Author - Ian Corless

Limone Extreme 2018

In this Limone Extreme 2018, Lake Garda situated east of Milan and west of Venice has long been a destination as holiday resort. Limone sul Garda as the name suggests, sits on the lakes edge on the north west side.

Flanked by sheer mountains. The heart of the old town is the little harbour, the old Port Porto (‘Porto Vecchio’). Narrow lanes lined with tourist shops wind in and along the shore with a plethora of streets that go up the slopes behind.
In the other direction, south, is the more modern part of Limone that includes a waterfront promenade, it is here that the start and the finish of the Limone Extreme races 2018 takes place.

The steep aggressive mountains don’t require too much imagination when It comes to designing a race. Skyrunning legend, Fabio Meraldi, has been instrumental though in creating 2 races. Firstly, a VK that travels from the lake 1000m directly up, originally undertaken during darkness.
Limone Extreme 2018
Secondly, a SkyRace of 29km and well over 2000m elevation that leaves the town following lakeside paths to the north of the harbour on a circular route through the mountains back to the shore.
Limone Extreme 2018
Meraldi’s exploits are legendary and gain the respect of all who love our sport. He passed his mountain guide training at the age of 20. Not only a runner, he participated in mountain tours, ski mountaineering and pioneered the early days of Skyrunning with ISF president, Marino Giacometti.
Limone Extreme 2018
Four European titles and nine Italian titles amongst other cups and medals are listed in his palmares, he also won the iconic Pierra Menta ten times and the Sellaronda Skimarathon, six times. However, it is his world records of speed ascending to high mountains that has gained him his iconic place in the sport of mountain running; the most notable on Aconcagua.
Limone Extreme 2018
Leaving Lungolago Marconi next to Lake Garda, a 2km stretch of narrow path leads through the streets of Limone. Passing scattered hotels, peaceful terraces, lemon groves and little secluded beaches before crossing the main coastal road and heading up into the impressive mountains at Reamòl. A breath-taking, rugged ascent leads to Punto Larici, proceeds to Passo Rocchetta and reaches the crest of Monte Carone at 1621 meters above sea level.
Limone Extreme 2018
The second part of the race, with its continuous change in gradients, takes athletes from Bocca dei Fortini at 1200m to Monte Traversole, 1441m and Corna Vecchia 1415m.
Limone Extreme 2018
The course slopes down to Dalco at 842 m before the steep descent to the finish line in Limone. It’s a course that epitomizes the pure ethos of Skyrunning; to the summit and back as quickly as possible. Something that Meraldi is a firm believer in!
In a deeply stacked international field, youngster Davide Magnini not only took the win but crushed the record by eight minutes delivering a memorable performance. He covered the challenging and technically demanding 29 km long course with 2,500m vertical climb in 2h59’24”. Rémi Bonnet, fresh from yesterday’s Vertical Kilometer® World Champion title at the same venue placed 2nd and Spaniard Oriol Cardana closed the podium.

I’m really surprised by this result… I found my pace and my legs worked really well. I stayed focused all the time and beating the record held by a legend like Marco De Gasperi is simply humbling,”

Limone Extreme 2018 women’s result

  • In Limone Extreme 2018 the women’s race was won again by orienteering world champion Tove Alexandersson from Sweden who raced her first skyrunning race here last year. Known to give it her all, today’s win was no different.
  • Ragna Debats closed second, triumphant with her new Overall title.
  • Third was Spaniard Sheila Avilés.

“It was so tough for me today. I’ve had a long season with many orienteering competitions… I wasn’t sure to come here because I was so destroyed,” said Tove post-race. “When I started I felt terrible, but I was just fighting, fighting all the way… I really enjoy these challenges and that’s what I love!”

Skyrunning  was born in Italy, it only seems appropriate that the traditions and ethos created on the slopes of the snowy Alps should now be carried forward on new mountains and in new places such as the Creste Della Mughera mountains that back on to Limone sul Garda.
Limone Extreme 2018


