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Yearly Archives - 2017

Berghaus Dragons Back Race 2017

Taming the Dragon

It’s no easy race, ask anyone that has contemplated it, more importantly, ask anyone who has toed the line.
It’s a race that has put fear into many a runner, magnified by its history, you see the first edition happened just once in September 1992. Considered to be the toughest mountain running event ever organized, twenty years on, the legendary race returned and the Dragon breathed a new fiery breath.
Organized by Shane Ohly from Ourea Events, the 2012 edition closely followed the original route. Starting at Conwy Castle in North Wales, the route traced the mountainous spine of Wales southwards over five days to finish at Carreg Cennen Castle in the Brecon Beacons. Competitors had to contend with a course that was approximately 320km long and with 15,000m of ascent.
Cut to 2015 and the Berghaus Dragons Back Race becomes an event that will take place every other year alternating with another Ourea Event, the Cape Wrath Ultra – an 8-day journey that travels along the west coast of Scotland and finishes at the most northern point – a race that echoes the format and ethos of the The Berghaus Dragons Back Race 2017. The 2015 edition was won by Jim Mann and Jasmin Paris. Mike Evans, a participant in the 2015 edition summed up the journey well:
So, what a week, what a journey, impossible to explain how tough, how mentally and physically challenging it was but also how spiritual it has been. Cut off from the world, no social media, no showers, just living in the wild with a group of equal enthusiasts.
The stage was set for the 2017 edition. Traveling from the North to the South via the ‘Dragons Back’ – the Berghaus Dragons Back Race was all set to have the makings of a classic. A gigantic 315km route awaited the runners with 15.000m of vertical gain ahead.Dragons Back

Day 1

Day 1 is a tough day in its own right, as the first day of a 5-day race it is brutal. Jim Mann, the 2015 Berghaus Dragons Back Race  Champion, today set out his stall with a strong and dominant performance that left all the other runners following in his wake as he dominated the tough, challenging and yes, intimidating day 1. Neil Talbott, Marcus Scotney, and Jez Bragg followed.
For the ladies, Sabrina Verjee also produced a strong performance despite pre-race concerns that a recurring calf injury may surface and scupper her plans. Caroline McIlroy and Carol Morgan, both pre-race favorites followed and completed the podium slots.

Day 2

Having completed day 1, the competitors have a starting window of 0600-0900. the slower runners starting as early as possible allowing themselves as much time possible to complete the day before the 2300 cut-off. Jim Mann was slowly but surely reeling all the competitors in, having started last – the fox, he was chasing the rabbits. Marcus Scotney, Neil Talbot, and Jez Bragg were putting up a battle but Mann was just on fire. At the final summit, Diffwys, Mann ran fast and smooth and at the finish line, he set the fastest time of the day – elapsed 15:20:25. However, Scotney who had started earlier was the first to cross the line in16:30:29. Neil Talbot (16:46:40) managed to hold off Jez Bragg in 4th. Sabrina Verjee, like Mann, was taking a grip of the ladies’ race.
Carol Morgan and Caroline McIlroy put up a battle to Verjee and this resulted in McIlroy gaining time on Morgan, 20:21:52 to 20:22:27. The battle for 2nd lady now very close with just 35-seconds between them – Verjee, by contrast, extended her lead, her elapsed time 19:45:08.

Day 3

Sabrina Verjee and Carol Morgan pretty much shadowed each other for most of the day, however, in the latter stages Verjee looked hot and bothered with her effort in the strong hot sun – she crossed the line in 11:01:05 and retained the overall lead in 30:46:13 elapsed. Morgan finished in 11:07:46 with an elapsed time of 31:30:13 but the ladies story was all about Caroline McIlroy who finished in 11:06:52 and therefore consolidating her lead for 2nd with an elapsed time of 31:28:44.
For the men, it was a dramatic day! Race leader Jim Mann made a navigational error and in the process, gave away his hard-earned 90-minute lead over Marcus Scotney. Scotney buy contrast was having a great day – running fast and smooth. It was the end of the day when the damage was really starting to come clear. Scotney arrived at the line in 7:54:33. When Mann finally arrived, he was a long way back and pushing hard – 9:30:43! The true extent of the damage was finally confirmed, Scotney had taken the overall lead by approximately 26-minutes, 24:25:02 to Mann’s 24:51:08 elapsed time. Neil Talbott remained in 3rd.

Day 4

Mann set off at a ridiculous pace and despite a day of sun and high temperatures. He pushed and pushed breaking splits for his 2015 winning time. On the rolling terrain, he rarely walked, constantly switching from running to fast, hands-on-knees hiking. The terrain suited Marcus Scotney and his fluid running style but Scotney’s 31:46:28 to Mann’s 31:54:34 meant that Mann had closed the gap to just minutes and the last day of the 2017 Berghaus Dragons Back Race was going to be epic!
For the ladies, Sabrina Verjee had a tough day battling heat and dehydration and crossed the line in 9:51:25. Whereas Carol Morgan had a game-changing day crossing the line in 9:14:18 – this eradicated much of the time gap Verjee had built up over the first three days. Morgan moved up into 2nd place and this left her just minutes from a potential 2017 victory. The first 3 ladies had just 15-minutes between them.Berghaus Dragons Back Race

