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Editor’s note.

A

s 2011 draws to a close, and with the face of trail running having witnessed some evolutionary developments world-wide, now is the opportunity to reflect on an exciting year gone by. The cliché would be to tell you to take a moment and look back over the past 12 months, to think about where your own trail running has taken you and what the new year holds in store. But I’m not going to do that. Instead I’m going to list my top 5 memorable moments in trail running for 2012.

female) to win the event 4 times. 3. Mount Kinabalu in Malaysia, home of the Skyrunner® SuperCup finale, is one of the premiere events on the International Skyrunning Federations annual calendar. So it was only fitting for Kilian Jornet to demonstrate his current dominance of the sport by beating his nearest rival into first place and in turn winning 5 races on 5 continents. This illustrious 2011 winning streak includes The North Face 100 in the Blue Mountains near Sydney Australia as well as the iconic Western States 100 in Aubrun, California and is my moment number three.

1. You can call me biased but as this is, at heart, a South African publication my number one most memorable moment has to be South Africa’s very own Ryan Sandes winning his debut 100 miler in August at the Leadville Trail 100 in Colorado, USA. Not only did he win the race but his time of 16:46:54 secured the 3rd fastest in the history of the event.

4. Moment number four has to be the utterly flawless performance of David Lopez and Miguel Caballero to win the 7th annual GORE-TEX® Trans Alpine Run. Winning all but one of the stages of this gruelling alpine mammoth, Team Trangoworld GORE-TEX®, one of the few debutante teams at this years race, ensured their future as top trail contenders world-wide with this victory.

2. She is undoubtedly a living ultra-running legend so there is no surprise that for my second most memorable moment it has to go to Lizzy Hawker and her incredible win (and 13th place overall) at the Ultra-Trail Du Mont-Blanc in Chamonix, France finishing in a time of 25:02:00. This stellar performance makes her the only person (male or

5. And in 5th position it has to be the rise of one of Britains top trail athletes Tom Owens as he clinched a handful of impressive victories including his emphatic win at the inaugural Salomon 4 Trails in Europe by almost 45 minutes. So onto this months issue. Between these two covers,

Also in this issue > On the cover > Vanessa Haywood

enjoying the trails above Hout Bay near Cape Town, South Africa. Image by: Kolesky/Nikon/ Lexar

Editorial/Advertising Enquiries > james@gotrail.co.za / James Hallet

Design Enquiries >

design@gotrail.co.za / Simphiwe Mathunjwa Dec 2011/Jan 2012

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12 An Interview with a UTMB Champ We introduce you to one of America’s top women’s trail athletes and winner of the 2009 Ultra-Trail Du Mont-Blanc. Includes recorded interview.


we explore a vast array of local and international trail running insight, bringing you some food for thought as we enter into a New Year. We venture to the Pyrenees to check out one of Europe’s renowned single-staged 100 milers. The Grand Raid des Pyrenees is fast becoming one of the must-run mountain races the world over and in this feature we chat to Anne-Marie Dunhill, assistant race director of this alpine beast, on the challenges her team faces each year. It’s then off to New Zealand in our GO EXPLORE feature as we introduce you to this thriving trail running community. Join Malcolm Law as he shares some valuable knowledge about where to head to when planning your trip to this small island country with a big trail scene. With stunning imagery of trails that will make you salivate, it’ll be a challenge for you not to want to whip out that credit card and book

your flights. In our main feature, we bring you our coverage of the 2011 Himalayan 100 Stage Race in West Bengal, India. Join me as I re-live my Himalayan experience through this captivating event. Find out how one mans dream has resulted in a race that, for almost a quarter of a century, combines incredible trail running and spellbinding vistas with the rich tapestry of this ancient culture.

The editor taking a break to soak in the surrounding views on day 2 of the Himalayan 100 Mile Stage race. Image by: Claire McKevitt

And finally, in our all South African THROUGH THE LENS feature we stitch together the works of three of the country’s top adventure photographers in a vivid 3-part photographic display of some local must run events. All this and much more in this our “out with the old, in with the new” end of year issue of Go Trail magazine.

James

44 Running a wild African coastline Winner of the 2011 Wildcoast Wildrun, Chantel Nienaber, shares her story on what makes this one of South Africa’s special and must run events.

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Editor

88 A small island country with a HUGE trail scene Malcolm Law, brainchild behind Run Wild New Zealand, shares with us some of the integral aspects of this vibrant and extreme trail running community. Dec 2011/Jan 2012

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October 2011

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Image : Kelvin Trautman / www.mediaandkelvin.com


Well look no further. Go Trail magazine is a free online trail and ultra running publication focussing on the lifestyle and

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Talking Trail

HIGH

Running

Words by Linda Doke Images by Kelvin Trautman


O

xygen, that delicious gas without which nothing can survive, is something everyone takes for granted. We runners, for example, don’t give a second thought to what’s happening when we exert ourselves and get out of breath – all we try and do is breathe deeper and faster to gulp as much air as we can to fill our lungs and keep on running. Now take us out of our usual environment – sea level, for example – and put us up in the Highveld, let’s say somewhere near Dullstroom, around 2 000m above sea level. That’s certainly not the highest area in South Africa, but it’s certainly high enough to have any sea level runner gasping for precious O2 within even the first 100m of a run. Put us somewhere higher, like at the top of the Sani Pass (2 800m) or on the Drakensberg escarpment (+3 000m), and it feels a bit like we’re trying to suck O2 through a straw.

“The longer you spend at altitude, the better adapted you’ll be to perform at that altitude.” What’s that all about? Why does the body react to increases in altitude that way, and how can we try to minimise those effects? Professor Andrew Bosch of the UCT/ MRC Research Unit for Exercise Science and Sports medicine explains it simply: The higher you are above sea level, the more the barometric pressure drops. This lower pressure causes a number of changes in the body related to transport of oxygen to the muscles and heart and the release of the oxygen once it gets there. As a result, exercise capacity is reduced. So all this starts at the lungs, where the effect is a reduction in the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood – the red blood cells cannot load with O2 at the lungs as effectively as at sea level, and breathing and heart rate increase to compensate. At the same time, a number of other changes start to occur to “help” the situation, some of which happen quite quickly and some which take weeks to occur. These adaptations help the blood to carry oxygen better, and to release the oxygen more easily once it gets to the muscles and heart. Amongst the most important of these initial adaptations is in the buffering capacity of the blood, which is important during exercise.


The reduced partial pressure of the O2 is perceived by the brain, and probably via the reduced delivery of oxygen to the heart. Specifically, the buffering capacity is reduced due to changes in something called the acid-base balance. What happens is that due to higher breathing rates, there is a decrease in the carbon dioxide levels in the blood, which makes the blood more alkaline.

Ok, so that’s the basic physiology behind why when we run at altitudes higher than we’re used to, we feel as though all our hard training was a figment of our imagination. But what can we do to prevent, or at least minimise, this reaction?

probably take 3 weeks”.

To counter this, the bicarbonate levels go down in the blood due to excretion by the kidneys, reducing the buffering capacity.

As South Africa’s international trail champion Ryan Sandes has proven time and again (most recently with his win of the Leadville 100 Miler, run at an average altitude of around 3 400m), given time the body adapts to altitude.

That need not be a problem – various lab and field studies performed on rugby players to measure the speed of adaptation to altitude have shown that getting to the altitude you’re going to race at within three days of your event is sufficient time to allow for quite a marked improvement. The studies looked at performance (economy, VO2 max, etc) of the rugby players 1) on arrival at altitude, 2) 4 hours after arrival, 3) 24 hours after arrival, and finally 4) three days after arrival. The results showed that after the first 24 hours, there was constant improvement, so that by the third day, performance was substantially better than immediately on arrival.

And as if a drop in the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood, and a decrease in blood buffering isn’t enough to contend with, the brain starts whingeing too: the reduced partial pressure of the O2 is perceived by the brain, and probably via the reduced delivery of oxygen to the heart, which promptly steps in to change muscle recruitment slightly and reduce our ability to exercise. It’s a protective measure so we don’t do ourselves damage.

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“The longer you spend at altitude, the better adapted you’ll be to perform at that altitude,” says Bosch. “Obviously the improvement stabilises after a time – spending a year at high altitude won’t prepare you any better than spending a month to 6 weeks at a moderately high altitude. Even two weeks, though, is sufficient time to adequately acclimatise. To fully acclimatise to racing in Johannesburg, for example, will

That’s all very well for professional athletes, but most of us mere mortals don’t have the luxury of being able to get to our race destination two to three weeks prior to race day.


B

Myths

osch says the theory that breath-holding and swimming lengths underwater can increase the body’s oxygen-carrying capacity is nonsense and holds no scientific weight for improving performance at altitude. He also pooh-poohs the myth that racing immediately on arrival at altitude is the other effective way to approach racing at altitude. That’s simply not so, he says. The rugby study showed that. Just as some people perceive and react to altitude change more dramatically than others, so do people adapt to altitude differently. Whether you’re a fast adapter or need a little longer to adjust, the best approach to have is to take it steady, don’t push yourself beyond what you feel your lungs and heart can cope with, and let your body cope and adjust in the way it knows best.

