Year in review: 2014


2014 has been a great year filled with trails and changes. I made progress as a runner, moved to a wonderful new home and set myself up for big goals in 2015. Along the way I did a tough race in the Jungle, spent some time in the Alps and experienced a phenomenal race where I crewed for friends.

I would like to race more next year and take on tougher competition in the most difficult races. After two years of focused running I feel I'm ready for this next step. It's going to be an exciting year!


32Gi was an excellent sponsor for me this year. I received all the products I needed, received detailed advice and with their products I developed my own race nutrition plan. Nutrition is so important for ultra-marathons and I couldn't be happier with 32Gi and a perfected nutrition plan.

UVU provides me with clothing and I'm providing input to help with the final touches on the consumer line that will be available in 2015. This clothing is simply the best running apparel I have ever seen or used. 

Zero Point provides me with compression socks and ankle socks for all my running and racing. The products are well designed, comfortable and make looking after my feet easy.


I love tracking my running and seeing how different years stack up. At a very high level, my year looked like this:

Distance: 4,697km (2013: 4,181km)
Time: 515:58:35 (2013: 423:24:17)
Elevation gain: 124,427m (2013: 63,461m)

I ran more and climbed almost double the vertical gain I did in 2013. I thought that these numbers would be a gradual improvement year-on-year, but overall it's a big jump! I hope that I can reflect this work in my races in 2015.


Starting the year

Vanessa and I went on a road trip to the south of Chile in January. I did some great running training for the year ahead, enjoyed some new trails and started 2014 fresh and excited for new goals.

Smooth dirt roads near Huilo Huilo.
The south of Chile is spectacular! An awesome place.

Bossjogging weekend at Yerba Loca

Mati, Max, Moi, Pat and I went up to Yerba Loca to enjoy some trails and mountains together for the first time. This was a fantastic weekend: good friends, great trails, free meat from our camping neighbours barbecue and lots of laughs. 

Climbing into the mountains with the #bossjogging crew.
After a cold and wet afternoon the rainbow was spectacular.
Columbia trail challenge

An interesting race that combined two of my 2014 goals - stage racing and transitioning to races in the mountains. Two days, plenty of climbing and after our weekend away all the bosses were there too. Moi took second and I managed a third place.

All the #bossjogging crew ready to run.
This race had a lot more climbing that I was used too...

Jungle Ultra

A goal race of the year for me and a departure from running in the desert. It was an very tricky race and lived up to all my expectations: the jungle was beautiful, the conditions tough and I made some great new friends. A win was a perfect result to wrap up the first half of the year.

Finishing in Pilcopata with local kids running to the line with me.
New friendships forged in the jungle.

Winter training in Santiago

After the Jungle Ultra Vanessa and I knew that we would be moving to Switzerland later in the year. I started to transition my training from stage race preparation to mountain ultra preparation. It was a great time and lots of fun because I could run routes that I had always wanted to but which didn't always fall into the right preparation towards my goals at the time.

Lots of summits on Cerro Carbon and Cerro Manquehue.
I thought that I was getting ready for European winter...

Moving to Switzerland

In August we moved to Switzerland. A new chapter of our lives began!

Our new home.
New trails, new sponsors, new goals.

Crewing UTMB and running in Chamonix

Soon after arriving in Switzerland I went to Chamonix to crew for Joel and Matias at UTMB and to do some running in the mountains. I loved it there and confirmed that I was definitely in the right place for the next few years.

Climbing the vertical kilometre out of Chamonix.
The start of UTMB.

Mountain running in Switzerland

I started running a lot more vertical and practicing climbing in the end of the summer. I found plenty of great routes, ran between Switzerland and France and learned some sections of the UTMB route.

Leaving Martigny and heading into the mountains.
So many trail options, so many mountain trails.
The beautiful little town of Trient.

Humani'Trail Les Diablerets

In October I ran my first race in Switzerland. It was a great introduction to lots of climbing, using poles, and I gained two additional points so I would be eligible to enter UTMB for 2015. I had a solid outing and took 5th.

Les Diablerets.
Coming in after a long day in the mountains.

Winter and snow

A true winter with lots of snow meant that I was learning some new skills. It made a huge difference to be able to do something new and train slightly differently to the routine I had developed. I love the snow and the fresh and cleaning sensations it brings.