Day 5

Most the field started early at 0600 but all eyes were on the 0800 ‘chase’ starts. Scotney and Verjee would start on the stroke of 0800 and then 2nd placed runners, Mann and Morgan would depart as per their time deficits to the leader. The same applied for 3rd placed lady, McIlroy. Quite simply, the first man or woman across the line would be the 2017 Berghaus Dragons Back winner. Scotney, despite a troublesome knee, was flying, the terrain suited him and allowed him to stretch his legs. By CP2, Scotney was pulling away from Mann and Verjee and Morgan were equally matched with McIlroy losing time. More good running to CP3 and then the climb to CP4 and the run along the high ground with the impressive Llyn Y Fan Fact to the right saw Scotney extend his lead. When Mann arrived at CP5 he was over 30-minutes back and barring Scotney having any problems, the race was his for the taking. Mann no doubt paying a price for a tough first 3-days and a hard chasing 4th day. Scotney crossed the line in 6:12:09 1st and Mann came in much later (7:43:40) having eased off the gas knowing that his place for 2nd was secure. Neil Talbott who had started later than the 1st and 2nd placed runners had a long day chasing all in front of him, his 3rd place secure in 7:31:04 placing 2nd on the stage. In the ladies’ race, the possible threat of a blazing run from McIlroy didn’t happen and the race was now between Verjee and Morgan.
Morgan hunted Verjee down and by CP6 had caught and passed her. It was all about putting her head down and pushing on. The victory was hers in 7:57:16 and with it, the title of Ladies 2017 Berghaus Dragons Back champion.
A tough race for all concerned but when you race over 5-days with the highs and lows that this type of race can throw at you, it’s about how the runner manages all aspects of the race and not just one day. The 2017 edition will go down in history as one of the most compelling, particularly in the final 2-days. Over 50% of the race starters did not make the finish line, a special nod goes to Joe Faulkner, the legend that he is, who completed the very first Dragons Back Race in 1992 and came back for more. He completed the 2012 and 2015 events and now the 2017 – a remarkable feat.
Attention will now turn to 2019 and the next edition of the race but as Ourea Events rightly say, don’t forget it’s the Cape Wrath Ultra in 2018 for those who need their fix!
Top 3 results:
1    Marcus Scotney 37:58:37
2    Jim Mann 39:38:14
3    Neil Talbott 41:54:33
 
1    Carol Morgan 48:41:17
2    Sabrina Verjee 49:29:42
3    Caroline McIlroy 50:23:47
 
Results HERE
Credit ©iancorless.com

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Transvulcania 2017

A new star and a course record on Isla Bonita

Transvulcania Ultramarathon
Transvulcania Ultramarathon never disappoints, since 2012 and the addition to the Skyrunner World Series, the race on the idyllic island of La Palma in the Canaries have gone from strength-to-strength. In 2017, we saw the confirmation of a new star – Ida Nilsson from Sweden and we witnessed the rise of a new star, Tim Freriks from the USA.
Ida Nilsson repeated her 2016 victory with a standout performance that dominated the ladies’ field. It resulted in a course record 8:04:00 bettering the two previous record held by Anna Frost and Emelie Forsberg – the queens of Skyrunning!
Tim Freriks came from nowhere… he wasn’t even on any pre-race previews he was so unknown. However, word on the trails in the 24-hours before the start was Freriks was in La Palma, ‘to of hard or go home!’ Go hard he did and he repeated the rewards of victory at one of the worlds most iconic ultra races.
Transvulcania
The day started at 0600 in the south of the island at Fuencaliente lighthouse – the glow of almost 2000 head torches breaking that blackness of the sky. Even the amazing stars (La Palma is known for stargazing due to clear skies and a lack of noise pollution) could not be seen with the impressive glow of the runner’s lights.
Heading north, the ladies race very much was dominated by Ida Nilsson, she lead from the front, at first slowly but surely extending her lead and then when the course reached higher altitudes, the 2016 Transvulcania winner applied the pressure and opened up the gap over her competition not only to win the race but set a new course record 8:04:17. It was a stunning run that came as no surprise. Anne Lise Rousset matched her 2016 performance with 2nd place and a solid race biding her time and keeping a consistent pace. The USA’s Hillary Allen moved up to 3rd place passing Ragna Debats.
Freriks and Hawks dueled the early miles together passing through El Pilar with seconds between them. It was as the caldera arrived and the run around the rim to Roques de los Muchachos that Freriks dropped his fellow American. Although still in 2nd Hawks would later lose that place and move down the field as sickness took hold.
Following was Pommeret, Martin, Capell, Owens, Thevenard, Schlarb, Malek and many of the other big hitters and lee race favorites. But Freriks was too fast. He extended his lead and crossed the line in Los Llanos in just over 7-hours.
Pommeret consolidated 2nd on the long 18km descent from the 2400+m summit all the way to the sea and arrived to a applause – the 2016 UTMB champ gaining a podium place.
The Ling descent punished the favorites, in particular, Owens who suffered terrible foot pain and was forced to slow down. Malek though was on fire, he moved through the field took the final podium place. A great result for the Moroccan who lives in Spain.
Since 2012, Transvulcania Ultramarathon has never disappointed, it is arguably one of the greatest courses and finish lines out there. The 2018 edition will no doubt be as equally as impressive.
 
Credit ©iancorless.com

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Yading Skyrunning Festival

Yading Skyrunning Festival, China

The 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series kicked off in China in April with a weekend of high altitude action that harked back to the early and pioneering days of when ISF (International Skyrunning Federation) president Marino Giacometti, picked a peak and ran to its summit and returned as quickly as possible.
It was all about ‘fast-and-light’ and yes, it was also part science project as the effects of high-altitude and sport were documented in a series of stringent tests that took place all over the world.
Now in 2017, Yading Skyrunning Festival got truly high again with three events taking place in and amongst several of China’s 6000m peaks – Mount Chenrezig, Jampayang, and Chenadorje.
The Yading Skyrunning Festival started the weekend on May 1st at noon. Covering a distance of 7km (unusually long for the VK format) the race will have an elevation gain of 1072m. Notably, the VK started at an altitude of 3992m and concluded at 5000m – a first for Skyrunning! In the early stages, winding single-track made its way through the alpine forest before breaking through to clear vistas, blue skies and incredible 6000m snow capped peaks. A clack all lake provided flat running before the short, sharp and very steep push to the finish line via a high pass and a summit adorned with prayer flags. Local runner Duo Ji was the winner of the day in an incredible time of 1-hour, 1-minute and 48-seconds. He was closely pushed by Pascal Egli from Switzerland and Andy Wacker from the USA. Inge the ladies’ race, Ida Nilsson from Sweden was head and shoulders above the competition running 1-hour, 19-minutes, and 45-seconds.
 
