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Ultra Discussion Thread

  • #1
    Closed Accounts Posts: 1,225 DogSlySmile


    There seems to be enough interest in ultras/ultra runners on this forum so thought I'd set up a thread to discuss training, races, resources, tips, gear etc.

    There are a decent number of ultras in Ireland, I counted 19 this year (not counting ultras with two separate events on the same day). We are spoiled for choice in this country with regard to hilly/mountainous terrain to train and race.

    Resources:
    http://www.irunfar.com/
    http://ultrarunnerpodcast.com/
    http://www.marathontalk.com/archive/talk_ultra.php

    Saw this video last night about the Barkley Marathons, one of the toughest 100 mile races. 40 people started but there was only one finisher this year and it took him nearly 60 hours to complete the course! Only 14 people have completed the course in 30 years.

    Seems like the entry process is nearly as difficult as the race! Brilliant FAQs about Barkley here: http://www.mattmahoney.net/barkley/faq.html
    What is the entry fee?

    For virgins: $1.60, a license plate from your home state, and an essay on "Why I should be allowed to run the Barkley"
    :P


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Comments



  • There are a decent number of ultras in Ireland, I counted 19 this year (not counting ultras with two separate events on the same day). We are spoiled for choice in this

    I counted 22 ultras on that page: http://marathonclubireland.asocion.com/2014-marathons/

    ... and there's no guarantee that's a complete list.

    Not so long ago there were only 2 in Ireland (at least only 2 I knew about). Times are good. :)




  • I counted 22 ultras on that page: http://marathonclubireland.asocion.com/2014-marathons/

    ... and there's no guarantee that's a complete list.

    Not so long ago there were only 2 in Ireland (at least only 2 I knew about). Times are good. :)

    There certainly seems to be an ultra running boom right now. You've been around the block a few times, TFB. Whats behind the sudden interest in ultras? Popularity of books like Born to Run/Karnazes or do people just want the sense of adventure that comes with ultra running?




  • There certainly seems to be an ultra running boom right now. You've been around the block a few times, TFB. Whats behind the sudden interest in ultras? Popularity of books like Born to Run/Karnazes or do people just want the sense of adventure that comes with ultra running?

    I don't think those books have too much to do with it. My opinion is that it's just an extension of the present running boom.

    The number of marathons in Ireland has moved from 4 to well over 100 a year, so to have the number of ultras move from 2 to 22 isn't all that remarkable.

    Most ultras are very small. Connemara is an exception with about 200 ultra runners, but the last ultra I did only had 17 starters, which is much more typical.

    A sad fact, and a sign that ultra running is not quite as booming as it could be: The organiser of the Dingle Ultra will make changes as he only ever got 60-70 runners. This year will be the last time he's organising the 50. :(




  • A sad fact, and a sign that ultra running is not quite as booming as it could be: The organiser of the Dingle Ultra will make changes as he only ever got 60-70 runners. This year will be the last time he's organising the 50. :(
    That's a pity, Dingle 50 is a great event.
    I did it in 2012 and enjoyed it, a nice scenic course with a bit of a climb in the first bit.
    I think the increase in numbers for the 1/2 and full in Dingle has squeezed the 50 out, logistically it must have been a bit of a pain to bus to the start. Still 70 people for a 50mile isn't that small a field either.

    Back to topic.
    I would love to see another 24hr race in the year, preferably one not on a track. I have heard a few rumblings about a 24hr in Dublin, or a trail / grass / parkland type circuit further south ;) - but nothing concrete* yet. *no pun intended*

    I've found the (few) ultra events I've done great, the people (most) are welcoming and everyone seems to enjoy their day out.
    Portumna has to be the most sociable event I've participated in as so many people are milling about, equalled by Donadea which is a nicer (softer) course.
    Wicklow way is fantastic even with the horizontal rain and the imra organisation and low numbers makes it a friendly race.

    I'd love to see a more national approach to trail ultras, maybe a provincial series with Mourne Way - Wicklow Way - Kerry Way and perhaps the Western Green Way or similar in Connaught being bundled as some sort of national series during the longer "summer" months.

    I also know the the lads organising the loop de loop event in Aherlow in September are after learning a lot from their well regarded ballyhoura mountain marathon, so that should be a good event, the 3 distances should see a bit of through the day support which is always nice.

    I also know a few people who are stepping up in distance this year, most of them are just bored with road races and are gravitating towards off-road stuff and as they spend time on trails they seem to want to move to longer times / distances, must be all the fresh air.




