Under Trained, Down Under – Tarawera 100k

by admin on February 27, 2015

By: Joelle Vaught

I was so excited to have the opportunity to run the Tarawera 100k earlier this month in New Zealand! It is an amazing race with 1000 runners.

All smiles before for Tarawera 100k

I’ve been dealing with injury and haven’t trained more than about 23 miles so I wasn’t sure how my body would hold up. My back and hamstrings were a wreck all day so it was tough to race; I just worked on moving forward as fast as I could so I could get done! The first 60k was beautiful and tough; we were in a tunnel of plants and trees, passing by lakes and waterfalls, with constant climbing and descending on very rocky and rooty terrain.

 

Beautiful blue lake

The next 40k was tough for me because it was much flatter and was on lots of fire roads. I just don’t have the speed on the flats! I need mountains! It is a spectacular race though, the friendliest people you will ever meet!

 

Darn you flat sections!

My time at Tarawera was below the previous course record and I was 8th female finisher! I think the top 3 men were under the course record including fellow Americans Dylan Bowman and Jorge Maravilla who were 1st and 2nd! So it was an incredibly deep field in both the men’s and women’s races.

 

Joelle at the finish line of the Tarawera 100k

 

Now that I’m back from New Zealand I wanted to thank everyone that made my trip to run the Tarawera 100K possible and amazing! First of all, to Ultra-Trail World Tour for inviting me to race and making it possible for athletes around the world to come together and race. It certainly ups the competition level! Huge thanks to race director Paul Charteris who I had the pleasure to first meet in The North Face 100 – Australia last year. He was over-the-top helpful with travel, accommodations, and every other question I had. He not only put on a world class race with 1000 participants but also raced the 100K himself, amazing! Thanks so much to Christine Stucki who was huge part of putting the race on and so generously gave her beautiful home up for Jorge (and family) and I to stay in the entire time we were there. To top it off, her home was walking distance to the race start in the Redwoods where I was also able to go running the other days I was in New Zealand. Always a huge thank you to my sponsors: Montrail, Drymax Socks, Clif Bar, and The Pulse Running and Fitness Shop. Thanks to Steve who is so very supportive and took care of our amazing son, Chase, and our dogs, without going too crazy! Thanks to my awesome friends Holly and Heather for their super sweet care package! Big thanks to a friend I made in Australia last year, Naomi Leigh, who was at the race supporting and crewing her boyfriend Brendan, they took me under their wing and drove me all around, we went to the spa, and had tons of fun! Thanks to some new friends Ben Malby and Fiona Jane Wright Hayvice who I met on the course and shared various miles with, I loved chatting with each of you! Thanks to Tony Bus who so kindly picked me up from the Auckland airport and let me ride with him to Rotorua where the race started! And, last but certainly not least, to all of my friends and family who supported me along the way, you guys make it all worthwhile!!!


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Revisiting Past DNFs: HURT 100

by admin on February 3, 2015

Revisiting Past DNFs: HURT 100

By Amy Sproston

Looking around at the clean shoes and eager faces at the start line of the HURT 100 is a little discouraging, knowing despite how chipper we all seemed at 5:55 a.m. that, very likely, fewer than half of us would cross the line to kiss the sign, and those of us who did would no longer have beach-ready feet. HURT is hard to finish, but that’s what the RDs want per the sign that you kiss upon finishing and what’s imprinted on the finishers’ buckle, “’Aole makou e ho’ohikiwale kela,” Hawaiian for, “We wouldn’t want it to be easy.”

The HURT sign at the finish. Photo: me.

This year the finishing percentage almost reached 50% (60 finishers out of 121 starters), the highest finishing rate ever (average is closer to 40%). During the first and second loop we joked on course about it being “HURT Light” although that joking stopped by the third lap. Even in a dry year, which this was, the tedious technical repetitiveness of HURT makes it a mental challenge to keep heading out loop after loop. Compare HURT’s finishing rate to other races considered to be the toughest 100s, like Hardrock (with very different qualifying standards, so hard to compare), which often boasts a finishing rate over 70%. Besides the trail itself, a number of factors contribute to why HURT’s finishing rate is so low:
1. The weather in Hawaii in January (heat and humidity vs. snow and cold back home). 80 degrees with 80% humidity feels really warm if coming from real winter.
2. A January 100 is tough to prepare for—lots of your running buddies are taking a down season. Throw in the holidays and travel, and there are a lot of distractions, along with the shortest, coldest days of the year to train.
3. The lure of the beach, and the simple fact that loop courses close to an urban area and the beach are relatively easy to drop from—drop and you could be ocean-side with drink in hand in 20 minutes vs. drop at the wrong spot at Bighorn and receive an offer to hike out with the aid station crew and horses the following day.
4. The loop. Every time you leave an aid station you have to head up one of three climbs, which after the second or third loop, you have memorized and might dread. And each aid station can be driven to so it’s likely your crew is there with a car. It’s a really easy race to drop from, although the aid station volunteers will try to persuade you otherwise.

Honolulu. The course is somewhere in those mountains in the background, dangerously close to the beach or your hotel. Photo: me.

I DNF’ed HURT in 2011 after 60 miles. Looking back it’s easy to second guess my decision, but at the time, it was what I thought I needed to do. The year prior I’d torn half-way through my posterior tibial tendon, and it became increasingly painful on loop 3; continuing on it seemed to not be in the long-term best interest of my ankle or 2011 season. Linda and I headed to Maui after HURT and the rest of that Hawaii trip was not as much fun as it could have been, as I dwelt upon my DNF; DNF’s really can suck the fun out of destination races. I went back to Hawaii later that year for my cousin’s wedding, and one rainy November morning ran the course from Paradise Park (AS 1) to Nu’uana (AS 2) and back. I swore after that muddy, slippery run that I would never run HURT again. Why needlessly suffer?  Each year though, in January, as friends entered and succeeded at HURT, I had a little twinge of feeling like I was missing out. So, this past summer when I was home sick in bed (and still dealing with a torn hamstring tendon attachment after Comrades), I saw Denise post somewhere on social media about throwing her name in for HURT, and within minutes did the same. FOMO at its finest.

The HURT trails on a rainy day in 2011. We lucked out this year. I think this is also part of the section leading into Paradise Park that has now been graveled over. I've had nightmares about this section. Photo: me

Training and the Build-up

I often complain that my training isn’t ideal, but the lead-up to HURT was especially not ideal. The World 100K broke me. I’d face-planted in the Seattle airport en route to Doha and my knee ballooned up such that it looked like I had an alien coming out of my kneecap. The alien child disappeared before the race start, but my knee was left bruised and swollen. Hard to believe, but running 100K on the hardest surface imaginable with a ton of fluid on your knee is likely going to cause some lingering problems. Immediately following the race in Doha I couldn’t bend my knee without some painful medial clicking.

