Ron Herzog 50k Ultra Marathon

50k = 31 miles

today ellen, her boyfriend mike and their friend guss and i woke at 5am (not together) and traveled to granite falls, washington. team mergeo.com adventure racer roger michal is the race director of the Ron Herzog 50k ultra.
ellen who is super fast and just did her first ultra (with some proding from krissy and i) just over a month ago (and did awesome), was keen on racing another. she talked her boyfriend and bad ass mountain guide mike into into giving it a go. previous to today the most he ran at once was 8 miles! i was a bit concerned, but he’s an adult and as we found out this guy is super fit, even if he’s not a runner… yet. guss has some road experience but this was also his first ultra. me, although i’ve paced krissy here and there, and am always running ultra distance for adv race training, have not actually done an ultra race since i tore my meniscus two years ago. after the surgery the dr. told me that 15 miles was the most i should run in a week… and never all at once. let’s be honest dr.’s don’t know everything.

because of the massive amounts of rain we’ve gotten here in wa we didn’t find out until late friday night that the race was still on. roger had to do some recon to see if this particular section called the “tank traps” was in good enough condition to run. it was, however he said it was as wetter than ever last year, and it was even more wet this year. there was talk of a river crossing so high that volunteers would have to assist you across. about 40 hearty pacific northwest ultra runners lined up for the 8am start (a handful of runners did the early start).

i had seen some fast names on the rd’s mass email so when he said “go” i was supprised to be in front. then i figured they were just hanging out and would put the hammer on me later. within a mile or so eric clifton and myself found ourselves all alone running the 10 miles of uphill dirt road in the rain. he had bright colored tights on so he was hard to miss. “where had i seen him before?” i wondered. “did i meet you at cle elum?” he asked me. bingo – i had volunteered at the cle elum 50k. krissy had told me this guy was an old school bad ass. course records all over the place. “this was going to be fun” i thought.

i led at first, then eric picked up the pace. i stayed focused on my heart rate as he started to get further away from me. i reeled him in then let my heart rate settle a couple of times. on the flats he was running 6 minute miles! i didn’t wanna blow up. i hadn’t raced an ultra run in a while and although my heartrate said i could run his pace and i felt like i could.. i dropped it back to about a 6:30 min/mile. around every corner during the climb he slowly got further and further away. before the tank traps we passed some early starters, and steven wort told me he was 2:30 up on me.

i headed into the woods toward the tank traps. now this was my environment!! for those out there that adventure race, i’d call this light bushwhacking. i was flying, and within about 2 miles passed eric. that was the last time i saw anyone. the 6 miles of tank traps was soooo cold. i had mtn biking gloves on because i envisioned pulling myself up by trees and a much knarlier bushwhack that never materialized. it haled and snowed on me.. nasty wet snow. i trouncing through freezing river after freezing river, dunking shoes in the cold water. the trail had a slushy covering to it.

i hit 1/2 way point at mile 16 where the one aid station was located. i knew i didn’t have time to spare with a runner like eric behind me. plus i was on track to run close to the course record…. hello, goodbye. i grabbed my bottles and was out. i then spent the next 30 minutes trying to get my gloves back on frozen fingers that wouldn’t respond to my minds requests to move. this is when i noticed myself moaning a lot because of the pain in my hands. “you are such a wus” i thought. they still hurt as i type this. down a bit, up a bit, and one trail dump later… i was at mile 28.5 and had done about 5,000 feet of elevation gain when i hit the road. “Ah just 2.5 miles to the finish” i thought. i hate road running, and i’ll be honest – it sucked. however i finished 1st in 4:16:02, so i was stoked on that. ellen had a great time of 5:24:16, and mike.. shit, mike was right behind her and ran a 5:24:41!! unreal. guss also had a great time of 5:42:02. an all around great day at the races.

my advice – get out there and run an ultra!! you have to give yourself oportunities to do what you thought was impossible.