  • b.harte wrote: »
    I'd love to see a more national approach to trail ultras, maybe a provincial series with Mourne Way - Wicklow Way - Kerry Way and perhaps the Western Green Way or similar in Connaught being bundled as some sort of national series during the longer "summer" months.
    r.

    that's a cool idea. That's like how the adventure races (WAR/Roar etc) are set up. You get points for doing each race, the higher you finish the more points you get and everyone goes on a leaderboard. Its a good way of tracking your progress against others.

    Excuse the tangent BH but what headtorch did you use during the wicklow way solo? I've read a few of the reports now and some of them mention a headtorch with the power of a lighthouse! figured it was you.


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  • LED Lenser H14 - the non rechargeable version with 4x2500mah batteries in it.
    There is a newer (brighter & longer lasting) version 2 out so the original can be got at a discounted price in most resellers - 53 degrees north
    On the climb up Djouce It was still only on it's normal high power setting - there is a super bright function as well, but that would have just been overkill.

    back OT, what I like about the current ultra races (that I'm interested in) is that a lot of them are organised by people who are passionate about it, think Anto's "build it & they will come" approach to Donedea and Staplestown, and Eileen & Simon with The Kerry Way, I like that, it's a change from the more commercially focused world of races up to Marathon - and I'm not labelling anyone here, just an observation.

    I was very critical last year of the price for Stone Mad - but am strongly considering it for this year as it was well regarded by anyone I know who did it so the price is less of an issue.

    I think the Scottish model (from my limited understanding of it) is a good system, a low price / no frills race series with an incentive to do more events for reductions in price, it encourages many to travel around to do the races, which opens up new areas to run.




  • Never mind a time when there was two Ultras in Ireland, it's not that long ago that there was only a single race keeping the show on the road. That was the Wicklow Way Ultra, organised by Maurice Mullins. (When Maurice could no longer organise it himself, Lindie Naughton stepped up to the plate and organised it under the Crusaders banner. A year or two later IMRA took over the organisation, and it has been happily living there ever since).

    Ultras in Ireland go back a lot longer than that though. There were once all sorts of interesting races organised here, such as a Cork to Dublin (I think it was that direction) race. Not sure of the timing but I think that would ave been in the 60s/70s. I'd guess that there would have been a few "pedestrian" races here back in their boom of the late 19th - early 20th century.

    Ultras are definitely more popular than they have ever been now. I don't think it's a sudden boom though. It's been growing steadily for quite a while now. But then so have most varieties of running. Unfortunately at the moment at the international championship level we're loosing people faster than we're replacing them :(

    In contrast to the Dingle Ultra, the Wicklow Way Ultra has had to have limits imposed on entry, as there are more people trying to enter than IMRA is comfortable with. The Belfast 24 hour also reached its limit this year and has a waiting list of people trying to get in.

    b.harte, my own opinion is that track is the optimal venue for a 24hour race if you want to maximise your potential. I wouldn't fancy a grassy version in damp weather at all. It would be good to see more 24 hour races alright. Of course I'd love to see even longer :D.

    We've definitely got a great selection of trail ultras at the moment spanning range of distances and terrain. A few of them have potential to be significant races with international prestige. I've also thought about the potential for a trail ultra series, and it's something I might try and make happen myself if there was a demand there. WWU, WWS, MWU, CCU, KWU is a good collection, and I reckon all the organisers would have no problem with the concept.

    There was a super one-off trail ultra in Connaught when Richard Donovan organised the world champions in Connemara a few years ago. Huge scope out that direction for all sorts of routes.

    I think your initial impression of Stone Mad correlates quite closely with mine. I wouldn't see the race lasting if they don't start making a commercial success of it. And if it does become a commercial success it will do well to hold onto the atmosphere that people seemed to enjoy so much last year.




  • Nice tread dss......Re trail races .afaik There is 2 trail ultras 100k and 100 mile in very early planning stages at mo for next year and maybe staplestown mite could have a 100 miler aswell if interest is there to make it worthwile




  • Transvulcania is on channel 4OD now.

    Usually stays online for a few weeks.




  • So, are Ultrarunners really so guarded that they aren't willing to share?

    Gear:
    My own personal choice is that comfort and practicality are more important than brand & price, but a good bargain shoe is hard to resist, especially if logging large mileage. You also get what you pay for.
    Current line up is:
    Road: Inov8 Road-x 255 & 233 - both comfortable and light.
    255 for longer road based runs,
    233 for up to 20miles and speedier sessions.
    Main reason is the 255 are just that little bit more pleasant over longer distance. I will possibly go to the next drop level in the same line-up and use the 233 for longer stuff then.