Yading Skyrunning Festival
At 0700 the following day, the Yading Skyrun and the Yading Kora Ultra started side-by-side outside the hotel in Shangri La. In the early stages, both races would trace the same route all the way to the Chonggu Temple. It is here that the ultra would go left on an extended loop taking in the Kora pilgrimage route to culminate in a total distance of 46km. The Sky Classic race would go right and hug a single-track through the forest and open plains to finally reach a prayer flag adorned summit at 4700m. Here the 29km event would turnaround and retrace all the way back to the finish line at the Chonggu Temple.
The ultra race would also reach this 4700m summit but from the other side of the mountains – passing through a hole of prayer flags, the 49km race would then follow the remaining kilometers of the 29km race and conclude at the same finish line.
Megan Kimmel from the USA and Nepal’s Bhim Gurung were winners in the 2016 edition of the race and once again they repeated their performances. For Kimmel, it was a relatively easy victory as she pulled away from her closest completion, Ragna Debats. On the line, the margin for victory was a clear 30-minutes. Debats held off Swiss runner Katrina Villumsen who placed 3rd.
Although Gurung took the victory, at the 4700m turnaround this looked unlikely as he trailed Pascal Egli, Andy Wacko, Duo Ji, and others. However, the altitude and the effort impacted on the competitions ability to perform and an incredible and relentless descent from Gurung saw him reel the competition in and take a stunning victory. Wacker placed 2nd and Ji 3rd, their times 3:08:23 and 3:08:49
China
With over 2,300m of elevation gain over the length of the course, and the finish line sitting at just over 4,000m, Kora Ultra was a unique challenge. Eyes were on UTMB winner and three-time Raid de la Reunion champion, Francois d’Haene from France. However, on the day it was 2:16 marathon runner 敏 祁 who stole the show with a solid performance clinching victory ahead of d’Haene and 晶 梁 finished 3rd.
In the ladies’ race, Ida Nilsson backed up a weekend double with a performance that was hours ahead of the 2nd placed lady. Her performance was so strong she placed 5th overall and certainly, she is a favorite for the next race in the 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series which takes place on the island of La Palma – the Transvulcania Ultramarathon.
Full results https://livetrail.net/histo/yadingskyrun_2017/
China, without doubt, provided a stunning arena for Skyrunning gladiators to do battle – this is an untapped part of the world to race. Later in the year, a second event will take place in Mongolia, the Devil’s Ridge race, also in the 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series.
China Mountain Trails – https://www.cnmtntrails.com/yading-skyrun/
Credit ©iancorless.com

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Marathon des Sables 2017

Marathon des Sables 2017

“Barnes and Elmorabity top the podium in Morocco”

1200 runners arrived in bivouac for a first night in the Sahara. A meal, some admin and an early night. Admin day followed and from the moment they dropped their backs, the 32nd Marathon des Sables experience had really begun. The clothes they were wearing would last them for the following week as they journeyed through the Sahara.
Bivouac is spread over a large area and each tent holds 8-people. It’s a place of carnage as pack contents are laid out and runners stress if they have enough food for the adventure ahead. Self-sufficiency whilst running 236km’s through the Sahara cannot be underestimated – it’s what makes this race so tough!
The last meal provided by the race, a final good sleep and in the morning on waking, self-sufficiency begins.

Day 1 is 30.03km with a 10-hour cut-off time.

The roar of the helicopter followed the runners as they were released from the line with a relatively flat, sandy 30.3km of the Sahara ahead.
As first days go, the 2017 edition came up with a revelation in British runner, Thomas Evans. He but the Moroccan quartet of Rachid El Morabity, Mohamed El Morabity, Abdelkader El Mouaziz and Hammou Moudouji under real pressure. Mohamad out sprinted his brother Rachid and El Mouaziz placed 3rd and Evans held on for 4th. It was close, with just a handful of minutes separating the leaders, 2:10:30 to 2:11:58.
Elisabet Barnes ran strong, confident and looked in incredible shape showing all the ladies a clean pair of heels and echoed her winning form of 2015. It was a decisive day, Barnes beat 2016 second place Nathalie Mauclair by over 6-minutes, Aziza Raji followed and then Fernanda Maciel, Emilie Lecomte, and Melanie Rousset.

Stage 2 is a tough stage of 39km. Cut-off 11h 30mins.

Heading south the early km’s were full of sand, dunes, and climbing – Bou Laadam Jebel a significant marker at 5km. A plateau and then a steady sandy climb at 8.5km would lead to Cp1 at 12.8km. The next 12km would follow a southerly direction of sand, hills, and dunes. Cp2 would offer some recovery before the push to Cp3 then dunes would sap the runners’ energy before a tough climb would lead to the highest point of the day via a gulley of rock. Elotfal jebel offered stunning views and then a steep sandy descent before the final Cp and a flat run to bivouac.
Elisabet Barnes lead from the front and never looked back, she crossed the line in 3:49:00 ahead of a resuming Fernanda Maciel who beat Nathalie Mauclair to second place by over 4-minutes, 4:00:42 to 4:04:14.
Rachid El Morabity ran a controlled race in the early stages then opened up a gap leaving the rest to follow. It was the defending champions day and he stamped his authority on it in 3:04:52 in contrast to El Mouaziz who placed 2nd in 3:12:15. or El Morabity (Mohamed) and Evans placed 3rd and 4th.
Marathon des Sables

