A Trail Runners Blog

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Scott Dunlap's blog of trail running, ultrarunning, triathlon, and other life adventures. I enjoy the physical, emotional, and spiritual journey of outdoor events and the chance to meet cool people. This blog contains interviews, research, original fiction, new product ideas, and all things trail running.Scott Dunlaphttps://plus.google.com/116583243550706075460noreply@blogger.comBlogger82913
Updated: 3 hours 47 min ago

Scenes from the Woodside Ramble 50k (photos by Sophie)

9 hours 16 min ago
(Your photographer and commenter for today, Sophie Jane!)My 7-year-old daughter Sophie took to the trails this morning with a camera in hand, while runners of the Woodside Ramble 50k by Inside Trail Racing came up the hill. She says you can all share her photos, so enjoy!

It has been fun taking a break from training for a few weeks after a DNS at The North Face 50m. I had really hoped to toe the line, but the body (and family's bodies) just weren't at 100%. I hope those who ran had a great time!

(It's super cold in the park until the sun comes to visit)
(First runners crest the climb)
(Vignette filters can hide thumbs that sneak into the photo...oops!)(Black and makes the bark stand out)(Daddy sneaks a photo of his friend and ITR teammate Chris Eide, who has huge muscles!)

You can refocus a Lytro picture by clicking on the thing you want it to focus on. Try the hairy moss! Or try holding down your mouse click and drawing a circle to change the perspective.

(Orange makes photos easier)

Daddy likes to play with the slo-mo feature on his iPhone.

(I bet these trees have been here, like, forever)
(This is what people look like when I forget to step off the trail)
(This guy said good morning! I remember)

(Oops...I took too long)
(A hat is a smart thing to wear because you can always take it off)

Check out the spider web on the moss (just click on it).

(Be sure to step off the trail when taking pictures)
(This guy took the corner so fast, he almost fell off the side. It looked fun!)
(Look close and you'll see the runner in Daddy's phone too)
(She has an awesome smile!)

(Daddy said this girl always smiles at every race, no matter what the weather or how long it is)
(This photo is fun because he is actually flying - both feet are off the ground!)
(This guy was super nice!)
(I like how this one turned out since she is smiling and still going uphill)
(We heard these guys laughing way down the trail, and just had to get a photo)
(Daddy said this is Jill Homer who does the Iditerod in Alaska on her bike...so the dogs pull a bike? I want to see that)
(Look Daddy, more clown shoes!)
(Daddy taught me to say GOOD JOB as loud as possible, which makes the runner look up and smile, and then you take your photo)
(This guy was fast! I almost missed him)
(The Skyline Trail at the top of Huddart is fun because there are so many places to see trails from across the valleys)
(She was happy to have some downhill)
(He looks so small compared to the trees!)
(The best smiles were at the top of the climb...I think they were happy for some downhill)
(Downhill is the most fun after all)

Thanks for checking out my pictures!

The Santa Barbara Turkey Trot 4-Miler...with Sophie!

1 December, 2013 - 15:04

I had a new running partner for the annual Santa Barbara 4-Miler Turkey Trot this year...Sophie, my 7-year-old daughter! Despite having only run a mile once before, she said she was game this year. I thought I was going to burst with excitement. I have always wondered when and how one of my girls might join in for a race, and all it took was the promise of free powdered doughnuts!
(Sophie is ready to run!)We started off with a few sprinkles of rain as a record 700 runners filled Hollister Avenue to get their Trot on. The Turkey Trot is quickly becoming a national phenomenon, topping out at 800,000 participants last year (25,000 in San Jose, CA alone) and possibly crossing 1 million this year. The SB Turkey Trot was no exception, already 7-8 times bigger than my first running over a decade ago. But thanks to a nervous Sophie at my side, it felt like my first! She took the rain in stride, using it as an excuse to wear as much pink as possible.

(Sophie joins the fun! Check out those inov-8 x-talons...size 2!)Running beside Sophie was such a joy, and if I smiled any harder I was likely going to break my face. Such a thrill! We jogged along at a steady pace, enjoying the costumes around us, and took our first walk break at mile 1. A 10:30 min/mile...I was so impressed! By mile 2, she had shed nearly all of her clothes (making Daddy the sherpa) and took to the trails aside the bike path. "Trails feel faster, Daddy". Chip off the ole block, I tell ya. 
(Turkey hats rule!)(Sophie sheds a layer and takes to the trails!)(Thank you, thank you, thank you photo gods for this one - grandparents, prints are on their way!)By mile 3, Sophie was a panting mess, but pressed on, determined not to be last. She swore she would never do this again, and I told her that all runners say that at least once in every race and forget all the hard parts immediately after crossing the finish line. Once she smelled the doughnuts, she sprinted to the finish and right on through to the snack line. I think she ate three before taking a breath, and the powdered sugar soon covered her face like a culinary explosion. She dropped a handful of sweat-sticky doughnuts into my palms, and we plopped down and easily negated all the calorie burn of our 53 minute 4-miler with a blur of NOM-NOM-NOM.

(Hooray for Sophie!)(Doughnuts never tasted so good)By the time we headed to the car, Sophie was already talking about coming back next year. She busted up laughing and said "you're right, Daddy! I have already forgotten all the hard parts. That's so cool." I think she's hooked!
Papa (my Dad) said it best...I've got maybe 12 years tops before Sophie Jane leaves me in the dust. A little more than a decade before she desperately asks me to take down this post so sports journalists and would-be boyfriends stop linking to it and making jokes about powdered doughnuts (never!). I sigh knowing I likely have less than two years before holding hands with Daddy on walk breaks isn't cool anymore. As eager as I am to see how she blossoms, my heart already clutches fiercely at these fleeting moments. I guess that's what parenting is all about. 
...and we'll keep our eyes on Quinn for the kids race next year! ;-)
(A very stylish 3-year-old Quinn chills with Martha - you're next, kid!)(Toddlers take on the kids race!)Happy Thanksgiving, all!
- SD

The North Face 50m Championship in SF Has INSANE Elite Field - GAME ON!

26 November, 2013 - 16:47
The elite field for the North Face Endurance Challenge Gore-Tex 50-Mile Championship in San Francisco, CA, was recently released and...holy speedskates, it's a showdown! I'm seriously eating crow from my premature post last month. The prize purse remains one of the biggest in the sport - $10k for first, $4k for second, $1k for third for both men and women.

For the men, you've got the top 3 finishers from 2012 returning - former winner Miguel Heras, Francois D'Haene, and Cameron Clayton - as well as Sage Canaday, Max King, Dakota Jones, Tim Olson, Rob Krar, Dave Mackey, Hal Koerner, Rickey Gates, Mike Foote, Team inov-8's Gary Gellin and USATF Trail Marathon Champion Alex Nichols, Jorge Marvilla (with a recent 1:09 finish at the Berkeley Half Marathon), Ryan Sandes, Dave Riddle, Jason Schlarb (5 wins this year!), Mike Wolfe, Michael Wardian, Jason Wolfe, Karl Meltzer, and MORE. Incredible line up!

The women's competition is similarly stacked. 2012 winner Emilie Fosberg is back, as is 2nd place finisher Stephanie Howe, and they will be running with Rory Bosio (winner and CR at UTMB in Sept), Anna Frost, Olympian Magdelena Boulet, USATF 50-mile champion Cassie Scallon, USATF 100k champion Michele Yates, Jenn Shelton, Mexico's Silvia Correa Jimenez, Jennifer Benna, Aliza Lapierre, Joelle Vaught, and the list goes on.

It's going to be a barn burner! Hope to see you there. If you are out there taking pictures, be sure to post them on Instagram/Twitter/Vine with the tag @thenorthface and #ECSChampionship between Dec 4-11 to be eligible for North Face prizes.

And good luck, everyone!