    Moderate off-road or mixed road / trail:
    Salomon Sense Mantra (Version 1): Superb, the fit is great and while initially firm they soften up nicely. managed over 1000km of 70%/30% trail/road in my last pair, including the WWS in torrential conditions. I had reservations about the grip but in all but the muddiest stuff they are good, even on wet rocks / tree roots they are okay. The only shoe I have had in the last few years that didn't suffer toe poke, due to the generous toe protector - this was changed on the version 2, which is why I returned them and picked up a pair of the originals. A few minor problems with creasing on the toebox but nothing major. The stock insoles are too big / padded - I've swapped them out for a pair of wafer thins and the shoe is better as a result. One annoying "fault" is the quick-lace material is so strong it can cut through the eyelet if the outer sheath is damaged - this happened to me, the shoe is still usable but something to be aware of - for info it was dense briar / gorse that damaged the outer.

    Salomon Sense Ultra 3: Only got these as they were on sale and a Birthday present (or so I keep telling myself :o ) These are like slippers, I have to fight the urge to put these on every run, they make everything else seem clunky. Grip is good / similar to the Mantra. Very firm on road but exceptionally comfortable off-road. The rock plate is sufficient. I could go on about how good they are but instead I'll highlight the bad bits. These are silly light and won't last the more normal loose / wet conditions we see. The change of design to the last eyelet / pocket on the speed-lace sort of creates a funnel at the tongue which allow small stones (picked up by the thread pattern) to work into the shoe. As the fit is so snug, due to the liner they don't work down and are easily picked out but annoying as hell that is occurs. Construction wise they are well put together with adequate protection on the toe box, I'm checking the inside for early signs of wear but so far so good (a modest 200km). There is a soft ground version with more aggressive lugs, depending on how these work out (I have a benchmark of 750km) I may cash in an early Christmas present. Previous version have a reputation of early de-lamination of the upper and the out sole can split, so I'll be keeping a close eye on this.

    Previously had: Inov8 Terrafly 303: Loved them, comfortable, roomy toe box and light with enough comfort for 100km+. Useless in mud :) apart from being blue which made them easier to spot in the bog hole :D:D. The bad bits: toe cap was minimal, weird flex on the point where the show bends started to shows signs of wear after only a few 00 km. The plastic type overlay on the instep used to flex in on my right shoe (my foot shape perhaps) and gave me a few blisters, eventually (500km+) the material around it gave up and a large tear formed. It didn't get any larger of the remaining 400+ km but I had to resort ot Duct tape to stop debris getting in. No rock plate and a thin outsole do not like sharp stone. All in all a very competent shoe and I would get another pair for light trail / forest road use.

    Heavy / Muddy stuff: Inov8 Trailroc 255 and 245. The 255 are great but too padded and soak up water. grip is great on both - the 245 are the better shoe. if it's a long mostly off-road affair in wet conditions I'll wear these, if a good bit of road then I'll go with the 255 for the little bit of extra padding.

    Hydration / Storage:
    I've a collection of aldi/lidl bags that are just about fit for purpose and a few bladders. I prefer to run with a handheld for shorter runs, I use a buff and a standard water bottle and it does the trick. Does anyone have specific recommendation? I noticed a lot of people have the ultimate direction packs and I've even seen an s-lab pack. These are top end, are they worth it? I would guess for the likes of MDS and UTMB etc they are great but are they overkill for the current national races?

    Raingear: After WWS I'm on the look out for a good jacket. Current favourite is the Montane minimus followed by an OMM. For those of you that regularly use a "good" rain jacket and a backpack, is it worth sizing up to allow the jacket to cover the bag? My logic might be flawed as I'm working on the assumption that a bag may damage the jacket so it best to have it over it?:o:o

    And finally (imagine being stuck with me on a long run :eek: ) Any few little bits that you've gleamed over the years that you think are worth sharing.

    Mine: You don't need as much liquid as you think you do, ditch the water belts for a few training runs and see what happens. And read some blogs, there's a lot of good stuff out there. Alos join a club / group if only to develop a routine.


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  • b.harte wrote: »
    So, are Ultrarunners really so guarded that they aren't willing to share?

    :), Nah, just too much running, too little typing!
    b.harte wrote: »
    Gear:
    My own personal choice is that comfort and practicality are more important than brand & price, but a good bargain shoe is hard to resist, especially if logging large mileage. You also get what you pay for.