my gear:
shoes: montrail highlines w/teko ecomerino wool socks & yankz laces
fuel: heed for the first 16, perpetuem for the second 16 miles
electrolytes: nuun

transeivers, shovels and probes

a friend recently asked me my take on transceivers, shovels and probes.. so i figured i’d post my response.

transceiver:

i have used the ortovox m2 (singal antenna) for the last couple years. i like it, works well, great range, etc. the backcountry access tracker (dual antenna) is known for ease of use. i know a couple dudes (copson namely) who love this tranny. it also has a better harness than the ortovox m2. analog have a greater range but are generally harder to use, and pinpoint locations. digital is less range, easier to use.. go digital – they can interoperate.

the buzz last year was on the ortovox s1 (3 antennas – pictured) – both digital and sensor controlled – so look at that one. it’s the top of the line and the future they say… and after being delayed over and over again it’s now on the market.

shovel:

i personally like life-link gear. i have used a couple of their shovels and currently use their polycarbonate shovel. it’s light and pretty good although it’s harder than most square, non ridged shovels to make a good even snow pit wall. this is because it not square, and it’s grooved as i said. that isn’t a huge deal, more of an annoyance really. however if you are out there digging snow pits daily then get a different shovel – like the brooks-range (discussed below).

probes:

it’s nice to have ski poles that converts into a probe. last year i skied with the life-link variant (great tough pole). i just got the carbon pro at the end of last year – this one is the bomb, super light and it converts to a probe. having a probe in a pole makes your poles a bit heavier, so it’s a trade-off of course – but life-link has figured it out and the swing weight seems perfect and feels natural. i will sometimes carry a real probe anyway… just in case, depends on the situation. i could loose a pole, etc.


if you are serious about long tours in the backcountry (ie: being exposed for days to avalanches) – get the brooks-range shovel & sled attachment

shovel w/sled attachment:

the option i like and will use this year is the brooks-range backcountry shovel and sled attachment. i took the amga ski guiding course last year in jackson hole. they provided all the students with this setup a few months later. the idea is that with a bit of rope, your skis this shovel you can easily build a rescue sled. we worked with these in the class and they were far superior to any other sled configuration… i liked it a lot (you will also need to drill holes in your ski tips if you don’t already have them). it’s scary out there in the winter, and people get hurt.

when people like doug combs die it makes you rethink what you carry out there.

*** i’m selling some fritschi freerides on ebay

Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser

you gotta read this book. read it before the movie comes out. the movie is a drama – this is for real.

“To make matters worse, the animals used to make about one-quarter of the nation’s ground beef – worn out dairy cattle – are the animals most likely to be diseased and riddled with antibiotic residues. The stresses of industrial milk production make them even more unhealthy than cattle in a large feedlot.”

wait for it…

“the meat would be shoveled into carts, and the man who did the shoveling would not trouble to lift out a rat even when he saw one – there were things that went into the sausage in comparison with which a poisoned rat was a tidbit.”

there it is.. here is some more..

“At SIS-C slaughterhouses, visible diseased animals – cattle infected with measles and tapeworms, covered with abscesses – were being slaughtered. Poorly trained company inspectors were allowing the shipment of beef contaminated with fecal material, hair, insects, metal shavings, urine and vomit.”

“An investigation by NBC News said that the Cattle King Packing Company – at the time, the USDA’s largest supplier of ground beef for school lunches and a supplier to Wendy’s – routinely processed cattle that were already dead before arriving at its plant, hid diseased cattle from inspectors, and mixed rotten meat that had been returned by customers into packages of hamburger meat. Cattle King’s facilities were infested with rats and cockroaches. Rudy “Butch” Stanko, the owner of the company, was later tried and convicted for selling tainted meat to the federal government. He had been convicted just two year’s earlier on similar charges. That earlier felony conviction had not prevented him from supplying one-quarter of the ground beef served in the USDA school lunch program.”