Full list:

GORE-TEX 50 MILE - ELITE WOMENFIRST NAMELAST NAMECITYSTATEAshleyArnoldCarbondaleCOCynthia LaurenArnoldLexingtonKYJenniferBennaRenoNVLyneBessetteTopsfieldMAMelanieBosKelownaBritish ColumbiaRoryBosioTruckeeCAMagdalenaBouletOaklandCAKerrieBruxvoortBroomfieldCOChristinaClarkGuelphCanadaSilviaCorrea JimenezMexico Distrito FederalMexicoLaurenDilsKentfieldCAEmelieForsbergTromsFranceSheriFosterCalgaryCanadaAnnaFrostMetz TessyFranceBrandiGarciaAtlantaGAJaimeGileFayettevilleARKelseyGrayKalamazooMIRachelHansonFlower MoundTXCharmaineHorsfallLeedsUKStephanieHoweBendORAndreaJarzombek-HoltPortlandORAnnaJefferisSanta BarbaraCACatrinJonesVictoriaBritish ColumbiaMeganKimmelSilvertonCOMeganLaibSanta MonicaCAAlizaLapierreWillistonVTSarahLavalleeKailuaHIKristinaLewisBoulderCOGinaLucreziCarbondaleCOSallyMcRaeAliso ViejoCASimoneMoroBergamoItalyEricaNambaBerkeleyCAMaggieNelsenEncinitasCARachelPaquetteVictoriavilleCanadaAmyPhillipsEl Dorado HillsCACassandraScallonBoulderCOJennSheltonDurangoCODianeVan DerenSedaliaCOJoelleVaughtBoiseIDKatieWaddenVancouverCanadaMicheleYatesLittletonCOGORE-TEX 50 MILE - ELITE MENFIRST NAMELAST NAMECITYSTATEJoshuaArkinsRogersARFlorentBouguinQuébecCanadaDylanBowmanMill ValleyCANoahBrautigamTruckeeCAScott BreedenBloomingtonINSageCanadayBoulderCOAdamCampbellNorth SaanichCanadaFrankCaroVenturaCAJayCechPortlandORCameronClaytonBoulderCOJeremyCleggNanaimoCanadaFrancoisD'haeneSt JulienFranceGeradDeanMount ShastaCAFelixDejeyMetz TessyFranceScottDunlapWoodsideCAFritjofFagerlundUppsalaSweedenJohnFinnEl CerritoCAChristianFittingBerkeleyCAMattFlahertyBloomingtonINMikeFooteMissoulaMTMartinGaffuriAnnecyFranceRickeyGatesSan FranciscoCAGaryGellinMenlo ParkCASjaanGerthTorontoCanadaRyanGhelfiAshlandORNealGormanCharlottesvilleVAJeffGosselinQuebecCanadaJonathanGundersonSan FranciscoCAChrisHauthSan FranciscoCAMiguelHeras HernandezBejarSpainPeterHoggLivoniaMIDakotaJonesBoulderCOMaxKingBendORHalKoernerAshlandORJoshuaKornOgdenUTDanielKraftGrand JunctionCORobertKrarFlagstaffAZMarcLavesonSan FranciscoCADaveMackeyBoulderCOJorgeMaravillaVallejoCAKarlMeltzerSandyUTAlexNicholsColorado SpringsCOTimothyOlsonAshlandORMichaelOwenPomeroyOHDavidRiddleCincinnatiOHDannyRogersMcLeanVAPhilSandersonSan FranciscoCARyanSandesCape TownSouth AfricaJasonSchlarbMissoulaMTBobShebestWindsorCABrianTinderFlagstaffAZGeorgeTorgunBerkeleyCARiccardoTortiniHoughtonMIChrisVargoColorado SpringsCOManuelaVilasecaRio De JaneroBrazilZachViolettBendORGregoryVollettMetz TessyFranceJamesWalshEncinitasCAMichaelWardianArlingtonVAJeremyWolfMissoulaMTJasonWolfeFlagstaffAZMikeWolfeMissoulaMT

Distance Invites Demons

20 November, 2013 - 21:38

Distance running is a journey that invites, if not demands, considerable self-reflection. I suspect it is why many of us gratefully push past hour two of a run on a regular basis - as the miles pile on, you soon exhaust the relentless hamster wheel of work/kid/life self-smalltalk that consumes our brains day-to-day, freeing your mind to pursue more meaningful questions unshackled. The longer the run, and the farther into nature you explore, the deeper you permit yourself to dig into the soul and find what awaits. If the journey is long enough, even the most dormant of demons will pop up and join you for a few miles. Distance will always invite demons with arms wide open.

Distance can wear many faces too, I have recently learned. A few months ago, I was given a career opportunity one sees rarely in a lifetime – come join a growing company of amazing mobile rock stars that find themselves in the eye of the greatest technology shift the world has ever seen. Just one catch, the commute is a tad long…about 2,245 miles to be exact. To do the job right, while keeping the family as happy as possible, meant working in Pittsburgh, PA, and living in Woodside, CA. Christi, my wife and career consigliore of 20+ years, sized it up similarly, and with the GAME ON nod of her head, distance invited itself into our lives in a whole new dimension.

In retrospect, it was a bit foolish of me to think that long runs might somehow prepare me for the solitude that creeps up when you work away from home. When you run, you invite solitude into your life, and in that sense control it. When you spend 4-5 nights a week in a hotel room away from your family, your bed, and the home trails that keep you grounded, solitude soon controls you.

Not at first, of course. In the first few nights, you secretly revel in your newfound freedom. No snoring pugs hogging the covers, no screaming kids needing baths mid-meltdown, not having to ask permission for a quick run….heck, you don’t even have to pick up the towels. For the first week or two, you feel like pinching yourself every morning. And THEN you order room service! Word.

But by week three, you begin to miss those familiar burdens. The snoring dog who warms your legs, assuring you with the harmonious purr of a dozen face folds that you are at home with your pack. The kids that always need you do actually need you, and their absence forces the realization of how fulfilling that truly is. The hotel room that snaps back to its sterile and apathetic state of cleanliness every day at 10am begins to feel like a bad looping video or a glitch in the Matrix, adding a touch of anxiety to the quiet. With all the time on your hands, the solitude consumes you.

The trails, however, are always good for reprieve and it didn’t take long for me to find the gold and orange hills of Schenley Park, Frick Park, and the river trails just outside of my regular hotel. The autumn colors of Pittsburgh are breathtaking, and I soon found a morning ritual of getting lost in the hallows as the morning sun chased away the frost and filled the campuses with young and vibrant smiles. For a few hours a day, it was a much-needed sanctuary.

(Frick Park, Pittsburgh, PA)But after a month away from home, separateness settled in like some new form of gravity. Phone calls from the family came less often, their lives naturally adapting without my presence. FaceTime video calls lost their novelty, and contact with my family became little more than Instagram photos and one sentence updates at a regularity I share with Facebook friends I’ve never met. I even felt lonely at home, out of touch with their day-to-day lives, little more than a ghost in their busy weekend rituals. FUCK. NOT HOW I SAW THIS PLAYING OUT.

Then in a single moment of clarity, all that anxiety disappeared. After a Saturday morning 10-miler in the hills of Woodside, I returned home to see Christi and the girls through the front window laughing, having breakfast, and playing with the dogs. They were happy. Like, crazy happy. In fact, I was the only one choosing to be anything less than gleeful. ME. BY CHOICE.

A beat, a pause, a breath…aahhh. A “long run revelation” for sure. I am out of The Pit.

(My girls)Then Quinn, our almost-3-year-old caught sight of me, and pressed her face to the glass with a smile full of drool, bouncing enough to attract 7-year-old Sophie and the dogs who soon steamed the windows with their anticipation. I pressed my face right back, humbled by every precious second I have to share with them. I am happy too.

Pittsburgh greets me with a smile now too these days. My coworkers have become friends, a little retail therapy got me a fresh and Pittsburgh-ready wardrobe (wakka-ow!) to explore the neighborhoods, and I no longer need a map to find my favorite trails even in the dark. Family vacations are revered with renewed anticipation, and I find myself delighted with the warmth of California winter weather that weeks ago felt like it chilled to the bone. My runs have again become a place to explore, not escape. Life, once more, seems full of potential and poetry as far as I can dream.

(New city duds - it's all about layers!)I may have run with my demons for a stretch, but I’ve found a new gear now and dropped those bastards. They never could pace the long runs anyway. ;-)

Kiss your lovies, everyone. See you on the home trails, East or West.

 - SD

Ultra Race Lotteries for 2014 - Adventure Awaits! Western States Lottery Going Now...

13 November, 2013 - 07:06

It's lottery season again in the world of ultrarunning! Time to put your name in the hat for your favorite races and see how the Lottery Gods determine your fate! The Western States 100m lottery is on right now (already nearing 2,200 entries), and given the changes for 2015, it will be the last year you can qualify with a 50-miler. So don't hesitate - put your name in!

