Best of 2011: Fell and mountain racing

Posted in At the Races on Fri 30 Dec ’11


Morgan – 2011 champ!

It’s difficult know where to start – there have been so many highlights. Races that instantly stand out for us are Morgan Donnelly’s return after injury at Yr Aran, Tom Owens’ win at the 3 Peaks, Pippa Maddam’s world title run in Slovenia, Max King’s surprise WMRC win and Mark Palmer’s sub 15 BGR

But as ever there are are far to many great races to list. So, here are a few choice cuts to wind back the months in 2011 and to whet the appetite for 2012!

Owens and Mudge take Carnethy 5 wins

Tom Owens was “totally chuffed” with this one. After what sounded like a battle-royale with young Scots hill-star Robbie Simpson, Owens pulled away on the last descent for a narrow win, Bellahouston man Peter Davenport was third…

MST report

© Bob Marshall

Angela Mudge on her way to a 12th Carnethy 5 win

Taggart and Wilkinson put ‘em to the sword at Long Mynd

Lloyd Taggart and Vic Wilkinson both scored excellent wins at yesterday’s Long Mynd Valleys race, the opening round in the 2011 English Fell Running Championships. However, the manner of their victories were in complete contrast.

MST report

Owens runs ‘race of his life’ to take 3 Peaks

In what will be fondly remembered as a sunny but breezy day in the Yorkshire Dales, Tom Owens today carved his name in fell running history as a winner of one of the most iconic races on the fell calendar, the Yorkshire 3 Peaks in an excellent 2.53.34 for the 23.3 mile route.

MST report


Thumbs-up from Tom…

Breaking: Kilian pips Tom at Zegama

After leading on the last descent the UK’s Tom Owens just fell short of the biggest win of his career to date, after the young master Kilian Jornet won the classic Zegama-Aizkorri Maraton Alpina today…


MST report

Breaking: Mark Palmer runs 14:59 BGR

This is to be confirmed, but a number of social media sources and the FRA forum are talking of a 14:59 Bob Graham Round today by Mynydd Du’s Mark Palmer. He has been in sparkling form of late winning the Brecon 40 and Helvellyn races…

MST report

Kosovelj and Maddams are world champions…

British mountain running is apparently in rude health if the results of today’s World Long Distance Mountain Running Challenge in Slovenia are anything to go by, with England’s Pippa Maddams taking a superb gold in the women’s race…

© Peter Kastelic

Maddams (c) with Alexander (l) and Helen Fines

MST report

Morgan’s season starts here…

Borrowdale runner Morgan Donnelly returned from a long-term lay off to win round two of the 2011 British Fell Running Championships in emphatic style at the Welsh Yr Aran race yesterday.

MST report

© Al Tye /

Donnelly crests Yr Aran

Snowdon 2011: Jones takes five, as it’s third time lucky for Maddams

The 2011 International Snowdon Race / Ras-yr-Wyddfa produced one of the closest finishes in the race’s history yesterday, as England’s Andi Jones took his fifth title on this famous mountain, from a valiant Murray Strain.

© Al Tye /

AndI Jones blasts up Allt Moses

MST report

World Mountain Running Championships 2011 – USA ‘bring it home’

We have been covering major events on MST for about three and half years now. In that time we have covered World XC champs, World Mountain champs, UTMB’s and so on…

MST report


Max with his WMRC booty

Meaty wins for Donnelly and Maddams are just champion

Morgan Donnelly and Pippa Maddams yesterday underlined their superiority in this year British Fell Running Championships by each taking final round wins at the Devil’s Beeftub race in Scotland…

MST report

McMullan and Adams make it a golden day for England

James McMullan and Lizzie Adams made it a hat-trick of gold medals for England at the Commonwealth Mountain and Ultra Distance Championships in North Wales as they won the men’s and women’s mountain races at Llanberis…

MST report

© Gwynfor James

James McMullan takes gold

UKA Fell relays: Dark Peak dominate

The results are in, the images are up and the feedback is posted (on the FRA forum) and it seems that the 23rd UKA Fell Relays were an afternoon to remember from all perspectives, in glorious autumn sunshine on the fells of Kettlewell, Yorkshire.

MST report

Trail Runner Mag…

Posted in Dishing the Dirt on Thu 29 Dec ’11


The December issue of the US magazine is online now, and is a great festive read on all things trail running Stateside. What we like about TR mag are the issues covered and in particular the style of writing…

Some great articles this month including an 8-page feature on Kilian Jornet and a very interesting piece on forest access and the horizon of possible charges that trail runners could incur in the future, just to run on some forest trail.

Read more here

Reactions so far
  1. Martin Stacy
    Dec 29, 07:12 PM

    Do you get the actual magazine? I keep thinking of subscribing but with each issue being available online I can’t see it making sense. Unless of course they leave some content for the hard copy.
    Oh, and Kilian is in Running and Fitness out 6th Jan apparently.

