Salomon Academy seeks next-gen trail stars

Salomon Running has put the call out globally to unearth the next generation of ultra trail runners, and is seeking applications from Australia and new Zealand trailites.

“Out on the trails and up in the mountains, there are some ultra-runners charging ahead, filled with passion and dreams, inspired by idols or simply addicted to the great outdoors,” notes an official Salomon HQ missive. “Some of them don’t even know how talented they are. Most of them don’t realize that they’re the athletes who will be shaping the future of the sport. Salomon is on a mission to find them…”

The Salomon Ultra Running Academies will be held on three continents:

North America (USA), Europe (France) and Asia-Oceania (China)

People, aged from 20 to 35 hailing from these continents will be able to apply for the continental selection.

8 women and 8 men will be selected for each academy to spend a dream week of training with the legends of the discipline, sharing with the experts of the sports and the Salomon product developers.


The next academy attendees can expect boundless energy on and off the trails, advice on how to manage their sport, both physically and mentally, from athletes who’ve been there and learnt from experience.

“Above all, it’s about sharing the passion. The great thing about enthusiasm is that it’s contagious!” says Gregory Vollet, Salomon’s International Sports Marketing Manager

“The Salomon Ultra Running Academy is going to be an incredible opportunity for the runners that get to attend. After working with the youth at the Salomon running academy I’m excited to work on this new project and being the same incredible experience to ultra-runners. This will be an incredible program that gives the runners a chance to run, train, and learn with their trail running peers. I was lucky enough to be invited to this first edition and get to share my experience and knowledge and am looking forward to working with the runners.”

The Salomon Ultra Running academies will take place in:

  • March 2017 for North America in USA (Moab)
  • April for Asia-Oceania in China (Linhai) **this Academy is the one that any Australian or Kiwi’s selected will attend**
  • May for Europe in France (Annecy)

Registrations will open through a website: on the 4th of January.

Sixteen runners will be selected for each academy. The best man and the best woman for each one will be invited to participate in the Chamonix 80K in France at the end of June and then to the Trans Alpines run in Germany at the end of August. And then, depending on their talent and personalities, some great projects could be developed for them.

For more information on the Salomon ULTRA Running Academy and how to apply, visit


Review: Salomon S-Lab Sense 4 Ultra SG



[the following review first appeared in Edition #21 of Trail Run Mag. Download now at]

The precision fit is created by Salomon’s Endofit upper, which basically acts like a sock. Now, apart from the sheer comfort of this upper, there’s a performance aspect: cuddlier fit means better hold on to and connection through the sole, translating to better feel and reaction to the surfaces spinning beneath. This gives you more confidence on knarly, changeable terrain where action is varied and landing and take off can be in any direction on any kind of slope.

So, if the shoe fits for you, technical terrain becomes a carpet ride in these puppies.

The downside; they need to fit your foot and a more precise fit, as these offer, means more chance that your podiatric idiosyncrasies may not match those of Kilian Jornet and the other top flight fliers these shoes were designer around. What does I mean for you? If your foot doesn’t take an instant liking to the shape within, you’ll get hot spots.Mt Buller

Even if your planks of meat are a perfect match, you may not want to run into the ultra zone in them given foot swell will turn that spooning session for your foot into a painful exercise in ‘outgrowing one other’. Hence, while the word ultra is ingrained in the name, and emblazoned on the side, these are perhaps not for big-banger ultras per se, unless you have a second upsized pair to swap into half way!

What they are specifically for is what the ‘SG’ highlights: soft ground. Find some sloppy, technical, mulchy, muddy, springy singletrack carpet and ride these hard. They will sing on this type of terrain. Why? Because that tight-hold around your foot means there is no movement within the shoe, the trail feel is a beautiful balance fine-tuned to the point of twitchiness. Like a pair of Formula One tyres on a Ferrari, they make you want to race on the limit of your performance capabilities.

The 4mm drop means that, just as an F1 car should not be driven by a P-plater, these aren’t for everyone. Your form has to be fine and your strength and muscular spring through the lower legs strong.L37945700

Indeed, fall over on your form or be unaccustomed to the low heel-toe drop and these shoes may well bite back. But if you have the control on tap, and the confidence to push out at the edge of your technical running capacities, then the Ultra Sense is a sublime shoe to go at pace with.

The ride is 9mm up to 13mm cushion in the heel, giving that 4mm heel-toe difference. On terra more-firmer – fire roads, hard packed, groomed surfaces – they can start to tenderise the forefoot some and you’ll notice that hardness upfront from the get-go. The increased size lugs do give a little more protection and cushion than the regular Sense Ultra, but only by a smidge.

The shoe’s Profeel Film balances well as a protective layer shielding feet from bitey ground while also maintaining excellent feedback – again these being a lightweight race shoe means they will never be accused of being maximalist, and you need to be okay with that fact.

