Whilst Gill was busy prepping for her debut on the ultra trails I was struggling with ye olde life puzzle last week so before we go deeper into the past weeks endeavours let’s reverse the DeLorean to two weeks ago.
TRANSVULCANIA 73 km / 4415 m
In the Canaries Ragna Debats got her revenge on Megan Kimmel from the previous weeks sky race in Japan as she won a hot and humid edition of Transvulcania. The rising temperatures probably played to the favour of this years MDS champion, she placed 11 OA and had nearly 20 minutes down to Anne-Lise Rousett Seguret whose faith it seems to be to place second at this race (this was her third time as runner-up). Behind Kimmel in fourth was Ekaterina Mityaeva closely followed by Kristin Berglund in fifth.
Fastest Brit across the island was Rachel Normand who showed great promise by finishing 17th in her first big international race.
1. Ragna Debats 8:09
2. Anne-Lise Rousett Seguret 8:25
3. Megan Kimmel 8:35
4. Ekaterina Mityaeva 8:53
5. Kristin Berglund 8:58
17. Rachel Normand 10:26
21. Gemma Carter 10:49
ULTRA TRAIL SNOWDONIA, 100 miles / 10,000 m & 50 miles / 5100 m
In Snowdonia the second edition of the brutal UTS 50/100 series took place and with close to perfect conditions and shortened routes an unchallenged Jamie Aarons improved on her winning time from last year and finished in a staggering 38:13:31. A convincing win from the American runner who resides in Glasgow, she had nearly four hours down to second lady Stella Petric who crossed the line in 42:01:27. Third and last female finisher (!!!) was Becky Wightman with a time of 49:54:40.(again !!!)
The 50 mile race was a dramatic affair which saw Sharon Law and Linn Erixon take an early lead and Ineke Imbo chasing close behind. The race stayed tight until Sharon took a wrong turn leading her up and down Snowdon (here comes those !!!’s again) and Moel Eilio. With that “little” mishap there was nothing stopping Linn Erixon from taking the victory in the ladies race. Even with a shorter and less technical route she did not quiet match Nicky Spinks finishing time from last year and was over two hours off CR time. Ineke Imbo hung on for a close second and a mere two minutes behind her was Claire Shelley. Sharon Law eventually made it to the finish line as 6th lady.
1. Jamie Aarons 38:13:31
2. Stella Petric 42:01:27
3. Becky Wightman 49:52:40
1. Linn Erixon 15:57:36
2. Ineke Imbo 16:06:28
3. Claire Shelley 16:08:48
Fast Forward to this weekend where the Ultra Trail World Tour travelled south for their annual Australian instalment;
ULTRA TRAIL AUSTRALIA, 100 km / 4400m & 50 km / 2400 m
With most of the international elites either roaming the European continent ahead of the alpine trail season or sharpening their Yankee legs for Broken Arrow and Western States later in the month the start line for the main race was lacking in big names. Experienced local runner Amy Lamprecht who followed her 2017 DNF with a third place at UTA last year could run in an unchallenged lead throughout the day. She improved on her time from last year with nearly an hour as she crossed the finish line after 11 hours of running. Second lady, over an hour behind Amy was Angelique Plaire in 12:05 and in third was Spanish runner Emma Roca.
The 50 k race was a tighter one with Gemma Jenkins and the 2017 UTA 100 champion Lucy Bartholomew running close together throughout the race. With a kick Jenkins managed to bag the win with a 5:13 finish, two minutes ahead of Bartholomew.
Third lady in 5:37 was Jessica Haro Romas. Young-gun Lucy Bartholomew has had a bit of a quiet year so far and I’m thinking she might have been holding back ahead of her return to Western States in June.
UTA 100 k
1. Amy Lamprecht 11:03:28
2. Angelique Plaire 12:05:18
3. Emma Roca 12:14:23
UTA 50 k
1. Gemma Jenkins 05:13:46
2. Lucy Bartholomew 05:15:48
3. Jessica Haro Romas 05:37:47
Someone who hasn’t had a quiet season so far BUT kept her entry to a certain 50 miler very hush hush is round ups own Gill.
NORTH DOWNS WAY 50, 50 miles / 1700 m
If I would have had an extra hour (or three) last week I would have written in my preview about how this might be the year that we’d get to see Holly Rush course record on this 50 miler across the North Downs be beaten. In the last two years no one has come close but this years line up had some promise. On the starting line, ready to tackle a rolling journey from Farnham to Knockholt was not only our Gill but also frequent Centurion podium finisher Rachel Fawcett AND the mighty Beth Pascall who was fourth at UTMB last year.
If Holly was tracking to see how her time was holding up she might have felt a ting of worry about the tight race that was unfolding for the first half. Rachel, Gill and Beth were running up front within a minute of each other and pushing the pace, an ideal situation for a fast finish. Over the hillier second half Pascall’s mountain goat legs kicked in and she quickly created quiet a gap down to Gill and Rachel who were still running very close to each other. After running in second for most of the race Gill took a wrong turn during the last miles followed by an incident with a lost course marker and had to face being passed by Fawcett on the final leg into Knockholt. Beth Pascall did not break the CR but she was close, another climb and I think she’d got it! Next year!
1. Beth Pascall 07:19:19 (CR. 07:11:00)
2. Rachel Fawcett 07:52:05
3. Gill Bland (<3) 07:53:18
MAXI RACE ANNECY 115 & 82 km
It’s time for the ninth edition of this popular event based in the valley of the Salomon HQ. This year it has been chosen by the WMRA host one of the World Mountain Running World Cup races so the start line for the shorter race is packed with fast legs. Like those of last years Sierre-Zinal winner Lucy Wambui Murigu. The ultra race (115 km) will see the return of comeback queen and 2017 maxi race champion Caroline Chaverot. Interestingly the start list also feature Jamie Aarons, I’m doubting that she would have recovered enough from her UTS 100 victory to have anything to do with the top 3 though. Switzerlands Denise Zimmerman is a more likely podium contender, she won at Swiss Alpine and placed third at UTLO last year.
DRAGONS BACK RACE 315 km / 15,000 m
This beast of a stage race sees its contestants scramble across the spine of Wales from north to south over 5 consecutive days. It started this Monday and after the first day of running which includes both Crib Goch and Snowdon ascents Sabrina Verjee is in the lead. Only just about though as the ladies race looks like a tight one with Alyssa Clarke in second just five minutes behind. She in her turn has nine minutes down to current third lady Lisa Watson. If you want to follow along there is a daily video update on the dragon slayer proceedings over at the race’s facebook page.
IN OTHER NEWS
The legendary Nicky Spinks completed a Double Paddy Buckley Round over the weekend. This is the first time that anyone has attempted this 122 mile long run across 94 of the Welsh peaks with a total 17,000 m of vertical gain (that’s Everest times two folks). Spinks finished in 57 hours and 27 mins and has now completed the big double round triple (the other two are Double Bob Graham and Double Charlie Ramsay). Read more about Nicky’s incredible achievment here:
Right kids, I can’t resist the temptation of the Mountains on the other side of the window any longer, consider this and last weeks Trail Round up a wrap!