My knee about an hour before go-time in Doha after a lot of ice and ace-bandaging. Something's still not quite right in there.

The clicking led to an MRI to make sure it wasn’t a meniscus tear (it’s not), and various other visits to a variety of specialists (PT, acupuncture, body work, sorcery) to figure out the issue.  The World 100K was on Nov 21, and trying to deal with an issue didn’t allow much time to get in decent 100-mile training mileage, and my mileage leading into Worlds was never very high as I was still building from my hamstring injury this summer. I hit 70 miles just once in training for Worlds; my mileage was closer to 50 most weeks.

The knee clicking never really went away (turns out it’s not really knee, but likely some tendon attachments, hamstring or adductor of some sort), but the pain eventually did, so after a 3-week “recovery” from Worlds was able to get in a good 3-week training block ending on Jan 3 in time for a 2-week taper. My longest run was 25 miles, and I had 3 runs over 20 miles. I finally bought a plane ticket a couple weeks out when it seemed like I could extend and lift my left leg enough to clear rocks and roots. My HURT build-up post-worlds looked something like this:

Nov 21: World 100K, left knee was wonky and painfully clicking immediately following.

Week ending 7 weeks out: 0 miles, save an MRI, PT and body work sessions.

Week ending 6 weeks out: more PT visits, and the equivalent of maybe 15 miles on elliptical/treadmill hiking.

Week ending 5 weeks out: 30 miles uphill hiking on treadmill (15% grade @ ~14:30 pace—I hike with a purpose when on the treadmill and they are medium-hard effort workouts; a couple of botched runs, culminating in a fall on the good kneecap on trails Sunday because I couldn’t lift my left knee high enough to clear obstacles) for about 45 miles total. The run on Sunday left me curled in a sobbing heap in the middle of the trail, but my friend Darla offered the sage advice as I lay there sobbing on the frozen trail, “You know, things can turn around quickly.” It was on this run that I decided to pull the plug on HURT, and later Darla’s words convinced me to hold out a little longer. Things did seem to suddenly turn around, and I picked up the mileage the next 3 weeks.

Week ending 4 weeks out: 67 miles, long run at Smith Rock on trail with ups and downs; slightly more hopeful, some hill work and more uphill hiking.

Running in scenic IL over the holidays. I actually think farmland is pretty, it's just not great HURT training.

Week ending 3 weeks out: 75 miles, much of this home over the holidays, which means flat runs on country roads in rural Illinois. I also included in this mileage the “workout” I did on Sunday en route home from Illinois, where I had a few hour lay-over in Atlanta and tried to walk every step of the Atlanta airport. Atlanta is a big airport and I didn’t quite make it (because I back-tracked to grab Chipotle). I ended up with blisters (I switched into running shoes mid-walk) and some back chafing from the over-weight carry-on I was lugging around. Oh, the things we do…

Week ending 2 weeks out: 82 miles, most of which were on uneven snow, which really worked all those little connectors. I ended up with very few miles on technical trails, but the snow was a good substitute for tiring out those little things that get tired on HURT trails. I kept doing some uphill treadmill hiking with one or two sessions each week of 60-90 minutes at 15% under 15:00 pace. One 26 miler on uneven packed snow on Jan 1, and 22 miles of long hill repeats on Jan 3.

The weather wasn't HURT-like, but a week of running on uneven snow was great for working all those little stabilizing muscles.

Last 2 weeks: 2 week taper with a 13 mile run the Saturday before at the MadAss, a speed session, and a hill session.

Sauna training throughout. I had also sauna trained for Worlds, so was in good “sauna” shape. I’m a firm believer in spending quality time in the sauna before a hot race. I like to spend about 50 minutes (I escape every 15-20 minutes to shower off and refill water) in a ~180 degree sauna 5-6 days/week. This is a major time suck.

Prior to the race, I looked up my 2011 splits as a frame of reference. They were 4:24, 4:54, 6:05. My thought was to go out a bit slower this year, knowing that getting through laps 4 and 5 would be the hardest.  My goals had little to do with place this year. Yes, I’m always hoping to be competitive, and deep down I wanted to win and run a decent time, but I also wanted my “competitors” to succeed. At HURT is there is a general sense of camaraderie in terms of trying to keep everyone advancing forward to kiss the sign, and you really sense it at the pre-race meeting, and aid stations throughout. All ultras have that at some level, but it does feel stronger at HURT to me. The RDs and volunteers genuinely care if you succeed and will go out of their way help you make it happen. My only real goal this year was to kiss that damn sign, and check HURT off the list of past failures. The women’s field was stacked, but I wasn’t concerned about how it would all shake out. After DNF’ing at HURT before, finishing was primary; “racing” was secondary, and in a field of friends, I really just wanted us all to reach our goals.

Me and Little D enjoying some Hawaii sun in our matching Julbo shades on a shake-out run on the Pillbox trail. Photo: John Odle.

I got to Hawaii on Monday and enjoyed a few days on the North Shore. I was working, so didn’t have much time to explore, but it was a nice way to get used to the weather, have a change in working environment, and to have that up-late-packing/early-morning-flight experience several days out from the race. As much as I travel, I still suck at packing. Wednesday, I moved from the North Shore down to Kailua for a fun day with Denise and crew before picking up my crew of Jason and Mikio on Thursday and Friday and a move to Kaneohe. I’ve stayed in Waikiki before, and, in general, avoiding Waikiki was the key to seeing a side of Oahu I really liked. It was fun to see a lot of friends at the pre-race meeting; the women’s field was a strong one, but more importantly filled with friends and the out-and-back nature of the course ensured the opportunity to cheer on friends in passing throughout.

My friend, Yukari, who I met at Hasetsune Cup in Japan. She wound up 5th, and another Japanese runner 3rd.

Onto the Race:

The first loop felt easy; the climbs weren’t nearly as steep as my memory of them, and I didn’t feel like I was working too hard. On the first climb, I quickly found myself in the lead, kind of what I had told myself not to do, but I felt in control.  About half-way down the first descent a female voice greeted me from behind, and assumed it was Kerrie, but then asked (hard to turn around on these trails without a face-plant) and wasn’t surprised to hear it was Nicola, instead. After a couple minutes, she passed, and floated down the technical trail like I was standing still, with Jamil Coury. This continued for the first 2 laps, where I would pass Nicola and Jamil climbing out of the aid stations, and they would scamper past going down. In my head I’m a decent downhill runner, and not so strong on uphills, but Nicola schooled me on the downs, and I felt strong going up. I think my inability to descend technical downhills quickly probably saved my quads from earlier destruction.