The upper on the SG4 has been revised some giving additional support through the forefoot.

According to the product notes, the Sensifit design – already market leading in our opinion – has been tweaked, too. It all lends to better securing your foot and that glove-like feel. The upper is more durable on the SG4 than on previous models, although arguably it’s also less breathable – great for cold weather, not so for summer forays and stinky feet.

The grip is, as always with Salomon across its range, excellent, but particularly so on these. The Contragrip lug pattern has deeper lugs for additional spike, particularly relevant – as you’d expect – for when the ground is softer. That said, on super muddy patches they can fail to shed the gloop as quickly as we’d like.

The rubber compound has been revised from past models and seems to have slightly better bite on smoother surfaces like rock and on dry, hard trail the lugs aren’t too intrusive (as on the Speedcross), the ride remaining fairly comfy for 10-20km outings. Longer than that and you’ll be seeking the softer stuff.

A crisp performer for those who want to up the ante, fast and furious style, pushing the envelope on technical trails. Great for a lot of the ‘sprint’ trail series going round these days!



Great for: as it says on the tin, soft ground; technical, rooty, muddy, racing, ‘shorter’ runs up to a marathon
Not-so-great for: ultras, hard packed trails
Test Conditions: singletrack, lots of technical, soft ground, rocky, approx. 180km
Tester: Chris Ord, Trail Run Mag editor
Tester Mechanics: mid foot striker, tends to more technical style running

RRP:$229.95 /AUD

*NOTE: a quick Google search will revel there is already a Sense 5 SG out there. From all appearances looks like the numeral on the paint job is the major change – but we haven’t investigated ;).

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Blue Sky Dreams – History of Skyrunning

Skyrunning has firmly embedded itself into the Australian and New Zealand trail scene via events such as the Hillary and Mt Difficulty in New Zealand and Buller, Buffalo and the new Vertical K happening next weekend in Australia. While these races do an admirable job emulating their bigger-mountain cousins in the northern hemisphere, the epitome – not to mention the origins – of Skyrunning is found in Italy and within the hearts and minds of founders, Lauri van Houten and Marino Giacometti.

With the inaugural Vertical K happening locally (Victoria, Australia) in just over a week’s time, we present Talk Ultra’s Ian Corless who catches up with Skyrunning’s godparents on home turf. 

Words and images: Ian Corless / Talk Ultra

NOTE: this is an extended excerpt from Edition #18 of Trail Run Mag. For the full article download the edition for FREE at

Biella, Italy.

A trickle of piano noise from the local music school weaves its way through open window shutters left ajar to allow some breeze, the heat of the day can be stifling. It feels and sounds like a scene in a movie. Cobbled streets, stone arches, a wonderful old square, the chatter of children playing and the smell of freshly brewed cappuccino in the air.

Biella, or should I say, the International Skyrunning Federation HQ (and home of Lauri van Houten and Marino Giacometti) is atop a hill in a walled village close to the Aosta valley, just over an hour from Chamonix and in close proximity to Monte Rosa and the Matterhorn. It seems the perfect location for the home of pure mountain running. Biella lies in the foothills of the Alps in the Bo mountain range near Mt. Mucrone and Camino.


IMAGE: Ian Corless / Talk Ultra

“We moved here as the sports brand Fila were based here. In the 90’s they were a key sponsor for Skyrunning,” says Lauri van Houten, Executive Director for the International Skyrunning Federation.

“When Fila folded, we were left with a dilemma; should we stay or should we go? Stay we did and it feels natural and relaxed to be here now.”

 Mountains dominate the life of Marino and Lauri. It’s not a job; it’s a passion that dominates 12+ hours of every day. You will see the dynamic duo at all the Skyrunner World Series races every year. In total, that is 15 events in 3 disciplines, VK (Vertical Kilometre), Sky and Ultra. But these worldwide events are just the visible face of what the ISF does. Behind the scenes it’s a frenetic, highly-pressured stream of telephone calls, emails, logistical planning and negotiations that make the Skyrunner World Series tick.


IMAGE: Ian Corless / Talk Ultra

It’s a scenario far removed from 1989 when Giacometti set a record running from the village of Alagna to the summit of Monte Rosa. 25-years of mountain running and today, iconic names such as Bruno Brunod and Fabio Meraldi are once again being talked about in the same breath as Kilian Jornet.

“Older generations were already Skyrunners. My grandfather crossed the mountains working, for example. ‘We’ as Skyrunners added more speed but in essence it has always been the same thing, Skyrunners have always existed.” Bruno Brunod says.

“What I liked was going quickly to the summit. I felt the same when I was a kid in the pastures, I always ran up and down the summits that surrounded me. It is something I felt inside, something I liked.”

