Friday, September 30, 2011

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Table Mountain

And now for something completely different: Table Mountain! Long time ago I spent a week in Cape Town with the local running club. There are plenty of amazing routes available for runners. Unfortunately the crime rate of South Africa means it isn't often comfortably safe there. But the natural sights make taking calculated risks worthwhile.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Trail Run

I enjoyed a short (6.33 km) but steep (600 m D+ and 600 m D-) trail run yesterday. It was a gorgeous day, but I focused more on running than filming. However I believe something essential of that trail experience has been preserved in the video.


A technical note: D refers to the French word dénivelé, which means altitude. With European trail running races you will often see a number followed by D+, which is short for denivélé positif, ie. elevation gain. D- would be denivélé negatif, ie. elevation loss. The measurements are usually in meters. For example, 600 m D+ would be equivalent of 1,969 ft. elevation gain.

Monday, September 26, 2011

I would like to learn some French

Bonjour! I'm plan to do plenty of trail running in French speaking areas in the future, so I simply must learn some French.

English is not always enough, and it might help you finish a race. Like last summer, when I was running on the Alps in the middle of the night and required some help, a fellow competitor replied: "Sorry, but I'm too tired to speak English!"

Also after this years UTMB, I observed some complaints by English-speaking runners. They seemed to think that the organizers didn't do a good job communicating about the course changes during the race. I wasn't there, but I believe everyone did their best in a difficult situation. It occurred to me that it couldn't hurt to learn some French, if you are going to race in France (or Western Switzerland).

I believe a little French can go a long way to start a friendly conversation. You can always switch to English if your French fails.

It can be funny when a Frenchman tries to speak English, and vice versa. The two languages are quite different, so this will be a huge challenge, but I'll refuse to quit.


It seems one of the best ways for me to learn is to listen to Podcasts like Coffee Break French while training, commuting and shopping.

I've also started to follow some blogs by French trail runners, you can find them on the right margin of this page.

À plus tard!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Lozere Trail 2011

Lozere Trail is a 43K race near Chanac in France. Ludovic Pommeret (Hoka) won it in May 2011 with 3:45. I've never been there, but the video sure looks inviting!


PS. As 43 km is a bit too short for many ultra trail runners, the organizers will offer a two-stage Ultra Lozere option in 2012.

The first day (May 26) will be a very technical 40K, starting in the heart of Gorges of Tarn. However the route may have to be changed, if a pair of rare golden eagles will choose to nest there. The first day will finish in the medieval village of Saint-Enimie, where a meal and a camp will be organized.

The second day (May 27) will be a challenging 67K, finishing in Chanac. The price will be very reasonable 70€ for two days of trail racing and one night of camping in the Cevennes National Park, which is an UNESCO World Heritage area.

The number of runners for Ultra Lozere will be limited to 150 and registration starts on November 1, 2011. There will also be shorter race distances (45K, 24K, 14K) available.    

Friday, September 23, 2011

6 useful features of Suunto Core watch

I recently bought for myself Suunto Core ABC (altimeter, barometer, compass) watch (or wrist-top computer) mainly for the following six features:
  1. Altitude change measurer. You can quickly select this tool and simply press start/stop to measure the height of a hill you're training on, for example. Works like a charm and is very easy to use. This is by far the most useful function of the watch for me.
  2. Storm alarm. It's good to know in advance when bad weather is coming your way, so you'll have time to change your clothing or seek shelter. 
  3. Daily sunrise/sunset times. Nice to know when it gets dark/light exactly. For this function to work you have to select the nearest location available in the memory of the watch. 
  4. User-replaceable battery. You can easily open the watch yourself to replace the standard 3-volt lithium cell (CR 2032). Experience shows that the battery will die just before a race, so you'll have to be able to change it quickly.
  5. Temperature. Works ok, especially if you remove the watch from your wrist for a while. Even if not absolutely correct, it helps to assess how cold or hot it is while you're running.
  6. Alarm clock. A basic function, but useful. Bonus points for the snooze option.
The watch is fairly large, but not too heavy considering it has a real mineral glass, instead of one of those cheap plastic ones that get scratched easily. The weight is about 60 grams. I haven't used it for any racing yet, but so far so good.