Ultra Mirage in Tunisia

UMED – Ultra Mirage© El Djerid

Ultra Mirage in the Tunisian Desert, The Tunisian Sahara – mixed terrain that involves oasis, palm groves, sand and of course intense heat. It’s a tough place to walk, never mind run! But over 130 runners toed the line for the 2nd edition of the UMED – Ultra Mirage© El Djerid.
Known for its unique landscape, this desert has featured in many a movie, the most famous being Star Wars Episode 1. Bulbous buildings, the space port of Mos Espa still remain in the area and they provide a unique backdrop to the start and the finish of this single loop, 100km race.
The desert is a calm place and Mos Espa, surrounded by high dunes, makes for an incredible start as the morning sun breaks the horizon.
Ultra Mirage
In 2017, Mohamed El Morabity won the race. It was great run in Ultra Mirage in the Tunisian Desert on a course that had to be changed in the 11th hour after freak rains damaged the original course. The single loop 100km race became a two loop 50km course.
Ultra Mirage
In 2018,Ultra Mirage in the Tunisian Desert (UMED) was back to the original route and although described as flat with little elevation gain, the runners would soon find out that this was no easy course.
Ultra Mirage
With a 20-hour time limit, runners departed on the stork of 0700, the cut-off time coming at 0300 the following day. The 100km race broken down into sections where aid and refreshment would be provided at 20km, 35km, 50km, 65km, 80km and then the finish.
Ultra Mirage
Each aid station would have its own cut-off time too to ensure the safety of each participant out on the course. Marwen Kahil from Tunisia dictated the early pace along with Mohamed Mnsari while the pre-race favourites of Mohamed El Morabity, Sondre Amdahl and the desert king, Rachid El Morabity bided their time.
Ultra Mirage
Women’s favourite and two-time Marathon des Sables champion, Elisabet Barnes was shadowed by Shefia Hendaoui while Orianne Dujardin followed.
Ultra Mirage
At the first aid station, the men’s race was hardly unchanged with all the main protagonists together, whereas in the women’s race, Elisabet had made her move slowly pulling away from all the other challengers.
Ultra Mirage
With 35km covered, the race was taking on a whole new perspective at checkpoint 2. Rachid had now made a move and was slowly pulling away looked calm and relaxed. Rachid’s brother Mohamed followed flanked by Tunisian, Emir Grairi.
Ultra Mirage
Minutes later, Norwegian Sondre Amdahl followed – a past top 10 finisher of the Marathon des Sables and winner of the Jungle Ultra. Shefia and Orianne could do little in the women’s race other than follow the trail blazed by Elisabet.
Ultra Mirage
Checkpoint 3 with 50km covered only confirmed the dominance of Rachid and Elisabet but for the men, Mohamed was in trouble! He moved from joint 2nd to now place 4th and he didn’t look good! Emir was now in 2nd and Sondre 3rd. For the women, Orianne now had a slender lead over Shefia – the race was beginning to take shape.
Ultra Mirage
The next section of terrain was relentless soft sand and it took its toll on every participant. It just sapped strength and broke any run stride into a stumble.Ultra Mirage in the Tunisian Desert It was here that Sondre made up time and moved into 2nd. He was some way behind Rachid, but he looked strong.
Ultra Mirage
Behind, Emir was struggling, so much so that Mohamed and caught him and the duo ran together. For the women, Elisabet was now moving into the top-5 overall and Orianne was pulling away from Shefia as the heat and terrain took its toll.
Ultra Mirage
Rachid at the 80km with his lead reduced. He was struggling. The heat was punishing him, and he struggled to re-hydrate and eat. He left for the final push to the line knowing that the final 20km would be a challenge. Sondre arrived only minutes later looking very fresh and ready for the hunt.
Ultra Mirage
He pursued the desert king and despite bringing Rachid close, the skill and the tenacity of the man up front was too great, and he clinched victory collapsing in to the arms of race director Amir. Sondre placed 2nd and the Mohamed rounded out the podium after Emir withdrew from the race in the closing stages due to dehydration.
Ultra Mirage
Elisabet was a conniving women’s champion. Her race was so complete that she placed 4th overall. Orianne placed 2nd and Shefia finished 3rd.
Ultra Mirage

  1. Elisabet Barnes 10:26:06
  2. Orianne Dujardin 12:58:57
  3. Shefia Hendaoui 13:35:57
  4. Rachid El Morabity 9:11:47
  5. Sondre Amdahl 9:18:12
  6. Mohamed El Morabity 10:17:33


ISF Skyrunning World Championships

Gale force winds, torrential rain, freezing cold and the occasional burst of sunshine tell the story of the 2018 Scotland Skyrunning series of events. For the first time, the ISF skyrunning world championships were held on UK soil combining of the classic VK, SKY and ULTRA distances. On the 4th day, the event center in Kinlochleven was transformed for the skyrunner world series, Glen Coe Skyline – 4 days, 4 events and 1000’s of runners; a truly memorable experience for running in the UK.


The Mamores VK kicked off the weekend under some of the toughest weather conditions. Torrential rain throughout the day had made the ground sodden and as the first runner departed the event center, the rain started to fall, and the wind picked up. At the summit, temperatures were below zero causing tough and extreme conditions for runners and race staff.

345 runners from 30 countries took part in the severe challenge which climbed 1,000m to the Munro summit, the UK’s only Vertical Kilometer® and valid for world titles and medals.

ISF Skyrunning World Championships

Reigning VK World Champion, Laura Orgué from Spain and Switzerland’s Rémi Bonnet took the gold medal crushing the previous records in 39:23 and 51:35.

“It was really a tough race with the weather conditions,” said Remi post-race. “A lot of mud and also a lot of people cheering. It was good to come to Scotland and run a good race.”

In a surprising return to form after a long time away from the sport, Thorbjørn Ludvigsen (NOR) placed 2nd in 41:49 and Stian Angermund-Vik (NOR) placed 3rd in41:50.

ISF Skyrunning World Championships

Laura Orgue suggested that she no longer felt like a VK specialist post-race, but the result proved otherwise, “I don’t feel like the same Laura of some years ago. I still know the kind of effort it takes to do a VK. It was a hard race because of the weather but the outcome was fine,”

The silver and bronze medals were taken by two new names in the world of Skyrunning who in 2018 have excelled week after week, Lina El Kott Helander (SWE) and Hillary Gerardi (USA) their times, 52:34 and 52:53.

ISF Skyrunning World Championships


Overnight weather continued to beat the Scottish terrain and considering the Ben Nevis Ultra would take in two very dangerous sections, race director, Shane Ohly made the tough call of choosing the bad weather course. This changed the dynamic of the ultra-race with considerably less vertical gain, less technical running and more importantly, less distance. The reduced course resulting in a distance of 47 km with 1,750m vertical climb avoiding the summit of Britain’s highest peak, Ben Nevis. (The original course designed especially for the occasion was 52 km long with a vertical climb of 3,820m).

