Sunday, January 29, 2012

Infinite Snowtrail

This was filmed during a recent long winter trail run with my trusty old iPod nano with its kaleidoscope videocam effect - I thought it might visualize "runner's high" in an entertaining way.


Saturday, January 28, 2012

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Talk Ultra podcast

Talk Ultra is the latest addition to the rapidly growing family of ultra/trail running podcasts. It's presented by Ian Sharman and Ian Corless, who both have lots of ultra experience and are thus familiar names to most of ultraheads.

I just downloaded the first show from iTunes to my iPod and had a good time listening to all 1 hour and 38 minutes of it. There were many interesting sections, like an interview with Ryan Sandes and "Meltzer Moment". The sound quality is good.

Highly recommended.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Three Americans at Spartathlon 2011

Michael Arnstein has posted an entertaining race report about his Spartathlon race experience in September 2011. These three friends sure had fun following the footsteps of Pheidippides (an Athenian messenger sent to Sparta 490 BC), Yiannis Kouros (4-time winner, record holder), and Scott Jurek (the only runner to win 3 times in a row)...

...sort of. None of them finished in 36 hours. That is a very strict cutoff for a 246 km road race from Athens to Sparta, especially as it throws in some serious mountain trail running at night around 100-mile point. And all this in a country where nothing works they way it is supposed to.

I'm looking forward to part two of this adventure - yes they are trying again in 2012, and have even set up SpartathlonUSA for that purpose.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

CCC 2012 - yes I'm in!

I can't believe that I actually won one of the coveted 1,800 running bibs in the CCC 2012 lottery. Now all I need to do is sort out the medical certificate and I'm ready.

CCC comes from the names of towns: Courmayeur (Italy) - Champex (Switzerland) - Chamonix (France). The course is the last 98 km of the UTMB course. The race will start at 10 AM in Courmayeur on Friday, August 31. 166 km UTMB will start at 6:30 PM in Chamonix, so these two races won't overlap.

Afficher CCC® 2011 sur une carte plus grande

In the registration form I stated that my goal is to finish in under 17 hours, although I have no idea what my actual speed will be. It doesn't really matter, as long as I'll stay within the overall time limit of 26 hours. A finish would give me 3 points for the UTMB 2013, which now requires 7 points.

Allez! Bravo! Super!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Suunto Ambit - finally a GPS for ultratrail runners?

The new Suunto GPS watch to be released this spring is marketed as "The GPS for explorers". It sure seems interesting from the perspective of ultra trail running.

According to Ultra168, Suunto Ambit offers the following features:

  • Rapid response built-in Waypoint GPS (SiRFstarIV chip) 
  • Built-in FUSED Accelerometer (linked to the GPS)
  • 50 hour battery life (with 60 second interval GPS use) 
  • 3D Compass 
  • Accurate Barometric Altitude 
  • Real time Heart Rate Graph 
  • Temperature Measurement 
  • Highly responsive Speed and Pace training function using FusedSpeed integrated GPS Accelerometer 
  • Advanced Heart Rate Monitoring with built in PeakTraining Effect and Recovery Time function 
  • Water resistant to 100 meters 
  • Available in Black and Silver 
  • Built to Last Technology and sleek design.
In addition to this, some sources mention there is a positive/negative display switch.

This sure sounds like my dream GPS. I already have Suunto Core, but a GPS with ultralong battery life would be more fun to play with. Garmin Forerunner 910XT has about 20 hour battery life with continuous GPS, and Suunto Ambit will be in the same ballpark. They both use an USB cable for battery charging and data loading.

However what's really interesting is the new "60 second interval GPS use", which might well be good enough for a race like UTMB, where the cutoff is 46 hours. Still, I'd like to know some more details, like the size, weight and price of the watch...

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Hoka Stinson EVO

The biggest event in 2012 ultrashoewise might well be the launch of Stinson EVO, the next step in the evolution of Hoka One One.


 Ultrarunner of the year Dave Mackey already has got them since last fall. Lucky him!


I really wish to be able to get a pair of Stinson EVOs in time for my TransGranCanaria 123 km on March 3rd, but it's only 47 days away so I'm not too sure about that. May they will be available at the Expo there. Hoka are you listening?

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Portrait of a trail runner: Emilie Lecomte

A video portrait of 2009 Diagonale des Fous winner Emilie Lecomte. Unfortunately she wasn't able to finish the 100-mile trail run on Reunion in 2011.

Emilie Lecomte - Portrait of a trail runner from Hiking on the moon TV on Vimeo.
Les équipes de tournage Montagne TV ont suivi Emilie chez elle, à Albertville. Retour sur son parcours, sa passion du trail et sa dernière expérience sur la Diagonale des Fous.