1

The Prof’s Top Tips

2

When running at higher altitude, coastal athletes often experience a dry, burning sensation in the throat, sometimes with a metallic taste, especially during exertion. This can be eased by taking a teaspoon of glycerine just before you start your run – the glycerine will coat the throat and alleviate dryness. A slower, extended warm-up before you start the race will help you regulate breathing sooner when you hit race pace.

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Athletes Profile

Krissy Moehl

Image: Ben Moon/www.benmoon.com

P

erhaps, no one has seen quite the range of dynamic courses as UltrAspire Athlete Director and Elite Immortal, Krissy Moehl. She holds a deep inner capacity to accomplish the virtually impossible while being happy, smiling and inspiring to those around her. Being a race director at Chuckanut for 10 years has also added to her deep sense of others around her and her desire that each individual successfully encounter the edge of his or her endurance and then, surpass that.

In 2005, she became the youngest female ever to complete the Grand Slam with the second fastest accumulative time for the four 100 mile races. She attributes much of her success to the support and inspiration of her mother. Among her other stats: 2007 HURT Female winner & set course record (since broken). Hardrock Female winner & set course record (since broken). Dec 2011/Jan 2012

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In an with Krisesxyc,lusive interview her 2011 we delve into and as well running year about wher as chat to her what it’s likee it all began, road as a to be on the athlete at th professional is years UTM B.

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LISTEN.

2009 Western States 100 - second place female. Circumnavigated the 93 mile Wonderland trail around Mt. Rainier with Ellen Parker. She did the same at Mont Blanc in the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc finishing 11th over all and female winner. 2010 She traveled to Japan to run in the Shinetzu Five Mountains 110km and finished as the female winner. 2011 At San Diego 100 she was 6th overall, female winner and course record holder. Krissy is thinking about trying her first Ironman in 2012 and also looks to return to the Western States 100 and UltraTrail Du Mont-Blanc. She thinks of herself as a “Gypsy road warrior.” A life in which, she is thoroughly immersed. “I love extended road trips that involve races, trails, eats and visits with friends all over the country.” Dec 2011/Jan 2012

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published? Dec 2011/Jan 2012

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Terms and conditions 1) Entrants must be aged 18 or over 2) By entering the competition you are agreeing to abide by the race rules set by Beyond The Ultimate Llc (http://www.beyondtheultimate.co/images/stories/ rr2012) 3) Cash alternative NOT available 4) Competition closing date – 15th March 2012 5) Winner will be announced on line in the April issue of Go Trail and on the Beyond The Ultimate Facebook page 6) By entering this competition you are agreeing to write 1 article as per the instruction of the Go Trail magazine editorial staff 7) First prize is full race entry to 2012 Jungle Ultra in Peru, excluding equipment and flights, valued at £2000. Dec 2011/Jan 2012

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Editorial


on the shoulders of giants Words and images by James Hallett/Canon


There seemed to be a nervous tension amongst the runners. For

centuries, India has remained one of the largest cultural centres of the ancient and modern worlds. It‘s no surprise that when you arrive in this diverse and somewhat overwhelming environment, your senses are excited by the rich tapestry that makes it such a truly incredible place. It‘s no wonder why the tourism board of the subcontinent uses the slogan “Incredible India“ to encapsulate what awaits you should you travel there.

Earlier in 2011 Go Trail magazine was asked to cover the Himalayan 100 Mile Stage Race, an event with an immense history of its own. As part of our coverage of the race, I was given the unique opportunity to run as a competitor and without hesitation accepted the offer with open arms. This would set in motion a journey of discovery, one that would take me through the foothills of the mighty Himalaya.

Before I begin on explaining the actual race, one has to firstly understand the concept of the event, an idea founded by one man, Mr. C.S. Pandey. A revered naturalist and mountaineer in his own right, Mr. Pandey wanted to create a race that would allow all competitors the chance to enjoy everything that natural India has to offer. He wanted to discover a way in which he could teach international travellers the ways of the Himalaya mountains and to respect the diverse fauna and flora to be

Dec 2011/Jan 2012

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endless switchbacks in the road snaked their way higher and higher into the

found still

thriving

on

mountains.

these vast slopes. So was born the Himalayan 100 Stage Race and in late 1991 the first

Arriving in Mirik was somewhat of a relief as everyone

intrepid mountain runners descended on what is today

desired the opportunity to get out and stretch their legs.

India’s most well-known multi-day trail running event.

Mirik Lake Resort was going to become our home for the next three days as we prepared for the adventure

Arriving at Bagdogra Airport, we were pleasantly

that lay ahead. After a brief session of unpacking, all

welcomed by some of the race officials which included

the competitors made their way to the hotel dining room

the event doctor and the assistant race director. There

to be greeted for the first time by Mr C.S. Pandey. It was

seemed to be a nervous tension amongst the runners

time to get our race briefing underway and to understand

as we all gingerly met and introduced ourselves waiting

the meaning of why we were all there…the real journey

for our luggage to make its way onto the rickety old

was about to begin.

baggage carousel. A quick roll-call and then it was off to the car park to board what can only be described as

Over the next few days we were able to soak in the

a “well-used“ TATA bus…our trusty transport steed. This

atmosphere of our surroundings and were even treated

was going to be an interesting transfer to the race HQ

to a day trip to Darjeeling, a town steeped in history. The

almost 3 hours away in the town of Mirik.

“unofficial“ gateway to Everest, Darjeeling witnessed many intrepid mountaineer venture through the town

As many would know, West Bengal, the state in which

on their way to conquering the mighty Himalayan range.

the event is held, is extremely famous for one major crop…

George Mallory, Edmund Hillary…some of the most

tea. Ascended from the Teesta River flood plains into the

famous names journeyed through the city and so a visit

foothills of the Himalaya, rolling tea plantations became

to the Himalayan Mountain Institute was an impressive

our travel backdrop with sweeping vistas across deep

adjunct to the days outing. Other experiences included

valleys, scoured by the monsoon rains. Hot and humid

a ride on the Himalayan Railway through the crowded

conditions gave way to misty cool skies and the gaining

streets onwards to the town of Ghum, some shopping

altitude was ever apparent as the kilometre

at the Darjeeling market and opportunity to sample and

upon kilometre of

purchase what the area is most famous for…Darjeeling Tea.

Dec 2011/Jan 2012

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Day 1 37km

Stunning views of Kanchenjunga from the overnight camp in Sandakphu

– image: Himalayan Run & Trek Dec 2011/Jan 2012

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the day of relentless climbing Maneybhanyjang, a small village situated about 30km from the race HQ in Mirik, would be the starting point of the Himalayan 100 Stage Race. With an anxious yet excited disposition I boarded the bus and tentatively watched as our bags were loaded onto the roof. In approximately 2 hours we would be setting off on the 37km stage to Sandakphu, a mammoth uphill task as the altitude on this day would rise from 1900m to almost 4000m. Arriving at the start line the runners were greeted by a large group of spectators which included the towns folk, a large military presence and a band of Tibetan drummers, beating their drums as a dancer displayed a traditional folk dance below the start line banner. After all our final preparations were made the formalities of the group photos out the way, it was go time. A flat section of road was quickly replaced by the seemingly 45 degree gradient that would basically remain our running terrain for the entire day. Nothing can fully prepare you for the vertical ascent one faces on stage one but as we continued upwards, the majestic beauty of the Himalayan foothills became increasingly apparent, a welcome reprieve from the upward slog. As we traversed exposed ridges, climbed switch back after switch back, and made our way through the towering stands of Rhododendron forests the beauty and diversity was awe-inspiring. Make no mistake about it, this stage is no walk in the proverbial park, although there was way more walking then running. The effects of the increasing altitude is a complete and utter shock to the body and it began to take its toll as each and every step became more laboured. Coupled with the steep incline of the trail, I can safely say that this is a mental and physical challenge like no other. Running across the finish line at Sandakphu was more of a relief than an excitement for me. It wasn’t until dinner that night that the excitement actually sunk in as all the runners from the 16 different nations congregated in the eating hut to exchange “war stories“ from the days running. Sandakphu is a modest mountain retreat with very basic amenities. I guess however this remains the complete appeal of participating in an event like this as one is reminded of the basic elements of mountain running. The toilet was a hole in the floor of the bathroom, our shower a bucket filled with ice cold water and our bedroom a minute 3m x 3m square. This was our living space for the next two nights, but man o man did it have character!


