Athletics Weekly goes XC

Posted in Dishing the Dirt on Fri 07 Oct ’11


The weekly bible on track and field in the UK Athletics Weekly has this week published a bumper issue looking ahead to the winter of content for XC lovers. The 84-page special previews the season, and reviews the best spikes to tackle the mud…

Our latest issue is packed full of cross-country content, including a 10-page cross-country calendar to help you map out your winter season. We profile world cross-country champion and double world champion on the track Vivan Cheruiyot, while editor Jason Henderson explains why cross-country is a vital part of the sport.

Preview the latest issue here, subscribe here or simply pop down the local newsagents and buy it!

XC is back…

Posted in At the Races on Wed 05 Oct ’11

© webcomsystemsuk / flickr

Yes, now that the Indian summer that never was has been and gone (all 5 days of it) the XC lovers in the UK are getting set for another winter of fun. Those who love cross-country can get excited that as the nights draw in the mud will start to churn around the country in leagues, series and championship races…

© basegreen Flickr

Wollaton – once of the most scenic starts in XC

It’s that time when the spikes (studs) come out and the ez ups get dusted off, gangs of club runners get ready to huddle in cold, windswept fields and league officials get those trusty clipboards and waterproofs out to record every last inter-club sprint finish.

Last weekend saw leagues kicking-off at Derby, West Glamorgan and North Wales, with other classics such as the Chiltern League, Hampshire and Surrey getting underway next weekend.

So, if you’re a fell, trail or road runner and you want to improve your speed and endurance, meet new people and get involved in one of the oldest and most enjoyable of off-road running disciplines, head down to your local club and get involved!

© Neale Lewis-Jones

Weekend action from North Wales

He is human after all

Posted in Dishing the Dirt on Wed 05 Oct ’11


Kilian Jornet

Kilian Jornet’s exploits over the last few years have been nothing short of phenomenal. The young Catalan stormed onto the scene winning such monuments as the UTMB in his first serious season of trail running…

2011 has perhaps been his best year to date, with wins at the Western States 100, Zegama and of course that epic win on Mt Blanc once again.

© The North Face

Kilian thanks the waiting crowd at the UTMB 2011

However after traveling to South Africa recently, the globe-trotting has caught up with him, and after a rare DNF at last weekend’s Cavalls del Vent race in Spain, Jornet has decided to rest-up, ahead of his trip to Malaysia for the Skyrunner® SuperCup in two weeks time.


Kilian leads Tom on one of Zegama’s brutal climbs

Kilian was unable to finish the 3rd edition of the Cavalls del Vent race, which took place along the Cadí Moixeró Natural Park. In the leading group for the first 30km, he then decided enough was enough:

“I felt well until the climb up to Niu de l’Àliga, where I started to notice the fatigue. I carried on, but eventually decided to abandon the race so as not to make things worse. I was aware of the fatigue and the fact that I was trying to do too much, but the race was at home and my family and friends were supporting me. I guess I let my heart rule my head. In the end, I think I took the wrong decision to race.”


Trailing Miguel Heras at the Cavalls del Vent

And continued: “I feel very sad about abandoning the event. The truth is, just as happened last year, this race coincided with the end of the season and I paid the price of weariness and fatigue. I would like to thank everybody for the support and kindness received during and after the race. I would also like to congratulate Miguel Heras who ran an amazing race.”

The demands of his amazing schedule have obviously begun to take their toll and he sees a ‘return to the source’ as the only option, as he attempts to complete his ‘Project 5 Continents’ – his quest to win major events on every continent, which to date is still on after his TNF 100k win in Australia, the Western States 100, the UTMB and the recent win on Table Mountain in South Africa.

“Now, I need to isolate myself in the mountains and recharge. To do this, I must cancel my trip to Peru and the record attempt between Choquequirao and Machu Pichu.”

“The mountains gives me the energy, so I need to take a break and return to the source of my motivation. It’s on the Mont Blanc that I will find my serenity before leaving for Asia for the Sky Running World Cup final : Kota Kinabalu


Kilian Jornet

Follow Kilian’s exploits
Twitter: with tag @kilianj

Runner’s World does trail running

Posted in Dishing the Dirt on Tue 04 Oct ’11


This month’s (November issue) Runner’s World magazine see a full 24-page inside supplement devoted entirely to trail running. Fronted by arguably the world’s greatest trail runner, Kilian Jornet, the pages cover technique, kit, trail events…

…and a fascinating 5 page interview and feature on the Catalan pocket rocket.

Out now at all good newsagents, as they say…


Krkoč and Arslan take GP titles

Posted in At the Races on Tue 04 Oct ’11

© A. Fevzer / WMRA

Ahmet Arslan

The 32nd Smarna Gora race saw crisp blue skies and ferocious racing on the slopes of this classic Slovenian mount on Sunday. Ahmet Arslan repeated his win of 2010 in the race, and the overall WMRA Grand Prix Series


Arslan and Krkoč – GP Winners 2011

Slovenia’s Lucija Krkoc confirmed herself as the stand-out athlete in this year’s women’s series by winning the race from Antonella Confortola-Wyatt, and the overall Series title.

It was a good day from a British point of view too, as young mountain star Emma Clayton secured 3rd overall in the season-long series, after finishing 7th on the day, just ahead of Lauren Jeska, with Ali Lavender in 10th.

In the men’s race Orlando Edwards finished a strong 9th, with Tom Addison 11th, Joe Morwood 13th, Josh Tighe 14th, Mark Addison in 15th and Adam Osborne in 16th place.