In 2012, Skyrunning went through a revival. After careful and strategic planning, the ISF launched the new Sky Ultra Marathon Series with Transvulcania La Palma and a seminar, ‘Less Cloud, More Sky.’ The sport moved up a notch and became something that runners all over the world aspired to. It’s was dubbed the ‘the next big thing’ but as Giacometti explains, “there is nothing new in Skyrunning. It is just now that everyone is catching up with our vision from so many years ago.”


IMAGE: Ian Corless / Talk Ultra

Midway through the 2014 season, between Ice Trail Tarentaise and Trofeo Kima, I spend time with Lauri and Marino at their home in the mountains (the Casina) Corteno Golgi to get an inside look at what makes this couple tick and how the calendar and its logistics fall into place.

‘Casina’, Corteno Golgi. Italy.

The ‘Casina’ is a mountain house in Corteno Golgi close to Marino’s birthplace of San Antonio. Spread over two floors it is almost two completely different buildings. Upstairs is all wood, a combination of rustic/ modern and a wonderfully relaxing place that has been heavily influenced by Lauri. Downstairs is the original building, un-touched for years and one that harks back to Marino’s past. The garage is a Skyrunning museum of ice axes, helmets, shoes, race bibs, clothing, videos and old slides.

Surrounded by green fields and mountains on either side I suddenly see Marino in a new light. He is at home. He points at peaks and explains his childhood, his passions and I suddenly feel very honoured and privileged.


IMAGE: Ian Corless / Talk Ultra

The African Attachment (TAA) arrive tomorrow and you are going to be able to spend a couple of days in the mountains with Marino,” says Lauri.

“They are filming a piece on Skyrunning and they want to take Marino back to his childhood, revisit old haunts and film Marino running in the mountains.”

I met Dean Leslie and Greg Fell from The African Attachment at Transvulcania La Palma back in 2012 and since then we have kept in-touch and often crossed paths at races all over the world. I am excited at the guys arriving and the opportunity to work alongside them and shoot stills, a real perk of the job. Photographer, Kelvin Trautman is directing the film and although I haven’t met him before, we soon hit it off and I realise what is in store: two awesome days in the mountains.


IMAGE: Ian Corless / Talk Ultra

The evening turns amazing. The sky is adorned with clouds and as we climb with cameras, Marino runs to the instructions of Kelvin. Looking for ridges and technical lines, Marino embraces the challenge and is arguably having the most fun he has had in ages. Days don’t get much better than this… at the summit of Monte Padrio the light is incredible and as the sun disappears for the day we are rewarded with a colour palette of orange, red and gold. Marino is in silhouette on the Skyline and I realise I am in a moment, a moment that I won’t ever forget.

The following day starts early with a short drive and we are suddenly looking at Marino’s childhood home. Marino laughs as he recounts boyhood memories.

“I used to go mushroom picking in this area.”

Following him up the trail, Kelvin wants Marino to go back 50-years to those mischievous days as a boy. Immediately Marino finds a mushroom, he removes his Buff and ties a knot in one end to create a cloth bag. Moving left to right on the trail, the bag slowly fills with the rewards from the land.

“In the Valle Campo Vecchio I would go skinny dipping in the river.”


IMAGE: Ian Corless / Talk Ultra

Marino may well have regretted this sentence as just an hour later he was running along grass banks barefoot and then submerging himself in the ice cold river water from the mountains.

The warmth of the log burner in the Casina provided that ultimate feeling of contentment that one longs for after a day in the mountains. Marino’s body was aching, his legs heavy from the repeated running but beneath a tired façade I knew he had had a good day.

“We have plans for some very exciting races at high altitude that will be very technical in future years. 2012 was an important stepping-stone. Less Cloud. More Sky was an important phase in the development of Skyrunning. One thing that was apparent is the desire from runners for technical and high altitude sport. So, here we are following our heritage for a new era.”

I wondered: was it a happy coincidence that the revival of Skyrunning coincided with the rise of Kilian Jornet?

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IMAGE: Ian Corless / Talk Ultra

“It is no coincidence!” says Lauri. “Bruno Brunod was Kilian’s hero. Kilian followed his dreams from the inspiration Bruno provided, Kilian is now the epitome of Skyrunning.”

Kilian first arrived on the scene in 2006 and impressed immediately. He was a natural Skyrunner. As the profile of Kilian has grown, so has Skyrunning. It seems a natural process of evolution of the sport and to that end Marino confirmed his plans for the future.

“We need to expand, to grow and introduce Skyrunning to a new audience. We will go back to our roots moving forward. We would love to do a race from Cervinia or Chamonix to the summit of Mont-Blanc but this is not for everyone!”