Comments closed

WMRC 2012 and 2013 announced

Posted in At the Races on Sat 24 Dec ’11


The Tonale Pass

The venues for the next two World Mountain Running Championships have been announced on the WMRA site. 2012 sees the champs going to Italy, with the 2013 racing going to Poland…

The WMRA is delighted to announce like venue of the 28. World Mountain Running Championships 2012 the villages of Temù (1.144 m.s.l.) and of Ponte di Legno (1.258 m.s.l.).

Full story here


Wolfe and Frost show ultra class in San Francisco

Posted in At the Races on Mon 05 Dec ’11


Frosty at the finish of the TNF50

For Anna Frost Saturday was one of those coming-of-age days. The New Zealeander has spent the last few seasons in the mountains of world gaining a reputation as a world-class mountain runner…

In 2010 her run at the TNFEC50 brought her to the fore in ultra trail running, and after great wins in multi-day races the 4 Trails and Trans Rockies in 2011 Frost has shown herself as a runner who could become a great ultra distance runner.

© Brett Rivers

Frosty wins again!

On Saturday she definitely arrived on the world stage. Not only did she win the TNF50 for a second year, but she demolished a world class field that included Ellie Greenwood, Kami Semick, Joelle Vaught, Krissy Moehl and Lizzy Hawker.


Anna Frost early on at the TNF50

The Salomon athlete registered a big PB with 6:56:07 (three quarters of an hour faster than her time in 2010), fully 11 minutes up on Greenwood in second, with Joelle Vaught a further 33 mins back in third.


Ellie Greenwood

Her run once again netted her a cool $10,000, was good enough for 12th overall, in turn beating the likes of Rob Sharman and Kerl Meltzer – truly a world class run and must now surely put her up there with the world’s best women trail runners.

The men’s race saw a massive battle between two US ultra runners also at the top of their game. After a steady start Mike Wolfe and youngster (in ultra terms) Dakota Jones emerged as the front runners at around mile 28 of the 50 mile race in San Francisco’s Marin Headlands, and ran together for the next 17 miles before Wolfe put in a big effort coming out of the Tennessee Valley aid station (mile 45.5). This proved enough over the last 4-5 miles to take a 2 minute win and the $10k purse ahead of Jones in second.

© AMN Images

Canada’s Adam Campbell came through strongly in the second half of the race to take an excellent third place and £1000.


But, hey don’t take my word’s for it, take the words of the man who was out there -Bryon Powell. Firstly covering the action superbly on Twitter throughout the event, then with a full results breakdown and finally with two excellent post-race interviews with Anna Frost and Mike Wolfe.


The sun shines down on Mike Wolfe

Reactions so far
  1. Tony Mollica
    Dec 6, 12:19 AM

    Great race!

  2. Crossfit
    Dec 12, 07:25 AM

    I love those pics, thanks for sharing ! Congratulations for a great job well done and looking forward always for more updates.

THE end of season party…

Posted in At the Races on Thu 01 Dec ’11


Talk about saving the best ‘til last! The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Mile Championship takes place this weekend and promises to be a grand finale of the 2011 season and a veritable feast for ultra trail fans around the world.

In trail running terms this event is big, very big. As is the $10,000 first prize for the winning man and woman. The fields are stacked with US and international talent, as the lure of a big pay day and a sack full of scalps tempt many into the Bay Area this weekend.

2010 Western States 100 winner Geoff Roes goes as does multiple UTMB women’s winner Lizzy Hawker – but are just two of a whole list of contenders for this one. 2010 TNFEC50 winner winner Anna Frost is back too, and has been targeting this race with some hurt-box training deep in New Zealand over the last 6 weeks.

© Emma Garrard / Salomon

Anna Frost at the TNFEC

Any previews that I could write wouldn’t do these races justice, so it’s best left to the ultra-trail expert and local-guy-on-the-ground Bryon Powell, and his most excellent iRunFar previews on the men’s race and women’s race.

Check the MST, iRunFar and Endurance Challenge twitter feeds for updates on the races and some exclusive images and reactions, direct from the Marin Headlands…

Go Trail is out…

Posted in Dishing the Dirt on Wed 30 Nov ’11


Go Trail by James Hallett sees another excellent edition online. The December / January has the usual great mix of imagery and inspiration, including trail running in NZ, an interview with Krissy Moehl and a journey to the roof of the world and the Himalayan 100…


James says:

The December/January issue of Go Trail magazine is LIVE and as the 2011 trail running year comes to a close, we reflect on an interesting and inspiring year gone by.