Coming into Nu'uana with Jamil Coury right behind me during the first loop. Jamil got ahead of me in loop 2 or 3, but then we passed him taking a nap on the trail somewhere during the night. Photo: Mikio.

I came through lap 1 in 4:04, which was a lot faster than I had planned and caused a little alarm, although I felt good. I was still eating and drinking well, so kept moving well through lap 2, and hooked up with Sam for the second half of this lap. Nicola was still close, although catching me closer to the bottoms of the climbs. Sam was really the only person, besides my pacer, that I spent any significant amount of time with so it was nice to have someone to talk to for the last half of lap 2. He did remark that he was a ways ahead of his goal pace, as was I, and would likely suffer later (sorry, Sam). My only fall came in lap 2 coming into the Nu’uana aid station, and although I face planted, I didn’t hit anything very hard. My biggest fear, after the fall before Worlds and on the other knee in December, was falling on my knee caps. I still have what feel like Mike and Ikes floating around in there and I didn’t think my bursae could handle it.

The classic HURT root shot. What I refer to as the "root tangle up top". This photo I took in 2011, but it hasn't changed; maybe a few more roots. When dry, this section is not horrible. When wet, the roots are slick as snot and not so much fun. You pass through this section what feels like 50 times.

There is a lot more to HURT than those classic HURT shots of the root tangles up top, but because of the course design, every section you love or hate, you pass 5-10 times. The first time I ran HURT I think I expected it to be 100% covered in roots, so it seemed less technical than I’d feared. This time, it seemed less steep, but more technical than my memory of it. And the steps. There were more than a few occasions when I thanked my parents for giving me tall genes, because there are parts of the course where being 5’2″ would be a disadvantage as there are metal-edged steps, which would be waist-high if you were less tall.

Finishing loop 2 with Mikio ready to help out. My crew was on top of it all day. Photo: Jason.

Loop 3 was fairly uneventful. Nicola and I started out Loop 3 close together, but I had 15 minutes or so on her by Paradise Park, and then coming out of Nu’uana AS I didn’t see another female until I’d been out of the aid station for 45+ minutes, and it wasn’t Nicola. I was bummed to later hear she’d dropped, and also bummed to stop seeing some other friends on this loop. That’s one of the discouraging parts of HURT–when you stop seeing your friends in passing, and knowing what that means. At some point, I decided I needed a pick-me-up and I turned on my music to try to motivate the pace until I’d have someone to sing to me (Jason had promised to sing me Taylor Swift songs), and I made it in under 5 hours, so was slowing, but the wheels were still attached.

The wheels came off in the 4th and 5th loops. Picking up Jason was a boost, but as it turns out, I don’t know enough Taylor Swift songs to even recognize them, and I made the mistake at Paradise Park AS on the 4th lap to down a ton of liquid calories at once (a combo of miso soup, sprite, and coconut water). I’d been feeling slightly nauseous for several miles, and the past hour of calories (which weren’t much) all came back up on the way out of the aid station. After that point I might have consumed 300 calories in the last 33 miles/11 hours.  30 calories an hour isn’t going to get you very far especially when you’re in an already-depleted state. I went in feeling a couple pounds heavy, so perhaps I burned off that extra winter fat during those hours. During loop 5 I got super sleepy and told Jason I needed to listen to music to motivate. I was so tired, that I didn’t even notice my shuffle was on repeat and played one MGMT song for over an hour. Jason did, though. :)

Loop 5 is all about the "last time." Like, in this case, "the 10th and last time I have to cross this darn river." Photo: Mikio.

And the last time I have to go downhill, even mildly. Here, a few minutes from the finish, and descending very delicately. Photo: Mikio.

The last 2 loops were a calorie-deficient slog, and I felt bad for Jason, but at long last, and well after daylight, we made it up the final climb, and one final painful descent into the Nature Center. My quads were trashed by the last loop, but held up surprisingly well for the lack of long runs and downhill pounding in training. I was decently uphill trained after so much treadmill hiking, but not necessarily the other way around. I could tell my heels were getting trashed, too, but viewing the damage mid-race does little good. Jason tried to motivate me with time goals, but I was cringing with every step, and not that motivate-able. I finished in 26:22, which is a time I’m happy with, and ranks 5th on the all-time list. I do kick myself a bit after-the-fact for having the last 2 laps turn into such a slow slog. I went into the last loop with a 3+ hour lead and I was moving slowly enough that I was worried Alicia would catch me. Luckily the race ended at 100 miles, because she gained a ton of ground on me in the last lap and finished 2nd in 28:10. I’m a little horrified by my splits (4:04, 4:27, 5:00, 6:05, 6:46). Oddly, I more or less stayed in 8th place overall throughout those last 2 laps: Alicia and Eric Purpus were flying on loop 5, but overall, most of the rest of us were crawling.  Sometimes it’s just about getting done, regardless of whether it’s pretty. But now I want sub-25!

Finally, kissing that sign. Photo: Jason.

Top 3 M and F finishers with our ukuleles. Best awards ever. Photo: Bob McAllaster.

Things that worked for me:

Jason keeps the FB and twitter followers up-to-date on the Oregon contingent. Photo by Mikio.

1. My crew was awesome. I can tend to look a bit serious/focused during races (I’m smiling inside, really), and I may have forgotten to acknowledge their outfits during the race (I expected nothing less, especially because Jason had been looking for a grass skirt since landing, and had Jason not been in a grass skirt, I would have been surprised). Mikio and Jason were the best crew one could ask for (not to insult past crews, of course…), and I hope to return the favor someday. A huge thanks to Mikio and Jason for their super support. They were also a hit on the interwebs and twittersphere with their photos and live reporting.

Can you believe I failed to comment on their attire until after the race? Bad runner! Photo from Jason.

2. A&D Ointment—the preventative diaper rash ointment (not the curative stuff—the preventative—A&D makes both). THIS STUFF IS AMAZING. And cheap. And available everywhere. I had zero chafing between my legs, which has never happened in a 100. A hundred mile issue solved. TRY IT!

