Valle Forge

Valle Forge
I missed! Great place to run!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Laurel Highlands - The Adventure

Laurel Highlands - Member of the old and tough trail series

Be a kind runner and Karma will take care of you – for a price.  Karma decided I needed a little kindness at Laurel Highlands.  I figure it’s because I came back to erase the DNF from 2007.

At the pre-race dinner I joined a random table of runners.  While waiting for the official start of the feeding window we discussed our running exploits.  Turns out the runners at the table were a relay team and one of the guys lives in Keller TX and another is a nuclear engineer!  None had run an ultra-marathon and they were genuinely fascinated by my running tales.  Years ago they had hiked the Laurel Highlands Trail on a 7 day scouting trip.  Now they were back to run the trail.

I have to say these guys bailed my ass out.  I might have finished the event, but I should have packed my bags at the 50K mark.  The relay team stayed about 45 minutes behind me for most of the day.  At each aid station the rest of the team would be there to greet me, tell me I was great, that I looked good, and fetch items for me.  They were the third best crew ever (Lean Horse and VT crews were way betterJ).  I must say it is remarkable how things worked out for this race.

The Laurel Highlands area is beautiful.  The area is about as mountainous as it can get for the Eastern US.  The trail is heavily treed with numerous babbling brooks and plenty of scenic views.  When you see it you just want to go run it!  It doesn’t take long to figure out that what is nice on the outside isn’t so nice on the inside.

The race starts near a picturesque waterfall in Ohiopyle PA.  After ½ a mile of easy road running you make a sharp left turn and almost immediately say “damn”.  With less than a mile of running I realized a long legged flatlander from TX was going to have a tough day.  The downpours in the preceding days made for slippery and muddy footing.  The climb at mile 2 (one of about 20 significant climbs) put the hurt on a bunch of runners, me included.  I love the downhill, but the past couple of trail events have soured my perspective.  I’m beginning to dislike downhills because they now represent an upcoming make you want to cry uphill.

Laurel Highlands added a new dimension of the “Rock Experience.”  I thought the Catoctin 50K had a bad case of rockitis.  Someone must have sprinkled magic water over Eastern PA because these rocks are ridiculous.  The vast majority of the trail is strewn with every size, shape, and orientation of jagged rocks.  On rare occasions you have the opportunity to attempt running on slippery flat stone.  The constant twisting from uneven foot plants led to very painful feet, ankles, knees, and hips.  By mile 60 I didn’t have enough leg left in me to be able to run over the rock encrusted mine fields with confidence and eventually walked in the final miles.  Walking was the safe and right choice for me even if it resulted in a couple of extra hours on the trail.

I was exhausted by mile 46.  This is the point I DNF’d in 2007.  I ran a very conservative pace and maintained good hydration, but I was whooped.  I think a lack of sleep during the week took a significant toll on my performance.  On Wednesday work issues resulted in 2 hours of sleep.  For the race, I had to be up at 2:00AM in order to make the 3:30AM bus.  The combination of 2 days of minimal sleep was too much to overcome, especially on a “Kick your ass while you’re down trail.” I’m thankful (I think) the new-found crew kept me in the game.  Had I been solo, I likely would have dropped.

I’ve been wearing Hoka Stinsons for a little over a year.  Not once have I had a significant issue.  For this run I had issues with heel rubbing along the back and inside of the foot.  The rubbing led to a half dollar sized blister and loss of skin on the left foot.  I figure the uneven footing from the rocks combined with the wet conditions were the major contributors.  That, and Karma decided this was the price I needed to pay for providing me with a 5 person crewJ

I finished without a single fall.  I stumbled all over PA – but no falls.  Once I toed a rock, jumped into the air with the right foot, and stuck the landing with both feet facing the opposite direction!  I stood there for a few seconds, swiveled my head in circles, and thought, “What the hell just happened?!”  