We also introduce you to an American ultra-trail athlete with a phenomenal track record. Krissy Moehl has not only won the Ultra-Trail Du Mont-Blanc, but holds the women’s category record. Unfortunately too much pre-race training for the 2011 UTMB resulted in an untimely DNF, providing some fresh new insight into her own running. In this ATHLETE PROFILE you’ll get the chance to listen to our pod cast interview with her as we find out more about where this Seattle based trail runner see herself going in the future.

Read it here


CTS Gower

Posted in Through the Lens on Wed 30 Nov ’11


A nice birds-eye-view of the recent Endurance Life CTS on the Gower in South Wales has just been posted. It’s a great showcase for the UK’s first ever Area Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), and also a nice testimony to how good the CTS events are. Nice work chaps!

Watch it here


Ayalew and Alemu show Ethiopian uphill prowess at Obudu

Posted in At the Races on Wed 30 Nov ’11

© AMN Images

Alemu – a new Obudu record

The 7th running of the Obudu International Mountain Race on Monday showed that east African runners have just as much scope on the hills as they do on the flat, as Ethiopia dominated with men’s winner Mesfin Alemu setting a new course record…

Of course, the Obudu event is more akin to a road-mountain race (such as the Mt. Washington race in the US) as the 11km race climbs to an altitude of 1,765m above sea level, with 22 hair-pin bends – a la Alp d’Huez!

© Obudu Mountain Race

Also one of the big attractions comes in the prize money at Obudu, a whopping $50,000 for the winners, and with a total prize fund of nearly $200,000 this race will remain high on the radar of the world’s top athletes.

Ethiopian Mesfin Hunegnaew Alemu set a new men’s record of 41:50, easily beating compatriot Atsedy Tsegay. In the women’s event 18-year old Genet Ayalew (48:45) also won comfortably ahead of Ayelewu Wuda Yimer. 2009 World MR champ Geoffrey Kusoru took the African MR title after finishing seventh.

Results should appear here when ready…

© Obudu Mountain Race

Genet Ayalew – at just 18 a big prospect

UKA name Euro Cross team

Posted in Dishing the Dirt on Tue 29 Nov ’11


The GB & NI team for the forthcoming European Cross Country Championships on December 11 has been named. There aren’t too many surprises in there following last weekend’s trials though the junior and U23 women’s squads looking particularly strong…

Full announcement over at the UKA site




Andy Baddeley (Andy Hobdell) – Harrow; Mark Draper (Andy Hobdell) – Bedford & County; Ryan McLeod (John Nuttall) – Tipton Harriers; Frank Tickner (Self) – Wells AC; Andy Vernon (Nic Bideau) – Aldershot, Farnham and District; James Walsh (Mike Baxter) – Leeds City


Elle Baker (Dave Turnbull) – Stockport; Julia Bleasdale (Nic Bideau) – Hillingdon; Hatti Dean (Bud Baldaro) – Hallamshire Harriers; Freya Murray (Steve Jones) – Edinburgh AC; Gemma Steel (John Nuttall) – Charnwood AC; Emily Wicks (Keith Donkin) – AFD


Philip Berntsen (Keith Anderson) – Winchester; Matthew Gillespie (Amanda Gillespie) – Shettleston; Mitch Goose (Tim/Pauline Ash) – City of Norwich; Matthew Graham (Andrew Craycraft) – Kirkintilloch; Derek Hawkins (Lawrie Spence) – Kilbarchan AC; James Wilkinson (Phil Townsend) – Leeds City AC


Lauren Howarth (Bud Baldaro) – Leigh; Emma Pallant (Mick Woods) – AFD; Lily Partridge (Self) – AFD; Naomi Taschimowitz (Charlotte Fisher) – Taunton; Stephanie Twell (Mick Woods) – AFD; Hannah Walker (Bud Baldaro) – Birchfield


Kieran Clements (Steve Benson) – Ipswich; Niall Fleming (Mick Woods) – Shaftesbury Barnet; Richard Goodman (Geoff Williams) – Shaftesbury Barnet; Jack Goodwin (Simon Goodwin) – Bedford & County; Jonny Hay (Mick Woods) – AFD; Mark Shaw (Steve Shaw) – New Marske


Beth Carter (Mick Woods) – AFD; Emelia Gorecka (Mick Woods) – AFD; Annabel Gummow (Chris Wooldridge) – Bristol & West; Katie Holt (Alan Morris) – Sale Harriers Manchester; Gemma Kersey (Eamonn Martin) – Basildon; Laura Muir (Alan Mackintosh) – Dundee Hawkhill

International XC

Posted in At the Races on Tue 29 Nov ’11

© Daily Nation

Wilson Kiprop – winner at Eldoret XC

The international cross country scene continues to gather pace as we head towards the only major championship this winter in Slovenia. Though many Europe’s top men with be sharpening their spikes in anticipation of December 11, it is East Africa that continues to dominate…

Spain was the place to be on Sunday as Leonard Komon (Kenya) defeated the form-man of winter 2011 so far Kidane Tadese at the 28th ‘Cross Internacional Valle de Llodio’.

