The North Face 50 San Francisco

The North Face 50 San Francisco makes its comeback

When an ultra-marathoner is considering his or her next race, there are certain criteria they typically take into consideration. Questions like: How challenging will it be, and does that level of challenge align with my training trajectory? Is the race regarded well enough that it would benefit my racing resume?

But if you’re among those who put scenic views and drastic elevation change among your top criteria, there’s a good chance that you’ve considered the annual North Face 50 in San Francisco.

The North Face 50 San Francisco

Part of the company’s Endurance Challenge Series (founded in 2007), San Francisco is the culminating race following earlier events in Bear Mountain NY, Washington DC, Princeton MA and Madison WI. This year’s event is set for November 16-17 with the starting line in Sausalito.

On the men’s side, top contenders include Jared Hazen (winner of this year’s Western States 100 and Lake Sonoma 50 Mile), Matt Daniels (winner of the 2019 Black Canyon 100k), Sebastien Spehler (second place winner at the Lake Sonoma 50 Mile), Thibaut Garrivier (a French runner known for winning the Transvulcania Ultra-marathon), Dylan Bowman (a top 10 runner at the North Face 50 multiple times, most recently finishing second in 2015) and Scotland’s Robbie Simpson. Other promising names include Tyler Wolfe, Bobby Peavey and Benjamin Stout.

For some of these racers, 2019 is a chance to recapture some momentum. Many have raced in the North Face 50 previously, but were left out in the cold in 2018 when the race was unfortunately canceled due to the California wildfires; this year, wildfires have also been an issue – so, here’s hoping that the air-quality remains well enough for the race to resume.

The North Face 50 San Francisco

Over on the women’s side, the narrative is every bit as compelling. From Clare Gallagher (Western States 100 and Way Too Cool 50k winner, as well as second place winner at the North Face 50 in 2017) to Keely Henninger (winner at Lake Sonoma and the Chuckanut 50k) to Brittany Peterson (fifth place winner at the North Face 50 in 2017, second at Western States this year), and YiOu Wang (such a toughie that she has been known to dress like Uma Thurman in Kill Bill at times) to Anna Mae Flynn (winner of the Speedgoat 50k in 2017 and 2019), there are lots of talented women who’ve signed up to run the race. 

Of course, both the men’s and women’s races have lots of other talented competitors as well – and names are subject to change as people join or drop out between now and race day. But what we do know is that the North Face 50 will go from Sausalito to San Francisco via the Marin Headlands – a hilly peninsula that is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The highlight, of course, is running across the Golden Gate Bridge. But another major attraction for the runners is the 10,600 feet of climbing from start to finish – a solid challenge for any athlete.

The last time the North Face 50 was run, it was nothing short of historic. Tim Freriks led the men’s field and Ida Nilsson led the women – and both set new course records. Will any of the above listed athletes be able to break Freriks’ 6:02:26 or Nilsson’s 7:07:56? With the level of talent soon to assemble in northern California, it wouldn’t seem smart to bet against it.

The North Face 50 San Francisco

As part of the North Face Endurance Challenge Series, the 50 Mile is a “Clean Sport” race. All participants in Endurance Challenge Series events must sign a Code of Conduct that bans any runner currently serving a penalty from the world’s leading anti-doping agencies – and disqualifies any athlete who has ever served a ban from receiving prize money and awards or being a part of the elite field. 

The Clean Sport initiative exemplifies not only the high visibility that the North Face 50 has achieved but also its high stakes. On the race’s official course guide, there’s a section called “What to Bring” that lists some of the usual suspects: sunscreen, headlamp, hydration pack and the like. It also lists one more tongue-in-cheek, but no less mandatory running accessory: Game Face.

Which isn’t to say that the North Face 50 is all serious business – the Finish Line Festival in Crissy Field is sure to be a popular event as runners celebrate with music, food, and refreshments. There’s also a 1k Kids Race, which will allow the family festivities to continue as children race alongside SpongeBob SquarePants, Buzz Lightyear, the minions and more.