Playing in the snow near Aigle.
The sun was the reward for a long climb into the clouds.
New snowy trails and cold weather in the Jura.

Grindelwald and St. Moritz

In December I joined Joel on his trip to Switzerland. We went to Grindelwald together and then joined Anne-Marie in St. Moritz. Seeing the other side of Switzerland was fun and I managed to put the skills I had been practicing into use on some seriously steep mountain terrain.

This is a real winter!
Peaks and summits in every direction.
With Joel in Grindelwald.
Anne-Marie and Joel in St. Mortiz.


I ended the year in a great way: Christmas with my family and my brother's wedding on New Year's Eve. Running in the sun and warmth of the Jo'burg summer was a welcome respite from the Swiss winter.

Running on Brian's local trail.
Enjoying some family running time.

More Mountain Magic

I travelled to Grindelwald and St Moritz over the last week to join my friend Joel on his visit to Switzerland. We started the trip in Grindelwald which is famous as the ski town at the base of the Eiger mountain. We did a lot of running in the snow, visited the James Bond museum at Piz Gloria on the Schilthorn and then did some more running routes!

In the second half of the trip we visited our friend Anne-Marie in St. Moritz. She showed us around her local trails, took us up the Muottas Muragl and gave us an insight into life in St. Moritz. I loved the area, the access to trails and mountain routes and the beautiful town nestled by the side of a lake in the mountains. 

I had a fantastic time and thoroughly enjoyed seeing some new parts of Switzerland and sharing them with good friends.

Setting sun in Grindelwald.

Leaving Grindelwald and heading into the mountains.

Joel leading the way up the First ski run.

Amazing views in every direction.

At just the right moment we found this warm cabin on the Wandspitz.

An amazing view from the cabin as we spent a few minutes warming up.

A tricky route down along this exposed ridge.

There was so much snow in St. Moritz - a winter wonderland.

We ran up the valley to Val Rosegg crossing the river a number of times.

St. Moritz on a foggy and cloudy morning.

4,000 steps to climb up the Muottas Muragl and over 700m gain in 2km!

A clearer day and the ski runs are visible above the town.

I had an awesome time! Great running and beautiful mountains.

Anne-Marie and Joel in front of a small waterfall above town.

There is an abundance of trails around the lake and into the mountains.

My Favourite Gear: UVU air lightweight jacket

A light rain- and wind-proof jacket is very useful for all runners and especially trail runners as we're often exposed to changing conditions during long runs in the mountains. I've tried different models of lightweight jackets and I have some that I really like, a few that aren't very good and a few that Vanessa doesn't like me to wear because they look like dustbin bags!

The features that I'm looking for are quite simple: light weight, good weather resistance and a good fit. There always has to be a compromise between these different features as reducing the weight often also reduces the weather resistance and requires using materials that don't fit as well. I'm always hoping to a jacket that is made with the choices in design that match what I want. My latest jacket which UVU sent to me seems almost perfect and it has quickly become one of my favourite pieces of gear.

The UVU Air Lightweight Jacket.

The first of my requirements that this jacket meets is that of fit. The cut is athletic (for a slim body), with just enough space to fit a vest-style pack underneath or a narrow waist belt. The design also works well for either of these carrying options because there is an elastic pleating that sits just below the ribs, below the bottom of where a pack and just above the top of where a hydration belt would go. The sleeves are narrow and don't billow in the wind. The hood is perhaps one of the most impressive features as it feels comfortable, yet its narrow enough that it moves with my head and I can look around rather than just seeing the inside of the hood when I look to see something on either side of me.

In addition to the slim cut of the jacket there are a few other little features that make wearing it very comfortable. There is a soft lining around the hood, waist and hands and the top of the zipper also has a "garage" to stop the zipper from rattling when running or from rubbing against my face.

An excellent and comfortable hood.

In terms of the other two requirements that I'm looking for, light weight and weather resistance, the jacket performs very well. It's not the lightest jacket that I own, but it does pack down well to about the size of a can of coke and once in the outer pouch of my pack I don't even notice it's there. The weather resistance is excellent. I've used this jacket in rain, snow and howling wind and it protected me from all of these leaving me feeling dry and warm post run.