Komon is no stranger to the upper echelons of XC after his silver medal performance at the 2008 World Cross, and his finishing speed proved redoubtable over the Eritrean.

© Miguel Alfambra

Leonard Patrick Komon

It was a different story in the women’s race as Italy’s Nadia Ejjafini soundly beat a good quality field. Europeans showed themselves well throughout the top 10, proving that with these athletes (as well as the strong Portuguese team) will prove tough opposition in a few weeks at the Euro Cross.

© Miguel Alfambra

Nadia Ejjafini

Full report on the IAAF here

Tuskys Wareng XC

The annual “Tuskys Wareng“ Eldoret XC race was once again graced with stacked feilds in the men’s and women’s races as Wilson Kiprop and Emily Chebet took relatively easy wins. Further reports on the Daily Nation here and IAAF.

© Daily Nation

Sandes caps off a great 2011

Posted in At the Races on Sat 26 Nov ’11

© Racing the Planet

Sandes on his way to the Nepal 2011 win

After his epic run at Leadville, South Africa’s Ryan Sandes led from start to finish in the 2011 Nepal ‘roving race – part of the Racing the Planet series. Sandes is a familiar figure at these events, having won the complete set of 4 Deserts races over the last few years

© Racing the Planet

The course goes through the Annapurna foothills reaching up to 3,200 meters / 10,500 feet and passing through many villages where competitors will experience the true Nepali culture.

© Racing the Planet

The Salomon Running SA Facebook page reports

While his spectacular success (he won by over two hours) might make it seem like it was just another week-long trot in the mountains for the man from Hout Bay, the race was not without incident for him. Sandes battled with stomach problems (which forced many racers, including two South Africans to withdraw) during the early stages. “My stomach is still not feeling great so I am battling to get down enough nutrition when running so hit a few walls along the way,” he commented after stage 3.

© Racing the Planet

He also rolled his ankle on a technical descent during one of the early stages. “The last few kilometres to the finish were quite painful but I soaked it in an ice cold river,” he said. Besides the spectacular scenery and views along the route, Sandes highlighted “how passionate and supportive the locals have been during the race.”

Full event reports here, with an image gallery from the whole event here, and keep an eye on Ryan’s blog for his post event reactions.

Reactions so far
  1. Ronel Grobler
    Nov 27, 06:53 AM

    Congrats Ryan your achievements are becomic’re a natural athlete with no competion’re living your dream! SA is very proud of you!

Ambitious ‘Irontrail’ unveiled

Posted in At the Races on Mon 21 Nov ’11


Following on from the Swissalpine in Davos (78 kilometres) and the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (166 kilometres), the Irontrail breaks the 200 km barrier. The premiere event takes place from 6 to 8 July 2012 with the start in Pontresina and the finish in Chur.

Full event release By Anita Fuchs

Staging the Alpes’ highest altitude, longest, toughest and most beautiful single-stage trail race in the multi-faceted natural, cultural and mountain landscape of Graubünden – this is the thinking behind the new Irontrail. According to a statement from the race’s founder, Andrea Tuffli, the event is a project which will encourage both sports and tourism. “The route taken by the race makes it possible to connect the unique features of the different regions. However, not only does it link up the diversity offered by the landscape, but also the destinations.” As well as being a value adding exercise, great importance is also placed on sustainability, as regards the economy, ecology and the community.

In the footsteps of Giovanni Segantini

The Irontrail is approximately 201 kilometres in length and consequently sets a new standard on the trail running scene. The previous “record holder”, the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (France), is 166 kilometres long and the Grand Raid de La Réunion (on the island of Réunion off the African coast) covers 162 kilometres. The starting point of the Irontrail is the town of Pontresina and it finishes in Chur.

The reasons behind this are as follows: Pontresina has a long tradition in mountain sports and Chur is the oldest town in Switzerland. Between the two towns there are ascents of 11,500 metres and descents of 12,700 metres that have to be conquered. Athletes will find themselves running in the footsteps of the painter Giovanni Segantini and philosopher Friedrich Nitzsche.


The scenic highpoints are where the Morteratsch and Pers glaciers cross and (between Bovalhütte and Diavolezza), the Fuorcla Pischa ridge/ibex trail, past the Segantini mountain hut to Muottas Muragl, Fuorcla Surlej, past Lake Hahnen to St. Moritz, the Piz Nair, which, at 3,022 metres above sea-level is apex of the event. Others include Fuorcla Crap Alv to Bergün via Lake Palpuogna on the Bahnlehr Trail, the Digls Orgels Pass (through the Graubünden Dolomites), the section right through the middle of the Parc Ela with the Albula-Bernina Railway, a UNESCO World Heritage Site as well as the Parpaner Rothorn, Weisshorn and finally the Chur Joch.