    Wouldn't agree with the last line there. Plenty of overpriced gear around. Some great gear is competitively priced. At the 6 day race I did in New York a few months ago I brought 5 or 6 pairs of shoes of many types and brands (and that was very deliberate). The pair that got used for by far the longest (3+ days continuously) cost 20 Euro in Aldi! The pair that got used the least was the most expensive (Hoka road shoes).

    b.harte wrote: »
    Hydration / Storage: I noticed a lot of people have the ultimate direction packs and I've even seen an s-lab pack. These are top end, are they worth it? I would guess for the likes of MDS and UTMB etc they are great but are they overkill for the current national races?

    It depends on the combination of gear you're using. The s-lab stuff is ridiculously pricey. It is very good though. I don't own any solomon gear, but I have borrowed the bag and used it on the UTMB last year, and transGC this year. Its big plus is the front bottle holders. Very handy for long-stawed bottles so that you can drink hands free on demand. Hands free being important if you're hauling yourself up massive alpine climbs using sticks. Bottles are much easier to refil etc than bladders (and can be filled more frequently with less time wasting, meaning that you can carry less water (very heavy) between stations. Otherwise though I'd say pick a bag that sits comfortably that carries the gear you intend to bring. Mostly I use the Inov8 bag that was the IMRA summer league prize from last year.

    Whatever you decide, a key thing is to train with your race gear so your body is fully adapted to the extra stresses and strains.
    b.harte wrote: »
    Raingear: After WWS I'm on the look out for a good jacket. Current favourite is the Montane minimus followed by an OMM. For those of you that regularly use a "good" rain jacket and a backpack, is it worth sizing up to allow the jacket to cover the bag? My logic might be flawed as I'm working on the assumption that a bag may damage the jacket so it best to have it over it?:o:o

    IMHO if you're going to be spending long periods of time in the mountains your rain jacket is probably the single most important item of gear (Even though it could go completely unused for months!). This is where spending extra on quality gear does make a big difference. I use a high end Columbia jacket that is absolutely outstanding. Its combination of being a full-on apline grade waterproof shell, and having unbelieveably good breathability make it a true jem. It's actually more breathable than my ultra-lighweight windproof jackets. As a result there are very few downsides to using it, which is why you'll often see me wearing a jacket long before others who are waiting until conditions force it on them. I haven't come accross any other jacket that comes anywhere near it.
    b.harte wrote: »
    Mine: You don't need as much liquid as you think you do, ditch the water belts for a few training runs and see what happens.

    Absolutely! And food even more so! I can't remember the last time I ate anything on a training run.




  • b.harte wrote: »
    Hydration / Storage:
    I've a collection of aldi/lidl bags that are just about fit for purpose and a few bladders. I prefer to run with a handheld for shorter runs, I use a buff and a standard water bottle and it does the trick. Does anyone have specific recommendation? I noticed a lot of people have the ultimate direction packs and I've even seen an s-lab pack. These are top end, are they worth it? I would guess for the likes of MDS and UTMB etc they are great but are they overkill for the current national races?

    I was thinking about shelling out for a Salomon bag, in the end I bought two bottle holders and attached them to my current Deuter bag. They work really well, its great to have quick and easy access to your water. An they only cost me €50 altogether so pretty good compared to the top end Salomon bags. The black parts on the side of the holders are mesh pockets and can be used to store gels, spare hat, gloves etc. The only down side is that they bounced a bit when running. Can be remedied by tying them together. My tip - I got a bum bag and used the straps to tie mine together on the run. This has the added advantage of giving me a little extra easy-access storage space. m_RL_bottle_holderNEW_634986923131520004-500x500.jpg




  • Jaysus lads ...this is worse Dan than d tri guys gear...pair of runners,some jax roll and a couple if pence to buy a drop of water is all ya need....edit jax roll is optional




  • Not an ultra-runner yet (next year hopefully when our new baby is sleeping!) but an avid trail runner and have done a mountain races.

    I wear Asics Fuji Trainers 2 for trails and xcountry. Good shoe, rigid enough but light.
    Ronhill for tshirt and shorts, cheapest of the brands out there I'd say but very good quality always.
    Jacket was from Elvery's Protech or something - fine fine.




  • Gear?

    Shoes, shorts, t-shirt. Singlet if it's sunny.
    Road shoes for roads, trail shoes for trail.

    Anyone wanting to discuss more gear should f*ck off to the triathlon board. :rolleyes:




  • ultraman1 wrote: »
    Jaysus lads ...this is worse Dan than d tri guys gear...pair of runners,some jax roll and a couple if pence to buy a drop of water is all ya need....edit jax roll is optional

    Don't forget the sun cream, or failing that; the after sun ;)




  • Gear?