Day 3

The day started with Rachid El Morabity bidding his time and running a little behind his Moroccan friends. After Cp2 though he regained the front of the race and although he didn’t pull away and gain a huge margin, win the day he did! El Morabity crossed the day 3 finish in a ridiculous 2:33:14, his brother Mohamad was 2nd in 2:34:25 and then Abdelaziz Baghazza, Abdelkader El Mouaziz and Thomas Evan took the remaining top-5 placings.
The ladies’ race was always going to be closed today with technical terrain suiting Nathalie Mauclair and Fernanda Maciel. However, Elisabet Barnes lead from the front once again and it remained that way all the way to the end. It was in the flatter final stages that Barnes opened a little time crossing in 3:13:07 to Mauclair’s 3:15:14 – the early technical terrain had kept the duo together. Fernanda Maciel one again returned to form finishing 3rd in 3:27:11.
For many, stage 3 of the Marathon des Sables was a classic with some incredible views and challenging terrain. Just 2km out of camp dunes waited and a sandy passage through two mountains, the summit of Joua Baba Ali jebel and then a technical path lead to Cp1 where a section of flat running preceded arguably one of the highlights of the day – the second section of Joua Baba Ali jebel which is technical, exposed and a real challenge. In the latter stage, the now almost yearly climb to the summit of El Oftal jebel via rope sections concluded the day before a flat section home.
 

Day 4 – The Long Day 86.2km with a 35hr cut-off time

Thomas Evans today showed the Moroccans that a European can come to the Sahara and push for the podium. He ran a fearless day of guts and determination and was rewarded with 2nd. Rachid El Morabity took the day with a performance of class that established him as the no1 desert runner in the world. Rachid’s brother Mohamad placed 3rd and then Abdelaziz Baghazza and Remigio Huaman took the remaining top-5 places.
The route echoed much of the 2016 edition passing early through the oasis of El Maharch, a flat dried up lake before the first couple of climbs of the day starting at 10km. The climb of Mhadid Al Elahau followed by a high-level plateau traverse was followed by a fast and thrilling sandy descent. From here to the end, the race course was all about sand and dunes that sapped the runner’s legs, minds, and hearts all the way to the line.
Nathalie Mauclair made a last-ditch effort for victory today which came as no surprise – the longer the distance, the better she is. From Cp5, Mauclair extended her lead over Barnes but the 2015 Marathon des Sables champion dug in, used her flat running speed and closed on the French lady. Mauclair took victory in 9:39:58 and Barnes crossed the tape in 9:41:16. Fernanda Maciel, also a long distance specialist, followed the duo ahead and she finished third.
Elisabet Barnes

Day 5 – The classic ‘Marathon

Rachid El Morabity and Elisabet Barnes have crowned 2017 Marathon des Sables champions! The displayed consistency, pacing and a strong mental approach to once again top the podium in a race that started multi-day racing an astonishing 32-years ago!
Barnes led the early stages of the ladies’ race and then eventually Mauclair took over the charge and clinched the final stage win just 2-minutes ahead of the 2015 and now 2017 champion Barnes. Fernanda Maciel placed 3rd as she has done for much of the week, her time 4:14:32 and Emilie Lecomte 4th at 4:22:09. Aziza Raji placed 5th and the ladies’ top-5 was complete.
Despite an early charge by Thomas Evans, Rachid El Morabity seized the day as he has done most of the week, he pipped his brother Mohamad by just 7-seconds, 3:10:08 to 3:10:15. Aziz El Akad and Abdelaziz Baghazza beat Thomas Evans to the line 3:11:19 and 3:14:13 to 3:16: 20. But it was Evans who clinched the final podium slot and the highest ranking position ever by a European.
It must be noted that the Marathon des Sables 2017 is so much more than elite runners going fast. The finish line is one full of stories, emotion, tears, and laughter. The example of Louis from Luxembourg, Duncan Slater from their UK and so many more cannot go unnoticed.
Congratulations go to all those who completed and toed the start line of the 32nd Marathon des Sables
Credit ©iancorless.com

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Riboflavin: How This B-Vitamin Could Change the Sport of Ultra-Running

Riboflavin: How This B-Vitamin Could Change the Sport of Ultra-Running
By: Amy Tribolini, MS, RD, LD
You may not be familiar with riboflavin, but it is likely you have heard of or even supplemented with B-vitamins.  B-vitamins have been marketed as “energy enhancement vitamins” and added to sport supplement bars and drinks for years.
Riboflavin, also known as vitamin B2, has stayed relatively under the rug and gained little attention by itself, but all that may be changing after a recent study published in the Journal of Sports Medicine proposed that supplementation may have significant benefits on muscle pain and soreness both during and after completion of ultra-running events.  
In 2016, researchers performed a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial on participants at one of the most iconic ultra-marathons of all time: The Western States 100-Miler.  Researchers split up participating runners into a control group or a placebo group.  The controlled group received a riboflavin capsule both before the race and again at mile 56, the other group received a placebo at both intervals.  Participants in the study rated their soreness and muscle pain before the race, during, immediately after, and for 10 additional days.
The results were significant.  The runners that received the riboflavin reported significantly less muscle pain and soreness during and immediately after the race.  While this is newer research into this area, the findings suggest that riboflavin may be a highly beneficial supplement to decrease soreness and aid in the performance of ultra-runners.  
 
Riboflavin
 
What Does Riboflavin Do in the Body?
Riboflavin plays an important role in metabolism and protecting against cell damage.  Essential to ultra-runners, riboflavin is involved in the process of energy metabolism.  Without adequate riboflavin, the enzymes needed to break down nutrients (carbohydrates, protein, and fats) do not function as efficiently.  This can lead to feelings of exhaustion and fatigue in an athlete.    
The second essential role riboflavin plays in athletes is enhancing oxygen delivery.  Hemoglobin, the protein responsible for transporting oxygen in the body, requires riboflavin in order to synthesize.  Having adequate oxygen transport allows athletes to perform better with less fatigue.  
How Much Should I Take?
In this research study, participants were given a 100mg supplemental capsule of riboflavin twice during the race (once before the race and another 56 miles into the race).  According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, this far exceeds the estimated daily needs of healthy athletes- 1.2mg (men) and 1.1mg (women).  But, because riboflavin is water soluble, healthy individuals will excrete excess out through the urine instead of storing it in toxic levels.
B-Vitamin
Can I Get Enough Riboflavin in the Foods I Eat?
It is easy to meet your estimated nutritional needs by selecting foods high in riboflavin.  However, in order to experience the decreased soreness that the Western States athletes reported, supplemental riboflavin may be needed.  
Foods High in Riboflavin:
Riboflavin occurs naturally in foods and it is also fortified into many grains.  If you are looking for natural ways to enhance your intake of riboflavin during a race, these handy grab-and-go snacks are good sources:

