Friday, February 21, 2014

10 pics from KiipeilyAreena

We did three hours of auto-belay climbing at the fabulous Toyota KiipeilyAreena and had lots of fun! They have ten great a-b walls. And the new bouldering area upstairs. What a great workout. We'll be back for sure. Here's ten nice pics from our visit.

And here's a bonus video.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014


When I invented GRT in December, it was inevitable that there would have to be a Half-GRT some sunny day. Well that day is today, although it was far from sunny. More like slushy.

Poking all that slush with my new Black Diamond Ultra Distance sticks.

As you may know, GRT is defined as the golden ratio of the ironman triathlon distance. Half-GRT is then simply 50% of a full GRT. That's merely a 1.2km swim, 55.6km bike and 13.0km run. Easy peasy!

Where did that sunny spring weather suddenly go?
The indoor swim and bike legs flew by almost too smoothly. So I tried to make the outdoor run more challenging by navigating between some random geocaches in a previously unknown forest as directly as possible, turning only where it was absolutely necessary. That crazy idea worked pretty well! I had fun climbing on all fours, getting wet in ice-cold water and fighting my way through thick bushes. I used Garmin Forerunner for measuring time/distance and Suunto Ambit for GPS navigation between preloaded waypoints.

An interesting shortcut, as suggested by my trusty Suunto Ambit.
Long story short, this 69.8km self-organised unsupported solo triathlon took me 7h35min (including all breaks and transitions). In other words, incredibly slow. But it was worth every second. Half the distance, double the fun!

Climbing this required both hands, so the poles went into the backpack.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Himalaya Ring

The Himalaya Ring (THR) might well be your ultimate ultra trail bucket list event:

  • 2,209 km (1,373 miles)
  • D+ 84,901m (278,547ft)
  • D- 83,155 m (272,818ft)
  • 56-70 days
  • lowest point 816m (2,677ft)
  • highest point 6,143m (20,154ft)
  • average altitude 4,163m (13,658ft)
  • price 11,800€
  • organized every two years (2014, 2016, 2018...)
Hmmm, maybe in 2018...better start looking for sponsors! :-) 

The Himalaya Ring (THR) from jesus martinez novas on Vimeo.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Silva Trail Runner 2 headtorch review

Preparing for UTMB 2014, I've been looking for lightweight gear to be taken for a journey around Mont Blanc in August. Silva Trail Runner 2 is the lightest headtorch I have been able to find so far, with a sufficient light output of 140 lumens. It weighs only 122 grams including three AAA batteries. My previous favorite headlamp Petzl MYO RXP (also 140 lumens) weighs 182 grams with three AA batteries. That's 60g. Without batteries the weight difference is not that significant.

What, only 122 grams with batteries? UTMB here I come!

We also have to keep in mind that the rules of races like UTMB require competitors to carry an extra set of batteries or risk getting disqualified. A set of 3xAAA batteries weighs about 40g less than 3xAA. So the total weight saving with extra batteries is about 100g. That may not seem like a big deal, but with all the other gear it all adds up quickly. In a 168km mountain run (the distance of four marathons), every gram counts.

Silva Intelligent Light™: a strong spotlight and a wide floodlight. 

How about the performance of TR2? I have test-driven TR2 through Finnish winter in freezing cold, below -18˚C (0˚F). Our days here can be darker than nights in the south. So far I'm impressed. By combining a strong spotlight and a wide floodlight Silva lights up the trail ahead pretty well. The light distance is about 45m/20 meters in max/min mode. The beam is actually not that wide, but neither is the trail usually, so it's ok I guess.

After turn-off, green light means 'batteries OK'. An orange light gives you some time. Red means you are done.

Of course the trade-off between the light output and battery life is something to be considered. Many LED-lamps boast a lot more lumens, but what's the use of all that extra illumination in ultra trail running if the batteries will last only a couple of hours? Silva claims TR2 burn time is 30h/48h in max/min mode. I have not been able to verify this myself yet, but I believe that to be about correct in ideal conditions. That might mean that I might not have to change batteries or torches during UTMB (two nights). However in extremely cold temperatures the burn time will understandably and inevitably be somewhat less than ideal.

The 3xAAA batteries are in the back of the headband. You can use rechargeable ones to be ecological and -nomical.

I love the simple design of TR2. There is only one button to press and it is large enough. The first pressing turns max mode on. The second press switches to min mode. When on, a long (>1s) press turns the main lights off, but turns on a green/orange/red battery indicator light for a few seconds. When off, a long press turns the flash mode on. That's all: no computer software (which in Petzl case was a buggy piece of crap anyway).

Okay let's wrap it up. Buy this good lamp (the price is reasonable, I paid 73€ for mine) and see for yourself. See you in Chamonix in August - I'll be the happy dude wearing a Silva Trail Runner 2!