it is. Jet lag has hit hard and he leaves early. Our trio relax with our hosts and a late-night walk back to our hotel is followed with a night-cap in the bar. I felt at home with my two new friends and like all good new friendships, 12-hours have made them both feel like lifelong friends. We laughed the night away till bed finally called.

FIZKULTURA

Dean kicked off the day 0945. Short clad, the audience welcome him with rapturous applause and he quickly goes into a 30-minute presentation that gives an overview of his running. Of course, it’s an impossible task – he has achieved so much! Despite the launch of his recent book, ‘The Road to Sparta,’ Dean takes us back on a journey to his first book as Fizkultura coincides with its release in Bulgarian. Many of you will know those early stories of taking the shoes out of the garage on his 30th birthday and then running 30-miles. His first Western States, Badwater 135 and running a marathon at the South Pole. It’s classic ‘Dean’ and the audience lap it up.

Irina power dresses and looks like an air hostess wearing a suit, shirt, scarf and ridiculous high-heels. Sean and myself refuse to stand close to her… The style of dress was important, Irina’s background was in banking and she wanted to show everyone that it has been possible to still be a business professional and a runner. “My Story’ was about dreaming, having no limits and empowering herself, other women and yes, men, to wear run shoes and find out what is possible. The story of how she achieved sub-3, one of the fastest female performances for a Romanian and how her dreams may well lead to Olympic selection.

Antoniya Grigorova, Bulgaria’s top female ultra-runner, talked about her plans, planning and training in preparation for running the longest trail in Bulgaria: Kom-Emine. A journey of 600km. A professional athlete she provided an insight into the mind, the training and the nutrition of what the journey will take.

Lunch was followed with the lion roaring. Sean was in fine form and told the story of his world’s longest triathlon with great skill and humor. He was a natural on the stage and it’s fair to say the audience loved him. His presentation was interspersed with still images and small videos that documented the journey – and what a journey! A bent bamboo bike, a Sunday roast dinner blended into liquid form for lunch, skinny dipping in an icy river and his face being stung constantly by jelly fish while swimming.

I followed Sean and what an act to follow. My talk was always going to be a visual one as I planned on taking that audience around the world with a selection of races and images from Running Beyond (here). Of course, I had to provide some context on my journey and my opening dialogue provided a glimpse on how I got to where I am today.

Boyan Petrov is a legend in Bulgaria. An Alpinist, he talked us through the training, the planning and the equipment required to climb 8000+m peaks without oxygen. He’s one of the few climbers to make 3 x 8000m peak in one year, something he has done twice. He also discussed the dream of climbing all 8000+m peaks – more people have been to space than done this!

The day concluded with Dimitrina Sivkova talking about trauma prevention and getting back in shape.

It was an incredible day of challenges, feats, adventure, goals, inspiration and living a life with barriers or restrictions. The takeaway was, ‘make dreams happen!’ Dean concluded his talk with a famous quote, it’s not new but it’s apt and it somehow summed up exactly what Fizkultura was trying to achieve:

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!”

Despite tiredness and fatigue, an evening dinner in a vegan and vegetarian restaurant provided us all with an opportunity to discuss the day – we were all motivated. We of course were reminded that the following day, Sunday, there was a race in a local park running a 600m loop and two events, a 12-hour and 6-hour race called Project 360. A small selection of runners would start at 0630 looking to log mileage and a qualifying time for Spartathlon. The main event would start at 0900 with a 6-hour event that would allow runners to do as little or as much as they required. Travel plans scuppered any

Despite tiredness and fatigue, an evening dinner in a vegan and vegetarian restaurant provided us all with an opportunity to discuss the day – we were all motivated. We of course were reminded that the following day, Sunday, there was a race in a local park running a 600m loop. A small selection of runners would start at 0630 looking to log mileage and qualifying time for Spartathlon. The main event would start at 0900 with a 6-hour event that would allow runners to do as little or as much as they required. Travel plans scuppered any participation plans for me but I went and cheered on with Irina for an hour and of course, we just had to run a loop with ‘Marathon Man!’

Watch Dean in the video HERE

I love the fact that despite jet-lag, bust days of presenting and travel, Dean rocked up to the start line and run for 6-hours. He personifies his name.

I must say, I was sad to leave Sofia, my new friends and a great, developing running community. Dean, Sean, Irina and myself were there to inspire others but we left inspired. We were each individually energized by our time in Bulgaria. Sean will be bashing out the bike miles for Australia, Irina will be looking for the speed and endurance for a fast marathon, Dean? well, Dean will just keep running and running and me; travel, photography and telling stories. I love to do that and the story of Fizkultura and Bulgaria is a special one – a personal one!

