Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Early bird entries open for Shrewsbury Half Marathon 2020

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Image Credit: Charles Whitton Photography

The organisers of Shrewsbury Half Marathon have confirmed that the 2020 event will take place on Sunday 11th October and early bird entries are now open.

Following the success of the 2019 event – which had moved from its June date to October- the UKA accredited Shrewsbury Half Marathon 2020 promises to deliver another first-class race experience with incredible runner and community support.

Powered by UKRunChat, Shrewsbury Half Marathon starts and finishes at Shropshire County Showground, home to a fully equipped race village. The route then takes runners through Shrewsbury town centre and out into the beautiful Shropshire countryside before returning to the Showground to be cheered over the finish line.

The course incorporates some Shropshire hills and features scenery and support are second-to-none, making the race a firm favourite among local club runners as well as athletes travelling from further afield.

The 2020 event will welcome an increased number of local and national charity partners, giving runners plenty of opportunity to run for charity and make a difference to others.

The day will also be an important meet-up for leading online running community Run Mummy Run, with members from all over the UK expected to get together and run.

The atmosphere at the 2019 event was fantastic, with superb support from all the volunteers, marshals, pacers, medical crew, sponsors, spectators and local residents who lined the route to cheer on the runners. Feedback from the event was overwhelmingly positive, with many runners complementing the efficient organisation, friendly atmosphere, wonderful support, stunning views, impressive medal and environmentally-friendly goody bag and carton of water.

Participants at Shrewsbury Half Marathon 2020 can once more look forward to a professional and friendly race, with a team of SRG pacers to help them hit their targets and more big-name sponsors which will be announced soon. The race represents excellent value for money, with a bespoke medal, technical race souvenir t-shirt, free pre and post-race massage, free photos, as well as a carton of water and race treats at the finish all included in the entry fee.

There will also be a shopping village, easy parking on site, and prizes for the top three male and female and age category winners.

The winners of On Shrewsbury Half Marathon 2019 were Tom Roberts with a time of 01:09:54 and Jackie Skinner with a time of 01:21:27.

Organisers Joe Williams and Rebecca Richardson commented, “We are delighted to confirm that Shrewsbury Half Marathon 2020 will take place on Sunday 11th October. Our new autumn date proved extremely popular and we celebrated a brilliant day for everyone at the 2019 event. The support and camaraderie were amazing with everyone out in force to cheer on the runners, a friendly atmosphere, many PBs, and all round celebrations of the day’s achievements. We can’t wait to put on another incredible day and look forward to welcoming runners of all levels to the 2020 event. Early bird entries are available until midnight on 31st December, offering the lowest price for runners to secure their place for Shrewsbury Half Marathon 2020.”

Shrewsbury Half Marathon takes place on Sunday 11th October 2020. A total of 3,000 places are available. Early bird entry is open and costs £27 (affiliated) / £29 (unaffiliated).

Go to www.shrewsburyhalf.com to register and for further event details. You can also like the Facebook page, and follow @Shrewsburyhalf on Twitter and Instagram to keep up to date with all the latest news at #ShrewsburyHalf #UKRunChat.

Müller Anniversary Games to be moved away from London Stadium in 2021

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An agreement has been reached between LLDC and UK Athletics for the Müller Anniversary Games to be moved away from the London Stadium in 2021.

A spokesperson for LLDC commented: “This event is an important part of London Stadium’s summer schedule and will remain so in future years. However, because of the repercussions of the Covid pandemic on other events at the stadium, in particular the usual concert programme, it was important to reach an agreement with UK Athletics to remove the need to reconfigure the Stadium for one event. We are grateful that UK Athletics have agreed to a revised proposal that covers the costs of relocation and disruption to their plans.”

Joanna Coates, Chief Executive of UK Athletics added: “Our priority has been to stage the event at the London Stadium. Unfortunately, that has proven impossible. As a result, we have agreed to a settlement that allows us to mitigate losses and invest significant resource into the sport to help our athletes succeed. We will now be putting on a world class event at another UK stadium and will be announcing further details in the near future.”

World Triathlon partners with FilmNova and MOOV for a season like no other of live triathlon

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Continuing its mission to bring the sport to as wide an audience as possible, World Triathlon has signed with Broadcast Partner FilmNova and teamed up with Broadcast Graphics provider MOOV, to enhance its live coverage and deliver even more entertainment for the new season.

FilmNova will put in place for all the World Triathlon Championship Series events bold, exciting and achievable solutions for both linear and digital broadcasting of the races. The British company, appointed by the World Triathlon Executive Board after a selection process that involved some of the top broadcasting companies in the world, will work together with the World Triathlon team to deliver professional and slick coverage of all its major triathlon events, to enable the races to reach their maximum potential and increase the reach.

MOOV has been FilmNova’s graphics partner of choice for over a decade, and will use all their experience to bring triathlon audiences closer to the action and help tell the incredible stories across the 2021 season and beyond.

“The broadcast, digital and graphics landscape is constantly evolving, and we are delighted to be working with two companies consistently at the front of that evolution,” said World Triathlon President and IOC Member Marisol Casado. “We are always looking for new ways to bring the excitement of live racing to those watching at home and on smartphones and tablets, and these two companies will be able to add new layers to the live broadcasts that will entertain and inform both our current audiences and those coming to triathlon for the first time.”

The season gets underway in Yokohama on 15 May, where the best in the world will not only be looking to test where they are after a long off-season, but chasing crucial slots on the Tokyo 2020 Olympic start line as National Federations begin to finalise their teams. You can watch all the action on TriathlonLIVE.tv as well as on major networks around the world.

Phil Sibson, Managing Director of FillmNova, said: “We are delighted to be provided the opportunity to help World Triathlon develop coverage of the World Triathlon Championship Series. We believe there has never been a better time to grab hold of a broader, growing and more engaged audience and we are relishing working with World Triathlon to enhance the coverage and bring innovation and consistency.”

Duncan Foot, CEO of MOOV, said: “We are really excited to be joining this project, particularly in an Olympic Year, starting with the first event in Japan. Triathlon is the ultimate test of athletic ability & endurance and the World Triathlon Championship Series is the pinnacle of the sport, and we look forward to being there every step (cycle and swim) of the way.”

www.triathlon.org

Sarissa de Vries shows her power once again and Thomas Steger claims victory in Challenge Riccione,

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Sarissa de Vries shows her power once again

After a thrilling final, Austrian Thomas Steger has just won CHALLENGERICCIONE. For a long time it looked as if Spain’s Pablo Gonzalez Dapena would win, but after an incredibly strong running part it was Steger who made the decision in the final kilometers. In the women’s race Sarissa de Vries won by a large margin: after a strong second place at ANFI CHALLENGEMOGANGRAN-CANARIA she now showed that she belongs on the highest step of the podium.

While the athletes remained close together during the men’s swim, it was Pieter Heemeryck who was first back in the transition area. After 26:31 minutes he could put on his bike shoes knowing that strong athletes like Pablo Gonzalez Dapena (+10), Mattia Ceccarelli (+14), Davis Thomas (+17) and Frederic Funk (+33) were all following close behind. The biggest absentee from the leading group was Sebastian Kienle, who was three minutes behind after the swim. Because of all the corona measures, the pro’s started with a rolling start, which meant that the differences could be slightly distorted.

On the bike, a six-man breakaway quickly emerged. In addition to Heemeryck, also Dapena Gonzalez, Michael Raelert, Andi Boecherer, Giulio Molinari and Mattia Ceccarelli were in the front group. While the pace was quite high, there was still a gap of around two minutes on the first chasers and men like Ruedi Wild, Thomas Steger and Sebastian Kienle were unable to reduce this difference.

After a second lap – and thus just before the end of the bike leg – the situation had changed again. Ceccarelli, who had already won the race in 2019, was clearly in good form and had gained a minute’s advantage over his five chasers. At that point Frederic Funk had also joined them, so six men were chasing Ceccarelli. Kienle continued to lose time and was already almost four minutes behind.

During the final kilometers on the bike, Ceccarelli even managed to extend his lead a little more and so began the final run with a lead of about one and a half minutes. The chasing group remained the same, although Dapena Gonzalez lost a few precious seconds during the transition.

However, that did not stop the Spanish athlete from starting the run very strongly and taking over the lead of the race after the first five kilometers. From that moment on, he passed Ceccarelli, although Heemeryck, Funk and Raelert also followed Gonzalez Dapena very closely. At this stage of the race, everything was still possible and everyone had a good chance of winning the race.

From this moment on, a lot happened in the race. At first Gonzalez Dapena seemed to be running comfortably to victory, but suddenly it was Steger who seemed to have found some extra energy and quickly made up the lost ground to equal the Spaniard. At the same time, Kienle was also advancing up the field and so ended up running in third position when there was still about three kilometers to go.

In the final kilometers, Steger made the difference and proved to be faster than Gonzalez Dapena. Steger finished after 3:52:34hr, ultimately 1:10 minute ahead of Gonzalez Dapena. Kienle took the bronze three minutes later.

Sarissa de Vries shows skills at women’s race
In the women’s race, Zane Ilaria was the fastest swimmer of the day after 28:50 minutes and was the first to get on the bike. Lee India followed in second place and came out of the water 25 seconds after the leader. Dutchwoman Sarissa de Vries came out of the water in third place, eight seconds behind India. One of the biggest favorites, Germany’s Carolin Lehrieder, followed in fifth place and gained almost two minutes on the fastest woman during the swim.

On the bike, however, Ilaria quickly lost her lead and it was De Vries who passed her at a fast pace. After the first of two bike laps, De Vries had taken over the lead in the race and Ilaria was already three minutes behind, but India, who was in second place at that point, was still able to follow quite well: she was about fifteen seconds behind the race leader. At the same time, Lehrieder and Alexandra Tondeur – both named as big favorites for the win – struggled to keep up with De Vries’s pace, coming through with more than four minutes to spare.

During the second bike loop, De Vries managed to increase her lead to over two minutes on India, who started to lose her strong position. Other women behind followed at more than six minutes or more and with that the Dutch seemed to be in an excellent position to start her half marathon.

This proved to be the case during the run: De Vries never gave up, proved to be very strong there as well, and did not see her lead ever endangered. In the end, she won the race after 4:23:16hr and with that end time she was minutes ahead of her pursuers. India came second after 4:29:03. After some exciting battles for third it was Marta Bernardi claiming bronze after 4:33:29hr.