Day 2 30km

the out-and-back circular route to Molle As a suggestion from Mr Pandey the night before, most of the runners rose early to catch the sunrise as it broke through the eastern horizon. Words like “amazing“, “awe-inspiring“, “gob-smacking“ and “unbelievable“ don’t even come close to describing the sight of the first rays of the morning light as it struck the peaks of 4 of the 5 highest mountains on this planet. Mount Everest, Lhotse, Makalu and Kanchenjunga, as if awakening from a weeklong slumber, rose up like giants to greet the sky. Sandakphu is one of only two places in the world where one can view these peaks all together and as I sat in the –5 degree wind atop the look out point, the overwhelming sense of adventure, coupled with the intense spiritual awakening, sunk in. For a moment I was transported back in time, imagining how it must’ve been for those early explorers who set out to conquer these majestic peaks. Stage 2 combined a fair amount of ascents and descents as the route followed a ridgeline out towards the turn around point at Molle. With the crisp morning air welcoming us onto the trail, the runners set off on what was definitely one of the two best running stages of the event. Open jeep track, cobbled roads and some short sectioned of single track was the order of the day and most of the participants savoured the opportunity to stretch the legs after the previous days “trek-fest“. With this stage offering most runners the chance to finish in good times, it meant we were given the opportunity to relax and soak in the mountain atmosphere at Sandakphu. Each and every day of the event, the organisers ensured that there were ample soup and tea reserves to warm our tired bodies. In the brisk thin air, I cant explain how welcome a steaming bowl of soup really is, you’ll just have to remember these words when you decide to take part in this event in the future. And so the relaxation began in lieu of the marathon stage that was looming the following day. Day three was going to be a true test of endurance and one that would excite most runners in the knowledge that we would be past the halfway mark.

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Day 3 44km

the Everest Challenge Marathon Another icy dawn broke as we prepared ourselves for day 3. An interesting concept to the Himalayan 100 Stage Race is the inclusion of a separately branded marathon event known as the Everest Challenge Marathon with its own podium spots and prizes up for grabs. I knew this was going to be an extreme day out on the feet as the first 30km would see all the runners racing at an average altitude of 3500m on their way to the turn around point at the Phalut Hut. The route would then double back towards the previous days turn around point at Molle, however take a sharp left turn to begin the massive descent towards the town of Rimbik, some 15km and an altitude drop of almost 2000m. A combination of jeep track, more of those treacherous cobbled roads and some very steep and technical single track was the order of the day. As we descended from Molle, the change in our surroundings was almost immediate. Tundra-like vegetation gave way to lush tropical forest, uninhabited ridges became villages and civilisation began to creep back into the event. In a way, it would’ve been nice to have completed the marathon at the altitude at which we had began, but arriving in Rimbik, the air filled with twice the amount of oxygen and much warmer, was a welcome finish to what was for me the highlight stage of the race. As we all enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere of the aptly named Sherpa Lodge, the runners were once again compelled to exchange stories from the days trail, an insightful mix of experiences were on offer from both the podium and back-of-the-field finishers. I think the major point of this stage is the realisation that the back of the event had now been broken and all that remained was the two relatively shorter stages 4 and 5 as we edged our way closer to the finish. With that thought in mind, it was off to bed for an early night to offer the tired muscles the ample time possible to recover from the days beating.

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Day 4 21 km

the rainy road day Having been reminded the night before that the start of day 4 would only be at 9.00am, everyone was happy to enjoy a bit more time in the morning to savour a relaxed breakfast as well as not worry too much about the mad rush of packing the bags as we were coming back to Rimbik for one more night. With about 20 minutes to go until the start, the heavens, already having threatened with their thunderous warnings earlier in the morning, opened and the chilly raindrops began falling. The start was an unassuming one, taking place in the grounds of the Sherpa Lodge. Comically, within the first few meters of the route, the well-manicured gardens offered some serious obstacles as low hedges and flowerbeds needed to be navigated before heading out onto the road. For some reason I had acquired a severe stitch within the first kilometre of the run so my descent down the maze of switch backs to the river below was a slow one. It didn’t matter though, the views of the deep valleys that surrounded us were incredible. Being the shortest stage of the 5 days, it was an opportunity to relax and enjoy the new surroundings of Rimbik and neighbouring villages as well as offering some welcome recovery to the somewhat tired legs. As we made our way towards the river crossing below, and the remaining 10km of uphill climbing to the finish line, we were often greeted by the local residents as they waved and called from the comfort of their simple homes. To feel like such a foreigner in this strange land yet to be so warmly welcomed by the locals I think has to have been one of the highlights of the race, a true testament to the Indian spirit. A very makeshift finishline, along with some of the faster competitors, welcomed me in Palmajua and it was the chance to get out of the rain and into some dry clothes. The bus would take us back to Rimbik and as we drove the true sense of the overall finishline sunk in. That night back at the Sherpa Lodge, a truly meaningful and memorable cultural evening took place giving everyone form their respective countries the opportunity to not only experience the Indian culture through the voices and actions of the event staff, but also to share with others their own.

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Day 5 28km

the finish-line now in sight There is something to be said about the feeling you have when waking up on the last day of a multi-stage event. For me there were mixed emotions, ones of overwhelming joy and sadness. Although the end was in sight, the weather superb for running, I felt a little disappointed that within a few hours of the start, this amazing journey would be over. Stage 5 is once again all on tar and consisted of an early wake up, a quick breakfast, the final bag packing session of the trip and a 1hour bus transfer back to Palmajua (the finish of day 4). To begin with, a challenging 10km climb took the runners up to Dhotre and the peak of the hill. Having descended almost 2000m metres down into the valley on day 3, I was sure that views of the mighty peaks of the Kanchenjunga massif had eluded us, but with 1km to go until the top, the unmistakable outline of the “Sleeping Buddhaâ€? appeared through a gap in the trees. For a few seconds I was spell bound by this and once again revitalised by the sight. As I ran into the aid station area in the small village, it was not only the local residents that greeted us but also by Mr Pandey and the race doctor. Both of them offered kind and inspirational words of encouragement and after a quick hydration break we began the speedy 18km final stretch towards the town of Maneybhanyjang. I ran most of this section of the route alone and as I passed through thick forests, crossed mountain streams and listened to the deafening sound of the cicadas, the feeling of accomplishment began to hit home. Memories of the previous stages began flooding back to me, the amazing views and the unforgettable camaraderie of the fellow competitors offering a real boost to the morale. Running the last 2km into the town I could hear the music emanating from the finish line where a row of school children awaited our arrival, their beating drums and crashing symbols a satisfying welcome. As I crossed the finish line I was greeted by some of the other competitors. I was at peace‌the Himalayan 100 Stage Race was over.

1 Grit 2 Determination 3 Preparation through physical training that includes running, climbing, cycling, weight training and some Yoga to help with the control of breathing thus reducing the heart rate

4 Proper clothes and shoes 5 Some madness (ok, lots of it). Remember, age is not a criteria, rather the older you get the better you do and more you enjoy it. Above all one must come close to nature and enjoy the challenge thrown by it. A lot of this ultra marathon is a game played with the mind and the body follows.

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Someone said to me on this trip that the running was merely the vehicle for this amazing journey and I have to agree. There is something to be said about the way that this kind of experience enhances you as a runner but more so as a person. For me it was just simply impossible that I was going to leave the Himalaya not having been changed in some way. To know that a piece of me has been left up on a ridge somewhere between Sandakpu and Molle is a refreshing feeling, one that will always allow me to stop and reminisce of my time spent running on the shoulders of giants. Firstly, a very big thank you to the organisational staff of the Himalaya Run & Trek events company. When one thinks of the immense task of co-ordinating such a race, the regular aid stations, the meals and the baggage handling, you cannot but highly commend Mr Pandey and his team for making every moment of the trip hassle free. Thank you also to the Indian Ministry of Tourism for making me feel most welcome while staying in India. Your generosity and willingness to teach me about the culture of your country was not only a tremendous addition to the whole experience but also a true reflection of the kindness of the Indian people as a whole.

The 22nd HSR is scheduled to take place from October 27 - November 03, 2012. For more information on the event, as well as how to enter, head to the official website www.himalayan.com

Thank you to the following brands who were kind enough to supply support kit and other products that assisted me throughout the trip:

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Gear Review

GEAR Checking out some of the must-have trail equipment for the tech junkies among us. Dec 2011/Jan 2012

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REVIEW Dec 2011/Jan 2012

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Newton The Running Terra

Terra Momentus is the first trail offering from Newton, a brand more recognised for their road running range of footwear. The Newton philosophy is simple, for every action there is a reaction and with this simple belief in mind, the design of all their shoes adopts a technology modelled on this idea.