A great report is now online at the IAAF site, with more images to follow.


Top 10’s
1. Ahmet ARSLAN, TUR 42:02.0
2. David SCHNEIDER, SUI 42:34.7
3. Gabriele ABATE, ITA 42:43.6
4. Adam KOVACS, HUN 42:57.6
5. Mitja KOSOVELJ, SLO 43:20.7
6. Alex BALDACCINI, ITA 43:59.3
7. Antonio TONINELLI, ITA 45:02.0
8. Luca CAGNATI, ITA 45:12.1
9. Orlando EDWARDS, GBR 45:47.6
10. Simon ALIC, SLO 46:02.3

1. Lucija KRKOC, SLO 50:34.6
2. Antonela CONFORTOLA, ITA 51:00.6
3. Pavla SCHORNA, CZE 51:41.1
4. Tanja ŽAKELJ, SLO 51:51.3
5. Mateja KOSOVELJ, SLO 52:18.0
6. Lea EINFALT, SLO 52:41.6
7. Emma CLAYTON, GBR 53:30.3
8. Lauren JESKA, GBR 53:42.3
9. Dionne ALLEN, GBR 55:22.7
10. Alison LAVENDER, GBR 57:31.5

2011 Final WMRA Grand Prix Standings

1. Ahmet ARSLAN, TUR 407 points
2. David SCHNEIDER, SUI 287
3. Gabriele ABATE, ITA 199
4. Martin DEMATTEIS, ITA 190
5. Mitja KOSOVELJ, SLO 184

1. Lucija KRKOC, SLO 405 points
2. Antonella CONFORTOLA, ITA 327
3. Emma CLAYTON, GBR 264
4. Lauren JESKA, GBR 225
5. Mateja KOSOVELJ, SLO 210

Borrowdale romp to Ian Hodgson win

Posted in At the Races on Mon 03 Oct ’11

© Chris Heys

Team Borrowdales (with legend Billy Bland third from left!)

They repeated their win of 2010, only this time it wasn’t a close-run thng. The boys in purple blasted their way around the 4 leg route, winning all but one of the legs on time and eventually winning by a massive 16mins 55secs – these guys look good for the UKA’s in a couple of weeks!

Great on-the-spot report by Fell Running Briefs here

Results here

And some cracking images by Chris Heys here

© Chris Heys

Rob Hope (left) and Graham Pearce can only look on

This weekend

Posted in At the Races on Fri 30 Sep ’11


After a frantic few weeks of World, Commonwealth Championship and international racing, focus turns to the fell relay season as the Ian Hodgson tops the bill for many a UK fell runner this weekend…

The weather looks pretty decent for much of England and Wales, and the Welsh hills play host to their fair share of races with the Fan Fawr, classic Arenig Fawr and tough, long Pumlumon Challenge in mid Wales.


Tomorrow (Saturday) sees the excellent Coniston Trail race up in the Lake District, part of the Lakeland Trails series, which has again see a hugely successful year and record numbers taking to the trails of northern England.

Other highlights include the 20 mile beast that is the Hope Moors and Tors race in the Peak District, and the excellent Ben Venue race up in the Trossachs.

As usual all of the info on the above, plus much more on the English, Welsh and Scots race scenes, online at the WFRA, FRA and the SHR sites.

Whatever you’re up to, enjoy!

© Chris Upson / Scottish Hill Racing

Matt Williamson, Ben Venue winner in 2009

Relay season…

Posted in At the Races on Fri 30 Sep ’11

© Al Tye /

The first of the Autumn’s big fell relays takes place this Sunday, as fell big guns will look to sharpen their team skills ahead of the UKA champs at the Ian Hodgson Mountain Relay running from Brotherswater near Patterdale in the Lakes

There is some important information on the FRA home page too, if you are looking to travel up to this one.

Last year saw Borrowdale romp away with the win, ahead of the Pudsey boys. These two and Bingley will be out to test their fitness and team line-ups ahead of the British champs (which take place in a couple weeks on Bingley home turf), as they all try to wrestle the crown from the grip of top Scots Shettleston.

© John Duffy

The victorious Shettleston boys

Clayton looks for strong GP finish at Smarna Gora…

Posted in At the Races on Thu 29 Sep ’11

© David Brett

Emma Clayton

The final curtain drops on the WMRA GP season this weekend as athletes from all over the world travel to the classic Smarna Gora. As ever this tough race attracts plenty of top Brits and Emma Clayton looks to cap off what has been a great season for the Bingley Harrier…

Writing for the WMRA Tomo Sarf states:

In the autumn and fall season of 1979 running enthusiasts from Ljubljana decided to organize a race to the one of the most popular mountains in Slovenia at Smarna Gora.
Nobody envisaged that it would become such a massive event with worldwide popularity that is again the final leg of the WMRA Grand Prix for 2011.

The WMRA Grand Prix Champions of the world will again be crowned on Saturday 1. October at this magnificent mountain peak.

The current men’s standings in the Grand Prix series show Turkey’s Ahmet Arslan on top, and the 2010 Smarna Gora winner will just need to figure strongly in the first few places to ensure he picks up the GP crown for 2011, repeating his feat of 2010.

Others to look out for are former race winner Robert Krupicka (CZE), David Schneider (SUI) and top Brits Orlando Edwards and Adam Osborne.