As the day comes to an end, final preparations are made for Trofeo Kima. Kima, as it is affectionately known, is a shining beacon that personifies Skyrunning.

…continued. READ THE FULL ARTICLE by downloading you free edition (18) of Trail Run Mag at


IMAGE: Ian Corless / Talk Ultra


Trail Run Mag Edition 18


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Shoe Review: Salomon SLAB X Series

Does Salomon’s cross-over shoe have the The X-Factor? TRM steps to the dark side and trials a shoe that takes the dirty secrets of our trail world and transfers them to…(cough)…the road*.

*No roads were actually run in the making of this article. The tester couldn’t bring himself to it. Testing remained on trail and fire ROAD. There, we said it. We did it. This review first appeared in Edition #16 of Trail Run Mag. available for free download (along with all editions) HERE.

Offended or intrigued? I’m not sure which to feel. They sent me a road shoe.

A road shoe goddam it! That’s like sending Kryptonite to Superman, or yellow daisies to the Green Lantern (yellow nullifies his super powers, according to my research). Not that my trail running displays any sign of superhero-ness to be de-powered in the first place, of course. Unless you count someone with all the running prowess of Star Wars’ C3PO as a super trail runner type.

But a road shoe? From a brand at known best for their trail running clobber? Seriously…? Okay I’m curious enough to lace up.

So what have we here in the Salomon SLAB X Series, then? Certainly looks like a trail runner. Or in the least like most of the other Sense series shoes doing the singletrack rounds and indeed Salomon have sucked the DNA from their other Sense line-up to create a shoe that is their first foray into the road market. Why? Because of City Trail, that’s why. This is a new movement, for lack of a better word, that bridges road and trail running by trying to replicate the trail running style in an urban environment: constant gear shifts in effort with more technique involved as you traverse changeable urban surfaces. Think tight and twisty cornering through back alleys and play parks matched to a multitude of surfaces from smooth gravel, paving stones, brick, concrete and road asphalt with plenty of ups and downs entailing stairs and short hillocks found in undulating cityscapes. It’s kind of a hyper road run style or, alternatively viewed, a sedated trail running experience.Screenshot 2015-08-03 11.09.00

So what is the deal with the shoes made to pace us through jungles of concrete?

The signature red paint job, super lightweight construction, string-thin pull-tight lace system, and to be fair, the superior instant comfort that Salomon is rightly known for, all are there in spades.

The main injection of change comes first in the upper featuring a 2-way lycra, which is very stretchy and lets feet spread out as they swell over the longer distance (and a result no doubt of harder pounding). The upper is also super breathable, perfect for combating the fact you’ll likely get hot slabs as you speed over warmed asphalt.

The Endofit construction gives a sock-like feel, wrapping around to hold your foot securely in place.  I reckon Salomon have always been good at minimising foot movement inside their shoes while still giving decent room up front for toe splay, a delicate balance.

As a road-marketed shoe, the 19mm heel to 11mm forefoot delivering an 8mm drop gives good stack height for added padding, yet maintains that midrange heel-toe to attempt to keep you on your forefoot with good feedback from what’s happening below.

The mid sole is different to the trail cousins built sans rockplate (or Profeel film equivalent in many Salomons) and with a much softer heel it adds up to what has been described as ‘buttery’ ride.

That butter analogy doesn’t extend to any slip and slide on the outside, however, the Contra-Grip package – Salomon’s own grip solution – featuring multi direction lugs giving more grip that most road shoes. The grip channels underfoot are deeper, while the horseshoe-like heel gip is soft and spongy, ready to combat harder impact running for the heel strikers. Overall, traction on the liquorice allsorts surfaces found in city environments is superb.

Mt Buller

Click on the image to DOWNLOAD the latest edition (17) of Trail Run Mag for FREE!

Looking back, Salomon actually led the reverse crossover from trail back to road establishing the idea of door-to-trail running, where a shoe was needed to be able to cope with the wide-ranging demands of both dirt and concrete as runners left their suburban front door striking out in search of dirt trail for at least part of their run – the realities of city lifestyles and limited time.

Although this shoe is sold with a story of ‘urban adventuring’, I thought it remiss not to test the to-trail aspect. What I found is that they are actually a versatile shoe, well suited to moderate singletrack and fire trails and any dirt munching that is relatively consistent in terms of being non technical. They fill that gap where the other Sense models with meatier lugs would be uncomfortable on more regular terrain.

When the going is relatively smooth – be it dirty or concrete clean – these shoes come into their own. They feel comfortable enough for long hauls, yet remain light and floaty enough to give your a racer feel.

I did also venture onto more technical (if soft underfoot) trails and they performed as well as any other mid-range trail ranger, handling creek crossings (they drained and dried well), bush carpet and slippery rocks with aplomb.