Momentus

Recommended Retail Price $139.00/ € 159.00

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Out of the box, one is stuck by the construction of the outsole, the four prominent lugs protruding from the midfoot region drawing your attention immediately. The idea behind this lug system is based on the above-mentioned theory so when placing your foot on each foot strike, the energy is absorbed by the lugs (the ACTION) which in turn gets released allowing you to lift you knee for the next stride (the REACTION). It also supposedly designed to offer you a more natural running gait utilising the energy in the forefoot and eliminating the dreaded heel strike. This feature was certainly positively felt on the better groomed, flatter trail and dirt road surfaces, however it was on the technical trail that

the shoe lost some ground. Because of the thick mid sole and pronounced differential between the heel and toe, coupled with the lugs

which automatically raise your foot into a slightly precarious position, one is left with a more clumsy feel when compared with flatter, lower profiled trail footwear. For the upper construction, a well rounded, balanced use of materials has been achieved offering you a very flexible yet fitted body. The use of a highly breathable, closed mesh fabric, a gusseted tongue and a very effective toe cap, all combine to keep your foot comfortable while running. A broader forefoot area also makes this shoe more suitable for runners with a higher foot volume although we feel that a general comfort should be obtained for most foot types. Oh, did we also mention that this shoe is GREEN. No, not the colour (although yes, the test pair we got were green in colour), we’re talking about it’s recycled components including 100% recycled laces, webbing and insole top cover, 100% recycled PET upper mesh and the 10% recycled outersole rubber. It’s no wonder why this shoe won Triathlon America’s “Most innovative product of the year award” in 2010.


Salomon XT Wings S-Lab 4 Trail Shoe Approximate Retail Price: $ 159.00 / € 150.00 / ZAR 1499.00

The

Salomon S-Lab range of footwear is one that has been developed with the help of some of the world’s top international trail athletes. So it’s really no wonder that the S-Lab 4, Salomon’s latest offering, has all the intrinsic elements of a true trail racer. We took these shoes to the Himalayan 100 to put them through their paces, a christening of fire some would say. Like its predecessors in this series, the S-Lab 4 continues to remain an extremely lightweight piece of equipment, combining a relatively one piece upper with their trademark AC Skeleton® and AC Muscle 2® mid-sole and Contagrip® outer sole. Don’t forget however that this

is your topof-the-line racing shoe so don’t expect the sole to last more then a few hundred miles, this being immediately evident in the use of softer compounds to reduce the weight. The shoe does offer a very comfortable ride on varied terrain and provides you with confidence when negotiating technical surfaces. We found the shoe to be especially effective on the downhill, specifically on technical single track as it offers you a very nimble ride with surprisingly a lot of proprioceptive qualities to help you adjust your body’s movements and reactions accordingly. Where this shoe gets our stamp of approval however is mainly in the upper, specifically when it comes to

the overall design and construction. An open mesh is used throughout the upper and is designed to be breathable as well as quick drying in wet conditions. The Quicklace® system is made from durable Kevlar fibers and is intended for easy foot entry and exit. Salomon’s secret weapon, Sensifit®, is located on the medial and lateral sides of the shoe, designed to conform to the foot allowing for flexibility yet stability. And the use of welding instead of multiple layers with stitching rounds off an upper that is both sleek and effective, offering you the holistic combination of comfort and performance.

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Salomon E S-Lab Skin Bag

rgonomics: “The study of designing equipment and devices that fit the human body, an its movements.” Have you ever gone into a clothing store, seen a jacket you like and the minute you tried it on realised how perfect it was for you? Well the Skin Bag is the running pack of perfect fitting jackets. This sleekly designed pack combines the minimalist use of materials with an overall shape that is completely body hugging. Salomon have done away with the need for excessive strapping across the chest and waist and come up with a simple vest-like system and twin-link system that conforms to your shoulders and mid-back. Constructed from extremely lightweight and breathable fabric, the Skin Bag eliminates any unnecessary excess bulk offering a quick dry solution. It is due to this reduced use of materials however that the volume of the pack has been limited offering a meagre 1.5L bladder and very few pouches for equipment storage. Then again, this pack has really been designed for one thing in mind and that’s racing so who’s complaining. A very nifty design feature is the underarm routing of the fluid pipe however the mouth piece could offer a greater volume of liquid when drinking. Other prominent features include the two water bottle holders for extra fluid capacity, the quick connect coupler and a wide opening on the Source® Widepac offers you easy refilling and cleaning, the inclusion of a whistle and space blanket often required in mandatory kit lists and a fully adjustable load lifter settings on each shoulder strap assist you with the over distribution of weight. We would say though that overall this pack is probably more suited to a runner with a thinner, smaller physique.

Approximate Retail Price: $ 170.00 / € 135.00 / ZAR 1999.00 Dec 2011/Jan 2012

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Through The Lens 1/3

Mountains OF

inspiration Words & Images: Craig KoleskyNikon/Lexar

“This

isn’t a race, it’s a challenge” uttered race organiser Adrian Saffy at the race briefing the night before the 2011 Thule 4Peaks. Watching the crowd’s facial expressions as he went through course map you could see some of the first timers didn’t have a clue what they were getting themselves into. This is not your average 24-kilometre trail race. It’s a mountain challenge on an unmarked route where you have to use buck trails to navigate through the historic private game farm, Moolmanshoek. The

terrain is so technical that you’d rather call it a ‘climb’ than a ‘run’. I have covered much of the route to photograph the crazy adventure nuts putting their bodies through everything this challenge has to throw at them. The expressions I’ve captured and words that I’ve heard on the course are always so positive and inspiring - who would think putting yourself through something like this would put a smile on your face and make you say “this is one of the best days of life”... with 15kms still to go?!?


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Editorial


Taming A Wild African

Coastline By Chantel Nienaber Images by Kelvin Trautman


Just over

a year ago, my dear husband showed me some photos of the Wild Coast Run and asked me if I would like to take part next year? Of course I said yes. Who wouldn’t want to? I was so exited that I didn’t hear that there were some conditions involved… Firstly, if I was going to run this race, I would have to WIN it! His statement was: “if other people can do it, you can do it better”. The second condition: I would have to raise all of the money needed to cover the costs of this event; including a car-service, travel expenses, accommodation, etc.

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Lastly, he would be my coach and I would have to commit to listen to him (no matter how unconventional some of the training techniques may be). I agreed - even putting pen to paper. Stupidity! So here I was, standing on the banks of the Kei river mouth. Ready to start my journey of the Wild Coast run. I was exited to be participating, but on the other hand, I couldn’t help but contemplate – would this be my defining moment? What makes the Wild Coast run such an amazing trail run, is that you get to run “free”. For three days the only guideline is that you should keep


the sea to your right-hand side, the rest is up to you. Paths etched into the grasslands over centuries made by the resident Nguni cattle, boulder hopping over the jagged outcrops of the desolate beaches or simply opt to head up into the highlands…the choice is undeniably yours. Some runners choose to get to the end line,

‘There is nothing better than putting on your trail shoes, grabbing a hydration pack and being at one with nature.’ as quickly and efficiently as possible. Whereas other prefer to take in the sights and sounds.

open expanse of untouched beaches. Would all of my efforts culminate now to ensure my success? From running barefoot on the numerous beaches, to resorting to selling raffle tickets (in order to raise the money to get here in the first place), the moment of truth was upon me… Having just crossed the final river of the day, I wondered around soaked to the bone. Thankfully, the hospitality of the race organizers, hotel staff and fellow runners over-whelmed me. Elated that I completed the first day successfully - I was disappointed to find my husband and son were not at the finishing line to share in my victory, the two of them having got lost in the labyrinth of unmarked dirt roads deep in the heart of the Wild Coast. Before long, I was wearing four different peoples clothing while enjoying a massage, waiting for my “seconding crew” to make their appearance.

Once Owen had pulled the trigger of the startersgun my nerves began to settle and I started finding my rhythm over the vast

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The runners were rewarded daily with good food and a warm shower in their hotel room. The evening was spent getting together with fellow runners, relaying the stories of the days events over a cold beer. A priceless personal recollection stood out for me the most. It was from a woman who was chased into the sea by a “horny” bull on more then one occasion – this is truly Africa! Having gained a 6-minute lead on my nearest rival the previous day, we left the Kobb Inn with a fast, hard pace the following morning. The pressure was on, and I knew that she would try to take the lead from me. There was no time to be apprehensive when crossing the mighty river mouths, my years of lifesaving training fortunately coming in handy when faced with the incoming currents. With only a few kilometers to go as we approached The Haven, our second nights stop over, I was able to tap into my countless hours of beach training prior to the race and gained an additional 2-minutes. This race was now mine to loose… The dynamics of a race of this nature is that your choices have a direct influence on the final outcome. Considering there are no route-markers, you are forced to constantly think on your feet. “Should I take the shortest route across the soft sand or conserve my energy by meandering along the coastline? Should I clamber along the cliff face or take a detour over the grassy, rolling hills?” These were regular

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questions I found myself pondering over. In the end, it si all comes down to strategy – especially if you intend to win! The final day was technically challenging at stages. Here I was forced to push myself beyond my boundaries and hone in on my trail running skills. In doing so, I gained confidence and could reassure myself – I can do this! As I crossed the final river mouth at the Hole-in-the-wall, one of South Africa’s iconic natural landmarks, it was incredibly satisfying to know that by sticking to the game plan, all of my efforts weren’t in vain. Three days of running wild, running free – you can’t help but feel alive. After having had the privilege of running along one of the most pristine coastlines on the Southern tip of Africa; my passion for trail running had yet again been confirmed. There is nothing better than putting on your trail shoes, grabbing a hydration pack and being at one with nature. I would like to thank Tamaryn and Owen for hosting such an awesome event and also the two people that challenged me en-route Tatum Prins (the Hobbit) - for being a great friend and competitor - and Mark Middleton - for putting up with endless hours of chatting during the first day. I also most certainly couldn’t have done it without my husbands unwavering support and belief in my abilities.

hnically challenging at stages. Here I was beyond my boundaries’ Dec 2011/Jan 2012

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Through The Lens 2/3

Chasing

t h e

Sun Words & Images: Craig Muller

Alexandria Coastal Dunefield is the largest, most impressive and least degraded dunefield in South Africa and arguably one of the most spectacular in the world. If this fact alone is not enticing enough for one to just view these spectacular dunes, then the rare chance of running through them should be.