  • Fortified cereals
  • Fortified Grains, Crackers, and Breads
  • Fortified sports bars and supplements
  • Almonds
  • Sun-dried tomatoes
  • Yogurt

 
Conclusion:
With new research suggesting that increased riboflavin intake may be a significant component of decreasing soreness among ultra-runners, there is likely to be more chatter in the ultra-running community over this topic.  While more research needs to be done to identify optimal dosing and benefits, the preliminary research seems to point to this B vitamin as a nutrient that may be changing the field of ultra-running.   
References:
Hoffman, M. D., Valentino, T. R., Stuempfle, K.J., & Hassid, B.V. (2017). A Placebo-Controlled Trial of Riboflavin for Enhancement of Ultramarathon Recovery. Sports Medicine – Open, 3(1).
Denny, S. (2014). Vitamin Needs of Athletes. Retrieved April 5, 2017, from https://www.eatright.org/resource/food/vitamins-and-supplements/types-of-vitmains-and-nutrients/vitamin-needs-of-athletes
Zempleni J, Galloway JR, McCormick DB (1996). Pharmacokinetics of orally and intravenously administered riboflavin in healthy humans. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The American Society for Nutrition. 63 (1): 54–66.
About the Author:
Amy Tribolini currently works as both a Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Instructor. She lives, trains, and competes as an ultra-runner out of Colorado Springs, Colorado. Amy specializes in fueling endurance athletes, athletic performance, and plant-based diets. Amy holds both a Bachelors Degree in Dietetics and a Masters Degree in Human Nutritional Science from the University of Wisconsin
Instagram- @ultrarunningdietitian
Email contact: [email protected]
 

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Know Your Macros: A Recovery Guide for Endurance Athletes

Know Your Macros: A Recovery Guide for Endurance Athletes 
By: Amy Tribolini, MS, RD, LD
You’ve done it!  Maybe you finished your long run for the week or your highly anticipated race.  You are feeling proud and accomplished but your body is feeling run down.  No matter how good your fueling strategy during your run or race is, it is near impossible to end up anything short of depleted.  It can be easy to overlook the proper nutrition your body needs to repair, recover, and rebuild.
While there are many factors to consider, let’s start with the basics:  carbohydrate, protein, and fat.  These substrates are the building blocks of food and athletes have specific needs when pushing their bodies to the next level.
Carbohydrates:
Carbohydrates are stored in your muscles and liver in the form of glycogen.  If you have been running more than 3-4 hours, your glycogen stores are likely running on empty.  There is a short window of time after finishing your workout or race, when carbohydrate is more effectively absorbed.  This window is about 30 minutes.  This is why it is very common for runners to begin to imagine, dream, or even fantasize about what they are going to eat at the finish.  This is the body’s natural way of cueing the mind to consume carbohydrate-rich foods while the body is still rushing with adrenaline and enhanced blood flow.  During this window of time, your cells are more receptive to breaking down carbohydrate to glycogen and rebuilding the body’s stores.  The faster your body’s glycogen stores get re-filled, the less muscle soreness you may experience.
It is also important to understand that all carbohydrates are not the same.  A research article published this month in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition evaluated the effectiveness of glucose vs. fructose at re-fueling muscle energy stores.  The results showed that glucose was significantly more effective and lead to increased exercise performance the next day.  Some handy whole-food, post-run snacks high in glucose include: bananas, grapes, dates, and dried fruits.  There are also many sports bars and supplements high in glucose that are easy to take during or after endurance activities.
endurance athletes
Protein:
Protein is another big factor in refueling.  While protein is not a primary substrate that is burned for fuel, it is critical to repair the standard muscle breakdown and tears that can occur.  If you are in the market for a post-run protein or amino acid supplement, look for ones high in the branched-chain amino acids: leucine, isoleucine, and valine.  These amino acids are especially beneficial because they are more rapidly absorbed.  Unlike other amino acids, the branched-chain can bypass the liver and be directly transported into the muscles for repair.
Marketing and media have really pushed the idea that more protein is better, but science disproves this theory.  According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the athlete needs only slightly more than non-athletes.  The daily recommendation for athletes is 1.2-2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.  The lower end is better suited for endurance athletes while the higher end is more directed toward bodybuilders and power athletes.
Fat:
Fat is definitely part of a healthy diet, but science has yet to demonstrate that fat consumption is essential for recovery right after a race.  Its function may be more to provide satiety and let the brain know that the body no longer has to be in fight or flight mode.  Fat is also essential to aid in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins.  Remember to choose foods high in healthy fats like avocados, nuts, chia seeds or olive oil.
An Important Mineral for Recovery – Magnesium:
Repleting magnesium may aid in preventing stress fractures and demineralization of bones.  Magnesium largely exists in muscles and bones where its primary function is muscle contraction and energy metabolism.  Ensuring you consume enough magnesium-rich foods after events can aid in longevity
and quick recovery in your sport.  Some great whole food sources of magnesium include dark green leafy vegetables, whole grains, and nuts.
Nutrition
An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure:
Going into a race or a hard workout well rested, well nourished and well hydrated can be worth more than anything you can do to fix your body up after.
While exercising in moderate doses boosts your immune system, long endurance events, such as ultra-marathons and multi-day events, tend to do the opposite.
Prolonged endurance events can kick out the release of cortisol (a stress hormone), which causes your immune system to kick into high gear.  This may be one reason it is common to hear athletes complain of getting a cold after a hard race.
Research shows that consuming sports drinks or carbohydrate-rich supplements during a race can slow down the production of stress hormones leading to less stress on your immune system.  This, coupled with consuming adequate macronutrients post-run (carbohydrate, protein, and fat) can really get you out running again quicker with higher performance.
References:
Protein and the Athlete – How Much Do You Need? (n.d.). Retrieved March 16, 2017, from https://www.eatright.org/resource/fitness/sports-and-performance/fueling-your-workout/protein-and-the-athlete
Rosset, R., Lecoultre, V., Egli, L., Cros, J., Dokumaci, A. S., Zwygart, K., . . . Tappy, L. (2017). Postexercise repletion of muscle energy stores with fructose or glucose in mixed meals. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 105(3), 609-617.
Matias, C., Santos, D., Montiero, C., & Vasco, A. (2012). Magnesium intake mediates the association between bone mineral density and lean soft tissue in elite swimmers. Magnesium Research, 25(3), 120-125.
Nieman, D. C. (2007). Marathon Training and Immune Function. Sports Medicine, 37(4), 412-415.
About the Author:
Amy Tribolini currently works as both a Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Professor. She lives, trains, and competes as an ultra-runner out of Colorado Springs, Colorado. Amy specializes in fueling endurance athletes, athletic performance, and plant-based diets. Amy holds both a Bachelors Degree in Dietetics and a Masters Degree in Human Nutritional Science from the University of Wisconsin
Instagram- @ultrarunningdietitian
Email contact: [email protected]

