Ice Trail Tarentaise – where earth meets sky

Posted in At the Races on Tue 09 Jul ’13

© International Skyrunning Federation

Francios d’Haene at Ice Trail 2012

This weekend sees the latest test for some of the world’s best mountain and trail runners – including Kilian Jornet and Anna Frost – as the Skyrunner® World Series heads to France and the stunningly tough Ice-Trail Tarentaise (ITT)…

ISF release

The next skyrunning Ultra adventure unfolds with a world-class line-up and enough kilometres climb and snow to test the best. The Ice-Trail Tarentaise (ITT), for the record, counts 65 km with 5,000m vertical ascent and descent, reaches a high point of 3,653m and touches five peaks skimming the 3,000m mark in Val d’Isère July 14. Snow is not an option!


Heading the line-up are top stars Kilian Jornet, (leading the SWS Ultra ranking with Julien Chorier) after his win in Transvulcania has also put the Mont-Blanc Marathon under his belt. Salomon team-mate Francois D’Haene (2012 race winner, UTMB winner and 4th at Transvulcania 2012, won the new Mont-Blanc 80K last week in tandem with Michel Lanne) is of course starred as a strong favourite. Germany’s young Philipp Reiter, third in the 2012 SWS Ultra ranking, has been logging up experience and miles and is expected to perform well on this challenging, technical course.

Spaniard Jordi Bes, a Transvulcania top ten finisher, will no doubt do likewise here. American Rickey Gates is back in Europe for more skyrunning races after an excellent 10th place at Transvulcania in 2012. Italian Fulvio Dapit, a consistently strong performer in the Sky distance over the years is moving up to longer distances and will enjoy the terrain.

France’s own Nicolas Pianet, winner of the Mont-Blanc Marathon in 2010 and 2011, placed 11th in the face of the super-strong competition last week. The Ice-Trail will represent another challenge the athlete is up for.

As recent events have proven, the Skyrunner® World Series women’s field is ever more competitive. The 100-mile Ronda dels Cims winner, Francesca Canepa will face Nuria Picas (2102 SWS Ultra champion) together with World champion Emelie Forsberg, with Mont Blanc still in her veins after last weekend’s Vertical, Marathon and her personal record to the summit and back from Chamonix.

© International Skyrunning Federation

Anna Frost, 2012 Transvulcania winner and 6th in the Mont-Blanc Marathon, is well on the way to recovery after a long period of injury and, as usual, will giver her best. Australian Shona Stephenson, 9th at Mont-Blanc has been honing her skills in the high mountains. Emelie Lecomte, winner of the 2012 Diagonale des Fous and an excellent 3rd at Ronda dels Cims, will no doubt prefer the longer distance after her participation in the Mont-Blanc Marathon.

The are joined by Germany’s Julia Boettger, 3rd at Diagonale des Fous and winner of TNF 100 Philippines and the 2011 Zugspitz Ultatrail.

The ITT, effectively the second edition after the inaugural event in 2010 which suffered major changes due to bad weather, lies in the high mountains in the heart of the Killy Espace and the Vanoise National Park. The start and finish are in Val d’Isère, the internationally renowned ski resort.

The race may be new, but skyrunning has celebrated a number of key events here since 1996 including seven Vertical Kilometres between 2,000m and 3,000m altitude over a 3km course.

Marco De Gasperi set the standing world record on this course in 2002 in 34’51”. In 2001 and 2002. two ISF “24 Hour Record” events were carried out here reaching a record 7,575m altitude set by Italian Adriano Greco.

It’s true that mountains at 3,000m offer a challenge to all who set foot here. This year’s heavy snowfalls add an element of adventure (and technique) to test the most skilled skyrunners. However, recent warm weather has taken its toll and much of the snow has melted although stretches over snow will remain.

The organisers will issue a statement regarding the course and safety measures after a meeting held Monday afternoon so check for updates which will be issued on this site, Facebook and the race website over the next few days.

More than 500 runners will join the big names in this challenging contest -Europe’s highest race in true skyrunning style – where earth meets sky.

