Monthly Archives - November 2016

Carlos Sa

Carlos Sa : Ultra Runner and Ultra Entrepreneur

By Alice Hunter Morrison

Moroccan-based journalist, winner of Best Africa Blog, a writer for RunUltra, Lonely Planet Marrakesh Correspondent, author of “Dodging Elephants: 8000 Miles Across Africa by Bike” and Special Correspondent for IRUN4ULTRA.

“At any time of life, we can resume the race and be champions”Carlos Sa

Photo: Dino Bonelli
Carlos Sa, an amazing endurance runner, is the ultimate comeback kid. 
Born in Vilar do Monte (Barcelos, Portugal) in 1973, Carlos was a star athlete as a child. When he was 19, he decided to give up the rigorous life of an athlete and start L-I-V-I-N-G it up. Decadent foods, drinks and cigarettes were a staple for him. By the age of 32 he weighed 211 pounds and smoked two packs of cigarettes a day.
Carlos Sa
Photo: Carlos Sa
After looking inside himself, he decided this was not the life he wanted to lead. He decided to lose the weight and become an athlete once again. His open will and determination enabled him to rise to the top.
“I started running again to feel better, physically, and also to find a new path in my life, a healthier one,” he said. “But I got so passionate that I decided then to start testing my limits, and that is my goal, to see how far can I go.”
Within 5 years, he was a serious competitor known around the world. In 2013 he triumphed at Badwater 135, one of the most rigorous races on the planet. He came in first after running the 217km non-stop race through temperatures that reached 122 degrees in Death Valley in California. 
His list of first place wins is long and distinguished. In addition to Badwater 135, he won the Madeira Island Ultra Trail (Madeira – Portugal), Trail Morzine – Avoriaz 43km (Alpes France), Trail dos Abutres – 18km (Portugal), Trail Glazig – 18km + 42km (France),  and the Trail terras de Sicó – 38km (Portugal). He is also the Portuguese Ultra Trail Champion.
Carlos Sa
Photo: Carlos Sa
Sa also set the world record for the fastest ascent and descent of Aconcágua 6962m (Argentina). On December 27, 2012, he left for Argentina to break the world record of 20 hours and 35 minutes, previously set by Peruvian mountain guide, Holmes Pantoja Bayona, in early 2013. He smashed the previous time with a new record of 15 hours and 42 minutes despite the unbearable conditions with temperatures dipping to 4 degrees below zero and an oxygen level 40% the normal value.
Carlos competes in the Marathon Des Sables, the toughest footrace on earth that consists of 6 marathons in 6 days across the desert. In 2016 he ran as a member of Team I Run 4 Ultra as one of Hope So Bright’s ambassadors to raise ADHD awareness. The badass team placed second and Carlos came in 8th as an individual. He has run MDS every year since 2011, placing 4th twice and being highest placed European. 
Ultra Runner
Photo: Dino Bonelli
Carlos Sa is not only a world-renowned runner, but he is also a successful entrepreneur. He has taken on the role of encouraging the sport of Ultra running in Portugal, a country wonderfully suited to the sport and is responsible for the organization of many trail running competitions under the banner of Carlos Sa Nature Events . In 2016 he organized the BERG® OUTDOOR TransPeneda-Gerês Trail World Championships, a route of 85km with 4500m of elevation gain.
He trains rigorously – between 2 – 5 hours a day – and mixes up running with cycling to avoid strain on the joints and the body. He runs on trails and wears his trainers a size up for comfort. He likes to switch it up his runs to avoid monotony and although he does a lot of training alone, he enjoys the company of others while he runs. 
His company, Carlos Sa Nature Events, has 3 major events; Grande Trail da Serra d’Arga, Peneda-Gerês Trail Adventure, and Gerês Marathon. Each event brings a welcome influx of people to aide in the local development of the communities and their economies of Serra de Arga and Peneda-Gerês areas of Portugal. As you can see, he has an unwavering passion in all his pursuits, not only to better himself but also the community around him.
As his successes grow and Carlos Sa Nature Events flourishes, Carlos Sa remains an inspiration to all. Proving that you can transform into your best self at any time. 
Ultra Runner
Photo:Dino Bonelli

Marco Olmo

Marco Olmo: Legendary Double Winner of UTMB

By Alice Hunter Morrison

Moroccan-based journalist, winner of Best Africa Blog, a writer for RunUltra, author of “Dodging Elephants: 8000 Miles Across Africa by Bike” and Special Correspondent for IRUN4ULTRA.

Marco Olmo
Photo: UTMB
In a sport where the accolade, legend, is not easily bestowed, there is one man who everyone can agree deserves it – Marco Olmo. Marco Olmo is an Italian ultra runner came to fame on the ultra running scene when he won the most prestigious race of them all, the Ultra-Trail Du Mont-Blanc (UTMB) in 2006 and then again in 2007. What was extraordinary was not only that he won the race, but that he did so for the first time when he was 58 and the second time when he was 59.

Marco Olmo was born in Robilante, a little municipality in the Piedmont Alps, in Vermenagna Valley, not far from Cuneo on October the 8th 1948. He was born into a rural family and went on to work as a lorry driver and then a worker in the quarries of Robilante for Buzzi Unicem group which he did for 25 years.