Montagne TV crews followed Emilie at home, in Albertville. Back on her journey, her passion for trail and her last experience at the Diagonale des Fous.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

UTMB/CCC lottery news update

There is a news update (in French) at UTMB website stating the following facts (my translation):
  • The 4 Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc events (UTMB, CCC, TDS and PTL) received a record 10,000 applications before the deadline on January 9th. 
  • UTMB is 195% full, with 800 losers from the previous lottery now entered.
  • Therefore those in 2012 UTMB lottery have under 50% chance of winning. 
  • CCC is 165% full and those in the 2012 CCC lottery have about 60% chance of winning.
  • Over 1,000 runners have registered or pre-registered for TDS. There won't be a draw for TDS.
  • PTL is now full with 67 teams pre-registered. 
  • The results of the draw will be announced on January 20, 2012 at 10AM (Paris time). 
  • If you win in the draw, your registration has to be confirmed before January 31, 2012. 
  • Lottery losers will have the opportunity to transfer their registration for TDS - within the limited space of 500 extra places available, and only if the applicants have the 2 points required for TDS qualification. 
  • The organizers will have to modify the qualification requirements for 2013: to register for UTMB 2013 the applicants will be required to acquire 7 points in 3 qualification races in 2011 or 2012. For CCC 2013, 2 points in 2011 or 2012 will be required. 
  • Solidarity bibs are still available for those who can meet the requirements specified at UTMB website. 
If I will lose in the CCC 2012 lottery, my strategy is clear: go for TDS. TDS sounds like a sweet deal anyway, as you get more kilometers and mountains than in CCC, for the same price! And I do have the deux points required. Those who have done 'em all say that TDS with 7,100 meters of climbing is almost as hard as the full UTMB, although it's only slightly longer in distance than CCC. This is also reflected in the UTMB points allocation: CCC finish is worth 3 points, while both TDS and UTMB are worth 4 points. I'd approach TDS as the French cousin of TVSB, which I will finish in July.


Tuesday, January 10, 2012


This winter I'm using an EMS (Electronic Muscle Stimulation) device for the first time ever. I typically do quads for 30 minutes each, 2-3 times a week. Sometimes I do my hamstrings for a little variety, but that's about it. Once I even used the gadget to massage by back, but I don't think it was quite as effective as real massage.

I've enjoyed the experience so far, mainly as a form of active recovery after days workout. EMS also possibly adds some extra strength and endurance. It's too early to say any more than that, but some athletes have reported good results. EMS does not substitute conventional training, but I'm hoping it might help my legs survive the long downhills of this year's alpine ultra trail races.

If you'd be interested in more information, here's The Truth About EMS. Although the article is written for bodybuilders, in my experience it applies to runners too.

For additional inspiration, check out the incredible story of Marc Herremans, the Belgian triathlete who paralyzed chest down after a bicycle accident and then went on to realize his dream of winning the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon World Championship.


Saturday, January 7, 2012

Best wishes for UTMB 2012 lottery

UTMB News: At the moment 8100 runners (24% increase) from 65 countries have registered for UTMB, CCC, PTL and TDS events in August 2012.  However Kilian won't be there this year as he has announced other plans next fall (100+ mile trail races on Gran Canaria and Reunion islands).

UTMB is 165% and CCC 130% full. Lotteries for these will be organized after January 9th, and the results will be announced on January 20th. I'm one of those in the CCC lottery. I was already rejected in the London Marathon 2012 lottery, so surely it's my turn to win now. If I'm able to get in and finish CCC successfully, then I'll probably apply for UTMB in 2013.

Those who lose will be directed towards PTL or TDS, which have room for more runners. Alternatively, if you can donate 2000€ for charity, you can buy a guaranteed "solidarity bib" - as long as you have accumulated enough points from the previous two years (5 for UTMB, 1 for CCC).

The North Face® Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc® -... by UltraTrailMontBlanc

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Manu the Trailblazer

Emmanuel "Manu" Gault won the 2011 CCC in 10 hours and 10 minutes.


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

TransGranCanaria route

Yet another new vid about TransGranCanaria 123 km route. The use of sticks won't be allowed in the first 10K. Also red back lights are required, in addition to the white front light.

Only seven weeks of training left. Last week went well with 132 km of easy running. No problems, except challenging weather.


Monday, January 2, 2012

FREE TO RUN trailer

50 years ago, when sport federations and Olympic authorities made the rules, running was the exclusive privilege of elite men. FREE TO RUN tells the story of the free running movement featuring its heroes. I spotted Lasse Viren of Finland (0:49-0.55) among others. This should be an interesting film to watch.

FREE TO RUN (aka On the road) - trailer from Fabrice ESTEVE on Vimeo.
A feature length documentary project
Directed by Pierre Morath
Coproduced by Yuzu productions (France) - Fabrice Esteve & Christian Popp
and Point Prod (Switzerland) - David Rihs

They fought prejudices and sport federations for one simple right: running freely. The revolution these men and women launched in the late 1960’s changed not only the athletics but also our society.

From the streets of New York to the trails of the Swiss Alps, from Sao Paulo to London or Paris… champions and ordinary persons… every year millions of people are running. Strangely, 50 years ago this activity was the exclusive privilege of an elite of athletes, only men, only in stadiums. Conservative sports federations and Olympic authorities made the rules. Running was even considered unhealthy... FREE TO RUN tells the extraordinary story of the free running movement over the last 50 year featuring its heroes – the stars and the anonymous, men and women who ran for freedom.