It was a dark and early start to the day as we headed out to the inaugural Sunshine Coast Trail Run. Arriving at Springmount Farm, the trail runners eagerly awaited the start of the race and a chance to take part in this unique event. The race would take the runners along an old train line, around lush thickets of bush, through some grassy veld and then out onto the undulating dune fields themselves.

By the time they had reached the dunes the wind had picked up significantly, adding to the difficulty of running on soft sand. Spirits remained high ahead of the last climb out of the dunes from the shoreline, but the intrepid adventurers continued onwards and upwards, finally reaching the summit…a just reward for their valiant efforts.


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Editorial

Af


e c n e ri

e p x E n n n y l a F x c e l i A y r b f


I’m sat on my couch with my leg propped up on two fat cushions. I don’t normally rest my legs up but in this case the choice is not mine. Resting before me, ensconced deep in the pillow, is my damaged ankle. How did

this come to be? Well I’ll tell you…

I was working on my computer when the message came through on Skype. “Hey mate! You have got to see this”. James Hallett, editor GoTrail magazine was enthused; his voice eager to tell his message. The chat box indicated that he’d sent me something. I opened it and saw the URL to Magnetic South. It was the first time that I heard of the Otter Trail Race. “You’ve got to do it. It’s the Grail of Trail!” were James’ parting words. So the seed had been sown. Roll forward at least five months and I’m getting on a plane and heading off to South Africa with Mr Johnny Ultra to compete in one of the toughest races on the planet; the Otter Trail. The flight was nondescript, including the food. If you liked the choice of ham and cheese sandwich and nothing else, then really you would be over the moon, but by the third ham and cheese sandwich the appeal was fading fast. Landing at Johannesburg, we encountered the airport porter. These are really helpful guys; especially if you have absolutely no idea where to go to get your plane, which you’re running late for. Johnny and I made the plane and the short hour and a half trip to Durban was uneventful. This gave me time to think in question what the hell was I doing? I mean, I’ve run trails but none as imposing and is beautiful as the one which we were about to face. If I said I was nervous, it would be an understatement. However, one has to put a brave face on and tackle your fears. Hey, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right? The airport was considerably smaller than Johannesburg and, thankfully, we didn’t need the services of the porters to extract our way out from plane side. On exiting I found a man waiting. Bearded and wearing a black Salomon T-shirt, as well as being considerably taller and skinnier than I had imagined (in a good way); this was James Hallett. He welcomed Johnny and me with a firm handshake and lots of smiles. Dec 2011/Jan 2012

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It was good to finally meet the man who had put the idea in my head to come to South Africa and experience this country. His fantastic wife Susanne was with him and after a quick hello, we headed out to find the vehicle that Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles South Africa had graciously supplied us with. We found it waiting in the car park on a sunny and surprisingly warm day; our VW Amarok, double cab! VW had done me proud. Thank you Andile and all the VW South Africa crew for going above

out turning this into a 4x4 review I’ll leave you with the idea that this car can do almost anything you throw at it… But more of that later… We drove immediately to meet Salomon South Africa, who graciously was supplying the kit for my trip now renamed the African Experience. The guys at Salomon were fantastic hosts and had supplied a James with a box of goodies. Included in the package were a pair of S-LAB trainers, which at £180 was quite a statement from Salomon. Thank you Salomon,

people were starting to make their way back from work, which made it interesting for changing in the middle of the car park. My apologies to the passers-by for my underwear while jumping around trying to get into a pair of shorts! With the right apparel on, and James wearing a new 10MillionMetres race T-shirt, we were just about to head off up towards the football stadium when we met a busload of schoolchildren accompanied by their two schoolteachers. The opportunity was too good

‘They were just rocks in the way and I was determined to get past them.’ and beyond the call of duty. Not only had they asked James if we wanted a cab on the back flatbed (which of course we did), but upon hearing this they drove the car from Port Elizabeth to Johannesburg to fit the cab and then drove the Amarok to Durban for James to collect. All of this was on time. Thank you. Thank you VW! I could go on at length at length but with-

South Africa for the support and help you gave towards my 10MillionMetres challenge and African Experience. After a quick bite to eat, it was back to the Amarok and over to the seafront where we would be filmed by James running up and down in front of the football stadium. The evening was warm and comfortable for running. It was the end of the day and

to miss. I introduced myself to the head teacher and explained why was running and what I intended to achieve by my 10MillionMetres Campaign. I also asked whether she would mind being on TV with the other school kids? Quick as a flash, she replied no, she didn’t have a problem with that and, in fact, they’d all like to be on TV too. The assembled mass of chil Dec 2011/Jan 2012

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dren, all smiles, noise and pushing each other out of the way in excitement, seemed to agree as well. So there I was standing in the front with the mass of school kids and two teachers behind me. I shouted over the cacophony behind, “Right, on the count of three, I want you to shout as loud as you can the words “KEEP MOVING” and at the same time wave your arms. Do you think you can do that?” We had a trial run. It went well. So we did it for real and the kids came up trumps! Fantastic! There we all were with our hands in the air and shouting at the top of our lungs the words keep moving!! It was a great way to start a run and certainly put a smile on my face. We started off up towards the stadium as the sun was setting and light from which was turning the colours of the buildings and everything around to more pastel shades. It was my first time in the S-LABS and they felt light and good. I had expected them to rub but they didn’t. Instead, they supported and gave good feedback from the road beneath my feet; notwithstanding that both of

us were shattered. It had been a huge journey to Durban and now we were running! I comforted myself that this was just like an ultra where you race for what seems like an eternity and then realise there is still more to come and with a smile on your face you grind it out! However, this occasion wasn’t quite like that. It was fun to be in the open air after being stationary in my plane seat for hours. In fact, Johnny and I raced back up the incline from the stadium which I believe I won…but it was close… very close. It was after 8:30 PM by the time we finally arrived at Botha House and the end of our journey for the day. The guesthouse dating back to the very beginning of the 20th century was stunning. Although, at night and being absolutely spent from travel, it was too dark to make out how splendid property was. However, it was clear that this was a very special place with character and above all a comfy bed. The next morning, I did not want to get out of bed. However, the Otter called and soon I was hands-on with the case of trying desper-


ately to put the decals of the deVere group, Go Trail Magazine and 10MillionMetres on the Amarok. While expertly watched over by Biscuit (the dog) and no doubt a thousand monkeys, we managed to complete the task. The VW Amarok looked the business. The question was, was I up for it? Of course I was and so were James, Johnny Ultra and Susanne. After a good breakfast we piled into the car and started the long, long journey to the Grail of trail. After some time we turned off the N2 headed towards Coffee Bay. The road was now unmade in plac-

comfortable for a nervous passenger. The most unbelievably rutted road stood no chance and we made Hole in the Wall in good time. By now the fading sun cast a warmer and softer light which was magical and a good 45 minutes of running up and down and around a truly beautiful area of South African coastline was had. We left Hole in the Wall and began the route back towards the Backpackers Lodge. It seemed that every child we passed would cry out the word “sweets” holding up their hands to the windows of the car as we rolled past slowly. Susanne

‘Stuff it! It's just a sprain and I run sprains out’ es as we headed down towards the backpackers Lodge where we would be staying that night. Eventually finding the place, and successfully avoiding hitting the rogue cattle which strolled in front of the 4x4, we made it to Coffee Bay. Still light and far from the end of day, we had enough time to make it to the infamous Hole in the Wall. This is a South African icon and an incredibly beautiful place; one which I, along with James, intended to take advantage of for photos and running before nightfall. James knew the route and I realised that I am not the most comfortable passenger when off-roading in a 4x4. The Amarok was brilliant and

even gave the last of the biscuits she had made to one of the children who stood and watched us run up and down that hillside. I slept well that night. I think it was due to good food, a few beers, and losing at Pool (and not minding). Maybe it was the good banter; deliberating the merits of X factor South Africa with Johnny and Alex the guy who runs the show at the Backpackers Lodge (he’s a burgeoning artist too). Whatever it was, I slept like a log! We were all up early with James disappearing for a run around the point and me, disappearing down to the shoreline to photograph the lagoon. Soon after I was accosted Dec 2011/Jan 2012