need more? this book is filled with it – give it a read and decide for yourself where and what you want to consume.

rim to rim to rim – running the grand canyon

saturday oct 28th was krissy’s birthday. for her birthday she wanted to run across the grand canyon… and back. since this sounded like one of the coolest things in the universe to do, i obliged.

ultra legend roch horton was fresh off the san diego 100 miler (where he placed 10th) so he didn’t run with us. instead he was nice enough to get up at 4:30am and dropped us off at the south kaibab trail head just before 6am sat morning. with temps in the low 40’s and headlamps blazing we headed down into the great hole.

we started before sunrise for two reasons; 1. we wanted to finish in the light (we estimated 10-12hrs). 2. we wanted to avoid getting stuck behind the mule trains we had heard so much about. well within 9 minutes we were behind two cowboys and about 6 mules. they were very nice to us and allowed us to pass pretty quickly after shutting off our lights. it was so incredible to see the sunrise over the side of the canyon as we were by then about 1500 feet deep. the sun pealed back the curtain to unvail this natural wonder.. i was in awe. – did i mention it was krissy’s birthday!

down down down about 5,000 feet we decended from the south rim via south kaibab trail we ran. after crossing the colorado river at the bottom of the canyon we ran into a horseback riding tour. their guide saw us coming, but as we found out he was determined to make us wait. so we waited for him to “check things” as his crew of tourists took photos of each other and i looked at my watch insesintly. to bring myself to a calm place i reminded myself that we were running at “birthday pace”, and we were not in any rush (i took 112 photos if that is any indication).

we did finally make it to phantom ranch in about 1:40 (7:40am). the ranch opens at 8am and has coffee, lemonade (that roch and catherine said we must try), candy bars and post cards (that are muled out of the great hole – pretty cool). from the phantom ranch it was up the kaibab trail and the beginning of the 14 mile ascent. the climb was a a gradual pitch along the river and really nice runnable trail. then, about 5 miles from the top of the north rim it gets much steeper.

it was probably around 80 degrees but didn’t feel hot as the nice breaze took the moisture from us before it got in our eyes. on our way up we stopped briefly to chat with dave mackey (team spyder) who was running out in front of the boulder crew and on a sub 9hr pace (yeah he’s fast!). the ascent was amazing and the views were enough to stop me in my tracks… and if you know me that takes a lot. i sang happy birthday to krissy every few hours or so as the two of us made pretty good time up to the north rim. we arrived in just over 5 hours.

at the top (mile 22) there was a failed attempt to re-tape krissy’s banged up knee for the descent she knew would hurt. so we took it a bit slower than normal on the way down. after all it was a 6,000 foot, 14 mile descent (my knees hurt just typing that). i didn’t realize until krissy mentioned this to someone afterwards, that this descent had to be the longest continuous descent she’d ever run… me too (obviously). not sure where else in the world you can find that kind of runnable terrain.

the north kaibab trail back to the phantom ranch (mile 35) seemed to be twice as long as the way out. at the ranch krissy and i enjoyed the fabulously sugary lemonade and wrote post cards to our moms that the mules would carry out for us. i also gave her the birthday card i’d been carrying the entire run. . she loved it.

with renewed energy we headed up the final climb. back up to the south rim via bright angel trail, probably around 5,000 feet straight up and 9 miles. krissy owned this climbed. i was running the climb, just in a “lower gear” than her. i had an australian guy say to me, “she’s losing you mate!”. i just looked up and said “yeah, that happens”. as we got closer to the top we ran into roch and catherine. they had hiked down to the river and timed it perfectly to see us finish and give krissy happy birthday wishes.

we slowed to chat when i looked at my watch.. we had only a few minutes left until we hit 11hrs total run time (the watch was on non stop from the first step of the run). “we have to beat 11hrs krissy!” we left roch running the uphill hard. krissy got about two switchbacks away from me and i didn’t think i’d make it. she then of course waited for me and we literally sprinted the last 1/4 mile finishing in 10:59:50!