Below are a few links to popular races that have lotteries (and a few that don't...yet):
Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run, June 28, 2014 (Lottery Nov 9-16, Drawing Dec 7)

Way Too Cool 50k, March 8, 2014 (Lottery Dec 2-8, Drawing Dec 10)
Lake Sonoma 50m, April 12, 2014 (No lottery - reg opens Dec 15)
Miwok 100k, May 3, 2014 (Lottery Dec 1-10, Drawing Dec 12)
Massanutten 100, May 17, 2014 (Lottery Jan 1-8, Drawing Jan 10)
Mt. Washington Road Race, June 15, 2014 (Lottery Feb 14-March 14, Drawing March 15)
Hardrock 100, July 11, 2014 (Lottery Now-Dec 1, Drawing Dec 7)
Tahoe Rim Trail 100m, July 19, 2014 (Lottery Dec 7-21, Drawing Dec 22)
Badwater 135, July ~15, 2014 (Lottery/app Jan 20-Feb 1, Selection Feb ~15)
Vermont 100, July ~20, 2014 (No lottery - reg opens around Jan 1)
Leadville 100, Aug 16, 2014 (No lottery - reg opens Jan 1)
Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc, Aug 30, 2014 (Registration Dec 19-Jan 5, Lottery selection Jan 15 if needed)
Wasatch 100, September 5, 2014 (Lottery Dec 1-Jan 6, Drawing Feb'ish)

Ironman Hawaii World Championship, Oct 11, 2014 (Lottery Now-Feb 28, Drawing April 15)

New Seb Montaz Film Has Kilian Jornet on Skis

4 November, 2013 - 15:35
If you liked Seb Montaz' film A Fine Line - Summits of My Life, featuring mountain running phenom Kilian Jornet, be sure to check out his latest ski film DownSide Up. Per Seb's usual, it is incredible footage of the mountains with some funny and poignant moments of extreme mountain sports. The trailer alone is enough to get your blood flowing.

DownSide Up (T’es pas bien là ?) from sebastien montaz-rosset on Vimeo.

"Dry skiing" is a specialty? Really?!?

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

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

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

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

Making Stuff: Faster - New PBS Special Explores Our Limits, Including Running

19 October, 2013 - 07:52
This week PBS began a new NOVA series called "Making Stuff: Faster" that I think many of you would find interesting. Host David Pogue (the talented  NY Times technology writer) speaks with experts that push the human limits of speed in a number of disciplines, including running, cycling, sailing, driving, and more. It's highly entertaining to watch him try them all.

In the segment about running, Pogue speaks with Peter Weyand, Ph.D., associate professor of applied physiology and biomechanics at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, whom some of you may remember as the guy who successfully argued against the ban on double amputee Oscar Pistorius running in open competition. In the interview, Weyand explains the dynamics of force and how it relates to sprint speed, and even gets Pogue to go all out on a treadmill.

You can stream the special at PBS Online, or check your local listings for the Wednesday shows.

Now get out there and apply some force!

Frederik Van Lierde and Miranda Carfrae Crowned 2013 Ironman World Champions

12 October, 2013 - 18:03
Belgian Frederik Van Lierde and Australian Miranda Carfrae were crowned the 2014 Ironman World Champions in Kailua-Kona, HI, just a few minutes ago. Madam Pele presented fast conditions this year, and it was the fast bike/runners that took advantage to bring it home.

(Miranda Carfrae wins the 2014 Ironman World Championship in a new course record, photo by chicrunner) Miranda Carfrae wins her 2nd Ironman world title, this time in a course record 8:52:14 (she also scored a marathon course record of 2:50:39, beating all but two of the male pros). She used a personal best bike split here and an amazing run to hold off the UK's Rachel Joyce, and Liz Blatchford who sprinted in a very close race for 3rd. Carfrae's fiancee, Tim O'Donnell, took 5th in the Men's.

(Frederik Van Lierde takes the win at the Ironman World Championship, photo by chicrunner) Frederik Van Lierde was an early favorite, and used a strong run to catch Australia's Luke McKenzie at the Energy Lab (mile 20'ish), and German Sebastian Kienle who took third.

Men's Top 10 (Finish Time, Time Back, #)
1 8:12:29 6 Frederik Van Lierde BEL
2 8:15:19 2:50 49 Luke McKenzie AUS
3 8:19:24 6:56 2 Sebastian Kienle DEU
4 8:21:46 9:18 55 James Cunnama ZAF
5 8:22:25 9:57 7 Tim O'Donnell USA
6 8:23:43 11:14 33 Ivan Rana ESP
7 8:24:09 11:40 44 Tyler Butterfield BMU
8 8:25:38 13:10 9 Bart Aernouts BEL
9 8:26:32 14:03 25 Timo Bracht DEU
10 8:31:13 18:44 15 Faris Al-Sultan DEU

Women's Top 10 (Finish Time, Time Back, #)
1 8:52:14 111 Mirinda Carfrae AUS
2 8:57:28 5:14 131 Rachel Joyce GBR
3 9:03:35 11:21 112 Liz Blatchford GBR
4 9:04:34 12:20 118 Yvonne Van Vlerken NLD
5 9:09:09 16:55 103 Caroline Steffen CHE
6 9:10:12 17:58 124 Caitlin Snow USA
7 9:10:19 18:05 108 Meredith Kessler USA
8 9:11:13 18:59 119 Michelle Vesterby DNK

It's going on live right now if you want to come check it out!

- SD

ITR Announces Early 2014 Races, Including New Ordnance 100k in Monterey, CA

9 October, 2013 - 10:12
Are you ready to plan for 2014?!? Inside Trail Racing has released the dates of their late 2013/early 2014 schedule, and there are some great ones, including the new Ordnance 100k race in the Fort Ord trails near Laguna Seca in Monterey, CA, on Feb 1st, 2014. You can even get 10% off for a limited time (until 10/12/13) when you use UltraSignUp and the coupon code "AUTUMNTRAIL13".

(Cruising through Fort Ord) I ran the inaugural Fort Ord 50k earlier this year, and loved the winding trails of the Fort Ord National Monument on the banks of Laguna Seca. Now a 100k option is available the same day as the 50k for those who can't get enough. With the beach and Monterey Bay Aquarium nearby as well, this is a great ultra family weekend escape!

(Sunol) Also for those looking to add an October race, the Catra Corbett-designed "Dirty Dare 50k" will be a great tour of the Sunol Regional Wilderness in the Bay Area's East Bay. Well worth the trip to try out these awesome trails, and will happen on Oct 20th.

Hard to go wrong with the Woodside Ramble 50k if you're looking for some nice redwood-lined climbs - ITR has both a Winter and Spring version.

Here's the full schedule - get yourself committed!

Upcoming 2013 Events DateRaceDistanceParkLocation Oct 20
SunDirty Dare10K, 25K, 50KSunol Regional WildernessSunol, CA Nov 2
SatFolsom Lake10K, Half Marathon,
35K, 50KFolsom PointFolsom, CA Nov 16
SatMt. Tam Trail Run10K, Half Marathon,
30K, 50KMt. Tamalpais State ParkStinson Beach, CA Dec 15
SunWoodside Ramble10K, Half Marathon,
35K, 50KHuddart County ParkWoodside, CA

Upcoming 2014 Events DateRaceDistanceParkLocation Jan 18
SatPacifica Foothills10K, Half, 30K,
Marathon, 50KSan Pedro Valley ParkPacifica, CA Feb 1
SatOrdnance 100K100KFort Ord National MonumentMonterey, CA Feb 1
SatFort Ord10K, Half Marathon,
35K, 50KFort Ord National MonumentMonterey, CA Feb 22
SatChabot Trail Run10K, Half Marathon,
30K, 50KLake Chabot Regional ParkCastro Valley, CA Mar 15
SatMarin Ultra Challenge10K, Half Marathon,
50K, 50 MileMarin Headlands & Mt. TamMarin County, CA Mar 22
SatKnickerbocker Canyon10K, Half Marathon,
30KAuburn S.R.A.Cool, CA Apr 13
SunWoodside Ramble10K, Half Marathon,
35K, 50KHuddart County ParkWoodside, CA Apr 26
SatFolsom Lake10K, Half Marathon,
35K, 50KFolsom S.R.A.Folsom, CA May 10
SatChina Camp5K, 10K, Half, 35KChina Camp S.P.San Rafael, CA  

Elites at The North Face Endurance Challenge SF for 2013

8 October, 2013 - 10:33

Earlier this week, I started asking some local elites about the remainder of their 2013 race schedule. Seeing how Kilian has tied up the Skyrunning competitions again, UROC was quite a showdown, and the 2013/14 Montrail UltraCup is still a mystery, what's left for big races/prize purses that can attract the uber-ultra-elites into some head-to-head madness? Usually there is one big one left - The North Face Challenge - San Francisco, the grand finale of TNF's year-long global competition, which often boasts a $10k winning prize. So I asked around and guess who is coming?