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by local ladies intent on selling me bracelets and necklaces made of local materials. Obviously, I’m a soft touch as I spent far too much on stuff that I probably will not wear that often. I was glad of the opportunity of contributing to the local economy but I desperately needed to make tracks towards Nature’s Valley and get registered for the Otter Trail race. It was dark by the time we made it to Nature’s Valley, to the house on stilts, and we had to wait until morning to truly appreciate where we were. Nature’s Valley is a small community which sits in the Tsitsikamma National Park. The road we were on and large houses to rent and faced towards the ocean. You could smell the sea and once through the bush and onto the beach you can see the swell of the waves and feel the wind; direct and forceful. I stood looking along the beach towards where the Salt River prologue (the classification run of a 4.2 km micro version of the real race) would take place. My mind was clear and, for the first time since crossing Europe, I was genuinely nervous; possibly even scared. Johnny and I rocked up at the registration and proceeded to stand in a queue for 15 min before realising that we needed to check our race number. When race numbers had been duly checked we returned to the queue! Actually, the whole team at the Otter Trail race are fantastic and processed every single competitor in rapid time. One of the competitors whom I had the pleasure of meeting at registration was Ryan Sandes. I’m sure that I don’t need to describe how talented Ryan is as a runner, but safe to say his kit was really light weight and his form after fin-

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ishing the Leadville 100 looked good; a real challenge to John Collins the then reigning Otter champion. So with registration over and after a chat to Mark Collins (the Race Director) I was set. To be honest I was still nervous but nonetheless resolute that I was there and that a job needed to be done. The Salt River Prologue was tough. Tight muscles and the fact that I was stepping into the unknown made that 4.2 km hard. From the start the prologue takes you across the beach; the sand pulling on your legs as you round some rocks and start to climb. And climb you do! Pushing hard and trying equally to breathe and relax into the run, it was clear that I am a novice when it comes to something as technical as the Otter. All I could think about was that this was the prologue and the race didn’t start until tomorrow! I pushed the thoughts to the back of my mind and concentrated on the descent. Coming out of the forest and across the beach to the rocks where the tide was slowly coming in, I clambered, haphazardly along with Johnny, across the rough rocks above the water and finally made the beach with finish line in view. Running hard across the soft sand towards the finish line I kept thinking that if that was 4.2 km what on earth would ten times that distance, a full 42km feel like? That evening, at the finish line for the main race it was good to have Mark and John Collins dish out some valuable advice. I kept telling myself to remember to take it steady, but would I remember that on the start line in the morning?


The alarm woke me up at 4am. As per usual before a race, I had slept relatively lightly and although tired, I felt alive. Shifting into automatic we were out the door by five and ready to follow minibuses that would take the athletes to the Storms River Mouth. It was cold and grey; the perfect weather to run in and I noted the size of the swell, which smashed waves hard against the rocks. I turned and stared up at the start and beyond. Before me lay one of the toughest races on the planet and I was here to run it with a top friend. The Otter Trail race is a 26.2 mile trail run which epitomises the description of hard. At no point can a runner strike a rhythm. The course is

trying to run next to the cliff edge. To this, mix in some snakes, the elusive leopard, sharks, crocodiles, 11 significant climbs, four river crossings (including the celebrated Bloukrans River Crossing) and a cumulative ascent of over 2600 meters across some of the most technical Trail around and you’ve got yourself the Grail of Trail. I mean piece of cake right? The wind was cool and while standing around waiting for the signal to go, I took a look at the field of competitors. Judging by the standard of the trial runners involved, there were simply no illusions of finishing this race near the front (the Abangeni). The field including Ryan Sandes, John Col-

‘whatever knocks you down, get back up and kick it in the teeth!’ continually undulating and changing between cliff edge to forested paths littered with tree roots, to climbs of hundreds of steps (all at different levels and angles), which sap your energy; making your legs and lungs burn with the effort of forcing yourself upward. Then there are the rocks. Rocks so enormous that you need to climb over and around them others though smaller are sizeable enough to cause problems. Each placed strategically to catch you off guard; smashing your legs or toes and, at worst, throwing you off the trail completely. The latter being the last thing you would want when

lins, Andre Gie, Bruce Arnett, and many others, would prove to be an extremely formidable body of world-class and amateur competitors; who, whilst remaining outwardly calm, exuded a characteristic steely determination to push themselves onwards, notwithstanding everything that the Otter Trail would throw at them. I watched as some of the top Trail runners set off in particular Bruce Arnett who shot out of the start line like a bullet from a gun. It was clear that Bruce was a man on a mission. Johnny and I stood at the start line. Dec 2011/Jan 2012

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My right hand was rigid the stress of the situation provoking my Parkinson’s in to action. I hoped that the tremor in my hand would not be indicative of anything that would stop me from completing my challenge. Having taken my medication it was just a matter of time before it would kick in completely and then everything would be cool. We lined up in a group of four and I jumped on the spot and shook my hands; telling myself quietly that the race would be tough but I would overcome. Wearing my timing chip on my finger I looked to my right and got the nod from one of the Otter Team Crew. It was time to walk the walk. I could do this marathon. I could cross that line and claim a finish. It would be so good! My timing chip was inserted into the recorder and after two beeps Johnny and I started to run. Now when I’m told that the first 4 km is some of the most technical Trail racing in the world I had imagined that it was as tough as the prologue. I was in for an eyeopener. The path winds around the headland leading upwards over rocks adjacent to the cliff where it flirts with the edge of the forest before finally leading you down to a stony beach. These aren’t small stones. They’re uneven and of varying sizes and shape and in no time at all abruptly meet the start of some of the most difficult rocks to race across. The sea having made the rocks slimy and slippery, in places, meant that going fast was not an option. The right move was to take it steady and slow as breaking a leg here would be a bitter and painful disappointment. Johnny and I made it across. It was not without incident, I smashed my knee, hard, trying to get up over the rocks which certainly made the next obstacle interesting. Ahead of us, up and into the forest, was the first climb. This was a shock to the system as it just kept going up; reducing both Johnny and I to grinding it out without hands on our knees and pushing our legs every

single step. Psychologically those first few kilometres, including the climb, was a big one. If you’re not prepared to give everything you’ve got and then 50% more, the larger climbs to come will take it out of you. We powered through the forest, the feeling in our tired legs, which felt drained at the top of the climb, slowly coming back to life. The only difficulty I had was that, because my medication for my Parkinson’s had decided not to

kick in, my right leg was an absolute nightmare to control. It worried me on a course like the Otter. When you need sure footing the last thing you want think about is where you’re going to be putting your leg and will your leg be there? For me it was a battle, but a fun battle as I firmly believe that everyone should rise to a challenge. Dec 2011/Jan 2012

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The countryside that we were passing through is said to be one of the most beautiful places on Earth. Strange then, to think that in undertaking this race the competitors will hardly notice the wonder that surrounds them. What you do notice though is where the next rock to avoid is, the route up and over an impasse, how cold the water is when crossing rivers and smashing your toes while wading across, which you just naturally accept as collateral damage. Speaking of feet, the SLABS were really great. They gave a huge amount of comfort but my toe box was getting battered rotten by the roots, rocks, drops and stones. At 15 km into the race this, including my Parkinson’s, was having an impact on our progress. I felt that I was holding Johnny back, which he politely (and very charmingly) dismissed but, however I tried to look at it, the frustration was getting to me! Then, as if by magic, my medication kicked in! Wow! A whole new level and I was rocking. The following 10 km were, by far, the best part of the day. We made the GU station on the top of large and interesting climb up from a river crossing. I felt better than I had allday and the sun was shining. Both Johnny and I stopped and fuelled up. It was good to get liquid on board as this was not the terrain for dehydration; as one stupid mistake could cost dearly.

to get past them as I knew that, once past Bloukrans, there would be no stopping until the end. I climbed up over the rock, eager to move forward. Johnny was behind by about 20 metres. From the top of the rock the wind caught my face as I stared out over the Ocean. It was a beautiful day. I looked down and took a second to consider where I was going to land for this half metre (just over 2 foot) descent. I had jumped off worse and was not worried as I was feeling fantastic. I stepped off. The pain was intense. I landed and rolled completely over my left ankle and in so doing did a number one job of messing something up. That something had snapped. I’d heard it and now I was feeling it. As I lay on the ground, I so wanted to hold the ankle but in state shock at what had happened, my hands only moved around in the air above the injury; as if I was trying to wave the pain and the damage away. I noticed that somebody

Make change happen! Keep moving!!