Thanks to:

A huge thanks to the British Embassy, Elenko Elenkov, Begach Running Club and the many new Bulgarian runners who hosted, entertained and looked after us – Alexander, Milen, Vladi and so many more.

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Episode 128 – Michael Wardian, Hayden Hawks and Pushpa Chandra

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Episode 128 of Talk Ultra is here and what a show… we speak in-depth with the incredible Michael Wardian after his record breaking World Marathon Challenge. We speak to star in the making, Hayden Hawks and Niandi Carmont brings us her first female ‘one-to-one’ interviews with Pushpa Chandra. We have the news, chat, gossip and of course Speedgoat co-hosts.

New Year and Talk Ultra needs your help! 

We have set up a Patreon page and we are offering some great benefits for Patrons you can even join us on the show! This is the easiest way to support Talk Ultra and help us continue to create! 

Many thanks to our January Patrons

Rene Hess, Daniel Weston, Dan Masters, Kerstin Palmer, Sarah Cameron, Neil Catley, Sam Wilkes, Melissa Bodeau, Lindsay Hamoudi, Aaron Aaker, Simon Darmody, Philippe Lascar, Rohan Aurora, Mathew Melksham, Brian Wolfkamp, Thomas Mueller, Mark Moromisato, Jamie Oliver, Rand Haley, Ron van Liempd, Mike Hewison, Steve Milne and Rupert Hitzenberger.

Donate HERE

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It was our 2017 Lanzarote Training camp and I have to say what a huge success it was. We had 40-clients who came from as far afield as Canada to take part in our 7-days of fun. It really was special and so great to get so much awesome feedback. I will post a link to images and audio feedback in our show notes.

We had some inspiring people attend and in future shows we will have audio following some of the incredible stories. To kick it off and following on from my discussion with Niandi in our last show. Niandi brings you the very first of female ‘one-to-one’ interviews with Pushpa Chandra.

00:27:30 INTERVIEW with Pushpa Chandra

01:12:28 NEWS

World Marathon Challenge

Well, the big news is Mike Wardian ran 7-marathons on 7-continents in 7-days. Wow. He ran 2:54 in Antarctica, 2:45 in South America, 2:42 in North America, 2:37 in Europe, 2:45 in Africa, 2:49 in Asia, and 2:45 in Australia. In the process he set a new world record average time of 2:45.

01:22:54 INTERVIEW with Michael Wardian

Women’s winner, Chile’s Silvana Camelio ran 4:14 in Antarctica, 3:45 in South America, 3:58 in North America, 4:08 in Europe, 4:10 in Africa, 4:34 in Asia), and 4:37 in Australia. The last result almost gave away her overall victory but she held on by just 6-minutes That 4:37 in Australia left her just six minutes ahead of China’s Guoping Xie.

The Spine

Carol Morgan blasted around the tough course in 109-hours 54-minutes – unbelievably, 43-hours quicker than the previous ladies best.

In the men’s race it looked to be a battle between two previous winners, Pavel Paloncy and Eugeni Rosello Sole but Tom Hollins came from behind and clinched victory in 99-hours 25-minutes. Tom won the 2016 edition of The Challenger, the Spines ‘fun run’ race! We hope to have an interview with Tom in the next show.

Coming up…

The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica has a super stacked field with Chema Martinez, Tom Owens, Sondre Amdahl, Jason Schlarb and so many more in the men’s race.

For the ladies we have to previous champions, Veronica Bravo and Ester Alves heading up strong competition from Elisabet Barnes and Anna Cometi.

In the US it’s the Sean O’Brien 100k.

RUNNING BEYOND BOOK

This week I will be in Amsterdam on Feb 3rd, 4th and 5th for a Trails in Motion event and Running Beyond book signing with Mud Sweat and Trails

We are going to have Running Beyond Event which will take place 3, 4 and 5th March in London, plans are progressing for that… watch this space.

I will be also going to Sofia in Bulgaria on the 17th, 18th and 19th March for a trail, mountain and Skyrunning expo

02:36:50 INTERVIEW with Hayden Hawks

UP & COMING RACES

Australia

Queensland

Caboolture Historical Village Dusk to Dawn 100km | 100 kilometers | February 11, 2017 | website

Caboolture Historical Village Dusk to Dawn 50km | 50 kilometers | February 11, 2017 | website