Mountain runners continue weekend of GB success…

Posted in At the Races on Mon 08 Jul ’13

© Emma Clayton

The GB senior men’s team pick up the silver

The 2013 GB & NI crack team of mountain runners headed out to Bulgaria this weekend for the European MR Champs, and returned home with a pretty decent medal haul, to add to those won by the Brits at the Trail World Champs in Wales…

With Steve Vernon (5th) leading the men to team silver, Emma Clayton (6th) leading the women to team bronze and the junior women taking a team silver, it was a pretty good day’s work from the Brits in Borovets.

After 6 straight wins at these championships Ahmet Arslan was beaten to the title this year by Italy’s Bernard Dematteis, and with Alex Baldaccini taking the silver, the Turkish dynamo had to settle for third. Steve Vernon’s fifth place finish should not be underestimated either.

The Stockport man was less than a minute off an individual medal, and with Chris Smith having a stormer in 8th and Orlando Edwards in 18th, the trio did enough for the bronze. Robbie Simpson finished in 29th.


The women’s podium with Andrea Mayr centre

In the women’s event Clayton was equally impressive, leading the charge for the GB girls, up against some of the world’s best mountain runners, never mind just Europe. Swiss legend Andrea Mayr was the dominant force in the women’s race, winning by over a minute from Valentina Belotti and Slovenia’s Mateja Kosovelj.

© Emma Clayton

Emma Clayton in the zone ahead of the 8.8km women’s race

Backed-up by Olivia Walwyn (21st) and Sarah Tunstall (25th), the British women did enough to sneak a brilliant bronze.

Catriona Graves led the junior women to silver with an excellent 6th and 2012 champion Annabel Mason was 8th. With Max Wharton in 18th leading the junior men to 7th in the team standings it had been a preety decent weekend in Bulgaria.

Further reports from European Athletics, British Athletics and Athletics Weekly, with full results links on the EMRC 2013 website here.

Some images via Emma Clayton here with more to follow…

Kilian’s Classik – day three…

Posted in Dishing the Dirt on Thu 04 Jul ’13


Jono in full flight!

Day 3 of the 2013 Kilian’s Classik week saw the Salomon International team get to grips with some future kit testing and some tech coaching from uphill master Jono Wyatt…

Salomon report

There was plenty of wind at 2750m on the ridge above Font Romeu for the third day of the Kilian’s Classik. But it was a good chance to test jackets and protection by the team runners and our junior guest runners.

Coming down the mountain tested a variety of skills (including skiing on the snow!) where we could see plenty of skills. Running in our big group also makes the snow fights much more fun too!


Greg Vollet strides out in Font Romeu

Then its photos for the runners with the next season’s products in focus, followed by one of the week’s big success stories so far. This was the lesson in uphill running. It was really interesting to hear from some real specialists such as Jonathan Wyatt (winner of 6 World Mountain titles) about how they deal with the steep up hills.

Different techniques were tried and tested against each other by the athletes with the highlight being the race uphill between our two camera guys! Another fun day has ended at the Kilian’s Classik and now we look forward to more fun and trails as the sun rises on a new day in Font Romeu.

Day 3 images are here


Stevie Kremer

Unpredictable conditions contribute to a memorable 7th edition of The North Face® Lavaredo Ultra Trail

Posted in At the Races on Tue 02 Jul ’13

© The North Face® / Alo Belluscio

Nike Woolfe on the Lavaredo trail

US athletes Mike Wolfe and Mike Foote, raced to 2nd and 5th respectively at the 7th edition of The North Face® Lavaredo Ultra Trail in Cortina, Italy, last Sunday, as the race program had been changed and reduced due to unseasonably wintry conditions…

Thirty centimetres of snow on the high altitude paths and in particular along the Tre Cime Lavaredo, the Val Travenazes, the Cinque Torri and the Passo Giau, left the organisation with no choice but to postpone the departure of the race to Saturday 8am and to shorten it down from 118K to 85K.

The unexpected last minute changes did not affect the enthusiasm of the 745 runners supported by an international crowd and welcomed on the day by perfect race weather, sun and mild temperatures.

