Ironman World Championship 70.3 Bike Course Preview

septembre 6 2011
Source: Triathlete Magazine
After five years of complaints and criticism surrounding the Ironman World Championship 70.3 course in Clearwater, Fla., the prestigious mid-distance championship has relocated to Lake Las Vegas. Florida’s pancake-flat bike course, which was blamed for creating massive drafting packs, has been replaced with the wind, hills and heat of the desert. The athletes of Team Trek/K-Swiss ventured out to Henderson, Nev., this spring to train on the new course. They and race director Frank Lowery shared their detailed knowledge of the course, and everyone agrees: Be prepared for a tough ride. Mile 0–2: The climb away from Lake Las Vegas toward Lake Mead Drive lasts almost 2 miles at a steady 3–4 percent grade. Miles 5 and 40: Entrance/exit to Lake Mead National Recreation Area. “Inside the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, the wind can come from any direction,” warns Lowery. “There’s no rhyme or reason as to where it comes from, but there is no hiding from it.” Mile 14: Aid stations at mile markers 14, 28, 40 and 47 will be stocked with water and Powerbar Ironman Perform. Mile 17: “It’s constant 3- or 4-minute hills on the way out and back as soon as you’re in [Lake Mead State] Park. The longest is leading to the turnaround,” says 2009 Xterra World Championship runner-up Lesley Paterson. Mile 23: After riding through the turnaround, be prepared to face a headwind. “The wind takes your momentum on the downhills. You have to go as hard downhill as you do up,” says Heather Jackson. Mile 38: “The climb shoots straight up,” says Lowery. “It’s just a bear.” Miles 48–56: The ride into T2 is a gradual, constant climb through the city of Henderson. “It almost looks like a false flat, so it could be easy to get a little disillusioned,” says Paterson. Lowery says it’s a “phantom hill that can make a fool out of you if you’re not careful.” The course gains about 450 feet of altitude from T1 to T2. “The roads in the city are not technical at all. There are very few times to get out of the aerobars,” according to Lowery.

In the News: How Running or Jogging Can Help You Lose Various Things

août 31 2011
Source: Runner's World
Readers, I have some good news and some sad news.

As covered recently in approximately 18,000 media outlets, Duke University researchers have concluded that "Jogging beats weight lifting for losing belly fat."

That's a representative headline, from an article on, which explains:

Aerobic exercise is better than resistance training if you want to lose the belly fat that poses a serious threat to your health, researchers say.

That's the finding of their eight-month study that compared the effectiveness of aerobic exercise (such as jogging), resistance training (such as weight lifting), or a combination of the two activities in 196 overweight, sedentary adults aged 18 to 70.

So the good news is that aerobic activity is a clear winner, when it comes to reducing "belly fat."

The sad news is that this apparently applies only to joggers. Not to runners. Most news outlets, including USA Today, are using the j-word in their coverage. Will running also work to burn belly fat? We just don't know.

Further complicating matters is our own hugely popular book, Run Your Butt Off!, whose central premise is that running can, at a minimum, help you lose your butt.

Confused yet? You aren't alone. All these activities, all these losses… It's a lot to keep straight. In an effort to help clear things up, I've summarized the salient details of these findings, as well as some other helpful information, here:

Good luck. Now get out there and run or jog something off!

GORE-TEX TransRockies Run: Conclusion

août 29 2011
Source: Dean Karnazes

If you’ve ever considered entering a multiday stage race, I would highly recommend the Gore-Tex TransRockies run. This event is wonderfully organized and the aid and support along the way is tremendous. In addition to the traditional 6-day race, last year a 3-day option was added.

Unlike some of the other multiday stage races I’ve participated in, the TransRockies race requires less mandatory gear to carry during the runs. Also, your morning and evening meals are prepared for you as opposed to having to carry your daily food ration on your back. Imagine that, instead of freeze-dried meals out of a Mylar bag you’re treated to gourmet food, trailside!

Another amenity not afforded in many other multiday races is a warm shower at night. Sure, you may prefer running for six days straight without showering, but probably not. The popularity of multiday racing continues to grow. If you’re searching for the next thing in your running quests the TransRockies race could be it!

Keep discovering, Dean

Pre-TNF UTMB Interviews with Lizzy Hawker and Helen Cospolich

août 23 2011
Many a fast femme will be running the 103-mile The North Face Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc this week. Five different ladies have won UTMB in the past. Three of them will face off at this year’s race: Lizzy Hawker (’05, ’08, ’10), Krissy Moehl (’03 & ’09), and Karine Herry (’06). They’ll be joined by the second, third, and fourth place finishers from last year’s race: Nerea Martinez, Agnes Herve, and Fernanda Maciel. Two strong Americans will be joining Moehl in representing the states: Darcy Africa and Helen Cospolich. We caught up with two women’s contenders for the 2011 The North Face Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc, Lizzy Hawker (post-2010 TNF UTMB win video interview) and Helen Cospolich.

Bonus iRunFar Contest It’s time to predict the women’s winner and her time. We’ll be giving away an iRunFar hat, an iRunFar tee-shirt (see store for options), and a signed copy of Relentless Forward Progress: A Guide to Running Ultramarathons to the person who picks the women’s winner and then most closely predicts her time without going over the winning time. (Price Is Right rule, Americans) Hours and minutes ONLY. If there’s a tie based on picking the winner and her time, the prize goes to the first person to post a particular time and winner. (In other words, the first correct winner and time prediction gets priority over matching later entries.) To enter, just leave a comment below (emails and Facebook comments are not eligible!) prior to the start of the race. This prize pack is available to anyone world wide.

Lizzy Hawker You have a lot of experience with UTMB. You won in 2005, 2008, and 2010. In addition, in 2009, you were second to Krissy Moehl. What’s it like returning to race that you know so well? What’s it like returning to a race as a defending champion, knowing that the women’s field is deep with talent?

Lizzy Hawker: The UTMB becomes something that is so much more than just the incredible challenge of the race itself. Every runner, every volunteer and every supporter becomes part of something truly special – the shared passion and dedication make this so much more than just a race – more a shared journey of exploration and endurance within the greater journey of our own life.  I’m just looking forward to the challenge of going deep within myself and making my own journey, while sharing the experience with so many.

iRF: How has your training been going this summer? Have you had any particular training days or trips that were really good or memorable? What kind of training do you do? Lots of days in the mountains? Speedwork? Some of everything?

Hawker: Training during the summer race season inevitably includes something of everything – and is specifically focused towards the races that I am next aiming for.  Thinking towards UTMB then two memorable training stints were a 2-day solo run over the route of the UTMB in June, and a 2-day solo run following the Tour de Monte Rosa just last week.  Each time, I was overwhelmed with the beauty of the mountain environment and felt a deep joy in the freedom of being able to move …

iRF: We understand that you’ve raced this summer, most recently winning the 78km Swiss Alpine Davos in late July. For iRunFar’s readers who might not be familiar with this race, can you tell us about it? Can you also tell us about how you felt out there? Did winning that race instill in you some confidence for UTMB?

Hawker: The 78km Swiss Alpine is a beautiful and challenging race and it was a privilege to return for my third win.  Each race stands alone, but the end of one race is the beginning of the journey to the next (a week later I won a 2-day double mountain marathon). Each and every race is unique with its own challenges and demands – but each gives you something to learn and something to take forward to the next race.  These last two races gave me a deep joy and reminded me that if we dig deep in there to really ‘be in ourselves’ at every moment of the race – then surely we can reach beyond what we believe possible.

iRF: Krissy Moehl is returning to UTMB this year, as you know. Who else do you see as your competition out on the course? Are there any other runners with whom you’re looking forward to racing?

Hawker: It will be a privilege to be part of such a deep and talented women’s field, but for me the important thing is to focus on the race rather than to think about the competition.  I hope just to run the best that I can at each moment of the race, to give ‘all’ that I can, to feel joy in my run, and to share an incredible experience with so many people.

Helen Cospolich

We last saw you when you finished the Western States 100 in 20:44 back in June. After that, you went on to win the Silver Rush 50 in July. Have we missed any other summer races for you?

