Huge weekend of ultra running lies ahead…

Posted in At the Races on Fri 27 Jun ’14

© Ian Corless

With the Skyrunning World Champs, including the Mont Blanc 80km, the WS100 and the Lavaredo Ultra Trail, the world’s trail running media is going to be kept busy this weekend!

The very best coverage of the Western States 100 comes as ever via iRunFar.com, with previews, interviews and analysis galore. Follow their live coverage starting on Saturday via the sign-up page here and of course the highly accurate and speedy Twitter feed

For the Skyrunning World Champs, the UK’s Ian Corless is a very good source. The Talk Ultra man previews the racing here, and will be all over the race coverage via images, Facebook and Tweets. Ian also previews the Lavaredo Ultra Trail here.

Skyrunning UK 2014 series kicks off in Wales

Posted in At the Races on Wed 02 Jul ’14

© Mick Kenyon / racingsnakes.com

Last weekend saw the inaugural race in the Skyrunning UK series for 2014, as 100 runners tackled the fabled slopes of the Welsh 3000m mountains, taking in such ridges as Crib Goch, for the V3K race

Niandi Carmont reports

Well what an epic start to the UK Skyrunning series and certainly no better way to introduce Skyrunning to the UK ultra-running enthusiasts.

The V3K on June 28th, 2014 was the first in a series of 4 Skyrunning events on the UK calendar this year. Organized by Race Director Kirsch Bowker the 55km ultra-Skymarathon with a total ascent of 4,500m takes in the Welsh 3,000’s – the 15 (formerly 14) peaks over 3000ft in Wales.

Now in its third year the course has seen entries grow from 30 in 2013 to 100 runners registered in its third year. As opposed to last year the course took the Skyrunners® across the infamous Crib Goch in Snowdonia certainly one of the most technical parts of any British mountain race. This was thus a new course with a new male and female course records.

The 100+ participants were convened at 4am on June 28th to take a bus transfer from the finish at Rowen to the start of the race at Nant Gwyanant at 5am. By this time day had broken and amidst excited chatter and last-minute kit adjustments the runners were on their way up the first climb up the ridge Bwlch Main to Snowdon, second and third ridges of Carnedd Ugain and the knife edged arête of Crib Goch.

The weather was chilly and overcast unlike previous days of clear skies and high temperatures. By the time the first runners had reached the dreaded crête Crib Goch the fog had already descended over the Welsh peaks and visibility was reduced considerably making race conditions harder for even the more experienced runners. According to one runner ‘conditions on Crib Goch were very greasy and slippery but thanks to the reduced visibility we could not see the sheer drops on either side.’

© Mick Kenyon / racingsnakes.com

After completing the first section, 4 summits and the most technical part of the course the route took the runners down via North Ridge and on towards Nant Peris aid station which is accessible by road. From the outset of the race, Jason Cavill set the pace in full preparation for the CCC in France later this year followed closely by Michael Clifford.

At Nant Perris Jason had a 3-minute lead on his rival and both looked incredibly fresh and strong as they blasted through the aid station barely stopping to pick up some extra kit. First lady through was Liz Barker who literally dominated the small female field of 14 until the end of the race opening up a huge gap between 2nd lady Claire Maxted and Sasha Habgood in 3rd position.

After a relatively short section of road the runners followed the route towards Glyderau, starting the second section of the course with a huge climb up Elidir Fawr, and the peaks of Y Garn, Glyder Fawr, Glyder Fach and Tryfan. By this time the fog had thickened so much and the grey weather had given way to a fine drizzle leaving the runners with even less visibility in the mountains. From the next aid station Ogwen accessible by road Jason could be seen descending fast dodging boulders with Michael Clifford hot on his heels.

The descent had taken its toll on Jason and combined with the foggy wet conditions fatigue was setting in. The two front-runners stopped briefly at the aid station to replenish and set off together. The third and final section of the course took the runners over the final 7 peaks of Pen yr Ole Wen, Carnedd Dafydd, Yr Elen, Carnedd Llewelyn, Foel Grach, Carnedd Gwenellian, and Foel Fras.