© Ales Fevzer / WMRA

Ahmet Arslan takes Smarna Gora 2010

Having missed the Commonwealth mountain race last weekend the GP series has obviously been a big target for Emma, and she will look to figure prominently in what looks like a strong women’s field. Currently sitting in second place overall in the Series, Clayton should be ready for the tough and technical 10km route which will suit her skills honed on the fells of the UK.

Other leading contenders will be 4th and 6th place finishers at the recent world champs Pavla Schorna (CZE) and Mateja Kosovelj (SLO). After a win at the Mayrhofen race, 2011 Euro silver medalist Antonela Confortola-Wyatt (ITA) will look to improve her third place overall in the series standings too.


Another win for Antonella…

Current GP standings are here

Salomon 5 Continents: SA

Posted in Through the Lens on Wed 28 Sep ’11


One of the most beautiful countries in the world recently hosted the Table Mountain Challenge, a 37km trip on and around one the most iconic mountain landscapes in the world. Kilian J, Frosty and home-towner Ryan Sandes were there too.



The Salomon trio, along with team boss Greg Vollet, landed in South Africa for the next leg in their 5 Continent visitation in 2011, as Kilian attempts to not only win big trail races on all 5 zones, but also engage with the communities and learn a little more about global trail running.

Oh, and you even get to Frosty hug a chicken!


Commonwealth Galleries: Now online

Posted in Through the Lens on Tue 27 Sep ’11

© Gwynfor James

Angela Mudge on Llanddwyn Island

Galleries from across the 3 days of last weekend’s Commonwealth Mountain and Ultra Distance Championships, are now online. Full marks to fell specialists Al Tye and Gwynfor James who have delivered a real feast for the eyes!

All galleries now online to view here, click through to Fell Running Pictures and Sport Pictures Cymru for more…

© Al Tye /

McMullan and Adams make it a golden day for England

Posted in At the Races on Sat 24 Sep ’11

© Al Tye /

Lizzie Adams

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…

Those triumphs followed the golden performance by Lizzy Hawker in the 24 hour road race in Llandudno, which saw the 35-year-old set a world best performance by winning the title with a remarkable 246 km or 153 miles.

After Hawker had set the medal ball rolling the action moved 30 miles along the north Wales coast to Llanberis, where Adams started the clean sweep for England with her victory in the 8 km race.

Conditions for the race saw rain and mist veil Moel Eilio, in the shadow of Snowdon, but after a superb fifth place run at the recent World Mountain Championships in Albania earlier this month Adams started favourite.

Women’s Race

After a furious start on the initial road section as the female runners approached the mountain, Olivia Walwyn-Bush led English team mates Sarah Tunstall and Adams. Mary Wilkinson was tucked in behind, with Victoria Wilkinson in fifth.

© Al Tye /

Olivia Walwyn-Bush leads them onto the mountain

But as the race turned onto the steep part of the course Brindley started to scythe her way through the front group, so much so that she led the race as they started the descent off the mountain and head back down to Llanberis. However, 25-year-old Hallamshire runner Adams was not to be denied as she passed and then held off Scotland’s Tracey Brindley to win by a clear 19 seconds.

“This is the first major title I’ve won and it was nice to win it here. I lived in Llandrindod Wells when I was younger and I’ve been to the Snowdon area before,” said an exuberant Adams.

“It was pretty tough, but very enjoyable. The weather made it wet and that made it tricky at the start” and concluded, “England have got a really strong team and it was great to add gold to the bronze we won in Albania. Now I will concentrate on the cross-country season and hopefully make it to the European Mountain Championships next year.”

The next four places were occupied by English athletes – Mary Wilkinson, Olivia Walwyn-Bush, Victoria Wilkinson and Sarah Tunstall – with Scotland’s Catriona Buchanan taking seventh. That enabled the English team to add gold to the bronze they won in the World Championships, with the Scots taking silver. Jackie Lee ran a strong race in 9th for Wales and was backed up by Anna Barlett in 11th place, meaning that Emma Bayliss’ ensured the bronze for Wales.

© Al Tye /

Tracy Brindley

Men’s Race (images to follow)

James McMullan was obviously inspired by Adams and Hawker’s success as he battled from fourth to first to hold off the strong Scottish challenge offered by young Scot, and former Snowdon Race winner Robbie Simpson.

The early leader had been Joe Symonds, fresh from his second place finish that the recent Trans Alps with Jethro Lennox. McMullan was tucked in behind in third place at the point that they started the hard grind up to the Trwyn on Moel Eilio. Coming through after a steady start was Robbie Simpson, and with his superb technical skills he was going to be a threat in the second half of the race.

As they started the descent after the second loop McMullan pushed on and after a strong 22nd place at the World Championships recently, the Englishman’s form and basic speed told as he entered the finish area with a clear 17 second margin.

Simpson took an excellent silver medal with Symonds in third. That meant both countries were tied on 16 points for the team title, but McMullen’s first place meant England retained their Commonwealth title on count back.

