Training in the south of Chile

Vanessa and I went on a summer road trip to the lake district in the south of Chile this month (there are plenty of posts and photos on our blog). January is great time to travel as the weather is perfect and the days are long. The road trip was also a chance for me to run on some new routes and break out of my usual routine. It was a well needed break and a lot of fun.

Here are photo highlights of the trip along with links to the Strava files of some of my runs.

Lago Captrén in Parque Conguillío.

In front of Salto Truful Truful in Parque Conguillío.

A TRX session in the forest of Parque Conguillío.

In Puerto Varas (I did a great run from Frutillar to Puerto Octay here).

Volcan Mocho-Choshuenco in Huilo Huilo.

Running in Huilo Huilo.

The lake district is spectacular!

Running in Concepción with Mike.

My support in 2014

In the last year I have been fortunate to make some great relationships as I spent more time training and racing which meant I met more people in the running world. I love being a part of this community and I'm pleased that I'll have the support of people like Ian Waddell, Rodrigo Errazuriz, Mark Wolff and Roger Zeino who believe in my goals and what I hope to achieve. Below is some of the support I'll be receiving in 2014 to help me be the best runner I can.

Personal Best Sport Coaching

Ian has transformed me into a runner who is well-prepared with the confidence and courage to try and win some of the toughest races. He listens to what I say, hears what I don't say and understands the goal that we're working towards. His ability to read where I stand physically, emotionally and spiritually and then design an ideal program based on that and my current goal continually amazes me. After our success together in the past there is no doubt that I would continue working with Ian.

Hoka One One

Running shoes are a very personal choice and all runners have their preferences. I like a shoe that has a soft sole and provides sufficient cushioning for the miles I run in training and races. A lot of that running is with a heavy pack so additional support and cushion is very welcome. I added my first pair of Hokas to my running shoe rotation as a long run and recovery day shoe and I liked them so much that I used a pair to race KAEM. I have no doubt that for the type of racing I'm focused on and the training that I do to prepare for those races, Hoka provides the best shoe for me. I'm excited that through their Chilean distributor, Base Camp Outdoors run by Rodrigo Errazuriz, I'll have access to the complete range of Hoka shoes to support me this year.

[I used the Mafate 2 in KAEM as it is the most cushioned and has the widest base of all Hokas. This allowed me to feel fresh over the multiple days of running and provided excellent footing in the loose sand. I use the Bondi Speed for the majority of training as it is the softest and most comfortable shoe for me and even though it is a road show it handles all trails very well. I will also be using the Kailua for my faster training days to run intervals as it is a slightly lighter shoe with 1.5 times a normal shoe's cushioning rather than the 2.2 times of other Hoka models.]

Hoka One One Bondi Speed (already looking much more worn than this!)


In any ultra-marathon race fueling and nutrition are vital. In multi-stage races there is an added complexity of recovery between stages and when these races are self-sufficient it becomes even more difficult as it is vital to ensure that all food for the race also weighs as little as possible! I have slowly been refining my food plans as I gain more experience and as you can see from this blog a lot of thought goes into this aspect of my running (running rations, food plans for Atacama Crossing 2012, 2013 and KAEM 2013). I do a lot of research and testing to find what is best for me and a vital source of information and a nutrition philosophy that I have been trying to follow is from Mark Wolff (fitness freak blog and @wolffmark).

Mark is a nutrition expert and also the owner of 32Gi. In 2014 I will be working with Mark to improve my stage racing food plan and 32Gi products will be the backbone of these plans as well as vital components of my training and preparation plans. I love the 32Gi products and their philosophy on endurance fueling so I believe this will be the start of a fantastic relationship.

My first batch of 32Gi products.

[I used the Endure tabs and chews and found them to be excellent during the VUT mountain race. I particularly like the Endure products for in-race fueling, Recover drink for post-running recovery and Foodbar in between stages. However, I still have a lot to learn and a lot of testing to do to finalize my nutrition strategy using the 32Gi products to best support my racing.]


