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Tag - ultra runner

The Four Toughest Races in the world

 The Toughest Races in the world

When it comes to the sport of Ultra Marathon, there are today more options than ever before. In other words, there is something for everyone with various degrees of difficulty. But when we speak of some Toughest Races AND unique races, we have to mention Montane Spine Race, Tor des Géants, Yukon Arctic Ultra and of course UTMB.  Lets take a look at each one in detail.

The Toughest Race: Montane Spine Race

Hailed as “Britain’s Most Brutal Race”, this 7 day stage race has competitors run 268 miles and see an ascent of 36,729ft (11,195m) One of the Toughest Races.  Now lets explore what makes this toughest race so brutal. The course is lovingly, and sometimes not so lovingly, called “The Spine”. It  follows UK’s most iconic trails, The Pennine Way.  The terrain is absolutely gorgeous but also brutally tough, covering the Peak District, Yorkshire Dales, Northumberland National Park, Hadrian’s Wall and the Cheviots; finishing at the Scottish Borders.

To top it all, this race takes place in the winter…and don’t get it wrong, we are talking about some extreme conditions where the runner have to deal with deep snow, ice, mud, bogs, ground water, storm force winds and torrential rain.  British humor may be dry, but their weather certainly isn’t. The runners are usually wet, cold, dealing with fatigue, sleep deprivation, tiredness and mental exhaustion.  This race is truly as hard as they come, as the athletes need to mostly be self-sufficient and ONLY the most prepared and skilled runners can break the spine!

Tor des Géants 

Tor des Géants or TDG is considered to be one of the greatest non-stop trail races in the world. Participants must complete 205 miles within a 150-hour cut off, while gaining an elevation of approx. 78800ft  (24,000m)…that is THREE TIMES the height of Mt Everest.  This well organized race, with around 2000 volunteers, takes place in Aosta Valley Italy; starting and ending in Courmayeur. 

The conditions during the race are tough enough to test giants… hence the name. The elevation change (minimum altitude 300m  and highest 3,300) means unpredictable weather where the runners can encounter sun, rain, wind, and snow. During TDG, the runners cross 34 municipalities, 25 mountain pass over 2000 metres, 30 alpine lakes and 2 natural parks.  This race has an incredibly high DNF percentage, with 2018 seeing over 60% of its participants not completing the race. 

 Yukon Arctic Ultra Series

Yukon Arctic ultra is the world’s coldest and toughest ultra for a good reason.  This multi day race happens at the beginning of February each year with three races to choose from 100m, 300m and 420m. This race follows the Yukon Quest trail, the trail where one of the worlds toughest dog sled race used to take place. Thankfully no dogs get hurt, abused or killed during the YAU, however the humans participating in the foot race do put themselves at serious risk, racing through dangerous conditions.  The runners climb over 6,000m through conditions that leave them susceptible to hypothermia, frostbite and exhaustion with temperatures sometimes as low as -40°C.

The race begins in Whitehorse, Yukon, finishing 13 nights later on the in Dawson, Yukon.  But not many are able to finish this race. In 2018 only one person finished the 300m section of the race while many were treated for frostbite and hypothermia.

UTMB- TDS

Toughest Races

Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc, known as UTMB festival has many races to offer. the  Sur les Traces des Ducs de Savoie (“In the Footsteps of the Dukes of the Savoie”) known as TDS is a 121 km long race sees an elevation gain of 7,300 m is hands down one of the toughest footraces out there. While it is one of the lesser known and one of the shorter races of the UTMB offering, the runners participating know that it is Toughest Races or brutal! Runners get to run through and enjoy the gorgeous sight of the Alps during their run. However unlike the other UTMB races, TDS runners get to run many miles of it up high in the rugged mountains in relative peace. The few inhabitants who do make it to the high points are known to be friendly and kind.

However running in the mountains doesn’t mean it is cold the whole way, for parts of the race runners can face heat well into the 90s. Runners need to complete the course in 33hours or under, resulting in a very high DNF rate. TDS was first introduced in 2009 and the course goes along the Grande Randonée paths through the Aosta valley in Italy, followed by the Beaufort, Tarentaise and finally Mont-Blanc valley in France.

The toughest part of the race is by far the steep and relentless climb out of Bourg Saint-Maurice and up to the Cormet de Roselend. This is and almost 2000m of vertical with limited water and a big shock after the relatively easy running of the first 50km. The weather too is unpredictable. All in all, these factors make this race qualify for our list.

So there you have it, four of the most Toughest Races Mountain Ultra marathons out there. Do you think you could do one?

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Camille Herron

Desert Solstice 2018 Re-Cap

World class runners, unconstrained
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 2018 Re-Cap

The Desert Solstice Track Invitational played host to 33 world class runners, who looped endlessly in unison.

Desert Solstice was a cache of stellar performance on the whole. 24 Hour distances beyond the 150 mile milestone are already 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. Although trail events may offer more dramatic enticements in terrain and scenery, track based events such as Solstice oblige some world class runners to put on the best performances of their lives. 11 world records have been set here. And 60 national records, too. Such achievements speak to how important records-based events such as Solstice can be.

Andrew Snope, barefoot, loops around the Desert Solstice track.

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 Snope, 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.
The Desert Solstice race consists of only 33 participants, and is a qualifier for the National 24 Hour Team. The race offers prizes for Men’s and Women’s 100 mile and 24 Hour performances, but records for 12 Hour are noted as well; Herron also set the Women’s World Record for 12 Hour last year with a performance of 149,130 meters.

Serious road damage on Andres Snope.

Some may find such events too detached from running’s primal character, from the experience of trekking real land as our ancestors once did. Yet the constrained arena of track ultra performances fosters its own necessity. By evening the runners’ experience of the racing environment, replacing rocky paths with rubber, we gain a more accurate measure of athletes’ performances.
This is the case not only from runner to runner, but also from year to year. While natural path conditions can alter drastically with temperature and humidity, the rubber track retains a consistent foothold from season to season. Events such as Desert Solstice, then, offer us a site to reflect on more neutral measures of endurance, and on running performances across the years. Of course, subjective influences such as pain and digestion can never be eliminated, as attested by the top rank early drop outs this year, but that’s just part of the sport. Cheers to all participants!

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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

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