[Ed. Note - TNFEC-SF is now accepting elite athlete applications - if you are interested elite, please send e-mail to endurancechallenge [at] hawkeyeww.com]

So far, I can't find anyone.

From what I can tell, the elite invites that attracted 100+ from around the globe last year is mysteriously gone. The press I contacted have no info, and I didn't get a response from the race organizers. Could it be that the TNF Series has headed the route that Competitor.com took with their Rock n' Roll series, and have ended their outreach/prizes to elites? Given all the longer distances of the race are sold out for TNFC-SF, it's not like they need it to draw attention to the race. Still, that would be a bummer. It was so great to see all the international athletes in SF last year, even when the weather forced last minute course changes.

We all know that VFC, the holding company for The North Face, makes tons more money selling jackets and backpacks to everyday folks. But I've always been impressed with their use of elite runners to promote an iconism that is inspiring, and their willingness to put some money on the table to draw the greats into competition. Let's face it, there were one of a few sponsors willing to do so, and it helped pull us into the golden age of trail running. But when the financiers at the Competitor Group did the math, they felt the price of drawing elites wasn't as good as say, another rock band on the course (I mean, why draw the line at one per mile?).

Let's hope this isn't an early signal of where the TNF brand is going.

[Note - per the sleuthing of commenters below, it appears the $30k in prize money is indeed intact, and there are some elites rumored to be coming including the defending champion, Miguel Heras.]
- SD

Jon Olsen Sets New 100-Mile American Record - 11:59:23!

3 October, 2013 - 16:05
How many people do you know that have broken 12 hours for the 100-mile? Well, if you know Modesto, CA's Jon Olsen, you know one! The 39-year-old teachers recent North American record was set last weekend at the Sri Chimnoy Ultra Classic 24-hour race, and his write up is well worth the read (poop cans and all). He took down a nearly 30-year-old record and broke an incredible psychological sub-12 barrier. Congrats fellow Injinji and Vespa teammate!
(Jon Olsen with wife/crew Denise) Also want to give a shout out to JB Benna who recently set a new unsupported FKT for the Tahoe Rim Trail (140+ miles) of 58 hrs, 43 minutes.

And one last shout out to Canadian Robert Grant who found and returned the camera I lost at Ironman Lake Tahoe! Gracias, my man!

Running In The Infonautic Age - How Technology Will Change the Way We Run

27 September, 2013 - 10:19
Yesterday, I had the great pleasure of presenting to a packed house of runners at the San Francisco Running Company in Mill Valley, CA. The subject was "how technology is changing how we run and train", and included a sneak preview of a few new inventions coming to market in the next 2-12 months. Perfect for a Silicon Valley nerd/runner/blogger like me!

The event was part of Altra's #runtalks Series, and I opened for three other great guest speakers - nutritionist Sunny Blende who talked about Superstarches, fitness coach Nate Helming with some awesome training and analysis tips, and the incredibly funny Bart Yasso, Runner's World's Chief Running Officer, who shared his insights and stories from racing the globe over the last 35+ years. And, of course, a chance to learn about Altra's zero drop shoes. All in all, a fun and educational event!

Here's my preso and a transcript for your viewing pleasure. I hope you are all having a great weekend!

Running in the Infonautic Age - How Technology Will Change the Way We Run from Scott Dunlap

[Slide 1 - Cover] 

Thank you for having me! And thank you to SF Run Co, Altra, and Runner's World for hosting the event. 