3. The Montrail Bajada II—(or soon to be) released. I’m lucky to wear the men’s sample size (9) so have been wearing this shoe for several months. The foam is a little cushier than previous Bajada models, and the tongue is now gusseted and has lace loops on 2 sides to keep it in place (in the original model it would often slide to the side). Previous models also had some blowout issues (I never had issues with this) and the upper has been completely revamped, and is “sleeker”. I love this shoe. Full disclosure: I did end up with bad heel blisters. But, this all happened after mile 60. I had zero issues the first 60 miles, and also never once took my shoes off the entire 100 miles. I double knotted them at the start and didn’t untie them until I crossed the finish. I stopped eating/drinking the last 40 miles because of nausea; blisters are linked to hydration issues in my experience. So, I don’t blame my heels issues on the shoes (or socks), but on the combo of trench foot that developed from being constantly wet for 100 miles (sweating heavily) and then dehydration.

The Bajada II's were great for HURT and are my current favorite shoes.

4. Injinji —see above under shoes about heel blisters; I blame this on hydration issues. So, my heels weren’t pretty, but my toes and pedicure were still beach-ready.

5. Clif Recovery drink. I used this for a bulk of my calories during much of the first 3 laps, which was not necessarily intended, but it tasted good. I think what I need to work on is getting more solid food in the first half of a 100 so that there’s something inside me. At some point it just seems that my stomach is just too empty. I don’t know if there’s anything to this but when I did start to get sick, there was almost nothing to throw up. I did focus on real foods in the first lap (was trying to get down PB&Js), but when it’s hot, I struggle. Every race I say I need to work on this, so at some point, I need to follow through as nausea starting around mile 60 is the death of me in almost every 100 I’ve run. The Clif Recovery drink was still going down OK in sips, and I should have been more diligent in getting a bottle down between aid stations.

The roots are still there all night, they just get harder to see. I got very sleepy and very trippy during this part. A bright light helped me manage to stay awake and never quite fall despite about 50 toe clips. Photo: Jason.

6. Lights: The only thing I put some time into planning out pre-HURT was my lighting plan. My plan worked out well (I borrowed lights and switched them out every aid station), with some user error thrown in. For HURT you want the brightest thing out there, and want it on high, so be prepared to switch it out every couple of hours, which means every aid station at HURT at night (unless you’re still running 4:30 laps–I wasn’t). My one failure in this regard was that I’d never even turned on one of the lights, and didn’t know how to work it. Of the lights I tried out (I had an arsenal), the Petzl NAO was the brightest. I still prefer the Petzl Tikka RXP, in general, because it’s super bright, lasts much longer, and is less weight, but on HURT trails, it pays to have a NAO, but take a few extra NAO batteries and switch them frequently. Because you spend so much time staring intently at the rooty trails all day and night, my eyes got really tired, and the brighter the light, the more awake I stayed.

7. Sauna training: HURT was hot and I was soaked by mile 2, but the heat never really bothered me, besides maybe not helping on the nutrition front. I spent a lot of quality time in the sauna (and also used an ice bandana, which helped both with cooling and possibly the trench foot issues).

8. Uphill hiking on the treadmill: Even though there are lots of long climbs around Bend, I really like uphill hiking on the treadmill. Walking at 15% grade at a quick pace–I often do 14:38 (4.1 mph) or 14:17 (4.2 mph) pace–for 4 – 6 miles is a great way to get ready to hike uphill quickly in races. When I go out on long runs, I never end up hiking much (I use a  mix of running/hiking), and doing a dedicated hiking workout on the treadmill is a great way to practice hiking quickly for an extended period. I often get into an ultra, and find myself hiking and think, “Why don’t I practice this?” I hiked more for HURT than I have for any other race, in part because I couldn’t run in early December because of my clicking knee, but could still hike on the treadmill.

I said I wanted to check HURT off the list and get my finish and never go back, but I can’t say that there isn’t already a part of me that wants to end up in Hawaii next January and work on a more evenly split race. If I don’t end up racing next year, I may just learn enough on the ukulele to provide some on-course entertainment during the late night hours, hanging out somewhere up in the root tangle on top playing dueling ukuleles.

Beautiful ukulele! Or, just a way to sneak in a photo of Sam, who is also quite pretty.

As always, thanks to my amazing sponsors: Montrail, Mountain Hardwear, Injinji, Clif Bar, Julbo, and Nuun for the support!

Written by Amy Sproston


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Konichiwa

You don’t really realize how much the Japanese are into cats, yes cats, until you travel with self-described “crazy cat lady” Amy Sproston. They are really into cats here. They’re everywhere. Stickers, logos, sculptures, pumpkin heads, cafés. nothing wrong with it, just funny. They are also notorious from eating everything that comes from the sea, much of which you’re not even sure what it is unless you have a guy like Daigo showing you around and helping us by explaining what to do and what not to do, like wearing shorts at a Japanese Onsen (hot springs). That’s what the small towel they gave me at check in was for, hiding your stuff. But lets face it, it’s a little inadequate and silly to even pretend that does anything.
Every time I visit Japan I remember how gracious, kind and hospitable the people here are and it’s why I love to come back. Aside from the fantastic dining experiences, beautiful scenery of the mountains, it’s the people that really make the trip worth it. This time I came to race the classic Japan mountain race, the Hasetsune Cup. It is 72km of beautiful and brutal forested ridgeline outside Itsukaichi.
The race was started in 1992 as a memorial for fallen alpinist Tsuneo Hasetsune and I thought before coming over that it was a little odd to honor an alpine climber with a trail race in a fully forested area outside Tokyo. But not too far into the race, like 5km in, I realized that this is much more a mountain adventure than I had ever imagined.

The lack of alpine environment did not discourage or prevent the organizers of the first event from including some of the most difficult footing I’ve encountered during a race, or from including and astounding 15,000ft of climbing in just 44 miles. As you can imagine, 44 miles and that much elevation doesn’t leave a lot of ground to run anything flat or for the hills to be at all gradual either.
I will never believe a word Amy ever says again because of the last words out of her mouth before the start of the race. She leans to me and says, “The last 10km are all nice and the first 30km are all runnable”. Wow, was that a false statement if I’ve ever heard one. She realized her mistake about 2km…then again at least 30more times before we got to 30km, that one of her mantras during the race would become “Max is going to kick my ass”. I knew I was in trouble when I started hurting…at 10km. There is a lot I could have done to better prepare myself for this race, I just didn’t know any better.