More news and reaction along with images from the men’s race to follow…

Men’s top 20
1. James McMullen (England) 50:03
2. Robbie Simpson (Scotland) 50:20
3. Joe Symonds (Scotland) 50:31
4. Francis Khanje (Malawi) 51:54
5. Rob Samuel (Wales) 51:56
6. Andres Jones (Wales) 52:02
7. Tom Cornthwaite (England) 52:25
8. Chris Smith (England) 52:30
9. Billy Burns (England) 52:44
10. Richard Phillips (Wales) 53:06
11. Alastair Anthony (Scotland) 53:21
12. Gary Priestley (England) 53:28
13. Nicholas Wrightman (Australia) 53:36
14. James Gosselin (Canada) 53:45
15. Richard Roberts (Wales) 53:57
16. Lloyd Taggart (Isle of Man) 54:12
17. Sam Hesling (Scotland) 54:39
18. Sanneh Lamin (Gambia) 54:53
19. Tim Davies (Wales) 54:57
20. Evance Nyazule (Malawi) 55:21

Men’s Team Result
1. England 16 pts (win on countback)
2. Scotland 16
3. Wales 21

Women’s Top 20
1. Lizzie

Mountain and trail runners head to Wales in search of Commonwealth glory…

Posted in At the Races on Fri 23 Sep ’11

© Gwynfor James

As the 2nd Commonwealth Mountain and Ultra Distance Championships got underway today in Llandudno with a colourful opening ceremony and tomorrow sees Llanberis – the home of many a mountain race battle over the years – welcome the Commonwealth’s top fell and mountain runners…

The Championships are spread over three days being hosted in three spectacular north-west Wales locations – Llandudno, Llanberis (Snowdon) and Newborough Forest, Anglesey. Friday sees the 24 hour Championship race, with England’s ultra-star Lizzy Hawker embarking on unknown territory as she takes to the start line.


Mountain Races (full preview by Bashir Hussain on the WMRA

The men’s race looks open although African runners have a tendency to enjoy uphill running and Geoffery Tum is the only male runner from Kenya. He will be given due respect when he toes the line on Saturday afternoon as it was fellow Kenyan Wilson Chemweno who took the Top Mountain Running title ahead of Jonathan Wyatt and Adam Grice 2 years ago.

Winner of the trial race as far as the English are concerned was James McMullan, and after a strong run out in Albania he, and Tom Cornthwaite, will be leading the charge for a strong English team which also includes Billy Burns. The Scottish team has young gun Robbie Simpson as a leading light and as long as the Deeside youngster can handle the fast start and tarmac run in, and remain in contention, he could go well on the mountain and figure in the first half dozen.

© Chris Upson

James McMullan

Lloyd Taggart, has had one of his best seasons, having finished runner up in the English and British Fell Champs this year. Running for the Isle of Man Lloyd is also a man for the tough part of the course and on the technical descent will certain be in the picture.

On home soil the Welsh will hope that the home support will add that little extra % to the performances of what will be a strong team. Rob Samuel finished a strong 7th and first Welsh runner at the trials in Wooten Park in August. He will be carrying the home nation hopes along with 27minute Olympic 10km runner Andres Jones and the former British Champion Tim Davies.

Bash continues on the women’s events:

Individual Silver medalist from 2009 Sarah Tunstall (England) returns to international competition with recent wins in both Telfes and the Swiss Matterhorn race, and with 5th placed Lizzie Adams (England) from the recent World Championships on the start line England will be expected to defend the team title they won in 2009.

Victoria and Mary Wilkinson, along with Olivia Walwyn, make up what is one of the strongest team in any of the events this weekend.


Victoria Wilkinson

Again Kenya and Australasian will be expected to sustain strong challenges to the English team along with Scotland who have often topped the podium at the Snowdon International Mountain race.

The Mountain Running events will look to crown new individual champions, as none of the defending champions are listed in the 2011entries.

Trail Races

Sunday sees a 53km trail race over on Anglesey. The 5 lap course promises to be an energy sapping affair, with a deceptive course which will see the athletes from 14 nations racing through Newborough Forest which has a mixture of sand, forest fire roads and rolling singletrack underfoot.

The men’s race should see an intriguing battle. England’s Huw Lobb is in strong form after a second place finish in the recent Davos Marathon, but will come against tough opposition from the likes of current silver medalist from the World Trail Championships, Jason Loutitt (CAN), Paul Fernandez and Allen Smalls also from England, Brendan Davies (AUS), Richie Gardiner, Paul Halford and Andy Davies are all strong home nation entries and will try and land team and individual medals.


Huw Lobb

In the women’s event, bronze medalist from Connemara, Lucy Colquhoun (SCO) will toe the start line. She will face 50km world Trophy Final winner, Emma Gooderham (ENG) and former World Trail championship second place finisher Angela Mudge (SCO). Mudge comes tho this race fresh from a win at the Ben Nevis race and geting stronger Helen Taranowski (ENG) has also been in great form this summer and reading her blog she could well be in the mix for the medals come Sunday afternoon.

Make sure you follow MST via our Twitter feed for all of the trail and mountain winners…

Return of the Dragon

Posted in Dishing the Dirt on Wed 21 Sep ’11

© Rob Howard /

Martin and Helene win the first Dragon’s Back Race

Last week we profiled the original TV programme which accompanied the inaugural Dragon’s Back race. This week more news has emerged about the 2012 version, which is being re-ignited by Shane Ohly

Now, Rob Howard of adventure sports website Sleepmonsters, has produced an excellent recall of the first (and only!) event back in 1992. His review of the original 220 mile beast recounts just how tough this event is, and as he looks forward to the 2012 rekindling of the event, organiser Ohly gives some insight into the tough criteria that wannabe participants will need to meet to get into next years race.

Read on…


The Dragon’s Back Race Returns

On an overcast evening in September 1992, two weary but determined runners toiled up steep limestone cliffs to reach the ruins of Carreg Cennen castle in South Wales and complete the inaugural Dragon’s Back Race.

Martin Stone and Helene Diamantides ran into the central courtyard of the castle for a historic victory after completing 5 days of running down the mountainous spine of Wales, racing 200 miles over rock strewn and boggy mountain paths, and having climbed some 60,000 feet (2 times the height of Everest) on they way.