My only complaint about these shoes (when worn in appropriate context in general – they are no mountain muncher) is that I tended to get hot spots on my outer toes. This, however, would be down to the very personal shape of my own foot versus yours. Most will likely remain comfortable, but do be aware of that zone as a potential problem patch when trying them on in-store.

TAKEOUTS: Salomon SLAB X Series

Great for: door to trail, long training runs on mild terrain, road (cough)
Not-so-great for: mountains and technical terrain|
Test Conditions: Technical and non technical single track, some fire road and as little actual road as I could do while still getting to grips with their performance on asphalt, 68km
Tester: Chris Ord, Trail Run Mag editor
Tester Mechanics: mid foot striker, tends to more technical style running routes, mostly 15-30km range outings.
RRP: AUD $209.99

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Ultra Camp with Coops

Boom! Hear that? That’s the sound of trail running. It has a lovely echo through the forest, the reverberation of our beloved sport exploding, don’t you think?

What’s got me super excited, however, is what that growth means – not just for Trail Run Mag, or for products and brands and all that palava (technical term for ‘guff’), but for experience.

Along with more people lacing up a luggier shoe to take on trail, comes the opening up of possibility. Specifically the flowering of trail running experiences to be had, bought, sold, traded…from trail tours (a la those offered by our intrepid New Zealand Editor, Mal Law through Running Wild / Total Sport) to pseudo competitive trail adventures the likes of my current wish list experience, the Manaslu Trail Race (

At the upper end of such offerings are new products springing up around ultra and elite off-road running. I’m thinking of things like altitude training facilities springing up like mountain mushrooms  – did you know you can get high while running on the Gold Coast, Sydney, Melbourne…?(,, And if you don’t like to fake it, there’s also specific altitude programs being offered at Falls Creek (

Further to that, more and more trail pros are offering to lend their knowledge, expertise and insight (all the same thing really!) to punters like you and me. And if you’re going to learn, you may as well learn from those winning races.

Someone like Matt ‘Coops’ Cooper (, winner of the Alpine Challenge, top ender at pretty much any race he enters and potentially the friendliest runner on trail – the man is a walking smile of positivity.

While he offers specialist physical and mental training and trail coaching for individuals through his company Present Energy (, Coops has also recently established a new, ‘Ultra made Training Camp’, a multiday intensive group experience that will give those looking to improve all aspects of their ultra running the inside line.

The first one is slated for the first weekend of Spring – Friday 31st August to Sunday 2nd September (with an optional ultra/long run) on the Monday morning.

Coops has chosen his local hunting fground to host the camp, with sessions taking place at Fitzroy Falls, in NSW.

Here’s what I like about these styles of experiences: it’s all about the running but the peripheries aren’t bad either. The setting is stunning with accommodation fully self contained cottages (including fireplace!) set on 50 acres in the surrounding Moreton National park right alongside Twin Falls and the famous Fitzroy Falls marathon trail (

“With the Australian Ultra running calendar ramping up, including Glasshouse 100, Surf Coast Century, GOW100, GNW100′s and Coast2Kosci, I figured there would be runners wanting to fine tune their Ultra training program,” says Coops.

“You don’t have to be a top-ender, either,” he assures. “Whether a seasoned ultra runner looking to crack a PB or a marathoner looking for the next step into Ultra trail, this camp is for you. I’ve developed a completely customised program tailored to meet the running mileage of both marathon and ultra distance runners.”

Coops’ ‘Ultra Made’ itinerary focuses on creating an ideal individual training program including specific seminars on eating for optimum results and training to race at your peak.

Matt will also open the doors to the lesser known secrets on race plan, ultra distance psychology and minimalist mindset that have put him at the pointy end of the field.

As a bonus to runners attending this first NSW Ultra Made camp, Matt will be introducing runners to ‘performing with Present Energy’… for ultra runners; the practices that Matt believes to be his most important training tools in his own race program.

Group presentations will be combined with 3 ‘on the trail’ running sessions (6-18km trail runs) among the single track and fire trail found on the Twin falls escarpment.

And to finish off a weekend of trail indulgence, Matt’s offering anyone able to stick around, a 30km or 50km long run on the Monday morning, down the Cannonball run into Kangaroo Valley, passing Twin falls and climbing the inspiring yet challenging Meryla pass.

In between training sessions there will be time for mountain biking, recovery baths (in a naturally cold pool), relaxing in the National park or viewing one of Ultra running’s original races – Western States 100.

Sounds like our kind of ultra trail experience. May there be more of it.


Camp pricing is $150 + accommodation which includes all trail sessions, 3 x group training/presentations by Matt Cooper, Friday night dinner (an ultra runners secret recipe which you can have), Monday long run and exclusive trial of Hammer nutrition and Salomon gear.

