Endurance Sports on the Web

2013-11-03 Sweet Go Deep (10)

Club Fat Ass - Photos - 3 November, 2013 - 16:33

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Club Fat Ass - Photos - 3 November, 2013 - 16:33

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Club Fat Ass - Photos - 3 November, 2013 - 16:33

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Club Fat Ass - Photos - 3 November, 2013 - 16:33

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……13 hour spinning – Swiss….

coast2coastandback - 3 November, 2013 - 03:26

  Hello dear Fitliner & Friends….

This past weekend I joined a great 13 hour spinning event in Volketswil in the area of Zurich – Switzerland togetherwith Nadine, Daniela & Christoph and 250 other like – minded people….It was simple awesome….you may want to call it a party on spinning bikes…..the picture shwos the fleet before the event….The spirit, the music and the people were brilliant, and the FITLINE products were certainly always on our side! We didn`t skip a beat and the adrenalin was up at all times…..we were able to show how our products work on an endeavor like this…..you may also want to check out my videos on my facebook page to get more views of the great spirits we were in! I am already looking for the next spinning event…hope it is going to be a 24 hour one…..I would be right in !!….

So long, yours Achim….



Trainharder - 29 October, 2013 - 11:27

Ignite your passion for adventure, action, and travel! The Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour will exhilarate you with amazing big-screen stories. The 2013/14 BanffMountain Film Festival World Tour brings films from the 38th annual Banff Mountain Film Festival to about 400 communities in 40 countries around the world. From an exploration of remote landscapes and mountain cultures to adrenaline-fueled action sports, films in this year’s World Tour are sure to captivate and amaze the explorer within you.

This year the Alpine Club of Canada – Vancouver Section will once again be hosting three evenings of the Banff Mountain Film Fest World Tour in the Vancouver Area. As a fellow outdoor enthusiast and outdoor club member, the ACC thought we would share the following event information with you. There are two different playbills A & B – you can go two nights to see them all! Please pass this information onto your fellow outdoor club members, as well as anyone else who may enjoy the shows. Please feel free to share the film fest information and attached poster on your Outdoor Club’s event page, newsletters, calendars, email lists, bulletin boards, etc.

The Banff Mountain Film Fest World Tour will take place on the following dates:

  • Thurs, Nov. 28 at the Park Theater (3440 Cambie St., Vancouver)  - Program A
  • Fri, Nov. 29 at the Centennial Theater (2300 Lonsdale Ave, North Vancouver) – Program A
  • Sat, Nov. 30 at the Vogue Theater (918 Granville St., Vancouver) – Program B

All shows will start at 7:30pm (Doors at 6:30pm) and tickets are $18. Tickets can be purchased online or at ACC, BCMC, VOC and North Shore Hikers club meetings. Tickets are also available at MEC - Vancouver and North Vancouver stores and at the Vogue and Centennial Theaters listed above.  Please note that the shows have sold out in the past years, so get your tickets early!

Here’s a link for more information or email the World Tour team at banffworldtour@accvancouver.ca

No Meat Athlete Radio: ‘Approaching the Natural’ with Author Sid Garza-Hillman

No Meat Athlete - 29 October, 2013 - 03:06

Last week — after the most beautiful drive of my life along the Pacific coast from southern Oregon to Mendocino, California — I had the pleasure of spending a night at the Stanford Inn by the Sea, an (all-vegan!) eco-resort.

I was only there for one night — 18 hours in total — but in that short time I had two amazing vegan meals at the resort’s Ravens Restaurant, a fire in my room’s fireplace, and a view of the Pacific Ocean from my balcony (sliiightly different accommodations from the roadside motels I’ve been staying in for most of the rest of the book tour).

It was all arranged by Sid Garza-Hillman, director of the Stanford Inn’s wellness center and author of the fantastic book Approaching the Natural. And someone I’m happy to call a friend after hanging out for a few days in Oakland and San Francisco, where Sid joined me in speaking at two of my tour events.

But the truth is that Sid and I became fast friends long before we met in person — our approaches to health and the active, plant-based lifestyle are so similar in their simplicity and affinity for small steps over big leaps, that it was only natural that we’d connect.