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Failure… or is it?

Failure… or is it?

I have just watched a movie Karl Meltzer on his successful FKT (Fastest Known Time) on the Appalachian Trail. The movies called ‘Made To Be Broken!’
While watching the movie I thought of Karl’s previous failed attempts, the most recent being in 2014. Let’s get one thing straight, the Appalachian Trail is tough – very tough. The first time you try something and fail you can put it down to inexperience, bad planning, bad luck or whatever… but I say failure is good!
Life is full of failure and if we don’t learn how to pick ourselves up and try again, then our lives will not be complete.
Karl Meltzer
 
Karl personified this tenacity. I respected him 100% when he said he would try again in 2016. I knew and more importantly, he knew, that should all things go well and he breaks the record, he was in for a miserable and tough time for 40+ days. Days that would send him to the edge, take him to a whole new place mentally and yes, may even break him.
So why, why go back?
To live!
As the closing credits rolled in, I sat watching the celebrations. Scott Jurek was there, David Horton, Karl Senior, Eric Belz and Karl’s wife, Cheryl. Karl’s triumph was all the sweeter through previous failures.
He’d nailed it!
My attention then turned to the Barkley. What a race unfolded in Tennessee. It was an epic and it may well go down in history as the most memorable. Not because John Kelly was the 15th finisher of the race but because Gary Robbins ‘failed!’
Notice here that I place ‘failure’ in commas – for me, Gary didn’t fail. He achieved a great deal, he just didn’t achieve his goal.
Just as John Kelly had failed on 2 previous occasions, he triumphed on a 3rd attempt and the victory was sweet.
Gary, of course, was left on the floor, a tired wreck facing demons.
Initially many of us had thought Gary had missed the record by 6-seconds! The reality was, as race director Laz pointed – Gary missed completion by 2-miles. At the final book (13 need to be located and a page is torn away to prove that you visited it) Gary removed the page but in the mist and through extreme tiredness, he navigated the wrong way and therefore did not complete the course as he should have – he finished from the wrong direction. Laz was clear to point out, had he been within the 60-hour cut-off it would still have been a DNF as he had not followed the specified route.
Gary confirmed it: “I did not finish The Barkley Marathons, and that is no one’s fault but my own. That one fatal error with just over two miles to go haunts me.”
This failure is a great example for us all.
Gary will be back. He will be fired up more than ever before. Will he achieve his goal in 2018? Who knows, that is part of the challenge. One thing I do know is that Gary will come back year-on-year until he does. When he finally touches the yellow gate with all book pages and within the 60-hours, that moment will last a lifetime and he will have the satisfaction of having worked his butt off for a goal.
Is it me but today does everyone want it easy?
Even schools are reluctant to run races because ‘everyone’ must be a winner… let’s get real folks, life is full of highs and lows, failure and success.
We want to make people happy, we want to wrap everyone in cotton wool and we want to say, ‘don’t worry, it will be ok!’
Some days my 100% and your 100% just won’t be good enough. Be happy with that. We all fall short. It’s not how you fall down, it’s how you pick yourself up.
For me, John Kelly and Karl Meltzer (amongst many others) should be applauded for their failures. For it is those failures that made them fight and succeed, just as Gary Robbins will do – one day!
Laz, thank you for creating something so tough that it takes all those who toe the line to the limit, to experience something so life-changing that they leave a new person. Finally, thank you for not bending, not waiving, not showing leniency in failure. Stick true to the values you hold – you and your race will produce more great stories and more heroes and yes, it will let all the world know that if we fail, at least we fail while daring greatly!’
Gary Robbins As Roosevelt said:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
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The Coastal Challenge 2017

The Coastal Challenge 2017 : Frost and Owens dominate

New Zealand’s Anna Frost and the UK’s Tom Owens dominated Costa Rica’s 13th edition of The Coastal Challenge 2017 – a six-day race that follows the coastline stating in Quepos and culminating at the iconic Drake Bay.

The Salomon sponsored duo grabbed the race by the scruff of the neck on day one and neither looked in danger of relinquishing the lead despite the intense heat, high humidity and a tough and challenging course that weaved in and out of the Talamancas for an overall distance of 250km.The Coastal Challenge 2017

Spain’s Chema Martinez, a participant in the 2016 edition of the race had spent several months specifically preparing for the race but despite his speed (he’s a 2:08 marathon runner) he could not handle Owens technical prowess not only climbing but descending.

