TORQ launch a new type of ‘trail team’…

Posted in Dishing the Dirt on Tue 02 Apr ’13

© TORQ running

Run247.com columnist Kirsty Reade was invited along to the TORQ Trail Team assessment day in London this weekend. The concept is a new one in team ‘sponsorship’ too, as according to Reade it’s less about the winning and more about the taking part…

She writes:

There’s a whole new concept in trail running teams coming and it’s going to be awesome! The objective is to build a trail team with all the benefits of a professional team, with kit sponsorship, nutritional and training support, but it will be made up of non-elite athletes.

Read the full article here, with more via the TORQ running Fb page here.

© TORQ running

Fling on film

Posted in At the Races on Mon 29 Apr ’13

© Ronnie Cairns

It was a big weekend for long distance races in the UK! What with the Fellsman and the Three Peaks occupying the Yorkshire Dales and the HOKA Highland Fling taking place on the West Highland Way in Scotland…

We’ll be pulling together reports and reaction where possible over the next few days on all of the above, but for now this film by Ronnie Cairns gives you some idea of just how great a place to run the West Highland Way is. Oh and the weather on Saturday looked just about perfect for the ‘Fling’!

For the record Lee Kemp and Tracey Dean were victorious – with results and reports via the Highland Fling site

© www.highlandflingrace.org

Lee Kemp (left) and Tracey Dean cross the line

Skyrunning in South Africa scoops its first Skymarathon®

Posted in At the Races on Fri 24 May ’13

© © Running The Cape

South African Skyrunning Association (SASA) has announced a new sanctioned event, the Matroosberg Trail Challenge. Organised by Running The Cape, the 36km race is set in the Matroosberg Private Nature reserve, two and half hours from Cape Town – near Ceres in the Western Cape…

Full SASA release

With the race distance meeting the International Skyrunning Federation (ISF) requirement of between 30km and 42km, and its elevation gain of 2 200m on mountainous 4×4 trails and rocky single track, the Matroosberg Trail Challenge qualifies as a Skymarathon®, guaranteeing a route packed with lung-burning climbs, incredible scenery and testing terrain on 26th of October, 2013.

As SASA’s second sanctioned skyrunning race, the event will be southern Africa’s first Skymarathon®, pioneering the way for South Africa’s first ever national skyrunning circuit.

© © Running The Cape

The route of the Matroosberg Trail Challenge will take runners up to the 2 249m Matroosberg Peak, the second highest peak in the Western Cape. Runners will overlook the Bokkeveld, Ceres, Droë Hoek, Koue Bokkeveld, and the Ceres Karoo, with views of the Witzenberg, Cedarberg and Du Toitskloof Mountains.

October weather in the Western Cape often brings surprises, and the chance of cold weather could even give competitors the opportunity to run in snow.

Running The Cape’s Ghaleed Nortje is confident the route will challenge every runner, even the strongest and most experienced.

“For the privilege of having spectacular views, the route will make runners pay – they’ll have to negotiate mountainous terrain, very steep climbs and descents, high altitude and unpredictable weather conditions. Near the top, the chance of snow will be good – a snow-covered track makes for smoother running, but will make the course even more challenging.”

Nortje sees the event’s association with skyrunning in South Africa as a tremendous boost, not only for the race but for national trail running as a whole.

“I’m really excited about the MTC being sanctioned by SASA, and by the prospect of it forming part of a national skyrunning circuit from 2014. Gone are the days when we trail runners have to drool over skyrunning events in Europe and the USA – our South African athletes can now be a part of that rich experience too, by participating in local skyrunning events.”

Being a SASA-sanctioned event, the Matroosberg Trail Challenge will also enjoy exposure to the international trail running community through SASA’s association with the ISF, potentially attracting athletes from outside of South Africa’s borders.

Defined as mountain running up to or exceeding 2 000m, where the incline exceeds 30% and where the climbing difficulty is not more than 11˚ gradient, the sport of skyrunning has taken the trail running world by storm in Europe, America and Asia over the past 20 years.

Skyrunning, a term coined by the ISF, is a discipline conceived by Italian mountaineer Marino Giacometti who, with a handful of fellow climbers during the early 1990s, pioneered records and races on Mont Blanc and Monte Rosa in the Italian Alps.

Today, skyrunning has grown to span some 200 registered races worldwide, with about 30 000 participants from 54 countries.

Formed in 2011, SASA is an associate member of the ISF, and aims to promote and facilitate the growth of skyrunning in South Africa.

Event information will be posted towards the end of May, and entries will open during the second half of June 2013. For continued updates on the event, follow Running The Cape on Twitter

UTMB organisers restate obligatory race kit

Posted in At the Races on Tue 02 Apr ’13

© www.ultratrailmb.com

With fatalities and cancelled and re-routed events becoming more prevalent across global trail running these days, the real dangers in the high mountains are there for all to see…

This is not scaremongering, of course, however with the tragic circumstances at Ultra Cavalls del Vent last year and the sudden changes of weather that can occur, the organisers of the North Face® Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc® have re-iterared the need for safety and compulsory kit at this year’s event:

Bodies and spirits are in the process of being gently built up in order to cross all the passes of one of the The North Face® Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc® events, we rely on you to arrive on-form and as motivated as ever for the start of the race.