All of this, of course, is a long way of introducing a new podcast episode that Sid and I did together. We lit a fire at the Stanford Inn, sat down without any plan, and talked for an hour (or so) about health, what’s “natural” for human beings as a species, and why “approaching” that ideal — slowly and one step at a time — is the best strategy for sustainable health. We recorded it to use on both of our podcasts (check out Sid’s here).

Hope you enjoy it!

PS — As the tour enters its second month, the most common question I’ve gotten has become, “How’s the tour going?” The short answer is that it has been both incredible and incredibly hectic. The fact that it took me a week and a half just to get this episode published should give you an idea … so ignore our asking you to “come out to our San Francisco event,” unless you’ve got a time machine.

Here’s what Sid and I talk about in this episode:

  • Moving past the diet paradigm
  • Making gradual improvements in diet and fitness
  • Balancing technology in your day-to-day life
  • Finding the best calorie source
  • Does eating healthy make you happy?
  • Honesty and eating habits
  • Viewing mileage differently
  • The importance of creativity for a healthy life

Click the button below to listen now:

Download audio file (nmaradio18.mp3)


If you’re a fan of NMA Radio, we’d greatly appreciate it if you’d leave us a rating and review on iTunes. Thank you!

Links from the show:

Scouting the Howe Sound Crest Trail

Exploits of a Mid-Packer - 28 October, 2013 - 22:23
I've been wanted to run or hike the Howe Sound Crest Trail for many years now. It's at the top of my local bucket list. I'd been hoping to cross it off this summer; but didn't want to compromise my newly-healed stress fracture. So instead, a couple running friends and I had toyed around with the idea of scouting the route; doing the first few peaks to get an idea of the terrain and how great a challenge the whole trail would be. Today our scouting trip finally came to fruition.
And what a day it was!
The Lions
Francine, Cam and I started at 9am from Cypress. We found our route and were pleasantly surprised that the first 3km of the trail had been recently reconstructed and was very runnable. So groomed and wide you could probably take an off-road wheelchair on it in fact! On our return trip we met some Park Rangers who informed us that eventually the improved trail would extend all the way to the top of Saint Marks. Our glee was overtaken by grunts as the trail turned into the rocky, root-filled remaining 2.5km ascent of Saint Marks. Saint Marks is the first mountain you 'bag' along the Howe Sound Crest Trail and is a relatively popular day hike. We were quite surprised to actually make the ascent a little over an hour after we'd started. Humm, we thought, this is going rather well! The view over Howe Sound was incredible; not a cloud in the sky after almost 2 weeks of fog. The sun was warm on our backs and the air was crisp. We had timed things right. I pointed out the various islands to Cam and Francine and sent a hello to my mom, who had always wanted to hike the Lions, but won't be able to cross that particular item off her bucket list.
Looking over Howe Sound. Bowyer Island in the foreground, Bowen
Island to the left, Gambier to the right, Keats Island and then the Sunshine
Coast in the background. Stunning!Taking in the view
(Photo Credit: Cam Eldred)Proof! Francine & I at the top of Saint Marks
(Photo Credit: Cam Eldred)We'd summited Saint Marks faster than anticipated, so we carried on towards Mt. Unnecessary. As we descended Saint Marks to the saddle, I commented that hey, the trail really wasn't as rugged as I'd been lead to believe. Well, I spoke to soon. A signpost warned us that the maintained trail was about to end. And it did; fallen trees lay helter skelter and the singletrack trail became more overgrown and less developed. That said, it was passable and there were ample trail markers, but it was certainly a hike and not a run. There was a little false summit on the way, that I was certain was the South Peak, but according to our Park Rangers was just a false summit of Mt Unnecessary. We took some time here enjoying the view, taking some photos, and snacking.Why do yoga in a studio?
(Photo Credit: Francine Hong)Not too shabby a view!
(Photo Credit: Cam Eldred)We continued on upwards for a stretch until we made it to the South Peak. Like I said, this was a bit of a surprise as I'd thought it was the North Peak.
Francine & Cam trekking up to the South Peak of Mt Unnecessary
With the Lions in the background
(Photo Credit: Cam Eldred)Even though we'd gotten the 'money shot' we were looking for I didn't want to turn around before summiting the North Peak of Mt Unnecessary as well. I'd been joking all morning that we would end up doing the whole HSCT, well, maybe not, but I at least wanted to finished first third. So we carried on, down the South Peak to the col, or saddle. This section had a small rock face section with a rope and a minor ledge to navigate. No problem for us, but I wouldn't want to tackle it on a slick, wet day. The North Peak was a mere 20 minutes away. And at 1542m, the highest point on the HSCT as long as you don't actually summit the West Lion.Trail markers were plentiful but this particular sign was rather weather-beaten!

