The inov-8 GET A GRIP vans are packed and we’re on the roads of Europe this weekend heading for two of the continents finest trail running areas – Innsbruck (Austria) and Yorkshire Dales (UK).
It’s our first year as headline sponsor of the Innsbruck Alpine Trailrun Festival and we’re super-excited at the prospect of immersing ourselves, both on and off these stunning mountain trails. With almost 1,000 participants from more than 31 nations, the Innsbruck Alpine Trailrun Festival has quickly established itself as one of the key events that kick off the European trail running season.
Michael Price, inov-8 product and marketing director, said: “As a young, innovative brand we’ve been looking for a flagship event in The Alps. The Innsbruck Alpine Trail Festival is perfect. It starts the season, has five first-class courses (15, 25, 42, 65, 85km), with different trails and terrains to test the runners and our products. It will allow inov-8 to show a wider trail running audience that we have the best grip and most innovative equipment. As well as the running events, we will stage a workshop on sustainable innovation on the Friday and, of course, have lots of demo shoes for runners to test out. It’s going to be a fantastic weekend.”
From The Lakes to The Sahara to The Alps
Amongst the many trail runners set to take to the start line in Innsbruck are several inov-8 ambassadors, including Nicky Spinks and Damian Hall. Nicky arrives on the back of setting an incredible new women’s record time (11hrs 02mins) for the 48-mile/5,000m-ascent Joss Naylor Challenge in the Lake District (UK) to celebrate her 50th birthday. Damian, meanwhile, recently finished 15th individual and was part of the second-placed team at Marathon des Sables, a 237km stage race across the red-hot Sahara Desert in Africa.
Nicky (pictured above completing her Joss Naylor Challenge, photo credit Justin Bramall) said: “I’m really excited about the Innsbruck Alpine Trailrun Festival. I visited Austria in 1992, but not to race. I loved the country then and am really looking forward to be going back now. I must admit, it wasn’t in my initial plans for 2017 but when the opportunity arose it was just too good to turn down – even if it comes only a week after my Joss Naylor Challenge! Every year I find a new challenge to do; whether it’s shorter, longer or in a new country. I love discovering new trails and trying new shoes to go with them – in this case it will likely be the inov-8 ROCLITE 305 (see video below). I’ve always tried to live life to the full but since having breast cancer ten years ago I do so even more. Who knows what’s round the corner; that’s why it’s best to grasp life’s opportunities when you can!”
In the UK, it’s our second year sponsoring the Three Peaks Race – an iconic event billed as ‘the marathon with mountains’. Now in its 63rd edition, Saturday’s race is run over a 23-mile course that includes 1,600m of ascent taking in the summits of Pen-y-ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough. Once again it has been chosen as the Great Britain team selection event for the World Long Distance Mountain Running Championships. As such, the 1,000-strong field is packed with top runners from across Great Britain and further afield. Among them will be inov-8 ambassador and two-time women’s winner Victoria Wilkinson, who is in superb form and being tipped, if the the conditions are good, to have a strong push at the ladies’ course record (3:14:43 set by Anna Pichrtova in 2008).
‘The record is beatable – but achieving it is a different matter!’
Victoria, who is likely to run in our X-TALON 212 shoes, said: “As for the women’s record, it definitely is beatable, but achieving it is a different matter! Everything has to slot into place on the day. With this year’s field being of such a high standard, the record is there for someone to try and beat. Perhaps this could be the year!”
Victoria (pictured above after winning last year’s Three Peaks, photo credit James Mackeddie) added: “I always look forward to the Three Peaks. Being a Yorkshire girl, the race definitely has a place in my heart. It’s regarded as a prestigious event that people come from far and wide to compete in, and I’m lucky enough to be from the area that many have to travel hundreds of miles to get to. I love The Dales and to be given the opportunity to race on my home ground is wonderful.
“The crowds that come out to support the runners are great. There are fans of the event that don’t particularly know one person but come out to support every year just because they enjoy the whole day out. It’s the off-road equivalent of the London Marathon. Locals know about it and if you tell a non-runner you’ve done the Three Peaks, they nod their head in acknowledgement as if to say, ‘You’re a proper runner then if you’ve done that.’
‘The route throws everything at the runner’
“As far as times go, there’s few fell races out there where time is an important factor, but this event it does matter. Every year the route changes, not always for the better, but being such a popular challenge, erosion is a massive issue. The National Parks have to keep this to a minimum, hence more paving slabs, but this also makes it a tough race for the legs to deal with. The route really does throw everything at the competitor, from tussocks to flat road running. It’s such a great race.
“I love racing with the men. They are my benchmark; always supportive and encouraging and hopefully I encourage them to run faster too! Winning the Three Peaks last year was fantastic. I was pleased and relieved to pull off the win, as it’s a race you have a long build up to and to succeed in the end was a great feeling.”
The mens’ race should also be highly-competitive with the fastest runners, including inov-8 ambassadors Ben Mounsey, Gary Priestley and Czech Skyrunning Champion Ondrej Fejfar, chasing podium places and a crack at the record time of 2:46:03secs, set 21 years ago by Andy Peace.
Ben (pictured above training near his home, photo credit Robbie Jay Barrett) said: “As a short distance specialist, I usually enjoy watching the spectacle of the Three Peaks from the summit of Whernside. It’s an iconic event, richly steeped in history; a race where many great athletes have made their mark. It quite rightly features on almost every fell runner’s bucket-list because it has everything from steep climbs, challenging descents, fast runnable sections, a variety of all terrain and, of course, unpredictable Yorkshire weather!
‘Treating this unique race with the respect it deserves’
“To this day, it still attracts the very best fell and mountain runners in the land. The competition is always fierce, especially this year, as there is the added incentive of gaining selection for the Great Britain team for the World Long Distance Mountain Running Championships. This is another reason that I’ve decided to make the Three Peaks one of my major aims for 2017.
“Despite competing in the race twice before, I’ve never seriously trained for it or made it my goal. However, my target is now to try and run sub 3 hours and join the elite group of athletes who have achieved this in the past. I’m under no illusions; it won’t be an easy task as judging my pace correctly is crucial to success. I will treat this unique race with the respect it deserves.”
We will be working alongside Pete Bland Sports at the event, with some race-special deals on offer. Come and say hello.