Laura Muir to race 1500m at Müller Grand Prix Gateshead

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Middle-distance star Laura Muir (coach: Andy Young, club: Dundee Hawkhill) will race on home soil for the first time in 15 months when she tackles the 1500 metres at the Müller Grand Prix Gateshead on Sunday 23rd May.

The event at Gateshead International Stadium in just under two weeks’ time is the first meeting in the 2021 Wanda Diamond League series and Muir will be hoping for another good performance on the road to the Tokyo Olympics.

The Scottish athlete is the reigning European champion at 1500m and holds the British record with 3:55.22. But surprisingly she has yet to score her first victory on the track at Gateshead.

Muir said: “I am training and racing in the United States right now, but the Müller Grand Prix Gateshead will be my first competition in the UK when I return home later this month. Diamond League events are always exciting and it is extra special for me when the event is on British soil.

“I have won road mile races at the CityGames in the North East of England a few times over the years. But the last time I actually raced at Gateshead International Stadium was in the National Junior League as a teenager! I didn’t win those races either so hopefully this month I can try to win my first-ever track race at the venue.”

Muir certainly looks in fine form. Last month in Eugene, Oregon, she enjoyed a runaway win in the 1500m in 4:01.54, whereas on Sunday (9th May) she celebrated her 28th birthday with a fine second place behind training partner Jemma Reekie in the 800m at the Continental Tour Gold in California, narrowly missing her PB with 1:58.46.

The first Wanda Diamond League event of 2021 was due to take place in Rabat but has been moved to Gateshead due to the coronavirus pandemic. It means Gateshead will be staging its first international grand prix meeting since 2010 and it will offer welcome competitive opportunities to British athletes ahead of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

So Muir will be joined in the 1500m at Gateshead by Melissa Courtney-Bryant (Rob Denmark; Poole AC), Eilish McColgan (Liz Nuttall; Dundee Hawkhill), Adelle Tracey (Craig Winrow; Guildford & Godalming) and Holly Archer (Andrew Parmenter; Cambridge & Coleridge).

Courtney-Bryant holds Welsh records for 3000m and 5000m and two years ago won bronze in the European indoor 3000m final as Muir took a 1500m and 3000m double. McColgan is a two-time Olympic finalist and European 5000m silver medallist. Better known as an 800m runner, Tracey ran a 1:59.50 PB for two laps this weekend. Archer, meanwhile, won the British indoor 1500m title in 2020 and European indoor silver at the distance two months ago.

Added to this, in recent days the organisers have announced a red-hot women’s 100m featuring Dina Asher-Smith, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Elaine Thompson-Herah and Sha’Carri Richardson, while the men’s pole vault sees a clash between Mondo Duplantis, Sam Kendricks and Piotr Lisek.

The Müller Grand Prix Gateshead will be broadcast live internationally from 7pm-9pm, but the meeting will start at 6pm with a series of para athletics events, as well as some of the Wanda Diamond League field competitions.

British Athletics looks forward to welcoming back fans in some capacity for this month’s event and is taking every step to remain as flexible as possible in order to manage ticket distribution accordingly. As a result tickets will go on sale later this week, allowing for the maximum number of fans allowed to attend in line with the latest government roadmap announcement.

To be in with a chance of getting tickets, fans are encouraged to sign up here for all the latest information

Beyond Swim launched to bring the open water swimming community together

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Image credit: British Triathlon

The brand-new initiative, Beyond Swim, is designed to offer something for every member of the open water swimming community by providing safe, enjoyable and consistent experiences, regardless of ability.

Beyond Swim is a creation of Triathlon England, and supported by Swim England and Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS UK), who have combined their expertise and safety guidance to give swimmers peace of mind when they are participating in the sport they love and encouraging newcomers to the community.

Bringing venues and swimmers together, Beyond Swim, provides accreditation for venues ensuring they have met the highest standards of safety and professionalism which will foster a lively open water swimming community with high-quality experiences and industry-leading guidance.

For swimmers, the initiative not only offers discounts at accredited venues, but it incentivises activity with additional benefits available the more you swim. Once has a swimmer has clocked up 10 swims, they can choose from exclusive merchandise discounts and sustainable rewards such as planting trees or giving donations to charity.

Open water swimming has become one of the country’s fastest growing sports, appealing to a wide audience of multisport athletes, health-conscious casual swimmers and those looking for a new challenge who are interested in the physical and mental health benefits associated with the sport.

Swimming in open water has been proven to have a number of health benefits from increasing circulation to improving your mental wellbeing. During the 2020 pandemic, an increasing number of people turned to this activity as a way of relieving stress, clearing their minds whilst improving their physical health.

The initiative will offer participants a valued open water swimming experience beyond what they have previously encountered, encouraging people of all abilities to experience the benefits of open water swimming in exciting and inclusive environments.

Andy Salmon, Triathlon England CEO, said: “It’s fantastic to be able to officially launch Beyond Swim. We are committed to providing the best possible experience for anyone wanting to take part in open water swimming and we believe that Beyond Swim is the best way to facilitate this.