Apart from the main section on the traverse through Graubünden, which demands everything of the runners (Tuffli: “It’s all about the title ‘King of the Mountains”, just like the wild ibex on the logo), there are two shorter distances:

About 140 kilometres (Pontresina–Chur +8400/-9600 m) and 72 kilometres (Chur–Lenzerheide–Arosa–Chur, +/- 4800 m). Tuffli does not see any competition, even from the Swissalpine Davos, which he himself organises and which takes place just three weeks after. “They are two different worlds. In the case of the Swiss Irontrail, the fastest runners complete a kilometre in an average of seven and a half minutes, whereas in the Swissalpine it is half this time.”


4,000 participants after five years

700 to 800 people are expected to take part in the premiere, but the aim is to break the 4,000 barrier in five years. The people being targeted are experienced single-stage ultra trail runners, and especially participants (on waiting lists) in the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc and La Réunion. Potential athletes come from Switzerland, France, Germany and Italy.

“The typical ultra-trail runner is an experience-orientated, nature-loving freak or an amateur athlete with a professional touch looking for adventure and extreme, authentic experiences,” states Tuffli.

The Swiss Irontrail follows the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc which is a partner event to the Swissalpine. When it was founded in 2003, it was just as revolutionary as the Davos race was in 1986. The Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc is enjoying increasing popularity: 10,000 runners applied to take part in last year’s event, with 5,500 ultimately being accepted.

“The Mont Blanc has a tremendous attraction,” comments Tuffli. He thinks his “youngest child” has just as much of a chance of success. “Firstly because of the distance, secondly because it takes place in a world-famous region and has the benefit of grandiose mountain and lakeland scenery.”

For further information visit:

Reactions so far
  1. Cyril
    Nov 22, 07:10 PM

    The 200 km barrier was already brooken last summer by the Tour de l’Oisans non-stop Edition. And its 12000m D+ let him claim the trail icon.
    I hope some of my fellow former runners of the Tour de l’Oisans will join me in the new adventure of 2012 IronTrail.

5 Continents, 5 races, 5 wins, many admirers…

Posted in Dishing the Dirt on Thu 10 Nov ’11


But not necessarily for the competition, more for the way that Kilian Jornet has gone about his running in 2011. The young Catalan is wise beyond his years, of that there is no doubt.

His induction into the mountain and nature at a very early age seems to have given him an inner sense of respect for the natural world.

This last instalment of the 2011 film series surrounding his amazing efforts across 5 continents sees the Kinabalu race featured and perhaps more than ever the intense, yet highly respectful and friendly, rivalry between Kilian and Marco de Gasperi.


Marco and Kilian, buddies…

In this release we also get a flavour for the reasoning behind the year:

The idea of Kilian participating in 5 races on 5 different continents came about at the beginning of 2011 as a great way to promote Trail Running all around the world. The aim was to organise a conference featuring Kilian in conjunction with each race, in order to measure the development of the sport and its practices. With that purpose in mind, Kilian has chosen to take part in each continent’s biggest race.

It’s all about meeting people, sharing, exchanging ideas. So far, these seminars have provided a wealth of learning about the different Trail Running mentalities and communities around the world today. They have allowed us to perceive specific aspects of the sport in each country, as well as some resulting distinct constraints, therefore enabling us to better understand how to help develop the sport in years to come.


Kilian on-route at the WS100

By taking part in this project, Kilian has set himself an ambitious challenge: to win every one of these races, thereby not only proving his talent as a competitor, but also highlighting how the level is rising in the sport as a whole, in any and every country.


As the season has progressed, media interest and requests have been more and more frequent, and Kilian has become the face and the ambassador for Trail Running around the world. With his remarkable humility, he has in his own way favoured the development of his chosen sport.

There is of course pride in the number of victories (this has been Kilian’s best trail running season ever), but Kilian is also happy to have shared experiences and emotions with so many great runners, some of them well-known in the sport, and others anonymous, but all with a shared passion.

© AROC Twitter

Kilian refuels

Those who practice trail running are essentially motivated by a love of nature and a desire for the inner peace that comes with escaping outdoors. For runners living in cities or in the mountains, the spirit remains the same. These 5 races across 5 continents have allowed every runner to enjoy breath-taking landscapes, to get close to unspoilt nature, to breathe, to listen to the sounds of the fauna.

Trail running is the source of unique emotions that you won’t encounter in any other sport, and that’s why we all love it so much!

After a season that has been emotionally charged and physically testing, Kilian is planning a bit of time off. His mind filled with memories, he will have a chance to think about the new season ahead, and is already planning new challenges for 2012!