Does it get any better than this?
What a fantastic day! It was a 4.5 hour run trip for us (not including photo and food breaks) and I'm just thrilled to have gotten as far as we did, even if it was 'the easy section'! Next year I am crossing the whole HSCT off my list and I sure hope to have as nice a day and as great company to do it with!

Baggers Banquet 2013

Run and Become - 27 October, 2013 - 21:52
Friday night was the annual Baggers Banquet to celebrate every one's achievements who climbed the local North Shore and Howe Sound Mountains in the Club Fat Ass Bagger Challenge. This is my fifth year participating and finally I completed all the "must do peaks" in the competition. The Compleatist trophy! I climbed approx.150 peaks over the years and a total of 55 different mountains. The winners of the night...from L to R. Harry for youngest Bagger to complete the most peaks, Dave completed and won the Twisted Quaich award for exceptional flagging marking the way for those to follow, Bill was the overall champion for the most peaks climbed, myself (compleatist, first female to complete and receiver of the Quaich for the female who climbed the most peaks this year) and the Baggermeister, David.Members of team Dodgy who did it!! Neil and Dave also completed all the peaks this year.Myself and Sibylle, leader of Club Fat Ass. Saturday evening team Dodgy attended the Craig Ferguson Show, the Scottish comedian. Lynette worked some magic and the next moment we were back stage having a personal photo with Craig. It was a great way to end another season of peak bagging. Congratulations to all who participated in the Bagger Challenge. It was great to hear your peak bagging stories and plans for the upcoming years. Now it's time to focus on trail running and snow sports throughout the winter months. Well done Baggers. Happy trails! 

Western States Adjusts Qualification for 2015, Announces Montrail UltraCup 2014 Schedule

A Trail Runners Blog - 27 October, 2013 - 15:32
The Western States Endurance Run Board of Trustees recently announced modifications to their qualification process for 2015, and it may be good or bad news depending on how you look at it. In the announcement they also “outed” the schedule for the Montrail UltraCup for 2014, so you can find it below.

The bottom line is this – demand for competing at Western States has grown dramatically in the last few years, making the odds of winning a lottery slot slip into the single digits (7.9%) and projected to go lower (less then 5%). The annual numbers of applicants tells the story of why these changes were made, and how it took a very different turn when the race was cancelled in 2008 from fires. Look at how much it has jumped over the last few years:

2000 – 583 applicants.
2005 – 791 applicants.
2008 – 1,350 applicants. (year of the fire cancellation)
2010 – 1,695 applicants.
2011 – 1,786 applicants. (first year of the multiple tickets solution)
2012 – 1,940 applicants.
2013 – 2,295 applicants.

The Western States Endurance Run is capped at 396 entrants, and 130 entries are reserved for race administration (aid stations, trail crew, sweeps, etc.), Montrail UltraCup winners, raffle winners, overseas runners, and members of the Board of Trustees. The remaining 270 slots are drawn in early December each year, and past "losers" get one additional lottery ticket for each time they lost.

Removing the 50-mile qualifying distance will certainly cut down on these numbers, as will the fact they have chosen a very small set of 100k and 100m races that have eliminated a lot of local favorites. Be sure to check the list of 2015 qualifiers (many of which require lotteries on their own) if 2015 qualification is on your radar.

The WSER also announced the qualifying races for the 2014 Montrail UltraCup, which will hold 30 slots for top 3 runners in each of the following races:

Montrail has been slow to announce the 2013/14 Montrail UltraCup Series this year, which has cut the schedule of qualifying races significantly. But the qualifying slots now go three deep, rolling down to 4th place if one of the top 3 already have a slot. They have renewed their contract with Western States for two years, so perhaps next year will have a broader qualifier schedule.

So there you have it, folks. What do you think – better odds or worse? Given the growing interest (curse you, Karnazes, McDougall, and Jurek!), the change was inevitable. I think I hold the longest losing streak to the Western States lottery (3-time loser got me in to the 2008 race, which was cancelled, and I've lost ever since...that's NINE years), but do correct me if you've heard of someone worse.

