Leaving the deserts behind for the mountains – Ryan Sandes prepares for his debut 100 miler

With the local focus for Ultra168 being centred around the fact that 4 out of 5 of our team are doing the 100 miler at GNW100’s in November and training is in full flight it is nice to turn our attention to another 100 miler of similar repute happening in a couple of weeks in the US.

The Leadville 100 has been run by a number of Aussies over the years and most would report that whilst overall elevation gain is not massive when compared to Hardrock or our very own GNW100 it does have one unique feature in that the course runs between 9200ft and 12620ft and so the rarefied altitude makes it one of the toughest ultras around with roughly half the field failing to hit the 30 hour cutoff each year.

One ultra athlete willing to take on this challenge is South African, Ryan Sandes. Quite a few of our Aussie readers will remember Ryan from being part of the Salomon stacked podium at this years The North Face 100km race in the Blue Mountains. Ryan burst onto the ultra scene in 2008 by winning the Gobi March as part of the 4 Deserts race series. He then went all the way in 2010 by winning all four races in one year and the reputation as a desert specialist and the nickname “Sandman Sandes”.

We saw the potential of Ryan on the single track coming off Iron Pot Ridge during the TNF100 that he is a pretty versatile runner and his abilities can be stretched. This is why he has decided to leave the sands and jungle behind and attempt his first classic 100 miler at Leadville. He will be paced by fellow Salomon athlete Anna Frost.

I was lucky enough to spend a week with Ryan at the recent Kilian’s Classik in the French Pyrenees as he started his preparation for this new challenge. Ryan was very candid in revealing his desire to leave his marque events behind and rough it with the 100 mile boys in Colorado.

The following video gives a little insight into his future plans and what he thinks of the Australian running scene.

Marcus Warner was a guest of Salomon International at the Kilian Classik.

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