However, physical or mental breakdowns are not the only risks which may affect you, it will also be necessary for you to avoid the affects of heat or cold, injuries, or getting lost … In brief to adapt yourself to the mountain, watch out for yourself and for others.

Full newsletter here.

© www.ultratrailmb.com

High speed fell running with fellephant!

Posted in Through the Lens on Mon 29 Apr ’13

© fellephant.com

Fell running film maker fellephant has once again constructed a very individual film titled Fellraising. The speeded-up 8 minute film brilliantly depicts the very unique sport of fell running at a number of races in 2012 /13…

This is my latest fell running film called Fellraisers. Its been filmed in 1080 HD.

The inspiration for this film came directly from injury. My thought during injury was to make a film which represented the way I felt during that period. Notably the speed in which races come and go when I cant be in them.

The footage was filmed in 20122013 over the period of a year in Wales and England. I think I had two days where it didn’t rain during filming. It was a nightmare, but ultimately worth it because of the type of footage I acquired.

The race footage in the film comes from y Moelwyn, Ovenden, Barbondale, Great Lakes, Scafell Pike, Great Whernside, Foel Fras, Walsh Two Lads, Paddy’s Pole, Crowhill Reverse, Blisco Dash and Belmont Winter Hill.

So here it is, an off the wall take on fell running accompanied by my own music.

Watch Fellraising here.

© fellephant.com

Zegama? Is Zegama!

Posted in At the Races on Fri 24 May ’13

© www.salomonrunning.com

Kilian in the zone at Zegama

In cycling speak you could probably compare ‘Zegama’ to the Paris-Roubaix, in motor sport the Monaco Grand Prix – you get the picture. The Zegama-Aizkorri Maratòn is a monument in mountain sport, a skyrunning classic…

It’s probably the one to win too, for those mountain runners who race just sub-ultra or excel in 3-4 hour races. This weekend sees, as you would expect, a field littered with pedigree and class, as the Skyrunning season really gets going.

Sure there a few notable absentees from 2012, but with the likes of Kilian, Tofol Castanyer, Luis Alberto Hernandez and Michael Lanne toeing the line, the men’s race will be highly competitive. Add in there the new Inov8 international team with top UK fell runner Ben Bardsley and US athlete Alex Nichols, and it should be a spicey event.

© www.salomonrunning.com

Oihana Kortazar

The women’s race has possibly more depth than the men’s with Emelie Forsberg, 2012 winner Oihana Kortazar, Nuria Picas and certainly one to watch, Stevie Kremer. The UK also gets represented by fell runner Anna Lupton and Sarah Ridgway.

Expect all of the news via Ian Corless who will be reporting live and via the ISF Facebook page.

© www.salomonrunning.com

Tom Owens on the Zegama climbs

Reactions so far
  1. Jon Brooke
    May 26, 11:05 PM

    Matt, I’ve tried to mail you a couple of times re’ Transvulcania via your mail@mst link below but keeps bouncing and I don’t have another e-mail address. Could you e-mail me please? Cheers, Jon. What happened to Ben Bardsley BTW?

Top Europeans head for the 3 Peaks

Posted in At the Races on Thu 18 Apr ’13

© www.salomonrunning.com

Oihana Kortuzar

With just over a week until the 2013 3 Peaks Race, anticipation is growing for what could be a race to remember in both the men’s and women’s races. The 58th edition of one of the world’s most historic mountain races takes place on the 27th of April…

MST will be delivering a full 3 Peaks preview next week, however we have today received confirmation that Spain’s 2012 Zegama winner Oihanna Kortuzar and winner of the CCC race at the 2012 UTMB Tofol Castanyer will be in the starting line-up.

© Droz-Photo

Tofol Castanyer

Also running is 2012 3 Peaks champion Joe Symonds, who comes into the race following his superb effort at the Rotterdam Marathon last weekend where he clocked an impressive 2:20.

© www.mudsweatandtears.co.uk

Joe Symonds with the 3 Peaks trophy

Fellsman fails to fell ’em!

Posted in Dishing the Dirt on Tue 30 Apr ’13

© Guy Mawson

We often concentrate on the sharp-end of fell, trail and ultra running here at MST. But events such as this weekend’s Fellsman only go to prove just how much goes into these events for the ‘mid packers’ point of view too…

The exciting race was won by Adam Perry, less than a minute up on Ian Phillips. The Grough has a brief race report here. However, for me some of the most inspirational writing and stories have come via reading some of the numerous blogs out there, which detail the effort and adversities overcome.

© stolly14.blogspot.co.uk

Stolly at the Fellsman

Stolly, Guy Mawson and Simon Franklin are just three such blogs which offer some great insight into this 61-mile beast, and indeed may well inspire others to take on the challenge of this iconic event…

Reactions so far
  1. Guy Mawson
    May 3, 08:19 PM

    Thanks MST, if my blog inspires one person to get off the sofa and come and do Fellsman it’ll all be worth it!
    Glad you enjoyed the blog…!

Big Welsh Trail is on track

Posted in At the Races on Wed 29 May ’13

© www.bigwelshtrail.com

This weekend sees the inaugural Big Welsh Trail at Coed Llandegla in Denbighshire on Saturday 1st of June, with organisers Always Aim High Events confident that the event will showcase trail running in this part of Wales – and establish an event with a big future.