Multi-stage and ultra-marathon racing can be hard on your feet and in many multi-stage races infected blisters are the primary reason for dropping out of the race. I've written a blog post about this and there is even a book on the topic as it is so important to runners. Socks are the barrier and interface between shoe and foot and are vital in preventing blisters and keeping your feet happy. Injinji make some great socks with the key feature being individual toes to allow for the toes to splay and to prevent blisters between the toes. This year, thanks to Roger Zeino and Branded Footwear, the South African distributor for Injinji, I will be using Injinji socks to look after my feet and keep me performing at my best.

Injinji Trail 2.0 socks.

[I used the Injinji Compression socks for my recovery during the Atacama Crossing 2013 and KAEM 2013 and I will be using those socks as well as the Trail 2.0 this year.]

I'm looking forward to some tough races in 2014 and I'm delighted to have the support of these people and products for the year. I'm still working on some relationships to help with my running costs and technical support, and I hope to be able to add to this list during the course of the year. If you have any questions about these products or want more specifics on what I use, please feel free to ask in the comments.

Video from KAEM 2013

KAEM 2013 was filmed and shown on the SuperSport channel (in South Africa) a number of times during December. Below are videos of the show in three parts. Some clips from the race were already posted on the race Facebook page and aren't new, but it's great to see the show in its entirety as an overview of the race. 

Thanks to Genis Pieterse for sharing these.

A change in plans. A few lessons learned.

At the end of last year I posted an update laying out some of the races that I had coming up at the start of 2014, with the main objective being the Sahara Race in Jordan at the end of February. I was excited about racing some single-stage races, building up towards a new goal and going to race in a new desert (with V joining me as a volunteer at the race).

I started on that road and ran well in my first race, the Vulcano Trail Ultra 30km (VUT). The plan was for me to run my first block the week after this race and that would be the beginning of a high volume and high intensity phase leading up the Sahara Race. The first day of my block went well and I felt good about where I was. Unfortunately the second day did not go well at all. I felt very sore and tired before I started and after two hours in the sun with a 7kg pack I was exhausted and had a strong pain in my quad that felt like it may become an injury. I walked out the rest of the planned time and spoke to Ian in the afternoon to get his input on what we should do. We adjusted my plan, cutting the block short and re-focusing on what I could do to move forward. I wasn't happy about the block, but I had faith in our new plan and what I had to do.

The following week I went out for a three-hour run with my pack. Again after two hours I was very fatigued and the pain in my quad had returned. I was extremely disappointed because in the time since my failed block I had done some high quality sessions and felt good. My result at VUT showed that I had the endurance and form to run long distances, my interval sessions showed I had the speed, but I seemed to be lacking the resilience that I need to train with a pack in preparation for a hard race. With the Sahara Race approaching quickly and my inability to train as I believe I need to, it was time to make a tough decision.

I race to get the best out of myself, to push myself to my limits, and because I love the process of preparing and racing. I don't believe that I would be aligned with those objectives if I continued to push towards a race that I had low confidence in being ready for and that my body was clearly telling me was not possible. Therefore, I have decided not to run the Sahara Race in 2014. I'm disappointed because I was looking forward to the race, to taking on a high level of competition, and to sharing a race experience with V as a volunteer. However, I do believe that it's the right decision for me and I'm looking forward to other races in the year ahead.

I learnt a few things during this episode that will help me in the future. The first is that I need considerable time to recover from multi-stage races. I always under-estimate the time it takes for me to recover and this is still happening after my third desert race. The second is that I need a consistent and thorough build-up to a race to ensure I have the confidence to perform at my best. Finally, I learnt that listening to my body is vital to ensure that I can train at the highest level and at the same time enjoy the hard work.

I'm still training with focus, albeit on a less demanding schedule and without a pack. This week V and I will be traveling to the south of Chile again and I'm excited about doing some great training on different trails with the goal of enjoying my running.

I'm looking forward to mountain runs in the south of Chile in January.

We'll be enjoying the trails and roads around Lago Llanquehue soon.

A Year In Review: 2013

2013 was my first year as a full-time athlete. I did some great training, I raced well and I'm very happy with my year.

Here are my highlights of the year: