Category Archives: ULTRA

Ultra Races


A truly versatile bag for many occasions, The North Face Litus 32 is strong, capable and cavernous!DSC_4492

Out of the box – Key Statistics

  • Size – S/M & L/XL
  • Weight – S/M 879gms & L/XL 936gms
  • Volume 32 litres
  • Shell A 100D nylon, Shell B 210D gen weave nylon
  • Colours – Zinc Grey/Macaw Green, Acrylic Orange/Power Orange, Quill Blue/Moonstruck Grey
  • Mesh back panel
  • Deep zipper access to main body
  • External face pocket
  • Internal security pocket
  • Two tool keepers
  • Hipbelt pockets
  • Webbing lash points
  • Hydration sleeve
  • Rain cover included



Field Test

As the name suggests the bags has a 32 litre capacity which is quite on the large side for a daily commuter bag, but that’s not what it is designed for. At a minimum its an overnight bag but its really at its best as a fast pack bag when you have a reasonable amount of camping kit to haul over two or three days or more. I have used it many times as a daily commuter bag and it works but due to its larger size the temptation is to dump in more gear than you actually need into its enormous vault, something you want to avoid when you are run commuting unless like me at the time you were using it as weight training for Comrades, but that’s another story.DSC_4508

It has a unique opening design – it opens via a zip around the bag as opposed to the conventional draw-cord at the top of the bag. That does need a little getting used to but like everything, once you have the knack it becomes second nature. Initially I did question the logic of this opening method, but it is a superb piece of design because you can access kit from anywhere deep in your bag. That means you can load your bag as you wish and still easily access any of your gear on the move without the usual ferreting around and unloading you would do with the conventional set up.. genius!DSC_4523

The pack has a well designed waist belt with pockets for keys, phone, wallet etc . Again, going with the slightly unconventional nature the zippers are in reverse to what you are used to so pulling away from you as opposed to towards you.

In terms of bag weight this is not the lightest bag around but it makes up for it with an array of key features.  There is a hydration sleeve that allows you to take a conventional water reservoir and hose (feed through onto either arm). Inside webbing pocket to store valuables away from the main compartment. DSC_4510An outside sleeve that is handy for keeping wet waterproofs stowed and safe. The chest strap moves up and down to give you the optimal fit.  The cushioned back is well designed to fit the body and is comfortable when the pack is fully loaded but also allows plentiful breathability so that you back doesn’t become overheated.

But the main use of this bag is for overnight trips. I have been able to carry a one man tent, sleeping bag and mattress plus cooking stove and provisions, waterproofs, head torch etc and still have some room.  Strong, versatile and cavernous!

I was provided with this pack from The North Face and all the views are my own.

All photos copyright – Ian Campbell Photography



The North Face FL Race Vest – A well designed racing vest that has ample capacity for an adventurous trip in the mountains.

2015-09-12 09.34.04Designed for ultra-athletes and refined with their feedback, The North Face® FL Race Vest is the ultimate lightweight endurance running pack. Large main compartment and well-placed ancillary pockets ensure that everything you need is readily available. As The North Face in their literature this vest was athlete refined and you have to thank Rory Bosio and Sebastian Chaigneau for helping design a fully comprehensive race pack.

Out of the box – Key Statistics

  • · Large main compartment with two internal pockets and hydration sleeve
  • · 4 front-pockets and two shoulder bottle pockets
  • · 1 top pocket and a large stash pockets with two smaller zipper pockets Trekking-pole attachment
  • · Volume: 8 litres
  • · Approximate Weight: 325 g

2015-09-12 09.34.31



Field Test

First of all I was impressed by the light weight and large volume of this pack being 8 litres.  This pack sits well on the back and the chest pockets sit just above the waist. There is enough padding on the shoulders and back to not cause any irritation or rubbing, in fact every time I have run with the pack I have been wearing a shirt or vest and have found the ride to be extremely comfortable.

The first thing that hits you is the multitude of pockets and places to stow items. I have to admit that I have not utilised every option yet and on first glance I would say that you need to have an organised and systemised approach to where you stow everything you need, that’s not a bad thing by the way. When you are running a mountain ultra and you need to carry mandatory gear plus drinks, food, gels, salt tabs, and anything else that takes your fancy then a place for everything make sense rather than one gaping big pocket to stuff it all into with the ensuing panic of trying to find that one item when your desperate, on top of a mountain and in the dark!