Both a half marathon and 10km route have been devised by top trail and mountain running international Rob Samuel, in some stunning and awe inspiring trails through the 650 hectares of this beautiful forest.

Coed Llandegla is already a mecca for mountain bikers and walkers, and with its proximity to the Welsh/English border it is set to provide an accessible and fantastic backdrop to this exciting new event.

Regarding the route, Rob states:

“The trail is mainly forest tracks and beautiful single track trails. All off road (except for about 100m of tarmac), the half marathon route also includes a lovely run along part of the Offa’s Dike trail. We specifically designed the route with ‘runner enjoyment’ in mind and the constant changing nature of the route, along with some challenging elevations, will ensure runners leave Llandegla exhilarated this Saturday”.

Over 300 trail runners from across Wales and the North West of England will embark on the race and Always Aim High Events’ Tim Lloyd is expecting a big day:

“Trail running is booming in the UK at the moment and it’s a reflection of the popularity of the sport that we have exceeded our expectations in terms of entries for the Big Welsh Trail. I think runners will be surprised just how beautiful and challenging a location Llandegla is – the variety of terrain is simply stunning.”

© www.bigwelshtrail.com

As well as running the stunning course, the entry fee also includes a unique commemorative race t-shirt, a commemorative bespoke medal, electronic chip timing, live acoustic music, BBQ and refreshments at the finish line.

Tim continues:

“We are very grateful to the team at Coed Llandegla and all of the brand partners that have helped make this exciting new event happen. Runners can expect the same great organisation and atmosphere that pervades all of our Always Aim High Events, and the environment and accessibility in and around Llandegla means that the event should only get bigger from here.”

Online entries to the Big Welsh Trail are open until midnight Thursday May 30th, 2013 and entries will also be taken on the day at the One Planet Adventure centre, Llandegla until 11.30am.

Further info via the Big Welsh Trail website

Around the Worlds in 80 days…

Posted in At the Races on Mon 22 Apr ’13

© Gwynfor James

With just 80 days to go until the opening ceremony of the 4th World Trail Running Championships – which will be held in North Wales on the 6th of July – the countdown to the Championships has begun in earnest.

The event will see over 150 athletes from over 20 countries descend on Wales for a festival of trail running, with an international flavour.

The host venue of Llanrwst (Conwy) is deep in preparation to host the event in the spectacular north-west Wales location of Gwydyr Forest, which will extend a programme of World Championship and open trail running races.

© www.runconnemara.com

The event is set to receive worldwide media coverage and will be the highest profile trail running event staged in the UK in recent years. It is also part of the legacy that saw North Wales host the extremely successful Commonwealth Mountain and Ultra Distance Championships some two years ago.

The Commonwealth ultra-trail event at those championships was a huge success for Wales in terms of medals too, and saw Welsh international Richie Gardiner lift the men’s Commonwealth crown on a 55km course in Newborough, Anglesey.

© Al Tye / fellrunningpictures.co.uk

Richies Gardiner takes the title

The championships in July will see runners tackle a demanding 75km course of forest trails and mountain-heathland in the stunning Conwy Valley, with supporting open and junior events running in tandem with the international event.

Speaking about the plans Cllr Graham Rees, Cabinet Member for Tourism, Marketing & Leisure at Conwy County Borough Council comments:

“Conwy County Borough Council is extremely excited about bringing these championships to the area. The effects of the event will be felt on the economy, our sporting culture and the youth of the County – which is very important to us. Additionally, the competitors will be staying in the County for a number of nights, bringing great economic benefits.

“It is also pleasing to be once again working in conjunction with the IAU, Welsh Athletics and the Welsh Government, and we feel that collaboration on these types of events can only be good for the future of sport and our relations in general.”

The Welsh Government is supporting the event in a public sector partnership with Conwy, and is fully supported by the International Association of Ultra runners (IAU) and by the sports Governing bodies Welsh Athletics and British Athletics.

The Welsh Government Minister for Economy, Science and Transport, Edwina Hart, said:

“The World Trail Running Championships in North Wales is yet another example of Wales’ ability to hold world-class sporting events. This is the first World Championship in the sport of athletics to be held in Wales. Additionally, it shows the confidence of the IAU in our abilities as a nation to hold such championships.

“We will build on our success in hosting the Commonwealth Mountain and Ultra Distance Championships in 2011 and we look forward to working with our partners to deliver a memorable event which will have a positive impact on the local economy.”

Welsh Athletics have also been instrumental in event support and organisational work, with Head of Development Steve Brace adding:

“We are very proud to be hosting a World Championship event on home soil. Trail running is in a boom period in the UK and this is reflected in the IAU’s confidence in our abilities to put on an event like this.

“The Commonwealth championships were inspirational for us all. Seeing three Welsh men filling the podium on that Sunday afternoon ultra-trail race filled me and many others with pride, and it would be great to see some British vests medalling once again July.

“Working with three such professional and capable bodies as Conwy County Borough Council, the IAU, and of course the Welsh Government, will also be instrumental in demonstrating to the world of trail running what we are capable of here in Wales”.

Finally, Hilary Walker, General Secretary of the IAU, stated:

“We see the 4th edition of the World Trail Running Championships in North Wales as an amazing opportunity towards realising our goal of world-class trail running events.