 - SD

Victoria Marathon Race Report

Trainharder - 25 October, 2013 - 23:06

Here’s a really interesting a blogpost from Barefoot Josh on the recent Victoria marathon.   Josh, as the title of his blog suggests, believes in running barefoot. As he explains in an interview, ‘we humans were designed to run barefoot. What other animal on the planet has to wear $100+, blown-rubber, graphite-treaded, semi-curved-lasted, gel-cushioned shoes?’.  Good point!  Josh also believes that runners who go barefoot have fewer injuries.

Let me start off by coming clean: I started the race off with a blatant lie. A guy with a news camera saw me and my shodless self at the start before the race and asked me the usual questions. One of the questions was “Have you ever run a marathon in shoes?” “Yes,” I answered honestly. Then dishonestly I added, “all my slowest marathons were in shoes.”

To read the rest of his blog post, check his blog

Vegan on the Road: How I’ve Eaten Healthier than Ever While Driving Across the Country

No Meat Athlete - 24 October, 2013 - 09:29

It took three weeks and 5500 miles, but yesterday, I hit the unofficial halfway point of my book tour – Seattle, Washington.

Fun place, by the way, with tons of vegan-friendly restaurants. And as I head down the west coast and back across the southern half of the country, I’m looking forward to more food options than I’ve had so far.

And believe me, when you’ve spent most of the past week driving long, barren stretches through states like Wyoming, Idaho, and Nebraska, you appreciate options.

To be honest, I’ve never found eating vegan while traveling all that difficult. But the constraints of the past three weeks — owing to the fact that I’m in a car — have made it more challenging. The three big ones:

  • I’m in a new hotel every single night, always without a kitchen and often with no fridge or microwave.
  • The car is packed so tightly that there’s no room for a cooler.
  • I’m without my beloved Blendtec — I left it for my wife and kids — or any blender, for that matter.

Finally, this is all on a budget — I’d go broke if I ate out at restaurants for all or even most of my meals. Selling books has helped to offset some costs of hotels, gas, and food, but this tour is a labor of love, not something that’s financially profitable by any means. So I’ve really got to keep an eye on my food cost.

Yet at the same time as I’m trying to keep costs down, it’s extremely important that I eat well. The book tour has been far more exhausting than I had prepared for, and if I weren’t eating better than ever, I think I’d have crashed long ago.

Yes, you read that right – even under all these constraints (in fact, because of all these constraints), I’m eating as healthily as I ever have, perhaps even more so.

Here’s how.

The Real Way to Eat Vegan While Traveling

Traditionally, the advice about eating plant-based on the road has taken only two words to dispense:

Happy Cow.”

And it really is all you need — assuming you’re on a short trip, and you don’t mind paying restaurant prices in exchange for getting a taste of the local vegetarian and vegan scene.

But that’s not my situation. In most places I’ve driven through, there is no local vegetarian and vegan scene. So instead my focus has been on practicality, value, and health, rather than on fun or fancy or exciting food — and that has made all the difference. (See what I did there? Robert Frost, road, less traveled, etc. )

The Key: Foods Over Meals

Recently I’ve started learning from Dr. Joel Fuhrman, who advocates a plant-based diet entirely for health reasons.

A big idea I’ve learned from Dr. Fuhrman is that “the salad is the meal.” Interpret salad loosely here … the idea is that instead of worrying about eating a traditional “square” meal and getting your vegetables on the side or in a salad, you do far better by basing your entire diet on the foods in that salad. 

And that’s the trick that has helped me not just survive on the road, but thrive, by eating fresher, more whole, and more raw.

Forget the square meal. Forget about identifying the protein, the carbohydrate, and the fat. Fill up on the handful of foods that you consider to be the healthiest on Earth. And redefine “meal” to mean exactly that.

For Dr. Fuhrman (at least, in my interpretation), these foods are:

  • Cruciferous vegetables like kale, broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Fruits, especially berries
  • Beans
  • Onions
  • Mushrooms

Fuhrman uses the mnemonic acronym GBOMBS (greens, beans, onions, mushrooms, berries, seeds) to remember these foods.

This is how I’ve eaten over the past three weeks. Combine whole, fresh foods, focusing on the GBOMBS. Do it in a way that fills you up and that you don’t get sick of, and you win.

What this means, for me at least, is that I end up eating a nearly raw diet until noon each day, and many days even longer than that.