2015-09-12 09.34.39I took this out on a long trail run the first time I used it and have to say that it’s a learning and familiarisation process for sure. For a start I initially had the two vest belts at the wrong level causing the shoulder straps to pull apart as I had soft flasks on each side. This was obviously frustrating until I eventually stopped to do something about it rather than just tightening the side straps up. With some simple sliding up and down of the front straps, it was solved in less than a few seconds. Problem solved.  My only slight modification is that the upper chest strap could be higher as I find that one shoulder doesn’t sit perfectly when weighted with water flasks.  I finally took this pack out in race conditions at OCC and I must say it worked perfectly. 

2015-09-12 09.35.13Adjusting the pack is really just that simple, there are two side straps on each side to adjust the fit, then there are the aforementioned straps on the front. It pays to adjust these to the optimal fit before you start running, then there will only be the some odd adjustments when you are on the run if you put on or take an additional layer for example.

There are four generous front pockets, two on each side of the lower chest, that can accommodate the items that you need easy access to when on the run such as gels, food, salt tablets etc. One pocket on each side has a Velcro fastening to keep items safe. In addition there are two pockets on the shoulder.

Now for the cavernous main compartment which has two internal pockets and a hydration sleeve. Wow…. I have managed to fit in full UTMB mandatory kit and still have plenty of room left to carry a picnic – minus the chequered picnic cloth! If you are using trekking poles then these can be attached to the back of the pack. The hydration sleeve sits in the pack and you have the option of feeding the tube through a fastening on the shoulder.

2015-09-12 09.34.54And if the above is not enough you have a top pocket that is wide enough to store those extra items that you may need quickly.

I was provided with this piece of kit by The North Face however the views on this product are my own.

All images copyright – Ian Campbell Photography



The first Julbo sunglass designed solely for trail running. The Trail is incredibly lightweight (28 gr) with flexible frames, a wrap design for optimal hold, wide vision spectrum, and soft, ventilated Zebra lenses.2015-09-12 09.44.00 HDR

Julbo is a French brand that have been making optical sports wear since 1888. Founded by Jules Baud, Julbo are recognised for innovation and sleek design for mountaineers, sailors, mountain bikers and trail runners. In fact, just any sport, work or hobby that requires protection from the sun.

Out of the box statistics

  • Colours – White / Red / Black
  • Weight – 28grms
  • Optical clip – option for prescription
  • 3D Flex Nose – ergonomic nose piece
  • Full venting – complete ventilation allowing no fogging
  • Sipe Grip Tech – sculpted inserts to hold at the temples
  • Curved Wrapping Temples – shaped for hold
  • Panoramic – wide lens surface for all round vision
  • RX Clip – prescription clip on

2015-09-12 09.44.22Price


Field test

2015-09-12 09.43.04I was provided with a pair of these glasses by Julbo in Chamonix and decided to use them for OCC as it was going to be hot and sunny.

I wore them for the entire race and the main thing that struck me was the exquisite fit and the fact that not once did I need to take them off. When I was on the trail and was working hard and sweating not once did they need to be pushed back. When I came into an aid station the light differential was immediately adjusted and there was no need to take them off. 2015-09-12 09.42.47The nose clip once adjusted to your fit makes these glasses a pleasure to wear.

In summary, I am really pleased with the great fit, reaction to bright and dark light and their lightweight. Given their lightweight there is still sturdiness in the frame and even when dropping them there is no damage. The lens are made of a pliable plastic material



All images copyright – Ian Campbell Photography


TDG 11873466_867620086619901_4002627786006569950_n TOR DES GEANTS RESULTS

Extreme bad weather caused race organisers on Thursday to cancel the race at 0830.  At that stage there were only six finishers of the race.

Tor Des Geants is an awe inspiring and jaw dropping race covering 330km and 24,000m of vertical ascent.  Yes, that right over 200 miles and climbing the equivalent of Mount Everest three times. The route covers the entire region of the Valle D’Aosta through Gran Paradiso Natural park and Mont Avic Regional Park.  The endurance athletes have a total of 150 hours to complete the course, thats just over 6 days.  The winners complete it in just over 80 hours or 3 and a bit days.