“The initial preparations for the championships have been impressive, and the athletes, along with the participating federations are looking forward to competing in these very popular championships in their racing calendar – and visiting Wales to tackle some of the world’s best trails with one of the world’s warmest welcomes!”

Joe and Jasmin take 3 Peaks titles back to Scotland…

Posted in At the Races on Tue 30 Apr ’13

© www.woodentops.org

Joe and Jasmin – Three Peaks champions 2013!

HBT and Carnethy runners Joe Symonds and Jasmin Paris showed why they are considered amongst the best fell runners in the UK on Saturday as they convincingly won the 2013 Three Peaks Race titles…

For Joe is was a virtual repeat of his 2012 win, only this time the Salomon athlete took the race on even earlier, winning by over 5 minutes after taking the lead from the gun and never really looking back taking the race in 2:54:39. Behind Symonds there was a titanic battle for the places.

© www.woodentops.org

Joe Symonds coming off Pen y Ghent

Carl Bell, Karl Gray, Tofol Castanyer, Andy Fallas, Oli Johnson and Three Peaks legend Rob Jebb swapped positions for much of the race. However, as Jebb looked clear in second leaving Hill Inn and heading up Ingleborough, it was Bell and Gray who rallied to take to two remaining podium places after a big descents off Ingleborough, sweeping past Jebby.

© www.woodentops.org

Rob Jebb

© www.woodentops.org

Carl Bell leads Karl Gray on the run in to Horton

By the time the Keswick and Calder Valley runners reached the field in Horton, Bell had a slender lead over Gray to take an excellent second place in 2:59:44 vs Gray’s 2:59:50. Consolation for Gray lay in the fact that he had once again broken the V40 record and the 3 hour barrier with it.

Rob Jebb finished 4th, with Carnethy man Fallas finishing a very good 5th.

Jasmin Paris is beginning to emerge as the woman to beat in the UK these days, with some impressive wins in 2012, and now perhaps her biggest win of all in Yorkshire. Her win (in her very first 3P race) was very different from Symonds’, only taking the lead on the descent from the last peak of Ingleborough by overtaking Spain’s Oihana Kortazar, who had led for the previous 20 miles of this 23 mile race.

© www.woodentops.org

A smiling Jasmin Paris coming off Ingleborough

Leaving Hill Inn less than 30 seconds behind Kortazar, Paris showed her strength and descending skills as she swept past Oihana on the run-in (who herself suffered a nasty fall), winning in 3:33:04. Kortazar held onto second in 3:36:29, with Paris’ Carnethy team mate Helen Bonsor taking third with 3:39:07.

© www.woodentops.org

Oihana Kortazar

Speaking on the microphone immediately after the race, a fresh-looking Symonds said:

“After only running the Rotterdam Marathon two weeks ago and not having raced on the mountains since last year, I didn’t quite know how it would go today. Luckily I felt strong from the start and seemed to get into my running on hills well up Pen y Ghent. We were pretty quick up there today, in under 29 mins, and Tofol was not too far behind.

“From there though I was on my own all the way back to Horton, and had to concentrate hard as I was running alone and not too sure what was going on behind. Compared to last year I was in better shape mentally and physically during the race. Last year I struggled over the last few miles, but today felt really strong and now (post race) feel pretty good and not as tired as 2012.

© www.mudsweatandtears.co.uk

Joe Symonds

“It was a great day once again and I think this race is addictive! My dad won it three times, so I will be back again to see if I can make it three next year and no doubt will be racing here for many years to come!”

A nice race report from Brian Dooks can be found here, with full results via the Sport Ident site here. Lots of images around the net now online and as ever some of the better ones are via Sport Sunday and Woodentops.

In the High Country with TK

Posted in Through the Lens on Thu 06 Jun ’13

© Joel Wolpert

This trailer of a new film featuring Anton Krupicka looks awe inspiring. Up high in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, Tony is seen to be bagging peaks and showing us a different side of trail and mountain running…

‘In the High Country’ is a super-exciting mountain running film starring Anton Krupicka. Filmed and Produced by Joel Wolpert with the support of Ultimate Direction, this film will take you where you’ve never been before.

Anton Krupicka’s running has evolved from trails to mountains to free-soloing. Filmed over a season “In the High Country” — thin air, river baths, and itinerant mountain living. A new short film from the Wolpertinger coming Summer 2013.

Watch it here.

Reactions so far
  1. Tony Mollica
    Jun 7, 03:06 AM

    I am looking forward to seeing that movie!

The Fellsman – the original ultra!

Posted in At the Races on Mon 22 Apr ’13

© www.grough.co.uk

Competitors cross Kingsdale Beck

There aren’t many ultra races out there that are over 50 years old. The Fellsman is a classic toughie and attracts the hardened fell and ultra runner to over 11,000ft of ascent in its 61 miles, and all on the same day as the Three Peaks Race!

The Fellsman will see 500 competitors set off from Ingleton at 9am this Saturday (27th April) on the grueling 61 mile (96km) route where they will climb over 3350m, traversing very hard rugged moorland on their way to Threshfield.

The Fellsman is a high level traverse covering more than 60 miles over very hard rugged moorland. The event climbs over 11,000 feet in its path from Ingleton to Threshfield in the Yorkshire Dales. Most of the route is over privately owned land, the use of which is secured by the organisers for the weekend only.