From the start, The North Face® athletes Mike Wolfe and Mike Foote dictated the pace and reached the half way Misurina check point (42K) looking strong and ready to push for victory.

Due to course changes, the two American athletes lost their way, and continued off course towards Tre Cime di Lavaredo instead of turning down to Val Rienza. They covered an additional 6 km and accumulated height gain of 500 meters reaching the Auronzo refuge planned in the original race program. The two athletes now found themselves 30 minutes behind the race leader, in 9th and 10th positions respectively. With such a hefty diversion, they had to come up with a new race plan.

Mike Wolfe accomplished an impressive second half of the race, overtaking seven runners including Italian athlete Ivan Geronazzo in the final descent from Lago Ghedina, and crossed the finish line in second place. Mike explains:

“Realizing that I followed the wrong race course for 45 minutes, I felt stunned but did not want to quit. I started racing again, giving everything that I had. I cannot believe that I reached the second spot on the podium and I am very proud of my team mate Mike Foote being 5th. We experienced such a special race in an amazing landscape.”

Fellow countryman, Mike Foote stated:

“We both lost a huge amount of time and energy but we stayed strong and we played as a team encouraging each other. Recovering from this adversity was challenging. I felt mentally down for a while and it was hard to catch up but I am really impressed with today’s results. The surroundings and the scenery are striking, I have never run in such a location in my life!”

© The North Face® / Alo Belluscio

Mike Foote

Fantastic victory for 25-year-old Frenchman Sebastien Spehler who ran his first ultra trail ever and reached the 1st spot on the podium. Coming from a short distance race background his achievement is even more impressive.

Both Mike Wolfe and Foote will be back in Europe for the 2013 Edition of The North Face® Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc®, 26th August / 1st September, Chamonix, France.

The North Face® Lavaredo Ultra Trail 2013 – Men’s Category
1. Sebastien Spehler (FRA) 07:39:35
2. Mike Wolfe (USA) 08:13:47
3. Ivan Geronazzo (ITA) 08:14:15
4. Stefan Trisconi (ITA) 08:19:31
5. Mike Foote (USA) 08:19:43

© The North Face® / Alo Belluscio

Woolfe on his way to second place

The North Face® Lavaredo Ultra Trail 2013 – Women’s Category
1. Cheryl Beatty (CAN) 09.31.09
2. Federica Boifava (ITA) 09.54.56
3. Lizzy Wrailth (UK) 09.57.14

For further information on race highlights, athletes, trail-running products and upcoming events:

Twitter: #LUT13
Instagram: @thenorthface #lut13

Heptonstall gears-up for fell running festival

Posted in At the Races on Tue 02 Jul ’13


This Saturday sees one of the best fell races on the calendar, as Heptonstall in Yorkshire gets ready for a festival of fun and a cracking 6 mile fell race, which takes in 1500ft of climb as it winds it’s way up and back…

© Heptonstall Fell Race

Heptonstall Festival Fell Race takes place on Saturday as local runners take on a Germanic theme to raise funds for the village festival despite the on going closure of Lee Wood Road. Heptonstall Hurrier’s decided that with sufficient planning the challenging Category A Fell Race could be staged on its usual July date, with minimal impact on traffic flows.

Read the full preview here


Holly Page at the 2012 Heptonstall Fell Race

Entries open for Marmot Dark Mountains™

Posted in At the Races on Tue 02 Jul ’13


In January, earlier this year, atrocious weather brought heavy snow to much of the country. Whilst most people opted to cranked up the heating, a few select runners were testing themselves at a new mountain marathon called Marmot Dark Mountains™

This event takes the classic two-day mountain marathon format and gives it a new… darker twist. Rather than two days of running with an overnight camp in between, Marmot Dark Mountains™ packs everything into one, long winter’s night.

In the last few days entries for the 2014 event have opened (via this link).


With many of the course at the inaugural event selling out, the 2014 race has added an extra score course to help cope with demand. The challenging line up of courses include Elite, A, B, C, Short Score and Long Score and promises to satisfy the full range of nocturnal deviation competitors enjoy.