Tasmania

The Cradle Mountain Run | 82 kilometers | February 04, 2017 | website

Belgium

Wallonia

65 km | 65 kilometers | February 04, 2017 | website

Canada

Yukon

Yukon Arctic 100M | 100 miles | February 05, 2017 | website

Yukon Arctic 300M | 300 miles | February 05, 2017 | website

Yukon Arctic 430M | 430 miles | February 05, 2017 | website

Chad

Half TREG | 90 kilometers | February 12, 2017 | website

TREG | 180 kilometers | February 12, 2017 | website

Chile

60K | 60 kilometers | February 11, 2017 | website

Costa Rica

Adventure Category | 155 kilometers | February 10, 2017 | website

Expedition Category | 236 kilometers | February 10, 2017 | website

Finland

Lapland

66° North Ultra Race | 66 kilometers | February 17, 2017 | website

Roavve Polar Ultra 300 | 308 kilometers | February 17, 2017 | website

Rovaniemi 150 | 150 kilometers | February 17, 2017 | website

Rovaniemi 300 | 300 kilometers | February 17, 2017 | website

Rovaniemi 66 | 66 kilometers | February 17, 2017 | website

France

Aude

Gruissan Phoebus Trail | 50 kilometers | February 12, 2017 | website

Côtes-d’Armor

Défi Glazig (45 + 18) | 63 kilometers | February 04, 2017 | website

Germany

Lower Saxony

Brocken-Challenge | 86 kilometers | February 11, 2017 | website

India

Gujarat

135 Miles | 135 miles | February 10, 2017 | website

160 km | 160 kilometers | February 10, 2017 | website

50 km | 50 kilometers | February 10, 2017 | website

Run the Rann 101 km | 101 kilometers | February 10, 2017 | website

Run the Rann 161 km | 161 kilometers | February 10, 2017 | website

Ireland

Kildare

Donadea 50K | 50 kilometers | February 11, 2017 | website

Italy

Marche

Maratona sulla sabbia – Ultra maratona | 50 kilometers | February 12, 2017 | website

Kenya

Kimbia Kenya 100 km | 100 kilometers | February 03, 2017 | website

Kimbia Kenya 50 km | 50 kilometers | February 03, 2017 | website

New Zealand

Tarawera 100K Ultramarathon | 100 kilometers | February 11, 2017 | website

Tarawera 60K Ultramarathon | 60 kilometers | February 11, 2017 | website

Tarawera 85K Ultramarathon | 85 kilometers | February 11, 2017 | website

Oman

Wadi Bih Run | 72 kilometers | February 03, 2017 | website

Spain

Canary Islands

Marathón ‘Isla del Meridiano’ – 86 km | 86 kilometers | February 04, 2017 | website

Region of Murcia

100 km | 100 kilometers | February 11, 2017 | website

Thailand

100 km Run | 100 kilometers | February 04, 2017 | website

50 km Solo | 50 kilometers | February 04, 2017 | website

66 km | 66 kilometers | February 17, 2017 | website

75 km Run | 75 kilometers | February 04, 2017 | website

Jungle 100 | 100 kilometers | February 17, 2017 | website

United Kingdom

Cornwall

Arc of Attrition | 100 miles | February 10, 2017 | website

Devon

Coastal Trail Series – South Devon – Ultra | 34 miles | February 04, 2017 | website

Oxfordshire

Thames Trot 50 | 50 miles | February 04, 2017 | website

Surrey

The Pilgrim Challenge North Downs Way Multistage Ultra | 66 miles | February 04, 2017 | website

USA

Arizona

50K | 50 kilometers | February 04, 2017 | website

Pemberton Trail 50K | 50 kilometers | February 11, 2017 | website

Arkansas

White Rock Classic 50K | 50 kilometers | February 04, 2017 | website

California

American Canyon 50K Ultramarathon | 50 kilometers | February 04, 2017 | website

Fort Ord Trail Run 50K | 50 kilometers | February 04, 2017 | website

Jed Smith Ultra Classic – 50K | 50 kilometers | February 04, 2017 | website

Jed Smith Ultra Classic – 50 Miler | 50 miles | February 04, 2017 | website

Ordnance 100K | 100 kilometers | February 04, 2017 | website

Sean O’Brian 100K Trail Run | 100 kilometers | February 04, 2017 | website

Sean O’Brian 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | February 04, 2017 | website

Sean O’Brian 50-Mile Trail Run | 50 miles | February 04, 2017 | website

Florida

110 With Donna Ultra Marathon | 110 miles | February 12, 2017 | website

Iron Horse 100 km | 100 kilometers | February 11, 2017 | website

Iron Horse 100 Mile | 100 miles | February 11, 2017 | website

Iron Horse 50 Mile | 50 miles | February 11, 2017 | website

Lost 118 | 118 miles | February 11, 2017 | website

Massachusetts

50 km | 50 kilometers | February 04, 2017 | website

North Carolina

Uwharrie 40-Mile Mountain Run | 40 miles | February 04, 2017 | website

Oregon

Bristow 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | February 04, 2017 | website

South Carolina

Mill Stone 50K | 50 kilometers | February 11, 2017 | website

Rut Rogue 40s – 40 Mile 3-5 Person Relay | 40 miles | February 04, 2017 | website