Breakfast, lunch and snacks must be self catered (each cottage has full kitchen, fridge, freezer) and Saturday night we will book dinner at local restaurant for all interested. Accommodation price for the camp will vary between $35-$85 p/person p/night depending on your preference of cottage and number of runners. Check out for cottage configurations and contact Matt for availability.

Booking your spot…

For all details see

To contact Matt about this camp, other camp locations (including Victorian Alps and Blue Mountains) or performance coaching go to:

Or email or contact Matt 0417436435.

Slices of sanity amidst the boom

Watch it and get excited… this despatch from Salomon / The Africa Attachment featured Kiwi trail Queen Anna Frost, but also this little vignette manages to capture something of the essence of trailrunning.

It features the elites, sure, but hell, it feels like you’re watching people just like you and me. And really you are..they’re just that little but faster than you. But they have the same kind of dirty soul (a good one) as you and me… and they still get that the running is more about connection – connectiong with the mountains, the view, wilderness, and other trail runners who breath in the same appreciation for being out there, where we love life the most.

They’re tapping it out in the mountains for the same reasons as you and me.

And they get drunk and dance like loons just like you and me, too.

Enter the Sandes Man: TNF 100 preview

Trail Run Mag catches up with South African and Salomon super trail star, Ryan Sandes, to get a vibe on how it feels to be the favourite in this weekend’s The North Face 100, a race with a fair few thoroughbreds on track, and the changing face of trail running as it booms across the world (hello Transvulcania…). INTERVIEW: Chris Ord IMAGES: courtesy

1. Straight in to it – you’re roundly touted as the most likely winner this year, how does that pressure play on your mind leading into next weekend?

I think there are a number of competitors that can win the race so I am not focusing on the results too much. My main focus is to have a strong run and the rest will come. 100km is a long way, so anything can happen.  

2. Some pundits reckon you’re tuned enough to break the race record (which has been broken every year the event has taken place). Thoughts? Is that something you have in your head when you’re running well at the halfway mark or…?

I would imagine the winning time will be under 9 hours 30 mins ,so I am sure the winner will get close to the coarse record. No, I am personally not too focused on the record but I will have the record time stored in the back of my head somewhere ;-). [9hrs 19min 06 seconds]

3. You have been quoted as saying last year’s run didn’t go as smoothly for you as you would have liked yet you still managed third with a sub ten hour time – what was the Achilles last year and what’s changed about your form/approach this year?

Last year was my first mountain 100km race, so I was not sure what to expect. I made a few mistakes like not drinking enough during the first 30km, which hurt me during the middle section of the race. I am a more experienced runner this year and hoping for a more consistent performance during the race. 

4. You tend to arrive early and really get to grips with the trail your’re about to run on – how much of the TNF course have you rerun in the last week and where do you think your crux will come (and why)?

The one thing I love about trail running is that I get to travel the world and explore new places. I always try get out to my races early to experience the local culture and environment as well as running parts of the race route. I have run about 60% of the route… I think the race will come down to being strong in the final 30km.

5. Many may have expected you to be running at the Transvulcania – why did you choose to race here instead of there?

I entered the TNF100 Australia before the Sky Running Ultra series was announced but that said, I really enjoy Australia and wanted to come back for the race again. 

6. How does the Blue Mountains course suit you in particular – strengths and weaknesses on it?

I would like to think I am quite an all round runner so the course should suit me … I’m not giving much away here :-). 

7. You had 30 mins plus over fourth placed (Goerke) and other locals (Donges, Davies, etc al) last year, but they are being touted as serious threats with a much deeper field this year than last – how do you think the competition has changed over the past year?

Yes, it’s really exciting to see how trail running is growing around the world. I think everyone is improving and it is going to be a very exciting race. I think there will be a lot more people under sub-10 hours this year. 

8. Everyone’s talking about how the sport of ultra and trail running in general is changing rapidly, with ‘celebrity’ runners the likes of yourself and Jornet in ascendancy – talk to me about how you as a person and as a runner have changed over the past few years of racing?

I am still the same person as a few years back… the main difference is I drink less tequila now J .  More Red Bull and Vodka.. haha! I started running relatively late and competed in my first ultra in 2008 – the whole experience has been life changing. It’s exciting to see the sport becoming more professional and creating so many opportunities for trail runners. I have been lucky enough to run on all 7 continents and explore the world through trail running. 

9. You remain based in South Africa – is there any pressure to be based in Europe or the States these days, given the competition, or is ultra trail a truly global sport, doesn’t matter where you’re based?

I spend quite a lot of time abroad but still keep Cape Town my base. We have great running there…just no altitude. I think when I run UTMB I would need to spend a lot more time in Europe getting used to the Euro trails. Their climbs are massive and the running can be very technical. At the end of the day trail running is a global sport and it’s really easy to jump on a plane and fly to a race in the US etc.