Reactions so far
  1. Paul Bateson
    Nov 11, 11:39 AM

    I have raced in some events where Kilian has been a competitor (and winner) and he is definately a superb ambassador for trail running and outdoor ‘athletics’ he also does a pretty good job of representing Salomon, hope they continue with support for him and trail races for many year’s to come.

Clwydian sunshine!

Posted in Through the Lens on Wed 09 Nov ’11

© Al Tye /

Andrea Rowlands

The mild Autumn weather continued this last weekend as the Clwydian Hills race went off in glorious November sunshine. No results as yet, but what better way to pay homage to this excellent race than by this great photo set by Al Tye…

© Al Tye /

Vernon and Steel lead by example at English XC relays

Posted in At the Races on Mon 07 Nov ’11

© Bryan Mills

Steve Vernon (196) early on

Top XC exponent Steve Vernon blazed his Stockport Harriers team to gold in Saturday’s English Cross Country Relay Champs in Mansfield after running away with leg 1 for the Lancashire team, his 15.26 being the fastest leg of the day…

Women-of-the-moment Gemma Steel was also in dominant form anchoring her Charnwood club to gold after taking over leg 3 in 4th place on the demanding Berry Hill Park course.

Bryan Mills reports:

Senior Women (3 × 3km)

Leg 1 saw the 3 eventual medallists right up in the mix, with Elle Baker of Stockport handing over first in 10:04, the 2nd quickest lap of the day followed by Birchfield, Aldershot and Charnwood very much in contention.

Charnwood maintained 4th place for 2 legs but on the last lap Gemma Steel powered through the field to win with the fastest time of the day, 9:49. Aldershot rose from 3rd on leg 1 to take silver
with Birchfield in 3rd.

1. Charnwood AC 31:05
2. Aldershot Farnham & District 31:16
3. Birchfield Harriers 31:33

Gemma Steel (Charnwood) 9:49
Elle Baker (Stockport) 10:04
Emma Pallant (AFD) 10:10

Senior Men (4 × 5km)

A heavy downpour before the men’s race turned the traditionally fast parkland course at Mansfield into a true test for cross country running. The gold medal was a done deal for Stockport after leg 1 with Steve Vernon clocking the fastest time of the day with a time of 15:26. The battle for the minor placings was a more closely fought race with the silver and bronze medals switching hands through the

© Bryan Mills

Vernon in top gear at Mansfield

City of Norwich ran strongly to be in 2nd after 3 legs, but a strong last leg from Simon Deakin saw Leeds City move up from 5th place to 2nd over the final 2 lap leg. Tipton were narrowly denied a bronze medal after Ryan McLeod had run superbly to lift the green and white hoops from 20th to 4th place, and Dan Beier gained another place moving up to 3rd after 3 legs.

1. Stockport Harriers
2. Leeds City AC
3. City of Norwich

Steve Vernon (Stockport)15:26
Michael Mulhare (Belgrave) 15:31
Ashley Harrell (Norwich) 15:36

Full results now online at the ECCA site, with images by Bryan Mills via his Facebook page

Rob romps to Snowdonia win

Posted in At the Races on Tue 01 Nov ’11

© Colin Paxton

Samuel cross the line in Llanberis

Wales and GB international Rob Samuel pulled off the biggest win of his career on Saturday, as he won Britain’s toughest marathon. The 25-year old led majestically over the final 6 miles of this iconic 26.2 mile event to win in 2hrs 36 mins and 45 secs…

With a line-up of international endurance runners that many a UK marathon would have been proud of, the 29th running of the Snowdonia Marathon Eryri was destined to be a superbly competitive event, and it was

Commenting on his terrific winning effort Samuel said:

“This is crazy. I mean I am in good form, but I can’t believe that I have won. It means so much to take my first marathon win here at the Snowdonia Marathon, in front of such a fantastic crowd and on my ‘home turf’.”

After three years of stormy conditions and heavy rain the organisers were hopeful of some respite for the runners (who came from 14 countries). But as the race got off at 10.30am, started by First Hydro’s Brian Tindall, rain and high winds were already the order of the day and over the next 6 hours the unpredictable Snowdonian weather took hold with torrential rain, gale force gusts and hail all adding to the spice of this event which lived up to its billing as the toughest and most scenic in the UK.

© Colin Paxton

The start…

Nearly 2000 runners set off from just outside of the village of Llanberis, now considered the ‘outdoor capital of Wales’ due to the preponderance of sporting events over the course of the year. However, it is this historic event which is perhaps the toughest, due in part to the unpredictable nature of the weather in this part of Wales at this time of the year.

But the elements were not to deter these intrepid competitors, and following the race all talk has been of a superbly organised event, testimony to the organising team and their dedication to this classic event on the Welsh sporting calendar.