This years winner was Frenchmen Patrick Bohard. Watching him on the Live Web TV heading to the finish line you could see that it had been a thoroughly testing experience. Bohard looked shattered, even for him to sit down looked extremely difficult such is the brutality of this mountainous course.  Bohard won in a time of 80 hours and 20 minutes.  Considering the distance and terrain of this event, having second place Italian Gianluca Galeati breathing down your neck and only 24 minutes behind must have been very wearing on the mind for Bohard.  The final podium place was Frenchman Christophe Le Saux in 81 hours and 19 minutes.

The leading women at the time of the race cancellation were Switzerland’s Denise Zimmerman with a one hour lead over Italian Lisa Borzani. In third was Maria Semerjian from France. All have been recorded as reaching 283km, although Zimmerman and Borzani had left Ollomont.


Men Time
1 Patrick Bohard 80:20:00
2 Gianluca Galeati 80:44:00
3 Christophe Le Saux 81:19:00



ULTRA RUNNING MAGAZINE  September 2014 issue

Great to have some images from The North Face Lavaredo Ultra Trail published in the September edition of ULTRARUNNING magazine.

Anton Krupicka wins the 2014 Lavaredo Ultra Trail.

Anton Krupicka wins the 2014 Lavaredo Ultra Trail.

Mike Foote on his way to second place.

Mike Foote on his way to second place.

DSC_2633 Anton 2 Passo Giao 102km

Anton Krupicka amongst the stunning Dolomites

RORY BOSIO FINISH 2257_edited-1

Rory Bosio takes the win in course record time.







The 41st edition of Sierre Zinal took place in the heart of Valais Alps yesterday. Sierre Zinal or the ‘Race of Five 4000m Peaks’ is a mountain marathon of 31km with 2,200m of ascent and 800m of descent. It is the third race in the SkyRunner World Series.

Kilian Jornet - Roque de Los Muchachos

Kilian Jornet

Men’s Race

Sub 2:34 was what you needed for the podium and Kilian Jornet had that this weekend to edge out race leader Jo Gray from the US to take his third win at Sierre Zinal in a time of 2:31:54. His fastest time on this course by a good two minutes.  Jo Gray finished second in 2:32:58 and Costa Cesar took the final podium spot in 2:34:07.

Impressive run by UK athlete Rob Simpson finishing 5th for the second year in a row in a time of 2:35:13 – 19 seconds faster than in 2013.  His time in 2012 was 2:54 so he has made huge improvements.  Fourth place by Francois Gonon in 2:34:56 and Jonathan Wyatt still proves he has it in him with a 8th place finish in 2:38.

But, as I predicted, the Jonathan Wyatt course record of 2:29:12 set in 2003 did not go down. Its a very stout CR and whilst I believe KJ has the credentials to smash it, that was not his focus this weekend.  KJ is now 3 wins a piece with Marco de Gasperi. He finished 69th in 3:03.

Another nine make the sub 2:40 club on this course compared to 7, 3, 5 and 5 in 2013, 2012, 2011and 2010 respectively, so the standard is getting much higher year on year.

Name Place Time
Kilian Jornet 1st 2:31:43
Jo Gray 2nd 2:32:58
Cesar Costa 3rd 2:34:07
Francois Gonon 4th 2:34:56
Rob Simpson 5th 2:35:13

Women’s Race

Well I predicted a 1- 2 between Elisa Desco (DNF) and Stevie Kremer but hedged my bets. Stevie Kremer showed us what a strong and tactical mountain runner she is and that she can cruise those downhills. Kremer finished in 3:03:12 ahead of second place Maude Mathys in 3:03:59. Third place was taken by 2012 winner Aline Camboulive in 3:08:13.

The Spaniard Laura Orgue who has had a strong season so far and would have appeared to be strong contender for the final podium spot ran strongly for a 5th position in 3:13:04.  Fourth place was taken by Christel Dewalle in 3:08:32.

But for sure the course record held by Anna Pichrtova (2:54:26) set in 2008 was going to be intact.

Another 16 make the sub 3:30 club compared to 12 in 2013.

Name Place Time
Stevie Kremer 1st 3:03:12
Maude Mathys 2nd 3:03:59
Aline Camboulive 3rd 3:08:13
Christel Dewalle 4th 3:08:32
Laura Orgue 5th 3:13:04



All images are copyright – Ian Campbell – Photgraphy 



The Peaks Sky Race is the second race in the newly formed Sky Running UK series. Currently comprising of the V3K (55km) in June, Peaks Sky Race (48km) in August, 3×3 Ultra (80km) in October and Mourne Skyline MTR (35km) in October.