© Rob Howard /

An emotional moment for the winners

They’d navigated through foul weather and fought back to win after losing the lead on the final day, and at the finish Stone collapsed in tears, leaning against his partner, overcome with exhaustion and emotion.

The pair had beaten the top British and US mountain runners of the day, entries from the UK’s elite armed forces, and international competition including three times Spartathlon winner, Rune Larsson of Sweden, and Stefan Schlett of Germany, the world’s most prolific endurance runner.

© Rob Howard /

Runners on the Black Mountains in South Wales

An internationally screened TV documentary and widespread newspaper and magazine coverage focused largely on Diamantides success in what is still regarded as one of the toughest mountain races ever organised.

After such an outstanding success it seemed the Dragon’s Back Race would be a fixture on the race calendar. Yet, it never took place again … until now that is. After a decade in which that original and inspirational race has lived on only in running legend and lore, it is to return. September 2012 will see the return of the Dragon’s Back Race.

That the race has retained its iconic status through the years is testament to its classic concept and enduring challenge. It was writer John Gillham who originally realised the mountains of Wales formed a sinuous spine running North/South from coast to coast through the country.


The Dragon’s Back route

In his book ‘Snowdonia to the Gower’ he described a walk along this route and this inspired long distance runner Ian Waddell to organise a stage race for charity. The Dragon’s Back Race was born, though at the time he anticipated a low-key race with a few competitors, never expecting to attract a major oil company as a sponsor and to see the race screened on televisions all over the world.

The runners on the first race mainly competed in pairs (for safety), though there were a few brave solos, some by choice, others because no partner could be found, or when the severity of the early stages forced their partners to retirement. Mountains of food, camp beds, tents and even showers were provided each night by the Parachute Regiment Depot to sustain the runners and allow them to rest between the arduous stages.

The race route began beneath the imposing ramparts of Conwy Castle on the North Wales coast (Wales has a lot of castles) and the first day took the runners over the biggest mountain ranges in Wales, the Carneddau, the Glyders and the Snowdon Range.

This was the shortest day at 36.5 miles, but one of the toughest, and in the poor weather navigation and competence on mountain terrain soon became crucial. Larsson, who once ran 162 miles in a single day, had opted to run alone, but got into difficulties on Tryfan peak, where some scrambling is required.

“On the first day I was lost in the mist in a strange country and felt very alone. Then I was trapped on a rock face, frightened and thinking of my seven-month-old son, so my desire for competition changed to a basic will to survive.”

All of the competitors found navigation a challenge at times, and even the leaders lost their way on the final day, having to regain the lead in the final 2 hours of the race, which they completed in

Max blogs as World results appear

Posted in Dishing the Dirt on Thu 15 Sep ’11


Max with his WMRC booty

Plenty more content coming through from last weekend’s World Mountain Running Champs in Albania. Most notably men’s champion Max King has written a detailed account of his experience over at his Montrail blog…

Reading through it’s clear that it was a very eventful race, all the way through to the fact that a Ugandan runner led until 800m before the finish, and then seemingly dropped out!

© Montrail

King with Megan Lund-Lizotte

The results are in!

Now online are the full results from Sunday’s races via this link, showing juts how tough the racing was. Some notable big names of world mountain running struggled in the Albanian heat, and possibly with the unusual course conditions.

Looking down the men’s results it’s not often you see the likes of Uganda’s Martin Toroitich in 19th, Portugal’s Rui Muga in 31st – but that’s racing!


GB’s Chris Smith starts to heat up in Tirana

Reactions so far
  1. Paul Bateson
    Sep 16, 09:48 AM

    Great report but how ridiculous to have a world champs organised like an amateur fun run. Giving countries the chance to promote an event is one thing but a World Champs should be special and organised properly.

  2. Billy Burns
    Sep 19, 09:11 AM

    Sorry IAAF this is not mountain running or a great way to promote mountain running.The course was non inspiring as a running venue there was certainly no record in spectators ….but a new record in tetanus jabs.whoever chose this location should be forced to live in the building site (on the course) for a year.All credit to the athletes who participated for there countries in torrid dirty conditions who always show their commitment to the sport …..but the WMRA IAAF are probably not the best tag team ????

  3. Billy Burns
    Sep 19, 09:44 AM

    Julie Andrews would have refused to film Sound of music there .Ha ha

  4. Matt MST
    Sep 20, 12:20 AM

    I agree Billy that these Champs need to be looked at very hard. I was talking to a GB team member who was out there on Sunday. Some of the other aspects he described are not printable on here!

  5. Jason Kehoe
    Sep 21, 09:32 AM

    Oh go on Matt, everyone likes a bit of scandal! 😉

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

Posted in At the Races on Mon 12 Sep ’11


Max King – WMRC 2011

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…

This weekend’s World Mountain Running Championships produced a number of firsts however.

1. The USA won the men’s and the women’s individual titles
2. It was the first time that the event has visited Albania.
3. It was the first time that 36 hours later there still appears to be no official results available
4. It is the first time that the race has had a building site incorporated into the route.

Now you may think that I am being sarcastic in some of these statements. Well, the answer to that is that all of the above are facts. In fact, the final statement comes from one of the GB team managers, and this video clearly proves that!

So, enough of the minutia about a very different championships in Tirana, what about the racing?

King takes it to the max

Having completed one of the toughest multi-stage trail races in the world only three weeks ago, and finished second, few would have put their cash on Max King walking away with the World title. But walk away he did, in every sense, as his time of 52.06 was over 35 seconds up on second placed Ahmet Arslan (and over two and half minutes up on Marco de Gasperi!).