The location changes each year but for 2014 the event is going to be in Northern England and is less than 1.5 hours drive from Manchester. Precise details of the event location are only revealed at the beginning of January 2014 but the event area is described by Race Director, Shane Ohly as:

“Absolutely fantastic. It is one the best upland areas in England and amazingly, it hasn’t had a mountain marathon event for many years. With the success of the 2013 event, new courses for 2014, an amazing area and the continued support of sponsors Silva and Marmot, I am very confident that Marmot Dark Mountains will be a big success in 2014”.

In a bid to make the event open to a wider range of competitors, the organisers have reduced the difficulty of the navigation on the easiest course. Ohly continues:

“Based on our 2013 experience we will be making the C Course slightly easier to navigate around by only using major features and/or linear features as checkpoints on this course. Each of the other courses will get progressively harder with the Elite Course having the hardest navigation”.

The organisers have also confirmed that there will be a £500 cash prize for the winning elite team so competition is expected to be intense on this course.


Key Event Information
Date: 25/26th January 2014
Venue: Northern England
Entry: £90 per team of two
Courses: Elite, A, B, C, Short Score and Long Score

Emelie reflects in Chamonix

Posted in Through the Lens on Tue 02 Jul ’13


Emelie Forsberg

After her stellar rise to the top of international trail and skyrunning over the last 12 months, Salomon International runner Emelie Forsberg takes some time out to reflect on her year and the Mont Blanc Marathon this last weekend…

World champion and ranking leader of the Skyrunner World Series Emelie Forsberg, Salomon tells us her story and express feelings from this years Chamonix Marathon, 42 km long, with positive vertical gain of 2511 m and an elevation loss of 1490 m. A tough racing against teammate Stevie Kremer.

Watch the Chamonix Marathon 2013 with Emelie Forsberg here

Olson and Smith dominate at Western States

Posted in At the Races on Sun 30 Jun ’13

© Meghan Hicks/

Tim Olson repeats at WS100

2012 WS100 winner Tim Olson took the 2013 Western States 100 by the scruff of the neck at Devil’s Thumb and dominated for the remaining the super-hot miles this weekend, though after leading by over 15 minutes at one point his lead was a mere 5 mins at the finish…

100 mile ‘rookie’ Rob Krar had a stormer in second, but the second win in as many years by Olson was probably never really in doubt after he took the lead and always looked strong in the Californian heat.

In the women’s race Pam Smith crushed the opposition to win in 18:37, good enough for 8th place overall, after starting off steadily and taking the lead around mile 38.

This year’s Western States 100 was the second-hottest race in its history, with a recorded temperature of 102 degrees Fahrenheit at the Auburn, CA, airport, the “official” temperature-record-keeping location for the race. It was definitely hotter in the canyons, though, and the hottest temperature I witnessed was 106F at Rucky Chucky, mile 78. But the heat didn’t seem to bother winners Timothy Olson and Pam Smith.

Read the excellent race report from the iRunFar crew, headed up by Meghan Hicks as Bryon Powell took to the start line.

© Meghan Hicks/

Pam Smith wins the Western States 100 in 2013

Chorier and Canepa winners at “Ronda dels Cims” – the world’s toughest 100-miler…

Posted in At the Races on Tue 25 Jun ’13

© Jordi Saragossa

Canepa and Chorier – Ronde dels Cims winners

More than one hundred miles and 12,200 metres vertical climb – Julien Chorier and Francesca Canepa are victorious in the world’s toughest 100-miler, Andorra’s Ronda dels Cims, the second race in the SWS Ultra Series

Full race report via the ISF

Recent heavy snowfalls meant the original course with 13,000m vertical climb was modified to ensure the safety of the runners. Seven extra kilometres were added to “compensate” the reduction in elevation, which in the end represented nearly one and a half times the height of Everest!

Three-hundred-and-fifteen runners lined up for the 7am start on Friday where initially good weather deteriorated in the afternoon. Nearly 50 km into the race at 2,572m, one of the highest points, swirling mists descended to the haunting sound of a bagpipe…By early evening the sky cleared and, just as programmed, the full moon lit the course.