Helen Cospolich: This year I did most of my racing in the spring as preparation for WS100 in June, so my schedule was intentionally heavy then. I raced Way Too Cool 50K in March, Spring Desert 50 Mile in April, Miwok 100K in May, and then Dirty Thirty 50K in June leading up to Western. Because Western was a focus for me, I spent much of my training time on flat ground working on speed, and I think it paid off in my early season races as I PR’d in all of them.

iRF: How has your training been this summer? We imagine UTMB is a goal race. That said, how have you structured your training to lead up to this race?

Cospolich: UTMB is a goal race for sure, but it’s been an interesting season leading up to it this year. I think I’ve found that racing two 100s in one summer pushes my limit for training. Last year I focused solely on UTMB by running the mountains all summer, starting in June. This summer I was still training for WS100 in June, and there was too much snow up high to run the peaks until mid-July. So I feel a bit like I’ve had to cram my vertical training into a month or two. I’m not sure how it will work out for the race, but I do keep telling myself that the altitude shouldn’t be a problem because I live at about 10,000 feet. I’ve spent the last few weekends running 14ers and ski areas. On the weekdays, since I’m working, I’ve been leaving the house as early as 4:30 a.m. to put in some mountain trail running before work. I’ve seen a ton of bears this summer, too.

iRF: You’ve raced in Europe before, and you placed seventh at the 2010 UTMB. Is course knowledge and experience with the abroad racing culture important? That is, is this an advantage for you?

Cospolich: Yes, absolutely! While we didn’t see all of the course last year with the mudslide and reroute, I got a really good sense of the culture and the “scene” of the race, as well as the trails. I went into it last year expecting a course as technically difficult as the Hardrock 100, and was kindof shocked that it wasn’t at all like that. Yes, there’s a ton of vertical, but the trails are so well-used over hundreds of years that they are easily distinguishable, and pretty runable in most places. Last year I was so intimidated by the whole scene of the race, but this year I’m happy to be returning knowing what it’s like. And I think in some regards it’s easier to run your own race when there are so many people around you. I enjoyed being relatively anonymous last year and hope it will be that way again this year.

iRF: You must have a few goals for the race. Can you let us in on perhaps one of those goals?

Cospolich: Honestly, I haven’t yet pieced together my goals for this year’s race. I’m working on that now and should have a good sense of it after I study the other competitors and the course more. There are a lot of very fast American women running this year, but to my knowledge, few of them have done this event before. I’m actually more concerned about the Americans than the Europeans. I think we will have a great American showing there for both men and women! I came off of Western States a little burnt out, raced the Leadville Silver Rush 50, and then I got the stomach flu and spent a family vacation at the beach. When I returned to Colorado I jammed my leg pretty good on a scree face at 13,000 feet, but I’m feeling pretty good now and trying to enjoy the taper leading up to the race and gain motivation over this time. I figure maybe it’s a good thing that I’ve been really busy with work and getting my daughter ready for school and extracurricular activities, which start the week I’m away. But overall, I’m excited to run in the Alps and really looking forward to racing UTMB again.

Call for Comments

Which ladies do you think will run to the front of the pack at this year’s The North Face Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc? Who are the possible contenders other than women we named?

Digital meets the trail at UTMB...