Hardrock 100 winner, Jason Schlarb placed 3rd with a strong performance. His ability to transition from the cold and snow of Colorado to the heat and humidity of Costa Rica was impressive. The race was not without its challenges for the Altra athlete, on day one he made a navigational error losing him valuable time.

Notably, Costa Rican athletes came to the fore and impressed, the highest place going to Erick Aguero who just missed the podium placing 4th after fighting hard with Schlarb.

“I am very motivated and proud of my performance so far. I turned on my phone yesterday and was amazed at all the messages of support I’ve had from the Costa Rican running community. I will give it my all to complete this race 3rd overall. A podium finish has been my objective from the start.” – Erick Aguero

The ladies’ race had arguably the strongest line-up in the history of the race with 2016 champion, Ester Alves returning to defend her title. In addition, 2015 Marathon des Sables champion Elisabet Barnes toed the start line with mountain specialist and two time Everest Trail Race winner, Spain’s Anna Comet.

Frost, a last minute entry to the race, dominated from beginning to end with five stage victories, the only lapse coming on the last day when the New Zealander could ease off the gas and enjoy the Corcovado National Park. It was an emotional journey!

“This has been a tough and emotional journey, three editions in the making. I have finally won the race I love! I think I am done, not with Costa Rica or The Coastal Challenge – next time I will be watching and spectating though!” – Anna Frost

Elisabet Barnes placed second on day one and looked set for a strong race, however, her technical running could not match Alves and Comet. Finally finishing 4th a podium place had maybe been a possibility had she not made a navigational error on day four.

Anna Comet started steady and looked relaxed and strong as the day’s passed. She had a battle on her hands on day five when sickness and a stomach upset scuppered her otherwise consistent running. Her margin though over Alves was enough to allow her to lose time and still place 2nd overall.

Portugal’s Alves looked to struggle through day one and most definitely improved as the day’s passed. She excelled on day five and opened up a gap of 9-minutes on Barnes thus taking the final podium slot. Barnes was not willing to give up without a fight and vowed she would fight the last day. Alves was like a tornado on the sixth day and from the gun pushed hard leaving the rest of the ladies’ in her wake.

“I decided not to waste any time and ran the last 10km full out skipping the water point. It’s amazing what the body can do in this heat, the mind takes control and the drive is there.” – Ester Alves

Dense rainforest, technical trails, stunning beaches, palm trees, a plethora of wildlife and relaxed campsites in amazing locations make the ‘The Coastal Challenge ‘ one of the bucket-list races for the runner who is looking for the next challenge.

Race winner Tom Owens summed it up as he flexed in Drake Bay after the last stage, “This has been an incredible journey. It’s a stunning and magnificent part of the world and the course, terrain, views and the racing has been world-class. I have been blown away by everything – the final stage was just stunning and it managed to compress the whole TCC experience in just 22km. I’d be back to TCC and Costa Rica in a shot…!”

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Dean Karnazes – "The Road to Sparta"

Dean Karnazes

“The Road to Sparta” 

Tanned, chiseled, beaming smile, shortcut blond hair and a reverse turned peak hat –  Dean Karnazes personified cool. This guy is ripped and yes, he doesn’t look like a runner. Legs bulge with toned muscles and they are big; so far removed from the fleet of foot Kenyan’s. Dean’s arms are bigger than most marathon runners legs!
He’s edgy, almost nervous, but I soon find out that this guy can’t keep still. Sitting is an alien thing that is forced on him at social occasions and meal time. “I work standing up – I have a stand-up desk and that works for me. When I am ‘in’ training for an event, my day starts early – around 4 am! I will run a marathon before breakfast, I will work all day and then in the evening I will run again, say 12-miles with some faster running or hill work.”
It’s a grueling routine and one that is added to by numerous ‘HIT’ (high-intensity training) sessions throughout the day. Dean will include 4-to-6 10 to 15-minute sessions were he breaks away from his desk and goes through a routine of pull-ups, burpees, press ups and so on.
Dean Karnazes
Dean is in Bulgaria at FIZKULTURA – a one-day running event with guest speakers. Dean is heading up the day and I am joining him along with adventurer Sean Conway, marathon runner Irina Daniela, and host of local running talent. Dean’s first book, ‘Confessions of an all Night Runner’ has just been translated into Bulgarian and in addition, ‘The Road To Sparta,’ Dean’s new book is being launched worldwide.
For many, ‘Confessions…’ was the book that started their own ultra running odyssey – I included. Dean made a very niche and undercover world not only accessible but manageable. Today, ultra-running would not have the profile it does had Dean not made this world known.
Put a guy on a pedestal and there are those who are keen to knock him off. It’s the nature of things – a lack of understanding, jealousy, whatever it may be it has no bearing on the man, who at heart is a person who beams enthusiasm for a sport he loves. His charity work is boundless and as Dean himself says, “You have to ignore the criticism for all the thousands of emails and messages I receive that are positive!”
This guys body, face, health, and charisma shows no aging of his 54 total. At 5ft 8in he is not the towering ‘Greek God’ that many think he will be. Don’t get me wrong though – the dude is impressive. On stage he moves left-to-right, no doubt trying to add his talk to one of his daily ‘HIT’ sessions. It’s a new audience and coinciding with his first book, he takes them back to the old days.
“It was my 30th birthday and I was doing what anyone does on the 30th birthday – I was out drinking with friends. I had the car, the house, and the high-powered job but I needed more. I left the party, went home to my garage, took out a pair of run shoes and ran a mile for every year. Off the bat, 30-miles and a new story began.”
His talk is interspersed with video clips of documentary clips and a fascinating medical research program that showed how Dean does not produce lactic acid like a ‘typical’ human.
“I ran 350-miles in 80-hours, 44-minutes with no sleep. I found myself drifting to sleep while running and I would wake up in the middle of the road not quite sure how I got there. I single-handedly completed ‘The Relay,’ a 199-mile run
from Calistoga to Santa Cruz (normally done by teams) eleven times. I ran a marathon at the South Pole and if course I ran the iconic Western States eleven times.”
The audience burst into applause. Rightly so! But they all know the stories are not finished.
Dean has a mischievous glint in his eye while telling the story of running for 24-
hours in a glass box while being suspended above Times Square – “I needed the loo, not a no1 but a no2.” The auditorium is filled with laughter. “I had a potty and shower curtain inside the box, so, I go make myself comfortable, pull the curtain around me and start the task at hand… just as a helicopter sweeps in to film me for the news!” A whole new meaning to, oh shit!
He’s run across America, ran 50-marathons in 50-states in 50-days. He’s run and won Badwater 135, Vermont 100 and the 4 Desert Races amongst others and yet when asked, what is the most memorable achievement?
“Running a race with my son!”
Dean Karnazes
Dean did relax over dinner and yes, he did manage to sit down and say sit down. He talked about how fortunate he is, how blessed and how thankful he is for what running has given him.
“You know Dean Karnazes, we have a race tomorrow in the park,” Elenko Elenkov, director of events at Fizkulktura says. “It’s 12 or 6-hours to see how little or how far people can run. The real motive is to provide a 12-hour course so that those who want to qualify for Spartathlon”
Dean looks up from his spread of raw food and grilled Salmon, his eyes glow.
“Count me in for the 6-hour.”
True to his word, the following day Dean lined up on the start and ran 600m loops for 6-hours.
He and I would have it no other way, Dean Karnazes is ‘The Marathon Man!’
www.ultramarathonman.com
“Ultra Marathon Man – Confessions of an all-night runner” available here – https://www.ultramarathonman.com/web/books/ultra.shtml
Dean’s new book “The Road to Sparta’ available here – https://www.ultramarathonman.com/web/books/roadtosparta.shtml
 