© Colin Paxton

Speaking about how the race unfolded, Samuel added:

“I felt really good in the first half of the race, and I knew I had to watch Richie (Gardiner), and it was just two of us pushing it on from about 11 miles onwards. We got to about 19 miles and felt like I should make an effort and started to get a gap.

The last three miles over Bwlch y Groes are tough, no matter how good you feel and coming off the descent I fell over as I was wearing racing flats, but luckily no damage was done. I then just put my head down and went as hard as I could into the High Street and, well, the feeling coming up the finishing straight with the crowd going mad was amazing”.

With 2010 winner, and recent gold medalist at the Commonwealth Ultra Trail Championships, Richie Gardiner taking to the start line, all talk was of who could stop the Aberdare man taking a second straight win. However, 55km of tough Anglesey trails and the Cardiff Half Marathon over the last four weeks would ultimately take their toll on the Welshmen, as he eventually finished in third place.

“That was tough”, said Gardiner after the race, “but I am glad that I came bag to defend my title. It just wasn’t to be today and to be honest my thighs started to stiffen up after about 8 miles, and though I led with Rob til about 19-20 miles I knew it wasn’t going to be my day. But hey, that isn’t taking anything away from Rob today, he ran a great race.”

The South Wales policeman obviously has a love for this race now, as he has vowed to return in 2012. “Oh yeah I’ll be back, if you’ll have me”, he concluded.

Splitting to two Welsh runners was Scot, Murray Strain. After finishing second at this year’s Snowdon Race, he ran very strongly for yet another runner-up spot in north Wales. The GB international orienteer was running his marathon debut and also found the conditions tough, and despite being a seasoned fell runner found the last thigh-burning two miles extremely difficult. Asked if he would be returning to the event his words were “most certainly”.

One notable top 10 finisher was Jez Bragg (7th). The ultra specialist is a previous winner of the famous UTMB race in France and this year finished 4th in the world renowned US 100 mile trail race, the Western States.

© Al Tye /

Jez Bragg on the last descent

Further testimony to the quality of this race was underlined in

Trail Marathon Wales is launched

Posted in At the Races on Fri 28 Oct ’11

© Trail Marathon Wales

June 2012 will see a great new event coming to Wales. Trail Marathon Wales aims to be a “challenging, but stunning” full (and half) distance trail marathon set in the world-renowned MTB heartland that is Coed y Brenin…

The MTB centre set in the Snowdonia National Park, one of most renowned mountain biking areas in the UK – if not the world.


The event release states:

Taking place on the 23rd of June 2012, Trail Marathon Wales will have full (26.2 mile / 42.1 km) and half (13.1 mile / 21 km) marathon race routes in the stunning trails and tracks of the world-renowned Coed y Brenin forest in the Snowdonia National Park. This unique marathon aims to be Wales’ first true trail marathon taking in fully marked trail single track, forest roads and paths in some of the most stunning forestry and heathland in the UK.

We are working closely with Forestry Commission Wales at Coed y Brenin to deliver what will be a race route to remember. The exact course details will be released in the early Spring of 2012.

We have provisionally recruited a number of elite athletes to take part in the race, who will ensure that the event has a highly competitive element – whilst hopefully attracting good club runners and first time trail marathoners alike.

Entries for the event open online at the event website next Tuesday, the 1st November.

You can follow Trail Marathon Wales on their Facebook page, their Twitter feed and via the TMW blog


This weekend…

Posted in At the Races on Fri 28 Oct ’11


Sugar Loaf record holder Matt Collins

So, outside of The OMM things are starting to wind down a little on the fells, hill and mountains of the UK. As you’d expect at this time of the year too, the races tend to be shorter, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some quality races on this weekend…

Apart from playing host to The OMM, the Scots also have Meall a`Bhuachaille to get the blood pumping, with a new 13km route in the Glenmore region. In the Brecon Beacons the famous Sugar Loaf is on offer, promoted by the Mynydd Du club, the 5 miler with around 1500ft of gain starts from the Crown pub in Pantygelli, nr. Abergavenny, with entries on the day.


Great Whernside 2009

Up in the Yorkshire Dales it’s time for the blast up the classic Great Whernside fell, and on Sunday there are a couple of 8 milers in the form of the Three Tops and the Bronte Way for fell runners to get their teeth into.

More info online from respective Welsh, English and Scottish associations here WFRA, FRA and the SHR sites. As usual take care, take the right kit for the time of year and enjoy!

Tower runners hit Ho Chi Minh City

Posted in At the Races on Thu 27 Oct ’11


On Sunday 30th October 2011, the first ever vertical run in Vietnam will be held at the Bitexco Financial Tower, where over 500 participants have registered to conquer the highest skyscraper in Ho Chi Minh City…

Recently named as one of the world’s top 20 most iconic skyscrapers by CNNGo, participants will climb up a total of 1,002 steps to a height of 178 metres leading to the tower’s observation desk on the 49th floor, where they will be rewarded with spectacular views of Ho Chi Minh City’s skyline and the Saigon River.