août 9 2011
Source: Mud Sweat and Tears UK
The North Face® have unveiled an exciting new LiveTrail APP integrating Facebook© and Twitter© which allows fans, family and followers to virtually run alongside the world’s premier ultra-runners at The North Face® Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc® 2011. Each runner, tracked by a chip, provides data such as location, ranking and timing each time they go through a checkpoint. LiveTrail APP, a widget that connects the live tracking with the runner’s social media profiles, automatically posts their location details on their Facebook© and Twitter© pages. Runners can connect to LiveTrail APP from August 2011 directly from their personal runner’s page on the race website or on Reporting in real-time from Chamonix throughout the weekend of the 26th-28th August, race highlights and behind-the-scene stories will be posted on The North Face® Facebook© page at regular intervals. From the start to the finish line, live updates will be posted from the course via Twitter©. On The North Face® blog,, text, video posts & photos will be posted daily. The North Face® is the leading community outdoor brand with nearly 1.3 million Facebook© fans. In a unique opportunity, ultra-run fans can also post their questions to The North Face® top athletes via Facebook©. Videoed athlete responses will be posted on Facebook® the day before The North Face® UTMB® starts. In its 9th edition, The North Face® Ultra-Trail Du Mont-Blanc® takes place during August 22-28th 2011 in Chamonix, France. 5,500 competitors from 58 different nations take part in one of four races: headline course The North Face® UTMB® 166km max. 46 hrs; CCC® 98km max. 26 hrs; TDS 110km max. 31hrs; PTL 300km: non-stop. The North Face® UTMB®, of which 2,300 will compete, crosses nine high elevation mountain passes, with a total positive height gain of 9,500 metres, circling the Mont Blanc massif through three countries—France, Italy and Switzerland.

Blister Relief

août 3 2011
Source: Dean Karnazes

While running 3,000 miles across the country, I suffered only one small blister along the way. This may lead you to conclude that I know volumes about blister prevention. I don't, and fortunately, I don't need to. Some people, it seems, are just more prone to blisters than others. I am not one of those people. I could run in sandpaper socks and probably not chafe. Lucky me.

But this article is not about me. It’s about strategies for those people who do get blisters. Given my lack of practical experience, I am probably the least qualified person of all to write this piece. So if any of you readers can offer some suggestions, please leave your comments below.

Okay, here goes.

Blister Prevention 101 involves keeping your feet as dry as possible. Wet feet are a surefire recipe for blisters. A pair of good moisture-wicking socks is essential in keeping your feet dry. Some runners also find it useful to sprinkle some talcum powder in their socks to help absorb excess moisture. Blister Shield and Gold Bond are two popular options.

Another strategy is to keep your feet lubricated by using a product like Body Glide, Sportslick, Aquaphor, or Sports Shield.

Of course, taping your feet in advance with a product like 2nd Skin Blister Pads or Moleskin remains a popular approach.

One product you may not have heard of is a blister prevention spray called Blisstop. I know some blister-prone runners who swear by the stuff.

Others swear by the Injingi toesock. They give these out at the Badwater Ultramarathon, which is a testament to their efficacy.

An African proverb reads: “Life is short and full of blisters.” Hopefully these tips can help your running be long and blister-free!

Okay, my fellow blister-savvy comrades, now it’s up to you. Any additional thoughts, suggestions, insights, or recommendations?  Take it away…


Drumming and Running, Revisited

juillet 26 2011
Source: Runner's World

Neil Peart of Rush, working out.

Almost exactly three years ago in this space, we asked, Are you fit as a drummmer?

The inspiration for this question came from an article in the Sunday Times of London, which said:

After an eight-year study of Clem Burke, the veteran Blondie drummer, sports scientists have concluded drummers are comparable in their physical prowess with world-class sportsmen.

To which we responded, in our post:

Now, it's a little hard to take seriously any scientific study that has a sample size of a single person—particularly when that person is named Clem.

Still, as we noted, at least one sports scientist maintained that Mr. Burke "is no different to the Olympic athletes I have worked with."

And today we learn that Neil Peart would back him up on that claim.

Neil Peart, as I'm sure you know, is drummer for the rock band Rush, which is as awesome as it is Canadian. In a profile from yesterday's L.A. Times, in which Mr. Peart discusses his fitness regimen and the rigors of drumming onstage, he says:

"Playing a three-hour Rush show is like running a marathon while solving equations. My mind is as busy as it can be, and so is my body; full output all the time."

Sadly, he also admits, later, that he "doesn't like running."

Will that stop me from saluting Neil Peart here, and sharing a Rush video? Oh, I think not.

Rock on, Mr. Peart.

And come on… give running a try sometime. It bears a gift beyond price. Almost free.