Rut Rogue 40s – 40 Mile Run | 40 miles | February 04, 2017 | website

Texas

100K | 100 kilometers | February 11, 2017 | website

100K Relay | 100 kilometers | February 11, 2017 | website

100 Mile | 100 miles | February 11, 2017 | website

100M Relay | 100 miles | February 11, 2017 | website

50K | 50 kilometers | February 11, 2017 | website

50 mile | 50 miles | February 11, 2017 | website

Piney Woods TrailFest 50K | 50 kilometers | February 04, 2017 | website

Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile | 100 miles | February 04, 2017 | website

Rocky Raccoon 50 Mile | 50 miles | February 04, 2017 | website

Virginia

The Wild Oak Trail 100 | 100 miles | February 11, 2017 | website

Washington

Orcas Island 50K | 50 kilometers | February 04, 2017 | website

Wisconsin

John Dick Memorial 50K | 50 kilometers | February 04, 2017 | website

Venezuela

Ultra Laguna de Urao | 65 kilometers | February 04, 2017 | website

03:16:20 Close

03:21:44

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He is Karl Meltzer and I’m Ian Corless

Keep running

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William Sichel sets new World Record in Norway

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Orkney-based ultra marathon runner, William Sichel (62) ended the year on a high by running 315.565km/196.083 miles to claim 3rd overall in the men’s race, from 37 starters and first in the over 60 age category with a new World Age-Group Record in the Bislett International Endurance Indoor Festival 48 Hour race in Oslo, Norway.

As is often the case William worked his way gradually to the top positions from much lower down the field in the early hours.

“As always happens, people start too fast, eat too much and get sick.  I just stick to my plan and used my experience to run a more even pace throughout the race.  Sometimes it’s important to see the whole race as a whole and not be too myopic.”

William set a life time best time for 100-miles indoors of 19 hours 56 minutes, 28 seconds and covered 184.791km/114.82 miles for the first 24 hour period.  This was only 3 miles less than he ran when coming 3rd overall in September’s Tooting 24 Hour track race in London.

“I then went on to do just over 81 miles in the second day, when the track was less crowded and added a substantial 25 miles to the current World Age-Group record for indoor 48 hours which was set last year in Alaska. To be honest over-crowding wasn’t too bad most of the time but I did find it far too noisy a lot of the time and had to run with ear plugs.  The high noise level also interfered with my system of having quick 20 minute naps as I couldn’t get to sleep.”

William would like to thank his crewman Alan Young from Dundee who travelled to Oslo to assist him as well as all sponsors who helped to make the trip possible.

William will now check all the records set at intermediate distances and times to see how many records were set all together.

Read all articles about William Sichel HERE

Ultra Running Review of the Year 2013

Rob Krar UROC ©iancorless.com

What an amazing time to be involved in the sport of ultra running! The once niche minority sport has exploded to greater heights and distances in 2013. No longer is a long beard and ‘Buff’ a pre requisite of ultra running (unless you’re Rob Krar). Clean cut, young, fast is the new ‘ultra runner’ mixing it up with the old guard.
Just think back to this time last year, had you heard of Zach Miller (not the Zach Miller, but, the Zach Miller; confused?), Michele YatesRob Krar, Magdalena Boulet and Xavier Thevenard.
Racing and the opportunity to race has also increased to the extent that it is now possible to race pretty much week in and week out for 12-months of the year. Of course, this brings pluses and minuses, certainly from an elite level, runners need to be far more savvy and race clever. You can no longer race month on month and expect to win. Races now have much higher quality fields and the pace is going up. The growth of Skyrunning has been instrumental in enticing a world audience to test runners of all abilities on tough, technical and high-terrain and the feedback has been incredible. UTWT have launched a series of races above the 100-km distance and in doing so have created a ‘trail’ circuit that offers multiple terrain in multiple locations all over the world. It will be interesting to see how the inaugural year goes when 2014 comes around.
So, what are the highlights of 2013?
Ultra Runner of the Year – Men and ladies
Rob Krar UROC ©iancorless.com
  • Lets start with Rob Krar. I interviewed Rob just after his incredible ‘FKT’ in the Grand Canyon early in 2013 when he put the Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim record at another level. At the time we discussed Western States, he was intimidated by the ‘Super Bowl’ of ultra and his first 100-miler. “I’ll give it a shot and see what happens”. Well, if you hadn’t noticed Rob pre WSER you did afterwards. Your not supposed to run WSER and get 2nd overall in your first attempt. UROC, Ultra Race of Champions was the final of the Skyrunner Ultra World Series and for some reason they had bestowed upon themselves the title, ‘The Ultra Running World Championship’. Mmmmm well, it certainly had a quality field but ‘World Championship’? I don’t think so. In the end it came down to a head-to-head between Dakota Jones and Rob Krar. Dakota looked as though he had it sewn up but on the final descent, Rob unleashed a pace that Dakota went on to say was ‘just crazy’. Rob took the win and a pattern was forming. We were all a little surprised to see Rob’s name on the start list for JFK50, primarily with TNF50 in San Francisco just two weeks later. As it happened, Rob dropped at around the 41-mile mark and went on to say that it was either ‘a great training run for TNF50 or the worst decision he had made in a while.’ It was a great training run! Rob ran a super calm, collected and mature race in San Francisco and when he took the front in the last fifth of the race he released a pace that was just incredible. Without doubt my ultra runner of the year!
Kilian Jornet and the Matterhorn ©iancorless.com
  • Of course, you can’t talk about male ultra runner and not mention Kilian Jornet. Kilian is a phenomenon. He is the star of our sport. Once again he was crowned Skyrunner World Ultra Series Champion with wins at Transvulcania and Ice Trail Tarentaise. In addition to this, Kilian was also champion of the ‘Sky’ series with 4 wins; ZegamaMont-BlancMatterhorn Ultraks and Limone Extreme. Add this a couple VK’s, a win at Canazei Sky race for the European Championships and a win at Trans D’Havet for the ‘Ultra’ Skyrunning European Championships and you would say the deal is done! But wait-a-minute, we haven’t mentioned his records for his ‘Summits’ project. A stunning new FKT for Chamonix-Mont-Blanc-Chamonix but arguably THE highlight of the year was his Matterhorn Summit. It was a sublime and surreal performance that put going to the mountains light on another level. It was without doubt my ‘moment’ of the year. You can read my ‘Matterhorn Summits Interview’ with Kilian here. Kilian is the most complete athlete I know.
Michele Yates - iancorless.com ©bradclayton