Laurel Highlands is in the category of the “old and tough trail series.”  It’s been around for 35 years.  In the beginning there were no aid stations and the trail was not maintained.  I can’t imagine a self-supported run on this trail.  Race entry is still done in the old-school way.  You mail in the form with a check.  First come first served based on the postmark date on the envelope. The event is super organized with a very friendly race director and supportive volunteers.  That said, three of the aide stations are a haul (about 13 miles) over very tough terrain.  A lot of planning and thought is needed by each runner when deciding what gear and hydration system to use.  If you are looking for a challenging trail event give either the 50K or 70.5 mile Laurel Highlands run a try. 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014



Lost Lake 50K is a TOUGHIE!  Einstein said, “Insanity is repeating the same mistake and expecting a different result.”  Of course Plato said, “There is no harm in repeating a good thing.”  The trouble is I’m not sure which of the above is the more accurate statement.

When I’m in a training work-up I try to match business travel to running events.  I frequently end up with TOUGHIE events added to my calendar.  Insanity or a good thing – you be the judge.  You would think the running gods would smile down on me and offer up a string of EASY run events to go with my business travel plans!

Lost Lake had several memorable moments:

Larabee State Park:  Each description of the trail network from the various narratives for Larabee State Park in Washington begins with, “A very steep climb from…”
Chinscraper:  This section is about a 1 to 1.5 mile, average 17% grade (ridiculous), rock and root filled trail.  Even better when wet.    

Raptor Ridge:  A snaky, twisty, surrounded by prehistoric foliage, very steep up and down trail.  The rollercoaster makes for several periods of interrupted running.  All I wanted was quarter mile of trail that could be run nonstop.    

Stinging Nettle:  The race director warned folks about this plant and frequently repeated that contact should be avoided.  I had never heard of stinging nettle.  When I asked what it looked like the response was, “Green and Leafy.”  Let me remind you that Lost Lake is in the Pacific Northwest – everything you see is green and leafy.  The plant is covered with hypodermic like needles that inject histamine and other chemicals into the skin that produce a stinging sensation. 

Elevation Gain:  The 50K has 8000 feet of gain.  Most of this occurs during 4 climbs over the first 20 miles.  All of my training is done in TX.  On most 20 mile runs I might experience 100 feet of elevation gain.  “Hurts” is the only word a flatlander needs to answer any assortment of “How do you feel” questions.     

Descents:  Even the descents were too steep to run.  I found myself trying to pick my way around rocks and roots as a crept down the mountain.  I love the downhill, but falling off this trail meant a nasty tumble down several hundred feet of mountain side.  I opted for caution, managed to stay on the trail in an upright position, and finished nettle free.    

Jumping:  No matter how short the drop looks – do not jump!  Confronted with backtracking 20 yards or jumping off a boulder, I chose to jump.  It looked like a 2-3 foot drop.  However; given the amount of air time and my ability to think through the 20 reasons why I made a mistake, it must have been more like 4-6 feet.  Hence the “thud” sound I made when landing and the jamming of both knees.

Howdy:  People in Washington have no idea what Howdy meansJ  The rainbow shorts coupled with a friendly Howdy resulted in quite a few odd looks. 

Boundary Bay Brewery in Bellingham, WA, proved to be a good post-race choice.  The ESB was especially delicious.

The Skagit Runners did a mighty fine job putting on the event.  The trails were well marked and the aid stations had all of the essentials.      

Which 50K is my Toughest Toughie?  My top three TOUGHIES are Jemez, Catoctin, and Lost Lake.  Jemez has about 6600 feet of gain.  I think the combination of elevation gain and sustained running at altitudes above 7000 feet gives Jemez the edge.  Catoctin has about 7500 feet of gain.  I think the combination of July heat, with more rocks than dirt on the trail give it a solid second place.  Interestingly enough, my finish times for these TOUGHIE events were 8:27 (J), 7:17 (C), and 7:09 (LL).   

Thursday, April 24, 2014

2014 Boston Recap

No More Hurting People - Peace

“No more hurting people - Peace”, Martin Richard.

Countries at war, squabbling politicians, terrorist acts, school shootings and stabbings, road rage, bullying…  We have become an increasingly intolerant and violent society where the acceptable norm is to place value on hate and finding what is wrong; rather than seeking good and finding peace.  

Since the 2013 Boston Marathon I can remember seeing posters with Martin Richards’ photo.  I didn’t connect the dots until late in the marathon this year.  By the end of the run this very young victim of the 2013 Boston Marathon and his photo with the poster, “No more hurting people - Peace,” came to be my most rewarding experience and completely unexpected. 

