THE FUTURE IN THE SKY – 2018 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series Announced

Getting steep and getting high, the 2018 Skyrunner® World Series was announced today.

Since 1989 and the pioneering days of Marino Giacometti, Skyrunning has developed and grown into one of the most prestigious mountain running circuits in the world.

The catchphrase, Less Cloud, More Sky sums the sport up perfectly.

2018 brings a new circuit with old and familiar races but importantly the distances of SKY CLASSIC, ULTRA and EXTREME combine – SKY CLASSIC and SKY EXTRA.

The 2018 Season

China will kick-off the season with the Yading Skyrun in April.

May brings us two iconic races that over the years have become favorites for Skyrunner’s all over the world, Transvulcania and Zegama-Aizkorri.

June kicks-off with USM – Ultra SkyMarathon Madeira followed by TBC, Olympus Marathon (Greece).

Buff Epic 42km (Spain) is the first race in July closely followed by High Trail Vanoise (France) and the iconic Dolomites SkyRace (Italy) and Comapedrosa (Andorra).

Tromso SkyRace (Norway) is a stunning way to start August and the highly anticipated Trofeo Kima (Italy) returns (this race is every two years) on the same weekend as Matterhorn Ultraks (Switzerland).

The RUT 25km (USA) begins September and then Skyline Scotland will host the Glen Coe Skyline (Scotland) ahead of the Ultra Pirineu (Spain).

Pirin Ultra SkyRace (Bulgaria) kicks-off October and Limone Extreme (Italy) concludes the season once again in the mountains that back on to Lake Garda.


Each of the bonus races will award 50% extra points.

There will be three Sky Classic and two Sky Extra bonus races. 

Sky Classic

  1. Olympus Marathon
  2. SkyRace Comapedrosa
  3. Limone Extreme

Sky Extra

  1. Ultra SkyMarathon Madeira
  2. Trofeo Kima


Sky Classic Ranking

The Sky Classic Ranking will take into account a maximum of the five best seasons’ results in this category.

Sky Extra Ranking (Extreme and Ultra Races)

The Sky Extra Ranking will take into account a maximum of the four best seasons’ results in this category.

Overall Ranking

The Overall Ranking will be the focus of the season and a foretaste of the single ranking that will apply from 2019.

All athletes scoring points in any race will enter the Overall Ranking.

The ranking will take into account a maximum of the best two results in each category.


The 2018 End of Season Bonus Pool will increase amount 66,000 EUR (in increase from 60’000 EUR in 2017). Men and Women will be equally rewarded and emphasis will be put on the Overall ranking. The breakdown will be as follows:

1st Place:

Sky Classic 5000 euro

Sky Extra 5000 euro

2nd Place:

Sky Classic 2500 euro

Sky Extra 2500 euro

3rd Place:

Sky Classic 1500 euro

Sky Extra 1500 euro


The Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series in 2019 will continue within the footsteps pioneered by Giacometti, Meraldi and Brunod to establish itself as the premier circuit for mountain running worldwide.

Varied distances, varied terrain and locations all over the world.

As the running world continues to grow at a pace, the Skyrunner® World Series will look to set new standards in 2019.

  1. Races will not exceed 16-hours.
  2. Distances will be 22km to 66km.
  3. A SkyRace will be clarified by technicality, speed, intensity and extreme terrain.
  4. A race rating of 1 – 3 will based on the following:
  • Climbing difficulty.
  • Altitude reached.
  • Single vertical difference.
  • Snow fields and glaciers.

For example, Extreme races are 3.


A single ranking for 2019 to determine who is the best Skyrunner® in the world.


The calendar will run April to October with a spread of races that will number 15-20 on different continents.


Four races in the season will be ‘SuperSky Races’ and will reward more points.


Ironman has its KONA and Skyrunning will have its THE SKY MASTERS – a race to end the season that will gather the best-of-the-best to race head-to-head at an iconic location.


Each SkyRace will have a price purse of 6000 euro.

 The end of season bonus pool will amount to 100.000 euro.

More details and information to follow

Join STEVIE KREMER in London for a run and talk


Meet Stevie Kremer

Freestak on behalf of Ian Corless and Talk Ultra

Wednesday, 15 October 2014 from 18:30 to 22:30 (BST)

London, United Kingdom

Stevie Kremer has had an exceptional 2014, the highlight of which has to be winning the Matterhorn Ultraks 46K in a new course record, her third win in the Skyrunner® World Series SKY distance. This victory along with wins at Zegama-Aizkorri and Sierre-Zinal has secured another Skyrunner World Series title for 2014 which will conclude at Limone Extreme on October 11th.

Stevie will join us for a run, talk and Q&A opportunity just days after Limone Extreme on route to the final Skyrunning UK event in 2014, the Mourne Skyline MTR which will take place in Ireland on October 18th.

Stevie has had a whirlwind couple of years, in 2013 she was crowned Skyrunner® World Series champion after securing victory ahead of Emelie Forsberg at the final race of the year in Italy. This year, in addition to three victories at Zegama-Aizkorri, Sierre-Zinal and Matterhorn Ultraks, Stevie won the combined title at the Skyrunning World Championships in Chamonix.


Ian Corless, photographer/ writer at and creative director/host of Talk Ultra, has set up the opportunity for a group of runners to join Stevie for a run on Hampstead Heath followed by a Q&A session over a few drinks. This event has been set up in collaboration with freestak Ltd and Like the Wind magazine.


The run will last between 45 and 60 minutes and will just be a social event at an easy pace. Afterwards there will be a chance to order dinner at the pub where we will be retiring to catch up with Stevie and ask all the burning questions we have for her.



What are my transport/parking options?