ISF Skyrunning World Championships

Experience counted on the day with Skyrunner World Series Champions 2017, Jonathan Albon and Ragna Debats producing two dominant performances ahead of world-class fields. The duo dominated their respective races taking victories with at least 10-minute margins, Albon winning in 3:48:02 and Debats 4:36:20.

Ragna was crowned IAU World Trail Champion earlier in the year, so, the gold here in Scotland was extra special. Only Luis Alberto Hernando has achieved similar double success in previous years.

ISF Skyrunning World Championships

“I decided to start fast right from the beginning and see if anyone would follow me,” said Debats. “I saw nobody was close to me, so I just kept on going, reserving just a little energy just in case somebody came up behind me. The medal means a lot to me, my season couldn’t be more perfect!”

Gemma Arenas from Spain moved from way down the field to finally battle with Maria Mercedes Pila from Ecuador. At the line they were separated by just 4-seconds, 4:50:32 to 4:50:36.

For the men, André Jonsson from Sweden who took the silver ahead of Spain’s Luis Alberto Hernando, 2014 and 2016 skyunning World Champion, he took the bronze just one minute later, their times 4:00:35 and 4:01:21 respectively.

ISF Skyrunning World Championships


In three days of uncertain and often extreme weather conditions, the Ring of Steall participants were treated to a full course. It was the largest event of the weekend with over countries represented and 879 athletes.

Records were smashed both in the women’s and men’s races. It may come as no surprise that Kilian Jornet topped the podium, but he had a fight on his hands for the gold! Tove Alexandersson was the female champ who took many by surprise, however, she proved her ability at the 2017 Limone Extreme race in Italy after a dominant performance.

ISF Skyrunning World Championships

Despite sodden ground, occasional rain and strong winds, the top ten men and seven women finished below the 2017 course record. Kilian recorded 304:34 and Tove 3:48:28.

“What’s particular here is it’s very muddy, very wet, slippery. The terrain is similar to my home in Norway,” Kilian mentioned post-race. “I fell in the mud on the last downhill. This year it was good for me, such a good field with so many strong people.”

Second man, Italian Nadir Maguet had pushed the Catalan throughout the race and despite Kilian’s dominance over all distances in 2018, many wondered was an upset on the cards?

ISF Skyrunning World Championships

“I came here hoping to do well. Obviously when you see a start list with a very high level, you ask yourself how it will go. My dream was to race with Kilian, to feel strong, and that was how it went… In the second half of the race and on the last descent I tried to push but you know Kilian is strong on the downhill. It was impossible to catch him, I tried.”

Nadir finished in 3:06:05 ahead of Norwegian Stian Angermund-Vik, who took the bronze in 3:09:05, he summed up the emotions of many, “This race is more technical than most…I love the ridges and the mud and everything. On the second ridge I just had to stop and look around it was so beautiful.”

Tove Alexandersson, a multiple Orienteering World Champion from Sweden cut an incredible 19 minutes off the previous record to take the gold and the new Skyrunning World Champion title.

ISF Skyrunning World Championships

“It was a bit more muddy and slippery than I expected but otherwise it was just perfect. I felt strong all the way. I didn’t have much time to see the views because it was quite technical. On the downhill you have to be so focused. I think that’s my biggest strength, so I had a good feeling.”

Victoria Wilkinson is a fell running legend in the UK and recently broke the long-standing female Ben Nevis record. For the Brits, Victoria was always going to be a dark horse and she didn’t disappoint running an incredible 2nd and seizing the silver in a time of 3:54:01.

Holly Page has had an incredible season in the Skyrunner World Series with a string of victories and high places. In the early stages of the race she was way off the pace and looking to be having a bad day; “At the top of the first climb I think I was 15th and I felt really unhappy and horrible. But then I got into a downhill and it ‘smelt’ like a fell race, it felt like home. I overtook lots of people on the downhill which gave me quite a confidence boost.”

Scotland Skyrunning

Holly closed the gaps and finished on the podium taking bronze in a time of 3:57:57.

Individual world titles and a total of 27 medals were awarded in the three disciplines as well as a combined title based on the best results of the Vertical and Sky races.

ISF President and the founder of skyrunning, Marino Giacometti concluded the weekend awarding medals. He quite rightly thanked Scotland for the challenging weather and Ourea Events for hosting an incredible event.

“Now among the new world champions we have not only Kilian, but Jonathan Albon (an Obstacle racing champion), Tove Alexandersson (an Orienteering champion) and Nadir Maguet (a ski-mountaineering champion). I like to think that skyrunning inspires athletes from other sports too!”

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Trofeo Kima 2018

The pinnacle of the skyrunning calendar, Trofeo Kima, has gained a reputation as one of the most demanding and challenging races in the world. At 52km in length the distance is not intimidating, however, 8,400m of ascent and descent put the race in perspective. You cannot look at Trofeo Kima with the eyes of a pure runner; It’s beyond running!

Passing over seven passes of the Sentiero Roma, a well-known GR route, the race in its current form is the brainchild of the ISF (International Skyrunning Federation) president, Marino Giacometti. So tough is Kima that it has a capped field of just 300 participants and the race is held every other year to add to its allure.

Sections of the course are so severe that fixed ropes and chains provide the only secure way to traverse vertical walls of rock or exposed ledges. Taking place on mountain paths that are unmarked, just the red/white flicker of GR markers show the way along with flags added by the race team. Rock, granite, snow, and ice make an incredible playground for athletes with a head for heights, exposure, and adventure.