The break was short and sweet and within no time at all I was pressing ahead with Johnny; both of us trying to get to the Bloukrans River Crossing in time before the cut-off. The reason for this was due to heavy rains having washed logs and trees down the river into the estuary mouth. The logs and trees would be caught by the incoming tide which would wash them back towards those crossing the river and this posed a significant risk. We were well warned in advance but we weren’t far. We could make it! We just had to keep going across another stony patch of ground up and over the rocks on the far side and within no time we would be navigating down steps towards the river crossing. The rocks weren’t high or technically that difficult. They were just rocks in the way and I was determined Dec 2011/Jan 2012

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was yelling, and quickly realised that that somebody was me. Johnny’s words from the other side of the rock, “Are you alright mate?” seemed to compound the issue. For sitting alongside the pain was a slab of guilt. Why had I just dropped off the rock onto my left leg? Why this happened now? A thousand questions and I was angry. More angry and crying with frustration than aware of the initial pain, as I now realised that Johnny had come all the way out to South Africa to run this race with me and I had put that in jeopardy. I looked at Johnny and said, “Stuff it! It’s just a sprain and I run sprains out”. It wasn’t exactly a run, it was a hobble; slow and pathetic. I carried on and on persuading myself that, irrespective of the pain, the ankle would make it through. Some runners came past and asked if I was all right (including one in a Dalmatian costume without the


Click to view the official African Experience video

dog head). Thankfully, they alerted some marshals up towards the river crossing and who found me staring at the impasse in the shape of downward slope of rock. I told Johnny to run and get past the river and finish the bloody race. Clutching a stick it was my turn to revisit the route that I just descended and climb over the rocks that had taken me out of the race. The speed, of what little I could muster, didn’t matter. Stephen, the Marshall and now my new guide, was patient and incredibly helpful especially getting over rocks. We soon met up with Melody who gave me some topical painkiller and strapped my ankle, whilst I got to admire the spectacular Otter Trail. At last I could watch the swell from the waves, forcing

them to crash over the granite rocks; solid unyielding buttresses, standing in the way of the power of Ocean. I could smell the clean sea air, feel the sun on my face, and irrespective of the pain, and disappointment at not completing the Otter, this wasn’t a bad consolation prize. I’m now on the mend but it will be a little while before racing again in early 2012. Obviously, it goes without saying that I’ve already signed up for the 2012 Otter Trail Race! As they say, whatever knocks you down, get back up and kick it in the teeth! See you at the start line! Make change happen! Keep moving!!

My

thanks to the following sponsors who made my African Experience happen; Magnetic South, Buff, Salomon South Africa, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles South Africa, Motion Pixel, Orca, and Go Trail magazine.

magnetic south productions ™

Extra special thanks and gratitude must be given to the deVere Group for their support, belief and assistance as Core sponsor of 10MillionMetres, and making the African Experience happen. Dec 2011/Jan 2012

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Capturing the trail with

south africa

Part of trail running is about enjoying the outdoors and being a part of the natural world. Nowadays you can head out there with your digital camera to capture those unforgettable vistas or your mate enjoying an unforgettable mountain trail.

We check out two Digital Compact cameras from Canon and highlight some of their key features to offer you the best camera solution to fit right into your outdoor needs offering unparalleled picture and video quality for those memorable trail running adventures.

PowerShot S95

In August of 2010, Canon unveiled their latest model in the very successful PowerShot S-series with the launch of the new PowerShot S95 – an advanced, compact digital camera for photographers looking for outstanding low light performance and manual control in a pocket-sized body.

Improving on both the size and handling of its predecessor, the PowerShot S95 features an even slimmer body at just 29.5 mm thick, an improved multi-control dial and the same external coating used on the EOS 7D to improve slip-resistance and grip, perfect for that outdoor lifestyle. To track subjects that are in motion, or to help achieve a creative composition, a new Tracking AF mode offers the ability to select objects from the centre of the frame and track them if on the move, ideal for those single track action shots. Another great feature to this camera is the full 720p HD 24fps movie recording with stereo sound. You’re able to get creative and enjoy playing back some of the short clips you take while running, or simply filming others…the opportunities are endless.

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Canon PowerShot S95 – key features: HS System & f/2 lens High-sensitivity 10 MP CCD 28mm wide, 3.8x zoom lens, Hybrid IS Lens Control Ring, Full Manual & RAW 7.5 cm (3.0”) PureColor II G LCD HD movies, HDMI High Dynamic Range mode Smart Auto Multi-Aspect Shooting Optional Waterproof Case

• • • • • • • • • •


Just when you were worried that taking your camera outdoors and into the elements, worry no more! Introducing the PowerShot D10, Canon’s first waterproof Digital Compact camera, a sleek little number engineered for those with an adventurous, active lifestyle, combining take-anywhere levels of toughness with exceptional image quality.

PowerShot D10

But it doesn’t stop at being water proof, this neat little machine is also shock proof, freeze proof and dust proof…not a bad combination when heading out into the extremes. With its unique IS and Motion Detection Technology, you can remain confident in the knowledge that your images will be clear most of the time as you take pictures doing what you do best…running!!

PowerShot D10 – key features : 12.1 Megapixels Waterproof (to 10m), shockproof (1.22m), freeze-proof (-10°C), dust-proof digital camera 3.0x optical zoom with optical Image Stabilizer Smart Auto mode with Scene Detection Technology DIGIC 4 for ultra-fast response, superb image quality and intelligent Exceptionally bright 2.5” PureColor LCD II with 2mm protective shield Combats blur with IS and Motion Detection Technology Range of shooting modes and Special Scene modes 0fps VGA movies

• • • • • • • • •

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Through The Lens 3/3

On the Trail of an

Otter Words & Images: Kelvin Trautman


South Africa has a truly remarkable coastline. I look at the desert beaches of the West Coast, the misty sea cliffs of the Wildcoast, the palm fringed tropical waters of Northern Natal, and all are alluring in their own beachy way. But if you swapped your swimming towel and book for your explorer cap and running shoes, then there are few places - anywhere in the world - that would rival the 42 km of coastline known as the Otter Trail. For the most part, the Otter Trail is advertised as a 5 day hike, and most visitors lug heavy packs along well worn paths, staying in rustic log cabins in what is a pretty leisurely experience. But alas, due to a ground-breaking partnership between South African National Parks and a local events company, the Otter Trail - for one weekend a year and for only a restricted number of people - becomes the stage for one of the worlds most tough and wildly beautiful marathon distance trail runs around. Turn the pages and find out why.


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Go Explore


Words by Malcolm Law Images by Running Wild


‘To nurture a landscape as green as New Zealand’s requires a lot of rain.’

L

ong known as a ‘must visit’ destination for international hikers, New Zealand has recently found itself creeping on to the radar of those who like to move a little faster and carry a little less weight. And rightly so, for packed within its relatively compact shores is an incredible array of landscapes through which a rich vein of superb trails wind their way. Aoteoroa, or ‘Land of the Long White Cloud’, as New Zealand is known in the Maori language, is also a land of long trails. And short trails. And ludicrously steep, hilly trails. And gentler coastal trails. They traverse semi-tropical bush, climb over high mountain passes and down long alpine valleys, they cling to cliff tops and meander around sparkling lakes. They all but disappear following streams to their source and they bravely shoulder their way around volcanoes. The variety of what is on offer in this small country is quite mind-boggling and while it’s impossible to Dec 2011/Jan 2012 | 90

fully catalogue all the trail running opportunities that abound in a short piece like this I have provided a few highlights below. The growth in the sport’s popularity amongst kiwis very much mirrors the international trend that sees more and more runners, if not abandoning bitumen altogether, then at least running a much greater amount of trail. This seems only natural as adventure is every bit as much part of the nation’s DNA as it is part of trail running. But it’s only relatively recently that the activity kiwis now know as ‘trail running’ has been codified as such. For years it existed as “mountain running”, “bush running” or “off-road running” depending pretty much on where you did your thing. But now the international lexicon has found its way into the common vernacular and trail running in New Zealand has well and truly come of age. This maturity is reflected in the number of trail running events that now crowd the calendar. Just a few years ago there were probably less than 50 events; now there are more than 100. These range from long-


standing classics such as the Kepler Challenge and Tararua Mountain Race that draw the hard-core athletes to events such as the Xterra Trail Runs in Auckland. This winter series which offers a variety of distance options in six locations very accessible from the country’s largest city attracted more than 5,000 entrants this year! More evidence of kiwis’ growing desire to slip on everlighter shoes and go exploring their seemingly endless single-track heaven is the growth in community-based trail running groups (helped no doubt by Facebook’ s own phenomenal growth) and the rise of the ‘fat-ass’ style adventure runs. Every month there seem to be several invites posted to join an informal, no entry fee, adventure run across some wild landscape or other. So, apart from a hell of a good time, what could a South African trail junkies expect from a trail running holiday in New Zealand? Here’s a few pointers:

MUD:

To nurture a landscape as green as New Zealand’s requires a lot of rain. And that means mud. Particularly in winter, and in areas of dense bush (where many great trails can be found), the trails make for a dirty challenge. Many trail shoes, particularly those of a North American design, struggle to cope, so it would pay to come with something that has Grip.

SINGLE TRACK: Hiking trails form the large part of the kiwi trail runner’s canvas, rather than gravel roads, fire trails or 4WD tracks. These make for a brilliant trail running experience but can sometimes be very gnarly and steep. Don’t expect to be running 5-minute kilometres too often and make sure your technical skills and balance are finely tuned.