Frenchman Chorier (Salomon) crossed the finish line after 28h41’06” hours on the course followed by Kenichi Yamamoto (Houdini) from Japan, in 31h12’00” and Australian Matt Cooper (Salomon), who finished a close third just twelve minutes later in 31h24’54”.

© Jordi Saragossa

Julien Chorier

Cooper had led for the first 12 km, with Chorier hot on his heels. From the town of Ordino, the course initially traversed lush forest and waterlogged trail which gave way to an alpine environment with long, steep climbs and short, sharp descents with some snowfields on the upper stretches.

Chorier looked relaxed. In fact, throughout the entire race he was composed and totally in command – of his performance and the rest of the field. He was pursued by Yamamoto, Cooper, Armando Teixeira, Spaniards Pep Ballester, Aleson Orbegozo and Americans Jared Campbell, Ty Draney and Benjamin Lewis who all finished in the top ten.

The women’s field was led early on by Frenchwoman Emilie Lecomte (Quechua), with Nerea Martinez (Salomon Santiveri), who set the 2012 Ronda dels Cims record in 35h31’21’’.

Italy’s Francesca Canepa (Montura-Vibram), second at UTMB and Tor des Geants winner, proceeded with Emilie behind Nerea, at her own pace, focussing on her own race. At the first big summit 50 km she was on her own in the lead and powered on to finish what she describes as her “hardest race ever”, in 36h18’55”, she placed 16th overall.

© Jordi Saragossa

Francesca Canepa

Second was Olga Mankò from the Ukraine who closed in 38h19’47” and third, Emilie Lecomte in 39h30’14” who, with her 5th place in Transvulcania, now leads the SWS Ultra Series. Nerea later abandoned the race.

The second race in the Ultra race comes to a close: 177 kilometres, 12,200m vertical climb, the Ronda dels Cims counts more than numbers. The longest day and the night of the full moon create a magical atmosphere that make this race unique race and, don’t let’s forget, the world’s toughest 100-miler.

Follow us on twitter and Facebook for updates and race coverage.

Race results

1. Julien Chorier (FRA) – Salomon – 28h41’06”
2. Kenichi Yamamoto (JAP) – Houdini) – 31h12’00”
3. Matt Cooper (AUS) – Salomon – 31h24’54

1. Francesca Canepa (ITA) – Montura-Vibrio – 36h18’55”
2. Olga Mankò (UKR) – 38h19’47”
3. Emilie Lecomte (FRA) – Quechua -39h30’14”

“Allez Ricky”! Lightfoot delights locals on La Reunion

Posted in Dishing the Dirt on Tue 25 Jun ’13

© Ricky Lightfoot

Last weekend top Cumbrian fell man and Salomon UK trail team member Ricky Lightfoot stormed around the 2013 Trail International du Colorado route on La Reunion island, smashing the course record to boot…

Here he gives us his thoughts on a week to remember:

Kààféélàà… Ole de la Reunion: Trail International du Colorado

Its hard to put Reunion Island into words, amazing trails, friendly people, beautiful flowers, the mountains, active volcanos, beautiful coastlines and a magical place called Mafate only accessable by foot and that’s only half of it!

© Ricky Lightfoot

Reunion Island has always been a place I’ve wanted to race, since I first saw the pictures from Le Grand Raid (Diagonale des Fous) race, the mountains looked spectacular akin to something straight out of a storey book. So when given the opportunity to go and race The Trail du Colorado I jumped at the chance.

Previously I’d never heard of the race which starts near the capitol St Denis (Sin-Deni) in the north of the Island. This year was the 3rd edition and already had capped last years entrants at over 800 pre entries which is pretty amazing considering the size of the island.

There was International invites from Mauritious, Rodrigues, Reunion Island, France, Madagascar, New Zealand and the UK as its part of a four race series. The race is organised by the local running club which has some brilliant athletes and a great set up.

I arrived in Reunion on the week leading unto the race so it gave me a chance to have a look at the route and recover from the long flight from the UK, I arrived the same day as Anna Frost who also made the trip, recently returning from an injury only a few weeks ago.