The 23rd edition of the Kima Trophy will be remembered amongst one the most beautiful ever. Overnight rain cleared to an amazingly beautiful cold day with strong winds and ice was present on the course.

Much of the talk was about Kilian Jornet who returned to the race after missing the 2016 edition. Already a winner of this race and record holder before, would he beat the 2016 record of 6:10:44 set by the Nepalese Bhim Gurung? Kilian ran with Alexis Sevennec for much of the race. The two raced shoulder to shoulder until the final descent, 2000 meters drop from Passo Barbacan to the village of San Martino. Kilian launched a winning attack, that allowed him to cross the line in 6:09:19 – a new course record!

Alexis Sevennec placed a convincing 2nd in 6:11:59 ahead of 2018 Transvulcania winner, Pere Aurell in 6:20:50. Andre Jonsson, Leo Viret, and Petter Engdahl followed and rounding out the top ten was Andy Symonds, Cristian Minoggio, Cody Lind and Samuel Equy.

Hillary Gerardi did not beat the record of 7:36:21 set by Nuria Picas in 2016 but she produced an outstanding race! She has found her legs and lungs in 2018 and proving to be, ‘the one to beat,’ especially after victory in Tromso just weeks ago…  On the first descent towards Bocchetta Roma, IAU World Trail Champion, Ragna Debats, had tried to make a difference and close the gap on Hillary, but she was too strong gaining a 5-minute lead. The victory looked set, but it was Robyn Owen from South Africa who closed on the leader and for a time they ran together, but Hillary kicked and came back and won in 7:37:29. Second place for Robyn in 7:39:01, a stunning result and certainly a name to look out for in the future! Nepalese Mira Rai, always a popular runner with the crowds placed 3rd and rounded out the podium in 7:41:46. Brittany Petterson, who had been in 2nd at the midway point, and the Italian Martina Valmassoi followed to round out the top-5!

For over twenty years, ‘Kima’ as it is affectionately known, has blown the minds and the legs of all those lucky enough to toe the line. This is a race that one aspires too; you need to earn a place on the entry line. The challenge comes no greater. The race is like a precious jewel, hidden away for fear of someone stealing it. Kima is not for everyone, but if you have the experience and the courage, the Sentiero Roma rewards each who ventures on to its tough and technical terrain.

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Skyline Scotland

Four years ago, Skyrunning UK was created to bring the ethos of running in the Alps and Pyrenees to UK shores. Of course, as many pointed out, the UK lacked the altitude and high-peaks of our French, Spanish and Italian friends. However, what we lacked in height most certainly could be compensated for with technical and challenging terrain.
Emelie Forsberg
2014 was a breakthrough year with the inclusion of the Glen Coe Skyline race. This race personified the pure ethos of Skyrunning and the race was modeled on the Italian classic of Trofeo Kima. Tempted by the initial PR and photography, many of the world’s best mountain runners converged at a tiny ski resort and by the end of the inaugural event, history was made. Emelie Forsberg took top honors for the ladies and Joe Symonds for the men.
It soon became apparent that the Glen Coe Skyline was going to boom and a new start and finish venue was created in the small village of Kinlochleven. But race director Shane Ohly didn’t stop there. A VK (vertical kilometer) was added, the UK first and in addition, for year two, the Ring of Steall SkyRace was added – all races joining the prestigious Skyrunner World Series.
In 2017, Skyline Scotland comes of age. From the short, sharp and brutal VK in the VK World Circuit, to the long, demanding and challenging ultra – the weekend became the pinnacle event of racing in the UK in 2017 and saw three events, Sky Classic, Extreme, and the new Ben Nevis Ultra being added to the newly formed Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series.
The weekend kicked off with the Salomon Mamores VK™, an incredible leg burning and lung-busting ascent from sea level to a Munro summit. p=Participants followed a marked course climbing 1000m of vertical gain in less than 5km’s. The route starts easy with winding trails but it soon kicks up with a wall of vertical muddy grass and fell. The terrain at times so steep and slippery that participants slid backward while trying to move forward. In the final sections, grass and mud turn to rock with a stunning run up the ridgeline to the summit. Departing at timed intervals, it’s like an epic stage of the Tour de France as runners push their limits, in principle, the fastest runners going last – the fastest overall time to the summit is the winner! The day was won by Stian Angermund-Vik from Norway and Laura Orgue from Spain, the duo, VK, and short distance specialists. They ran strong and fast races against strong competition to take the victory.
Saturday, day two of Skyline Scotland saw an early start for the runners in the inaugural Salomon Ben Nevis Ultra, a brutal 120km race with over 4500m of vertical gain. Using remote runnable tracks, technical single track, and airy trackless ridges, the highlight of the race comes with a climb and traverse via the Carn Mor Dearg Arete, leading to the summit of Ben Nevis. Starting from the southern shore of the world-famous Loch Ness, the race follows a route through remote Scottish Highland Glens, before finishing at the Event Centre in Kinlochleven. Local runner, Donnie Campbell set his stall out early on and dominated the race he was so desperate to win, post-race he confirmed that victory on home soil was a dream come true. For the ladies’ we saw the return of Nepalese run sensation Mira Rai. Mira ran an incredibly smart race and so strong was her performance she placed 5th overall.
Skyline Scotland
The Salomon Ring of Steall Skyrace started several hours after the Ultra start from the event center in Kinlochleven. It’s a challenging race to push the most experienced Skyrunner to the limit. The Devil’s Ridge providing a thrilling and airy traverse, in total four peaks were summited. The race is a pure ‘classic’ following in the tradition of Zegama-Aizkorri and the Dolomites SkyRace, the route consists of uncompromising mountain running with scrambling along mountain ridges. A world-class field toed the line with a who’s who of the mountain running world. In the early stages, it was all to fight for with Marco De Gasperi, Jan Margarit, Alexis Sevennec, Stian Angermund-Vik and the USA’s Andy Wacker dictating the pace. But just as in 2016, it was Angermund-Vik who grabbed the race by the scruff of the neck and just as he did in the VK he went on to victory with a new course record. For the ladies’ Laura Orgue battled with Sheila Aviles, Laura Sola, and Maite Maiora but like Angermund-Vik, Orgue was too strong for the completion and pulled off the ‘double’ and in the process set a new course record too.
Sunday saw the third and final day, undoubtedly the highlight of the weekend, the brutal, demanding, challenging and yes, dangerous, Glen Coe Skyline Extreme Race. The race so challenging that runners must be vetted for experience before being allowed to toe the line. The race is up there with Norway’s Tromso SkyRace and the iconic Italian classic of Trofeo Kima. The race fuses mountain running and alpinism in an extreme test of speed, endurance, and skill on an uncompromising, world-class course. The race follows the true and pure traditions of ISF President Marino Giacometti who pioneered and created this sport on the slopes of Monte Rosa in the late 80’s! At 55km with 4,750m of vertical gain, the race is an ultimate teat and includes the most challenging Scottish mountain terrain with a traverse of the Aonach Eagach ridge and a technical scramble of Curved Ridge coming very early in the race. The 2017 edition of the race, understandably, had the eyes of the mountain running world upon it with the best in the world toeing the line. Notably, Kilian Jornet fresh from 2nd place at UTMB would race for the first time on UK soil. The early stages of the race were dictated by Andre Jonsson but as Curved Ridge approached, Jornet took the front of the race followed by Alexis Sevennec, 2016 Glen Coe winner and Skyrunner Extreme Series champion, Jon Albon. It was all too close to call with Him Gurung, Max King, Hector Haines, and Cody Lind all running close. It was the climb to Aonach Eagach were the damage was done, Jornet and Albon pulled away and as they traversed the airy and technical ridge, Jornet but his experience to use pulling away from the 2016 champion to clinch victory in a course record time. Albon finished 2nd and importantly once again clinched the Skyrunner World Series title for the Extreme category.
For the ladies’ Emelie Forsberg and Megan Kimmel dictated the early stages of the race with the duo swapping the lead. But just as with Jornet, once the technical and challenging Aonach Eagach arrived, Forsberg used her skill and knowledge from victory in 2014 to pull away from the American and like Jornet she clinched victory with a new course record. In the ladies’ overall category, Maite Maiora was crowned 2017 Skyrunner World Series champion after gaining victories in Tromso and Italy at the Royal Gran Paradiso.
The 2018 Skyline Scotland events will no doubt be a highlight once again in the UK calendar and after this year, the world calendar too!