It was during this final section that the two front runners split as Jason took a wrong turn as he went off course and Michael Clifford took the lead descending to the final road aid station and onto the finish line which he crossed in 8.19m 30s. For Michael who had only run one ultra before the V3K and had spent 3 months in cross training due to an ITB injury this was an unexpected win.

Jason’s course error had cost him 30min and he finished second in 8h39m. According to Jason:

‘The race was really the challenge I expected it to be. A great deal of climbing and technical descents. It was distance-wise not particularly long but certainly the climbing made up for it so it was tough.’

‘It was very thick fog on top of the course and even though it was well marked out

2014 Skyrunning World Champs – France leads – Jornet and Kremer take combined titles

Posted in At the Races on Mon 30 Jun ’14

© Jordi Saragossa

Sunday’s torrential rain at the final race of the Skyrunning World Championships in Chamonix didn’t dampen the excitement and magic atmosphere of three days’ world-class competition….

3,400 athletes from 47 countries took part in the weekend’s events where the world’s top runners participated in three skyrunning disciplines for the prestigious World Champion titles, the Combined titles, and the Country ranking.

Coming out on top for the country ranking, based on the sum of three men and one woman, was host nation, France followed closely by Spain and Italy. New entries on the international skyrunning scene are confirmed here with Norway (4th) and USA (5th). Most significantly, strong performances were recorded by Australia, Poland, Sweden, Czech Republic, Holland, Japan and China – all countries to look out for in future competitions and underlining the pool of talent and international growth in the sport.

World Champions of the three disciplines are: Vertical – Spaniards Kilian Jornet and Laura Orguè; Ultra – Spaniard Luis Alberto Hernando and Sweden’s Emelie Forsberg; and Italian Elisa Desco; Sky – Kilian Jornet and Italian Elisa Desco.

© Jordi Saragossa

Kilian Jornet – world champion, again…

Kilian Jornet yet again proved is prowess as king of skyrunning, taking the Combined title with straight wins in the VK and Marathon, while American Stevie Kremer (2013 Sky Series Champion) took the women’s title with a second place in the VK and a third in the Mont-Blanc Marathon.

© Ian Corless

Stevie Kremer

An ecstatic Luis Alberto Hernando took the Ultra World title after a glorious win in Friday’s Mont-Blanc 80K which he led from start to finish. On his heels throughout the race, was last year’s winner, Frenchman Francois D’Haene, who crossed the finish 2nd just 3’40” later. New Australian talent has left its mark with no less than two top ten places in the men’s category, with 21-year-olds Ben Duffus and Blake Hose.

Emelie Forsberg and Anna Frost ran a strong race in a highly competitive women’s field, which included Nuria Picas, Uxue Fraille and Fernanda Maciel. Emelie’s time of 12h38” crowned her decisively queen of the Ultra distance, confirming her status at the top of the ISF Ultra ranking. Notably two completely new entries on the international scene: Poland’s Magdalena Laczak, 3rd , and China’s Li Dong, 9th. It is the first time that the Ultra distance has been disputed in a World Championship since its introduction by the ISF in 2012.

© Jordi Saragossa

Emelie Forsberg was a popular winner of the womens 80km race

Champions past and present lined up for Saturday’s KM Vertical. Due to the steep, narrow course, the runners leave at intervals and are individually timed, making for tense moments at the summit, between joy and delusion as the times are displayed on the timing board. Spain’s Laura Orguè had the edge over stiff competition from Stevie Kremer, slicing 4 seconds off Christel Dewalle’s 2013 time, who came 3rd. For a moment, in the men’s field, it looked like Italian Bernard Dematteis had the title with time of 34’36”, but Kilian closed with a new record in 34’18” – 18” under last year’s record by Columbian Antonio Saul Padua, 4th. Italian Urban Zemmer, number one in the IS Vertical Ranking, was just one second behind Dematteis in 3rd position.