Max King on a charge in Tirana

The course seems to have played a large factor in what happened yesterday, with GB team manager Sarah Rowell stating:

Conditions were the toughest I have ever known due to a combination of excessive heat, lack of enough water, steep stepped climbs and what can only be described as steep zig zagging scree descents and dusty paths. It is also the first time I have known a mountain race being run around and through a building site. I am sure there will be some other photos put up but there were plenty of fallers, plus trips to hospital for suspected broken bones or heat problems.

So! Max King may not have been such a wild card after all. The runner from Bend in Oregon had some good prep at the Trans Rockies, would have had to deal with heat, dust, rocky descents AND he is also pretty swift, running internationally as a cross country runner.

An obviously elated King told US site Running USA:

“I’m tired, but I feel very good. This is my first individual medal (last year’s Senior men’s team took the silver), and I’m proud to have it in an up / down year especially in Albania.”

He told US Mountain Running Team website:

“It was a good course for me having both the hard technical uphill and the fast and somewhat technical downhill. I had no idea I was in the lead until I crossed the finish line.

Stating that he saw an African runner ahead of him very late in the race (who then appears not to have even made the podium!)..

“[He] was 30 seconds ahead of me at the top of the third climb and I passed him with about 800 meters to go.“


Men’s podium

Behind King European Arslan took the silver with Italy’s Martin Dematteis taking bronze. You had to go the 8th for the first African runner in James Kibet, over 3 minutes back on King.

True Brit

As far as GB runners are concerned it seems to have been a hard day at the office for a few, but showing great tenacity in the trying conditions Blackburn’s Tom Cornthwaite led home the Brits in an excellent 21st place. Trials winner James McMullan was 22nd with Orlando Edwards in 25th. Rob Samuel came in 60th with Matt Clowes in 63rd, so tough were the conditions that Chris Smith was a non-finisher, collapsing in the heat whilst running somewhere in the top 30.

Men’s Top 10 (ahead of official results to follow):

1-Max King (Usa) 52’06”
2-Ahmet Arslan (Tur) 52’41”
3-Martin Dematteis (Ita) 52’57”
4-Bernard Dematteis (Ita) 54’16”
5-Marco De Gasperi (Ita) 54’33”
6-Didier Zago (Fra) 54’50”
7-Ionut Zinca (Rou) 54’52”
8-James Kibet (Uga) 55’09”
9-Adam Kovacs (Hun) 55’22”
10-Julien Rancon (Fra) 55’30”

© Nancy Hobbs

Kasie Enman

Enman shows the competition dust

In the women’s race American Kasie Enman seems to have crushed the opposition. Her time of 40.49 for the 9km course a full 1 min and 8 secs up on Russia’s Elena Rukhlyada.

Running Times report:

Enman sat in second early on, but had moved into the lead by 6K and opened a large gap just 1k

The North Face® continue to support the UTMB

Posted in Dishing the Dirt on Mon 12 Sep ’11

© The North Face

Eric Pansier with Catherine Poletti

Following another epic event last month, The North Face® have announced an extended three-year partnership of Europe’s premier ultra-running event, The North Face® Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc® through to 2014

© Tom Humpage

Lizzie Hawker – the champ, again!

Event release

The North Face® Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc® is a combination of four epic races ranging from 98km to 300km in which runners are challenged to explore and push their limits in stunning natural landscape starting in Chamonix, France, and leading through Italy and Switzerland. The race embodies the philosophy behind The North Face® to Never Stop Exploring™ and is at the heart of its ultra-running programme in Europe.

The agreement is an historic evolution for The North Face® and Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc® organisers, continuing the brand’s investment in ultra-running through signature events, including The North Face® Transgrancanaria (ESP), The North Face® Lavaredo Ultra Trail (ITA) and The North Face® Endurance Challenge series (USA).

Eric Pansier, Marketing Director of EMEA states:

“I am delighted with the continuation of our longstanding partnership with The North Face® Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc® for three more years. This brings three more years of exploration around the Mont-Blanc mountains and three more years of bonding and friendship with the organizers, runners and volunteers, whilst reinforcing our position in trail running.”

Catherine and Michel Poletti, UTMB® race directors and event organisers, are rightly delighted, stating:

“The North Face® has believed in us since day one. They’ve created a link that goes beyond normal partnership and sponsoring to grow a true friendship. Now we explore all the possibilities to grow and improve together with real teamwork. There is a sense of loyalty and authenticity that comes with the mountain people culture and because of that we are very happy that this partnership carries on.”

The North Face® has sponsored the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc® since the event’s inception in 2003; 2012 will be the tenth year anniversary.

© Tom Humpage

Jez Bragg

The North Face® Ultra-Trail Du Mont-Blanc® takes place annually during late August in Chamonix, France. 5,500 competitors from 58 different nations take part in one of four races: headline course The North Face® UTMB® 166km max. 46 hrs; CCC® 98km max. 26 hrs; TDS 110km max. 31hrs; PTL 300km: non-stop. The North Face® UTMB®, of which 2,300 compete, crosses nine high elevation mountain passes, with a total positive height gain of 9,500 metres, circling the Mont Blanc massif through three countries: France, Italy and Switzerland.

More info on The North Face® Ultra-Trail Du Mont-Blanc® can be found here.