LONG RUNS: Sure there are plenty of short runs available but the options for huge days out, even overnighters are almost limitless. A third of New Zealand’s landmass is administered for conservation and recreational purposes by the Department of Conservation. Over the years many dozens of multi-day walks incorporating basic hut accommodation have developed and these are now sought out by ultra-distance runners looking for adventure and a big training day. Dec 2011/Jan 2012

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RACES:

As mentioned before there are a huge number of events to choose from so the chances are that no matter what time of year you visit you’ll be able to find something that requires a number pinned to your vest. Check out the excellent NZ Running Calendar for a comprehensive list of what’s on. And where should you go to experience the best of trail running kiwi-style? Here are some of my favourite spots (but believe me, there are many, many more):

Waitakere Ranges:

(North Island, close to Auckland) – stunning bush and beach running on a 250km network of trails all within an hour’s drive of the country’s largest centre. The Park includes the 75-km long Hillary Trail that since opening in January 2010 has become a rite of passage for long-distance trail runners.

Rotorua:

(Central North Island) – provides endless options through plantation redwood forests and around native bush-fringed lakes, all with the promise of a natural hot spring bath to sooth tired muscles at the end of the day.

Tongariro National Park:

(Central North Island) – stunning volcanic landscapes and tough trails including the epic Tongariro Northern Circuit and Round-the-Mountain tracks.

Some Useful links Kepler Challenge: http://www.keplerchallenge.co.nz/ Tararua Mountain Race: http://www.tararua-race.org.nz/ Xterra Trail Runs: http://www.trailrun.co.nz/ NZ Running Calendar: http://www.runningcalendar.co.nz/ Rees-Dart Circuit: http://www.doc.govt.nz/parks-andrecreation/tracks-and-walks/otago/queenstown-wakatipu/ rees-dart-track/

Nelson Lakes National Park:

(north of the South Island) – a jewel in the crown of the conservation estate this area offers short and long-distance options through stunning alpine landscapes. Everything from a straightforward run around a lake to epic traverses of high mountain ranges is possible.

Abel Tasman National Park:

(north of the South Island) – best known for its classic Coastal Path that takes runners through glorious coastal forests and along stunning golden sand beaches. Water taxis mean just about any length of run is possible.

Running Wild Ltd: http://runningwildnz.com/

Kahurangi National Park: (north-west of the South Dec 2011/Jan 2012

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Island) – one of the lesser-known gems, the Kahurangi Park is fairly remote but an incredibly rewarding area to explore. It features unique areas of limestone rock formations as well as beautiful bush, rivers and high mountain tablelands.

Southern Lakes:

(southern South Island) – centred around the adventure tourism capital of Queenstown and its smaller, even more charming sibling Wanaka, is an endless array of top-notch trail running. Mountain ridges, alpine valleys, lakes, rivers, old gold mining settlements – this area has it all.

Mal’s Top Spot

I love the high peaks, passes and valleys of the Southern Alps that extend the length of the South Island but the one run that stands out above all others for me is the Rees-Dart Circuit that heads deep into Aspiring National Park. Spanning 67 kms this is not for the feint-hearted. At both ends there are long, beautiful and relatively flat valleys overlooked by huge snow-capped mountains. There are extensive areas of idyllic native bush and open grasslands in both valleys that provide an ever-changing panorama. And in the middle is the exhilarating rocky climb and descent of the Rees Saddle and Snowy Creek. It’s all just gobsmackingly gorgeous and a brilliant challenge to take on in a single long day. Getting there: 1 ½ hours’ drive from Queenstown beyond the head of Lake Wakatipu, the trail head is in the Rees Valley. The nearby village of Glenorchy makes a good base and shuttles to the start and from the finish can be arranged here.

Who is Mal Law?

Mal has been an endurance sport junkie for the best part of 20 years. English by birth he went to New Zealand on a one year working holiday in 1987, fell in love with the great kiwi outdoors and never went home. His obsession with trail running began when he became the first person ever to run New Zealand’s 7 mainland Great Walks (multi-day hiking trails) in just 7 days in 2009 – a 370km backcountry adventure that raised NZ$85,000 for charity. Since then he has founded Running Wild Ltd., a website and adventure tourism business that encourages runners from all over the globe to explore his adopted country’s aweinspiring trails. He is happy to share ideas and answer questions. Email mal@runningwildnz.com


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miles of Pyrenees mountain racing Images by Jaques Marais


Imagine running through a mountain range that is older then the alps, a place named after an ancient, mythical Greek princess and home to two of the longest non-stop trails in Europe. The Grand Raid Du Pyrenees is one of Europe’s most well known and equally respected 100 mile races. With a vertical ascent and descent of little over 10 000m, it is no wonder why this has become a formidable challenge for ultra mountain and trail runners the world over. We chat to Anne-Marie Dunhill, one of the 6 primary race organisers, about just how tough the Grand Raid Du Pyrenees is for an organiser as it is for a runner.

Questions

&

Answers with Anne-Marie Dunhill (race director)

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Go Trail (GT): From a terrain

that everything goes smoothly

perspective, the Pyrenees is

(this year we had more than 300

regarded as one of the most

volunteers for various tasks

beautiful

demanding

such as race bib distribution,

mountain ranges terrain-wise in

aide stations, course marking,

south-western Europe. As a race

security‌etc)

yet

organisation, what are some of the primary challenges you face

GT: Talk us through a typical

in your preparation for the event

Grand Raid des Pyrenees race

each year?

day. What lies in store for all the staff involved?

Anne-Marie Dunhill (AMD): Some of our primary challenges include

AMD: For all of the volunteers,

coordinating all of the logistics

the typical race day is focused

to be certain that everything is in

on supporting the runners night

place on the day of the race start.

and day, providing them with

Also, securing the partnerships

food, water and soda throughout

and sponsors who are a corner

the race, allowing them to reach

stone for the organisation and

the finish line, and the most

finally, finding the large number

importantly,

of volunteers required during

smile! All the runners at the end

the week of the event to ensure

of the race invariably thank the

always

with

a


We hope to continue to provide all of the participants with a challenging race in a stunning part of the French Pyrenees volunteers for their kind words of

ascent begins at the bottom of a

encouragement and enthusiasm.

small valley, with the Pic du Midi

For the organizers (the core

clearly visible during first part of

team of 6), the typical race day

the climb. Towards the middle of

is 24h/24h managing all minor

the climb the race route veers to

and major details and constantly

the left, going up to the “Col de

double-checking that all aspects

Sencours” (Sencours pass). Here

of the race are on track.

there is a feed station providing sustenance

before

attacking

GT: One of the big climbs in the

the last section of the ascent. At

event is the Pic du Midi sitting at

this point the landscape is lunar;

almost 3000m. Describe the trail

the high altitude means that the

that leads all the runners to this

runners progress in a stony terrain

point in the race and what is the

without any vegetation. After

kind of strategy one should adopt

another 500m climb, which race

in climbing this, the highest peak

leaders complete in 40 minutes,

on the overall route profile.

the most beautiful panoramic view of the Pyrenean mountains

AMD:

Leaving

from

the

awaits at the summit.

checkpoint in “Artigues”, there’s a long ascension of 1800 m up

GT: Safety is key in all mountain

to the top of the Pic du Midi. The

running. What are some of

continued > Dec 2011/Jan 2012

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the important measures you take to ensure that the runners are kept safe in the Grand Raid des Pyrenees?

AMD: Safety is our primary concern. The organisation deploys during the race a huge safety plan with the presence of medical staff at all of the check-points. But also we consider the runners themselves to be the main actors in the area of safety. As such, we require that each runner keep with them at all times during the race each and every item on the mandatory equipment list. (And we don’t hesitate to carry out checks on the race route and to apply penalties if any items are missing). During the race briefing the day before the race start, we remind all runners of the safety rules that apply to mountain races. The GRP is also in constant contact with the French weather services to continually monitor the weather conditions in order to be able to adapt the route or neutralise the race if necessary. Finally, we use a real-time tracking system that allows us to follow the runners’ progress through all check-points. (Each race-bib contains an electronic chip that is badged at each checkpoint and the information is transmitted directly to staff monitoring at race headquarters). GT: The event has grown in stature now over the past few years. What are some of the main reasons why competitors come from all over the world to compete in the Grand Raid des Pyrenees?

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AMD: Many runners were waiting for a major challenge in the French Pyrenees that to date are lesser known then the French Alps in terms of trail running. The Grand Raid des PyrĂŠnĂŠes is an answer to this wish, in the original spirit of trail running along with providing the conviviality of a manageable sized race. GT: Moving forward into the future of trail and mountain running, what are some of your future objectives and goals with the Grand Raid des Pyrenees? AMD: We hope to continue to provide all of the participants with a challenging race in a stunning part of the French Pyrenees, whilst maintaining the same low-key, secure and friendly atmosphere that our group of dedicated volunteers provide. In order to do so we have decided for the moment to limit the numbers of racers that we accept at registration to 800 on each race (the Grand, 80 km and the Ultra 160 km).

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December 2011/January 2012 issue Go Trail Magazine  

Out with the old, in with the new!! The end of 2011 is drawing closer and with an exciting future in store for trail running world wide, we...

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