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Jason Schlarb – “As Hard as A Rock!”

Jason Schlarb

“As Hard As A Rock!”

A broad smile, tanned face, and that classic 80’s ‘mullet’ confirms (if I had any question) that I am sharing a table with Jason Schlarb. We are on our second ‘Imperial’ and the Costa Rican sun is beating down on us.

“Dude, I have just loved being in Costa Rica. This race, The Coastal Challenge has a Hardrock feel to it. ya know what I mean, it’s laid back, small, homely, uncluttered – I have just loved it!”

Jason Schlarb has just placed 3rd at the 2017 ‘TCC’ (The Coastal Challenge) and he may well have been 2nd had he not made a navigational error on day 1 and thus throwing away vital time.

Jason Schlarb is chilled though, it’s early in the season and having just come off skis, he’s happy with his form. “You know what, I am stoked by this race and I already want to come back next year but in shape. Let me clarify, I am in shape, I am fit, but I am not 100% run fit. To win this race and to run at the pace that Tom has set (Tom Owens from the UK won the race), I would need to be in Hardrock shape, but that is possible.”Jason Schlarb - “As Hard as A Rock!”

Costa Rica is not a new environment for Jason, he has spent many a year here with family. The place, the ‘Pura Vida’ approach to living is something that he digs. It takes little adjusting. Living in the San Juan mountains draws parallels, not in temperature or humidity, but in approach to life, the landscape, and the environment. Jason and his family love the open spaces and Costa Rica feeds that hunger.

“Winning Hardrock 100 alongside Kilian Jornet was a highlight of my career and yes, I will be back this year to see if I can do it again. That course holds something so special and like I have said, the parallels and similarities with Costa Rica are uncanny.”

Jason has very much paved the way for US-based ultra runners and yet, he still, in my opinion, floats a little under the radar. Less so after Hardrock 100 in 2016, but Jason has been killing it year-on-year. He is one of the few Americans to make the top-5 at UTMB, he’s won Run Rabbit Run and in and amongst this, he’s regularly listed a stunning set of palmares.

Jason has even skied the Hardrock 100 course – a first, along with his fellow ski-mountaineers, Scott Simmons, Paul Hamilton and filmmaker, Noah Hamilton. Jason is not an experienced ski mountaineer but like many mountain runners, he transitioned as a way to stay fit and explore in winter months. Of course, living in the San Juan made the process easier but it was still a huge undertaking and one that he conquered – a sign if we needed one of the man’s ability and class.

With 2017 well underway and the prospect of racing Zach Miller and Kilian Jornet at Hardrock 100, I wondered what the year would hold for him, what challenges lie ahead?

Hardrock

“I am returning to La Palma in May and I am running Transvulcania. That island and that course is quite magical and I think I can have a great day there. Timing is perfect for Hardrock and therefore it’s a race that i can do 100% and still be able to recover.”

Transvulcania has become a bucket list race for many a mountain/ trail runner. Way back in 2012, the ISF (International Skyrunning Federation) elevated that race to a new level and it has grown and grown. Now, it is considered one of the ultimate races to do.

“I will go back to Chamonix in the summer but no UTMB, I will do one of the shorter races such as CCC and then my big target to end the year will be going to Reunion Island and tackling the super-tough Diagonale des Fous (aka Raid de la Reunion) which is just an ultimate mountain journey.”

It’s a balanced year and one that Jason could excel at. In current ultra running circles, it’s almost reserved and restrained?

“I am learning that as I get older and races get faster, that less is more. There are so many races now that it’s just not possible to do them all and more importantly, do them all well. I may squeeze another race in here or there but in principle, I want to pick and choose and race to my potential.”

“Diagonale des Fous comes at a good time,” I joke. “You will be able to recover and then pick up your training and be ready with all guns blazing for Costa Rica and the 2018 edition of TCC!”

“Is my plan so obvious…?”

Jason laughs and as another ‘Imperial’ is drained to the bottom of the bottle, I know that at several points this year, we will be raising full bottles and toasting success as Jason once again sets the bar high in the world of mountain, ultra, trail and Skyrunning.

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