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British amateur runner to compete alongside Olympians in ASICS Beat the Sun

by RuthGrimoldby
Wednesday 1st June 2016
ASICS has announced that Wilmslow-born amateur runner James Macdonald has been selected to take part in the ‘Beat the Sun’ challenge in Chamonix on June 21st 2016.

ASICS Beat the Sun is a unique relay race featuring eight intercontinental teams. The teams battle it out around a multi-terrain course in an attempt to become the first to beat the sun around iconic Mont Blanc in the time between sunrise and sunset.

Competing against each other and nature’s clock, the teams have just 15 hours, 41 minutes and 35 seconds to cover the 130km course. Each runner will complete two relay sections of between 4,5km and 17km, across varied altitude and terrain - including trail, road and alpine - whilst crossing France, Italy, and Switzerland.

MacDonald, 45, of Grosvenor Close, recovered from cancer in his 30’s and has gone on to complete a variety of tough sporting challenges, including long distance bike rides and two marathons, but will be pushed to his limits in Chamonix on the 21st June.

Macdonald said: “I am extremely excited to be part of the 'ASICS Beat The Sun' relay around Mont Blanc, and I can't wait to train and compete alongside professional athletes and amateurs. Having completed several tough sporting challenges following my cancer diagnosis 6 years ago, when I read about this opportunity I applied immediately! I love to see children and adults participate in sport, particularly running as it is inclusive to all and great for fitness. I hope I can inspire my two daughters and others to get outside and run.”

Thousands of runners applied for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity before 50 semi-finalists were selected by ASICS trail experts, with the final 24 amateurs chosen following a public vote and an assessment of their motivation to take part.

Three amateur runners and three expert athletes will make up each of the eight intercontinental teams, with three teams from Europe, two from America and one from Oceania, Asia and Africa.

James Macdonald will represent the UK alongside professional marathon runner Matty Hynes. Middlesbrough born Hynes finished 17th in last year’s London Marathon. Over the coming weeks Hynes – who has a personal best marathon time of 2:16 - will mentor Macdonald, providing him with important advice in preparation for the challenge.

This year a number of former Olympians will be taking part in ASICS Beat the Sun as expert runners. These include former Olympian Ryan Hall, who holds the record for the fastest marathon by an American - sub 2:05 - 2004 Olympic marathon bronze medallist Deena Kastor and multiple World Champion Dutch sprint speed skater Erben Wennemars.

Despite their athletic pedigree, these athletes face a new challenge as they are taken out of their comfort zones and attempt to transfer their athleticism into running in the unfamiliar and testing conditions of Mont Blanc.

Whilst runners are taking on nature’s toughest challenge in Chamonix, ASICS want to inspire others to complete their own personal running goals before the sun sets on June 21st, encouraging the rest of the world to make June 21st a Global Day of Running.

In the UK, between sunrise and sunset, the ASICS store on Oxford St will be hosting organized runs between 5km and 8km throughout the day, which the public can register for by contacting the store directly.

Across Europe, ASICS flagships stores will be hosting outdoor and treadmill running challenges to encourage runners to participate with members of the ASICS team.

In store, treadmills will be running non-stop for runner’s to go and clock miles to go towards the global total. The country with the store that achieves the highest total at sunset will receive a €10,000 donation for a local charity of its choice. Each runner who participates will also receive a 10% in-store discount and qualify for a free Foot-ID voucher.

For those not able to join ASICS in person but want to join the Global Day of Running on the 21st June can register by joining the ASICS #BeatTheSun online community and pledging to commit to running a certain distance on the longest day of the year[1].

The ASICS Beat the Sun race in Chamonix will be broadcast live on ASICS’ digital and social channels, and video reports of the race will be distributed on various global networks, inspiring millions of people across the globe. EpicTV has been appointed partner for video production and digital media broadcast. Other technical partners to support ASICS Beat the Sun with specialised product and expertise include Oakley, TomTom, Isostar, Petzl, Leki, Runkeeper and Haglöfs.


Confirmed teams as of 25 May 2016:

Team Europe North

Jonas Buud (Sweden): A former 100km European champion and four time World Championship runner up (2009, 2010, 2012, & 2014). Jonas is competing in his second ASICS Beat the Sun event having been on the winning team in 2014
Matty Hynes (UK): The Middlesbrough born former semi-professional footballer turned long distance runner finished 17th in last year’s London Marathon. Having just missed out on qualifying for the 2016 Olympic Games, Matty is hoping to help Team Europe North conquer the ASICS Beat the Sun course.
Erben Wennemars (Netherlands): A former professional speedskater with 8 Worldchampion titles and 2 times bronze medal Olympics. Erben is now a motivational speaker and TV and radio commentator. Since his retirement from speed skating, running has become a way of life.


Anna Sofie Nelsson (Sweden)
James Rory Macdonald (UK)
Chris Berendse (Netherlands)

Team Europe South

Pablo Villalobos (Spain): A debutant to ASICS Beat the Sun, father of two Pablo combines his training with a part-time job as a mentor to elite level athletes. Having started running at the age of 10 the sport is now a major part of his life. He was fifth in marathon at the Barcelona European Track and Field Championships in 2010, competed in the 2011 IAAF Championships Marathon in Daegu and has a marathon personal best of 2:12:21.
Xavier Chevrier (Italy): Started life as a cross country skier before taking up mountain running. Despite his best efforts in 2015, he finished in the second placed team and will be determined to make amends this year.
Sylvaine Cussot (France): Highly regarded French trail team member ‘Sissi’ took part in the very first ASICS Beat the Sun in 2014 and knows the French Alps well. She lives in the town of Uzes in the south of France with fellow pro trail runner Emmanuel Gault. Sissi started running when she was 6 and since then it has become a way of life for her.

