and rocky, my feet were burning inside my Helios.
This year marked the 25th anniversary of the 7 Sisters Trail Race and it’s 2nd year as a part of the La Sportiva Mountain Cup Series. I had the pleasure of meeting the race director, Fred Pilon, and talking to him a bit about the history of the race. At it’s inaugural event a quarter century ago, it started as many other races have- with a group of friends who wanted to share a ridiculous adventure together.
This time I could hardly contain myself. It has been a couple years since I last toed the line and I could hardly wait. We did a few sprints to warm up and made our way to the front of the starting line. The hardest part is waiting the start. Whenever I am on the line and see that clear road ahead of me I just want to take off. I was so excited I started howling (I've never done that before)!
The gun went off and racers hurled themselves down the course. La Sportiva athlete Ryan Woods had a strong lead from the start as he led out the pack of runners eager to challenge themselves on the windy trails of the USNWC. With over 20 miles of trails cutting through the lush forest, the runners enjoyed breathtaking views of the Catawba River, opulent foliage- plump and green from the recent rain, tall oak trees, and scampering critters.
The Orcas Island Marathon is a new addition to the Bellingham Trail Running Series (BTRS) this year. It takes place in Moran State Park on beautiful Orcas Island, the largest of the San Juan Islands. Many people asked me why I picked this race to be my debut marathon with almost 6,000 feet of elevation gain and loss when I have never run a step over 20 miles. I was asking myself the same thing after a reconnaissance of the course!
I cursed a lot. I almost started crying.
By the time I was back up to the highway crossing, I was frantic. I found the small trail heading down into the wooded abyss on the other side of the highway (you could see flagging about 100-feet downhill in a headlamp beam once you were on the opposite side of the road). Running angrily downhill through every bit of pain, I was nearly hyperventilating.
At the top of Chinscraper he stopped to tie his shoes so I was able to get a head start on the Ridge. He soon passed me, but I was able to keep him in sight with some fancy footwork.
That was the word I used when telling a friend why I wanted to run my first 100, Western States. I could imagine myself on the Western States course and crossing the finish line. And that, I did 11 years ago. Driving into Sugarhouse Park, the site of race check-in/meeting, there stood a garden with the word IMAGINE formed by the flowers. I took a big breath in and felt calmness run over me. I had imagined WF 100, now I needed to believe I could do it.
The mind is a powerful tool. It can make whatever you truly believe happen. Others believed I could earn the Crimson Cheetah, but did I?
The theme for the weekend was "local power" and the results definitely reflected this. The course starts in Vail Village with a little jaunt along pavement to warm competitors up and then grinds straight up to the summit of Vail Mountain.
Wow, at the first race of this year’s Mountain Cup, I never would have predicted that it would turn out like it has. It has been a roller coaster of racing for me, physically and emotionally. I thought I would recap the season, to demonstrate the ups and downs of a season on the trails.
As a life long runner and cyclist, I figured there was no better way to celebrate my 50th year than focusing on the ITU World Duathlon Championships held this year in Ottawa, Canada. It would be my 6th time in the event over the last 20 years. It was over 10 years since my last participation, however.
The seventh annual Catalina Island Eco-Marathon is slated for Saturday, November 9 at 8:00am on Catalina Island, CA. The Eco-Marathon offers not only a very challenging and beautiful marathon that travels through the interior of the island, but also a challenging trail 10K that is held around the city of Avalon.
I guess it comes down to you can’t tame the north, but the north can sure as hell tame you.
The entry always includes a great hoodie and the volunteers all bring food for afterwards. The food is really what makes the race as there is delicious warm soup, meats and cheese plates, andugh home baking to feed an army! I am such a sucker for home baking so maybe that is the reason I really love this race. I have done this race twice before and have been fortunate enough to have won and taken home the greatest prize ever: A hand carved walking stick.
With nearly 27,000 feet of climbing, nearly the same amount of downhill and a thermostat that was expected to be at least 15 degrees warmer than previous years, I knew I had my work cut out for me. Trying to be realistic I had a goal to break 24 hours. I had loftier, dreamier goals too but I reminded myself of the true prize when the suffering began, that is to finish.
Jungfrau Marathon was also the World Long Distance Mountain Running Challenge for 2012. There were individuals from over 20 countries, plus 13 countries field full teams to compete for individual and team world champion titles. I was blessed to be running with four great guys to represent the USA.
