Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Tapering by the Red Sea

As imagined, tapering in Sharm El Sheikh (for Transgrancanaria) was relaxing and much fun. The weather was fine every day and the scenery was magnificent. Obviously snorkeling and diving are much bigger sports than trail running in the Red Sea area. Sea life is amazing down there, especially at coral reefs. However it was possible to take short & easy jogs/walks between frequent swimming sessions, which suited my purpose well.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

500 marathons in 500 days

Ultrarunner Ricardo Abad recently accomplished running 500 marathons in 500 days. He covered those 21,100 km in 50 provinces of Spain for the benefit of ANFAS.


Saturday, February 18, 2012

Let the sunshine in - beach tapering for TGC

Let the sunshine in! I've decided to fly down south to a Red Sea beach resort for my TransGranCanaria tapering. After living several months in Scandinavian winter darkness, my pale skin and frozen ass crave for some serious sunshine.

Without a doubt natural UV-rays are the best for great health and mood. Vitamin D pills or tanning machines are just not the same. And getting tanned gradually before the race goes a long way preventing a sunburn on race day.

The emphasis will be totally on relaxation, recovery and fun. I try not to run too much, but I will probably swim a lot and possibly go snorkeling and stuff like that.

I'll fly to Canary Islands only a couple of days before the race, as the weather can be unpredictable there this time of year.

No matter what the weather will be like, it'll be an exciting race. Both Zigor Iturrieta (2011 winner in 13:22) and Lizzy Hawker (2011 winner in 15:55) will be there.

INTRO Transgrancanaria 2011 from Bichillorunner on Vimeo.

Here's a classic track by Camel for you, recorded 35 years ago: "Highways of the Sun".


Friday, February 17, 2012

3 useful kitchen gadgets

We all have probably bought some useless junk that we don't use anymore. However I use the following three kitchen gadgets almost daily. Perhaps I could live without them, but I don't want to!

1. A blender. There are many good ones, but make sure it has enough power. Then you can blend anything you like. You can eat tons of fruits and vegetables and go running full of energy.


 2. A spiralizer. Like you saw in the video above, junk food like pasta is bad for you. Get a spiralizer and make your own raw zucchini spaghetti - it's delicious and healthy. Again there are several designs available. I like Lurch Spiralo, featured in the video below. I simply put in inside a big salad bowl, and start spiralizing right there.


 3. An apple peeler/corer. Like the video below shows, kids love apples like this. This is also handy when making salads. It's one of the best, made in Taiwan - look for the famous "Apple Parer & Slicer, Corer" brand!


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Stress free zone

Have you ever felt like this?

Life in the fast lane causes stress. If you start out too fast, you may have to pay for it later on. The good news is that running helps.

For me running is not about racing for a place or time, it's ultimately a stress free zone of happiness.

Friday, February 10, 2012

(Looking) Forward (to) March!

Winter is such a challenge for runners. I'm pretty much just in 'forward march' mode and looking forward to perhaps greater but different - and in warmer conditions - challenges in March.

Here's a Pat Metheny Group music video 'Forward March' shot back in 1985, when I ran my first marathon. The 'First Circle' album works well for ultramarathons.


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Hoka Mafate 2 teaser

Hoka One One's Mafate 2 teaser featuring Christophe Le Saux, an incredible ultratrailrunner.

Hope they have solved the pressure point issue with Mafate 1 (on front ankle, close to the area whe you tie the laces). I had to cut my Mafates a bit in order to be able to run pain-free. Bondi B remains my fav shoe so far (size up). I'll probably try Stinson EVOs next.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Sold-out Transgrancanaria 2012 features amazing ultratrail talent

TransGranCanaria 2012 is only about three weeks away and completely sold out with 1,800 runners registered for the four events (123/96/42/24 km). When the event began in 2003, there were only 65 participants - times have changed also on this remote island next to Africa.

Some of the most talented international ultratrail runners will participate in the full distance event:
  • Zigor Iturrieta (Spain), 
  • Sebastien Chaigneau (France), 
  • Mike Wolfe (USA), 
  • Jez Bragg (UK) and 
  • Tsuyoshi Kaburaki (Japan).
These amazing runners will be there to guide us TGC-newbies through the hilly 123 km course from the southern beaches of Playa del Ingles to the finish line in Las Palmas. No worries folks, just follow these guys, they know the right pace!