I’d like to spend the next 10 minutes talking to you about our favorite sport, running, and how it is changing in the infonautic age. What is “infonautics”? It’s my clever word to explain the creation, organization, and exploration of personal data coming from the explosion of technology in areas such as smart devices, mobile phones, social networks, and more. We are entering an unprecedented era of data creation and accessibility, with dozens of new products being released every month, something the tech industry refers to as "the Quantified Self". On top of that, many high-end products made for professionals and hospitals are coming to the main stream. I find it endlessly fascinating. This presentation is going introduce you to a few game changers, and give you a quick sneak preview of some products coming out in the next year.
[Slide 2 - Intro to Scott]
Quick intro on me. I’m an ultrarunner, trail runner, and triathlete that really just loves to get outdoors, blog about it on A Trail Runner’s Blog (http://www.atrailrunnersblog.com), and share the experience.  My day job is working in Silicon Valley at 10th Dimension Design Labs, where we play with data and new mobile experiences all day long. So I’m a data nerd. A big one. I can admit that now. 
[Slide 3 - You Don't Need Tech, Just Ask Forrest Gump]
Before I jump into the nerdy bits, I should point out that you don't "need" technology to run. As Forrest Gump shows us, you don't even need a destination to access the joy, optimism, and fitness that comes with the oldest human sport. But if you're tech-curious, a little nerdgasm can be fun.
[Slide 4 - The Gold Rush]
And if you are tech-curious, this is your era. We are in the Gold Rush of tech-meets-athletics, and "data is the new gold".
Hardware costs have brought sensors, chips, and networking costs down to where a consumer can buy a product for less than $50. This influx of sensors and data is what many refer to as the Quantified Self movement. On top of this, we're seeing a boom in display devices and capabilities riding the growth of mobile smart phones, presenting opportunities to use, analyze and massage that data in real-time (infonautics). 
Capital has become accessible through crowdfunding with sites like Kickstarter and IndiGogo, which have funded a number of new devices by placing the first 10,000 orders directly with consumers.
And “the cloud” is alive and well, making it easy to create software services that are accessible to any device for storing, sharing, and analyzing information. 
[Slide 5 - Where Tech Can Be Helpful]
When is tech helpful for athletes? When it can help increase motivation, knowledge (as the band Us3 said in the 90’s “you gotta get mad knowledge of self”), and optimization of your time and training.
1)Sensors and tracking devices. These are the things that collect new information from your body and/or the environment. GPS, pedometers, hydration flow meters, etc. How many of you have one of these already? Five years ago, a GPS watch was a $800 expense and it barely worked. Brett, what is the cost of an entry level GPS now? [ans - $50] And it works beautifully.
2)Display and analysis. This can either be real-time, such as Strava on your mobile phone or the new Google Glass, or passive analysis like blood analysis.
3)Augmentation. These are efforts to use technology to augment the human body, or a process such as recovery.
4)Core tech. This is the underlying technology that allows many of these other things to happen, such as the creation of a new material like graphene, or a new battery.
What’s the point? When the user experience is right, tech can helpful in finding motivation, knowledge, and training optimization. And help us really understand when things are going right, or going wrong.
[Slide 6 - Just Don't Overdo It]
Just try not to go "full Borg". Remember, this is about having fun!
[Slide 7 - You Are Familiar With Pedometers...]
How many of you have a pedometer or GPS watch? No surprise, nearly all of you. And these technologies from companies like Nike, Jawbone, Fitbit, Garmin, and others are selling like crazy. It is projected that 43 million will be sold this year alone, growing to 167 million in the next four years.
Pair this with the 2 billion smart phones that can also track these things, and you can see how measuring your body will quickly become the norm.
[Slide 8 - ...Now With LED and Skin Sensors]
One of the first improvements you will see with pedometers is the addition of LED and skin sensors. The LED heart rate monitor is going to be big with these devices, much like this one from Basis Science. No straps needed – it just shines a light into your skin to read your heart rate, and to a degree of accuracy that some predict the heart rate “digital signature” may even eclipse the fingerprint. And that just came out last week on the iPhone! But I also like that these sensors can pick up more things, like skin temp, perspiration, and hopefully someday, salination levels.
[Slide 9 - Measure Your Brainwaves]
A Canadian company called InteraXon has developed a portable EEG that can track brainwaves. Other vendors are coming up with similar tech.
Why? By itself, it may not be interesting, but combined with other data it could help you understand what conditions are affecting your mood, stress, etc. It could even be used to trigger or control events.
One case I could see this used is with other data to indicate what leads you to hit a mental low point, and start becoming predictive. Or have it change your songs based on your mood. This one is Kickstarter-funded, hopefully coming in early 2014.
[Slide 10 - Smart Socks]
Sensoria has developed a “smart sock” that has sensors woven directly into the fabric. This is a trend we are likely going to see, where measurement devices are non longer separate straps or devices, but instead put right into the fabric.
The smart sock can tell you all about your foot strike and weight distribution, for example, and how that affects your cadence. Available now.
[Slide 11 - Smart Shirts]
Here’s another example of a sensor built right into fabric, this time from OMSignal. Their new biometric shirt is designed to be worn all day, and measures heart rate, breathing, and stress levels, sending the info in real-time to your phone. This is already being beta tested by a few early adopters, likely coming in 2014.
[Slide 12 - Google Glass]
Google Glass is a fascinating new display product, not only because of it’s lightweight feel and just-out-of-view display capabilities, but due to the fact they are creating an ecosphere of developers around it. What this means is you likely will have hundreds of apps, many of them sport-specific, to choose from. It also tethers to a mobile phone, and can take voice commands.
Rumor has it that apps from both Nike and Strava will include real-time heads up data when announced in late October with the Glass Developer Kit (GDK). The GDK is less static than the apps to date, so it will be cool to see what comes out. 
[Slide 13 - Other Heads Up Displays]
Similar heads up display capabilities will be popping up everywhere, and in many cases already has for things like skiing (Oakley).
Here’s one that I’m looking forward to – the Instabeat swim goggle that tracks laps and strokes. I’m always losing count. Let’s face it – anything is better than the bottom of that pool.
[Slide 14 - Visor-based displays]
Here’s another angle – put it in the visor like Nordic Semiconductor did. You touch a button and the display is visible for a few seconds.
[Slide 15 - The Apple iWatch]
Ah, the iWatch. Yes, there have been smart watches before, but when Apple gets in the game, it all gets so much better.
Wall St is abuzz about research indicating that Apple is working with outside suppliers to ship as many as 65 million next year. That would be the equivalent of the first 2.5 years of iPod sales. I can believe it though – this is selling right into the 700m strong Apple iPhone base, and quite frankly, we'll buy anything they make since the design is so solid. 
The reason the iWatch will work is it takes one critical step out of the user experience – having to pull out your phone and login. You can see who is calling, get real-time data feeds, get weather warnings, you name it. If you look at what else came with the iOS7 operating system upgrade such as iBeacon, it will be easy to customize experiences for both the phone and watch based on location. Want a guided tour of the Dipsea Trail with all the history? Done. 
[Slide 16 - More Body Analysis]
Genetic analysis and blood analysis are two other things that have dramatically come down in price, both now can be had for less than $200.
Genetic analysis is interesting, although hard to say exactly how it helps running. It does show your genetic propensity for sprinting vs long distance, but it told me I’m a sprinter, so there.
Blood analysis is quite helpful if you haven’t tried it. A full blood chem can give you a baseline for key nutrients, show you all the symptoms of overtraining, and spot iron deficiencies, which anyone who has had a run in with anemia can tell you is worth avoiding.
[Slide 17 - Gravity-assisted Treadmill]
The Alter-g Treadmill can alter gravity to make you feel lighter, and has already come out of the labs to regular use at clubs, recovery facilities, and the workout rooms of professional athletes. Some use it to continue through training with things like stress fractures or IT band issues. Alberto Salazar has his athletes use it weekly to run at 95% weight and goal pace.
I tried it a few years back, and it gave me a really good idea how far off a 4-minute mile I was. My stride length has to be HUGE. But of course I was only 74 lbs heavy. I guess I just need to lose 80 lbs!
[Slide 18 - Near-Instant Core Cooling]
This one is still in the labs, but could change high heat races forever. A lab at Stanford accidentally discovered that our palms have special veins that act like a radiator to dissipate heat from the body. When the proper vacuum is applied, your core temp can go back to normal in a matter of minutes.  Do a full set of weights, stick your hand in the glove, and do it again and again and again as if it was the first set.
Test patients were able to go from 125 max push ups to over 600 in a month. This could be a big game-changer in getting your body to adapt quickly with less training. And I’m sure Western States will never be the same.
[Slide 19 - The Drone War Has Begun]
The drone war has begun! My last two races, the Matterhorn Ultraks in Zermatt, Switzterland, and the Ironman Lake Tahoe, had drones following the lead pack and zooming all over the place. With a 2-3 mile range, it’s debatable if they are FAA approved, but regardless there is no doubt they are here to stay.
When in Paris last year, I got on the phone with a manufacturer of one of these and asked about what it could carry. He delivered a newspaper and cup of Starbucks to my 3rd story balcony 20 minutes later.
Pictures, crew, supplies, delivery…the possibilities are endless. And at $1200, you can expect to see a lot of them. The LAPD has already had to put warnings out to folks drone snooping around Hollywood houses. 
[Slide 20 - High Tech Recovery]
Want an instant ice bath? Cryo-tanks can now spray you down in 90 seconds.
Want to see exactly how and where your muscles, bones, and tendons are wearing and tearing? The Dexa X-ray can scan you in minutes and give you a full break down.
Want the heat? You can now get an infrared sauna put into your house for $5k that can heat up in 2 minutes.
And hospital-grade inflatable compression can now be purchased for the home. There was a guy on my flight two weeks ago who just whipped these out in coach – apparently it’s that socially acceptable now.
[Slide 21 - Graphene Supercapacitors]
The core tech is the really nerdy stuff, but one worth mentioning is the recent development of graphene-based supercapicitors. Graphene is a very cheap, abundant, and condusive material, and it’s what is responsible for giving modern lithium-ion batteries the 10x boost they needed to power cars and smart phones thanks to mixing graphene in.
But a new all-graphene-based supercapicitor could really take it to the next level, bringing another 3-20x more power to batteries in a biodegradable format.
Bottom line, it means we can power all of these new devices without filling the dumps with batteries. 
[Slide 22 - Thank You!]
Well, that’s the fast tour! I hope you enjoyed it. If you spot some cool tech, drop me a note!
Otherwise, I hope to see you on the trails. Naked or borg, if you’re out there getting it done, you are winning!
Thank you!

A Fun and Frigid Ironman Lake Tahoe

24 September, 2013 - 12:39
Last Sunday, I had the great pleasure of joining ~2,300 adventurous triathletes for the inaugural Ironman Lake Tahoe near Squaw Valley, CA. This course was already set to be one of the toughest Ironman races on the planet with its high altitude swim and four big climbs on the bike, but when the temps dropped to the low 30's on race morning, it sealed the #1 slot for sure. Thanks to the help of great volunteers and fellow warriors, I was able to find that finish line in the Olympic Village as the sun came down, and was thrilled to be a part of a killer day of adventure. Encore! Encore!

(A chilly scene as Ironman Lake Tahoe kicks off, photo courtesy of Tahoe Daily Tribune;
unfortunately my camera was stolen so I'm going to have borrow pics for this report) I was nervous enough the night before the race, much in thanks to still feeling those sore cracked/bruised ribs from my fall at the Matterhorn Ultraks 46k four weeks ago (the pics were worth it, I swear!). If you've ever injured your ribs then you know what it's like - everything feels fine until you cough, laugh, or sneeze, and then you nearly black out from the pain and have to check your shorts for spontaneous leakage. I had given the ribs a week of rest, and fit in three pool sessions and three bike rides before the race, not nearly enough for something like IMLT. I could only hope that the trail running fitness was a good enough base. My local endurance-sport-friendly doc said "you aren't going to hurt yourself more, but it's gonna be painful from the first stroke...then again, you types are in it for the pain anyway, right?". Um, not quite the way I would say it, but he's got a point. More pain for my money, I guess.
My IMLT entry had been paid for by a close friend (a whopping $675!), and with no refunds/postponements allowed, I was feeling guilty enough to at least start the race. Plus I love it when there are new races in the Lake Tahoe area and want to be a part of them in any way I can. I ran into my friend and super-triathlete Kyle Welch at the check-in, and he was in a similar situation wondering if it was wise to finish given his short course race season wasn't over. He wisely pointed out that the swim, bike, and run all had loop formats so there were lots of options to bail and cheer. So let's do it!