Peaks Views 1 - IMG_2331

Spectacular views at Skyrunning UK’s Peak sky race.

I entered the Peaks Sky Race quite recently for a couple of reasons a) to get a taste of a UK Sky Race and b) as a training run for CCC at the end of August. The Peaks Sky Race had the right level of distance, elevation and timing to fit in with my training plans.

The Peak District is one of the UK National Park’s and while it does not have the same major peaks such as in North Wales, The Lake District or Scotland it does have some fairly well known peaks, Shining Tor & Shutlingsloe as an example.

I have been climbing around the area many years ago as it offers some excellent grit stone to challenge one self on. This time however, it was to do battle with the 29.7mile (48km) course that featured 2,000m of elevation. The race is based around a challenge called ‘The Five Trig Round’ taking in Axe Edge, The Roaches, Shutlingsloe, Shining Tor & Burbage Edge. Just what the training doctor ordered.

My day started early rising from a local campsite at 6AM to head over to the race start. There was none of the fanfare of a large race, this was more of an inter club cross country affair or maybe I was a little too early. Slowly, the organisers filtered through and by 7AM the machine that is a well-oiled race registration started to work quietly and efficiently.

Start - IMG_2327

Runners congregating in anticipation for the inaugural Peak Skyrace

As the race start edged closer the organizers provided everyone with a race briefing and walked us slowly to the start field about two minutes away and our first sight of the climb that would be the first of many to Solomon’s Temple. The race was due to start at 8AM however due to a few late arrivals we were held back by 15 minutes. Not to worry, as everyone was waiting apprehensively in the lovely sunshine that was to be a feature of the day.  We were blessed with no rain and a little cloud cover to shelter us from the sun.

We were off and the 78 starters cruised around the start field and began the first climb to Solomon’s Temple. It was great to get moving but with only a 300 metre warm up the heart rate soon got raised within minutes as we pounded up that first climb to hear the dulcet tunes of a bagpiper at the Tower. My approach today was to take it easy and run at a pace that I could last throughout, bearing in mind that the second half looked much tougher so keeping in some reserve.

Shutlingsloe IMG_2336

Coming off the trig point on Shutlingsloe

I will spare you the details of a blow by blow, mile by mile, gel by gel race report because that would be just plain boring. Needless to say I finished in 7hr21.14 and was very pleased that I had completed this with no injuries and with my longest run being only 15 miles since coming back from injury in June, it was just what the doctor had ordered.   The finish time gives me some indication for CCC plus or minus several hours!

What were my highlights of this Skyrace? Well, undoubtedly, running along the ridge on The Roaches for about two to three miles, whilst calling it a ridge has a bit of poetic licence to it, as you are not really on the edge of anything it’s quite a wide walkway! I have got to say that the mild scrambling to reach the trig point at Shutlingsloe and running down was also fun as was the running or hiking through head high ferns to Goyt’s Moss, I am only short guy!

Finish - IMG_2339

The author pleased with a finish!

What gear did I take? Inov8 Race Vest, a selection of gels (GU/Cliff), walking poles (unused), map & compass (never even required as the route marking was spot on), rain jacket and spare top. Best bit of gear – a) Salomon compression calves – I have no tightness in my calves post race b) Inov8 Race Vest – this was its first big outing and I was impressed with its comfort, the amount you can stash away and the positioning of the water bottles. It’s a serious contender for my CCC attempt.

Should you do this race next year? If you are doing CCC/TDS or something similar at the end of August or in September it is perfectly timed, is around half the distance and elevation gain and the terrain it traverses is similar to European events.   Now that the organizers have got this year’s race under their belt, I am sure they will have more time to market this race and entice others to take part in the Sky running experience. They could easily double the field to 150 runners.

Now at the top end of the field the pace was fast and furious that even the organizers were put on the back foot, thinking that five hours was about the pace. The men’s race was hard fought between the top two with Jason Cavill just outdistancing himself near the end to edge James Ellis into second by a four minute margin. The winners were:

Men’s Race

  1. Jason Cavill
  1. James Ellis
  1. Tim Pleijte


Women’s Race 

  1. Sally Fawcett
  1. Kimberley England
  1. Sasha Habgood

All images are copyright – Ian Campbell – Photography



The 41st edition of Sierre Zinal takes place in the heart of Valais Alps on August 10, 2014. Sierre Zinal or the ‘Race of Five 4000m Peaks’ is a mountain marathon of 31km with 2,200m of ascent and 800m of descent.