With torrential rain all day, Sunday’s Mont Blanc-Marathon, the highest section of the course was cut while maintaining 41km distance and 2,300m +/- elevation. Kilian dominated the race although Frenchman Michel Lanne pushed him throughout, finishing an excellent second.

The lead pack included Moroccan Zaid Ait Malek and Briton Tom Owens, who were challenged by Switzerland’s Marc Lauenstein. Tom gave it his all and accelerated to take the bronze for Great Britain. The women’s race was led by Azahara Garcia early on, followed by Italian Elisa Desco and Americans, Megan Kimmel, Stevie Kremer and Kasie Enma. In such a stacked field, Elisa believed she had no hope of winning, but in the second half of the race she took over the lead and found herself alone in the final stretches towards Chamonix, where she bagged the gold. Megan and Stevie were second and third respectively.

This third World Championship has underlined the enormous growth in the sport not only on a global level, but with very strong young talent from new countries able to compete at the highest level with the world’s best skyrunners. Apart from the two young Australians in the 80K top ten, it’s significant to note the performance of Spaniard Manuel Merillas, who raced the second half of the Marathon 1’40” faster than Kilian to finish 5th.

Marino Giacometti, ISF President who presented the top runners for each discipline before the events and awarded the medals, expressed his

International theme is strong for 2014 Snowdon International

Posted in At the Races on Mon 30 Jun ’14

© Gwynfor James / Sport Pictures Cymru

Andi Jones on Allt Moses

After a hiatus of some years without a true international flavour, continental teams and global individuals will be present for the 39th Tyn Lon Volvo International Snowdon Race / Ras-yr-Wyddfa on the 19th of July.

Anticipation of the 2014 event is as high as ever with 600 runners, including six-time winner Andi Jones, getting ready for what promises to be one for the best ever races in less than three weeks. Preparations for one of the UK’s premier mountain races are once again in full swing, with a festival atmosphere guaranteed in Llanberis.

The race, now it’s 39th year, is considered as one of the greatest in the world of mountain running, and attracts some of the best racers in Europe. However, the event has grown over the last four decades to be one on the bucket-list of mere mortals across the world, as just completing the 10-mile race from Llanberis to the summit of Snowdon and back is something thousands aspire to, but only hundreds achieve, year-on-year.

The main race will be precluded once again this year by the Snowdon Super Cup / Cwpan yr Wyddfa – an invitational, uphill-only, race to the summit of Snowdon, starting at 11am on race day and featuring the 2013 World Mountain Running Championships silver medalist Emma Clayton.

Englishman Andi Jones will be pushing hard to make it number 7 at Snowdon, a record which surely will never be rivalled, in one of his last races before he relocates with his family to Qatar. Looking to take on Jones will be athletes from Spain, Malta, New Zealand, Italy, Japan and multiple World Championship representative from the USA, Ben Nephew. On the start line for Wales will be local men Alun Vaughan and Mathew Roberts, both aiming to challenge for top honours, with Vaughan in particularly good form recently.

In the women’s race 2012 winner Tessa Hill returns after a triumphant win two years ago, and will take on Sarah McCormack amongst others.

© ISF

Tessa Hill

Once again teams from the home nations will also toe the line with top males and female athletes from England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales in the international race.

Evidence of the general popularity has once again been visible as the 600 places available online went on sale on the 1st of March. Within 7 days all but a few had gone and Race Organiser Stephen Edwards was able to close entries by the 10th of March.

“As ever, we have been inundated with entries, and even since the closing date I have had numerous requests for entries for the race, even though the event is full. Little could the organisers of that inaugural race in 1976 have realised what this event would become some 39 years later. Snowdon is now recognised as the UK’s busiest mountain and that is part of the attraction for those runners who get that ‘Tour de France feeling’ as they ascend the crowds of people cheering on the slopes come race day.

“I am particularly delighted that we have been able to attract some more countries to bring their athletes over for the race this year. With runners from the US, Japan, Italy, France, Malta and Spain as well as there usual strong home countries and Irish teams it should be a real international affair this year, this along with the Super Cup once again in the morning means that we will create a mountain running festival with something going on from 11am through until late afternoon.”