(How do you know Ironman is in town? Lots of cars with bikes on the back worth more than the car) (Many Ironman competitors take "fanatic" to a whole new level...I don't think a little snow is going to be enough to back them down) My freak out level reached new heights as I was shoveling snow off my car at 4am on race morning. WTF?!? Is this race really going to happen? How do you swim at altitude when it's freezing outside?!? It was starting to sound less like a tri, and more like one of those dare stories that ends with "...and that's how I lost my toes". I checked Twitter for the cancellation message, but all I found was other nervous athletes alternating between "holy crap" and "let's do this". Yup, not the only one! I grabbed my wetsuit and headed down to Kings Beach. 
I changed into my wetsuit and donned my Vibrams to ease the walk across the crunchy, frozen sand. The fog hung on the lake, thick enough that we couldn't even see the first buoy from water level. The ghostly silhouettes of paddle boarding lifeguards faded in and out, assuring us we were not alone, and I loved the mystery of just heading straight into the foggy unknown with thousands of random warriors. At 6:40am, we filled the air with primal screams and charged into the water.

(EPIC SWIM! Photo courtesy of TRS Photos (Heading into the unknown, photo courtesy of TRS Photos) (Paddlers and safety crew keep an eye on us, photo courtesy of Susan Locke) (Getting inventive to escape the cold ground) The water was cold (~58 degrees), but not nearly as cold as the air, which oddly made it easy to stick your face right in. The ribs ached from the first pull, as promised, but the compression of the wetsuit and icy water really took the edge off. I took a kick to the ribs in the first half mile from a swimmer who was apparently heading back, and immediately made my way to the first pontoon for a short break. But as my hands and feet froze up, I realized it was better to just keep moving, so I found a less crowded spot and got back to business. 
As we made the turn and started heading back on the first lap, the view was incredible! Snow in the mountains, swimmers cutting through the fog, and the sun desperately burning through the clouds. By the time we finished the first lap (1.2 miles, ~40 minutes), the sun began to light up the sandy floor of Lake Tahoe and cast the mountains in an orange glow. Amazing! I had no idea winter swimming could be so fun.  (Romaine Guillame and Joe Gambles are first out) (Walking on water, photo courtesy of Jason Neary) (Swim done!) As we got out of the water (2.4 miles, 1:26), the sand had warmed enough to excuse my dizzy stagger. My hands and feet were lifeless ice blocks, and when I found my transition bag with a frozen knot on top, I just had to laugh. What the hell are we doing?!? It took eight frigid minutes of waiting in line to make my way into the T1 tent, already packed to the edges with Romanesque nakedness. Seeing naked dudes cheek-to-cheek in front of the heater while sucking the ice off of their transition bag knots is a vision I will not long forget, but believe me, that was the thing to do if you were shaking from hypothermia. A handful of angelic volunteers picked out the worst of us and got them warm, and after 26 minutes, I had on ALL my bike gear, scraped the frost of my bike seat and handlebars, and hit the road.
It was good to get rolling, although the chilly air wasn't doing much to revive my extremities. I was on my road bike today (ribs couldn't take the aero position of tri bars) and opted to go harder than I should to get the blood flowing. My family jewels had already retreated far into my body cavity (always a shocking feeling), giving me a rare chance to experience how a bike seat must feel for a woman. By Tahoe City (mile 10), it began to warm up, but we soon turned into the shadowy corridor of Hwy 89 and the temps dropped back into the 30's. The jewels will have to hibernate a few more miles.

(Bundled up and having fun!)

(Putting in some chilly miles, photo courtesy of TRS Photos) The good folks of Truckee were out in force (mile 30), and the course took us right through downtown before climbing up to a bike path and putting our faces in the sun. Aaaahhh! I got back six of my fingers, which was enough to open food packets at the aid station where I stopped. Just as I was inhaling a banana, another rider slammed into my elbow and knocked me over, but I halted my anger when I saw him b-line to the port-o-potties and ALMOST make it. Almost. Yikes...can't say I would have been any more civil in that scenario!

(A tough bike route...now go do this 2 1/2 times) The first big climb up Martis Creek (mile 40) was exactly what the doctor ordered, and we all got out of the saddle and got our core temps back on track. I could hear the sighs of relief from the other riders as they shook out their tingles and even shed a layer or two. The crowd support was simply outstanding - we could tell they were cold, but they were yelling and cowbelling on every corner. I rode with one crazy Czech guy who was doing his 99th Ironman (5th this month), and when I asked which was the toughest, he said "this one...and I haven't even started the second climb". Phew! I thought this course seemed awfully tough. 
(Climbing through the pines) The descent was well marked, leading us quickly out to the 2nd climb up Brockway Summit. I settled into a rhythm just as Male Pros Chris Macdonald and Maik Twelsiek lapped us. Outstanding! Both would manage a sub-5 hour ride on this tough course. The descent down Brockway was super fun, and we easily hit 45-50 mph as we began the second lap.

(A lot of talented dogs did signs) I took a break at Tahoe City (mile 60) to shed my jacket and winter gloves, take a bio break, and stretch out. So far all was good...ribs were hanging tough, jewels had returned to normal suspension, and my shoulders and triceps were complaining the most from that swim/bike combo. I got back into the race, narrowly missing another cyclist as she hit one of those football-sized pine cones and skidded across the road. Good thing she had so much gear on...she just got back up and kept going!
(A couple of layers later) (The road bike gave my ribs some room) The second round of the camel hump mountains (mile 85) took a bit more digging, and the sweet smell of wet pine had already dried into the familiar high Sierra dust. I rode with a guy who STILL had his wetsuit leggings on, trying to warm up. Interesting option! The descent down Brockway was littered with calamity this time, and I spotted three bloodied cyclists on the side of the road. Ouch! Hopefully everyone was okay.
(One more trip through Truckee, photo courtesy of Gretchen Brugman) I was stoked to see the "Mile 100" sign, and I could see the Pros along the run course on their first long loop. They were hauling ass! Macdonald was chasing down Twelsiek, while the Women's race had three within two minutes of each other - Sweden's Asa Lundstrom, Jeanne Collonge from France, and Great Britain's Catriona Morrison. I couldn't believe they were almost done! Actually, I could. I had been in the saddle for over seven hours. ;-)
I took my time at T2, fully changing into warm running gear and getting lots of liquids in. I soon pulled over to strip down to just a singlet (mile 2) as the Valley was quickly warming up, and also stashed my headlamp. My stride had seen better days, but at least running pain is a pain I can manage (right, ultrarunners?). The 8 min/mile came easy, as long as I walked the aid stations, so I didn't push myself beyond a comfortable aerobic pace.

(Volunteers were life savers, photo courtesy of Sabrina Martinez) As we got to the long river stretch (mile 5), I saw the familiar faces of Robert Tomkinson, Dave King, Kyle Welch (he's going to finish too!), Jady Palko and other faster triathletes, then made the turn (mile 9) and was able to give some shout outs to Barbara Ashe, Karyn Hoffman, and the many folks I had met over the last few days. These out-and-backs are a great distraction!

(Keeping pace along the Truckee River on the first out-and-back) As the sun went down (mile 18), I found my wool shirt and headlight again and hid my camera (which was later stolen...bummer!), and watched as Jack Frost returned and added his magic to the mountain valley. Mylar blankets were the norm on the course, and I joined others in drinking as much warm chicken broth as my body could handle. We got a nice boost of energy as we came through the Olympic Village again and saw some finishers, then headed out for the last six miles. It was the perfect energy boost...I kept on running the rest of the way.
(Coming through Olympic Village, photo courtesy of Margaret Moran) (Grabbing some high fives in the finisher chute) Glenn Schiavo passed me in the last 0.2 miles, saying he had finally gotten his body temp back to normal...at mile 22 in the run! He crossed the finish just ahead of me, and I came in at 13 hours, 43 minutes for 707th place. Phew! Glad this one is done! I grabbed some food and warmed up in the massage tent among the tired smiles of my fellow finishers. What a story-worthy day! I soon was sipping a Black and Tan in the local Irish pub, warming up and cheering on those chasing the midnight finish.

(Made it!) (Finish line love) (Ain't nothing like an Ironman finish, photo courtesy of Susan Lacke) (Women's champion Ana Sundstrom sneaks under 10 hours, photo courtesy of Susan Lacke) That night, I dreamt of swimming under the snow-capped mountains and appreciated that full-body-cast-like soreness I hadn't experienced since my first Ironman. These events are tough, and this one was quite likely the toughest of all time! So glad to have been here, and somehow gotten through it on so little specific training. A friend texted me from the morning sign ups, where usually the competitors return in droves to get early access and fill the race entries for next year, and there was only eight people in line. Yup! But as I sat on the deck on what was going to be a hot recovery day, I realized Lady Tahoe could have just as easily cooked us. That's part of the adventure!
(Found on the IMLT Facebook page) My congrats to Chris MacDonald (8:55) and Asa Lundstrom (9:58) for setting some seriously high bars for speed on this course, and to the Race Directors, volunteers, local cheering crews, and fellow competitors for putting on a world class event. I highly recommend it!