Pau Capell

Pau Capell joined the ultra running scene only five years ago and is already snatching titles of some of the most well known races in the sport. For the third consecutive year, Capell has raced and won the TransGranCanaria- a race with over 750 meters of elevation gain and diverse landscape.

The TransGranCanaria FKT was previously held by Didrik Hermansen with an impressive 13:41:48. However in 2017 Capell surpassed this record with a time of 13:21:03. The following two years he beat his own personal best, coming in just after the 12:42 mark and maintaining the FKT.

This string of victories should come as no surprise to those familiar with the race or with Pau himself. Hailing from the rural countryside of Spain, he has been in contact with these types of terrains his entire life.

Having always been an active child, Pau was introduced to sports via soccer and following a disappointing injury was recommended distance running as a form of rehabilitation. However, running became more than just a form of physical therapy. Pau started to race in marathons, which led to longer and more difficult competitions and ultimately made him the champion he is today.

In addition to his remarkable running career Pau’s enthusiasm for sports and community compelled him to create his business: PrivyLife, a company dedicated to active lifestyles. However unlike most business owners, Pau doesn’t want his company to become too large. If given the option, Pau would love to have everything in balance without sacrificing too much of his work life balance.

When he looks back at his running and entrepreneurial career thus far, he considers the quick rise to success as a combination of hard work, dedication to goals, and most importantly a support system of family and friends. As we sat down with Pau today, he shared an intimate, never before heard story of just how important his supporters are to his running ethos. He shared the story of how his girlfriend Magda secretly put recordings of loved ones giving him encouraging messages. This added immense fuel to his run and now has become something that is always in his playlist.

Join us as we dive into his life and connect with him about running, race philosophy, his support system, and all things ultra running. Enjoy!

Listen to the full interview on the IRUN4Ultra’s podcast Here


Ellie Greenwood

When it comes to the world of Ultramarathons EVERYONE knows the name Ellie Greenwood, and for good reason. This British Ultramarathoner has numerous wins and course records under her belt that attest to how formidable she is as an athlete. She is a two-time 100km World champion, first British woman to win the 90km Comrades, holds records at the Western States 100, Canadian Death Race, JFK 50 Mile Run and the knee knackering north shore trail run.

We asked Ellie about how she got started running, unlike many athletes, she talked about how she always just enjoyed running. “I did run a little when I was in school, but not competitively or with a lot of structure” she said  “You know some things you just enjoy. When I was in university in the UK I decided to do a half marathon. I thought it would be fun, I had no concept of miles and pace. I did it and I loved it”.

That first half marathon ignited a passion and lead to more half and full marathons. Ultras were not even on her radar at that point and as soon as it was, she was intrigued. She assumed that since her marathoning experience had been good and she enjoyed outdoorsy activities like hiking, the idea of running further and on trails really appealed to Ellie greatly, however she did take her time getting into the sport “I did do a very low key one which is great” is what she said about her first Ultra “I spent quite a few years, I would say 6 years, between my first 50 k and my first 100 – miler”.

A big part of Ellie’s attitude towards participating in new things comes from her style of education. Her UK school was not super competitive like US schools, but encouraged more of a participation culture “It was a ‘put-up-your-hand-and-take-part’ atmosphere and I liked being active”. Not having big consequences based on winning or losing was very reassuring for Ellie. She also recognizes that Ultras are unique in being able to afford people the opportunity to perform well without having had a background in it. “It is sport specific. Had I wanted to be the best 10k runner in the world, I would have needed a lot more structure.”

Today Ellie looks at herself as more of a coach than a competitive runner “These day I am not really competing too much, I might get back there  and do a bit of that.” But even when she was competing, Ellie always mixed up her training, adding a variety of types of races, terrain to run on, rest days and participating in key races that flow well together . “2014 is a good example. I raced the comrades 56 miles road race in June, I did World 100K in November, but in the middle of the year, I did the Speed Goat, a very technical one.” Mixed in some fun activities like snowshoeing, Ellie makes the best of her time training. As a coach, she encourages the same ” If you do the same thing over and over, you are most likely to plateau.”