The nearest tube to the pub is Kentish Town or Gospel Oak on the Overground. For more informationclick here.

Can I leave bags at the venue?

You can leave bags at the venue and someone will stay with them while everyone goes running. We can’t take responsibility for any loss or damage to items left however.

Will there be food available?

The pub cooks fresh dishes which can be ordered in advance. Everyone who books a ticket will be contacted before the event to see if they want to order some food.

What do I get for my money?

Everyone who pays for a place on the run will get a drink after the run. Food will be extra and can be paid for at the bar.

PLEASE NOTE – This is a ticket ONLY event and numbers are very limited (just 30-places). You can purchase a ticket HERE for £5.00.


The Dartmouth Arms
35 Dartmouth Park Rd
NW5 1SP 

United Kingdom

Wednesday, 15 October 2014 from 18:30 to 22:30 (BST)

Chris Steele (inov-8) wins Santa Cruz Extreme

photo European Mountain Marathons Series

photo European Mountain Marathons Series

Chris Steele, inov-8, headed out to Tenerife to tackle the gruelling 42km Santa Cruz Extreme in preparation for the UK’s Three Peaks and the first Skyrunner World series event, Zegama-Aizkorri. Returning to the UK with a big international win under his belt, Chris will be one-to-watch when the elite toe the start line in North Yorkshire on Saturday.

Blog post by Chris Steele, courtesy of inov-8 and Chris Steele.

‘Oh man…. I’ve blown it!’

Those were my thoughts as I passed the 40km mark whilst leading a field of 250 runners at the Santa Cruz Extreme race (part of the European Mountain Marathons Series) in Tenerife.

I hadn’t seen one of the by-now familiar pieces of blue and white tape marking the course for at least 500m. They had been far more frequent before this.

Panic set in. I had only 2km (or at least I thought I did) to go but no idea which direction to run in!

I stopped. With nobody in sight, my only option was to stick to the main path and hope for the best.

Another few hundred metres later I saw somebody in the distance. Fired-up and full of anger, I put in a massive effort up a big climb to try and catch the man in front.

Pushing my body to the limit, I gained quickly on the new ‘leader’ only to be told, upon catching him, that I was last and he was in charge of taking down the course markers.

What? How the hell did this happen? Did he think the last race of the day was the 21km event? Had he forgotten about us out on the longer course? My anger heightened and a barrage of expletives spewed out of my mouth.

European Mountain Marathons Series

European Mountain Marathons Series

I decided just to carry on – at least I was now able to follow the pieces of tape he hadn’t so far taken down.

Another five minutes of tough ascent later I reached a summit checkpoint, at which point a hardy gang of Spaniards began to roar ‘champion’. By now I had absolutely no idea what was happening and, with my watch having passed 42km, how far I still had to run!

A super-technical descent followed before 4km of torrid asphalt. Eventually the finish line came into view. I was still unsure as to whether I was in the lead or not, but the cheers from the huge crowd suggested I may well be.

Arms aloft, I crossed the line. Yes, I had indeed won. Phew! Oh, and I’d run 48km too, with 2600m of ascent thrown in for good measure.

European Mountain Marathons Series

European Mountain Marathons Series

Set in the Santa Cruz region of Tenerife, the race certainly lived up to its billing as extreme. The landscape was tropical but very rough underfoot.

Bussed out from Santa Cruz early in the morning, the race started on the beach at La Terisitas at 9am.

Once underway, I was pleased that the early pace was steady. I had been informed of ‘who was who’ at the start and whom I should keep an eye on. I stayed to the fore, alert to any breaks.

The course profile was brutal and involved 700m of ascent inside the first 6km. As it turned out only 100m of that ascent was in the first 4km. Then, at that point, we hit what can only be described as a 2km wall rising 600m in elevation.

At the foot of the climb, Andres Fernandez made a break for it. It was a move I knew I had to cover, so I went with him. It was tough, but at the same time I felt comfortable with the pace.

As we topped out the first climb and went through the first feed station the weather began to worsen. This made the next descent even trickier. Wet and slimy underfoot, my inov-8 roclite 243 shoes gripped superbly and definitely gave me an advantage.

By the time we hit the bottom of the descent I afforded myself a glance over my shoulder and was happy to see nobody in sight. I had the gap, now I just had to keep pushing hard.

This wasn’t too difficult as the trail was amazing; every twist and turn brought something new. The climbs were steep but often runnable, while the trails were flowing along the coast and the descents technical. It was, to be fair, my dream course.

I kept pushing at the front, unaware of how big the gap actually was. The big panic over route-choice followed before I eventually completed the course in a time of 4hrs 51mins, over 15 minutes in front of second-placed Andres.

I raced for the first time in the inov-8 Race Ultra Vest. I was amazed its effectiveness. Long European races often require athletes to carry water as part of their mandatory equipment list. This race was no exception with organisers insisting everyone carried a mobile phone, emergency blanket, waterproof jacket and 1.5 litres of fluid.

Having such ease of access to the water bottles meant I was able to keep drinking regularly and grab gels from the pockets without having to slow my pace. The vest didn’t move or bounce throughout, there was no sloshing of water and it was super-comfortable, leaving no rub marks.

It was most definitely the best win I’ve ever taken, over one of the most amazing courses too. My focus is now on this Saturday’s high-profile Three Peaks race, which this year celebrates its 60th running. The 37km race, which has 1608m of ascent over the summits of Pen-y-ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough, always attracts a top-quality field and this year will be no different. After that I will ramp up my preparations for the opening race in the 2014 Skyrunner World Series, to be held at Zegama, Spain, in May.

Photos: ©European Mountain Marathons Series

IMAGES – Coffee Table Photo Book

IMAGES coffee table book by Ian CorlessI am pleased to announce that my coffee table book, IMAGES is now available to order.