“The closure of facilities during lockdowns and the growing awareness of the physical and mental wellbeing benefits of open water swimming has seen ever-growing demand for well organised and safety-accredited venues. Beyond Swim is all about supporting venues and building a community of open water swimmers of all abilities so that an ever growing number of people can realise the joy of open water swimming.

“I look forward with great excitement to seeing the initiative grow and support venues and swimmers to enjoy great experiences through open water swimming.”

Jon Glenn, Swim England Learn to Swim Director: “We’re thrilled to be supporting this initiative with British Triathlon and the Royal Life Saving Society UK.

“Open water swimming is growing in popularity and it’s vitally important that people can visit safe, accredited venues where they can enjoy the many health benefits swimming outdoors brings.

“Part of our open water pledge is the need for better access and increased safety for swimmers and Beyond Swim will go a long way to ensuring that’s the case for open water swimmers – and those keen to try it out for the first time – up and down the country.”

Lee Heard, RLSS UK Director of People, Membership and Partnerships, said: “The Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK) exists to ensure everyone can enjoy water safely, regardless of age or ability, and is excited to be working with its partners at British Triathlon and Swim England on Beyond Swim.

“Being in open water is a fantastic experience and making that experience a safe one, is what brings people back for more.

“As the safety lead for the scheme, RLSS UK are delighted to be instrumental in giving participants peace of mind, as they embark on their open water adventures.”

For more information visit www.beyondswim.org

2019 top-3 returns to meet serious competition for victory at Challenge Riccione

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With the men’s top three of the previous edition – Mattia Ceccarelli, Thomas Steger and Frederic Funk – racing again, CHALLENGERICCIONE is preparing for a thrilling race. This Sunday it’s hammer time and not only the men, but also the women can count on a tough battle. One of the biggest favorites may be the Dutch Sarissa de Vries, who became second at ANFI CHALLENGEMOGAN-GRANCANARIA just two weeks ago.

Despite the fact that the entire top three of last year’s men’s race is returning, most eyes will probably be on the German Sebastian Kienle. The former World Champion returns after a long period of injury and will undoubtedly be eager to claim victory. Pablo Dapena Gonzalez will also be at the start of CHALLENGERICCIONE: the Spaniard finished a strong second place at CHALLENGEMOGAN-GRANCANARIA and showed that he has regained his strong form. On paper, these two men are probably the biggest favorites for the win in Riccione.

While Ceccarelli, Steger and Funk will of course do everything they can to get back on the podium this year, they can also expect competition from strong athletes such as Guilio Molinari, Andi Boecherer, Ruedi Wild and Michael Raelert. Pieter Heemeryck will also be racing. The Belgian top athlete has had a somewhat difficult time in recent months, falling short a number of times at CHALLENGEDAYTONA and ANFI CHALLENGEMOGAN-GRANCANARIA for example, but he is still considered one of the most dangerous men on the Middle Distance and therefore one of the biggest contenders for victory.

In the women’s race, much is expected of Sarissa de Vries. The Dutch athlete may still be young, but she has already shown during various races that she can keep up with the high level and two weeks ago she surpassed herself with a beautiful second place during ANFI CHALLENGEMOGAN-GRANCANARIA. During that race she beat Lisa Nordén after a very tough head-to-head battle during the run.

There are of course other athletes willing to give it their all, for example the Belgian Alexandra Tondeur. Unlike De Vries, Tondeur has a lot of experience and that is perhaps her greatest strength: she knows exactly what to expect from such a race, will not panic easily and knows how to push herself to the limit to finish as good as possible. The same goes for Laura Zimmermann and Carolin Lehrieder: the two German ladies have the lowest bib numbers, as they are considered big favorites and have a serious chance of claiming the gold medal.

Tour de France Cycle City: All eyes on the towns!

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The members of the jury made up their minds in their virtual meeting. What came out of their debate was not a verdict, but a message peppered with arguments, words of encouragement and optimism for the 80 towns and cities that applied for the “Tour de France Cycle City” label. After checking the 80 applications against an assessment grid spanning all the tools available to policymakers for promoting cycling, the one thing that everyone agreed on was the overall quality of the applications. Paris and Rotterdam were the only cities to receive a 4-bicycle rating in the 2021 ranking, mainly for their enduring commitment and their ability to ramp up their efforts to promote cycling in all shapes and colours. The criteria attach more importance to the direction in which the municipalities are moving than to the current snapshot. For example, the 300 people who call Loudenvielle home will soon have a sign with three bicycles at the entrance to their town, as will the inhabitants of Orchies in northern France and Bourg-d’Oisans in Isère, at the foot of the 21 legendary hairpin turns of the Alpe d’Huez.

As well as handing out rewards, the first edition of the “Tour de France Cycle City” label also aims to light the fires of ambition in many elected representatives, who now have realistic perspectives and goals to work towards. For example, several municipalities chose to wait another one or two years before applying in order to have time to roll out public policies based on measures that lie within their capabilities and meet the criteria of the label. The lion’s share of the tips provided by the label comes from the recommendations set out in Savoir Rouler à Vélo, a national scheme designed to get more young people to practise cycling.