Michele Yates – iancorless.com ©bradclayton

  • Michele Yates hadn’t run an ultra before 2013. Who would have thought that Ms Figure Colorado 2008 would be such an awesome talent? Well her history shows that she is a 2x Olympic Trials Marathon Competitor, she has 9 marathon wins and PB of 2:38:37. To say Michele burst on the ultra scene would be an underestimation. Her win at Indiana Trail 100 (17:35:18) almost went unnoticed but then taking top spot and the $10,000 prize at Run Rabbit Run suddenly made every one stop, look around and take notice. Placing 3rd at UROC was another sign that Michele was no one trick pony but just like Rob Krar, Michele sealed a quality 2013 with a win at TNF50. She started that race from the front and never relinquished the lead until the line. Is Michele female ultra runner of the year? Well, I would have said yes. That is until the weekend of Dec 13th/ 14th(Listen to interview with Michele on the Christmas show of Talk Ultra, Ep51 out Dec 27th)
  • Pam Smith victorious at Western States turned up at the Desert Solstice track meet run by Aravaipa Running and not only took out the win for 12-hours on the track but set a new female record for 100-miles, 14:11:26. Take your pick, Michele or Pam; it’s a tough call.
Emelie Forsberg ©iancorless.com
  • But wait a minute, what about Emelie Forsberg. Emelie arrived on the run scene in 2012 and instantly had success, continually placing top-3 with Anna Frost and Nuria Picas. However the break through moment came ironically this time last year, she won TNF50 in San Francisco. This seemed to change everything, Emelie arrived at Transvulcania in May 2013 and won, she followed this up with a win in ZegamaCanazeiIce Trail TarentaiseMatterhorn UltraksUROC and then went on to run her first 100-miler at the super tough Diagonale de Fous (Raid de la Reunion) and place 2nd. Do you want to vote against Emelie?
Performances of the Year
tnfutmb 2013 ©iancorless.com
  • Rory Bosio blasted around the TNFUTMB course and in the process not only obliterated the female record but placed 7th overall. Her performance was nothing short of miraculous.
  • Jon Olson set a new American record for 100-miles on the track and then just as the year came to a close, Zach Bitter broke the record with an 11:47:21 but maybe even more important, Zach set a new World Record for 12-hours (101.66 miles) beating a Yiannis Kouros record. That does not happen very often! (Zach Bitter will be in the Christmas episode of Talk Ultra, Ep 51 out Dec 27th here)
  • I have already mention Kilian and the Matterhorn but it was so good I am mentioning it twice!
  • Timothy Olson went back to Western States and won again. You can win a race once but going back and doing it again is always a true sign of a champion.
  • Seb Chaigneau took a win and CR at Hardrock 100.
  • Nickademus Hollon became the youngest person ever to not only complete Barkley but also win it. You can listen to his interview on Talk Ultra here.
Julien Chorier Ronda dels Cims ©iancorless.com
  • Julien Chorier produced a sublime and calculated performance at the super tough Ronda dels Cims. It was a joy and a pleasure to watch someone control and dominate a race from the front and look good all the way.
  • Sage Canaday, jeez I missed him out and he definitely deserves a mention for BanderaTarawera, Transvulcania (3rd), Lake Sonoma and Speedgoat 50k.
 