Core has all the usual functions, like stopwatch, countdown timer, dual time as well as a digital compass and even a depth meter for snorkeling. I don't use most of the features very often. For example, I don't really use the altimeter log that much, because it requires you to constantly input the correct reference data in order to be accurate (as is the case with all ABC watches).

Hope this helps if you are thinking about getting one. I have no affiliation with the manufacturer, although they happen to be based in my home country. Although the watch is designed in Finland, it's made in China.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Last 5 finishers of Tor des Geants

Tor des Geants 2011: 300 out of 473 starters finish the 332 km course within the time limit of 6 days and 6 hours. Here's the last five of them. They are wet because it rained just before the cutoff, just like it rained after the start - but remarkably it didn't rain in between.


Friday, September 16, 2011

TNF UTMB Race Report video

The North Face® Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc® - Race Report video. Even saying that is quite a challenge. Not to speak of participating in the event. The hype around Mt Blanc is almost as incredible as the trail itself.

BTW I couldn't help laughing when I looked at Kilian's Routes. Most of the courses he has done are labeled 'Level Difficult', but UTMB is 'Level Easy' only. Well, it seems to be too easy for him.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Dramatic Tor des Geants 2011

Tor des Geants 2011 had a dramatic finish.

Swiss Marco Gazzola was the first runner to cross the finish line in Courmayeur with a new course record 75 h 58 min. However it was soon discovered that he had taken the wrong path during the last 12 km. The final leg had taken him only 52 minutes. He had also missed the last control point in Bertone. The organizers had to disqualify him.

Eventually young (24) Jules-Henri Gabioud of La Fouly (the town that hosts a great aid station both for UTMB and TVSB) finished in 79 hours and 58 minutes. It was still fast enough to beat last year's winning time of Ulrich Gross, who DNF'd due to foot pain. It's interesting to note that Gross had changed his shoes from Hoka to Tecnica.

Marco Gazzola was the first to congratulate the winner, and had this to say about his personal misfortune: “feeling both euphoric and exhausted for the great effort made up until that moment, I committed the mistake of taking the wrong trail. I am the first to regret it. However, I agree totally with the decision made by the committee.”


Christophe Le Saux came second with 84:09. This 38-year-old French nurse led the race for a long time in the middle stages. Then he fell asleep in a forest due to total exhaustion and kept on dreaming there until woken up by some aid station volunteers who had come to look for him. The Guyane Jaguar - as he has been nicknamed for his love for Amazon rainforest - sure loves his Hokas too, so he decides to hold them up in the air when arriving in Courmayeur.


Stephane Couleaud of Chamonix was expected to take the third place. Unfortunately the night was really cold, and he suffered from severe hypothermia. Spanish fire fighter Pablo Criado Toca catched and was able to give Couleaud first aid. They stayed together for a while, but then also Pablo started to feel the cold weather.

When they heard that a rescue squad was on its way, Pablo decided it was best to continue racing. He wasn't going fast, but took the third spot with 89:43.


Last year's winner Anne-Marie Gross was able to win again women's race with 91:28. Like his brother Ulrich she had changed from Hoka to team Tecnica in 2011. She suffered from stomach pains for a few hours, but she just kept going and beat all the other women by a wide margin in the end. Actually she beat everybody except the above mentioned three gentlemen, as she finished fourth overall!


In case you didn't understand much of the above videos, here's a proper interview in plain English for you: Canadian Running talks to Simon Donato, who dropped out after halfway.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

King S(a)lomo(n)

King Kilian 1000 frames/second! Watch for the goat at 2:30. Not that Mr. Jornet is any less skilled. A-a-a-awesome.


For those who'd like some more, here's another one by Sebastien Montaz-Rosset. It shows various Alpine activities in general, but it does also contain snippets of Kilian.