Lopez and Caballero prove strongest to win 7th Transalpine-Run

Posted in At the Races on Sun 11 Sep ’11

© Stephan Repke

Lopez and Cabellero – Trans Alps champs 2011

Although the pairing of Jethro Lennox and Joe Symonds appeared to be the strongest runners in the final two stages, the Spainish duo did enough in the early stages to win the 2011 GORE-TEX® Transalpine-Run.

Event release

David Lopez and Miguel Caballero have won the 2011 GORE-TEX® Transalpine-Run. The two 29-year-old trail experts of Spanish Team Trangoworld Gore-Tex covered the monstrous distance of 273.73 kilometers and a cumulative ascent of 15,436 meters in astonishing 26:37:51.0 hours.

Trailing the overall victors by merely 17 minutes after eight intense days of trail running are Jethro Lennox and Joe Symonds of Scottish Team Inov-8 Gore-Tex Footwear (26:54:18.5). The finishing touch of their race performance, however, was not just a well-deserved second place position in the overall ranking but today’s stage victory well ahead of any other team (2:50:26.9).

© Stephan Repke

Julien Chorier and Philipp Reiter

Julien Chorier (FRA) and Philipp Reiter (GER) of Team Salomon International ended the globally recognized trail running event in third place overall after a total of 27:54:37.2 hours on the trail. After logging a distance of 30.2 kilometers today that packed 1,807 meters into a single sustained climb, the two racers even managed to come in second (3:02:33.1) ahead of the Spanish overall race champions.

© Kelvin Trautman

For the first time in its seven-year history, a Spanish team made up of members of the National Trail Running team, won the Transalpine Run.

“It’s simply an incredible feeling right now. We are overjoyed that we ended up winning the race as first-time participants”… shared Miguel Caballero who was clearly the stronger of the two team members on the last two stages.

Apparently, his teammate

“David started experiencing an increasingly upset stomach. That ended up costing valuable time. In view of that, our overall victory ended up being a real piece of work.”

Scottish sprint finish ultimately without appropriate reward

Closest competitors of the Spanish overall victors, Jethro Lennox and Joe Symonds, had experienced similar health issues early on in the race. Having fully recovered, they went full bore today winning the hearts of spectators with a riveting sprint to the finish line in sun-drenched Latsch.

© Stephan Repke

Lennox and Symonds stride out to win the final stage

In the end, though, that extra effort didn’t pay off in real terms. Joe Symonds, junior brother of last year’s champion Andrew, put it in plain language

“Naturally, it is nice to know that we ended up being the strongest runners in the field today. However, in the end that doesn’t count. The prize goes to those who went all the way in the least amount of time.”

Still, the audacious attack the two Scotsmen launched on the overall leaders was laudable if only as a daring expression of not accepting defeat without at least trying.

After setting a punishing pace up to the Göflaner Scharte (2,396m) and beating it back down to valley elevation (640m) at break-neck speed, Symonds and Lennox had managed to reduce the Spaniards’ extensive lead by one half. That, in turn, prompted Symonds’ tongue-in-cheek request to “extend the Transalpine Run by yet another two stages.”

Team Shettletrot crowned as Women champs

Claire Gordon and Fiona Maxwell have claimed the trophy among the Women teams at the 2011 GORE-TEX® Transalpine-Run. The two Scottish racers definitely dominated not just yesterday’s stage but also the final day of racing ending up in Latsch in less than four hours (3:57.32.8) and with a sizeable overall lead of nearly five hours ahead of the closest competition (34:40:28.5).

© Stephan Repke

Claire Gordon and Fiona Maxwell – women’s champions at Trans Alpine-run 2011

Gerti Ott and Sabina Kraus of Orthomol Sport Team Lautrach finished as runner-ups in the overall ranking (38:07:46.7) while Switzerland’s Brigitte Eggerling and Daniela Nusseck of Team Alpinrunner rounded out the overall podium as third (39:57:25.5) after eight exhausting days on the trails across the High Divide.

Final overall standings here, with some nice closing shots from the Gripmaster here

Tirana awaits GB’s elite

Posted in At the Races on Fri 09 Sep ’11

© Bryan Mills

Lizzie Adams

Tirana is old. Dating back to the 3rd century A.D. As a global sporting nation Albania is young, but this weekend will have its chance to shine on the global sporting stage as it welcomes the 27th World Mountain Running Championships


WMRA Preview

Tirana, the capital of mysterious Albania will host the 27th World Mountain Running Championships. Although Albania is a mountainous country with the highest peak Korab (2764m), the mountain running as sport discipline has just stared to develop in this part of the world.

It is one of the first time, that a country with no Mountain running tradition is hosting the Championships. Even more, in 2011 Albanian runners participated World’s top event for the first time.


Bruno gets ready to welcome the world to Tirana

After having some troubles finding the suitable course, the delegate designed the course that fits all WMRA parameters on the margin of the city. The course is a lap course; men will run the 4,5km long lap with 285m elevation gain 3 times, ladies and junior men 2 times and girls once.

35 counties announced participation of more than 300 runners: 131 senior men, 63 senior women, 70 junior men and 51 junior women are untried at the moment!


GB Juniors Men

Karl Billington (Arthur Almond) – Blackburn
Joe Johnston – Rossendale
Garry Rankin (Robert Hawkins) – Kilbarchan
Mark Scott (Ken Harker) – Richmond & Zetland

Junior Women
Laura Riches (Joe Galvin) – Leigh
Amber Watson (Christopher Frapwell) – Stroud

UKA report

Both junior teams are developing, with most athletes having at least one more year in the age group.