When asked about her win at the Comrades, “That was something I really wanted to do” she said  “It was the 3rd time that I ran it that I won it. Some other races I had better luck that I have showed up and won it” To get the result she wanted, she really needed to focus on it and it became much more than just a race she wanted to win “It was Hard! I tell you that. It wasn’t an easy day that I won”. But that made the win even more special.

When asked about a good strategy to pick races she said, “In the days right now, lets be honest, a lot of people chase UTMB points and Western States  qualifiers, its a wonderful thing to do and I am not anti those and there is nothing wrong with that but it narrows people down to lists. Have fun along the way. It will help with the motivation for training”.

When it comes to women in the sport, she had this to say “I think there have been changes in last 10 years or so. Obviously changes are still taking place and I think there is place for more change to happen” She attributes the increase in competitiveness in the sport of ultra running is because of the increase in participation. “I still think there isn a long way to go. WS now has the pregnancy deferral policy, but forgive me if I am wrong, UTMB doesn’t. There are still bridges like that that need to be crossed.” She talks about the importance of media, what they cover and more importantly how they cover female athletes so that women feel more included and can identify. She also talks about the importance of encouraging and fostering girls and women to participate.

Ellie doesn’t know what the future holds for her, but she knows that she will always be involved in running in some way, however she will continue to do what feels right and what is fun.

Listen to the whole podcast to hear everything that Ellie had to say.

Hayden Hawks

Hayden Hawks

Hayden Hawks ultra-running career has taken off – fast! Ever since entering the professional scene he has won the Speed Gold 50k Championship, the Capstone 50k Championship, and holds the fastest known time (FTK) for the Zion Traverse, one of  the most difficult foot races with more than 6,400 feet of climbing.

For Hayden, the Zion Traverse was more than just a race, it was an ode to his roots. Having been born and raised in St. George, Utah he was no stranger to the rocky red terrain or the hard work needed to complete such a demanding race.

As child, his father encouraged him daily to push himself and in high school after getting cut from the baseball team, his best friend’s encouragement to not give up and join cross country changed the trajectory of his life. From there the rest was history. Hayden was offered collegiate scholarships to run cross country and started competing in large scale races.

He claims that his talent does indeed account for a large portion of the success he’s accumulated as a runner, however as we find out on today’s podcast Hayden doesn’t rely solely on his natural gifts. “Someone can have talent, but without the hard work, it won’t show. Then you’ll never know how much talent you really have.”

Join us as we sit down with Hayden Hawks to chat about running, family, success, and the decades of hard work that makes him the ultra-runner he his today. Enjoy! Listen to the full interview on the IRUN4Ultra’s podcast Here

Well runners, another podcast episode and we surely have a treat for you! Spanish runner Javier Dominguez is a winner of many ultra races.

Javier Dominguez

Well runners, another podcast episode and we surely have a treat for you! Spanish runner Javier Dominguez is a winner of many ultra races. 2017 was a fantastic year for him as he won two incredibly hard races…The TDG and the  Ehunmilak. Actually he wont the  Ehunmilak “Five, six or seven times” as Javi put it himself (to know the exact number, listen to the whole podcast). When Javi shows up for a race, definitely make him an athlete to watch. His athletic abilities and his positive attitude make him a formidable athlete.
 Javi describes himself as a normal guy with a normal childhood ” Tiny child, who likes playing football, being with friends. Nothing more special than that.” He wasn’t always the competitor that he is today, his motivation was spending time with people and sharing experiences. While he might be more competitive today, he still enjoys those things and being active as it makes him feel alive.
Javi didn’t start running till his 30s. “I was getting very old and I thought I could do a marathon”. It was also a way to distract himself from the thesis he was working on at the time. He enjoyed his first experience so much that running became a part of his repetoire. It wasn’t till years later that he attempted Ultras, and loving the outdoors, he found it to be a natural fit. However he did ease into it, starting with 40k and working his way up.
He loves the preparation and commitment required to do ultras. He wouldn’t be able to do it if he didn’t enjoy the process of the race vs being attached to the results.”You need to like what you do. whether you are running a race, reading a book, writing a book or building a house.” This love and desire to enjoy the race also impacts his selection process of the races he participates in. Travel, spending time with friends, going to a new race….all are factors in him creating his “Mini race holidays”.
Javi chooses to focus a lot  on his positive outlook, in racing and in life “You will have up and downs, when you are down you need to think about it going up again.” However this is not a trait he always had, he definitely worked on it. “I think I wasn’t as positive as I was now. Maybe because I have found in this hobby an escape and a hobby that makes me feel alive.”  
Well not many people can turn their hobby into such a successfull career as well. Also his “hobby” got him a sponsorship from Vibram. “I feel very lucky with the sponsorship and my achievements with me hobby.” Javi feels like it was one of the best choices he made  “We are a group of friends and like family”. Plus it also opened new avenues “It opened a lot of gates for me. I could travel to races. They gave me a lot of support, not only with gear, but also races.” The amazing gear if a huge bonus of course. 