This being the case, the route does not follow well defined footpaths, so the entrants’ navigational skills with a map and compass are tested as well as their physical fitness. Because of this, only fit and experienced walkers or runners should enter.

The faster runners will be striving to beat the current record, held by Jez Bragg, of 10 hours 6 minutes but some competitors will take closer to the time limit of 30 hours to complete this difficult course.

Full event info here

© Tim Burton

Jez on his way to a third Fellsman win

Reactions so far
  1. Dave Driver
    Apr 23, 01:37 PM

    Mark Hartell no longer holds the record. Jez Bragg beat it two years ago with a time of 10:06.

  2. Matt MST
    Apr 23, 10:53 PM

    Thanks Dave! Amended…

The Three Peaks 2013 – Joe’s view from the front

Posted in The Sweat on Tue 30 Apr ’13

© www.mudsweatandtears.co.uk

Joe Symonds

Joe Symonds’ 2013 Three Peaks Race win on the face of it appeared to be a straight-forward exercise in dominant fell running. As the following paragraphs demonstrate, wins are never easy, and certain happenings in Joe’s life in the day before the race only underline the greatness of his achievements and the fragility of life…

___________________________________

Action replay of last year? Not quite.

Before the Three Peaks Race this year I was emotionally in a completely different place to where I was last year. Conversely, the feeling of elation on crossing the finishing line was almost identical to that of 12 months ago – and that is thanks to the powerful mystique of this awesome race, and to the incredible support of the crowds (and fellow runners) out on the course.

My training this past winter has been very different to that of 2011-2012, with my major focus of the spring being the Rotterdam marathon, which took place on April 14th. This was my first ever road marathon and my optimistic aim was to obtain the Scottish Commonwealth Games qualifying time of sub 2:19.

In the final weeks of build up things were looking very good – I’d managed to tot up 1300 miles of running in 13 weeks of training, put in some very strong endurance sessions (including a 38k run in 2 hours 7 minutes), and PB’d over half marathon, with 66:23 in March. However, in the Netherlands, it wasn’t to be on the day and I dropped off the pace with 5 miles to go, to finish with 2:20:52 – disappointed at the time, but on reflection a debut I am proud of.

Such was the intensity of my focus on Rotterdam that during the first three months of 2013 I was entirely unable to see beyond April 14th – even entering the 3 Peaks was something I omitted to do (until Tord Nilson of Salomon UK reminded me at the beginning of April).

Following the Dutch race, exhausted from the physical and emotional investment I’d put into it, I had to take a whole week off running. I went for a cycling trip round Northwest Sutherland and Assynt with my wife Esther – making sure we camped at the foot of Ben Hope on April 19th, 23 years to the day since my Dad set off from there on his continuous round of all the 3000 foot peaks in Britain and Ireland.

The following week, the week before the Three Peaks, I did a couple of runs, including one up Ben Wyvis, our local Munro. I felt sluggish on the climbs, and trepid on the descents, but fast and fluid on the flatter sections! Had I lost my mountain skills and become a road runner?

From Wednesday to Friday I was on night shifts at work. They were busy shifts, culminating with an utterly unexpected tragedy at 0630 in the morning on Friday, when we lost a nine month old boy who had been admitted with what appeared to be a simple case of chickenpox. After 30 minutes of resuscitation efforts we had to call off the battle for his life.

This wee lad was my first thought as I entered the finishing field on Saturday, and there is no doubt in my mind that I dedicate this victory to him and his devastated family.

Physically and spiritually exhausted, I made the long train journey from Inverness to Yorkshire on Friday, napping on and off as I went. Esther got off the train in Carlisle to stay with her parents, and I continued on the Clapham where the rest of the Salomon UK crew, and the two Spanish Salomon International runners (Tofol Castanyer and Oihana Kortazar Aranzeta). I arrived, wolfed down some tomato soup, some pasta with tomato and bacon, two delicious pints of Copper Dragon’s Golden Pippin, and slumped off to my bed for a very sound night’s sleep.

By Saturday morning I was well rested, but still feeling lethargic and not particularly up for it! I usually have a cold shower on the morning of a race to get me fired up, but this morning I wasn’t keen, so I turned on the hot tap. Then I realised that there was no hot water in my hotel room, so a cold shower it was. I had my usual pre-race breakfast of muesli, banana and wholemeal toast, but as an experiment I also included a bottle of “Beet It” organic beetroot juice, which turned out to be quite a challenge to my taste buds.

After arriving at the race venue, I plodded through my warm up routine and did some stretches, reflecting on how psyched I was it the same point 12

Inov8 is 10! #inov8Decade

Posted in Dishing the Dirt on Tue 11 Jun ’13

© www.inov-8.com

In the world of off-road performance shoes Inov8 have blazed a trail (and fell) over the last decade, and by 2013 the UK-based business has forged a path that reaches over 60 counties…

Inov8 release

Ten years after launching its first running shoe, fast-growing British brand inov-8 is today celebrating a decade in business.

Founded on June 11, 2003, inov-8 is the brainchild of Wayne Edy, a former consultant in the outdoor industry, who spotted a gap in the off-road running market for innovation.

© www.inov-8.com

Initially operating out of a coach house in his garden and then an old church hall, both in the North East of England, Wayne launched his first shoe, the mudroc. Aimed at fell and mountain runners, it weighed just 290g and delivered outstanding grip through an aggressive outsole.