A final addition to how I judge this jacket and why it's my favourite is the clever details that are added to make this a running specific jacket. There is only one pocket on the chest, which the jacket packs into, and no other pockets that add weight. I find pockets are practically difficult to use when the contents move and bounce with a running motion (I'd rather carry anything in a pack). Under the arms there are breathable panels with stretchy material that allows for good arm movement when running and good ventilation on warm, wet days. There are also no tags inside the jacket; the instructions and details are printed on the back panel on the inside. And the extra detail that I love the most is the built in mittens. When not needed the mittens stow into the sleeves and soon as it becomes too wet they're right where I need them - brilliant!

Mittens that stow into the sleeves when not in use.

A shell jacket like this is a great piece of gear because it's light and packable, but provides enough protection for changes in weather. In summer I can run with a t-shirt and backpack and if it starts to rain or I arrive on an exposed ridge the jacket is just enough protection to keep me happy and moving. In winter, when it's not pouring with rain or snowing heavily, this jacket is enough of a layer to keep me warm and dry with the other insulating layers I normally wear keeping the significant cold away.

Snowy and windy? A happy runner has a jacket with mittens!

I like to have nice gear and enjoy testing and trying different items to find something that works for me. This jacket is my current favourite and one that will almost always been ready to go in my trail running pack. 

Week in review

Long run

Quality training sessions

Hill intervals: 2 x [200m D+, 2min recovery, 200m D-, 2min recovery]

This session seems to be the toughest run I do each week. It comes on a Saturday and it's just hard work all the way up the climb. I'm starting to feel stronger and to run it a little better (this is the third time I've done the training session), but I feel like I have a lot of improvement still to make.

Intervals: 12 x [2min hard, 1 min recovery]

A "bread-and-butter" session for me. Each week this run feels better and I handle the speed and distance well. I love the faster sections and still enjoy the less structured and inconsistent sections of higher intensity as I do this on a rolling course of hills.

My strength is coming along really well and I feel better each week. I sometimes have a lack of motivation to do the work, but once it's done I feel better, stronger and more prepared. TRX is an integral part of my training now.

32Gi (Endure, Foodbar, Gels and Recover), UVU clothing, Zero Point Compression (intense socks and ankle socks), Salomon Sense Mantra 2, Skechers GoRun Ultra, Garmin Fenix2

Garmin statistics
140bpm (average heart rate)

This week I felt tired and struggled in some of the higher intensity training sessions (especially the hills at the end of the week). Slowly I'm accumulating weeks of good work and that also leads to some fatigue. However, I'm in great shape and I know that the training is working well. Winter miles make for summer smiles!

Only the mountain tops peeked out of the clouds.

A photo posted by Daniel Rowland (@danielwrowland) on

Rolling along some wet winter trails.

A photo posted by Daniel Rowland (@danielwrowland) on

5 hours running to find 5 mins of sunshine!

Last year I posted an update of a typical long-run day for me. I still do long runs at least once a week and have started to include some back-to-back long runs too. I thought it would be fun to post a new update with one of my long runs which are now in the Alps! 

The plan for this day was to run 4 to 5 hours in the mountains and do some solid climbing. I went to Aigle which is about an hour away from home to be in the Alps and climb up to the snow that was so spectacular a few weeks ago. Here's my day from waking up to the train journey home in the afternoon.

Breakfast of a crispy rice omelet, coffee and water.

Some flexibility and mobility work before leaving.

My fuel for the day: 32Gi endure, gels, bars and chews and some savoury treats.

My desert pack is a winter pack! Plus down jacket, poles and UVU rain jacket.

Swiss Federal Rail is super efficient and fast.

Climbing away from Aigle on the dirt access road.

It was cloudy and foggy, but surprisingly less snow than a few weeks ago.

Plenty of options to get lost in this thick cloud layer.

Lac des Chavonnes which was spectacular last time is now frozen over.

At the very summit I was just above the clouds and in the sun.

Spectacular views all around.

Heading back home into the cloud and fog again.

The welcome sight of the castle in Aigle - almost finished.

Recovery time (32Gi Endure mix) on the train home.