I wore my customary race day colors for the 2014 Boston Marathon - obnoxiously bright rainbow shorts and fluorescent green singlet.  And in typical form, when one of the many thousands of spectators shouted “Nice shorts” “Go Rainbow Guy” or other appropriate compliment, I almost always responded with a peace sign wave.  The amazing part is that when I flashed the peace sign many spectators would shout back “Peace” or flash the peace sign back.  I would peace-sign them back and before long both arms hurt like hell from holding one or both arms up in the air while runningJ  Around mile 20 I finally understood the connection:

“No more hurting people – Peace”
Martin Richard

I thought my 2005 Boston experience could never be outdone.  The 2014 experience proved to be better than I could have imagined.  In 2005 I didn’t have enough running experience to appreciate the meaning and importance of the race to other runners.  Running comes easily to me and over the past 10 years I have come to appreciate the effort expended by many fellow runners for what I took for granted.  For 2014 I wanted to enjoy the moment.  I wanted to be a small piece of a much bigger day.    

I didn’t do any special training this year for Boston.  I just ran more days than not and didn’t spend time worrying about the miles per day/week.  Before I knew it the Cowtown Marathon (February) and the Crazy Desert 50K (March) had come and gone.  Boston was now sandwiched in the middle of a very full event calendar lasting until late September.     

What a beautiful day for a marathon.  Clear blue skies and relatively mild temperatures for a Texan.  Once the sun rose the layers of clothing started to peel from one runner after another.  Imagine the piles of clothes being discarded from 30 plus thousand runners.  I certainly hope the jackets and sweatshirts donated by the runners find a good home.

The security was intense!  I can’t even remember seeing a police officer in 2005.  In 2014 I can’t remember not seeing an armed and uniformed person.  To be honest, the level of police presence leaves me feeling sad to think this is what we have become.  In 1984 I visited my first country outside of the United States.  The very first thing I noticed was the number of armed and uniformed military/police in Israel.  I remember thinking how terrible it must be to live in a place where everyone feared for their safety.  Thirty years later I now live in a country where people fear for their safety when going to school, the mall, the theater, work, a funeral….    

There were over one million spectators along the course.  I know, because I think I high fived or low fived all of them.  When I say low five, I mean low five.  I did my best to spot the young’uns that were as tall as my knees and get low enough to slap a hand.  Many times I crisscrossed the road to low five an aspiring marathoner.  At Boston College I encountered my longest ever high five slap.  I had to stop after about 100 yards of sustained slap slap slap slap slap slap slap slap slap slap slap slap slap….. to keep from getting spun around in a circle.  Imagine the sound of a baseball card clipped to a bike wheelJ    

The best kiss of the day came at mile 17.  Sweetie beat the train system and managed to find a spot along the barricades in her brightest PINK attire.  She says she was surprised I stopped to give her a kiss – but in reality she knows I stopped for her to kiss meJ  The best kiss of the day you ask?  Yes, I did get a few other kisses in the scream tunnel.  In 2005 I ran past the Wellesley College girls without stopping.  In 2014 I visited with the girls for a little while.  Slowest mile of the dayJ 

Boston was also a time for Laura and me to look back on our first year of marriage.  Endurance events are inextricably intertwined with our life together.  I had to change the day of our first date so I could volunteer at IMAZ, I proposed a year later during IMAZ, our wedding was scheduled between two trail events, and our first anniversary was spent at the Boston Marathon expo.  Laura, I love you sweetie.
If I get a say in the matter, when the day comes to hang up the marathon shoes, I hope I hang them in Boston.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Big Five-O (Marathons that is)

The Big Five-O (Marathons that is)

Many of the RAW tribe are probably tired of hearing that my first marathon (or official road race for that matter) was the 2004 Cowtown.  During the ten years that followed Cowtown 2004 I zigzagged across the U.S. running in spectacular locations doing routine and strange events.  In the early days I never imagined I would be running my 50th marathon at the 2014 Cowtown.  There are a ton of fond memories and some I would just as soon forget.  Plenty of lessons learned and friendships made.  There are lots of stories to tell and I’ll try stay with the ones that impacted me the most.  You can find my running stories at my blog site:

When I was six I ran a 6-ish minute mile on a hilly out and back course.  My older three brothers were arguing over bragging rights.  They were all the fastest milers in the universe.  I didn’t even know what a mile was and I definitely wanted in on the action.   Of course I wasn’t invited to the mile challenge and in younger sibling fashion, I took off after the 3 big brothers.  Guess who didn’t finish last?