Zimbabwe-born Wayne quickly became a regular at off-road races across the UK and Europe selling the shoe out of the back of his pickup. Later that year, New Zealand athlete Melissa Moon won the World Mountain Running Trophy in a pair of mudroc 290 shoes she borrowed on the day of the race in Alaska. The shoe was an instant hit.

Building on that success, Wayne launched three more off-road running shoes and pioneered the arrow system, based on the height difference between a shoe’s heel and toe. The system provides a transition-focused approach for committed athletes to develop a more natural running technique.

© www.inov-8.com

inov-8’s stripped-back, minimalist footwear range continued to go from strength to strength as athletes wanting to push boundaries discovered the brand. This was the case in the US in 2009 when a then relatively unknown functional fitness community discovered the low-profile inov-8 f-lite 230 shoe as perfect for their high intensity workouts.

Today inov-8 trades in over 60 countries around the world and boasts more than 80 shoes, meeting the needs of off-trail, off-road, road and functional fitness athletes. It also has a global team of athletes who compete at the extremes of sport and stretch limits.

The team includes UK-born Joe Grant, who raced 350 miles across the Alaskan wilderness earlier this year in the world’s longest human-powered winter ultra-marathon, the Iditarod Trail Invitational, and Brendan Davies, who recently won the high-profile TNF 100km trail race in Australia, shattering a course record previously held by three-time Skyrunning champion Kilian Jornet.

© team inov8

Brendan Davies

This summer inov-8 will also launch its first running apparel range, tested by international mountain runners.

Wayne said:

“I am proud of what we have achieved, it has been an amazing ride so far. We are not followers, we carve a new way, and that’s why our products are different.

“And we will not let up. We will continue to sweat innovation and provide outstanding products for committed athletes wanting to run fast on all terrains and smash hardcore workouts.”

Fifty years of Three Peaks racing

Posted in At the Races on Tue 23 Apr ’13

© www.threepeaksrace.org.uk

The famous Ron Hill at Ribblehead

As part of our build-up to that classic of classics, the Three Peaks, we look forward to Saturday by first of all looking back. This article first appeared on MST a couple of years ago, and is a race history from 1954 – 2004…

You cannot fail to be moved by this heart-warming story of fell racing across the decades as it logs legend after legend amongst the Three Peaks roll-call. So, go and make a nice cup of tea, sit in your favourite chair, put your feet up and enjoy…

(With kind permission of David Hodgson www.threepeaksrace.org.uk)

Fifty Years of Three Peaks Racing

Bill Smith

The 50th Three Peaks Race should have been held last year but because the 2001 event was cancelled due to the Foot and Mouth outbreak, this year’s race marks its Golden Anniversary. Yet the challenge of traversing the summits of Penyghent, Whernside and Ingleborough goes back much further than 1954, for like several other fell race routes, this one originated as a walk, the earliest recorded attempt dating back to 1887.

However, the first known circuits undertaken by athletes, as distinct from walkers, were not made until the winter of 1948/49 when three Leeds climbers, Des Birch, Jack Bloor (race winner in 1956 – certificate on centre page) and Arthur Dolphin, who were also members of Harehills Harriers, completed the course in times varying from 4hrs 27mins to 5hrs 20mins.

The man responsible for inaugurating the Three Peaks Race was a Lancastrian, Fred Bagley of Preston Harriers, a keen fellwalker and competitor in the Lake District Mountain Trial. Whilst the event now has a 600 entry limit, a ceiling which has risen steadily over the years, there were only six runners in that first race, all of them Lancastrians, of whom three completed the course.

The date was Sunday April 24th 1954 and the race began outside the Hill Inn at Chapel-Le-Dale, though the start was later moved to the field behind the Inn. Bagley took 26 min 30 sec to reach the mist shrouded summit of Ingleborough but then headed too far south, hotly pursued by his rivals, before eventually getting back on course at Sulber Nick.

The route from Horton to Penyghent then took a more direct line over the intakes and up the fell’s steep south western flank, between the crags. Stan Bradshaw of Clayton–Le- Moors Harriers attained the summit in second place and eventually caught up with Bagley at High Birkwith, though they took different routes beyond Nether Lodge, Bagley taking the road whilst Bradshaw kept to the fields.

Bagley arrived first at Ribblehead after 2.5 hours running but then struck a bad patch on the steep ascent of Whernside, reached via Winterscales Farm. This did not deter him, however, and his triumphant return to the Hill Inn was accomplished with a time of 3hrs 48 mins, Bradshaw taking second place in 4hrs 06mins after descending from Whernside too early and emerging into rough boulder fields, whilst his Clayton clubmate Alf Case finished 3rd in 5hrs 12mins.

The latter pair were to become closely associated with the event for many years, Bradshaw completing 24 races and afterwards serving as a course marshal until his late eighties and then continuing to attend as a spectator. Case became involved in the organisational side in 1956 and served as Secretary of the Three Peaks Race Association from its inauguration in 1964 until the 21st race in 1974, after which Doug Croft gave sterling service in this post for the next 25 years, afterwards becoming a Life President.

Preston Harriers again promoted the 1955 race but the next eight events were organised by Clayton-Le-Moors Harriers, one of whose members, George Brass, set new records in both 1955 (3:28:45) and 1958 (3:08:25), whilst Jack Bloor (Leeds Harehills), who had helped to pioneer the route as a run in 1948/49 triumphed in 1956. Brass went on to win the 1961 and 1962 Mountain Trials, being the only competitor to finish in the severely inclement conditions of the latter year.