Vietnam’s first vertical run has been selected as a trial race for the 2011 Vertical World Circuit (VWC), where the top runners will be vying for a total cash prize of US$5,000 where the 1st prize male and female winners will each receive of US$1,500 and gain crucial points to be declared the world champion at the end of the year.

The inaugural event will feature a mix of locals and foreigners from 24 countries around the world, hailing from as far away as the United Kingdom and Canada.

Amongst the elite athletes, reigning male and female vertical world champions Thomas Dold of Germany and Melissa Moon of New Zealand will be in Vietnam for the first time in a bid to defend their world titles.

© Roger Schorries

Thomas Dold

Dold has won 27 straight stair races, including the Empire State Building Run-Up, which he has won six times. New Zealander Melissa Moon, also a two time world mountain running champion, won the famed race in New York City last year on her first try.

“We are proud of having the world’s best stair runners participating at the inaugural Bitexco Vertical Run. This is a special occasion that marks the building having just been completed and inaugurated a year ago in October 2010,” said Mr. Brad Gee, Property Director of the Bitexco Financial Tower. “We look forward to hosting them and the hundreds of participants from all over the world who have signed up for the challenge”


The Bitexco tower in Vietnam

The Mountain Marathon Book

Posted in Rated or Slated by Rene Borg on Thu 27 Oct ’11


I was lucky enough to recently receive a free copy of the latest offering in the ”Run Off-Road” series by TrailGuides: The Mountain Marathon Book, so let me share my impressions with my fellow mountain runners…

This 224 page tome clearly aims to be the definitive treatise on the topic and I’ll start by ruining the suspense: co-authors Keven Shevels and Stuart Ferguson do a fine job of doing just that. “The Mountain Marathon Book” does more than that and includes excellent advice for anyone contemplating one of the 24-hour challenges (such as the Bob Graham and Wicklow rounds) or any off-road ultra-distance races.

“Simply put, a mountain marathon is a long-distance navigation exercise held over upland and mountainous terrain. Normally held over two days it involves carrying all the equipment and supplies needed to be self-sufficient over the period.” – The Mountain Marathon Book

As the authors point out, mountain marathons are a unique discipline occupying a space somewhere in between fell running, orienteering and ultra-running while having elements of classical outdoor expeditions and thus previous books in the “Run Off-Road” series have covered different angles of the concise information presented here. To their credit TrailGuides have done very well to avoid duplication and produce a book that can both stand alone as well as supplement the earlier publications.


The book is broken into eight main sections and more than forty-five chapters: “The Basics”, “Equipment”, “Food and Drink”, “Training”, “Pre-Event Preparation”, “The Event”, “After the Event” and “Health and Safety” making it easy to hone in on the area of particular interest to you. My own understanding of mountain marathons is fairly basic so I jumped straight into the introduction to the discipline in the first section.

Here you are introduced to the four main obstacles a competitor will face: weather, terrain, teamwork and navigation before moving on to answer what I imagine will be some of the most pertinent questions for first-time mountain marathoners: the events you can choose from (as it proves there are sixteen events on the British and Irish isles), the differences in courses and levels and the rules and kit requirements.

© Jon Brooke /

The book utilises photos and graphics extremely well, my favourites being the drawing of how to properly organise and pack your bag and the sketch of typical terrain run. The lengthy “Training” chapter manages to cover all important aspects of training (such as endurance, uphill, strength and flexibility) and delivers specialised training schedules for the event separated into the three levels of experience corresponding to the difficulty classes of the mountain marathon courses: A, B and C.

There are some hefty long runs in store late in the programme but the training rationale is always well explained and the experience of the authors shines through. The schedules are 30 weeks long and are essentially a perfect adaptation of Arthur Lydiard’s training principles to this specialised discipline. Any off-road runner wondering how to adapt the philosophy of the great coach to their sport will find themselves inspired here. I did.

© Jon Brooke /

I finished reading with the feeling that very little I needed to know had been left out completely and for the few topics that received shorter shrift, such as navigation, the reader was referred to the excellent sister volumes such as “Navigation for Off-Road Runners”.

The writing style of the TrailGuides authorship always sat well with me: the explanations are clear, the tone one of common-sense, a degree in physiology or years of immersion in the peculiar linguistics of off-road running is not necessary.

So if you are preparing for a mountain marathon or if you always wondered what exactly the effects of running with a heavy backpack are, or how to deal with ticks and midges, then consider investing the RRP of £19.99 in “The Mountain Marathon Book”. I have followed TrailGuides since they published their first “Run Off-Road” book and the small publishing company seems to be improving with every new publication. I will look forward to the next book in the series titled

SRP: £20