Christian Prudhomme, Director of the Tour de France, said: “Strengthening the ties between the bicycles of champions and the bicycles we use in our everyday lives is paramount. The Tour de France wants to do its bit to help to promote cycling around the globe. At the symbolic level, the stars of the peloton ride alongside the students and workers who use their bicycles for their daily commute.”

Marion Rousse, 2012 French national champion and pundit for France Télévisions, said: “I have no doubt that cycling as part of our everyday lives has a great future ahead of it, but it also has responsibilities. It is a source of fun and, at the same time, an ethical tool for society as a whole. Local authorities are a powerful driver of the development of cycling, but it’s also true that conjuring the image of the Tour de France is a real boon. Children are eager to hop onto their bicycles after watching a stage on TV.”

Olivier Schneider, president of the French Federation of Bicycle Users (FUB), said: “This label is a valuable tool because the assessment grid doubles as a guide for local authorities looking to step up their commitment to promoting cycling. It’s a source of inspiration. I’ve always said that people who love the Tour are going to want to go out for a ride or move around on their bicycles. We need to bring down barriers.”

David Lazarus, mayor of Chambly and co-chair of the working group on sport of the Association of French Mayors: “Just as the Tour de France visits towns and cities in all regions and of all sizes, we noticed that the label could suit small towns just as well as big metropolises, rural areas in the mountains just as well as urban agglomerations. Cycling has a wide range of uses, so promoting it has become a key issue across the country.”

Émilie Defay, France Bleu Paris journalist specialising in mobility, said: “The commitment of the Tour de France to promoting cycling-friendly policies through this label sends a powerful message. Cycling stands to benefit a lot from the convergence of sport and everyday use. As someone who is used to covering the latest news on cycling in Paris and Île-de-France, I was pleasantly surprised to see all the efforts made by the applicants, from small towns to large cities. And, if this label can encourage even more municipalities to take up the challenge, all the better!”

For more information, visit the official website.

UTMB and IRONMAN partner to launch the UTMB World Series

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UTMB Group – a major player in trail running which has led the sport’s development for the last 18 years – has joined forces with The IRONMAN Group to boost the sport’s international development and, together, will launch the world’s ultimate trail-running circuit: the UTMB® World Series.

From as early as 2022, the UTMB® World Series will bring together many of the best international events on the planet which will provide exclusive access to the sport’s pinnacle event, UTMB® Mont-Blanc. Runners across the globe are invited to be part of it and to ‘meet their extraordinary’.

An extraordinary adventure for all runners
The UTMB® World Series is a revolution for the sport, that will bring the trail running community together through a new, integrated sports system that is open to all. Inspired by the high standards of UTMB®, runners will be able to take part in the most beautiful events on the planet, and the UTMB® World Series will be the only place where runners can begin their quest to Mont-Blanc, France, where the prestigious UTMB® World Series Finals will be held. In-line with the rapid growth of the sport, events will be held across six continents, giving all runners more opportunities to live the UTMB® experience on a global scale.

While the full calendar of UTMB® World Series Events will be announced in the third quarter of the year, eight leading, international events are already confirmed across Europe, Asia and Oceania, including:

  • UTMB® Mont-Blanc (France, Italy, Switzerland)
  • Val d’Aran by UTMB® (Spain)
  • Thailand by UTMB® (Thailand)
  • Panda Trail by UTMB® (China)
  • Gaoligong by UTMB® (China)
  • Tarawera™ Ultramarathon by UTMB® (New Zealand)
  • Ultra-Trail Australia™ by UTMB® (Australia)
  • mozart 100® by UTMB® (Austria)

A new, inclusive sports system

As of 2022, the UTMB® World Series will integrate four levels of event

  1. UTMB® World Series Finals: UTMB® Mont-Blanc is the place where legends of the sport are made, and this pinnacle event will now also see the official crowning of the UTMB® World Series male and female champions. UTMB® World Series titles will be awarded in each of the three key distances of the UTMB® Mont-Blanc – known as the OCC (50K), CCC® (100K) and UTMB® (100M), – and qualification can be achieved only by participating in one of the UTMB® World Series Events or UTMB® World Series Majors.
  2. UTMB® World Series Majors: Three UTMB® World Series Majors will take place each year, where athletes can go head-to-head at the continental Series finals in the Americas, Europe and in Asia/Oceania. Each UTMB® World Series Major will include at least one race in each category – 50K, 100K and 100M – with elite and amateur finishers having at least double the chance to access the UTMB® World Series Finals.
  3. UTMB® World Series Events: From Europe, to Asia, Oceania, the Americas and Africa, UTMB® World Series Events are the best events on the planet, taking place in exceptional locations in the heart of unspoiled nature. Organized to the highest quality standards to bring the UTMB® adventure closer to runners globally, each event will include at least one qualifying race in the 50K, 100K or 100M categories. These races will award Running Stones – with 1 Running Stone equivalent to 1 entry into the UTMB® World Series Finals entries lottery – giving runners the chance to be on the start line in Mont-Blanc. The stars of the sport will also be able to enter the Finals based on their performance in the UTMB® World Series Events.
  4. UTMB® World Series Qualifiers: UTMB® World Series Qualifiers are the gateway to the UTMB® World Series, with thousands of races around the world that are open to all. Participating in a UTMB® World Series Qualifier race is not mandatory to begin your adventure in the Series but runners who do take part will benefit from privileged access to the UTMB® World Series Events.