Preview Here ©iancorless all rights reserved, please, no reproduction under any circumstance.


  • Size: 10×8 inckes/ 25×20 cm’s
  • Format: Landscape
  • Pages: 68
  • Paper: High quality images printed on Premium Lustre paper
  • Cover: Hardcover with full colour images dust jacket
  • Foreward: by Emelie Forsberg (Salomon Running)


Book : £50.00 (plus postage) full colour hard bound book with dust jacket, signed on request.

eBook : £15.99 available for iPad – direct purchase HERE

Hints n Tips:

The ebook IMAGES by Ian Corless is available for download. Here’s how to get this ebook onto your iOS device:

  1. Open this email on your iPad, iPhone or iPod touch.
  2. If you do not have the free Apple iBooks app you’ll need to install it before downloading your book.
  3. Follow this link to get the book: YOU WILL BE SENT A LINK
    (This link will expire in 48 hours, after which you will be prompted to log in)
  4. Safari will open and begin downloading the ebook to your device.
  5. When the download is complete, you will be given the option to ‘Open in iBooks’. Tap this button once.
  6. iBooks will launch, im port the ebook, and then open it for viewing.

A few notes for a smoother experience…

  • Connect to Wi-Fi: Image-rich ebooks can be quite large, so downloading and importing them to iBooks can take several minutes.
  • Be patient: Very little feedback is given while iBooks is opening the file, so you may want to check your device after a few minutes.
  • Make room: Make sure you have enough free space on your device or the download may fail.
  • Can’t find your book? In iBooks, make sure you’re viewing the ‘Books’ collection and not the ‘PDFs’ collection. To switch views, just tap the ‘Collections’ button in your iBooks library.

PDF : £12.00 a high-resolution full colour PDF available for computer viewing in Adobe or similar software

Races included in the book:

Trofeo Kima, Templiers, The Coastal Challenge, The Causeway Crossing, Transvulcania La Palma, Zegama-Aizkorri, Haria Extreme, Ronda dels Cims, Mont-Blanc Marathon, Ice Trail Tarentaise, Dolomites VK & Skyrace, Trans D’Havet, Matterhorn Ultraks, TNFUTMB, Grand to Grand, UROC, MDS and Everest Trail Race.


Books are available to order with an estimated 12-day turnaround.

Zeagama-Aizkorri 2013 – Trail Magazin, Germany

Zegama Spread 1

Zegama Spread 2The latest edition of Trail Magazin is available on line and can be downloaded for just 4€ from HERE




When asked about Zegama, Kilian Jornet replies, ‘It’s Zegama’. In other words, no explanation is needed. The word itself is enough. Zegama-Aizkorri is THE ultimate mountain race.


Located in the heart of the Aizkorri nature reserve, Zegama village is the hub for the Zegama-Aizkorri race. On July 7th 2002 in conjunction with the Amezti Mountain Society, the Zegama-Aizkorri Alpine marathon was created, its main goal to promote and revitalize the Zegama region in terms of economics, culture and tourism.


The race is now one of the most prestigious alpine marathons in the world. It was the European Mountain Race Championship event in 2008 and is now a key race in the Skyrunning World Series.


At 42.195 kilometers it is a classic Sky marathon. The route has an accumulated height gain of 5472m over the Aratz massif and the Sierra of Aizkorri which includes the four highest peaks in the Basque Autonomous Region; Aratz, Aitzkorri, Akategi and Aitxuri at the highest point of the course at 1551m. Starting in the town of Zegama at 296m runners climb to Otzaurte at 652m. From here, following paths and mountain tracks with stunning natural beauty, participants are confronted with forest; rocky slopes, technical ridges and high grazing pasture land. It’s a tough and technical course. A capped field of 450 must cover the terrain within the eight hour cut off.


The Race

It is the race that many want to do… like London Marathon or an Ironman event; the race has far more demand than places available. The 2013 allocation of 450 participants saw over sixteen countries represented.

After several years of very wet and cold weather, a race day with good conditions could see the long-standing records of 3:54:18 by Rob Jebb in 2005 and 4:38:19 by two-time world champion, Emanuela Brizio set in 2009 challenged.

However, snow and rain in the days before race day ruled out ‘good conditions’ underfoot. As it happened, race day was a glorious, warm and sunny day. Maybe even a little too hot for some. As 450 eager participants departed from the start line, the early morning mist lifted and what lay ahead was a stunning day of mountain racing by the best in the world.

Kilian Jornet and Luis Alberto Hernando had placed one and two respectively at Transvulcania La Palma just two weeks earlier. Emelie Forsberg and Nuria Picas also had the same result on the island of La Palma, would we see a repeat in the Aizkorri nature reserve?

Last minute entrant, Marco De Gasperi dictated the early pace in the men’s race with Kilian Jornet and South African, AJ Calitz close on his heels. Marco, a world champion in his own right had been injured in the build up to Zegama and although he started the race, his long-term plan was always to pull out at halfway.

On the climb to Otzaurte Kilian and Marco had dropped AJ and pushed the pace. Hands on knees, bent double; they pushed from left leg to right leg at a relentless pace while all behind suffered. Pre race favorite, Luis Alberto Hernando running with ‘poles’ was minutes back.

Stevie Kremer from the US (now living in Italy) pushed hard in the early stages of the ladies race. She is the current long course world mountain running champion and although new to Skyrunning, she was not letting this daunt her. Stevie said post race, “I am new to Skyrunning and although I love to climb I was worried by the technical aspects of the descents, in particular the last descent which dropped from 1551m to the finish line. I wanted a time buffer!”

Behind Emelie Forsberg followed patiently. She looked calm, relaxed and focused. A surprise came from Nuria Picas. Nuria had placed second in 2012 at Zegama and was now lying in seventh place minutes behind the front of the race.

US runner, Dave James who is a USATF 100m champion had his first experience of a Sky Marathon, post race said, “The ridgeline I crawled over would make a great place for a trail if they would move some of those jagged rocks out of the way he laughed.  Welcome to Skyrunning in Europe; an entirely different “sport” that combines the ascent and descents of the mountain in its purest form!  Poles, hands on quads, people descending on their butts, knee-deep mud and power hiking!  Was I at a mountain trek or a running event? Or was it a perfect mix of the two? The most historic off road race in the Basque Country, Zegama has it all, and for me is the toughest marathon in the world!”

As Marco dropped from the race, Kilian was left alone. He was running within himself. Enjoying the views, the blue skies, the incredible support.

“I drifted away a little,” said Kilian, “I was enjoying a wonderful day in the mountains and then suddenly I heard deep breathing. As I looked around I saw Luis Alberto Hernando, he had caught up with me along the ridgeline, and he was focused. I suddenly realized I had a race on my hands”.

Kilian was correct. Luis Alberto had the bit between his teeth and he was pushing harder than ever before… he wanted to move up from second and top the podium. If Kilian was going to win this race, he was going to have to earn it. From the final summit at Aitxuri the two dropped some 1300m on technical, twisty, muddy and very slippery terrain. Pushing each other to the limit they would alternate the lead. This race could come down to who makes a mistake!

With just a couple of kilometers to go, trail turned to road and Kilian made his move. He opened a small gap over Luis Alberto and at the line he had a handful of seconds to spare. It was an incredible finish and one that was reflected on the faces of both. Bent double, hands on knees they gulped for air. Each a spent force! They had raced hard and the best man had won

Behind, Tadie Pivk from Italy flew around the final bend, arms outstretched. He had made the podium.

The ladies race also reflected the excitement of the men’s race. Early leader Stevie Kremer was caught and passed by Transvulcania La Palma winner, Emelie Forsberg. Emelie was in her element, she just loves the mountains and you can see it reflected in her smile. Stevie was joined by teammate, Silvia Serafini and the two pursued as fast as they could.

Behind, Nuria Picas was having a stunning race, she moved up from eighth on the first climb to now catch Silvia and Stevie and go past them. As Stevie had predicted it was all going to come down to that final descent! Pushing the pace Silvia twisted an ankle and although not out of the race it hampered her ability to chase.

Emelie ultimately was a comfortable winner of the race. Nuria in the final meters of the finishing straight waved to the crowd and high fived… suddenly Stevie appeared! She had made up time on that final drop from the summit. Had Nuria been facing the wrong way, she may very well have lost second place. Nuria turned and ran for the line. It was close, so close that only three seconds separated Stevie and Nuria in the final results.

Zegama is without doubt a highlight of the mountain running racing calendar. The course and the crowd support are like a stage of the Tour de France. Although weather conditions were perfect for race day, underfoot was less than perfect. Despite this, Kilian missed the course record of 3:54:18 by only twenty seconds. The ladies record of 4:38:19 was very safe with almost 10 minutes to spare.

Race results


1. Kilian Jornet (Salomon Santiveri) – 3h54’38”

2. Luis Alberto Hernando (Adidas) – 3h54’50”

3. Tadei Pivk (Crazy Idea) – 3h58’07”


1.  Emelie Forsberg (Salomon) –  4h48’12”

2.  Nuria Picas (FEEC) – 4h49’55”

3.  Stevie Kremer (Salomon Agisko) – 4h49’58”

Technical details:

  • DATE: 26th of May, 2013
  • START AND FINISH: Zegama ( Guipúzcoa ) –09:00 Start.
  • TOTAL LENGTH: 42.195 km.
  • FLYING SPRINT: Aizkorri ( 22.58 km )
  • MAXIMUM ALTITUDE: 1.551m Aitxurri
  • MINIMUM ALTITUDE: 296m Zegama.
  • CLIMATE: Medium mountain, possibilities of intense heat, strong winds, fog or rain.
  • TIME LIMIT: 8 Hours
  • DIFFICULTY: Very high.

Florian Reichert: From earth to sky – the interview


Florian Reichert is a fast roadrunner! With a track and field background and a specialty at middle distance, his first marathon was an impressive sub 2:30. However, he has only run one road marathon and that was just last year. In 2013 with sponsorship from Arc’teryx and inov-8, Florian has progressed to trail and mountain running. Always seeking a new challenge, he didn’t start the easy way and ease himself in, no; anything but… he threw himself in at the deep end with possibly one of the most iconic and competitive mountain marathons on the calendar, the ISF Skyrunning Zegama-Aizkorri. I catch up with Florian in a wonderful chalet in the shadow of Mont Blanc. We are on an inov-8 athlete retreat and just a couple of days previous; Florian placed top 10 in his second Skyrunning event, the Mont Blanc Marathon

IC: Welcome Florian it’s great to find some quiet time and have this chat.

FR: Thanks Ian, it’s great to be here and having this opportunity to talk. 

IC: Florian you come from a very quack road running background. You started in 1996/97. You have some very impressive and fast times. What is it that got you into running?


FR: I have always enjoyed pushing myself to the limit. I used to play soccer as many Germans boys do, but I was looking for a sport that would allow me some independence. I wanted the success to come from myself and it was natural that I found running. From early on I enjoyed being alone and running long distances. It was actually my Physical Education teacher that spotted my potential and I was introduced to track and field.

IC: You specialized in middle distance running?

FR: Yes I was a middle distance guy running the 800m and 1500m. I barely broke the 4min barrier but I noticed that I didn’t have the ability to go faster, so I transitioned to 5k and then 10k. My PR is 14:50 for 5k and 30:50 for 10k. Gradually the distances I ran became longer, it seemed to suit my abilities better. I eventually ended up running my first marathon in 2012.

IC: You have made the transition from middle distances to half and marathon distance but as you say, you actually only ran your first marathon last year and you went sub 2:30. Impressive by any standards what was your actual time?

FR: I ran 2:26 and placed 8th at the German championships. It was lots of work, three to four months of solid preparation. I enjoyed training for the marathon but I felt at the end I was getting very stressed and almost bored. I was fed up of checking time, kilometers, laps etc. I was obsessed by time. This year I wanted a different challenge. I needed some freedom.


IC: You mentioned that you were getting bored and that stress was building. Irrespective of the distance you race, if you are competitive that stress level can come with any distance. If you looked at your marathon, a 2:26 debut is impressive but did you think to yourself even if I train even harder my potential maybe 2:20, maybe a 2:15 and therefore, no disrespect, but in marathon terms that is quite pedestrian. We have seen with Sage Canaday and Max King, both who run around 2:15 that they have made the choice to move from marathon to trail and ultra. Therefore, did you think; I will move to a smaller pond and become a faster person?


FR: Yes, partly correct.  With a great deal of effort I may have run a 2:20 marathon but realistically it may have been a 2:22, so, even as you say, if I had run a 2:15 that would still get me nowhere. Particularly with the quality of African runners in marathon fields. I have always loved being in the mountains and nature so the bigger aspect of my transition is that I wanted to get away from the track, the road, the clock and hit the trails and mountains.

IC: So this year you have moved to trails and to mountain running. You have been fortunate to get sponsorship with Arc’teryx and inov-8. You have clothing and shoes covered. Of course both are involved in Skyrunning. However you are racing at all Skyrunning events for Arc’teryx. You have been thrown in at the deep end particularly with Zegama-Aizkorri. It’s all very well being quick but that doesn’t mean a good performance in a Skyrunning race. So many different aspects are required, yes you will need strong legs, yes you will need big lungs… but Skyrunning is about technique, skills, descending and ability to adapt to terrain. Zegama was a great outing for you. You had a great performance. You were at the front on the climbs early on but the big thing for you was the descents and the technical attributes that are needed to descend. What was it like?

FR: Zegama was such a special experience for me. I was very nervous before the race because I had no idea what was coming up. I knew that the distance was a marathon but the time would be long. As I said, I ran my first marathon last year in just under 2:30; this race took Kilian nearly four hours in 2012. I had never run for that long before, not even in training. I was anxious of what would lie ahead. In the end I was 33rd but in the early stages and particularly the halfway point I was in the top ten. I felt really good but the descending was my nemesis. You are right; I had a big learning curve when going downhill. I really need to work on that. Technical sections in races will require big improvements and commitment from myself. I have a long way to go. For example, the Mont Blanc Marathon was less technical and therefore I had a far more comfortable race. It suited my abilities better, but hey, Zegama was a great start.


IC: Coming from a middle distance road background what was your training like pre Zegama and from what you learnt at Zegama, what changes have you made between races?

FR: I come from a region in Germany that is flat. I have some mountains close by but it only has a peak of 1000m, so, my longest ascent maybe is 600-700m, no more. That makes it difficult to train for Skyrunning. But one of my favorite all time workouts are repetitions like hills, intervals and fartlek. I have beautiful woods all around me where I live. It’s great for speed work. I do repetitions of 1k with ascents of 250-300m and if I do that five or six times then it works well. I can get a 1000m of ascent. I have definitely changed my regime. I don’t go on the track much anymore, maybe once a week. Prior to 2013 I would have been on the track three or four times a week. I run long, I run up to thirty six to thirty eight kilometers now but before it was low twenties. So, yes, I have made some big changes.

IC: In terms of the terrain that you now train on, are you doing fewer roads?

FR: For sure, for the road marathon I always trained on the road. Now I hardly go on the road. I only go on trail. I go on forest paths, fire trail but I try to do single track whenever possible.

IC: Many will read this who are coming from a road background or maybe they are trail runners who have no experience of Skyrunning. They may think, I would really like to try a Skyrunning race but think it is beyond them. What advice would you give to make the transition?


FR: Most importantly they need to find a rhythm. You must find it in training but you must also find it in racing. When preparing for a Skyrunning race of course you need to run hills, you need to work on technique, if possible you need to be in the mountains. Get as much vertical as possible but also work on descents. It is important not to be stressed. Don’t worry about time. It means nothing in these tough and technical races. Rhythm is so important, keep to a pace that you can maintain.


IC: Yes, you mentioned that your home has no mountains. We are currently in Chamonix surrounded by trails and wonderful peaks everywhere, however, for most of us; mountains like this are just possible in training. If your home does not have these options, as you say, it is important to be creative. You mentioned a climb and doing repeats. It is such an important element, you can go up for a few hundred meters ascent, come down and repeat.


FR: Yes, it is all about working with what you have. Be creative as possible. Running offers so many possibilities. We mentioned fartlek; it is a great training method. You don’t need to be high if you have a hilly or undulating course that you can do repeats on. Of course you have to take into account speed, I need to train at a higher speed at home than say here in Chamonix. This morning I climbed six or 700 meters but I was going pretty slowly because of the gradient. At home I can go so much quicker. It has worked out okay for me.