Summer feelings from sebastien montaz-rosset on Vimeo.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Le film Trail Verbier Saint-Bernard 2011

TVSB 110K is a first-class Alpine trail race with back-of-the-pack-runner friendly atmosphere and brilliant organization.

YouTube makes everything look easy, but it's actually pretty tough with 7K vertical thrown at you. I've DNF'd twice, but I'll be back next year with a better plan.

2011 winner Ludovic Pommeret flew through the course in 14 hours and 8 minutes.
"La suisse était le bon choix donc! Avec des paysages magnifiques que, il faut bien dire, j'ai admiré surtout au début mais plus j'avançais plus mon champs de vision se réduisait jusqu'a ne plus voir que le bout de mes pieds... (This Swiss option turned out to be the right choice! Magnificent scenery, I have to say, which I admired especially in the beginning. Later on my field of vision was reduced to the tips of my feet...)"
Ludo managed to down no less than 30 gels during the race (4 different brands), while traveling comfortably in his Hoka One One shoes... Hey maybe there's a lesson to be learned for me right there?

I wore La Sportiva Crosslites, and I'm not blaming those great shoes for anything - but when I ditched them after the race and started to train and race in Hoka One One Bondi B's, the plantar fasciitis pain that had accompanied me daily for nine months, vanished suddenly and completely.

Please refer to 'Races 2012' on top of this blog for more info on my TVSB plans next year. There's also an article about TVSB 2011 in Generation-Trail Magazine 9/2011.


Monday, September 12, 2011

Tor des Geants 2011: first day

The first day of the second edition of the world's longest trail running race: Tor des Geants 330 km 2011. Follow the race live online here.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Trail Plodder Dirty 30x30

Paloheinä hill (North-East dirt path) 30 x 30 meters = 900 meters of elevation gain & loss.

Total distance is 8.92 km, so the hill must be about 150 meters long (300 m up and down).

Total time 1 h 33 min, so each "lap" took about 3 minutes (I had a couple of short breaks). For warmup/down I cycled 3K there and back.

Here's my Garmin Forerunner 110 data, although the altitude measurement sucks as always, so please ignore that.

Wore Hoka One One Bondi B shoes again, and I'm liking them more and more. Perhaps not loving them yet, but not hating those "foot bricks" anymore either.

A sunny Sunday for a change. Nice!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Pat's real bad day

Pat Farmer is doing a great job running Pole to Pole, but he had a "real bad day" in El Salvador. He even got to do some mountain trail running in wet conditions after getting lost.


Monday, September 5, 2011

Trail Plodder 777

Having created a new identity called Trail Plodder, I went on to design a new hill workout: 'Trail Plodder 777'.

This morning I realized that climbing the muddy 37-meter north face of Paloheinä (the biggest hill in my 'hood) up and down 21x totals 777 meters (2,550 ft) of ascending and of course the same amount of descending. This is something I've never attempted. So naturally I had to do it right away.

The distance is only about 5K. The hill is 3K from my home, so it's a good warm up/down away. Today I cycled there and back. The workout took me 75 min (+ warmup/down).

Here's a link to my Garmin data, although it severely underestimates the elevation change. It shows my 'moving time' to be 1:08, probably because I took a couple of short breaks to drink some nuun Kona Cola.

The weather was nice and sunny. The trail was a bit muddy and slippery. I chose to wear Hoka One One Bondi B shoes. They worked well for this.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Gore-Tex Transalpine-Run 2011

Gore-Tex Transalpine-Run 2011 started yesterday. It's a 273 km trail running race for 2-person teams. It consists of 8 stages over the Alps and 4 countries: Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Italy. The longest 53 km stage is today.


Friday, September 2, 2011

Run to work feat. Ryan Sandes

Leadville 100 2011 champ Ryan Sandes of South Africa shows how to run to work.


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Chamonet's UTMB 2011 video

Another great Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc 2011 video by According to the UTMB rules, if the start is delayed for more than two hours, the race will be cancelled (like in 2010). I'm glad they didn't cancel it this time, although the five hour delay must have been a bitter pill to suck up for everyone.