He started to run at the age of 26, but he only started to win much later in his life and in his late sixties he is still running competitively and still winning. He came first in the UltraTrail of Bolivia this year.
He has often been quoted as saying that he runs as a form of vengeance against his life. ” In my everyday life I’m a loser….I run for revenge, I run for vengeance, ” he says.
“I come from the world of losers, peasants who have renounced the earth as I have done twenty years ago. At home there was sunlight, and water was out in the well.
Sport? I did not know what that was. But I was running to run, went up and down the mountain. I thought it was a good life: the food was always there, people are helped and did not need anything. Not as now when you have everything,”^
When he won his first UTMB, he was already known for his desert running exploits. In 2000 he came to prominence by winning the Desert Marathon in Libya and the Desert Cup in Jordan as well as coming 7th in the Marathon des Sables.
Marco Olmo
Photo: Dino Bonelli


In 2006, he went on to win the most important ultra on the planet, the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc UTMB. UTMB is a single-stage race and passes through three different countries as it follows the route of the Tour du Mont Blanc across France, Italy, and Switzerland. The race has varied slightly in different years but is around 170km with 10,000m of ascent. In 2006, Marco ran an impeccable race and took a commanding lead, winning in 21 hrs and 06 minutes.  
In 2007, he did it again, storming ahead after Champex Lac at 112 km,  and coming in at 21h 31mn 58s,  52 minutes ahead of the German, Jens Lukas.
His title was to go to the then young rising star of ultra running, Kilian Jornet in 2008 but his two wins had earned him a place in the history books, and he remains the oldest ever winner of the race.
It an extraordinary fact that Kilian Jornet, now acknowledged as one of the best ultra runners that have ever lived, was less than HALF of Marco Olmo’s age when he took his title at UTMB in 2008.

Age does not stop him

Statistical analysis has shown that after the age of 40 there is a decrease in race performance amongst athletes. Much of the decrease in race performance with age can be explained by decreases in oxygen intake, upper and lower body strength, flexibility, and muscular (explosive) power. Clearly, Marco Olmo has found a way to compensate for that decrease and to go on winning races.
Marco is 1.81 cm high, he weighs 66 kg and his heart rate is 34-35 beats per minute at rest. He has been a vegetarian since his mid-thirties and for him, it is a type of philosophy as well as an eating regime.
“An animal for me is not a meal, but a living being. And with vegetarianism we will solve much of the tragedy of hunger in the world,” he says, “I do have particular favorite foods, but based on local products:  potatoes, chestnuts, bread, pasta, polenta, a little cheese seasoning, extra virgin olive oil. The food of our ancestors.”^
He does not follow a complicated training regime, but runs 1 ½ hours per day, with a long run of 5 hours if he is working towards a race.
Apart from UTMB, he is also famous for his participation in the Marathon des Sables. He has run the race, the toughest footrace on earth, six marathons in six days across the Sahara desert over twenty times. In 2016 he ran the race as an Ambassador for Hope So Bright coming second in the team competition with Team I Run 4 Hope and 30th in the overall rankings with a time of 29h 32 for the 258 km covered in the race.
As his fellow teammate, Harvey Lewis said about him after the race, “Marco Olmo is very special. He has run this race 21 times. I want to be like him in 28 years! He is 68 years young and can outrun anyone from my hometown!
^Quotes from One Step Beyond
Marco Olmo
Photo: Dino Bonelli


Caroline Chaverot Triumphs this Weekend as the IAU Trail World Champion

This year’s IAU Trail World Champions contained the excitement that many ultra-marathoners dreams of competing in. Dealing with the never before raced course in Peneda-Gerês National Park of northern Portugal, combined with the terrain and mixture of humid weather set the pace for what was perhaps the closest women’s podium race the running community has seen. 

Caroline Chaverot

Photo Cred: Prozis

In an interview with Bryon Powell, Caroline Chaverot says she could not have imagined her win as World Champion.  Chaverot says, “Everyone told me I was prepared for it, but I knew it would be very tough. I knew there would be good athletes, and my season has been long. I didn’t feel that good the week before. When I was running, I was feeling good. I’m doing some heart check, and they were not so good. So I was not very, very optimistic, but I’d do my best.”

In a more intimate share on Facebook called “The Icing on the Cake” Chaverot says, “Despite my good season, I feel a deep will to race well, for me, but also for my adopting country, France, because a Team-title is on the balance.”

Chaverot goes on to come to recount her competitive grit with Spain’s Azara García, “..A little bit later, I hear a woman’s voice just behind me. Gosh!!! It’s Azara!! She seems to suffer a lot but she’s faster than me! I walk much faster, but the result is that I loose my breath again! I feel really bad and this climb seems to have no end. Each time I guess we reach the summit, I discover another summit behind! It’s a nightmare!

On the finish line, I am too exhausted to be able to realize what is happening. Then, the real happiness comes: I am World Champion!

Caroline Chaverot (France) — 9:39:40
Azara García (Spain) — 9:45:01
Ragna Debats (Netherlands) — 9:47:38
Nathalie Mauclair (France) — 10:13:37
Gemma Arenas (Spain) — 10:21:11
Kathrin Götz (Switzerland) — 10:30:41
Jo Meek (Great Britain) — 10:36:12
Beth Pascall (Great Britain) — 10:41:35
Michaela Mertová (Czech Republic) – 10:42:59
Teresa Nemes (Spain) – 10:44:07Caroline Chaverot
Sourire, c’est oublier la grimaceIAU Trail World