This does not do it justice

Hasetsune is also interesting because of it’s 1pm start time, insuring runners will spend almost half the race in the dark of the forest. With adequate lighting this isn’t that much of an issue but it does throw in another difficulty on top of the terrain and lack of aid stations. Oh yeah, aid stations, there are none. Sticking true to a mountaineer’s plight of having no aid stations and having to carry everything with them, Hasetsune requires you to carry everything you will need for the entire race aside from 1.5L of water at 42km. For the front runners carrying 2L to start and all your food isn’t all that bad but I can’t imagine how the runners doing the course in 20-24hrs (the cutoff time) can carry enough water for the duration. My hats off to those who are out there that long.
This was probably the most sustained difficulty race I think I’ve ever done. I’ve done races that have worse footing or just as much climbing at high altitude but none where I’ve had to put it all together and have to endure that amount of torture for that long. That’s why, for 21 year old Ruy, running a 7:01 record by 18min is so damn impressive. Ruy is a young up n’ comer from Shinjuku on the Montrail team and he’s a stud in the mountains. I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do in the coming years both in Japan and internationally.
I ended up “running” a 7:49 for 8th place. It was a hard fought battle with myself just to stay in it mentally.

But, where I failed, Amy prevailed. Amy took home the win with a great run and I did help a little bit in bringing home the overall team title with my teammates Ruy and Shun. Between us, the Montrail Team captured all three Hasetsune Cups this year. What they believe may be a first for the team.

Amy Finishing

This was just funny.

Team Award Podium

The Three Hasetsune Cups

As with any trip abroad part of it is to enjoy and take in the culture of the country you’re visiting and Japan makes for some of the most interesting experiences you can have visiting another country. The dining experience is unparalleled and so much fun. There are lots of places with sushi boats on conveyor belts. The most fun was the Smart Sushi where you order on an iPad, press Order, then it travels on a little car on a track right to your spot, you take it off and send the car back. How cool is that? There’s also the array of other odd looking but usually pretty tasty things that come from various parts of a fish or other sea dwelling animal. Like the flying fish roe, it’s like a party in your mouth. The little eggs pop and they’re so much fun. Then you find a couple stuck in your gums later on and get to do some more popping. Then there’s the shark bone (I don’t recommend), the raw octopus w/ wasabi (it was pretty good), and the fermented soy beans (Nato), which no one likes so I can’t figure out why they put it in stuff.

Shark Bone, not good.


Octopus Wasabi, good


Shashimi, good

The truly new experience was the Onsen, the Japanese Hot Springs, which after the race felt so good on the legs. This custom I never would have figured out if I hadn’t had Daigo and Ruy to follow through it. First, no shorts, then you bath in a traditional way sitting on a stool, then, it’s to the pools with the small towel to hide everything. We were soaking in the natural mineral waters while watching the low clouds and mist dance off the surrounding mountain in a light drizzle. A pretty amazing experience.

View from the Onsen

It was then back to Tokyo for two days. We were supposed to do a photoshoot but the rain killed that and we took a few photos but kept it to about an hour. Shortest photoshoot I’ve ever done. Back in Tokyo, Amy and I walked the streets and take in the sights (more cats) and eat more sushi. We hung out in 7-Eleven for awhile just poking around because well, it might be 7-Eleven but for us it’s a whole new experience and they have amazing little snack things that are probably just as bad for you there as they are here. And it turns out that I’ve never had good Sake until this trip. I always thought it tasted terrible but with a knowledgeable guide you can find the good stuff.

Busy Busy.

From there it was uneventful and relaxing to see Tokyo and make the trip home. It’s always nice to be home but as soon as I landed in Redmond I was off again. A quick lunch with my wife was all the time I would get before heading off to Medford for the inaugural Max King Invitational. I was quite honored to get a call earlier this summer from the XC Coach at my High School and want to name their home meet after me. My first thought was, “I though you had to be dead to get something like that named after you. I hope it’s not the Max King Memorial”. He assured me it was not and wanted me to be down there to start the races. But I managed to get them off and running even though I was falling asleep with the starter pistol in my hand. That 3hr drive home that night was one of the hardest I’ve ever had but sleeping in my own bed that night was sooo nice.
Then it was up early and off to California for the Warrior Dash World Championships. No rest for the weary this week.

Tokyo Skyline from the Hotel

Sake Barrels


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Three Days Run-Packing the Trinity Alps

by Max on October 14, 2014

There’s the trail!” I would hear every so often coming from Tonya just a way’s behind me. Looking out over the mass of white granite speckled with black I didn’t see anything other than a questionably man-made cairn off in the distance with obviously no track or “trail” of any kind running through the landscape. Tonya and I were scrambling our way across part of the Trinity Alps high route with the destination of Man on Rock Pass off in the distance. The crumbled granite blocks impeding our way made for the greatest playground I’ve ever seen and by the end of the day my feet and legs ached from lunging here and there amongst the great boulders.

Where's Tonya?

It is an incredible landscape and one you might associate better with the high Sierra around Yosemite or Tahoe Basin, but up here tucked in a remote part of NorCal where few venture off the I-5 corridor rises a mountain ridgeline that rivals it’s southerly mountain cousins in beauty and ruggedness. It my not have the huge faces that Yosemite does, but that same difference makes it more accessible (to an amateur climber anyway) to explore.
The Trinities are somewhere I’ve wanted to explore for many years. Growing up just over the Oregon border they were closer than the Sierra’s but just like everyone else, I always passed them by on I-5. I would stare out the car window every time I would drive past Castle Crags, huge monolithic granite spires just off I-5 and had no idea that a whole wilderness lay just beyond with more granite to explore.
Tonya and I and a few others have been dreaming of run-packing through some great wilderness area of the west all summer and with time running out we finally put down a date to go do it. And by “we” I mean I finally had a weekend in the schedule that I wasn’t racing or doing something else.

Magnitude

We chose the Trinities for a close but south leaning destination that would hopefully still be warm enough in late September in the mountains. We didn’t have any clue what was there since we’d never been there and with no map to be found at the Bend REI we headed south about 7am on Friday morning. I’d gleaned the internet for a good long route we could do and came up with what someone dubbed “The High Route”. It was only 25mi so we needed a bit more and what trailhead to start from.
To get some more beta we stopped in at the Ranger Station in Mt Shasta and to my utter amazement, they were actually really helpful. Sorry, but yes, I was surprised. We got a great map, the best way to get the Honda Civic over the mountains (it was not the way that I wanted to go by the way), and some guidance on what lakes to hit. We planned a route that would have been about 80-90mi, it’s tough to tell, and would have encompassed the White Trinities and Red Trinities.
The Trinity Alps are divided into three distinct sections. The Green Trinities, which we would miss this trip, the Red Trinities, and the White Trinities, which we knew we wanted to hit since that’s where the granite is. It’s part of the greater Klamath Mountains of Northern California and has over 600mi of trails. Too much to explore in just one short trip. The geography and history of the area are as interesting and diverse as anything else in Oregon or California but very little is ever explored other than by the few hardy back packers. Very little of the wilderness is visible from any road and even a day hike barely penetrates into the heart of the wilderness. It’s one of the most truly wild areas of the West Coast.