The Super Cup race will once again include some of the UK’s top mountain running talent, as GB internationals Emma Clayton and 2013 Super Cup winner Olivia Walwyn go head-to-head in the women’s event. In the men’s race GB international Rob Samuel will look to go a few places better after his 5th place finish in 2013, as he takes on the likes of top English talent Tom Adams, Adam Osborne and Japan’s Yurijo Iida.

© Ray Wood Photography

Olivia Walwyn with her Super Cup trophy!

Edwards is keen to point out that the event is now much more than just a race, with major sponsors, attractions and a sense of festival which almost brings Llanberis to a stand-still on its traditional third-weekend of July race date:

“It’s amazing really. The buzz in this little village come Snowdon Race weekend is unbelievable, you have to be here to be able to understand that. This race means so much to the area and the people of Llanberis, they are proud of the race and what it portrays to the thousands of visitors that come here for the race and the weekend. We will

4 Trails ready for 2014 Alpine rendezvous

Posted in At the Races on Fri 27 Jun ’14

© www.4-trails.com

Four stages, 160 km (100 mi.) total length through three different countries, 9800 meters (32,152 ft.) of elevation. Around 500 athletes, pros and ambitious hobby runners from 28 nations will be taking on the 2014 Salomon 4 Trails in a little under 2 weeks…

4Trails event release

From July 9 to 12, 2014, runners will be crossing the Alps in 4 days for the fourth time. In keeping with tradition, the Start will be in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. The towns of Ehrwald, Imst and Landeck in Austria will be the destinations. The Finish is at 2000 meters (6561 ft.) above sea level in Samnaun, Switzerland.

© www.4-trails.com

Admiration is the fitting term for the athletes who will be coming to Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Bavaria on the eve of the race to register and carb up at the Pasta Party. They will be on the trail for 4 days, covering close to 2500 meters (8202 ft.) altitude difference and an average distance of 40 km (24 mi.) each day, crossing snowfields in the high alpine range and sharing their en-route adventures at the combined awards ceremony and Pasta Party in the evening.

Let’s take a peek at the course and the list of favorites ahead of the race: The first day with 36.3 km (23 mi.) from Garmisch-Partenkirchen to Ehrwald on the Austrian side of Zugspitze mountain is considered the warm-up stage, but should not be underestimated. The runners will have climbed all of 2410 meters (7907 ft.) after 6 moderate climbs.

There are some wild trails in the second stage from Ehrwald to Imst. Plus two tough climbs. The trail starts with a steep climb up to Grünsteinscharte and down the other side, then ascends to Haiminger Kreuz and finally ends in Imst, 46.30 km (29 mi.) and 2723 m (8934 ft.) of uphill elevation change later.

With only 31.1 km (19 mi.) including 1828 m (5997 ft.) altitude gain, the third day from Imst to Landeck seems like a breeze. But don’t be fooled. Glanderspitze, 2512 m (8241 ft.) is the only mountain on this stretch. That means a climb of 777 m (2549 ft.) from Imst, followed by a downhill to Landeck. Coordination is paramount here.

After more than 47 km (29 mi.), the tour finally ends in the Swiss Grisons canton in the town of Samnaun. This is both the longest and hardest stage of the SALOMON 4 TRAILS. It includes the legendary Ochsenscharte with an elevation of 2787 m (9144 ft.).

The favorites: Of course, a lot can happen in 4 days and 160 km (100 miles), like suddenly being out of shape or twisting your ankle, according to Philipp Reiter, winner in 2012 and second in 2011. Nevertheless, only a select few athletes even qualify as potential winners.

© David Daub

Philipp Reiter takes the 4 Trails

Naturally, Philipp Reiter, winner of the 2012 SALOMON 4TRAILS in 2012 and second in 2011, is one of them. The 22-year-old runner from Bad Reichenhall in Bavaria is one of the youngest on the team. Like his toughest contender, the “sorcerer’s apprentice” is on the SALOMON team and even has Dimitris Theodorakakos as his roommate. “Dimitris is a super guy, really nice and unbelievably strong,” Philipp Reiter praises the 45-year-old Greek runner.