IC: Distance means nothing in the mountains, you can be on a trail for two hours but you may only cover five or six miles. The transition you have made post Zegama has been impressive. Admittedly I think the Mont Blanc course suited you much more than Zegama. However, it still had some serious climbs and descents and in the latter half it just went up, up and up with a summit finish. Mont Blanc Marathon was a proper Skyrunning race, you placed in the top ten and that is significant. Not only do you have ability but also you have learnt so much in a short space of time. What goes through your mind when you stand on a start line with Kilian Jornet, Marco De Gasperi and Luis Alberto Hernando? 

FR: Actually I was in the second row just behind Kilian and Marco on the start line. I admire these guys so much, fantastic runners but more importantly fantastic people. Friendly, generous and a pleasure to know, the opportunity I have been given is incredible, I must thank Arc’teryx. Without them I would not be racing. They took a risk, they had a fast roadrunner that had some reasonable times and they accepted my proposal to race on the Skyrunning calendar. Although I suffered in both races, I don’t think I have ever been so exhausted before but I enjoyed every step.

IC: You also had two teammates in the top ten at Mont Blanc, Nicola Golinelli who placed fourth and Didier Zago who placed sixth. You placed ninth which is an excellent result for Arc’teryx… three men in the top ten!

FR: Yes, correct. I only met Nicola and Didier here in Chamonix for the first time. They are great guys; they have already passed on so much knowledge to me. It was Nicola that instilled the ‘rhythm’ thought process in me. He told me not to be stressed and to run my own race. We have a great team and it’s great to be part of it. Of course I must mention inov-8 too as they provide my shoes. The inov-8 team had great results also at Mont Blanc Marathon.


IC: The Mont Blanc weekend has been incredible; so many races too choose from. An 80km and a 10km but importantly you ran the VK (Vertical Kilometer). The VK is such an incredible event, 1000m vertical gain in 3.8km. VK’s are simple; you go up as quickly as you can. According to Skyrunning rules the gradient will always be around 30-35%. VK’s are a great way to start in mountain running. Anyone in theory can take part providing you show some basic experience. VK’s are about walking and running. It requires a technique, I am sure if I did a VK everyday I would get fit very quickly. You did your first VK here in Chamonix, once again thrown in at the deep end, what was it like?

FR: First of all the VK is a great addition to the Skyrunning format. I ran about 38 minutes, if I compare that to my 10k PR which is 30:50 then I ran 8min longer for less than half the distance… so you can appreciate the severity. However, if you look at that objectively, many people can run a 10k so I think a VK is a great starting point if you want to make the transition from road to mountain. I was actually surprised after the VK that I didn’t feel as tired or as battered as if I had run a road10k. Going up creates less impact, it’s tough on the lungs and heart but the muscles don’t get too beaten up. That would not happen if I had run road race.


IC: Yes, great point. Relatively no impact in a VK, you start at the bottom and go up. Even when running you are going slow, it’s controlled, the moment you get that control wrong you blow up and you are forced to walk. If you are not adapted though it does work the achilles, hamstrings and lower back so that can cause some knock on effects. Funny you equated it to a 10k, to put it in perspective it took you 8 mins longer to run 6k less than your 10k PB. Doesn’t take much working out does it, tough race! What is next for you, I know you are concentrating on the ‘Sky’ distance, which is usually around a marathon; do you have any plans to move to the ultra distance?

FR: Yes, ultra distance will tempt me; Transvulcania seriously tempts me, I love the look of that race and the incredible field that it attracts. It seems like such an incredible race, I have to say that for at least the next twelve months I am going to stick with the Sky distance, it works to my abilities and it will suit my speed. But a natural progression will take place, I am sure ultra will make its way on my calendar.

IC: It has been great to catch up with you Florian. I am looking forward to following your progress over the rest of 2013, I wish you the very best of luck.

FR: Many thanks Ian and many thanks to the sponsors and Skyrunning.


Florian on Facebook – HERE

Skyrunning – HERE

Arc’teryx – HERE

inov-8 – HERE

AJ Calitz – Verdon Canyon Challenge

AJ at Zegama, 2013

AJ at Zegama, 2013

AJ Calitz gives me the ‘scoop’ on his race report from the Verdon Canyon Challenge 100k in France. Have to say, having talked with, interviewed and watched him race at Zegama, AJ is without doubt one to watch in the future. His Verdon win proves it!

Here goes….

*All images are from Zegama-Aizkorri and we will update asap.

Rarely in my life have I been welcomed with more grace and open arms than with Antoine and Sophie in their beautiful home in Grasse. I felt part of the family immediately and was sad to leave after only two days. This set the tone for a weekend on which my feet only touched the ground when I was running!

Verdon Canyon is one of the biggest canyons in the world and renowned for its turquiose blue waters. However on the way there with Antoine and Levi (a norwegian athlete standing 6’6 tall…) It dawned on me that the furthest race I have ever run is comrades at 89km and longest in terms of time is Platteklip at 11h. This race will trump both.

Verdon is a major race on the European calendar with 1000 athletes taking part from all over Europe. This was the 20th edition so a special occasion all round. It is at the outset hard to explain how big the language barrier is in the EU. The race briefing was in French, and the entries and signs and spectators, marshalls etc….

The small town of Aiguine played host to the race. A typical small “alpine” town, beatiful scenery and houses, very warm and friendly people! I stayed in the top floor of a beautiful hotel overlooking the lake on one side and the village square on the other; all courtesy of the partnership between Ugene Nel from Quantum Adventures and Antoine from the Verdon Challenge, everything was paid for! We were treated to a pasta party before the race and I disregarded Tim Noakes recent advice to stay away from pasta.