Uganda, Italy Score at 2013 World Mountain Running Championships

8 September, 2013 - 08:49
Uganda swept the Mens podium at the 29th World Mountain Running Championships in Krynica Zdrój, Poland this weekend, while Alice Gaggi from Italy scored gold for the Women and led the Italian team to a top finish. This was an "up and down" year, with Men running a 13.5k course and the Women running a 9k course.

(Team Uganda take 1-4, photo courtesy of @usmrt) (Phillip Kiplimo takes the win, photo courtesy of Nancy Hobbs) Phillip Kiplimo (UGA) triumphed over his teammates in the final stretch, with Geoffrey Kusuro taking silver, Nathan Ayeko taking bronze. Joe Gray (7th) was the top US contender after 2011 World Champ Max King had to pull out with a twisted ankle while leading early in the race. Zachary Ornelas (25th), Alex Nichols (27th), Ryan Hafer (29th), and Glenn Randall (79th) were the other top US finishers, pulling Team USA to a 4th place finish.

(Women's podium) Italy's Alice Gaggi scored gold on her birthday to take the top spot in the Women's competition, with the UK's Emma Clayton taking silver, and Italy's Elisa Desco taking the bronze. US Olympian Magdelana Lewy-Boulet (11th), Christine Lundy (29th), Megan Lizotte (32nd), and Megan Kimmel (36th) scored 5th for Team USA in the team competition, behind Italy, Great Britain, Ireland, and Turkey. Team USA's Mandy Ortiz (daughter of former Team USA member Anita Ortiz) scored an impressive gold in the Junior Women's division.

(Mandy Ortiz on her way to gold)

Don't Forget - Registration for 2014 Boston Marathon Begins Next Monday, Sept 9th

3 September, 2013 - 07:30
Just a quick reminder for Boston Marathon fans - the registration process will open next Monday, September 9, 2013 at 7:00 a.m. PST. This is the first day of the "rolling registration" that allows faster qualifiers to register first, as used for the 2012 and 2013 editions. So if you beat your Boston Qualifying time (BQ) by 20 minutes or more, you're up!!!!

You aren't the first group, however, as there was a special registration for the 5,624 runners who were stopped on the course and unable to finish due to the tragic bombings. Over 4,500 runners elected to return, which is awesome! The race cap was raised to 36,000 runners for 2014 (nearing the peak the BAA had for the centennial race in 1996), so there should be plenty of space for everyone

Not that it's going to be easy to get in, mind you. The standards are tougher (see table below), and I have met many-a-runner inspired to renew their BQ goals to be a part of the "healing year" for this great American race. If my very small sample size is any indication, I suspect there will be 20-30% more runners ready to apply.  So if it's important to you, be sure to register as soon as you can.

(If search queries are any indication, there is lots of demand for 2014) I'm looking forward to the 2014 Boston Marathon with great anticipation. My original goal was to streak ten Boston's (I still can't recall where this goal came from....beer was certainly involved), and this will be #10. But more importantly, I hope my participation will further honor the community of Boston and celebrate their extraordinary strength and resolve. I know they've got my back, so I'm coming back!

More detailed information about qualifying/registering for Boston can be found at www.baa.org.


2014 BOSTON MARATHON QUALIFYING STANDARDS (effective September 22, 2012)
All standards below are based on official submitted net time. AGE GROUPMENWOMEN 18-343hrs 05min 00sec3hrs 35min 00sec 35-393hrs 10min 00sec3hrs 40min 00sec 40-443hrs 15min 00sec3hrs 45min 00sec 45-493hrs 25min 00sec3hrs 55min 00sec 50-543hrs 30min 00sec4hrs 00min 00sec 55-593hrs 40min 00sec4hrs 10min 00sec 60-643hrs 55min 00sec4hrs 25min 00sec 65-694hrs 10min 00sec4hrs 40min 00sec 70-744hrs 25min 00sec4hrs 55min 00sec 75-794hrs 40min 00sec5hrs 10min 00sec 80 and over4hrs 55min 00sec5hrs 25min 00sec An additional 59 seconds will NOT be accepted for each age group time standard. That is, there is no cushion or flexibility with the minimum qualifying time for purposes of qualification eligibility.

Conquering the Matterhorn Ultraks 46k in Zermatt, Switzerland

27 August, 2013 - 10:01
There is a stillness to Zermatt, Switzerland, that honors the majestic mountains cradling this historic town. You can feel it from the moment you step off the train and stroll up the auto-less streets filled with alpine enthusiasts from around the world, sipping their viesse beers and coffee while basking in the glow of the ever-present Matterhorn. The serenity is magical, and deserving of pilgrimage. It’s a perfect stage for the inaugural Matterhorn Ultraks 46k, a monster of a race that has attracted 800+ trail runners to run on the edge of the Alps and celebrate Swiss-style. A perfect European bookend to last weeks Pikes Peak Marathon - I couldn’t be more excited!
(Zermatt fills with trail runners for the Ultraks) (No cars in Zermatt...just horses and golf carts) (Summer is beautiful here!) When I say Ultraks is “a monster of a race”, I am not exaggerating (for once). The course climbs over 13,000 feet in ~29 miles, alternating between runnable single track, shale-lined ridges at 9,000 feet, and technical climbs/descents that leave your legs shaking like a newborn foal. It’s nearly double the vert of the Pikes Peak Marathon I did six days ago, and anytime you start calling Pikes Peak a “warm up race”, you know you are in rarified air. I ran the last 2k of the course backwards upon arriving to get an idea of what we were in for, only to ascend 1,300 feet in the first mile. Yeah, this one is a biggie. For those not wanting to go the whole way, there were options for a 16k, 31k, and free kids race (93 entries!).

(A course worthy of the Matterhorn) Ultraks is also a Skyrunning Series race, and as such, Team inov-8 had a few top notch runners toeing the line. Eirik Haugsnes from Norway, Florian Riechert from Germany, and Anna Lupton from the UK would be taking on some of the top names in Skyrunning, including Kilian Jornet, Emelie Forsberg, Silvia Serafini, Luis Alberto Hernando Alzaga (2nd to Kilian at two races this year), Cameron Clayton (also doing the Pikes/Ultrak double), and more. Kilian was the favorite, having just set a Matterhorn Ascent record in Italy three days previous (town square to peak and back in 2 hrs, 52 min…how nuts is that? Great interview about it here). The weather was ideal, short of the rain clouds expected around 2pm that anchored my goal of finishing in 6-7 hours.

At the 7am start, I had a chance to say hi to San Francisco-based Matthew Laye (who was ready to rock this course, poles and all), Meghan Arboghast (tackling the 16k in prep for UTMB next week), Martin Cox (one of the fastest mountain runners around, doing the 31k), photographer/journalist extraordinaire Ian Corless, and our team supporters Natalie White and David James who would be out on the course for morale and a few fun miles. I hopped the fence to get in the corral, and karmically paid for my rudeness when my camera quietly fell out of my pocket (it was later found). It was going to be an iPhone run today! Whoops.
(Catching up with Kilian before the race) (We're ready to roll!) As the church bells rang out at 7am, a tight-knit group of fifty ran through the town and headed up to the first trail (mile 1). Cameron Clayton, fresh off his 5th place at Pikes Peak, set the pace with a pack of Salomon jerseys on the first set of switchbacks, which soon mellowed out into some runnable single track along the ridge. I paced behind Anna Lupton, who surged up the ridge to the first aid station (Sunnegga, mile 3) just as the sun brought the Matterhorn into view. Outstanding! The Matterhorn does resemble the image on a box of Toblerone chocolate or the Disneyland rollercoaster (sans blue yeti...at least so far), but as its visage grew more ominous with every step, I was pleased my frame of reference was now acclimated to the proper magnitude. This is the most photographed mountain in the world for a reason – it is simply breathtaking when viewed in person. Speaking of breathtaking, next up was Gornergrat, the big climb of the day to 10,000+ feet, and everyone pounded liquids and snacks to prepare.
(The sun lights up the Matterhorn) (Yeah,,,not quite as majestic)
(Let's climb!) (Anna Lupton leads us through a rocky section) The climb was a beast, and I couldn’t help but lose about 20 places to the hiking-pole-savvy European runners blazing trail left and right (most of them view the actual trail as a “suggested route”, which is allowed). The view at the top was incredible, and we could count 29 of the 45 big Swiss mountains on the crystal clear horizon, as well as a huge permanent ice glacier. Amazing! As a side bonus, I was having no trouble with the altitude and cruising along nicely. I guess once you shock the lungs at 14,000’ in Colorado, acclimation comes quick!