Elisabet Barnes-“Transrockies"

Elisabet Barnes, 2017 Marathon des Sables champion decided to get steep and get high at the 2017 edition of the Transrockies – an iconic multi-day race that takes place in the USA.
The race is a multi-day point-to-point race that is based upon the European TransAlpine run. Starting in Buena Vista, the race concludes in Beaver Creek. It’s a race that traverses wild and fantastic scenery through the heart of the White River and San Isabel National Forests. Single-track, forest road and 20,000ft of elevation gain make this a tough race especially when the race reaches high-points of over 12,000ft.
It is not a self-sufficient race – racers are fed and housed in tents, hot showers are available and they are supported throughout the journey.
I caught up with Elisabet Barnes after placing 4th – a race that certainly had some real high and low points, and I don’t mean attitude!
Elisabet Barnes
Ian: I last spoke to Elisabet Barnes a few months back, she was telling me about training in Tenerife at altitude. She then went off to the USA to race TransRockies and she’s here to tell us all about it. I think it’s fair to say, Elisabet Barnes, going racing at altitude, a multi-stage race was something new and a learning curve and I’m sure that you can pass on some knowledge.
Let’s, first of all, go back to your training. You had a block of time in Tenerife and then, you moved over to the US for three weeks before the race to finish off the acclimatization process. How do you think that whole preparation thing went and now, with a bit of hindsight, do you think it was the right preparation or would you have changed anything?
Elisabet: As far as the acclimatizing to the altitude, I did okay with the time I had. I spent five weeks in Tenerife and the last four of those was living at 2100 meters and training a bit higher. You can get up to 3,500 in Tenerife but that requires you to run up the volcano. Mostly, I trained around 2,500. That’s the closest to the race level to come to from sea level. Just the first few days there, they were hard and I definitely noticed it. If I would have gone straight to 3,000 meters, then, I think that would have been a bit of a shock to the system.
It was like three acclimatization’s if you wish. I definitely noticed a difference when I left Tenerife – I had gotten used to that altitude. I would have maybe wanted more time in Tenerife, but the altitude out there just makes it a little bit more difficult to recover. If you train hard and do more climbing than normal, which I did, and then you have the altitude to deal with. After three weeks, I actually got really tired and I thought that I had overdone it.
I didn’t really take into account the added effects of doing all the climbing at altitude, and it’s something that I don’t normally do. My body just needed a bit more time to absorb. You always must listen to your body. If you get really tired, you just can’t push on and I really had to back off a bit. That was frustrating but I did that because I knew I had to.
Ian: From a coaching perspective, that’s classic mesocycle and microcycle, isn’t it? Where you have your block of training but then that block of training, needs to be broken down into smaller segments and that classic three-week build and one-week recovery is effectively what you’re talking about there.
You can’t just keep adding volume and time without your body saying, ‘hold on a minute!’ What you’re doing is taking on a much more feel basis because, obviously, it’s a new environment and you have to work out how far to push and when to pull back off. I think that’s maybe what I’m touching at in terms of, for you, this was a new experience, a new learning curve. And so, the next time, you can either start at a higher level or go into your training with a greater knowledge of what you need to do.
Elisabet: Yes, absolutely. I certainly agree with you, it’s pushing your body and maybe working it and seeing what happens to learn. In Tenerife, it was hot too and the altitude, in addition, makes it fairly hard. I absolutely loved it out there and the trails were great.
Ian: We’ll come on to the fact that the trails are easier in the US and you purposely did all your training on more technical trails. Let’s talk about the transition from going from Europe to the USA and that period of time before the race because this is always a really difficult thing. It is easy to run yourself into the ground before a race, but we both know, you are not going to get any fitter in those final 2-3 weeks, just more tired.
I understand this, as runners, we love to be in the environment and I think what happens is it’s very easy to drop yourself into an amazing place and just want to run, but in a way, forget that you’ve got this really big race in 7 or 10 days. How did you manage to drop into Colorado and that amazing landscape with those amazing mountains and not overdoing it?
Elisabet: I came home from Tenerife, I had about five days at home and then I traveled out to Colorado. It was two and a half weeks before the race and I went to Leadville. I have decided to go to Leadville because I just wanted to go as high as I could, basically, knowing that the race would hover around 2,600 to 3,100 meters most of the time. The high point is Hope Pass which is just over 3,800 meters. My thought process was to go out there and then as soon as possible just try to adapt and learn a little about the course.
Stage one, or most of it, which was probably around 20 or 21 miles was actually my longest run that I did out there and I did it as soon I came out. Then, I wanted to spend time at altitude and obviously, I wanted to experience Colorado since I was there.
I decided to climb a few peaks but that was hiking. I took it relatively easy and tried not to really exhaust myself. It was quite enjoyable actually. I did some shorter runs as well but it was fairly low in terms of what I did in Tenerife. I felt good. I was focused on trying to get used to the altitude but then, there was a Leadville 10k.
I did the Leadville 10k and that was so hard. I have never walked in a 10k my whole life, but this course goes downhill for 5k and then you have to run back up for 5k. I tell you, running a 10k at 3,100 meters altitude, that’s no joke. That was really tough. And that got me actually a little bit worried about the race. I actually spoke to a guy in Buena Vista the day before the race and he had moved there from sea level, he said it had taken him a year to get fully acclimatized.
Ian: I get that. I spend quite a lot of my year at altitude but it’s a little bit here and a little bit there. As soon as you start getting above 2500 the impact of altitude is phenomenal, particularly if you’re trying to push the pace.
The difference comes when you have to push the pace. And of course, you can only realize where you’re lacking when you’re in a race because up until that point the only gauge you have to go off is yourself. It’s only when you’ve got another woman or two women in front of you and you’re then trying to keep up that you realize, “I’m missing X.” Like on day one of the race, you have Magdalena Boulet who has won Western States who is running ahead of you. She’s a world-class ultra-runner, who took the stage one victory.
And we know that Magda is adapted to this environment. Do you consider, if you want to excel at something like TransRockies, you need to be there at altitude for much longer.
Elisabet: Yes. I would need to be out there longer. But I have lived at sea level my whole life and I have rarely been at significant altitude. For my next race at this kind of altitude, I would definitely go a few months beforehand or at least a few months of altitude training. There’s also the climbing too to consider. I come from a road running background and I’m more used to running flat sections, and I’m quite good at running downhill, but climbing is my weakness – it is something that I need to work on.
I think I can definitely get stronger in the climbing with more training. But I do think it helps if one is petite. I am not, I am tall! Going downhill I am (my head) just farther away from the ground. And I think it might make it a little bit more difficult. Maybe my stride length is going to be a little bit longer?
Ian: Did you did you use poles for the climbs?
Elisabeth: I didn’t use poles on day one. I didn’t use poles on day two either which is actually when we went over Hope Pass. I hadn’t used poles at all in my training. Maybe a little bit in Tenerife. But then I did take them out for stage three. And then I immediately regretted not having used them on day two. And I did use them for the remaining stages on the climbing. Actually, in hindsight, it was stupid of me to not use my poles, particularly for stage two being on the Hope Pass. I’m actually a good user of poles. I did a lot of cross-country Skiing, growing up so I learned something there!
Ian: I didn’t know the answers to the poll question and I am surprised by the answer. I had the expectation that you were going to say yes. With the level of climbing involved poles would seem logical.
Elisabet: I think stage one was a mistake to not have poles. We had 12 kilometers climb going up to the first checkpoint – I would have done it faster with poles, I now know this now. On day two, I dropped one placing, so I finished fourth. And that prompted me to take the poles for stage three and I finished second.
I had a really strong climb on day three, that was my best climbing. In most of the stages I was behind on the climb and I gained some time and placings on the descent. Whereas on day three when I had the poles, I felt good. And for some reason, I was really good with altitude that day as well even though it was a high day.
But then I injured my knees so that’s when I deteriorated a bit.
Ian: I was going to come on to this… We do have a little bit of a joke with you as you do have a habit of falling over when running. It’s very rare that I don’t get a bloody knee photograph of you… Ironically in Tenerife, the trails were more technical and you had no issues, you felt as though you were adapting well.
You fell twice during Transrockies, the second time was a little more serious.
Elisabet:  The second fall wasn’t great and the doctor decided to mummify me, it took about 45 minutes to an hour. Ironically, both falls where not in the technical sections in the race. I’m becoming pretty good at focusing when it’s technical, all it takes is a lack of focus, which is easy when it goes from technical to non-technical and then suddenly you are on the floor! I’m not really sure, but on the second day when I tripped over, I realized afterward that I was a little dizzy – maybe the altitude was impacting on me. Maybe it was the fact that we went over Hope Pass, the highest point of the course.
The second time, which was on day three, we had this amazing lovely rolling downhill section through a pine forest and I absolutely loved it. I love stretching my legs, I’m pretty fast on the downhill. I ran some smooth road, took a sharp right down a single track and then it got quite steep. I just didn’t pay attention and I tripped over some rocks, that was pretty bad.
I slid on my forearms, and I didn’t realize at the time but I must have twisted my knee a little bit. When I finished, my knee started to swell up and it did get quite bad in the afternoon. I was really worried about the rest of the race, I thought if it gets any worse I won’t be able to continue because I could hardly walk. I elevated it, iced it, applied some creams and took some painkillers, anything to make it possible to just be able to start the next day.
I wanted to finish the race but you have to balance these things, I didn’t want to do myself any long-term damage. I concluded that it was mostly swollen, maybe a little sprain or bruised from the inside of the knee? The following day I could put weight on it, I could run, I did take some painkillers which I don’t normally do when I run and it seemed to work out ok.
Ian: You were never out of the top four ladies, you were always in or around the action but the knee slowed you of course. There was probably an element of adaptation going on during the race too.
Was there an element of you saying to yourself, “Well, I can only do what I can do, it’s pointless trying to push too hard,” because as you say at altitude like that and with an injury, you can be fine one minute but then 30 seconds later you can just blow up.
Elisabet: Yes, you can and it was interesting because there was one day, it might have been stage four or stage five. We spent quite a bit of time just running on this undulating trail at quite a high altitude and I did feel a little bit dizzy. I heard other people after who said the same – you just have to constantly monitor how you feel.
You can feel absolutely brilliant one day, then the next day it’s different. When the medics looked after me up after day three, they said, “Are you actually continuing? What? Are you running tomorrow?” I said, “Ye!”  It just never occurred to me that I wouldn’t keep trying.
I had to reassess the situation and say to myself, “Okay, maybe I can’t push that hard,” but we still had three stages to go, in a multi-stage race it’s never over until it’s over.
You don’t stop. You have to be sensible of course and I consider I was sensible – you can’t just give up because there’s always the chance, right?
I said before the race that if I was in the top five, given my experience of this type of environment, I thought that that would be okay because I knew there would definitely be people who train in the mountains or are more used to the altitude.
A great deal of people said to me beforehand, “You’re going win this, you’re going to smash this,” but people don’t necessarily understand that there are lots of different types of running and because you win one type of race, MDS for example, that doesn’t mean that you’re going to win another type of race just like that!
Ian: Absolutely it’s all about the learning curve, the balance, a completely rounded runner is somebody that can do all these things but these are few and far between. You do extremely well at multi-day races, and that’s confirmed by you placing fourth overall and achieving a pre-race objective of top five.
I certainly think if you went back to TransRockies next year with what you’ve learned this year then it may very well be a different story. With that assessment, now that you’ve had an opportunity to asses with the race behind you, what’s your overall opinion now, in particular, you will go to Nepal next and the Everest Trail Race – Transrockies will be great prep for this race?
Elisabet: I think Nepal is going to be a little bit more challenging in several ways, I think it could be a more uncomfortable week, probably in terms of the camping and the shifting temperatures. The amount of climbing, it’s quite a lot. I’m not necessarily worried about it. In fact, I think it might be a good thing because I think I’m maybe better at steeper hiking than just running up more shallow inclines. So, I’m hoping that there will be more of that, and that’s mostly good. I will be taking poles!
Ian: Poles are absolutely essential for Nepal.
Elisabet: I did work a little bit with sports scientists at Bryson’s university this year. They said that if you have routine exposure to altitude it can help accelerate future acclimatization and adaptation so I’m hoping that I won’t lose everything I gained out in the USA in terms of adaptation.
In an ideal world, I would have probably just gone to Nepal now and trained but that’s not possible, so, I will try to spend a couple of weeks at some altitude before the race. The plan is to go back to Tenerife if I can make that happen.
Ian: That sounds like a good plan.
Elisabeth: With the experience, I’ve had, I do feel a lot more confident about my ability at altitude. Although I know it’s going to be challenging, I’m not that worried about it. Whereas before, I was really worried about the altitude because in the past I have had a couple of really bad experiences where I’ve basically got altitude sickness. When I ran the Grand to Grand stage race I had altitude issues and we started at only 1600 meters elevation.
Ian: Yes, I am sure the adaptation is better and you will adapt much quicker in Nepal – it’s also important to note that ETR is more like MDS, you are semi self-sufficient and you need to carry a pack.
Elisabeth: Yes.
Ian: You’re not carrying your food, but you’ve got to carry what you need for the race, and of course because it gets so cold in the evening, that is a warmer sleeping bag, you need a down jacket, you’re going to need a change of clothing for the evening in comparison to day clothing. You’re going to need layers, you’re going to need a long thermal top, you’re going to need some sort of thermal leggings or tights or whatever they may be. And I do think that is an advantage for you because you do run well with a pack.
Food is provided, you’re sleeping in tents which are provided, it will all fit into your skill set. I think all those things are going to go into your favor in terms of the Nepal experience, and I think, like you say, that the climbs are so long and the altitude so high, that they’re not running climbs.
Elisabeth: Yes. [laughs]
Elisabeth: I think having done a few peaks out in Colorado, I have learned that you just have to be patient, you have to fall into a rhythm and just keep going. In regard to the backpack as well, I’m a bit taller and bigger than maybe most female mountain runners and that works in my favor when carrying 4-6kg’s!
Ian: What three pearls of wisdom from your last six months could you pass on? If you have to give them three tips, what would it be?
Elisabeth: Well, if I look at people who are not living at altitude or not necessarily having mountains next to them, you have to always look at the specifics of the race and replicate it as much as possible.
If you’re doing huge mountains in your race, you have to train climbing and descending, there’s no way around it. You have to be creative and find ways of doing that with what you’ve got available, even if that means a treadmill, it could mean specific strength training.?
Altitude, I’m always surprised talking to people doing multi-day races for example that will take place at altitude and then don’t think about adapting to the demands that this brings. You need to adapt!
My third one is the tapering. You need to do the training building peaks and troughs but importantly you need to ease off in that final 2-3 weeks so that you arrive at the start line fresh and ready to dig deep.
Credit ©iancorless.com