Interview | Two Runners with The North Face: Rory Bosio & Kami Semick

juillet 26 2011
Source: Wanderlust
Recently, we had the chance to sit down and talk with Rory Bosio and Kami Semick, our runners who represent The North Face that will be joining us at Squaw Valley in just a few days! Unfortunately, if you are not signed up for their running & asana classes, they are full. Here is your chance to get to know them, off the mat and off the track. Rory Bosio What is your favorite yoga pose or series to do before or after a run, and why? I love to do pigeon after a run. Running really locks my hips up but pigeon helps release them, although any progress I make is obliterated with my next long run! How important to your running is having another activity, like swimming, yoga, weight lifting, etc.? Variety is key to prevent injury and to keep your workouts fresh & exciting. I cross country and back country ski in the winter. In the summer I maintain core/upper body strength with paddle boarding & yoga. What advice do you have for yogis who want to become runners? Make it fun! Running shouldn't be just about getting in shape. You'll get way more out of it if you don't view it as a chore. It is a way to explore, and have fun with friends or just connect to nature. I love trail running so I would say find a trail, way more interesting than the road! How does running benefit your mind -- beyond the physical workout? Running is the best mind clearer! I use it to unwind after work or just to daydream. If I haven't run in a couple of days I get cranky. What do you do besides yoga and/or running to balance your life? I love being outdoors as much as possible with my dog and friends. That and what a lot of octogenarians do: crossword puzzles & reading. Do you have a mantra -- for your life or specifically for when you're running? Have fun! I keep this in the back of my mind when I'm racing. My worst races are when I'm too serious and my best results always are when I'm smiling all day. Running is a privilege and my body's way of expressing joy. Love it! Kami Semick What is your favorite yoga pose or series to do before or after a run, and why? Warrior three - it fires the glutes. How important to your running is having another activity, like swimming, yoga, weight lifting, etc.? It is very important to cross train focusing on core strength. Other cardio cross training for me is not as important - except in the winter when it can be hard to run. In the winter I usually XC Ski. What advice do you have for yogis who want to become runners? I think it's important to know that running tightens the muscles, which is a natural outcome of running. So you just have to know that as your miles go up, you will not be able to go as deep into some yoga poses. I think yoga is important in keeping muscles open and fluid, but a balance must be struck when you add running, especially high mileage running, into the mix. How does running benefit your mind -- beyond the physical workout? While running, I think it's beneficial to take the focus from yoga of being able to breathe into a muscle group and focus on it opening, and apply that to muscles while running. Thanks to yoga, if I am feeling tight in a certain area, I can focus on relaxing that muscle group. What do you do besides yoga and/or running to balance your life? Spend time with family and friends. There is nothing better than getting together with a friend or having dinner with your husband and relaxing with some wine. Usually good conversation and laughter flows and rejuvenates everything. Do you have a mantra -- for your life or specifically for when you're running? Relax...Flow...

Is Paddleboard Yoga the Next Big Trend?

juillet 25 2011
Source: Yoga Journal

From Seattle to Syracuse, classes combining yoga and stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) are catching on with both yoga and water sports enthusiasts. News stories are popping up all over about the combination, which promises to offer a challenging twist on the practice of yoga. From what we can tell, it's exactly what it sounds like: Yoga poses on a giant surf board.

It looks like fun, but can it enhance your yoga practice?

According to Austin, Texas yoga teacher Stphany Heeren, yes. Doing yoga on the water works your core in a different way as you try and keep your balance with challenging poses like Side Plank or even Headstand, she told NBC affiliate KXAN. It challenges your balance, forces you to be present, and gives you a chance to be enjoy nature.

It sounds like a winning combo us. Not to mention, it would give you a great answer to the question, "Where's the craziest place you've ever practiced yoga?"

What do you think? Would you be willing to practice yoga on a stand up paddle board? If you have tried it, what did you think?

The Most Beautiful Distance in the World: 0.2 Mile

juillet 20 2011
Source: Runner's World
It's rare that you'll see an RW Daily post devoted to clarifying a previous RW Daily post, but this is one such instance. So pay attention!