A new alliance, underpinned by UTMB® values
UTMB Group and The IRONMAN Group have joined forces through a strategic partnership that will enable them to develop the sport of trail running together. The pioneering new UTMB® World Series will unite the trail running community by drawing on UTMB Group’s expertise in the sport and The IRONMAN Group’s acclaimed global experience, to create the future of trail running built around the values of UTMB®: surpassing oneself; fair-play; respect for people and the environment; and solidarity.

Catherine Poletti, President of UTMB Group, commented: “After 18 years of history that has seen UTMB® become known around the world, it has become a brand that not only carries the sporting values of trail running but also fundamental human values. More than ever, we want to share this with as many people as possible and allow everyone to participate in an event organized in the same spirit – and with the same quality standards – as the UTMB® Mont-Blanc.

“We are certain that combining our experience and what the UTMB® brand represents, with the ability and expertise of The IRONMAN Group, is excellent news for the world of trail running and for all its players: the athletes, amateurs, elites, but also their friends and families, the territories, partners and the media.”

The IRONMAN Group has several established trail running events, including the Tarawera Ultramarathon™ by UTMB® (Rotorua, New Zealand), Ultra-Trail Australia™ by UTMB® (Katoomba, NSW, Australia), and the mozart 100® by UTMB® (Salzburg, Austria), all of which will be part of the inaugural UTMB® World Series.

Andrew Messick, President & Chief Executive Officer for The IRONMAN Group said: “The legacy of excellence and leadership by the Poletti family and UTMB® is unparalleled in trail running. Their ability to create transformative and enriching experiences registers deeply with us as the world’s largest organizer of endurance events, and together we look forward to bringing the deep-rooted values, spirit, and camaraderie of trail running competition globally.

“For over 40 years, we have worked to create event experiences that capture the imagination of people from around the world, producing life-changing race experiences for athletes of all levels, from their first step through the finish-line. We are grateful for the ability to partner with the talented team at UTMB Group as we marry our strengths in creating the UTMB® World Series as a platform to elevate the extraordinary that exists in us all,” Messick concluded.

The UTMB® World Series will provide all trail runners with the chance to live out their passion in the heart of some of the world’s most extraordinary natural settings while exploring iconic destinations and embracing different cultures. More than a sporting challenge, the UTMB® World Series will use its global platform to raise awareness around environmental issues while advocating for inclusivity. Sporting ethics will also play an important role in the UTMB® World Series, with elite and amateur runners treated as equals, as well as the health and well-being of every participant being a priority.

New services for runners and organisers
The UTMB® World Series will provide new services for runners such as privileged access, as well as new and more precise sporting criteria that considers the specificities of trail running. This includes developing the Performance Index as an exclusive asset of UTMB Group and creating new categories for classifying events.

Performance index
Runners familiar with the sport’s first-ever ranking system will be able to continue using it on the new UTMB® World Series platform to evaluate and compare their performance level. Runners with a Performance Index will have privileged access to UTMB® World Series Event races, regardless of their level.

Four new categories based on the km-effort
There will be four UTMB® World Series categories including 20K, 50K, 100K and 100M which will be based on the km-effort, a globally recognized formula for measuring the race distance in trail running by considering both the distance and elevation gain to calculate the perceived distance. For example, 100M means 100 miles and represents a 170 kilometer-effort.

Top athletes’ consultation
In the process of defining the UTMB® World Series sporting structure, a significant group of international elite athletes were consulted to understand their collective feedback. Under the new sports system, to gain access to the UTMB® World Series Finals, the best trail runners on the planet will have to qualify by taking part in the UTMB® World Series Majors or UTMB® World Series Events over a period of 15 months.

The top 10 male and top 10 female runners in each of the 50K, 100K and 100M categories at the UTMB® World Series Majors will win a place for the next edition of the UTMB® World Series Finals race of the same category.

The top 3 male and top 3 female runners in each of the 50K, 100K and 100M categories at the UTMB® World Series Events will win a place for the next edition of the UTMB® World Series Finals race of the same category.

What they said – Elite athletes:

Lucy Bartholomew, Australia: “I am a huge fan of this series and what this will do for the sport, as an Australian and as a global ambassador for sport and ultra-trail running!”

Dylan Bowman, USA: “I’m thrilled to learn about the UTMB® World Series and view it as a healthy step forward as our sport moves into a prosperous future. UTMB® has always been the gold standard in event production and the UTMB® World Series will bring an elevated race experience to trail runners around the world. Quite simply, trail running changes lives. I view this is an opportunity to bring that gift to more people, while staying true to the spirit and culture that makes the sport so special.”

Kaori Niwa, Japan: “UTMB® Mont-Blanc is already the race everyone wants to be at because of its quality. Now we have the opportunity to experience UTMB®-quality races around the world. I am so excited to have more UTMB®races, especially in Asia with this new UTMB® World Series.”

Gabriel Rueda, Argentina: “My idea is to compete in the 100miles! I want to improve in that distance over the next two years, it’s my big objective. I’m looking forward to seeing more runners in 2022 at this new world circuit and wish them all good luck.”