if you consider yourself an ultra runner i think running a r2r2r is a must, maybe even a right of passage. our route was 44 miles, 10,218 feet of gain (by suunto) – it was probably the most incredible run i’ve ever done. having never been to the grand canyon and the fact that it was krissy’s birthday made it that much more special (see her blog)… and she said it was one of the best birthdays she’s ever had.

my gear:
shoes: montrail hardrock w/teko ecomerino wool socks & yankz laces
fuel: perpetuem, hammer gel, heed
pack: gregory stimulus w/one nathan handheld
electrolytes: nuun

a conversation with my quads

6:30am – beep…. beep…. beep
quads: are you serious? why in the world is that alarm going off. shut that damn thing off!

me: fellas it’s time to train. the kid has to get some trail miles in today. it’s supposed to start raining again tomorrow. plus this run is going to be under snow soon, let’s hit it one more time.

quads: you aren’t getting up to train. we hurt too much. and you did this to us.. so you owe us.

me: you used that excuse yesterday.

quads: yeah? well we still ran 9 miles yesterday! it would be stupid to do the same exact run that made us sore just two days ago (see previous blog). let us heal, then we can talk.

me: sorry fellas.. uppy uppy uppy (with my best mrs. noonan impression)


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northwest trail run and chuckanut

congrats to jill purcell!!!! i am jill’s coach and i so proud of her recent endurance accomplishment – she completed her first 50 mile mtn bike race! wow she’s come a long way in a short period of time (she just this year started to mtn bike!). great job jill, keep pushing your limits!

saturday i played volunteer and helped out local adventure racing team mergeo.com at their trail race. the series of runs is called the northwest trail runs. i love the idea, small, shorter trail races on local trails for people to get out and enjoy our local trail systems. national orienteering champion eric bone put on a great grass roots event, either a 5 or 10 mile course in soaring eagle park in sammamish, wa. i helped out and got to run about 8 miles while i marked the course. these are the same guys who put on the beast adventure race series, and the ron herzog 50k ultra (nov 11). got a total of 13 trail miles for the day.

10.15.06_chuckanut13.6miler 005sunday with the parkers!! got out with ellen her brother kurt for a 13.6 mile trail run up at chuckanut. great run great company… and with the light drizzle keeping the gapers away we had the trails all to ourselves. kurt had just solo climbed the south twin sister the day before, so he was suffering on the climbs.. and at chuckanut it’s all climb! got a total of 18 trail miles on the day.

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the parkers love to run!

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kurt parker (one day after climbing the south twin sister) – this dude will smoke a pack of reds and still kick your ass

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me and kurt.. lovin’ it (the rain stopped)

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the diva pose

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run it!

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kurt is fast

2006 24hr Solo Mtn Bike World Championship Photos

2006Worlds 031 first off i have to thank matthew noell for his amazing support.. he was the only one in my pit, so he did everything; kept the bikes in race shape, fed me, cleaned me, helped me change cloths, kept track of what i was consuming, what place i was in and how fast i was going. the guy is amazing support but an even better friend. there was one point were i was starting to get down on myself, thinking i just wasn’t riding well enough. 2006Worlds 032the next time through the pit matthew happened to give me a pep talk. he told me how well i was riding, how consistant i was and how much of a bad ass he thought i was. i didn’t tell him this but the next few laps i was filled with the confidence he had just given me… priceless.
thank you matthew!

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my hammer pills. with just matthew as support i had to setup ready made tubes of pills for ease of consumption. my main three – race caps, mito-r and anti-fatigue

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as we line up for the lemans start they introduce each solo racer one at a time – this is australian craig gordon (cannondale) the eventual winner – hopefully he’s out of the hospital by now!

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chris eatough (trek/volkswagen) – 2nd place

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rebecca rusch (specialized) – 2nd place female

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me

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the line up before the run.. i hate the run!

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go!

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