Here’s the procedure I’ve fallen into, and it works.

a) Stock up on raw trail mix (raw nuts and seeds and raisins) and fresh fruit, especially oranges, bananas, apples, strawberries, and raspberries — foods that can last a few days without refrigeration. Eat this stuff for breakfast in the mornings, and snack on it throughout the day. (And really, what else are you going to find for breakfast that’s plant-based and not just a bunch of wheat? Certainly nothing in the hotel spread.)

b) Whenever you’re near a Whole Foods, stop at it. Head to the salad bar and make a gigantic salad that includes dark leafy greens (usually kale), chickpeas or black beans, whatever seeds they have (usually sunflower and pumpkin seeds), and whatever other veggies you’re in the mood for — for me it’s usually cabbage, carrots, cucumbers, broccoli, and roasted mushrooms. I’ve stuck mainly to Whole Foods’s oil-free dressings, though I’m not anti-oil by any means.

If it’s meal time (even breakfast), I eat about half of this salad immediately and half for my next meal. If it’s not meal time, I still get the salad and save it until next time I’m hungry.

c) For hot meals, usually just dinner but lunch if I’m lucky, it’s one of three things:

  1. A burrito or bowl from Chipotle, with brown rice, black or pinto beans (they’re vegan now!), onions and peppers, guacamole, tomatoes, and medium or hot salsa.
  2. Something from the Whole Foods hot bar, or one of their built-in restaurants at larger stores. You’ve got to be careful here, because even though it’s Whole Foods, there are plenty of prepared-food options that are less-than-healthy. Mostly I stick to cooked vegetables and grains.
  3. A meal from a local vegetarian- or vegan-friendly restaurant, found either via Happy Cow or recommendation from friends on Twitter or at my book tour events.

That’s it. I can think of almost nothing I’ve eaten that doesn’t fall into one of those three categories, except for the fruit, trail mix, and salad.


I can anticipate a few:

How can you say Whole Foods is cheap?

I can get a huge salad, including beans and seeds, that will last for one or two meals, for 10 bucks. This isn’t cheap, but not that expensive either for a meal (or two meals) on the road. It’s entirely organic and I consider it the healthiest meal I eat each day, so it’s worth it. Sometimes I get the fruit and trail mix from Whole Foods too, but you can also get these (and even the salad, though not often with so many organic veggies) at most regular grocery stores.

In all, breakfast and lunch of fruit, nuts, and this mega-salad cost $12 or so, total. This is less than half of what I’d pay to sit and eat at a restaurant, and these meals are as healthy as they come.

Trail mix, fruit, and salad doesn’t sound like a breakfast.

No, it doesn’t. But it’s almost exactly the same ingredients as what’s in my smoothie when I’m at home. Eating this way took only a few days to get used to, and I love how it feels. So I’ll likely take this “raw until noon” habit home with me.

Do you really think Chipotle is healthy?

I do, if you get a bowl and avoid the white-flour tortilla. It’s beans, rice, and vegetables, which is a lot like a typical dinner I’d eat at home. The vegetables aren’t organic (as far as I know), but on the road, I’ll take it.

As for variety, if I were eating at Chipotle every day, my diet would be lacking. Thankfully, I’ve only eaten at Chipotle two or three times per week. I try to vary the contents of daily Whole Foods salad tremendously, by changing up the vegetables that I get in it each time, as well as buying different fruits and making different trail mixes from the bulk sections of stores to add to the variety in my diet on the road.

The Secret: Inconvenience is a Great Thing

That’s really all there is to eating on the road. It’s affordable, practical, and really not that hard, once you get used to it.

The key, of course, is throwing out your preconceived notion of  a meal, and accepting that combining fresh, whole, and often raw foods in a way that fills you up is just as good as any hot, “square” meal. In fact, I think it’s better: as I alluded to above, I truly believe that being so constrained in my choices is a tremendous blessing in disguise. And I’ve noticed this even when I’m not traveling: having to plan and prepare is the major reason I eat far better as a vegan than I ever did as an omnivore or even a vegetarian.

PS — A Special Fall Deal on any No Meat Athlete Roadmap!

This tour has been an incredible experience, and it’s hard to believe it’s only halfway done. I’ve met so many people, many of whom are longtime fans of the blog, but also so many who had never heard of No Meat Athlete until the print book came out.