He happens to have won the GORE-TEX® TRANSALPINE RUN last year and has a reputation as a world class athlete in the scene. And then we have Miguel Caballero, the Spaniard, age 32, who won the Transalpine Run, and Andreas Allwang from Munich. He is coming to the SALOMON 4TRAILS as the winner of the Swiss Irontrail.

They make for a totally awesome quartet. A safe bet is virtually impossible in the Woman’s Class. There are one favorite though. Katharina Zipser from Imst is in a class of her own when it comes to uphills, but downhills aren’t necessarily her strength.

With 185 participants, Germany has the highest number of all the nations. It is followed by Austria (49), Switzerland (31) and the Netherlands (28) and Spain (28). Absolutely astonishing: 14 Ultra runners are from Israel, 2 from Island, 8 from the USA and 1 even from Iran.

Fans, friends and family will also find many attractions. There will be many opportunities to be active besides the Expo with the latest trends and products by well-known manufacturers. For example, all those who are not (yet) ready to tackle all four segments can sign up for the taster segment from Garmisch-Partenkirchen to Ehrwald.

The 2014 SALOMON 4 TRAILS: the facts
• Date: July 9 -12, 2014
• 5 destination towns, 4 days, 3 countries
• 157.9 km (98 mi.), 9811 m (32,188 ft.) elevation gain
• 6 rating categories: Men, Women, Master Men / Master Women

Weekend fell racing…

Posted in At the Races on Mon 10 Mar ’14

© Woodentops

Rob Hope at the Pendle Round 2014

Wins for Rob Hope, Sharon Taylor, Jack Ross, Helen Berry, John Parkinson and others as the fell running season continued to get underway with mild temperatures and blue skies for some…

Hope continued his strong start to the 2014 season with convincing win at the Stan Bradshaw Pendle Round. The P&B runner put a good 45 seconds into Ian Holmes, with Eryri’s Math Roberts taking a very good third. Vic Wilkinson was running well ahead in the women’s race too, until some nav issues in the mist put paid to her race. Sharon Taylor took full advantage to take the ladies win.

© Woodentops

Vic Wilkinson

Young Jack Ross won the Ian Roberts memorial under blue sky and warm sunshine, with Holmfirth’s Helen Berry winning the ladies race.

Full results from both races are yet to be posted, but some great images from the Ian Roberts and Stan Bradshaw Pendle Round races via the Woodentops site here.

Eryri Harrier John Parkinson was a clear winner of the Moel Tryfan race in Wales, with Bangor student Beckie Taylor taking the ladies win. Results here and images via Simon Murray here

© Simon Murray

Beckie Taylor at Moel Tryfan

Meanwhile, up in Northumberland Ewan Brown and Karen Robertson were winners at the Brough Law race near Durham. Full results here.

Addison leads inov8 armada at Middle Fell

inov-8 athlete Tom Addison recorded one of the biggest wins of his young career when beating a stellar international field at the Middle Fell Race in the Lake District. The 23-year-old turned the summit in fifth place…

…but a fearless descent over steep terrain followed by a fast return to Nether Wasdale saw him overhaul four inov-8 teammates and claim the victory in the 6.6-mile / 1700ft race. One-time leader Orlando Edwards had looked set to repeat his recent big win at the Carnethy 5 Hill Race, but he missed a crucial turn in the last two miles and that allowed the chasing pack through.

Going stride-for-stride with top sky and mountain runners Aritz Egea (Basque), Eirik Haugsnes (Norway) and David Schneider (Switzerland), for all of whom it was a first taste of British fell running, Addison pushed himself right to the limit and reaped the rewards with a standout win.

Kendal-based Addison, who trains with Helm Hill Runners, said:

“I was fifth at the top but still felt I had a chance, so I committed absolutely everything to the descent. I took a few risks but it paid off, as suddenly the guys in front were getting nearer.