Forested Approach

We left the Stuart Fork Trailhead, with two other cars in the parking lot by the way, at about 1:30pm on Friday headed for Canyon Lakes, one drainage over. The trail started out mellow, cruising through thick old growth forest along a boulder strewn creek that held some of the clearest, cleanest water I think I’ve ever seen. Five miles in we would depart the creek trail and head up over a 3000ft ridgeline climb and down into the next drainage. Here we would begin to get our first glimpses of the high granite peaks…and our first rain shower, but man was it cool to see the storm clouds roil up, the thunder cracking and then break with rays of light shooting through the clouds right over the jagged peaks of the Trinity Alps was such a sight to behold. That, right there made the whole trip worth it.

The Storm Approacheth

We wound our way down off the ridge and into the next drainage. We were getting short on time since spending a few minutes under a tree for shelter. A few miles up the Canyon Lakes trail night began to fall so we picked our way up the trail with headlamps until we found a great creek side camp spot that you could tell was a popular destination during busier months. Luckily when you only have 20lbs on your back camp is a really easy set up. Pull your sleeping bag out, put it in your bivy sack and wah lah, camp is made.

Camp, Simple.

Seeing as how it was late September it was also getting pretty chilly, so puffies came out, pants on and a warm meal was, well, reconstituted. My original thinking was that for this run-packing thing to work out meals would have to be bars and dry cold food but then Tonya turned me on to Esbit cubes. Small, lightweight solid fuel cubes that will boil approx. a pint of water in a few minutes. Pretty ingenious if you ask me and also saves you from having to pack a stove for the comforts of a warm meal. I thoroughly enjoyed my chili mac that night.
We woke the next morning to bright blue skys that we would enjoy all day high above treeline on the white granite slopes of the Trinity’s. Another warm meal and hot coffee got our day started and we headed up the trail with our first destination being Granite Lake. It was a pretty mellow start with a nice hike up the canyon and even though we were run-packing this trip definitely wasn’t about an FKT, but about being in nature, enjoying the serenity that you can only get from wilderness and wondering about how clean and clear the water is and how green the trees are. I don’t get to slow down and smell the roses very often and it was nice to be able to do that.

Granite, Granite everywhere.

Climb up to Boulder Lake

We climbed to Boulder Lake and beyond to the granite slopes that form the ridgeline secluding the Canyon Lakes Basin and began traversing our way toward Man on Rock Pass and what would eventually be our final destination at Grizzly Lake. This is where things go totally awesome. I’m sorry but this is my type of play ground. Huge granite boulders strewn in a great boulder field has the likeness of a nature made parcour course and it’s your mission to find the most efficient, but also fun, way through. Jumping, leaping, scrambling, and playing my way across what seemed like an eternal boulder field was the most fun I’ve had in a long time. It’s the way nature intended us to play. And shoot, it’s a good workout too.

Climb out of Boulder Lake

Just hanging around.

UP? Above Canyon Lakes

I was pooped, my whole body, worked. We were moving for about 8hrs on day 2 and we made it an incredible 12 miles, and it was some of the most beautiful and rugged 12 miles I’ve ever traversed. High up climbing over Man on Rock pass the views stretched on for as far as the eye could see. Storms a few days before we arrived cleared out the smoke from all the California forest fires so we had un-interrupted views of ridgeline after ridgeline reaching from the Oregon border south to where the mountains trail off into the Central Valley. Tonya remarked before we left the ranger station that they should connect the Trinity Alps Wilderness to the coastal Redwoods National Park and we could run that sometime. I thought it was a great idea, still do, but being up on that ridge made us realize the enormity of that request and how long it might take us to travel that distance.
Up over one more pass and we would begin our decent down into Grizzly Lake for the night. Grizzly Lake is a remote little lake surrounded by a cathedral of granite walls that as the sun sets catches the light just right and is lit up on all sides with a pink glow reminiscent of the late afternoon light through stained glass windows. Just amazed once again. Grizzly Falls leaps off the edge of the lakes shoreline almost as though held back by huge castle walls made of granite.

Grizzly Falls

That evening we lit up our little Esbit cubes made a hot meal, and watched the sun set on the high granite walls all around us. We crawled into our bags and slept. Our camp spot was so perfect I found a little patch of soft pine duff surrounded by trees that was nice and comfortable. I was a bit cold the first night so I made sure to have some extra insulation under my bag on the second night. The wind kicked up a bit but I slept warm and sound.

Grizzly Lake Alpenglow

Day three dawned with low clouds blanketing the surrounding peaks. If it hadn’t lifted in time for our departure out of Grizzly Lake it would have proved problematic getting out of there and back to the car. As it was we had a scramble up to a pass over a very precipitous granite ridge that took us several tries to figure out. Like a puzzle that you can’t see the other side of we would make a jab at getting over the ridgeline to Mirror Lake on the other side only to find a sheer drop that was impossible to down climb. After about four attempts we finally found the pass through the rock that we were aiming for and wound our way through the rocks and treed ridgeline to Mirror Lake and downward toward Emerald Lake.

Traverse across to Mirror Lake Pass

Tonya and Mirror Lake surrounded in a bowl of granite.

I had originally thought that a 1pm arrival at the trail head might be doable based on how far we had to go and how much cross country travel we had in store. That estimate quickly went out the window with our multiple failed attempts at getting through the first rock pass but when we hit the quagmire on the “trail” around Sapphire Lake that estimate quickly became, “lets just get out of here before dark”. The trail heads up through the canyon from the Stuart Creek Trailhead about 10 miles to Emerald lake, it then turns into what the map calls a “scramble” (or a rocky trail) but then disappears around Sapphire Lake on it’s way to Mirror Lake at the head of the granite bowl. We figured this was just because it wasn’t maintained but we would be able to scramble over some rocks and a well worn “path” that wasn’t an official trail. After all, Mirror lake is in a beautiful hollowed out bowl of granite rising on three sides, who wouldn’t want to go there. Well, people may want to go there, they just don’t. And here’s why:

Brushiness

A mess of brush so thick that you stare at it in wonder, wonder how on earth you’re going to get back to your car by the time night falls thinking that just swimming the length of the lake may give you hypothermia but would actually be faster than just waiting to die in the maze of brush before you.
We made it, but just barely. Back on the trail my original ETA was just slightly off. The wife wasn’t going to get any help with the kids tonight, and she wasn’t going to be happy about that. Sorry dear, it was the brush, I swear.
Tonya and I got into a good running rhythm down the trail. With packs about 10lbs lighter than two days ago running felt easy and more natural now. Occasionally we would see an opportunity to capture a few final photos of the grassy meadows with ragged granite towering above them with just the right amount of light passing through the swirling clouds to highlight the white stone. A picture perfect ending to such an amazing inaugural run-packing adventure.