The 1959 winner Frank Dawson (Salford) who hailed from Ambleside, created a Three Peaks landmark the following year by becoming the first man to complete the course inside 3 hours, clocking 2:58:33 after a well paced run in which he progressed from 5th on Penyghent to make up a 4 minute deficit.

© www.threepeaksrace.org.uk

The start from Hill Inn, early 1960’s

Runner up on this occasion was Dave Hodgson (then with Leeds St Marks but now of Fellandale), a position he was to achieve thrice more, whilst 4th man home was Geoff Garnett (Bingley), who once finished 2nd in the Pikes Peak Marathon in Colorado and has since

Ultra-trail stars head to Lesotho

Posted in At the Races on Thu 02 May ’13

© www.lesothoultratrail.com

On 30 November 2013, Skyrunners® from all over the world will toe the start line of the inaugural Lesotho Ultra Trail – Africa’s first Ultra Skymarathon® – ready to tackle the 55km, high altitude course through the Tsehlanyane National Park in the heart of the Maluti Mountains of Lesotho…

© www.lesothoultratrail.com

As the event continues to attract the keen interest of both the local and international trail and skyrunning communities, four of the world’s top international men’s athletes have already confirmed their entry into the race.

Americans Mike Wolfe (The North Face), winner of the 2012 Transvulcania Dakota Jones (Montrail/Clif Bar), and 2nd place finisher at the 2012 Hardrock 100 Joe Grant (INOV-8/Arc’teryx), will join 2012 Canadian ultra trail runner of the year Adam Campbell (Arc’teryx) in making the long trip across the Atlantic Ocean to go head to head with some of South Africa’s best.

Adam comments:

“One aspect that I love about mountain running is the opportunity to explore beautiful places around the world. I specifically choose races based on their aesthetic and the accompanying sense of adventure that they bring.

© www.lesothoultratrail.com

Adam Campbell

“Being able to compete in Africa’s first Ultra Skymarathon®, amongst some of the most stunning mountain terrain that I’ve seen more than satisfies that criteria. I can’t wait to experience the local culture and to race through the region’s mountainous landscape on foot.”

Mike Wolfe, having never travelled to Africa, is thrilled to be making the journey in November:

“The locale looks amazing, and I have always wanted to travel to South Africa to experience a new landscape and people. It is wonderful that the South African Skyrunning Association and the organizers of Lesotho Ultra Trail are enthusiastic about hosting international athletes. This kind of event helps our sport of ultra running grow on an international level, and continues to grow the international community of runners.”

© www.lesothoultratrail.com

Mike Wolfe

Amongst the top South African men’s athletes already securing their spots, is up-and-coming trail star AJ Calitz (K-Way/Vivobarefoot) joined by winner of the 2013 SA Ultra Trail Champs Nic De Beer and mountain running legend, and winner of the 2012 Otter African Trail Run, Iain Don Wauchope (Mountain Splendour).

Not to be out done, the women’s field is also stacking up to be a stellar affair with confirmation already coming in from local South African ultra running legend Linda Doke (Salomon South Africa), winner of the 2013 Women’s SA Ultra Champs Tracy Zunkel (Race Food), 2011 Otter African Trail Run winner Su Don Wauchope (Mountain Splendour) as she makes a firm come back after almost 8 months of injury, and 3rd place finisher 2013 Women’s SA Ultra Champs Chantel Nienaber.

On the international front, Canadian ultra-runner and winner of the 2012 Gobi March in China, Stephanie Case, will be making the journey from her newly-adopted home of Kyrgyzstan, ready to test the skills of the local girls.

Having raced at the 2012 Sierre-Zinal in Switzerland, one of Europe’s oldest Skymarathon® events, Linda Doke knows the excitement and prospects of skyrunning first hand:

“I’m thrilled to be doing the Lesotho Ultra Trail” explains Doke. “Not only is it a new ultra on the trail calendar, but it’s in Lesotho, which guarantees fantastic running. Also, being an Ultra Skymarathon® will see the start of skyrunning in southern Africa and having experienced it last year, it’s brilliant that it’s coming to southern Africa!”

Hosted by the luxury 5 star Maliba Mountain Lodge, the Lesotho Ultra Trail will encompass some of the most spectacular mountain trails that the Tsehlanyane National Park has to offer, affording runners the opportunity to climb to over 3100m above sea level while immersed in the rich culture of Africa’s “mountain kingdom”.

Further information at the Lesotho Ultra Trail site here

The Guardian spotlights fell running

Posted in Through the Lens on Tue 11 Jun ’13

© www.guardian.co.uk

Inov8 are having a very good day PR wise! This excellent intro to fell running via the Guardian website showcases the sport in a very kind way, extolling the nature of fell running and why people do it, in an excellent four and half minute video…

Of course if you also have inov8 runner and 2011 British Fell Champ Morgan Donnelly chatting about it too then you really are onto a winner and Morgz does a great service in explaining the sport in layman’s terms to The Guardian’s Kate Carter. Top stuff!