Running route 793571 - powered by Runmap 

Seriously, my race strategy is to take it easy, eat, drink, relax, enjoy, smile and laugh as much as possible. However, I'm not sure to what extent that will be possible, as the aid stations are very few and far between:
  • Ayagaures, 31 km: water station (yes only water here, nothing else).
  • Tunte, 42 km: full aid station with various drinks and foods.
  • Presa de Las Ninas, 62 km: full aid station (some sources say drink only).
  • Aserrador, 73 km: something to drink and eat.
  • Garanon, 81 km: full aid station.
  • Teror, 98 km: full aid station.
  • Tenoya, 113 km: full aid station.
  • Las Palmas, 123 km: lunch area.
The organizers gave us a fair warning in recent newsletter: "The North Face The Transgrancanaria, unlike other ultratrails, is a race that is performed in semi-autonomous, you can find food provisioning on the road, but very distant from each other, so you have to carry enough food and drink to get from one to another without problems."

The "Required Material" includes:
  • "Front light, flashlight or headlamp with spare batteries and bulb" (a bulb for LED light?) 
  • "Back light, red" (Petzl e+Lite is my back red LED, it also serves well as a spare front LED)
  • "Mobile phone" 
  • "Water tank at least 2 liters" (I'll have a water bladder and two bottles in my backpack)
  • "Enough food to face the race" (Enough? That would require a camel to carry it all!)
  • "Thermal Blanket. Minimum measures 100 cm x 200 cm"
  • "Plastic Cup."
  • "Raincoat." (I'll take my OMM Kamleika Race Jacket.)
Also as the start will be at midnight on Friday March 2, everyone will have to run through at least one night - with a great chance to get a bonus night thrown in before the finish line closes at 7AM on Sunday. I've paid for 31 hours of running, and it looks like I'm going to get my money's worth!

The total climb (D+) of the 123 km course is about 4,190 m (13, 746 ft). As the start and finish are at sea level, the total descent (D-) should be the same. Some sources have measured the D+ as 4.250 m. Please note that when the race website claims "11.000 accumulated desnivel meters", that means both ascent and descent together - and is probably an exaggerated figure even then. Anyway, the highest point is "only" 1,931 m, so it's lower in average altitude than Alpine races.

Those who are interested should be able to follow the race live here on race day.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Monday, February 6, 2012

Friday, February 3, 2012

Extended cutoffs for MountainMan Ultra 2012

Good news for back-of-the-pack trail plodders: The MountainMan Ultra 50-mile (80.3 km) trail running event in Switzerland will add 90 minutes to its overall cutoff on August 18th, 2012. The time window will be thus extended to 16.5 h, and all cutoffs along the course will be also adjusted accordingly.

As I wrote in my race report last year, the unfortunate DNFs caused by the slightly too strict cutoffs were a bitter pill to swallow for many runners. It's great that the race organization is welcoming constructive feedback and therefore keeping the event live and growing. As they say, "Our goal is to make you sweat and smile!"

Now as the finish will close at 23:00 instead of 21:30 on top of Mount Pilatus, I'd be willing to try this extremely scenic route again - if I hadn't already qualified for CCC on August 31st. As I'm not like Mike Wardian, who can recover overnight, it's not realistic for me to expect sufficient recovery in 12 days between these two super hard races.

But if you are even slightly interested, by all means take a look at the aerial photos from 2011 race. I'm one of those tiny dots on the huge mountain (click the photo below to enlarge), and I'll never forget the amazing scenery at "Panorama World". Although not all runners were fast enough to finish on that hot sunny day, they were able to enjoy the magnificent views towards Lake Brienz and the famous mountain trio of Eiger, Jungfrau and Mönch.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Anton Krupicka on Ultra Quest

The latest Ultra Quest podcast is a recording of Anton Krupicka's presentation about ultratrail running in Charlotte (NC) on January 11th, 2012.