The race started at 03:00 Saturday morning which meant waking up at 01:30…ridiculous, but made sense later in the day and as the cutoff is 35 hours it made even more obvious.
Compulsory kit checks done and we were off at a moderate pace through the town for 300m when we hit the first climb, about 800-900m vertical but super steep and techical followed by a crazy descent. For some reason my lamp was not working properly so I took another tumble on my knee but it was only a cut and not too deep so I carried on until my lamp failed. I then had to stumble around until the chasing pack caught me and ran with them. However,  running in someone else’s lamp is not the same as running with your own so I took another tumble. I witnessed the most awesome comeraderie as everyone stopped and either helped me up/waited to see if i was ok. I hope in SA we would do the same.

AJ at Zegama 2013

AJ at Zegama 2013

Ran in the chasing pack with Jean-Marc Zugg, three times runner up, local legend and French running star and a Salomon team bloke. We had quite a nice pace but I moved to the front after about 25km to increase the pace and catch the leader Thomas Pigois.
As is my style of running I went hard in the hills and cruised down, whereas they do it the other way round. I realised this would not suit me so I broke away at about 40km. Just after I realised that I had got my feeding/drinking wrong and was feeling terrible, I almost pulled out. But at the halfway mark was a refueling station where we dropped our goodie bags earlier so I could get some much needed food and drink. Very surprised at my recovery (thanks GU!) and ate and drank like a maniac, whereafter the started climbing again.

At this juncture I need to mention the route. It is really really hard, and technical and difficult. But it is madly beautiful and rugged-very comparible to the Otter with regards to difficulty and terrain. The climbs are very very long and peak at the top and then go straight down. If there was a total of 10km of flats it is a lot, personally I think more along the lines of 8/9km.

I caught Thomas at 60km and could see he was struggling, always makes you feel better to see others suffer;-) and I had the lead with a long way to go. There are no time checks so you never have any idea how far you are ahead or who is behind etc. but the crowds and the guys at the aid stations were incredible and so supportive ( in french) allez allez!

At about 70km I realised I had quite a big lead as on top of the mountain you could see very far and I could not see anyone, which allowed me to relax a bit and enjoy the scenery (i did a bit of a kilian Jornet and stopped for 5/10 seconds on the mountains just to enjoy it). I also started to count down km’s from there as that was when it really started hurting. The 80km station only had water, an essential part of the briefing I missed. Luckily i had enough provisions to last to the next one.

As we crossed the bridge over the canyon, the 100km race turns left and the 55km turns right, another point mentioned in the briefing ( in french) and the course is not closed to the public so there were loads of people around and in front of the sign. I remebered from the map that there is one section of the route we run twice, so as we had passed the bridge before and seeing many other (55km runners) go right, so did I. I realised my mistake at the rock climbing section where the marshalls told me i was on the wrong route ( and that last year first and second place made the same mistake!) so I waited for 20minutes to find out what to do as the helpers had no radio signal and had to climb out of the canyon first. No word came so I carried on and went the 55km feeding station where i had to wait another 20min. At last word came that I could continue and was still in first place, BUT this route was much harder and 5/6km further. Not being a happy camper I slogged on and managed (barely) to drag myself over the last mountain, another 800/900climb and then two more smaller ones (like signal hill from camps bay) and saw the towh through the trees, I had no idea whether I was still leading so gave it all over the last section.

AJ at Zegama 2013

AJ at Zegama 2013

I thought i could have had a go at the record and was on schedule, but the events of the day cost me more than an hour…my lead of 90minutes was whittled down to 15min. But still super stoked with the win and the knowledge that I ran further and harder than anyone else! 106km

Thanks to all the prayers and support back home, it really does help so much-especially after the dissapointment at not being able to finish Zegama. I truly hope more saffas will do Verdon next year, you will not be dissapointed! It was very hot during the race 32/35c so it will suit us after our summer whilst the euros just had winter-made a HUGE difference!

A special thanks to God who heard my prayers ALL day, my wife who spent all of it on her knees praying and all my sponsors, kway, vivobarefoor, guenery and liberty health! You guys made it possible.

Yours in trailrunning

AJ Calitz

“Somewhere in the world someone is training when you are not. One day when you race him, he will win.” Tom Fleming


Men’s results
1. Andre Calitz, 14:15:04
2. Jean Marc Zaugg 14:31:27 (0:16:23 difference)
3. Thomas Pigois, 14:59:31 (0:44:27 difference)


AJ Calitz at Verdon Canyon Challenge

AJ Calitz at Zegama-Aizkorri

AJ Calitz at Zegama-Aizkorri

This weekend, K-Way athlete Andre Calitz will have no time to savour the cheeses and wines of France’s Provence region as he runs the 100-kilometre Verdon Canyon Challenge.

Calitz is expecting to be out in the mountains for at least 12 to 13 hours. “There’s 6,500-metres of positive ascent!” he says.

Race organisation positions five aid stations on the route, to provide runners with food and drinks.

“But being in the mountains these are weather dependant. We’ve already been told that one has been cancelled,” Calitz says. The weather forecast for the area is a mild 23 degrees, although the conditions can be very different and variable in the mountains.

He’s expecting the terrain to be a good mix of runnable trails with very steep and rough climbs. The event website shows a lung-bursting and thigh-burning route profile – totally suited to Calitz’s climbing strength.

“The race starts and ends with a nice big climb,” he says with a big smile.

Three weeks ago Calitz took a tumble while running in the Zegama-Aizkorri 42-kilometre race in Spain. His knee was sliced open when he fell and the race doctor prevented him from continuing. She stapled the wound closed.

“My knee is ok,” says Calitz. “It is still pretty painful at times but should be alright. The staples are out. My wife and I removed them with nail clippers and a Leatherman…”

During his travels through France Calitz has kept up his training “much as my knee would allow”, finding “some epic trails around the South of France”.

He’s not sure who the other runners are or what type of competition he’ll have at this race.