Watch Fell running: an introductory guide here

© Andy Holden

Morgan in action…

Reactions so far
  1. John hunt
    Jun 11, 11:09 PM

    Awesome explanation, it’s a magic sport. Well Morgz for such a brilliant interview

  2. John hunt
    Jun 11, 11:10 PM

    Awesome explanation, it’s a magic sport. Well done Morgz for such a brilliant interview

  3. Matt MST
    Jun 12, 06:27 AM

    Agree John, paints all in a very good light…

  4. Gwil
    Jun 12, 08:18 PM

    “. . . you can run up and down a hill for half an hour and get a free pint of beer and make some new friends.”

    Yup, I liked that bit!

  5. Ed dickson
    Jun 13, 11:23 PM

    Sounds ideal! Much more fun than £30 for a road race, huh? Lots of cheeky inov8 product placement there for sure.

  6. Kate
    Aug 2, 04:25 PM

    Thank you! Glad you liked it 🙂

    Of course, the producers did a very kind job in cutting out the bits where I plaintively cried out “Wait for me! Wait for me!”

Tales from Y Moelwyn

Posted in At the Races on Wed 24 Apr ’13

© www.fellrunningpictures.co.uk

Russell Bentley at Ras y Moelwyn 2013

Russell Bentley has made a big impact on the North Wales fell scene over the last few months and last weekend won one of the Welsh classics, Ras y Moelwyn. His win was all the more impressive as he also defeated 2010 British Fell Champ Tim Davies…

Here his fantastic writing style paints a picture of a warm spring day in Blaenau Festiniog, and a tough, but enjoyable, day on the mountains:

I have been looking forward to this race for a long time, literally, looking forward to it. Every time I walk out of my house the course is right there infront of me. The race traverses from Moelwyn Mawr to Moelwyn Bach and the ridge can be seen so clearly that I could almost plan my route between the rock formations whilst having breakfast.

There was a great atmosphere at the starting line with music, a bouncy castle (I was not allowed on it) and stalls selling homemade cookies (I was allowed on these). I was feeling nervous and unsure of myself before the race. I had been overcooking my training the past month, and felt so burnt out I had to take 3 days off running completely.

My girlfriend’s parents were up for the weekend and I had never won a race infront of them. Also, the course record holder, Welsh international and awesome descender Tim Davies was in the lineup. I raced against him in December and had to bash myself to bits to keep up! This race would be 10 miles over 3 mountains, and I decided I needed to build a big cushion before we hit the first and biggest of the three, Moelwyn Mawr. I set off with intent through the relatively shallow slopes of the slate mine.

© www.sportpicturescymro.co.uk

Tim Davies on the climb

The course went through a valley and then up up up onto the boggy mountains. I was trying to cut corners across the winding beaten track but kept running into deep bogs that completely killed my momentum and sapped my energy. I hoped the guys behind me were making the same mistakes, and that I was too far infront for them to learn from mine.

As I got nearer to the peak of Moelwyn Mawr it got steeper and steeper. Many fell runners will break into a forced march when it gets this steep, and you really have to work hard if you want to keep running, otherwise you won’t be any faster than walking pace. Of all the contests I have been in, track, road, cross country…none have induced as much gut wrenching pain as racing up relentless mountains like this.

The burning in the thighs and calves would be unbearable enough, but is overshadowed by the crazy, lung bursting breathing. It was while I was in this state of duress, making a switch back on the steep path, that I saw a glimpse of a yellow vest behind me. I was in so much pain that I hoped I was just hallucinating, but then I heard the pursuer blow his nose and I realised Tim Davies was hot on my heels.
For me, the entire 10 mile race came down to the next 1 second. In the first half-second I found a thousand excuses to quit…

© 4.bp.blogspot.com

The Moelwyns route is rough and ready

Well I have thrown everything I can into this mountain, I have failed to create the gap I needed, it isn’t my day, I shouldn’t even be racing anyway, I’m never going to be able to beat Tim on the downhill, why carry on hurting like this for nothing? Better to give in now and save myself more suffering.

The next half second I thought to myself…there are still two more mountains to go, anything could happen. If he wants to beat me he’s going to have to hurt as much as I am, I can’t get beaten again infront of Nina’s parents, just get to the top of this hill first I put my head down, quickened my tempo, and found some more breathing capacity from somewhere.

I reached the top infront, and even though I felt like collapsing, was panting like a dog and hurting to my bones, I was gobsmacked by the breathtaking vista. The sea yawning out into the horizon and Snowdon standing above all the other mountains proudly showing off its sparkling snow cap. I didn’t have the time to take it all in as I was already heading down the other side towards the dreaded descent.

This was Tim’s territory I was in now, and so all I could do was try and take in

This weekend…

Posted in At the Races on Fri 03 May ’13

© Al Tye / fellrunningpictures.co.uk

Runners at the Red Kite Challenge

Fell and trail racing really kicks on this weekend in the UK with at least 17 races going ahead. From the classic and tough Stuc a’Chroin 5000 in Scotland, to the equally hard Annalong Horsehoe in N. Ireland, there is something for everyone…

With the fells and hills drying out a little in the southern part of the UK (it has been wet in Scotland and N Ireland!) and pretty good weather forecast for the bank holiday, numbers should be good as people get out there.

A full rundown of events and previews of some via the FRA, SHR, WFRA and NIMRA.

Enjoy!

© Wilderness Response Team

Angela Mudge at Stuc a’Chroin