In this month’s column we bring you news from the latest rounds of the Ultra Trail World Tour and other events as well as a selection of news from the blogs.
Marathon des Sables
Probably the stand out event in a busy April, the Marathon des Sables never fails to disappoint. This year’s event had some surprises in store as the six stage race unfolded. From a British perspective the performance of Thomas Evans was stunning. It must have been disconcerting for the Moroccans to see him in contention and leading stages. But of course it was a Moroccan victory and a one two by the El Morabity brothers with Rachid coming out on top of younger brother Mohamed by twenty three minutes. Abdelkader El Mouaziz dropped from the race and that opened up the podium opportunity for Evans which he grabbed with some phenomenal running.
The women’s race was controlled by Sweden’s Elisabet Barnes looking for and achieving her second MDS victory. Her margin increased daily from Nathalie Mauclair of France but Mauclair clawed back some time in the long stage that is her specialty. Barnes kept close to her in the long stage to ensure she did not drop too many minutes. Brazil’s Fernanda Maciel claimed the final podium place but was adrift of the top two by over an hour.
The prize of top Brit was of course claimed by Thomas Evans with that impressive third place overall. Andy Symonds was a clear second from Damian Hall. On the women’s side Jennifer Hill ran strong throughout and claimed the top spot from Jessica Hook and Elizabeth Currie who were within twelve minutes of each other but a distant five hours from Hill.
|1||Rachid El Morabity||19:15:23|
|2||Mohamed El Morabity||19:38:21|
Results – Top Brits
|2||Andy Symonds (9th overall)||22:19:39|
|3||Damian Hall (15th)||24:09:43|
|1||Jennifer Hill (73rd overall)||29:36:50|
|2||Jessica Hook (182nd)||34:30:34|
|3||Elizabeth Currie (184th)||34:42:01|
100 Miles of Istria
The distance 100 miles, the elevation 7,210M, the country Croatia, the first time on the UTWT, the fifth running of the event and two stand out performances by American Dylan Bowman and Italian Francecsa Canepa to win. The organisers must also be very happy with the result from their first UTWT outing. Bowman won by over an hour from Italian Oliviero Bosatelli. Canape was the pre-race favourite and won with a seventy eight minute margin from Slovenian Alenka Pavc.
The Patagonia Run is a new entrant to UTWT in 2017. With a total of 8,000M vertical ascent and a distance of 145km there is plenty of time to take in the impressive landscape of the Andes mountain range. Five time winner Sergio Trecaman probably didn’t stop a lot as he only took eighteen hours to complete the course just ahead of his fellow Argentinian Jose Manuel Gasca. The women’s race was won by Adriana Vargas with who had a thirty-five minute cushion over second place Teresa Nimes of Spain.
|2||Jose Manuel Gasca||18:22|
Madeira Island Ultra Trail
Madeira Island is located in the North Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Portugal. It’s a beautiful island with spectacular cliffs and even more spectacular roads for nervous drivers. The interior is extremely mountainous and has a fabulous network of footpaths called levadas that criss-cross the island. The MIUT traverses the island from North West starting in Porto Muniz to South East in Machico with a staggering 7,100M of ascent in 115km.
Francoise D’Haene crushed the course record set last year by Zach Miller, the Frenchman recording 13:05:44 and a full forty six minutes faster showing that he is back in form. In fact, second and third placed Pau Capell and Xavier Thevernard all beat that previous course record.
Andrea Huser dominated the women’s race to claim yet another deserved victory. Her time of 16:30:47 was well short of the superbly fast time of 14:34:30 that Caroline Cheverot posted last year. Britains Beth Pascali claimed second place ahead of Italian Lisa Borzani by over an hour.
This is the first year that Penyagolosa has been on the UTWT. Timothy Olson joined a mainly Spanish field of four hundred plus runners who tackled the 115km and 5,500M of ascent and it was Olson who came out on top. A jubilant Olson was followed by Yeray Duran Lopez around twenty two minutes later. Remi Queral Ibanez took the final podium spot.
The women’s race was a Spanish affair with Gemma Arenas Alcazar topping the list by a mere two minutes from Maria Mercedes Pila Veracocha. Leire Martinez Herrera was third fifty minutes later.
|2||Yeray Duran Lopez||12:45:34|
|3||Remi Queral Ibanez||12:52:51|
|1||Gemma Arenas Alcazar||15:01:19|
|2||Maria Mercedes Pila Veracocha||15:03:42|
|3||Leire Martinez Herrera||15:53:43|
Thames Path 100
This was the sixth running of this flattish 100 mile race from London to Oxford. A course record from last year of 14:09 by Craig Holgate was the target. An initial early charge by Steven Lord was thwarted as he suffered hip issues from mile 51 onwards, this opened the door for eventual winner Michael Stocks to move up. Dan Masters and Jeremy Isaac showed how a steady and conservative pace can prove the winning strategy as they were both out of podium places until roughly ninety miles.
Ladies winner Mari Mauland took another conservative approach banking the early miles and well outside the top ten overall for a good seventy or so miles. She would eventually finish in fifth overall with a fantastically fast time of 16:55. The gap to second placed Sarah Sawyer was a full four plus hours. Third placed Naomi Moss was only six minutes behind.
News from the blogs
Winner of the 2017 edition and now two time winner of Marathon des Sables, Elisabet Barnes, she offers coaching via her website www.ultra.coach . She is a multi-stage race demon and Elisabet will be at the Ultra Festival in early June so catch her there live.
Anna is heading to Madeira for the Ultra Skymarathon in May, she will also be in Bhutan later in the year. You can keep up to date with Frosty and her adventures via Twitter and her Facebook page.
Tim is back! A fine win at Penyagolosa has confirmed that Tim is back on form after what for him has been a quiet eighteen or so months with some less than optimal performances. Although there is no confirmation of his June /July race schedule Tim will be at Diagonal des Fous in October, how good is that!
Pau Capell’s ascendancy to one of the top level ultrarunners has been a marvel to observe. His win at Transgrancanaria this year must rate as his best performance to date and he followed that with a second place at last month’s Madeira Island Ultra Trail. He is stepping up to UTMB this year, his first 100 mile race, it will be interesting to see how he performs and his approach to this tough and competitive race.
You can catch all the updates via Twitter.
Dakota Jones just enjoys life. Read this post http://www.irunfar.com/2017/04/the-most-harm-principle.html from his column at www.irunfar.com . It just about sum’s up Dakota’s approach to life and racing. He is heading off to ‘Europe for the next two months, first in Spain with @deparunner and then in France for the Maxi Race and Mont Blanc Marathon. Really though, my main goal is to learn some Spanish and French. But these races will be cool too. Stay tuned!’
Stay tuned indeed through his Twitter, Instagram and Facebook posts.
Up and coming races
Ultra-Trail Australia – May 18th -21st
Mozart 100 – June 17th
Lavaredo Ultra Trail – June 23rd
Western States 100 – June 24th-25th
Yading Skyrun – May 2nd
Transvulcania – May 13th
Zegama – May 28th
North Downs Way 50 – May 13th
Grand Union Canal race – May 27th
South Downs Way 100 – June 10th