(Poles were a definite advantage)
(Most of the trails were quite runnable...if you want to run the trails)
(Trail runners make their way up Gornergrat) (Seriously steep at the end) (On the ridge...we're getting there!) (The trail at 10,000 ft) (Single track to heaven) I struggled a bit with the technical descents, per usual, slowing for the more steep and sharp sections that are foreign to my California-spoiled form. The inov-8 Trailroc 255’s were holding well, but I lost about 30 places inching down what others would leap before letting a few runners be my mountain guides. We had to stop briefly for some local sheep that were blocking the trail, until one pole-wielding runner started smacking butts and clearing a path. Thank you, farmer Christophe!

(Ummmm....on your right?) (Kilian cruises under the Matterhorn, photo courtesy of Ian Corless) (Emelie Forsberg having fun, photo courtesy of Ian Corless) As we finished up the descent and tackled the short climb from Riffelamp, my legs groaned when I passed the 20k mark. 20k? We’re not even halfway done?!? I was already three hours in, so despite this race only being 4k longer than a marathon, it was an ultramarathon in every sense of the word. The terrain kept my thoughts present as we zig-zagged down to the river, ran along the waterfall, then crossed a suspension footbridge towards the edge of town. Never a dull moment!

(Never get tired of these views!) (Across the suspension bridge...don't look down! (Grunting up the Schwarzee) (Looking back at the river valley we ran down) The locals were out in force as the base of Schwarzee (mile 14), and we began our hands-on-quads power hike up the second big climb of the day. The sweat ran off my nose in the hot switchbacks, but within a mile of climbing, I had my rain jacket on for warmth as the cool mountain wind started to bring that promised rain storm. I refueled at the top (mile 17), and took delight in plunging down the nicely graded backside alongside the mountain bikes. I could spot Matthew Laye and my friend Nico up ahead and hustled down to have some company for the next big climb.
(The Shwarzee keeps on rollin') (Right up to the shoulder of the Matterhorn) (And here comes the descent!) As the trail switched to single track near the bottom, my gazing got the best of me and I caught a toe and went careening head first into the rocky trail. There was an “uh, oh” moment as I realized it was going to be either taking rocks to the torso or head off the cliff and hope it works out. My subconscious decision to hug a rock (instead of fall off the mountain) brought the unforgiving stone into my rib cage with enough impact to knock the wind out of me, and I was soon flopping around like a fish out of water gasping for air. Two fellow runners were nice enough to pull me back onto the trail and on my feet, and after a few minutes, I caught my breath and began walking down the trail again. Self-analysis report - ribs hurt when taking deep breaths or twisting (bruised?), rain jacket is now torn off my torso, shoulder and hips scraped up, but everything is still working. I got up to a jog, but noticed that any stumble would seize my breath, so I took it easy and thanked my ribs for doing exactly what they are supposed to do. It could have been much worse if I had fallen off the Matterhorn! I popped a couple of Aleve and kept on trucking’.
(Heading up the last big climb of the day) Dave James was at the creek at the bottom of the climb, and gave me a high five as I started up the last climb of the day (mile 19). He said Eirik was in 5th and Anna was in 3rd…outstanding! Kilian had pulled ahead with two others to lead the race, while Emile Forsberg had a solid 15-minute lead in the Women’s race. It was hard to imagine they were already over an hour ahead of me, but that’s how fast these guys move!

(Another great shot from Ian Corless) The last climb was larger than I recalled from the map (but then again, aren’t all last climbs?) and full of Swiss, German, and Japanese tourists taking in the sites of the Matterhorn and some nearby waterfalls. I sensed a deep cultural appreciation for the mountains among all these smiling faces, and they were happy to step aside and give out a “Hop! Hop! Hop!” or “Allez! Allez!” as we went by. The clouds were coming in faster now, cooling off what would have been a hot day on the ridge.

(Up on the last ridge) At mile 21, we hit the top of the climb and onto some delicious single track stretched along the “hunters route” on the ridge with Zermatt just a row of toy houses on our right. Such a beautiful stretch, yet it felt so remote…this course really has it all. The trail was smooth enough I could shuffle along at a 9 min/mile pace, and much to my surprise, I began passing a few slower runners as they hit the 5 ½ hour mark and got that "ultra reality check". We hit one last aid station at the Hotel Trift (mile 24), a little chalet nestled in a protected valley that certainly had the friendliest dogs on the course. With a few licks and cups of Coke, I power hiked the last little climb with my abbreviated steps.

(The Hotel Trift tucked into the mountains) (Zermatt comes into view...we can hear the cheering!) (Some steep stuff to finish) I could see the church tower next to the finish line, but given that it was the size of my fingernail, we still had quite a descent ahead of us. We plummeted 3,500’ vertical in the next three miles, and my quads swore they would never forgive me. But then they heard the cheering crowds lining the square, and eased up to cruise in in for 76th place in 7:02:34. (all results) My ribs and shoulder were still hurting, but the slower pace meant my legs felt better than expected. I took a seat next to a couple of French runners, who handed me a beer and began seducing me into other French ultras for next year, just as the first few raindrops fell. What a day we had! And we’re already planning the next one.
(Eirik Haugnes sprints in for 9th, photo courtesy of Ian Corless)) Kilian Jornet had won the race in 4:43:05, with Luis Alberto Hernando Alzaga (4:44:47) and Nicola Gollinelli (4:45:57) coming in soon afterwards, all of them well exceeding the expected 5:15 winning time. Swiss runners, Marc Lauenstein (Sierre-Zinal winner) and Ultraks ambassador Martin Anthamatten were fourth and fifth respectively. Emilie Forsberg (5:41:16) handily won the Women’s division, with Silvia Serafini (5:44:37) having a strong second half to claim second, and Nuria Dominguez Azpeleta (5:59:19) passing Anna Lupton in the final mile for third. Eirick (5:03:15) had held on for 9th after running out of gas in the final climb, while Anna Lupton (6:01:59) held on for 4th, and Florian had completely imploded but hung tough to finish just a few minutes ahead of me. Not bad, team! We're now 4th in the Skyrunning team competition with one race left in the Series!
(Finish!) We got ourselves cleaned up (and my ribs taped up) and took over the lobby of the Zermattenhof Hotel for beers and snacks as the rain fell heavily on the final finishers. Eirik was so impressed with all the runners still coming in, citing how difficult that last descent would be in the mud, saying “I don’t know how they do it for so long…they are incredible”. What a great sport we have where the first ten finishers can look at the last ten finishers with such honest admiration! My bruised ribs and bloody shoulder were nothing compared to the facial lacerations and swollen ankles around the table, yet everyone had found their way to the finish line. Runners and spectators alike agreed this had been one of the more challenging Skyrunning races, but also one of the most beautiful. Given how many pictures and memories I had, it was miraculous I only fell once!

(Great memories, great course!) My grand Skyrunning experiment now concluded (three races, a whopping zero points...but some incredible memories!), I embraced the full post-day I had to relax. Although my injuries limited my options, I found great solace in relaxing in the sun with a rosti (hash browns with cheese and bacon), taking a post-sauna nap in the solarium at the wonderful Parkhotel Beau Site, finding Swiss trinkets and Matterhorn-shaped chocolates for the girls, and completely overdosing on fondue and Alsatian wine for dinner. The Swiss certainly do have a great way of celebrating the mountains, and I would highly recommend the Matterhorn Ultraks to anyone wanting to taste it all.

(Yeah, this is a food ad...but it does look just like it!) My thanks to the Race Directors, amazing volunteers, my fellow Team inov-8 runners, the trail angels who pulled me back on course, and all the adventurers who shared the day with sweat and smiles. You have opened a new window to my soul, and it will forever face the Matterhorn, inspiring my dreams with these glorious memories. I know I will see you again!