Francesca Canepa ©iancorless.com
  • Francesca Canepa once again had an incredible year with a great performance at Ronda dels Cims but arguably a repeat win at Tor des Geants places her well and truly at the top on ‘endurance’ lady of the year!
  • Iker Karrera nailed Tor des Geants.
  • Ricky Lightfoot went over to South Africa and raced at The Otter and not only won but put the course record at a new level, in addition he won the IAU World Title in Wales.
 
tnfutmb 2013 ©iancorless.com
  • Xavier Thevenard took everyone, including himself, by surprise at TNFUTMB with a controlled and impressive performance against some top competition.
Jez Bragg TNFUTMB ©iancorless.com
  • Jez Bragg completed the Te Araroa in New Zealand. An incredible journey from the northern tip of New Zealand all the way down to the southern tip. Listen here.
  • David Johnston completed the Iditarod trail Invitational in 4 days 19 hours 13 mins.Crazy fast.
  • Ian Sharman and Nick Clark went head-to-head in the Grand Slam of Ultra Running and produced possibly the most exciting competition of 2013. The pair of them produced incredibly consistent performances and showed us all that it is possible to race four 100-milers back-to-back. They didn’t only ‘complete’ but they competed. They both won a race and were never out of the front rankings. Ian Sharman ultimately had the icing on the cake with the overall fastest time and a new Grand Slam record. Respect! Interview with Ian Sharman here.
  • Paul Giblin at the West Highland Way race. 15:07 and good beating of Terry Conway’s previous CR.
Stevie Kremer Limone Extreme ©iancorless.com
  • Stevie Kremer doesn’t do ultras but she is a darn fine trail and mountain runner and what ‘Pocket Rocket’ achieved in 2013 is nothing short of miraculous. Can’t wait to see what 2014 has in store.
  • Ed Catmur has continued to knock out some great 100-mile performances on the GB scene with wins at North Downs Way and the Winter 100.
  • Lizzie Wraith new female CR for the Lakeland 100 in the UK.
  • William Sichel keeps running and running crazy distances and setting new records.
  • Jonas Buud didn’t win Comrades in 2013 but he ran one of the best paced races I’ve ever witnessed. He was way back in the late 30’s and slowly moved up to 3rd. Wow! Notable mention to Brit ladies, Joanna Zakrezewski and Holly Rush who placed top-10.
Surprises of the Year
  • Rob Krar – Just one word sums up the bearded warrior ‘Krarnage’.
  • Zach Miller – no, not Zach Miller, but Zach Miller. Zach rocked up at JFK50, nobody knew him and he didn’t know anyone else. He took over the lead when Rob Krar dropped at mile 41. Not only did he win but also he set the 3rd fastest time ever. Interview with Zach here.
  • Xavier Thevenard – TNFUTMB was going to be won by Anton KrupickaMiguel HerasJulien ChorierSeb Chaigneau or Mike Foote. Somebody should have told them all about CCC winner, Xavier.
  • Michele Yates – wow, what a first year in the ultra world.
Who and what to watch out for in 2014
Cameron Clayton UROC ©iancorless.com
  • Cameron Clayton has found his feet, 2013 had some mixed performances but when everything aligns he races with the best. His TransvulcaniaUROC and TNF50 performances without doubt elevates him to ‘hot’ for 2014.
Luis Alberto Hernando Haria Extreme ©iancorless.com
  • Luis Alberto Hernando pushed Kilian close at Transvulcania, Zegama, finished joint first at Trans D’havet and won at Cavalls del Vent. In 2014 he plans to race TNFUTMB, now that will be interesting.
  • Magdalena Boulet had an ultra debut at TNF50 and placed 2nd. This sub 2:30 marathon runner may turn a few heads in 2014.
  • Brit, Stuart Air may raise a few eyebrows in 2014. He had a solid Ronda dels Cims, Ice Trail Tarentaise and Tor des Geants and for 2014 he has a Hardrock 100 slot!
  • Hardrock 100 had it’s draw and suddenly much of the WSER ‘lottery’ chat shifted focus to the field up at Silverton. The 2014 race is a classic in the making with Kilian JornetSebastian ChaigneauJulien ChorierJoe Grant and more. Excited? Just a little.
  • The Skyrunning World Championships take place in Chamonix with runners from all over the world coming to race VK, SKY and ULTRA in one of the endurance capitals of the world.
  • Beards – the jury is out. Are beards fast or slow? Rob Krar, Timmy Olson and ‘Clarky’ are certainly great advocates for hairy running but Kilian, Cameron, Sage provide a strong counter argument. What are your thoughts?
And finally…
 