Our goal was to win the 80+ division(combined age of the 2 runners) but after several days of running together we realized the biggest challenge would be foreach of us to arrive at the start healthy. It wouldn’t matter how much running we did before the race if we got hurt in the process. Moderation in preparation would be key as neither of us wanted to let the other down. Fortunately, after some up and down months of training we both came into form at just the right time.
Every race offers some lessons of improvement and at age 40 I need all the lessons I can get. Next up, Ashland Hill climb… and then Wasatch? I may want to rethink...
I took off down the mountain. It was official; my AT speed record attempt had begun. I can't tell you how happy, nervous, scared and excited I was. Everything I had done to get to this point. All the mountains, all the miles and all the planning. With familiar trail and an easy 8.3 go to my first aid stop I was feeling great...
The next time I hear someone at the start of a 100 with that bit of doubt in their words, I will be looking for their name in the results. If I see it, I will know what they experienced to get it there.
The early morning Montana sun seemed to forgive my mental slip and the warm-up jog confirmed that everything was back in order. Let’s get this thing started. Some last minute lacing up in the La Sportiva tent was noticed by rep Vince Close. “Ready to go Matt?, how was your trip out?” Funny you should ask Vince, let me tell you.” “That’s a great story Matt, but don’t you think you should get to the starting line?” BANG!...it’s starts and I’m still in the tent.
On Friday September 23rd, 2011 at 6am I
would embark on a journey I had begun just 3 times before and had finished only
twice before. A 100-mile endurance run is something that shouldn’t be taken
lightly. Perhaps having had 3 previous experiences to weigh on my nerves was a
I recently had the opportunity to travel to Bhutan to do an expedition with my husband and some other trekkers. The trip itself was a chance of a lifetime. Because there is only one airport and one airline with limited flights, this isolated country is hard to reach.
In true Run Bum style, the gun went off as I was running up to the start putting on arm sleeves and tying my laces tight on the X Country. I took off yelling and screaming as I made my way to the front. As I passed everyone to get up front I was greeted by all my local ultra friends. It was such a great feeling having friends yell,'' GO RUN BUM, HEY SEAN, YOU GOT THIS!" With a smile on my face I did what I do best and that's bomb down hill like a fat man in a barrel.
The starting line was like a running reunion, with everyone wishing the others a good race. The race started quickly and I knew better than to try to stay with the lead women. As it was, my split to the first aide station was under 8:00 pace and that included a long climb with an equal descent.
As a warm-up, I started the year with a snowshoe race and a muddy 25k. Then I upped the ante with the 6-day Transrockies Run in Colorado, followed two weeks later by my first 50 Miler. TransRockies was a study in red-line, uphill pain, and the Haliburton 50 was where I learned I could hurt for a very long time. Just as I was recovering from these two long races, I was getting set to travel to Hong Kong for something different yet again.
By this time, I had few toenails left to lose.
Finally the race began. The race starts on top of the mountain in an open field and runs off the side of the mountain four times, forming a cloverleaf pattern. The first downhill is the harshest but the second and fourth climbs are the most difficult. I quickly settled in to about sixth or seventh place. My mind wasn't really in the race yet though. I had too many race director problems to take care of still. I ran past Dave Dunham, our USATF liason, and asked him the question that a male runner had asked me on the starting line about team uniforms. I then came up the hill and saw the camp assistant director standing there. “More toilet paper . . . women's bathroom . . .” She seemed to understand.
On the first weekend of October, I ran to the summit of the South Sister; the third highest peak in the state or Oregon. Although it's the highest at 10,358 feet, the South Sister is the least technical climb of the Three Sisters and a popular destination.
There are not enough words to describe this experience, especially when accomplished with a sibling. Kurt and I had an experience that we will never forget and also one that we can not ever replicate. We had luck, strength, support and teamwork on our side. Things went wrong. We both reached our limit with each other and with being on a cold, stormy mountain. We endured it all, lived, learned a lot and for myself I can now say that I can’t wait to get back for more.
When I saw the course profile for Gorski Marathon, I knew it was a race I wanted to test myself on. Then I looked at race photos of the course and saw the beauty of the area. This year Gorski Marathon was also the 8th World Long Distance Mountain Challenge, so it would have some of the best mountain runners from around the world racing.
The American River 50 miler is one of the great Spring Classics on the ultra circuit. I had only run it once before this year and given the timing and my run-up to Western States in June it turned out to be a perfect tune up race.
The Wind River Range in western Wyoming is one of the premier backcountry locations in the American West. It features towering granite walls, big alpine glaciers, textbook-worthy glacier-carved valleys and spires, cooperative and predictable 3-season weather, and an infinite number of cross-country travel routes.