Sierre Zinal has a very steeped tradition in European mountain running. The race starts in Sierre at 585m and traverses through forest and mountain trails.  The runners climb religiously for around 24km to the high point of Nava at 2,425m and then it’s a 700m+ descent to the finish at Zinal at 1,680m.  On the way they get to view five 4000m peaks, wow !!

Men’s Race

The men’s race is going to be a cracker with Kilian Jornet and Marco De Gaspari going head to head. They both have stunning records at Sierre Zinal but De Gasperi has the edge in both winning the race three times and by a three minute margin to Jornet’s best time.

Year Kilian Marco
2013 2:33:59 – 4th place
2012 2:31:36 – 1st place
2011 2:34:15 – 3rd place 2:30:18 – 1st place
2010 2:37:27 – 1st place
2009 2:35:30 – 1st place
2008 2:30:50 – 1st place

VK - Transvulcania

For sure it’s going to be exciting watching these two duel it out. But wait, what about the top three from 2013, Marc Laurenstein, Juan Carlos Cardona and Jonathan Wyatt. They are no slouches and what’s for sure is that they are not going to just let it be a two horse race. Wyatt is the course record holder (2:29:12) set in 2003 and he hasn’t lost much speed as ten years later in 2013 he turns in a very respectable 2:33:44 just pipping KJ for 3rd spot. Colombian Cardona with a 2:32:30 was super fast and the Swiss Laurenstein who won last year in 2:32:14 has the seventh fastest time.

So, you have got to expect to be running sub 2:34 to be a podium contender this year. There is enough talent here to push for that Wyatt course record.

My money is on KJ to take out the win for his third time. He has had a superb year so far and is super strong, but I don’t think the course record will go down.

Women’s Race

In recent years nobody has come close to breaking the course record held by Anna Pichrtova (2:54:26) set in 2008. Only last year’s winner Elisa Desco (2:58:33) has come remotely close. Desco returns this year and will be battling against the American sky runner, Stevie Kremer who will be having her third attempt at taking that coveted winner spot after two successive second places. However, in both attempts she has been just over 3:03-4 so will need to improve by a five minute margin to keep up with Desco. The Spaniard Laura Orgue would appear to be strong contender for the final podium spot.

VK - Transvulcania

I can’t see Desco not winning this. She is on form this year but Kremer with her recent win at Zegama should challenge strongly. We will see…

All images are copyright – Ian Campbell – Photgraphy 

What do you think, is this going to be a replay of Zegama 2014 with KJ, Gasperi, Desco and Kremer taking 1st and 2nd places? 


Lavaredo Ultra Trail 2014 Pre Race Press Conference

Lavaredo Ultra Trail 2014
Pre Race Press Conference

See the link to preview on The North Face –  Lavaredo Ultra Trail.

All Images are copyright – Ian Campbell – photography




Well how about that Kilian Jornet smashed the Robb Jebb course record from 2005 by a solid 6 minutes. Nobody guessed that one!  That takes his winning streak at Zegama to 5 in a row and 7 in total.  Kilian is just unbelievable on this course, he knows it inside and out and can run it comfortably hard, if there is such a thing.

But what about the top 4 this year all beating the Robb Jebb course record and the top 8 all under 4 hours. The standard just keeps getting raised.

Marco de Gasperi  a great sparring partner and friend of Kilian came in second just two minutes later and just barely 19 seconds ahead of Luis Alberto Hernando.  A thrilling race to follow and especially if you were tracking it via the live feed from

In the women’s race it was the American Stevie Kremer back for some more podium entertainment at Zegama and this time she swapped third place for 1st place with a 4:46:43 shaving a cool 3 minutes off her time in 2013. Well deserved.

Elisa Desco took second place just two weeks after her win at Transvulcania VK and Maite Elizonda Mayora third place after her second place at Transvulcania Ultra.

Zegama 2014 Results

Men Women
Kilian Jornet 3:48:38 Stevie Kremer 4:46:43
Marco de Gasperi 3:50:38 Elisa Desco 4:50:20
Luis Alberto Hernando 3:50:57 Maite Elizonda Mayora 4:51:47