Ryan Sandes, South Africa: “I am really excited about the UTMB® World Series and the evolution of our sport. I hope the Series will create a competitive racing platform for elite trail runners to showcase their talents and get the recognition they deserve.”

What they said – Race organizers:

Sam Ellis, Tarawera Ultramarathon by UTMB® Race Director: “We’re thrilled to be a part of the new UTMB® World Series, it provides a great opportunity to bring the world’s leading trail running events together and provides a clear pathway for athletes setting out to reach the pinnacle of the sport. At the Tarawera Ultramarathon by UTMB® we were in the great position of holding a successful event this February for our New Zealand based runners and can’t wait to welcome back international athletes in the years to come.”

Nick Christopher, Ultra-Trail Australia by UTMB® Race Director: “As trail running continues to grow around the world, this partnership will bring together the world’s leading events into a world class series that will appeal to runners from around the globe. In the coming weeks we’ll be holding the 13th Ultra-Trail Australia by UTMB® and can’t wait to welcome almost 7,000 runners to the World Heritage Listed Blue Mountains west of Sydney. Ultra-Trail Australia by UTMB® has grown to become one of the largest trail running events in the world and we look forward to working closely with other event organisers in the years to come.”

Josef Mayerhofer, mozart 100 by UTMB® Managing Director: “Two leading brands in endurance sports joining forces to form a new global series will certainly benefit the trail running sport in many respects. Salzburg as a UNESCO world heritage site is a great and unique location for a race in this outstanding trail running series.”

Xavier Pocino, Val d’Aran by UTMB® General Manager: “We are very happy to be part of the UTMB® World Series. This is excellent news for all trail runners. We fully understand the required high level of organizational skills of all the events that are part of the UTMB® family, and this is going to be extrapolated to all the races in the circuit. It means one more step towards the improvement of the quality of trail running events, and to guarantee the runners’ satisfaction”.

Mr. Liu Yang, Chairman/President of Chengdu Xingzhi branch, organizers of Panda Trail by UTMB®: “As the most influential trail running event in the world, UTMB®’s professionalism and success inspires other race operators. We successfully held the Panda Trail by UTMB® in 2020, which has achieved the effect of internationalization, brand-association and high-quality delivery and created a positive response in the trail running community in China. It gave domestic runners the chance to experience the world’s highest-quality race near home. As the UTMB® World Series develops around the world, Panda Trail by UTMB® will attract more and more people both inside and outside of China, which will help us grow into one of the world’s top events.”

Bunjarat Suharitdamrong, Executive Director at Running Connect, organizers of Thailand by UTMB®: “The team at Thailand by UTMB® are all very excited to be one of the first events confirmed for the new UTMB® World Series. The idea to bring the leading races around the planet together to create structure will certainly appeal to all athletes, providing the best competition for elites, and a world-class experience for all runners. We look forward to the positive impacts on our race and to grow along with this new circuit.”

Mr. Malin, Executive Director of Gaoligong by UTMB®: “Nature and the mountains are at the heart of trail running, a place where new possibilities are discovered in connection with nature, history and oneself. As part of the UTMB family, we are looking forward to this flexible and inclusive innovation, which will enable runners around the world to join the UTMB® World Series. The Series is a great way to unite runners and attract like-minded people to come together to discover and challenge themselves.”

BikeFlights reports best on-time delivery of shipments

During the peak shipping periods of what may have been the most challenging shipping year to date, BikeFlights.com, a bicycle shipping service and bike box supplier, reported the best on-time delivery performance for its bikes, wheels and gear shipments.

“Like most companies, we’ve had to respond to a variety of new business challenges during this past year; and as many of us have experienced firsthand, shipping during the COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult,” said William Alcorn, President of BikeFlights.com. “While everyone was staying home, we worked hard behind the scenes to improve our operations to ensure that we maintain the five-star service that our customers have come to expect.”

BikeFlights.com delivered customers’ shipments on time at rates of 98.8%, 96.4% and 97.3% respectively during three peak shipping periods of the pandemic in 2020. Their results were better than those of UPS, FedEx and the U.S. Postal Service as tallied by ShipMatrix. Notably, BikeFlights.com works closely with UPS, the world’s top carrier, adding a level of service to give cyclists the best performance for shipping bikes, wheels and gear.

“The pandemic brought challenges like large numbers of temporarily and permanently closed businesses, rising shipping costs and consistently record-breaking volumes of shipments,” said Alcorn. “We adapted by launching services like Preferred Handling, improving our monitoring of shipments and rolling out our new BikeFlights bike shipping boxes. We did this all while continuing to offer low shipping costs and excellent customer service to our individual consumer and business customers.”

But BikeFlights.com didn’t just excel during peak shipping periods. The company consistently offered on-time delivery for most shipments throughout the entire year. On-time delivery percentages ranged from 96.34% to 99.07% during 2020.

Preferred Handling is perhaps the most noticeable consumer-facing operational improvement of the past year. Soft launched in December of 2020, it gives more accountability for high value bikes, wheels and gear moving through the carrier system. Think priority loading, secure storage and reserved routing. All BikeFlights.com shipments automatically qualify for the Preferred Handling service upgrade when customers opt for US$1,000 or more of Premium Protection per box or case. Preferred Handling is available in most locations in the United States, Canada and the European Union.