“As we hit the road in the valley the pace was seriously hot. Orlando was out in front but he missed a turn-off. We called him back but he couldn’t hear us. Then, over the final few fields, Aritz shot off. He opened up a gap, which I worked hard to close down. With about 800m to go we drew level and I just went for it. I’ve never felt an adrenalin rush like it. I kicked as hard as I could and didn’t dare look back!

“It was a brilliant race and the win has given me real confidence going into Pendle (the first 2014 English Fell Championships counter on April 5).

© www.inov-8.com

Addison wore inov-8’s X-Talon 190 shoe for the first time to win at Middle Fell, adding:

“It was really lightweight, a really fast racing shoe. The grip was brilliant and gave me lots of confidence to nail the descent the way I did.”

Egea finished second, just 12 seconds behind Addison, with Haugsnes third a further eight seconds back.

inov-8, who held their latest UK and European athlete retreat at nearby Eskdale on the same weekend, filled the top seven places in the men’s race.

© Mick Kenyon / racingsnakes.com

Sharon Taylor

Helm Hill’s Sharon Taylor took top honours in the ladies’ race, from Ambleside’s Hazel Robinson, with Judt Franch in third.

Middle Fell Race results here, with images by Mick Kenyon for Racing Snakes here and here

Reactions so far
  1. Mark Liptrot
    Mar 21, 12:47 PM

    Good write up. But the shameless promotion of a running shoe in a race report is a bit disturbing. This isn’t triathlon. And it never should be.

Bogle and Lee seize the day at Donard

Posted in At the Races on Sat 29 Mar ’14

© NIMRA

Allan Bogle on his way to a big win at Slieve Donard

As they say in sport a win is a win, and though he may not have been at the top of some people’s lists of potential winners at todays’ British Fell Champs Rd 1 race, Allan Bogle brilliantly took his chance on home soil to take a famous victory at Slieve Donard…

Both men’s and women’s races were jam packed with UK fell talent, with many making the trip over for weekend, and some (Rob Jebb and Morgan Donnelly for example) entering on the day.

However, race time arrived with Donard veiled in mist and the writing was perhaps on the wall for those without local knowledge, as reports came back after the race of visibility down to 10ft on the peaks.

© NIMRA

Jebby leads the way in the early climbs, and mist!

So, after 10k (more for many) and 850m of ascent it was Northern Ireland orienteer Bogle who came out on top, claiming a great victory ahead of Iain Whiteside and Neil Northrop, as many of the favourites littered the results right down outside the top 100 (form man Tom Addison for instance finishing an incredible 150th!) – with Twitter being littered with rants about nav issues.

Bogle later said:

Still hasn’t sunk in. Have to convince Alison and Mollie to come with me to some of the other races in the championships now

In the women’s race winner Jackie Lee wasnt such a surprise, as the Eryri Harrier has been in strong form this year already and has British champs pedigree over the years. However, the same fate in the mist was dealt to 2013 tied champions Helen Fines and Vic Wilkinson, with the latter finishing a couple of places back on Addison in 152nd! Emma Gould took second, with Claire Green claiming third.

More via this great report from NIMRA, with full results via this link

Top 5 Men
1 Allan Bogle 01:05:25 MO City of Derry AC
2 Iain Whiteside 01:05:35 MO Carnethy HRC
3 Neil Northrop 01:05:57 MO Dark Peak Fell Runners
4 Andrew Fallas 01:06:01 MO Carnethy HRC
5 Simon Bailey 01:06:03 MO Mercia Fell Runners

Top 5 Women
1 Jacqueline Lee 01:24:14 FO Eryri Harriers
2 Emma Gould 01:26:42 FO Mercia Fell Runners
3 Claire Green 01:27:33 FO Pudsey and Bramley
4 Mel Price 01:29:31 FV40Mercia Fell Runners
5 Shileen O’Kane 01:29:42 FV40Lagan Valley AC

© Alison Bogle

Winner…

Reactions so far
  1. Dave Taylor
    Apr 3, 04:31 PM

    Great race highlighting the need to be proficient with a map & compass!