One of the organising committee of the race Jérome Desire had offered himself as a guide to the Island for the week which made our job a lot easier, there was so many places to see but getting around on some of the roads was difficult.

We got the chance to look at part of the course on the Tuesday, so we ran the middle 20km of the route starting from the small village of Dos d’Ane at 1000m (lightly translated to “donkey back”) it didn’t take too long to realise the technicality of the course but, we were assured by Jerome and Thierry that the course was fast (at this point we were doing 14min/mile).

© Ricky Lightfoot

The course was really rough, rocky and narrow which wasn’t great being 6ft 3, there was quite a few times on the route where I got a bit of a whipping off the trees and shrubs that were over hanging, all this made the going really slow, added in to the mix was the spiders, I got quite a few of them in the face. They were huge!

We also got the chance to visit Mafate, its a magical place in the mountains where the only way in is by foot of helicopter. To get there we drove up to 2000m to descend by foot 1000m into a small village called Roche Plate. There are a number of villages in Mafate which are situated in the remains of a extinct volcano, Piton des Neiges at 3070m.

The race is a mainly run on narrow single track with only a couple of sections run on open fire track, it owes to a quick course but looking at the record before hand it was roughly 10min/mile pace which sounds slow but this due to the technicality of the terrain.

A quick stop at the physio, the local Kinepodiste Cedric Tshibasu in Saint Denis on Thursday and we were ready to go, Thanks to Cedric for the great treatment, which was well and truly needed after the week we’d had.

Race day came round quick, up at 4.45am for breakfast and out of the door at 5.50am to drive up to the start just over 25 minutes away. The start was in Colorado Park at 650 meters, with the large number of runners the park was pretty full with spectators, runners and the organisation team by 6.30 who looked like they’d been working all morning to get things ready.

The sun began to rise just before the start at 7.00am, I was told the runners would go off fast and they did that! A short loop back through the start line and it was off onto the technical undulating single track, I quickly established a small lead by 5km and never looked back. It was difficult to see if anyone was chasing as there wasn’t more than 30 yards of stright trail.

© Ricky

Robbie heads for Europe

Posted in Dishing the Dirt on Fri 21 Jun ’13

© Paul Dobson

Robbie Simpson at the Melmerby International

21- year old Robbie Simpson has blazed a trail on the hills, fells and mountain over the last few years and this summer the young Scot is planning to take to the mountains of Europe

The Deeside runner will spend the summer racing and training at altitude in the Alps, and is targeting a big performance at next month’s European Mountain Running Championships in Bulgaria.

Robbie, the youngest ever winner of the International Snowdon Race when aged 18, said:

“I want to test myself racing against the top guys in Europe, and hopefully become one of them. I’m going to be in the Alps until September, learning from some of the best and pushing my own boundaries.”

On the back of an outstanding winter which saw Robbie win the Scottish 10-mile road title and finish second in the national cross-country championships north of the border, he returned to the mountains last month.

His first major assignment was the European Mountain Running Championship trial race held at Keswick, where, despite sickness, he finished third, thus guaranteeing a place in the Great Britain team for the high-profile uphill-only event in Bulgaria.

Robbie then began his European summer adventure with a fifth-place finish in the World Mountain Running Association Grand Prix’s traditional season opener at La Montee du Grand Ballon in France.


Robbie at the Grand Ballon race

Not only was Robbie the first Briton, he also took the scalps of notable previous European and World Championship medalists.

And just last weekend he finished a superb second-place among a classy field at the Neirivue – Le Moleson mountain race in Switzerland.

“The trail at Keswick didn’t go as well as I’d hoped. I ate something that made me feel really sick and that troubled me during the race. The Grand Ballon went much better. Again it was uphill only, for about 14km, but it was a world-class field, so to come fifth and run strongly was really good. I then had another strong run at Neirivue – Le Moleson.

“The European Championships is what I have been training hard for. Last year I was 19th, but this year I want to get in the top-10, and then who knows what can happen. Some of the guys I was racing, and not far behind, at Grand Ballon are among the favourites to win in Bulgaria, so I’m feeling good about how things are going.”