Anna Frost

Anna Frost

Another episode of IRUN4Ultra’s Podcast what a powerhouse of a guest did we have! Anna Frost, or Frosty as many know her as, is a passionate runner with many interests… and since 2004 she has managed to combine two of those passions….running and travelling….and turned them into a very successful career. Anna has set many records and gotten many wins under her belt. To name a few she won and set records at  TNF 50mile Championship, Table Mountain Challenge in south africa, Everest Marathon, TransVulcania – La Palma, Bear100, Nolans 14, Snowman Trek to name just a few. She has also won many prestigious races like the Coastal Challenge – Costa Rica, Hardrock100, Leadville 1/2 Marathon, Speed Goat 50km, and Transrockies….the list is long! In addition, Anna prides herself on being more than just a runner, but a woman of many passions and she spoke to IRUN4Ultra about them.

When asked ‘who is Frosty?’ she said “Well I am Just me.” In her humble answer she also acknowledged the importance of her support system in her successful career “I have had an amazing and long career and it hasn’t been just me, myself and I. Its definitely been a huge team effort from sponsors, friends, fellow runners, family, people that are there and people that are far. I have been really, really lucky that there have been open doors and I have had the guts and the encouragement to take the opportunity to grasp the opportunity.” Words she used to describe herself were determined, driven, free-willed and excited for new challenges.

She believes that she was born a competitive person, however the importance of passion in her life is a common thread. Whatever she does, she does with gusto, she doesn’t know another way. 
An expecting mother, she is also super excited about a new bundle of joy she is expecting, her first baby. She is taking the time to enjoy the ability of the body and mind to adapt for a baby to come. She understands that it effects her running for now, however she is looking forward to getting back to competitive running. She also talked about having future play dates with Killian and Emelie’s baby “Emilie and I have already planned to have baby outings and then for Emilie and I to be able to leave the babies at home with the guys and us going on our adventures”.
She believes that her childhood spent traveling, camping, fishing, field hockey etc shaped who she is today. when asked about physical challenges, Frosty names injury as one of the biggest  hurdles. She emphasizes the importance of being in tune with your body. “You have to listen to your own body” She said, and to get to a place you know your body, you have to spend a lot of time learning and pushing your boundaries.
When asked about issues important to her Frosty talked about the importance of being mindful of one’s footprint…She doesn’t eat much meat and the meat she eats is from sustainable sources, she promotes new running apparel and gear made from sustainable materials, participates in races that care for the terrain and environment they are held in and more.
Frosty talked to us about a lot more. Listen to the full podcast Here.


Eoin Keith

Eoin Kieth is a self professed nerd who didn’t discover his athletic side till later in life. However, once he did, his competitive spirit and natural abilities combined with his intellectual analytical mind has made him the most accomplished Irish endurance Ultra runner out there. Eoin has set many records in the UK like the Irish 24 hour, 48 hours and 6 day challenge, he also set a record for running the entire length of Ireland and is the current men’s record holder of at the spine race. He most recently won the men’s race again. Listen to the whole podcast to hear Eoin talk about his running, childhood, career, Columbia sponsorship, philosophy of life and much more. hear everything that Eoin Kieth had to say.

