Last updated: 28-Dec-16
It’s been a fantastic year in the ultra running community. World records smashed, stereotypes vanquished and hopes and dreams realised. We have been covering it all the way and here is our look back at 2016. Put those tired feet up and enjoy.
The year kicked off with Adam Kimble beginning his quest to break the record for the fastest crossing of America on foot which had stood since 1980 at 46 days, 8 hours and 36 minutes. It was set by Frank Giannino Jnr. The route is just over 3,000 miles long and starts at Huntington Beach, California, finishing in Times Square.
Sadly, he was not to succeed but later in the year, Pete Kostelnick did. He ran the 3,100 miles between San Francisco and New York in 42 days 6 hours 30 minutes, which comes out as an average of around 73 miles a day. Just after the race, Pete said, “It was more mentally and emotionally draining than physical. I think if you can get past the mental part of it and train your body… I think training for this, mentally training for it, putting in the miles, was as important as training my body.”
There is nothing an ultra runner likes more than a challenge and there were lots of them this year – many of them to raise awareness of great causes like Marina Ranger and Lucja Leonard’s 500km near-naked jaunt across Holland in five days to raise money and awareness for the Pink Ribbon Foundation.
Another of our favourites was Ben Smith’s 401 Challenge. Ben ran his 401st marathon in his home city of Bristol (England, UK) on Wednesday 5th October to complete his epic feat of running 401 marathons in 401 days to raise money for Stonewall and Kidscape and to campaign against bullying. He ran a massive 10,506 miles, burned over 2.5 million calories, wore out 22 pairs of trainers and gave 101 motivational talks to schools, colleges and universities to raise awareness of bullying. When he ran his 53rd marathon on October 23, he broke the Guinness World Record for the most marathons run on consecutive days.
Let’s hear it for the girls
A year of fantastic performances by female athletes in the sport, breaking records, placing highly overall and winning outright. In June, British ultra runner, Jo Williams, triumphed at the Richtersveld Transfrontier Wildrun winning the race with Tobias Mews coming in second. She took first place in the run with a fantastic time of 22.23.01 and Tobias Mews came in in second place and as first man with 22.42.00.
The 2016 Australia’s Big Red Run will be remembered by the dominant and outstanding performance of 2015 MDS ladies champion, Elisabet Barnes who won the race. Elisabet broke away on day 1 to win the stage outright, on day 2 under the harsh wet conditions she repeated the process and this scenario was echoed on day 5. Stage 4 was the only one she lost.
Age is no barrier
The legend that is Marco Olmo (68) proved, once again, that age IS just a number by coming first in the Ultra Bolivia Race 2016 – a 170 km self-supported race over 6 stages across the Bolivian Altiplano in South America. Marco completed in a time of 16:44:10, well ahead of ahead of Frenchman Christophe Martin (19:08:45) and the Canadian Paul Chan (20:18:35). He also set a new course record, breaking Tommy Chen’s 18:25:03.
In October, Doyle Carpenter (77) won the Endless Mile in Alabaster, Alabama, completing 149 miles within the 48-hour time limit. According to Hirofumi Tanaka, director of the Cardiovascular Aging Research Laboratory at the University of Texas at Austin, the older the age group, the sharper the improvement, narrowing the performance gap between older and younger athletes.
No round up of the year would be complete without a quick look back at the classics.
Marathon des Sables – MDS: Rachid El Morabity stormed first place for the men, the reigning champion retook his crown. For the women, the Russian Natalia Sedykh ran a truly brilliant race and surged ahead from the start. The team competition was almost a foregone conclusion for first place with so many of the top male runners being members of TGCC but congratulations also to Team I Run 4 Hope, who came in second and ran to raise awareness of ADHD.
UTMB: It is THE iconic single-stage mountain race which passes through three different countries as it follows the route of the Tour du Mont Blanc through France, Italy and Switzerland. 170km with 10000m of ascent. 2500 starters set off. Ludovic Pommeret of France and Caroline Chaverot also of France were the heroic winners.
BADWATER: The men and the women’s records were crushed at Badwater 135 this year. Pete Kostelnick, who won last year, came in at 21.56.32 which bested the previous record by an hour. It was set by Valmir Nunes, who won in 2007. Alyson Venti delivered a time of 25.33.07 after running an impeccable race and coming fifth overall.
And finally… the one we all want to do
Pasang Lama. Photo credit: RunUltra.
The Everest Trail Race was won by Pasang Lama Sherpa (Nepal) and Andreja Sterle Podobnik (Slovenia). Winding through the remote Solukhumbu region of the Himalayas in Nepal, the Everest Trail Race (ETR) is an annual multi-stage footrace, with a brutal range in altitude of more than 25,000 metres. Along hard trails of frozen earth, crunching through crisp snow and running over different types of rock, red, green and grey in colour, it covers a gruelling 160km over six days.
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