Robbie, who has high hopes for August’s prestigious 31km Sierre-Zinal race in Switzerland, also spent much of his 2012 summer in the Alps, recording several outstanding results, including a ninth-place finish at the World Long Distance Mountain Running Championships.

New on his agenda this summer is inov-8’s first-ever athlete’s retreat, to be held in Chamonix, France, between June 27 and July 5.

Robbie will join a number of fellow inov-8 athletes, many of who will race the Mount-Blanc Marathon on June 30, in testing innovative new product. He is also excited about the updated versions of the classic X-talon shoe range, which inov-8 will deliver later this year.

“The X-talon 212 is my favorite of all running shoes. Lightweight and supportive, the X-talon 212 has awesome grip and speed. It has the lot. If I’m not in the X-talon 212, I’m usually wearing the X-talon 190 or the Road-x 233, both of which are super fast.”


The X-Talon 212

More details about the updated versions of the X-talon 212 and 190, both new for autumn/winter, will be released via the inov8 website soon.

This weekend…

Posted in At the Races on Fri 14 Jun ’13

© Andy Holden

Buckden Pike action 2011

Round 2 of the English Fell Champs and the Buckden Pike race leads the way this weekend, and at 3.7 miles and almost 1600ft of climb this will be a lung-busting test for some of England’s best short-distance fell running exponents…

The race is over 30 years old and has a couple of fell legends (Colin Donnelly and Carol Greenwood) as its record holders and with it being a Championship counter there should be some furious racing at the head of affairs.

At the other end of the spectrum is the brand new Cwm Pennant race, almost 17 miles long and in it’s first year. None the less this Welsh beast should prove a great challenge and if local boys and girls are to be believed it could be a classic in it’s own right in the future.

© Matthew Roberts

Elsewhere there is the brilliant and super-tough Great Lakes Run, the epic Vegan Welsh 3000’s race and up in Scotland the Seven Hills of Edinburgh.

Much more besides with all details via the FRA, WFRA and SHR.

Police put a stop to Scottish hill race

Posted in Dishing the Dirt on Fri 14 Jun ’13


Glen Rosa from Goatfell

Let’s hope this isn’t the thin end of the wedge as far as issues with the authorities go for fell and mountain race organisers. The 20km Glen Rosa race is renowned for it’s beauty, but tomorrow’s race will not go ahead as planned…

It seems that the police in the region have been in conflict with the Arran MRT and their purpose for being at the race.

The SHR notice points out “Without MRT cover, the Glen Rosa race cannot go ahead. This could have serious repercussions for any other hill races or events dependent on Mountain Rescue cover.”

More here

Reactions so far
  1. Steve Webb
    Jun 17, 09:31 PM

    A real shame. There are a bucket load of threats to races of all kinds, mainly under the guise of health and safety. This development is a new type of development and I hope it doesn’t occur again or elsewhere.
    Mountain rescue teams make so many great races possible and are very modest when thanked. Sad to see that their goodwill has been undermined here.

Steve finds a fresh take after injury

Posted in Dishing the Dirt on Wed 12 Jun ’13

© Paul Dobson /

External life factors have made top fell runner Steve Birkinshaw take stock this last year or so, this added to a knee injury which forced the Borrowdale man out of the OMM late last year after his big win at the 2012 Dragon’s Back Race..


Steve Birkinshaw

In this excellent Berghaus article Steve explains how life’s rich tapestry has made him look at things a little differently in 2013.

New Welsh ‘behemoth’ unveiled

Posted in At the Races on Wed 12 Jun ’13

© Matthew Roberts

This Saturday’s Cwm Pennant is according to the organisers – a “behemoth of a race” and the first running of any event in this magical valley in North Wales. The 17 mile race takes in 5500ft of climbing and will be a serious undertaking for the majority of runners, so be prepared!

Matthew Roberts states:

The going is rough in parts, navigation could be very tricky in low cloud and water is scarce on the route. This is sheep country so absolutely no dogs!