    Shoes, shorts, t-shirt. Singlet if it's sunny.
    Road shoes for roads, trail shoes for trail.

    Anyone wanting to discuss more gear should f*ck off to the triathlon board. :rolleyes:

    Mountain rescue: "So let me get this straight. You went on a 30 mile run, in the mountains, and you brought no gear with you?

    Person X "Well, it was sunny when I left four hours ago. I have an emergency fiver for a drink."

    I presume the gear discussion is in relation to those who like their long runs in the mountains and therefore must carry a bit of kit.




  • nerraw1111 wrote: »
    Mountain rescue: "So let me get this straight. You went on a 30 mile run, in the mountains, and you brought no gear with you?

    Person X "Well, it was sunny when I left four hours ago. I have an emergency fiver for a drink."

    I presume the gear discussion is in relation to those who like their long runs in the mountains and therefore must carry a bit of kit.

    I admit I did wear a backpack with a water bladder last time I went for a 30 mile run on the trails. I even had a jacket in it.

    I never felt the need to put pics of either on a discussion group, though.
    One of the things I treasure most about running is it's simplicity and basic nature. I also hold the view that 90% of gear is crap, and the less you have the better.




  • ultraman1 wrote: »
    Jaysus lads ...this is worse Dan than d tri guys gear...pair of runners,some jax roll and a couple if pence to buy a drop of water is all ya need....edit jax roll is optional

    And guaranteed just like the tri guys none of the fancy kit will make me any faster, I'll still be passed by the lad in full gaa gear.... :-) but how bad.




  • ultraman1 wrote: »
    Jaysus lads ...this is worse Dan than d tri guys gear...pair of runners,some jax roll and a couple if pence to buy a drop of water is all ya need....edit jax roll is optional

    And guaranteed just like the tri guys none of the fancy kit will make me any faster, I'll still be passed by the lad in full gaa gear.... :-) but how bad.


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  • ultraman1 wrote: »
    Jaysus lads ...this is worse Dan than d tri guys gear...pair of runners,some jax roll and a couple if pence to buy a drop of water is all ya need....edit jax roll is optional

    This is the image I have in my head after reading that-

    9152702.jpg

    PS where would you even put a few pence if you wore runners and nothing else:D:p




  • Fantastic article on the Western States 100 in IRunFar
    http://www.irunfar.com/2014/06/the-western-states-killing-machine-part-one.html




  • With regard to the ultra trail series, a fantastic idea and one I have been ruminating over for a little while now with my Wicklow Way Race RD hat on.

    Will do some groundwork and see what can be done.




  • ultraman1 wrote: »
    Jaysus lads ...this is worse Dan than d tri guys gear...pair of runners,some jax roll and a couple if pence to buy a drop of water is all ya need....edit jax roll is optional

    That only works if you run near shops,
    Money ain't much good out in the countryside :p




  • Vibram Tarawera 100k is on Channel 4 this Sunday 15th at 06:40.

    Up early watch the race and then out for your long run;)




  • Everyone's favourite Ultrarunner was on Newstalk on Saturday :)

    The real life Forrest Gump
    Show: Futureproof
    Dean Karnazes is something of a scientific miracle. He can run and run. He has run 50 marathons in 50 days, 350 miles in 80 hours and 44 minutes, with no sleep. Listen!


    http://www.newstalk.ie/player/podcasts/Futureproof/Highlights_from_Future_Proof_with_Jonathan_McCrea/56028/1/the_real_life_forrest_gump




  • ultraman1 wrote: »
    Nice tread dss......Re trail races .afaik There is 2 trail ultras 100k and 100 mile in very early planning stages at mo for next year and maybe staplestown mite could have a 100 miler aswell if interest is there to make it worthwile







    100 miler would take some planning








  • Speaking of gear and ultra running, perhaps more gear related really, what is the minimum amount of gear you should wear at a race? In a recent race (Portumna Saturday) it was a little warm (I was melting) and at 50k was having some nipple chafing issues (forgot to tape) so ended up finishing race with no shirt at the risk of looking like a vein b**trd.

    Finished the race and bent double over the finish line the race director came over and first and foremost gave me a huge congrats and well done but politely reminded me that in actual fact you could technically be DQ'd for not wearing a top? I think Seb mentioned some AIM's rule? Genuinely haven't heard about that before but is this common? Number was on shorts and always visible.


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  • Thats mad if thats the case, surely its the chip and number and that's all that should matter?


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