A review of any year is going to be personal. Without doubt we will all have our own highlights and favourite moments, so, I would love to read your thoughts.
Please use the form below.
Ian Corless ETR ©iancorless.com
On a personal note, 2013 was an incredible year, I feel blessed with all the opportunities I have had. To witness many of the moments I write about is a great pleasure. Of course, it’s nothing without you folks reading, looking at my photographs or listening to my podcast.
A very BIG thank you from me.
Happy Christmas and a wonderful 2014 awaits us all…
LINKS:
Photography from 2013 races HERE
IMAGES book HERE
Calendar HERE
Podcasts HERE

Lizzy Hawker does it!

Kathmandu, Sunday 21st April 2013

Runner breaks own 3-day record for 319km Everest Base Camp to Kathmandu mail run.

British female endurance athlete completes journey in 63 hours 8 minutes.

On Saturday evening at 10 minutes past ten, the British endurance athlete Lizzy Hawker, 37, arrived at the locked gates of Rangashala, Nepal’s National Stadium in Kathmandu to complete the 319km journey by foot from Everest Base Camp in Solukhumbu.

In steadily falling rain she was greeted by a handful of press photographers and was awarded a token of congratulations by Nilendra Shrestha, president of the Nepal Amateur Athletics Association who named it a “stunning effortâ€.

At 7:02 on Thursday 18th April the internationally renowned endurance athlete began the solo part of her run in the direction of Kathmandu. She reached Jiri on Friday at 6pm where two support runners joined her.

During the journey she rested frequently but slept, in her estimation, for just 4 minutes.

Searching for the trail at 2am on the second night with support runner Upendra Sunuwar.

Searching for the trail at 2am on the second night with support runner Upendra Sunuwar.

She was the current world record holder for the ‘Everest Mailrun’ the journey taken by those carrying letters to and from expeditions at Everest Base Camp before the opening of the Lukla airstrip in 1964. It is a record few have tried to claim.

Her previous record stood at 71 hours 25 minutes, completed in November 2011. She made her first attempt of the run in 2007 with her friend, Steven Pike, which took 74 hours 36 minutes.

The last Nepali runner to hold the record was Kumar Limbu in 79 hours and 10 minutes set in May 2000.

The route is brutally hilly with more than 10,000m of ascent and nearly 14,000m of descent on a mixture of rocky trails and tarred road.

“The biggest challenge, wondering if would I get to start due to the Lukla flight cancellations,†says Hawker. The hardest part on the run was the two hours at the end of the third day without sleep. “When darkness falls, that’s when you feel the tiredness,†she said.

Her striking impression of the run was “the contrast, from beauty of the mountains and purity of the landscape up there [at Base Camp] to evening rain, traffic and pollution in urban Kathmandu at the end of the journey.â€

2013.04.20 - Lizzy Hawker EBC-KTM-RPB-0927s

Hard times – just two hours from Kathmandu on the busy highway near Bhaktapur.

2013.04.20 - Lizzy Hawker EBC-KTM-RPB-2047s

Being congratulated with a malla by NAAF President Nilendra Shrestha

Hawker, who was named a National Geographic Adventurer of the Year 2013 is well known in the ultra running and trail running worlds. She won the 100K world championship in 2006, set a 24-hour world record by running 247km at the Commonwealth Championships in September 2011, and set a course record for women in the 250km Spartathlon Ultra Race in Greece last year. She is also five times winner of the 168km North Face Ultra Trail de Mont Blanc, one of the world’s iconic ultra-marathon races.

Earlier this year The North Face sponsored athlete won the Nepal’s 100km Annapurna 100 race and will race the multiday Mustang Trail Race later this month before then going to compete in the 24 hour World Championships in The Netherlands in mid-May.

The Long Trail – Nikki Kimball

Nikki Kimball rocks!

For sure, this girl has a no messing attitude. I remember her saying to me at Zegama just after she had placed 3rd lady at Transvulcania La Palma, my legs hurt but I am gonna ‘kick ass’. Love it!

Nikki has just run another Western States and placed 5th but in August she has a new project… ‘The Long Trail’

Nikki will plan to run 273 miles of extreme terrain in 4 days.