And so for everyone who has bought the print book as their introduction to NMA and this lifestyle (and are hopefully inspired to do something special with it), I wanted to make it easy to go deeper and train for a big race — whether that’s a half marathon, a marathon, or a triathlon.

From now until Wednesday, October 30th, I’ve made each of the three Roadmap programs available at 35% off the regular price. I only do these sorts of deals once or twice a year (last time was for the first day of spring, over seven months ago), so if you’ve had your eye on the Roadmap systems, now’s your chance to grab one on the cheap!

You can find out more about each Roadmap and the special pricing here.

5 Great Organic Options for Weight Loss and Healthy Living

Trainharder - 24 October, 2013 - 07:46

Thanksgiving is over and we’re getting ready for the onslaught of Christmas parties, turkey dinners etc – ’tis the season!  Here’s a great blog post from Masters in Nutrition with tips on healthy eating and how to shed those few pounds we will likely put on.

Living healthy is at times a lot easier said than done. With all of the unhealthy food options presented to us everyday it can be hard to resist temptation. One of the best ways to stay in shape and to keep off those extra unwanted pounds is to eat the right foods. Organic food is not only a great way to keep the weight off, it is also healthier for your body overall. We have compiled a list of 5 of the best organic food options for dieting:

Read more on Masters in Nutrition’ blog

New 50-mile PR at the 2013 Tussey MOUnTiNBACK 50m

A Trail Runners Blog - 22 October, 2013 - 15:21
Fate steered me to the 2013 Tussey mOUnTaNBACK 50-miler in State College, PA, this year, and I had a blast joining 200+ runners for an epic journey through the autumn colored leaves of the Rothrock State Forest. Thanks to perfect weather, amazing volunteer support, and a great field of competitors, I walked away with a new 50-mile PR and a deep appreciation for Mother Nature's infinite palette.

Tussey has been on my to-do list for years now, luring me with its speedy loop course of dirt roads and praise from runners past who speak fondly of the community behind it. October is a beautiful time of year in Pennsylvania, and tends to make for perfect cool running weather too. Add in that it was once again the USATF 50-Mile Road Championship, this was a course made for a PR, new friends, and of course, great pictures! ;-)

(Rothrock State Forest) I met Zach Bitter, the defending champion, at the pre-race dinner as he regaled us with the training required to run 5 hours 35 minutes here (do the math - that's crazy fast!). 600-mile training months, weight training, high fat diets...Zach has this race dialed. He had his eyes on Michael Wardian's CR of 5:33, but had competition from JFK winner David Riddle, and Salomon's Matt Flaherty who was having a great season. Connie Gardner was back to defend the Women's title, and the likely competition would come from Boulder, CO's Cassie Scallon who won the Lake Sonoma 50m earlier this year. But instead of sizing up the competition, all the runners were wide-eyed for one of the relay teams called Old Men of The Mountain. This eight-person crew is led by 93-year-old George Etzweiler, who changed his usual tactic of getting the highest average age (general avg ~75 yrs old...unless he has to "cradle rob" and dip into the 60-year-olds) and invited a 10-year-old girl, creating one of the most unique mixes in the race’s history. When I asked George for advice, he said "all my friends who are runners are still running...all my friends who didn't are dead. Just keep at it.". Whoa. In so many ways, this race is a celebration of running and health, perfectly assembled by Race Director Mike Casper.

(Getting ready to start in the dark) It was a chilly 43 degrees at the 7am start, and the sun just began peeking through the trees as we shot off the starting line. Zach Bitter, Flaherty, Riddle, Joshua Finger (6:11 here last year), and Jason Bryant (2013 50-Mile Trail Masters Champ) soon set a wicked pace up the first 3-mile gradual climb, while I settled into the second pack with Cassie Scallon, triathlete Jason Baer from Vermont, and a few others. Cassie dropped us on the first descent, well on a course record pace, but we could keep her in sight thanks to the long straight stretches of road.

(Fall in Penn, photo courtesy of CDT Photo) (Sun is coming up...maybe I can get a decent photo now!) (Hard not to smile when it's so pretty!) Jason Baer and I soon figured out we are both Internet e-commerce dudes, and the miles went by quickly as we swapped stories and SEO/ad optimization tricks (getting our NERD ON, baby!). In order to spare the runners around us, we also shared the joys of raising two-year-olds and the fun of mixing up triathlon and running goal races. Jason was the better climber for sure, and I was faster on the downhills, so we made a great match.