The boy’s quartet includes Trials’ winner Marc Scott (Ken Harker), Karl Billington (Arthur Almond), an Aviva GB & NI representative over 10,000m at this summer’s European Junior Championships in Estonia, Joe Johnston and Garry Rankin (Robert Hawkins), the top British junior in July’s European Uphill Mountain Running championships in 18th.

Trials runner-up Laura Riches (Joe Galvin) leads the junior women’s duo alongside Amber Watson (Christopher Frapwell) who finished third.

International Juniors
The junior races are normally unpredictable. 16 and 17 year old runners are handicapped by their age, but eager to show their performances: gold medalists from Youth Challenge 2011 Lea Einfalt from Slovenia and Rafal Matuszczak from Poland and silver medalists from Russia Ekaterina Ivonina and Konstantin Galiullin are the ones to watch.

In the junior men’s race Tekle Andemichale will attempt to defend the title, but will have strong opponents in Turkish runners Dag Sonmez and Yildirmici Sabahatin.

Dragomir Denisa Ionela from Romania and Yasemin Can from Turkey, both gold medalist from top international events and experts on fast courses, are expected to fight for the highest medlas in the junior women’s race.

GB Women
Lizzie Adams – Hallamshire
Emma Clayton – Bingley
Kate Goodhead (Christopher Frapwell) – Bristol & West
Mary Wilkinson – Bingley

© David Brett

Emma Clayton

The British quartet have a good chance of a team medal. Lizzie Adams and Emma Clayton are flying, with the latter having had a great taste of international competition at this year’s WMRA GP series. Mary Wilkinson is hugely experienced and is used to running at this level, similarly Kate Goodhead, and should things go in their favour, expect to see the GB girls on that rostrum come Sunday PM!

International Women
In the ladies division Italian runners are expected to form a strong group. Experienced Valentine Belotti (champion 2009, runner up in 2010) and Antonella Confortola-Wyatt are amongst the favorites.


Another win for Antonella…

European champion 2010 Marie-Laure Dumergues from France is also specialist on this type of course. Current leading in the Grand Prix and bronze medalist from Bursa Slovenian Lucija Krkoc also likes up-down courses and of course there are also strong British, Turkish and US women traveling.

GB men
Matthew Clowes (Bashir Hussain) – Staffordshire Moorlands
Tom Cortnthwaite – Northumberland Fell Runners
Orlando Edwards – Shaftesbury Barnet
James McMullan (Robin Dickson) – Thames Hare & Hounds
Chris Smith – Thames Valley
Rob Samuel – Eryri

The GB boys will probably find it tough going in the Tirana heat, and at the hands of some very fine World-class African and European men. However, they are a squad with experience and all possess good basic speed mixed with tactical nouse. So it will be interesting to see how they go.


Orlando Edwards

International Men
In the last years Championships runners from Eritrea and Uganda created the majority of the top10. This year Eritrea have entered a fresh team, but there are experienced runners in the form of James Kibet and Martin Toroitich, who will not be there to make up the numbers!


Weekend round-up

Posted in At the Races on Tue 30 Aug ’11

© Ian Charters

It was a weekend of lung-burning on the fells and hills of the UK as much of the racing centred around short racing and classic shows. Wins for Lizzie Adams, Robbie Simpson, Morgan D, Math Roberts and Mark McGoldrick amongst others…

© Bryan Mills

Lizzie Adams

Dufton Show
@Daleside serves up a tasty dish in coverage at this one:

Lizzie Adams, winner of the Witton Park World Mountain Trial, gave some of England’s better fell runners a real horror show today at Dufton’s agricultural fair. She finished 6th overall but more shockingly for the local fastest men, led the race out of the show field and on for a mile and a half up to the fell. More here

Over in Wales Eryri vet Martin Cliffe took the ‘Welsh Matterhorn’, with a clear win from team-mate Matt Fortes. Welsh international Andrea Rowlands warmed-up for her 55km jaunt round Newborough Forest at the Commonwealths in 3 weeks, with a comfy win in the ladies section.

Nice images here courtesy of Al Tye at Fell Running Pictures.

© Al Tye /

Martin Cliffe

Scottish Trials at Menstrie
The Scottish teams for the Commonwealth Mountain Running Champs in a few weeks were selected from the leading lights at the Menstrie race on Sunday. Bright stars Robbie Simpson and Catriona Buchanan took convincing wins to book themselves a place on the Scots team that will travel to Wales. Results via Scottish Hill Racing here

© Gwynfor James /

Catriona Buchanan

Andy Fallas takes the Ochil 2000s
Whilst many were blasting up and down short, sharp hills, Carnethy duo Andy Fallas and Jasmin Paris were taking comfortable wins in the tough 18 miler that is the Ochil 2000’s . 11 hills and some 5000ft of climbing are what stand between runners as they set off from Glen Devon, and take in the likes of Innerdownie and Ben Cleuch. Results here

Best of the rest…
The Grasmere Senior Guides race is covered by MST here, with wins for those fell thoroughbreds Morgan Donnelly and Pippa Maddams.

Elsewhere, Wharfdale Harrier Mark McGoldrick took a nice win at Pendleton. Nicola Jackson won the ladies race.

© Gwynfor James

Math Roberts

At the short Arnison Horseshoe, Welshman Math Roberts continued his good recent form to take the win, with Bev Thompson winning the ladies race. Results here

And finally at the Rise Hill race, Calder Valley man Karl Gray and leigh Harrier Shannon Johnson took the spoils. Results here.

That should do for now!!