Synopsis:

In an age where obesity is the #1 killer in America, THE LONG TRAIL, a one-hour HD co-production of Bozeman-based Fours Five Productions and MontanaPBS, will present the inspirational story of Montana resident and top-ranked endurance athlete Nikki Kimball’s quest to run Vermont’s 273-mile Long Trail in just four days. What drives her to attempt such an incredible feat? The film will follow Nikki’s journey from its beginning—training and racing in the mountains near her home in Montana—to her actual record attempt in Vermont next summer. Breaking the Long Trail record is a jewel among endurance runners. From France to Brazil, Nikki’s traveled the world competing as a member of the United States 100k and Mountain Running Teams. She’s won the Western States 100 Mile three times and holds the course record for the Bridger Ridge Run. Her race resume puts her among the greatest distance runners of our generation. But the Long Trail breaks runners. Our film will show how Nikki survives this incredible ordeal, in her quest to push the limits of what people consider possible both physically and psychologically.

Throughout the film interviews with today’s leading evolutionary biologists, including David Carrier, featured in Christopher McDougall’s Born to Run and Bernd Heinrich, author of Why We Run, will explain the science and history behind Nikki’s incredible undertaking. For Nikki, this well-publicized run on America’s first long distance hiking trail is more than a chance to inspire people to be active and spend time outdoors, it’s her way of encouraging women and girls to take an equal place for themselves in professional sports. THE LONG TRAIL will utilize a mix of Steadicam, DSLR, POV, and ultra high-speed cameras to give this film a riveting, exciting aesthetic of Nikki’s inspiring adventure. In addition to providing an inside look into contemporary running culture, this film will give viewers a new perspective on the endurance of the human body and spirit, and informing us all us, regardless of our sex, of our true potential and inspiring us to reach it.

Who is Nikki Kimball (as if you didn’t know) – in her own words…

I grew up a few miles from the Long Trail, just south of its heavily wooded, often muddy course from Brandon Gap to Sherburn Pass. In early memories, I am standing with my parents atop Killington Peak, jumping into Little Rock Pond after a long hike with friends, rappelling off Deer Leap during summer camp. In high school I ran, skied, and snowshoed on the Long Trail and its extensive network of side trails. From these early experiences grew a life-long passion for endurance off-road sports. While in college in the early 90’s, I heard that some men from the U.S. Ski Team set a record for the fastest completion of the Long Trail. At the time I skied decently, but did not run fast, nor had I ever run longer than three hours. I did not know how long the trip took them, or even if what I had heard was true. Still the thought intrigued me. But mostly, the intriguing thought remained buried, a dormant seed, for nearly two decades.

Since leaving Vermont for further school and work, I’ve continued running, skiing, and snowshoeing. My resume includes eleven national championship titles and membership on thirteen national teams across three different sports. I ran in Asia, helping the U.S. Ultramarathon Team win gold. I ran in South Africa in a team effort to raise tens of thousands of dollars for orphans of HIV/AIDS. I competed in Europe and South America, on roads, alpine trails, and in jungles. I chose graduate school in physical therapy, a career which allows me to help injured athletes return to their sports, their passions. As a physical therapist, I worked in London, New York, and Montana. Now the Long Trail is calling me home. The seed planted so long ago began to sprout in the fall of 2010 when I proposed to my sponsor, The North Face, that they finance a planned September 2011 attempt the break the fastest know time record for an end-to-end trek of the Long Trail. By the following August all was ready. A teammate would join me for the attempt. We had trained all year for the run. Plans were solid. Nothing would stop us. Hurricane Irene was not in the plan.

During the final weekend of August 2011, Irene dumped 15 inches in parts of Vermont. 2000 miles away, I watched videos of wreckage. I called home (my parents and brother still live in Vermont) frequently. My friends and family were safe and healthy. Vermont’s landscape and infrastructure were not safe and healthy, however. The state closed over 260 roads, many miles of which were completely washed away. People lost businesses and homes. Images of iconic covered bridges floating roughly down violently swollen rivers lead feature stories on national news. As I watched and read news of the destruction, I cried. I cried over the loss of landmarks which play key roles in my memory. I cried for those who lost homes, family businesses, and jobs. And I cried because I lost my chance to complete the project that was the focus of an entire year of training and preparation. And then I cried because I felt guilty about mourning my loss, while others lost so much more.

So I decided to continue with my plan, delaying the attempt for a year until the summer of 2012.  I want to help Vermont recover.  Most roads are open.  Crews cleared out the most obvious destruction.  Hurricane Irene is an interesting memory for most people not directly affected by its wrath.  Big donations of money and volunteer muscle power have slowed.  Trails, back roads, and other property remain badly damaged.  I love Vermont.  I still call it home, as it was my first home.  I love the Long Trail where I learned to run technical trails.  I want now, more than ever, to eclipse the 4 day, 12 hour, and 46 minute record set by Jonathan Basham in 2009.  And though that record important to me, it leads me to a much more important goal.  I hope to generate at least $10,000 for the repair and maintenance of the Long Trail and its network of beautiful side trails.