10. You seem to be a runner that escapes major injury time – what’s your approach to physical preservation?

I try do a bit of cross training like mountain biking etc. I do a lot of core work and spend a lot of time keeping my ‘wheel alignment straight’ i.e. I see a Physio, Chiro, Lynotherapist, Massage and Biokinetisist regularly. 

11. How many ultras do you think, in peak form, your body could handle in a year?

3-4 a year .. maybe 5 at a push.  

12. Beyond winning the TNF100, what are you targets in the next year or so?

I am running Western Sates 100 in June and would love to line up at UTMB soon. 

13. You’re sixty kays in, the hurt is there…where is the Sandes’ mind at – take me through some honest moments of where you’re at mentally, what demons come to you in particular while out there on trail and what you lean on for inspiration to get you through?

Running in an individualist sport but I feel I am running for more than just me…I focus on the surroundings and try and keep my mental attitude as positive as possible. Luckily I am normally running in the most beautiful parts of the world so the hurt is not too bad.

Thanks Ryan, good luck on the weekend at The North Face 100. Remember: 9 hours 19 mins and 05 seconds is your mark…

Trail Run Mag will be on course reporting and updating live via TRM’s Facebook. ‘Like’ us and stay tuned.

Salomon announces AU trail team for 2012

Salomon Australia has announced its trail team for 2012, with four exceptional athletes – including TRM’s own senior contributor Margaretha (Gretel) Fortmann – set to race under the Salomon banner this year.

Congratulations to Andrew Vize, Mick Donges, Matt Cooper and Gretel.

Here’s a brief bio of each (below) or you can download more detailed profiles HERE (500kb).

Interestingly, we have one Salomon team member interviewing another with Margaretha’s profile of Mick Donges, along with fellow gun runner Brendan Davies, in edition #4 of Trail Run Mag.

Margaretha caning it up Mt Buller, Victoria.

Margaretha a.k.a Gretel lives and breathes the outdoors, so it is not surprising that she spends her time working as a mountain guide on the Overland Track. Guiding groups and individuals along Tasmania’s trails gives her the opportunity to share her passion for the outdoors and spend time training on some of the most rugged and beautiful trails in Australia. Within three years of entering her first Ultra Trail race in 2009, Gretel has come a long way and recorded the fastest Australian female time in the prestigious Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc, finishing 10th woman overall. In 2012 she will race the North Face 100km in the Blue Mountains and will head overseas to compete in Ultra Trail races in the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Switzerland and Wales.

Winning the Great North Walk 100miler 3 times in a row in 2009, 2010 and 2011 (course record in 22h22m) and clocking the fastest Australian time in the iconic Western States 100 miler in the US, Andrew Vize has cemented his position as one of Australia’s strongest Ultra Trail runners. The running virus caught him only a few years ago after his wife bet him that he could not finish a Marathon without training. He managed to run the distance and has since then completed – and won – some of the toughest races in the Ultra Trail scene. Andrew is known for his meticulous preparation and gear choice as well as his determination to push his body to the absolute limit. In 2012 he will focus on the North Face 100km in the Blue Mountains and defending his title in the Great North Walk 100. He will also challenge the world’s best trail runners in the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc 100miler in France.

Mick Donges on the hoof. IMAGE: Tod Clarke / Aurora Images

Living and training in the Blue Mountains (NSW), Mick Donges knows his way around the area hosting some of Australia’s most popular Ultra Trail races. His results include a 10th place in the Six Foot Track and a strong 6th place in the 2011 North Face 100km, when he challenged a strong international field including Salomon athletes Kilian Jornet and Ryan Sandes.

Mick’s determination and strong focus on training earned him a nomination to represent Australia in the 2011 Commonwealth Ultra Trail Championships (Wales) which he finished 5th overall. In 2012 Mick will compete in the Tarawera Ultra 100km (NZ), The North Face 100km (NSW) and in the Ultra Trail Du Mont Blanc 100miler in France.

Matt Cooper has established himself as a serious podium contender in the Australian ultra running scene by winning the 2011 Alpine Challenge 100 mile race and placing third (2010) and second (2011) in the Great North Walk 100 mile race. Matt focuses strongly on mental preparation and shares his ultra running experience with clients of his coaching and mentoring business. 2012 will see Matt competing in the Alpine Challenge 100, the North Face 100, the Great North Walk 100 and Coast to Kosci.

Mount Taranaki Speed Assault: Anna Frost blogs

With Salomon New Zealand’s Grant Guise, Matt Bixley’s inspiration, my ‘why not’ attitude and Salomon’s support we are off to Taranaki to try and set/break some speed records in the Egmont National Park.There are many record attempts, routes and fastest known times that can all be seen here  but this is what we are hoping to accomplish on our assault:

Grant Guise

Grant is going to have a go at the ‘Round the Mountain’ record which at the moment stands at 5:17:00set by Greg Barbour in 1992. It is one full circuit (approximately 50km) starting from any point on the track travelling either clockwise or anticlockwise. This track has alternative upper and lower routes in a few places and any are valid for the record.