I never was much of a team sports kind of guy.  As an eleven year old malcontent I started playing soccer.  This sport I loved.  From age 11 to 48 I played soccer.  When I moved from LA to TX in 2001 I took a break from soccer.  When I resumed I started running to get back in shape.  What a horrific start (see the blog).  I kept at it knowing I needed to be ready for the upcoming season.  A half mile turned into 2, 2 into 5, 5 into 10, and then I was at 14.  It occurred to me that if someone can run 14 miles they can certainly run 26.2.  And so I ran the 2004 Cowtown.  Barney – this is what it means when my answer to, “What made you start running?” is, “It was accidental.”

I’ve never been much of a joiner, especially in 2004.  I did several solo runs by the club on Saturdays and Sundays but never ventured into the RAW club house.  Probably a good thing because in those days good beer consisted of Natural Light and Michelob Ultra.  I remember Fireman Ken and Henry sitting out front as I would run by.  It’s funny what you remember. 

My daughter asked me within minutes of finishing the 2004 Cowtown if I would run another marathon.  I replied with two words: “F… N.”  2004 Cowtown was a great and miserable experience all rolled up together.  I’ve come to realize that many running events are great and miserable.  Maybe it’s the extremes that are the real allure to running.  The 2004 Cowtown had no electrolytes on the course.  As I ran through one of the aid stations there were volunteers frantically mixing Gatorade.  Runners were dipping cups into the jugs as the volunteers were trying to stir.  A few years later I found out it was the RAW aid station and I believe the last time RAW has supported a Cowtown event. 

On the bus ride to the start for the 2006 Austin marathon I met a RAW member.  Mark convinced me to try the club out instead of just running by the club.  Austin was freezing cold.  Rumor was no one wanted to go outside to the start because of the suicide deer prowling the area.  Sure enough, the suicide deer took out several runners near the start.  Several overpasses were iced over.  At mile 10 I hit a slippery patch and fell on my hip and knee.  By the end of the race I had a 1 inch wide blood trail from the knee to my shoe and a nice collection of blood on my sock and shoe laces.  This is called “bad-ass” running.  I had several cheers of “Looking-Good” immediately followed by “Oh no – he’s hurt!”  For some perverted reason the “He’s Hurt” comments motivated me to keep running strong.  By mile 22 I hurt badly.  The hip was pounding, the quads were burning, and my stomach was upset.  On a long out and back just before the finish a race official looked me straight in the eye and said, “Pick your head up.”  I believe there is power in telling it like it is (see the blog on spectators).  I was down for the count and yet revived thanks to the honesty of a stranger.  I went on to finish the great and miserable experience in just under 3 hours (first time under 3:00).

Not long after Austin I joined RAW.  It’s been a great experience.  And while I might tell it like it is a little too often, I only do it out of love and respect for all you joggersJ.   My first event with RAW was Grasslands.  It’s the first time I meet K2 and all her frizzy hair.  To think she would later become Reverend K2 and marry off the Sweeties on a warm spring day.  I also remember Susan Barnett applying sunscreen to my neck and shoulders.  She said I didn’t need any on my neck because my hair was so long and lovely (well that’s how I remember it…). 

I know it’s a stretch but I like to think I’m responsible for introducing RAW to beer.  Weekend after weekend the RAW faithful did their very best to get me to drink water after a run (by water I mean the aforementioned Michelob Ultra, Bud Light, Natural Light, etc…).  There was even a throw down after the 2006 July 4th cookout involving a taste test between the best “light beers”,  just ask K2 and BradJ  After a couple months of turning down RAW’s version of beer (aka water) I signed up for water duty.  In typical Wussie Judge style, this also included a chest full of craft and premium beers.  The rest of the story is - well history.

Lean Horse 2011 was my first 100 miler.  This trip is incredibly important to me personally.  I was at the end of my first marriage searching for meaning in life.  I can’t do the story justice in a single paragraph – you’ll just have to read the blog.   The event was dreadfully miserable for several hours.  Let it be known that if the Texas Gang had not been in SD that day I would have dropped well before mile 50 and never experienced a fantastically great day.   The challenge within was by far more difficult to accept and overcome than the physical challenge of the run.  I’m a better person for having survived the experience.  Lean Horse was a turning point in my life. 

IronMan AZ (IMAZ) is big on the list of marathons.  I started multisport because of a life change.  If I found myself saying “Hell No!” to something I had to do it.  IMAZ is the result of one to many Hell-No’sJ  (So is eating raw fish and taking dance lessons).  Prior to IMAZ 2011 I had been stalking (well, more like being very aware) of Sweetie.  Our first date was the night before I left to volunteer at IMAZ 2011.  The swim start at IMAZ 2011 is thrilling and terrifying and all I needed to see to know IMAZ 2012 would be mine.  When I registered I didn’t have a bike, apparel, or wetsuit.  I had baggy swim trunks, leaky goggles, and feared the donning of the all too revealing multisport attire.  I’d rather have manly parts hang out from under my running shorts.  In March I started biking and swimming in earnest.  Over the course of the next 7 months I managed to work up to 3 mile swims and 100 mile bike rides.  IMAZ 2012 training is unreal.  For a 100 mile run event I might log 10-11 training hours in a peak week.  For IMAZ 2012 I logged an endless string of 16-18 hour training weeks.  Lucky for me Sweetie was there the entire way to support and encourage.  IMAZ 2012 goes smoothly and Sweetie says “yes” (It’s a great blog story).      

The 2014 Cowtown is reverential.  I appreciate all the good jobs and congrats from everyone on reaching the milestone.  The temperature really crept-up on me and several other runners.  By mile 20 I was pretty much done.  Ironically enough I found myself struggling to get through Trinity Park – just like 2004.  Not liking to be “chicked,” I did get irritated by the 4th place female and her two pacers/mules.  For miles they discussed her desire to beat me to the finish.  In the end she did beat me to the finish line.  However, Karma is a Bitch.  My chip time was exactly 1 second faster!  I might dish it out before and after a race; but, I’ve learned to respect other runners during a race.  I have to say that the best parts of the day are Sweetie kisses before and after the race and the post-race gathering for beer and burgers at Rodeo Goat.    

I am frequently asked, “Which marathon do you recommend?”  That question is difficult to answer.  For road surfaces these are my top five:  Eugene, OR; NYC, NY; Steamtown, PA, Boston, MA; St. George, UT.  For trails my top 5:  Palo Duro, TX; Jemez, NM; Sylamore, AR, Chattanooga 3-Day, TN; and Catoctin, MD. 

10 Years and 50 Marathons/Ultras

Feb04 Cowtown (M)3:57
Mar04 Big D (M)  3:56
Dec04 White Rock (M) 3:14
Apr05 Boston (M) 3:15
Feb06 Austin (M) 2:57
Mar06 Grasslands (50M)7:57
Dec06 Tuscon(M) 3:15           
Apr07 Triple Crown (M) 3:58
Apr07 Long Branch (M)3:26
May07 Capon Valley (50K) 5:01
Dec07 Baton Rouge (M) 3:13
Jan08 Callaway (M) 3:18
Feb08 Sylamore (50k) 5:12
Apr08 OK City (M) 3:02
Nov08 San Antonio (M) 2:59
Jan09 MS Blues (M) 3:08
Mar10 Gasparilla (M) 3:10
Apr09 Eisenhower (M) 3:13
May09 Brookings 3:29
Oct09 St. George (M) 2:48
Nov09 NY (M) 3:07
Dec09 Tashka (50k) 4:42
Oct10 Steamtown (M) 2:57
May11 Eugene (M) 2:57
May11 Jemez (50k) 8:27
Jun11 Bernhiem (M) 4:51
Jul11 Dawg Gone (50M) 9:52
Jul11 El Schorcho (50k) 4:41
Jul11 Catoctin (50K) 7:15
Aug11 Dahlgren (50k) 4:25
Aug11 Lean Horse 100 21:39
Oct11 NH (M) 3:16
Oct11 ME (M) 3:32
Oct11 Palo Duro (50k) 4:38
May12 Ft Collins (M) 3:19
May12 Wobegon (M) 5:35
Nov12 IMAZ 4:09
Dec12 Isle Du Bios (54k) 6:02
Feb13 PsychoWyco (50k) 5:55
Feb13 CrossTimber (M) 4:20
Mar13 Grasslands (M) 4:02
Apr13 HellsHills (50M) 8:52
May13 Pandora (M) 3:52
Jun13 WhisperPine (50k) 5:11
Jun13 Tarc (50M) 8:54
Jun13 SumSolstice (40M) 5:50
Aug13 VT100 22:55
Sep13 VIA (M) 3:11
Oct13 Palo Duro (50k) 4:38
Feb14 Cowtown (M) 3:14

  Events by year:

2004:  3                 2005:  1                 2006:  3                 2007:  4                 2008:  4                 2009:   6

2010:   2                2011:  11               2012:  4                 2013:   11              2014:  1  Done and 3 planned

Friday, July 26, 2013

Vermont 100

Vermont 100 mile endurance run

Sweetie, aka, Laura is quite the special gal. Her support during my period of crazy keeps me going through the tough training days and the heartbreaking race days. She is always there to let me know I’m ok, to pick me up from my low points, and celebrate our finish. Sweetie I love youJ
The Sweeties before the VT 100 race start. 
On the other hand, I have unwantingly come to accept my pesky little sister. Aka Anne (with an E). Anne refers to me as the big brother she never had and never really wanted. What can I say…. Without any apparent thought she held my feet, removed smelly wet rainbow toe socks, and helped clean my feet. I don’t believe an adoring little sister would ever do that for a big brother. Anne, I appreciate the support you gave me and Sweetie in Vermont. You’re an OK little sister – for a jogger that isJ
Chris, you rock! The Grand Slam is such an incredible journey and you are definitely going to kill it.
 Troy and Chris at the VT 100 start.  All fun now!
I learned to appreciate a few more things during this 100 mile event:
PAIN: Pain, it is a good thing. Pain is there to tell you when you have gone too far or done too much. Pain lets you know it is time to stop the nonsense. When you enter the period of crazy, like I seem to have done, you tell yourself pain has no business interfering with the plan. So when you are at mile 40 and the legs burn; the shoulders ache; the feet sting; and you have taken your last gasping breath of air; you tell pain to, “Go the Hell.” You persevere and keep taking one step after another. You celebrate each and every milestone you can imagine: reaching an aid station, running the first 10 yards of a hill, walking a hill without stopping, finding Sweetie for a kiss, drinking an ice cold coke, and being thankful you don’t have the Ultra-Lean yet. Pain can have her turn after you reach the 100 mile finish.  


On approach to mile 70 on a painful leg killing down hill.

Expanding on the period of crazy, one of the runners was participating in his 8th Grand Slam. That’s four 100 mile runs (Western States, Vermont, Leadville, and Wasatch) between late June and early September. The dude was 62 years old. I think he is experiencing an exceptionally long period of crazy.
CRYING CHAIRS: What’s better – a long cry or several mini cries? At lean Horse in 2011 I spent roughly 2 hours in crying chairs. At the VT 100 I committed to myself that I would stay out of the crying chair. The Anne and Sweetie tag team enabled me to use the chair to my advantage. I’d flop into the chair as the tag team went into action bringing coke, water, and supplies. I stayed just long enough to drink a bottle of coke and get a quick rub down on the legs. I complained a few times about the never-ending hills but evidently my little sister lacks empathy and compassion. On one occasion she smiled sweetly, as only a little sister can do, and replied, “Vermont is no joke huh?” I think I understood the message. Quit whining and get your ass back on the trail. You will get no sympathy from me!

HORSES: VT 100 also includes an endurance race for horses. At the runner brief the race director says, “The horse will not run you over, but the rider might have a different idea.” I’m thinking someone in the past must have been trampled by a horse stampede. The experience is a little surreal when you hear a horse, I mean freight train, running at you from behind. My reaction was to get off the trail and hide behind a tree. My technique must have worked because I’m still alive.
VT 100 includes a horse endurance ride!
NAMES YOU LOVE AND HATE: One location on the course is known as Sound of Music Hill. Sure enough, we ran across a high meadow with grass blowing in the wind and surrounded by spectacular views of the VT Mountains. How could anyone not sing the Do-Re-Me tune while crossing this meadow? I came to realize that many of the uphills had sadistic street names. You just knew it was going to be bad when you read Hill Avenue or any other name with Mountain, Peak, Pain, or Agony in the title. Using the picture below (the left axis is 200 feet per line) can you guess how many times I regretted reading the street sign? If I told you there was a combined total of no more than 1 mile of flat running surface I would be lying.