New bike shipping boxes are also near the top of the list of BikeFlights.com’s 2020 improvements. With supply chains strained and used boxes more scarce than ever at local bike shops, BikeFlights innovative boxes are sturdy, recyclable and reusable and come in two sizes for shipping most types of bikes. They are available for purchase through BikeFlights.com’s online store and ship direct-to-consumer within one to three days to most locations within the continental U.S.

Behind the scenes, BikeFlights has been working closely with its carrier to upgrade its monitoring systems to improve resolutions for delayed and lost shipments. Such enhancements now give all BikeFlights.com customers access to enterprise-level solutions for keeping their shipments on track.

Last but not least, BikeFlights.com hired more people to support customers and improved internal staff education to address the increasingly more complex shipping challenges. The effort was matched by the development of an in-depth FAQ on its website to help customers answer many questions at their convenience.

BikeFlights.com

Review: Sealskinz cold weather socks and all weather gloves

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Norfolk based Sealskinz have been producing waterproof clothing since 1996.

They say: “Our passion (some might say obsession actually) is to craft the finest waterproof accessories in the world. And while waterproof will always be our #1, we also want to keep you protected from snow, sand, mud, dirt and anything else that can get in the way of doing your thing in the outdoors.”

This is a mission statement I can get behind, anything that keeps us warm and dry on the trail and doesn’t hinder riding is a winner but how do Sealskinz latest offerings stack up?

Waterproof, cold weather, mid length sock with hydro stop – £42.50

First off, I love waterproof socks! Riding in Scottish winters gets wet, and I’d rather wear my normal Shimano shoes and waterproof socks than over shoes. I have always been a fan of Sealskinz socks but found that they were prone to water getting in the top when riding in shorts and as a result your feet getting cold.

First impressions of sealskins socks were good. They are made up of Outer Layer – 90% Nylon, 10% Elastane, Middle Layer – 100% Hydrophilic Membrane, Inner Layer – 35% Merino Wool, 35% Acrylic, 22% Polyester, 3.5% Nylon, 3.5% Elastane, 1% TPU. Some list but basically, they are strong and durable on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside and feel like a thin, soft rubber sandwiched in-between for the waterproofing.

I’m usually a UK 11 or 12 shoe so opted for a size XL which the size chart suggesting as a 12 to 14. The socks are a nice fit on the foot area but strangely loose around the ankle and a little longer than I’d like for a riding sock coming up to midcalf. They are not too thick to make shoes tight and certainly kept my feet warm between -2 and 5 Degrees Celsius. Warmer than this had me reaching for the merino as they started to get a bit sweaty.

In the wet the Sealskinz were good, to a point. My AM9’s are good at letting water in but not back out. Water was being pushed into the sock meaning after about 30mins in very wet conditions they did start to leak. This wasn’t all bad as my feed did heat the water and warm them up, a bit like a wet suit but it’s not exactly what you want on a long ride. I did try the socks with better draining shoes, and in the bath and leaking wasn’t an issue.

Sealskinz now come with ‘Hydrostop’. Essentially this is a silicone band around the top of the sock which creates a seal between the skin and sock stopping water getting in. This works superbly; however, after 3 washes it started to peel off one of the socks.

All weather multi activity glove with Fusion Control – £65

I’m picky about my gloves and have ridden the 100% iTrack in XL for the last few years. They are a nice mix of lightweight comfort and protection without restricting movement or bar feel.

This past winter has been so cold and wet I needed a warmer, dryer option giving the Sealskinz a big task to take on the competition, especially at £65…

The Sealskins are made up of an outer stretch lycra, PU suede palm, waterproof midlayer and a merino inner lining. Based on Sealskinz size guide I should been wearing a size medium but opted for a large as I tend to size up in gloves due to long fingers. When the gloves arrived, I wished I had gone for my usual XL as they were a bit tight on the palm and short in the fingers. They did stretch a little with use.

On the trail the multi activity gloves are very good. They are warm, comfy and certainly waterproof. Sealskinz fusion control “bonds the liner and outer shell to a unique hydrophilic membrane creating a 100% waterproof fabric with unmatched breathability. This also eliminates any movement between layers and enables the glove to fit much closer to the skin.” While they certainty breath well and I didn’t experience any sweaty hands I did find them a little thick to allow a good feel of the bars and brakes.

Final thoughts

I was a bit disappointed with sealskinz winter socks. Yes, they are warm and comfy and kept my feet mostly dry but he cut is a little big around the ankles and I was surprised that the silicone seal started to peel off after only a few washes (following the instructions). Having said that all Sealskinz products are backed by a lifetime guarantee so they clearly stand by their product and I’m sure replacement would not be an issue.

Aside from the Hydrostop the socks look good and seem durable. I’m sure they’ll see a second winter and possibly more.

I have mixed feelings about the multi activity glove. £65 is a lot of money for any gloves especially when you look at what else is available. The size guide seems to be out and they are a little on the thick side. Having said that, the gloves are comfy, warm and very well made. They have never leaked, even the twice I’ve used them to wash the car! They have a nice secure wrist closure and a soft bit for nose wiping. Personally I think they are better suited to the daily commute rather than hitting the gnar!

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