Matt (pictured main image above) is going to attempt not only to break the ‘4 Ascents’ record that currently stands at 16:05:00 set in 1976 by Ian McAlpine but to continue for 24hours if conditions allow, to see how many ascents he can do in a calendar day. See his blog.

I am going to attempt the woman’s ‘1 Ascent’ and at the same time the ‘1 Ascent and Descent’ which currently stands at 2:45:38 by Ingrid Perols in 1993. Both of the men’s records are held by Greg Barbour with 68mins for the ‘1 Ascent’ and1:36:27for the ‘1 Ascent and Descent’. Depending on how my legs are feeling I might also give the women’s ‘Round the Mountain’ a nudge and set a record as there are none standing so far.

Paul Petch from Outdoor Photography  is going to be coming along to capture the fun and excitement of the weekend as we put our speed to the test!

Wish us luck.

Anna Frost

NZ Team Salomon trail runner and recent winner of the TNF50 in California, Anna Frost will report in on the record

attempt here on Trail Run Mag, so stay tuned as the adventure unfolds. Follow Anna’s Facebook here. And remember to LIKE TRM’s facebook, too, here.





When approached to test the new salomon speedcross 3 trail shoe straight out of the box, you might think one should baulk at the idea.
I mean, what a way to ruin a great day on the trail: slip on a brand you have never worn and a model you had only heard was due later in the year, add to that a body recovering from hip and knee injuries and a recently badly-rolled ankle, and the safety of the known versus unknown might have seemed the wiser choice. Even so, ultra trail runners are often accused of being not too smart and a little crazy, and who am I to mess with the stereotype?
I was handed the box, popped the lid and, “Oh, they’re sleek and narrow,” was my first thought. “This won’t fare well.”
I have always searched out the wider forefoot type shoe. But nothing ventured, nothing gained, I thought. Off with the old and on with the new.
This can’t be right, they feel roomy up front, yet hug my foot – better slip on the right one, which is my wider foot (do we all have odd feet widths?). Wow, just the same, almost like they mould and adjust to suit. I grab the kevlar quickdraw lace and pull. I’m amazed at how evenly the whole foot is neatly hugged with a single pull on the lace. Tucking the excess lace in the small tongue pouch I spring to my feet, I mean, like a jack in the box, or should I say out of the box. The Speedcross 3’s feel light and springy. I’m no lightweight, but with these under me I’m floating. Today is going to be a good day on the trail.I’m running on the hills around Silvan Dam in the finale in the Salomon Trail Run Series 2011, and there isn’t a lot of soft mushy stuff to really test the grip, though I remain impressed. I feel at one with the land. You kind of expect a bit of loose top surface movement under foot on trails, but not today, it’s like the tread cuts through the top layer and just holds on tight. Yet at the same time the Speedcross 3 is supple and provides feedback allowing me to make all the right adjustments. The steep ascent is no bother, I actually want the grip to let go so I can take a break, but no such luck.
Then the real test: the descent. I’m heavy enough and gravity just pushes me onward and downward. When I need to apply brakes, the Speedcross 3 obliges; into technical manoeuvres they engage all wheel drive and away we go. Landing my foot on grass-covered logs is no bother – they just don’t let go when they are planted.
If I have one negative experience, it is that the machine in the shoes just can’t keep up. With all that extra grip, I just have to work harder. The Speedcross 3 seems to demand that from me, and I have to come to the party.
I perform as best I can coming off injuries, though ultimately the Speedcross 3 out performs me. And I wonder – does Kilian have the same problem? Shoes that are too good for him?


Great for > Comfort, feel, grip, responsiveness, lightweight, did I mention grip?

Not so great for > Running on hard flat surfaces, keep them off road where they belong.

Test conditions > Single technical trail, leaf litter, hard and rocky fire trails, steep ascents and descents, moist grassy trails – tested in race condition over 14.3km

Tester > Brett Saxon. Ultra runner with finishes in Coast to Kosci 240km, TNF100, Wilsons Prom 100, Bogong to Hotham 64km, Bretts Run For Canteen 100 miler. Trail race director at Trails Plus, purveyor of the new Victorian Trail Running Championships 2012, Maroondah Dam 50/30, Mt Macedon 50/30, You Yangs 80/50/30/15, Tan Ultra 100/50/30.

Tester mechanics > Neutral wide feet, 86kg, overuse hip, knee injuries, but it doesn’t stop me…

RRP >  AU$210.00