Serenity

Yeah, it's about the most perfect setting...ever.

Despite our impeccably rationed food, we were still famished after moving for almost 9hrs through some unforgiving terrain. We swung through Weed, CA on our way back to Bend and hit the Hi-Lo Café for a bit of downhome cooking. I never order chicken but the Southern Fried Chicken stood out on the menu as did the cherry milkshake. Both were as good as they sounding and made for a satisfying end to the great adventure.
There’s so much more to explore in the Trinities and beyond that we’ll be back for many more adventures in a vastly unexplored area that holds so many treasures. I had my hopes up for this first run-packing trip. That it would mean more freedom from a weighted down over stuffed pack without giving up too many luxuries of true back packing, that it would allow me to cover more ground and see more in the short amount of time I have with obligations to work, family and training, and that I would truly still get the primal feel that I was out in nature with risk and reward living together. Did I find all of those things? Unequivocally, yes, and I’m already planning and looking forward to the next great adventure with a little gear on my back and fast shoes on my feet.

Then there’s the High Route. I alluded to it earlier. It’s a roughly “established” (meaning someone did it and drew a map of it) route that is a gnarly route through the highest peaks of the White Trinity Alps, that may be a good candidate for an FKT record due to it’s difficulty, beauty, and adventure. I know there are some that would highly discourage this becoming an FKT but fear not, your secret is safe in the wilds and seclusion of Northern California. Few will ever attempt such a route, but… a possible attempt might be in my future.

Here’s a rundown of my main gear and what went into making this a comfortable but minimal experience.

Sleep System:
Mtn Hardwear Mtn Speed 32 Bag
Mtn Hardwear DryQ Bivy
Thermarest ProShort Pad
Mtn Hardwear Fluid 18L Pack

Clothing:
MHW DryRunner Shorts
MHW Wicked Lite T shirt
MHW Super Power Tights
MHW Ghost Whisperer Down Jacket
Montrail FluidFlex Shoes
Swiftwick Socks – 2pair
Buff
MHW Butterman ¼ zip Shirt

Other:
Esbit cubes for cooking – 12
Two 17oz Softflasks for water
Water bottle
Spork
iPhone
GoPro

Food:
4 Packaged meals from REI
Trail mix
GU Energy gels
GU Brew drink mix
GU Chomps
Beef Jerky
Gummy Colas
Coffee
Other snacks

Adventure Buddy

Sapphire Lake from above

And the Video:
http://maximus.runnerspace.com/profile.php?member_id=133&do=videos&video_id=125645


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Spartan World Championships

by Max on September 22, 2014

Maybe someone can help me out here. I’m having a hard time understanding how you get 10000 people out into the middle of nowhere in Vermont to run up and down a big mountain, carry around buckets of gravel, and get torn up in the woods but the majority of America is fat and out of shape and doesn’t want to do anything “hard”? Well, I’ve got some theories but it’s hard to comprehend that I just witnessed just that scenario. I can’t believe that there are so many people that would go through the Vermont Spartan Beast course. You mention that you have 3000ft of elevation gain in a trail race or say that a trail is going to be technical and it totally scares runners (who are typically in great, if quite fragile, shape) away from even attempting it. The crowd of people that obstacle racing has tapped into has me completely confounded. Obviously it’s a crowd that wants nothing to do with running otherwise that would be their way of challenging themselves, yet they run (walk, mostly) up and down 7000ft of mountainous terrain. To say I’m quite impressed with them is an understatement and also shows that much of America stuck in cities, in cubicles, are in need of an outlet and this has been the first thing in a while that has called to that subset that isn’t inspired by your typical endurance event.
And who knows, maybe trail running would be on the same scale of 4 million people a year if it weren’t hampered with the bureaucratic nightmare of getting a permit to hold larger events.

Either way, I’d like to tell you about my trail running (plus) adventure over the weekend in Vermont. I decided after my last Atlas Race in February that I had to set some time aside this fall to really make a run at some obstacle races and see what it had in store for me so I blocked off a couple of weekends to do the Vermont Spartan World Championships, Warrior Dash World Championships (Oct 18th), and the OCR World Championships (Oct 25th), (I know, lots of world championships, just a name for big prize money). The Vermont Spartan is by far the most brutal and longest Obstacle course so far devised. And each year it keeps getting harder and longer.
I went into this race with pretty high hopes for at least a top 5 finish but knowing that what I was walking into would be different than anything I’ve ever done. I didn’t get murdered but I was definitely still unprepared for what I would have to endure. Obviously my legs were good, it was like a very difficult 50km distance, but my arms and grip strength have some significant catching up to do to some of the other guys (and gals) in the field. It was actually a pretty international field that Spartan put together and the unknowns surprised the American veteran races as well. (1st American was Cody Moat in 3rd)
I was in 5th and gaining on a couple of guys when we reached the double sandbag carry, but that ‘s as high as I would get before my race took a dramatic downward spiral. But, lets back up for a few minutes to go through how we got here.

The Start - Go For Glory!

For me, the most difficult part of preparing for this race was trying to figure out what the heck to wear. Trail racing is easy, shorts, shoes, jersey, a pack if you need it. I felt like a diva picking out which shoes to wear to dinner as I was standing over a pile of gear trying to figure out what to go with. It was supposed to be pretty cold (60s) and we would be in and out of cold water (how many times, who knows?) and from the descriptions of last year everyone cramped up from the cold water and a few cases of hypothermia. I didn’t want that and knew I couldn’t handle cold water very well so settled on cutting off a wetsuit top and went with that. There were times when I totally needed it and others when it felt a bit bulky but overall I was glad to have it. I also took a pack for water and gel. Last year they described the water stops as infrequent and unreliable so I thought I would take that out of the equation. Turned out they were more organized this year and while I did drink about 1.75L of water probably could have used the water stops. Oh well. It’s not too bad racing with a pack.

Beasts!