(Nice!) We caught Cassie around mile 18 on the longest climb of the day, and the three of us stuck together for  most of the next five miles. The sun lit up the gold and red leaves around us, creating a canopy of color. Maybe I'm just too used to the always-green redwoods, but HOLY COW it's pretty here! The pictures just don't do it justice.
(Cassey tops the big climb of the day) I crossed through the marathon mark in 3:08, and the 50k in 3:50, before I started slowing on the climbs and had to let Cassie and Jason go. David Riddle had a nagging ankle injury and had to drop, as did Jason Bryant who was still nursing a sore back. Between starting in the dark and all these drops, I had no idea where I was placed in the race, so I just focused on staying under an 8 min/mile the best I could. The support cars that would go by every 8-10 minutes were at first a little annoying, but I soon learned it was signaling to me that Joshua Finger was slowing down in front of me, and Matthew Smith was on my tail a mile or so back. Plus they were all super courteous and giving lots of enthusiastic shouts, so I soon looked forward to them coming by.

(Canopy of gold - it was like this for miles) As I pulled into the aid station at mile 38, I saw Joshua Finger walking with his crew and catching his breath so I sped up to run with him. He said the lead Master was 10 minutes ahead of us, then couldn't stop himself from laughing when I eased up. He soon confessed that we were the first two Masters, and saying the lead was too far ahead was one of his favorite dirty tactics. Too funny! The only reason Josh was 30 minutes behind his usual pace was because he just got over the flu a few weeks back. I confessed that any pace faster than a 6:30 min/mile was flaring up my cracked rib injury, so may the best hobbler win! Josh was gracious with his 4-time knowledge of the course, and did give me a lot of great tips for the final miles. He's really a solid dude.

(Joshua Finger cruising the farmland) Josh's wife was crewing for him, and he got through the aid station at mile 42 so fast that he gapped me by nearly two minutes by the time I had my bottles refilled and mixed with Vitargo. I kept him in sight, using the downhills to gain ground, and could see him peeking back before hitting the last big climb. He was running the whole climb, so I did too, and blew up within a few hundred yards and had to walk to keep from passing out. At that point, he was out of sight.

(Getting it done!) I refilled at the last aid station (mile 46) and leaned hard into the last downhill sections. I finally caught sight of Josh...just as he was crossing the finish line. Alas! But a lot of fun to play cat-and-mouse in the final miles. He shook my hand at the finish and pointed to the time clock...6:35:11, a PR by 24 minutes, and good enough for 6th overall and 2nd Master. Couldn't be happier! Well, until he told me there was beer, a stone pizza oven, and a live band just down the hill. ;-) It turned out that he pushed so hard on the last climb that he hobbled through cramps on the last downhill a minute per mile slower than me. Had it been a 51-mile championship, it could have been different!

(There's that finish line! And a new PR!) Matt Flaherty had crushed the race for the win (5:28, CR), with Zach Bitter also beating the previous course record (5:32) and both were very pleased with their performances. Cassie Scallon had kicked hard for 3rd overall (6:24, CR), absolutely dominating the Women's division, and Jason Baer took 4th (6:31), and Josh Finger taking 5th and the Masters win (6:33). Connie Gardner won the Women's Masters crown (7:46), despite having run a 100-miler last weekend. (all results)

(Cassie Scallon becomes the USATF 50-Mile Road Champion with a blazing course record) (New 50-Mile National Champion Matt Flaherty wins in a stunning 5:28! Makes it look good with the mustache, too. ;-)  ) As we sipped beer and enjoyed the fabulous food and music, I couldn't stop telling people how amazing the Fall colors were along the whole course. My face was still sore from smiling! A truly fantastic race all around.
(93-year-old George Etzweiler chats with 50-Mile Road Masters Champion Connie Gardner) (Joshua Finger, Cassie Scallon, and Zach Bitter share some beers and stories) (Mike Acer had an outstanding 50-mile debut with a sub-9 hour finish) (Team Rolling Rock gets their green on) My thanks to RD Mike Casper and his amazing crew and volunteers for putting on a great race, raising tons of cash for the House of Care, and giving me an excuse to see this beautiful part of the world. Highly recommended!

- SD

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