Juanra Ortega (Spain)
Luca Guglielmetti (Italy)
Francis Marielle (France)

Team Europe Central


Charles Franzke (Germany): An obstacle race specialist, used to taking on Tough Mudder races, and now turning his hand to ‘nature’s toughest challenge’. Charles works as a personal trainer so knows how to prepare both his body and mind for ASICS Beat the Sun.
Emmanuel Vaudan (Switzerland):
Emmanuel “Monthey” Vaudan is a Swiss ski mountaineer and long-distance runner. His love of endurance and outdoor sports, ski mountaineering (8 years within the Swiss team), cross country skiing, mountain biking, cycling and trekking will put him in a good place for taking on the varied and extreme terrain of the Beat the Sun course. When he’s not competing outdoors, Monthey is a secondary school teacher.
Tomasz Domzalski (Poland): Tomasz lives in the countryside in Poland and trains every day with his fiancé who is a professional triathlete. Tomasz credits running with giving him the opportunity to meet new people and travel the world.

Dennis Pemsel (Germany)
Roland Zeindler (Switzerland)
Piotr Myślak (Poland)

Team America’s 1:

Megan Kimmel (US): Has played a key role in the previous two Beat the Sun challenges, narrowly missing out on victory for her team in 2014 before winning with Team America in 2015. Trail running has been a passion of Megan’s for much of her life and uses it as a way to experience nature and explore the world. She lives in the mountains of Colorado and when she’s not running, she’s skiing or working as a massage therapist.
David Le Porho (Canada): David has represented his country twice in the World Mountain Running Championships and excelled on his Beat the Sun debut last year with a rapid time on the steepest and highest section of the course. Away from running – which he treats as his second job - David is a father to a young daughter, and works in the industrial sector.
Manuel Mendez (Argentina): Manuel uses running as a way of meeting new friends, and to discover natural places. He even met his wife whilst running. He loves spending time outdoors and has been preparing for ASICS Beat the Sun by running and trekking in the mountains of Argentina.

Benjamin S. Farrell (US)
Bill Steinburg (Canada)
María Florencia Pollola (Argentina)

Team America’s 2:

Iaza Feitoza (Brazil): A veteran of the last two ASICS Beat the Sun challenges, Iaza has impressed with his determination and trail running technique on some of the toughest sections of the course. When he’s not competing in trail races, Iaza is a coach to amateur runners in Rio de Janeiro
Ryan Hall (US): Recently retired US Olympic marathon runner Ryan Hall has a marathon PB of 2:04:58 and makes his debut in ASICS Beat the Sun 2016. Ryan started running at the age of 13 having previously hated it. However running but one day that all changed and my life would never be the same as he developed into one of the best marathoners in the world.
Deena Kastor (US): Deena started to run when she was 11 and went on to achieve bronze in the women’s Olympic marathon at Athens 2004 and became America’s fastest female marathoner. Deena is a mother of one child, and now retired from professional running. She is currently writing a memoir on the power of optimism in performance - something that will prepare her well for nature’s toughest challenge.

Mariana Brugger (Brazil)
Kelsey Landrum (US)
Sarah Brown (US)

Team Africa
Carla Van Huyssteen (South Africa): Carla is a professional triathlete and first started enjoying the mountains and trail running when she was training for triathlon’s and adventure racing at university in 2005. This is Carla’s first year at ASICS Beat the Sun and will need plenty of her favourite Expresso’s to get her through the longest day of the year.
Givemore Mudzinganyama (Zimbabwe): Givemore was born in the small town of Rusape and is married with one son. Both he and his wife are professional long distance runners and travel the world together competing. ASICS Beat the Sun is the latest, and one of the toughest, races of his career to date.
Duncan Kiptanui (Kenya): This is Duncan’s second year at Beat the Sun having made his debut in the competition last year. A road running expert from Kenya with a 1:04 half-marathon and 2:25 marathon time.

Corli Leonard (South Africa)
Tumi Matlou (South Africa)
Hadi Selmouni (Algeria)

Team East Asia
Toru Higashi (Japan): Marathon runner Toru is making his debut in ASICS Beat the Sun. He began competing in track and field at high school before turning his focus to marathons at college. He credits running with giving him many great friends and experiences, and ASICS Beat the Sun will no doubt give him both of these.
Eun Ju Kwon (South Korea): At the age of 21, Eun set the Korean women’s marathon record which remained unbroken for 18 years. 2016 is Eun’s first time in Chamonix with ASICS Beat the Sun and is hoping to replicate her fast marathon times on the varied terrain of Mont Blanc.
Yadi Guan (China): Yadi is a film producer with a love for trail running and other outdoor sports, including kayaking and scuba diving. Yadi trains with his wife and has been running since the age of 7.

Masaki Sugiyama (Japan)
Noh Heeseong (South Korea)
Cui Yufeng (China)

Team Oceania Pacific

Russell Dessaix-Chin (Australia): Russell started to run at primary school and won his first cross country race at the age of 10. He now balances running with a full time job as a High School PE Teacher.
Raviin Muthu Kumar (Singapore): Raviin is a final year Psychology student who mixes running with studying. He started running aged 11 and enjoys the thrills and unexpected ups and downs which trail running offers.
Au Ka Lun (Hong Kong): Au Ka Lun is a professional running coach who enjoys taking part in marathon tours all over the world. In addition to running marathons, he also regularly hikes which will be good preparation for the steep terrain of the ASICS Beat the Sun course.

Jessica Sonners (Australia)
Lance Sum (Singapore)
Cheung Wai Lun (Hong Kong)


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