At 7:30am we were called up to the starting line. A downhill start made for fast TV coverage before heading straight up a ski slope to take our pace to a hike. A 1000ft climb right out of the gate spread the field out before our first obstacles, a quick sandbag carry to a bucket brigade carry (carry a 5gal bucket full of gravel up a ski slope and back). Then we hit our first real big obstacle: a 100m swim in freezing water, climb a rope ladder, a tarzan swing to ring the bell, back in the water for another 100m swim to shore. That was rough. I went in thinking, ok, at least I can swim better than most of these guys, but I hit the water gasping for breath and it was totally different than I’d imagined. I couldn’t put my head in the water, it was too cold. I was trying to crawl but my heads going from side to side and with full clothes and shoes on it’s really hard to swim fast and efficient. Eventually I had to resort to a backstroke to calm down and out of the water I was disoriented, dizzy, and weaving side to side. Ok, nice way to start off. Get it under control, Max.

Swim and Tarzan Swing Obstacle

Back running again I warmed up ok and we were off running up to Killington peak with more obstacles on the way, heavy stone carry, barbed wire, log hops, log carry, walls, cargo nets, and drag a big cinderblock up/down a ski slope (that was hard for a little guy like me). Then, reaching the peak, I nailed my first spear throw, that was an awesome feeling. Then back down the mountain for a long gnarly off trail and down ski slopes run to the long bucket brigade. I was probably most afraid of this but it turned out to be not that bad after you consider what was coming. Back up the mountain again to a tire drag, then back down, through the Vermont woods, rocky, rooty, and full of ankle busters to the now-dreaded double sandbags. No one knew it was going to be two until we got there. Two? Seriously? What the..?

Double Sandbag Carry - up up up!

I stood there for a minute at the bottom just trying to figure out how I was going to carry two sandbags up a mountain. (see photo) I tried on the shoulders, I tried one on a shoulder and one in my hand. If I did that I was going to destroy what little grip strength I had left. Finally I had the “brilliant” idea of just doing it twice. Take one sandbag up, drop it and come back for the other. It was the only way, so I got to work. A lot of the other guys behind me and with me then started doing it that way too. It was taking longer but there wasn’t going to be another way. At least 5 guys caught me. I went from 5th to 10th in one obstacle. I’d been holding Hunter McIntyre and a couple of other guys off for the past 10 miles but their strength would put them ahead for good.

This should be easy. Jungle Gym.

The next obstacle was a big jungle gym that I thought no problem, the rings went smooth then we got to big square bars. One wrong hand placement and I was off. First burpees of the day, but wouldn’t be the last. Any missed obstacle calls for a 30 burpee penalty and this would be the first of many to come. Down through the woods and back to the lake for out second big water obstacle, the Tyrolean Traverse. This was the one I’d been looking forward to all day. I love a good Tyrolean. Dipping under the rope and hanging by all fours you kind of feel like a monkey or a lemur. My grip held for this one and I rung the bell and dropped into the water. I was still in about 10th at this point and hopeful I could hang on. The last mile was full of obstacles and to save myself the trauma of having to relive it, lets just say that my grip was gone, strength was gone, my adductors were cramping, and I did 180 burpees in the last mile. Yes, I failed the rope climb, the spear throw, the 200yrds of barbed wire was very painful with cramping, I got through ¾ of the monkey bars and pole traverse before grip gave out and I was back to doing more burpees. I lost a few more places over this last mile but everyone was hurting just as much as I was. I just did too many burpees. I think the only thing I did do right was the fire jump 10 meters from the finish, but I still crossed with a smile on my face because it was hard and it was awesome. It was a cool 4 hr adventure through the deep, dark woods with jungle gyms just like when you were a kid, and carrying heavy things around, and throwing spears, and jumping in the mud. Oh… wait, that’s why so many people are doing this… it’s really fun.

The Course - 14.5mi, 7000ft, 33 obstacles

It was one of the tougher things I’ve done. It felt like a really difficult 50km I think. It was unfortunate that I just lost strength in my arms so it wasn’t something I could just push through. That’s just training. To compete on a course like this, it takes years of training and when you have guys that focus on obstacle racing it comes through late in a race like this. One of my favorite parts was the through-the-woods cross-country running we were doing over rocks and trees, through brush and swamps. That’s just primal.
Hanging out at the race the rest of the day, the views from the bottom of all the people out of the course was just amazing. It was a solid stream of people all over the mountain at various points on the course from mile 1 through mile 14. To see so many traversing the same thing that I’d gone through a couple hours earlier was impressive to see, mostly knowing what they still had to do.

Tractor Pull

Thanks to my family and sponsors that helped me get here. GU Energy Labs, Montrail, Mtn Hardwear, Polar, Flora Healthy, Rudy Project, Swiftwick Socks. West Coasters check out Atlas Race at Atlasrace.com for some fun (not quite as brutal) obstacle races in 2015.


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TrailStoke – Bigger Mountains, Bigger Pain

July 30, 2014

Nick Elson and I were locked in a heated battle. We’d just passed through aid station 4 and he’d opened up another 1 minute gap on me after I’d just gotten done closing the first gap he’d gained on a technical, scrambly and steep climb up toward the peak of Mt. MacKenzie. I was just [...]

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Shoes of a Finisher

July 17, 2014

The longest journey begins with a single step. Little did Mark Vincent, General Manager of Timberline Lodge, know when he blurted out his goal to improve his health at an executive retreat in 2008 that his journey would end by crossing the finish line of the Antarctica Marathon last March. Mark is now a member [...]

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Western States and All That History

July 5, 2014

The best way I can describe Western States 100 for me is a whole new level of hurt. This photo says it all: It, of course, was much more than that. I’ve only had a few race experiences when crossing the finish line comes an overflow of emotion rather than just trying to catch your [...]

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Montrail Ultra Cup Final Results

July 2, 2014

Well, folks, the results are in, and the Montrail Ultra Cup Champions have been crowned. Big congrats to Kaci Lickteig and Ian Sharman! Thanks to all the runners who participated in the Montrail Ultra Cup this year. Top-20 results are below. WOMEN Runner Bandera 100k Sean O’Brien 50m Rocky Raccoon 100 Lake Sonoma 50m Ice [...]

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GoPro (or go home!) Mountain Games

June 20, 2014

By Megan Lizotte It felt so good to be back in the mountains, running trails, sucking wind and chasing some great friends/competitors! I was so happy to be back in Colorado—I just feel like a different person when I’m in the mountains, like I’m home and I know my way around even if I’m deep [...]

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