Sondre Amdahl Wins The Jungle

Experienced multi-day runner Sondre Amdahl just recently completed and won The Jungle Ultra located deep within the Amazon Rainforest. Taking place in the Manu National Park, the route goes from the Andes mountains to the Madre de Dios river. It’s hot, humid, uncomfortable and the dense jungle provides no escape as the runners place one foot in front of the other as they cover 230km in 5 stages, Daytime temperatures vary from 20 to 30 degrees, at night the temperature drops to 10 degrees and below.
Like the Marathon des Sables, the race is self-sufficient – runners must carry all that they need! This not only includes clothing and personal essentials but food, safety equipment and the capacity to carry 2.5 liters of water. Some comfort is provided in the evening when participants sleep in research stations or lodges, however, the humidity makes nothing easy – especially if the day’s efforts have been through mud and rain.
It’s not an easy race!
I caught up with Sondre Amdahl to find all about the journey and what advice he would provide for those looking to take on the challenge of a rainforest multi-day run.
Jungle Ultra

How was your build up to the event and what specific training did you do?

This winter has been very busy for me, with a lot of races. So, there has not been too much specific training for the Jungle Ultra. I did quite a lot of faster running before Ultra-Trail Australia and I think that paid off in the jungle. I also did a four day fast-packing trip in Sweden at the beginning of May (four weeks before the jungle). I did 50k + 60k + 60k + 25k and my pack weighed approximately 6kg, so that was great!

You completed MDS and The Coastal Challenge – how does this compare?

It is always hard to compare races. The good thing about the Jungle Ultra is that we saw the “authentic” Peru. We ran thru small villages and could relax in them too – this was something I didn’t get at Marathon des Sables as the race is so much bigger and we spend our time in bivouac.
In comparison to The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica, the Jungle Ultra is more technical but the race is shorter. Without a doubt, TCC is hotter and more humid – that is tough but Jungle Ultra is “scarier” in terms of snakes and spiders.

Tell me about the conditions and the self-sufficiency.

We had to be self-sufficient from Sunday morning until Thursday at the finish line. The organizers provided hot and cold water that’s all. Everything else we had to provide just like in MDS – so you need to be prepared!
Sondre Amdahl

Any specific equipment that you used that was invaluable? Did you not take something and wish you had?

The most specific equipment was the hammock! That is an absolute necessity. I used a very light hammock from Hennessy. You do not want to sleep on the ground in the jungle! I brought very little extra, and that was good. I think I had one of the lightest packs in the field.

Which was the easiest day and which was the toughest, explain why?

Easiest: The first day was the easiest and eased us into the race. I felt very good the whole day. I enjoyed the jungle trails at the beginning of the stage, but also the road section in the latter part of the stage
Toughest: The last stage which was the long stage. It was 65 km and even if I had about an hour lead ahead of the next runner, I wasn’t sure that I would make it. 65 km in the jungle is hard and everything can happen. So, I followed the second placed guy (Fabian from Germany) the whole day. He tried to push hard and run away from me a couple of times, but I managed to follow him.
In Costa Rica, I felt slow and that I had only one speed. It was totally opposite in Peru. I felt a lot stronger and managed to switch to a “lower gear” when I needed to.

Hydration and food – what did you use and did it work – any tips?

I used the same as I used in the MDS. Muesli for breakfast, couscous for lunch and freeze-dried meals for dinner. This worked great! I took some liquid hydration for during the race (Tailwind) and some gels. Approx. 2400 calories per day.

Would you do it again?

Yes, absolutely. It was a very well organized event.

Can you give 3 top tips for future runners doing this race?

Practice with the hammock before the race. It’s essential – you don’t want to sleep on the
floor! You need good trail shoes and ideally, they need to drain water. The jungle is wet and muddy.
Come early to Cusco and acclimatize and you can also explore.
Credit ©iancorless.com


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


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.
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