WHATS TOUGHER: I get asked this question frequently: What’s harder, the 100 mile run or the Ironman? No offense to my Ironman friends, but the 100 mile run (and for some courses the 50 mile run) is a significantly more demanding event. That said, I also believe the training for a hundred mile event is significantly easier than the training for an Ironman. I can’t say I should be proud of the realization that I have it covered either way:)
TIMBER: If a tree falls in the VT Mountains do you hear it? Yes, especially when it falls on the 4x4 you are driving (Pictures to follow one day).

 VT 100 was number 9 of 11 for 2013. I finished 67th in a field of 325. 200 completed the event with 97 beating the 24 hour buckle clock. I humbly accept the many chickings I received. Next up is the Allentown Marathon followed by Palo Duro.  
Troy and Chris - Buckle Winners!  Hey, where is the hair?

Friday, May 10, 2013

High Bucks-to-Mile = Low Runner-Return

High Bucks-to-Mile = Low Runner-Return 
Is it only me or do you also believe race entry fees increased without any real justification or benefit to the runner?  I recently ran in two events sponsored by Tejas Trails.  To be honest I think an early entry fee of $80/70/50 for a trail 50K/25K/10K is excessive (add another $20 for late entry fees).  If the fee covered some decent swag then maybe the millage would be justified.  Turns out I was wrong.
Maybe there are not any other fees?  Wrong.  In addition to the “Registration Fee” the Tejas Trails events also tacked on a few other fees.  When you arrive you get to pay the Private Owner’s daily use fee of $10/person – even if you are a spectator and not running.  You also get to buy your own food pre/post race.  Does anyone reading this really think a 10K trail run should cost $60 plus food?
Maybe the race aide stations will be every 2 miles?  Wrong.  You still need to carry your own hydration system.  While I’m at it, I’m growing very tired of hearing race directors for trail races state, “Aide stations are limited – after all it is a trail race and you should be self sufficient.”  Personally, that sentiment by trail running gray-hairs is bull shit.  Participation in trail running events over the past few years has soared.  Race directors need to recognize that many unprepared participants will attempt to complete the race and compensate with more frequently placed manned and unmanned aide stations.
The swag was really great?  Wrong.  Ill fitting cheap-o tech shirts with sponsor advertising all over the back.  There were nicer shirts for sale if you wanted one.  No finisher hat, shirt, mug, nothing.  Wait, I did get a generic finishers medal.  The same one that is handed out every year for every event distance.         
I bet the post race cookout and beer was fun?  Wrong.  Hungry-I hope you brought cash.  Thirsty- I hope you like BYOB (which I typically do anyway).  Ever do a Rock-N-Roll event?  How did you like buying the $5 cans of MichUltra (aka-water) when you finished?
At least some of the millage went to charity?  Wrong.  If it did, I was certainly not aware of the charity.
I understand that without race directors we would all be forced to find places to run on our own.  Imagine groups of people getting together to run on public and private lands all over the U.S. for a few bucks each.  In many ways race directors have a thankless job.  That said, there ought to be a bucks-to-mileage ratio of some sort.  As for me, I believe high dollar events should provide more runner amenities.  Too many times I find that as the fees go up the overall attention to the runner goes down.   I’ve done some recent non-Tejas events that cost a third to half less and been amazed by the attention the runners receive.  Pre-race meals, nice tech shirts, loot in the race pick-up bags, random door prizes, lots of portapotties, finisher apparel, post race meals, and beer. 
So how is it one organization/group is able to fully support their runners for 40 bucks while other organizers can’t seem to be minimally attentive for a 100 bucks?  When did running events become more about the take at the end of the day and less about the runner?  Why do I/we continue to support organizers that over-charge runners that participate in their events?   What is a fair price and why? 
It’s time to boycott organizers with a high bucks-to-mile ratio and a low runner return.