“Some fast guys have run in the past, but I have no idea who I am up against. In a race like this I am running against myself. 100 kilometres with this much ascent is going to be very hard.”

The race starts at 03h00 on Saturday, 15 June 2013.


Event: Verdon Canyon Challenge

Distance: 100 kilometres

Date: Saturday, 15 June 2013

Time: 03h00 start. 35-hour limit. (the time in France and SA is the same)

Location: Aiguines, France (South, Provence region)

Website: (French and English options)

Zegama-Aizkorri 2013 video

A beautiful race that sums up all that is great about mountain running, the 13th Zegama-Aizkorri Marathon, in which Emelie Forsberg and Kilian Jornet topped the podium.

Trail and mountain running beauty at its best! This is what Skyrunning is all about…!

Episode 36 – Ultrapedestrian Ras, Kremer, Calitz, Davies, Cardelli, Browy


Episode 36 of Talk Ultra – Stevie Kremer and AJ Calitz talk to us from Zegama-Aizkorri. We speak to Brendan Davies and Beth Cardelli respective winners from TNF100 in Australia. An inspirational 15 minutes of fame with Eric Browy, Talk Training is about Knees with Mitch from StrideUK. Our interview is with UltraPedestrian Ras. Speedgoat (Karl Meltzer) is back, we have a blog, the news and of course, the up and coming races.

Show Notes:

00:00:45 Start
00:16:30 News with Speedgoat
00:24:50 AJ Calitz talks to Ian after his run at Zegama-Aikorri.

Trail runner Andre ‘AJ’ Calitz is a record-setting South African trail runner. Over the past two years he has won numerous local races, frequently setting new records on challenging courses. He is sponsored by the outdoor brand K-Way. In just the past six months Calitz ascended Table Mountain’s Platteklip Gorge a record 11 times between sunrise and sunset to win the K-Way Platteklip Charity Challenge. He then won the two-day Grootvadersbosch Trail Run, where he set new records on both days. At the end of August, running in wind and rain, Calitz won the 80-kilometre Hi-Tec Peninsula Ultra Fun Run (PUFfeR) and set a new record time of six hours, 59 minutes and 36 seconds, becoming the first runner to set a sub-7 hour time on the original, full-distance route. In 2012 Calitz placed second at The Otter, a 42-kilometre trail run on the iconic Otter Hiking Trail. Even more impressive was that Andre, together with race winner Iain Don-Wauchope, became the first runners to break the 4h30 barrier. Both runners broke the course record set last year by Ryan Sandes. Although Calitz is a relative newcomer to trail running, his pedigree is impressive. He has been a multiple All Africa Triathlon Champion, South African Duathlon and Triathlon Champion and South African Cycling Champion. He also holds silver medals for Two Oceans and Comrades finishes.

00:46:00 Back to News
00:50:20 Stevie Kremer talk to Ian after a stunning third place Zegama-Aizkorri.
Stevie Kremer, burst on the U.S. trail running scene  with a few notable races in Colorado. She moved to Italy in 2012 and performed beyond expectations at Sierre-Zinal with an incredible second place. Stevie finished seventh in the World Mountain Running Championships 8.8K uphill race on Sept. 2 in Temu-Ponte di Legno, Italy, and then won the World Long Distance Mountain Running Challenge at the 42.2K Jungfrau Marathon in Switzerland the following weekend.
01:04:35 News
01:07:25 Brendan Davies not only won the TNF 100 in Australia but he broke Kilian Jornet’s two year old course record.
I live in the Blue Mountains and work in Western Sydney. In my day job, I am a Special Education school teacher; kids call me Mr D.  I’ve been a school teacher for over 10 years and love it. It has been both a very challenging and rewarding career thus far. But I am a runner, always have been and always will be. I have recently been selected on the International Inov-8 team – a dream come true which will take me wider and further than I ever thought, to some of the most spectacular places on Earth like Mt Fuji and Mt Blanc. Another great honour was to be named by my ultra running peers and the governing body of ultra running in Australia – AURA, as the 2012 Australian Ultra Runner of the Year.
01:20:06 Beth Cardelli topped the podium in the ladies race at TNF100.
I really only started running after being involved with my husbands 2007 Sydney Trailwakler Team. We had a pretty slow time and I knew I could do the distance a lot faster. Since then I have focused on becoming a better runner. HERE
01:32:50 Back to News
01:43:50 BlogRob Krar on iRunFar HERE
01:48:40 Talk Training with Mitch from Stride UK
02:12:55 Interview with Ultrapedestrian Ras – website HERE
I expound my ideas, experiences, philosophies and half-assed schemes simply as documentation of the immense blessing that is my life. I am uneducated and underemployed, and in many ways not what is typically considered a productive member of society, and my words should be understood within this context.
02:51:55 Meltzer Moment with Speedgoat
02:59:00 15 Min of Fame with Eric Browy

After throwing away a scholarship and getting kicked out of college for partying too much, my guest enlisted in the Army in June of 2002. As soon as he arrived at his unit, he was deployed to Iraq in the beginning of 2003, here he truly learned the meaning of what a Soldier was and more than anything that just because someone was not his blood they could be his brother. His brother had been killed when he was younger and he had gone through life not expecting to every have that relationship with anyone again. He found that in the Army. After returning home, with less people than we departed with he struggled while being back at Ft. Hood, He didn’t admit that he had any problems, It was a difficult thing for him to handle all of the loss that had happened while being deployed so he just “soldiered on” and self-medicated himself with alcohol and partying in my non-working hours. In 2005 he was deployed again and he was injured in March  2006. Team RWB HERE
03:23:25 Races
03:27:00 Close


Libsyn – feed://

Website –