Magda Lewy

Magda Lewy

For our second Podcast episode of 2019, we had the amazing guest Magdalena Lewy Boulet.  Magda is an olympian who has competed in, completed and won many badass races. She killed it at the Western States in 2015 when she won the prestigious race in her very first try at a 100miler  in a time of 19:05:21. In 2018 she won the Marathon Des Sables Stage race….  Impressive to say the least. Magda also has a relationship with marathons winning the San Francisco Marathon in 2002, finished second in the Rotterdam Marathon. Let talk to Magda about her running style, differences between marathons and ultras, and self sufficient races and more.

We went straight into it with her about her her Marathon Des Sables Experience. “It was very, very different from anything I have ever done in my running and racing career” she said “it was a little scary, just committing to it. But super exciting because it was something new.”. MDS got her all fired up about stage racing where she not only the physical prep, but also the mental and logistical aspect of a self supported race. The gorgeous terrain was a pleasant surprise “I don’t think I was prepared for the beauty of the desert. Ioved the sunsets that we saw everyday, the stars we could see every night and the challenge of just running for so many kilometers day after day on sand”. Magda absolutely loved the scary involved and recognizes that the logistical preparation had almost as much to do with her winning as the physical and mental training.
Magda also attributes a fair bit to her attitude insisting that being “relentlessly positive is the key to endurance training”. She also talked about the importance of adaptability in mental and physical aspects is important too. When asked what she learned from the experience she had this to say “The most critical thing was that in the face of adversity, I can stay calm. That is something I continue to seek through endurance racing because I think it is so important in life to have that quality. Because nothing goes always perfectly.”
She also express her appreciation of the support system in her life, her partner, son, trainers, friends etc. She understands that she needs to make compromises in her personal life to train, but being a good role model for her son is of the utmost importance. So she gets creative with her training. “Sometimes I run to commute to work.”
Magda is also very excited that women are making such a strong impact on the sport. While she is a champion runner, running wasn’t the first sport she tried….Magdastarted of as a swimmer. However Magda knew the moment she first ran with a friend that she had found something she absolutely loved ” I remember that first run was where deep in my heart i was like WOW I think I found something I love!” A friendly and social Magda also liked the ability to make friends in the sport.
Over the years Magda has learned a lot and evolved a lot, however one of the biggest lessons was taking it easy as well. The importance of recovery, listening to your body, nutrition and rest is paramount.
Magda talked about many other things that are important to her, what she learned, what she enjoys. 

Listen to the full interview on the IRUN4Ultra’s podcast Here

Trofeo Kima

Trofeo Kima

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.Listen to the full podcast Here

Camille Herron

Camille Herron

Camille Herron has smashed the records with her performance at Desert Solstice this Saturday. Herron broke the Women’s World Record for 24 Hours with a distance of 162.9 miles, the event’s best performance. Herron also claimed the 100 mile American Track Record for Women, with a time of 13:25:00. Herron exhibited blazing speed day and night, and this performance marks an important addition to her already extraordinary trove of awards and achievements. 

Desert Solstice was a cache of stellar performance on the whole. Distances beyond the 150 mile milestone, already astonishing, are incredibly rare; there were merely a couple in all the preceding months of this year. Yet, five runners from the Solstice roster surpassed that tormenting marker, going 150 miles or more. These are stunning results from a stacked field. Such achievements speak to how important records-based events such as Solstice can be. 
Other notable performances include Oswaldo Lopez, who has established a new 24 Hour Men’s Record for Mexico with a distance of 139.6 miles, and Andrew Snopes, who ran 144 miles barefoot. Greg Armstrong, coming in third, also completed his 155 mile run in Teva sandals! 
Some notable participants had to call it early for injury and fatigue, such as Courtney Dauwalter and Zach Bitter. Such impediments are endemic to such long distances, and comprise the central struggle of such events. We are excited for these athletes’ performances to come, in the 2019 season. Cheers to all participants! 

Camille chatted with IRUN4ULTRA about her running career, life, challenges and inspirations. Enjoy! Podcast Link