Runners should park as instructed on arrival. There will be tea / coffee, cakes and refreshments available at the hostel before and after the race as well as changing facilities with the River Dwyfor nice and close for a post race dip. As the race entry form stipulates you need to have completed in two category A / B long races or at least two category AM races beforehand. Come prepared with full kit and possibly a spare water bottle.

More detail via the FRA site here.

Race description

© Matthew Roberts

Start – Cwm Pennant Youth hostel 1100hrs GR: 524437

From the hostel head along the minor road as directed until reaching a farm gate at 534441. Follow an old grassy track onto marsh land and continue on to the old Cwm Pennant tramway. From here, head generally SE to E before hitting the Cwmystradllyn road at GR 551441. Follow this for 200 metres until you reach on old iron farm gate. Go through this gate and a number of other gates before reaching checkpoint 1.

Checkpoint 1: Tal y Llyn track junction. GR: 559449
From the track junction head N and NE, going through a gate and over two stiles. The second stile at GR 559449 will take you onto the flanks of Moel Hebog. NOTE – the route is marked from the start up to this point. In poor visibility navigation from here could be tough, but roughly head NNE for checkpoint 2.

Checkpoint 2: Summit of Moel Hebog, 782metres. GR: 565469
From the summit of Hebog the route now follows most of the Paddy Buckley route (for those of your familiar with this). Head NW dropping steeply to Bwlch Meillionen, avoid veering off to the SSW or ENE. Reach the Bwlch at GR 560475. From here climb through a cleft in the rock heading NW and reach the rocky summit of Moel yr Ogof at GR 556479 and 655metres.

Checkpoint 3: Summit of Moel yr Ogof, 655metres. GR: 556479
Continue along the ridge crossing a stile at GR 555479. Continue along the ridge, skirting to the left of the rocky tors of Moel Lefn before arriving at the summit and checkpoint 3, the summit of Moel Lefn.

Checkpoint 4: Summit of Moel Lefn, 638metres, GR: 553487
From the summit of Moel Lefn head NNE, this section is rocky and rough so take care, especially in wet conditions. Be sure not to navigate N, NNW, NW or W as this will take you to the sheer cliffs of Craig Cwm Trwsgl. The route snakes its way through Craig Cwm Trwsgl arriving at Bwlch Cwm Trwsgl at GR 552497. Importantly here, follow the signage and don’t head NNE into the woodland! The route now veers around the eponymous Y Gyrn before arriving at checkpoint 4, Bwlch y Ddwy-elor.

Checkpoint 5: Bwlch y Ddwy-elor, 420metres, GR: 552504
This is roughly half way and there’ll be a cut off of 2.5 hrs here. This will be the first official water and refreshment point so get fuelled up. Next comes the second biggest climb of the route as you head NW towards Trum y Ddysgl. Importantly at GR 543514 you do not head NE to the summit but head SW towards Tal y Mignedd.

© Matthew Roberts

Checkpoint 6: Below Trum y Ddysgl, 700metres GR: 543514
The next section has one particularly dangerous section at GR 540513. On your NW side there’s a sheer drop of hundreds of feet so take care. The next section is the best running of the route but also the route highlight as you head W to the summit and enormous obelisk of Tal y Mignedd and checkpoint 5.

Checkpoint 7: Mynydd Tal-y-Mignedd, 653metres, GR: 535514
From the obelisk head SSW, at GR 534508 there’s another tricky and rough rocky descent which can be avoided with local knowledge. Again take care in wet conditions. Arrive at Bwlch Dros-bern before readying for another tough, steep and rocky climb. The route veers NNW before skirting back onto the ridge and heading WSW for the rocky plateau of Craig Cwm Silyn. Avoid veering off to the N or S here. The next section could be tricky in

The Guardian spotlights fell running

Posted in Through the Lens on Tue 11 Jun ’13


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!”

Inov8 is 10! #inov8Decade

Posted in Dishing the Dirt on Tue 11 Jun ’13


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.


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.


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.”

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!

Big Welsh Trail is on track

Posted in At the Races on Wed 29 May ’13


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.”


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

Zegama? Is Zegama!

Posted in At the Races on Fri 24 May ’13


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.


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.


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?