After yesterday's post, , I felt a follow-up was in order. For two reasons:

1. To say just how much I love you guys. Some of your nominations were awesome. (Free pie? Cold beer? FREE BEER? Yes please.) And

2. To expand just a bit on my own "most beautiful two words," which as you'll recall were: Mile 26.

Several commenters argued that finish or finish line were, logically, more beautiful. After all, noted one reader,  finish "applies to all races including the marathon and it's when a good amount of the pain stops."

Fair point. And in fact I almost chose finish as the most beautiful word in the English language. But I didn't. It just seemed too predictable, too easy.

The more I thought about it, though, I realized that there's more to it than that. I really do believe that seeing the Mile 26 sign in a marathon is better than actually finishing.

The finish line is the goal, of course. It's what you've been working toward for months. It's also, as that reader noted, where much of the pain stops. But it represents an ending — a finality that can seem bittersweet, that can almost leave us feeling a little sad.

The Mile 26 sign, on the other hand, says, "Congrats! You've made it… practically." With very few, very rare exceptions, if the Mile 26 sign is in sight, you're golden and you know it. And you've got 2/10 of a mile to bask in that knowledge while you're still running.

It's 0.2 mile of pain and bliss.

For a short while, emotionally, you've got a foot in two incredible and very different worlds: You're still racing, and suffering. But at the same time, you're feeling those first waves of euphoria wash over you — the euphoria of knowing that you did it, and that relief is imminent.

It's this contrast — the pain and bliss — that imbues Mile 26 with its beauty. It's uniquely powerful. And impossible to convey, fully, to anyone who hasn't experienced it.

That's why, for me, Mile 26 are the two most beautiful words in the English language.

Especially when there's free beer at the end.


Free Outdoor Yoga Classes

juillet 20 2011
Source: Yoga Journal
It's a winning trifecta: Yoga. Nature. Free. This summer, it seems like everyone wants to be with the trees, wind and sky while they practice. There's nothing like balancing in Tree Pose, humbled and inspired by the real thing all around you. And even better, many outdoor yoga classes are free, many as an offering to the community. Across the country, yogis are busting out of the studio and onto the fields, parks, and lawns. Here's just a few examples: New York: Taking Central Park by Storm Storm Yoga, a nonprofit that runs free classes in Central Park, wants to make yoga accessible to all: The classes are free, but yogis are encouraged to make a donation to a local charity that  runs yoga programs for under served communities.San Francisco: Yoga on the FarmFive days a week, San Francisco's Hayes Valley Farm offers free yoga, weather permitting. Just show up with your mat at this urban farm.  Los Angeles: Canyon AsanasAll yogis are welcome at Fire Groove's weekly, free yoga classes at Runyon Canyon. The evening starts with an all-level donation-based class and ends with a DJ spinning tunes for a Spin Jam.  Austin: Full Moon Yoga For the 14th consecutive year, Charles MacInerney offers a monthly free yoga class that includes a hatha practice, meditation, and socializing to the light of the full moon. 

San Juan Mountain Trail Running Photos

juillet 20 2011

Hey All, While the iRunFar team traveled to Colorado’s San Juan Mountians to cover the Hardrock 100, we’re also enjoying many a good mile on the trails. Below are a couple of our favorite shots (not including Hardrock photos). Many more photos can be found in our San Juan Mountain Facebook album. We’ll keep adding photos to that album throughout the remainder of our visit to these spectacular mountains.

Silverton's been our home since the start of July.

Trail running here may result in a strained neck.

For a few days, we got to follow Hardrock 100 course markings.

The trails aren't always easy. For example, there's a steep climb to the top of Engineer Pass at nearly 13,000'.

But, then, you're treated to fabulous descents with even better views.

Sometimes fog obscures the views... and other times it makes them.

Regardless, the sun ... or a sunflower can brighten up any run.

More often than not, spontaneous magic happens in these mountains.

Exhibit 1 - The wildflowers and lake in Boulder Gulch

Exhibit 2 - A columbine in Boulder Gulch

All those trail miles and breathtaking vistas can leave a guy tuckered out.

Call for Comments What do you think?!

Related articles:

2011 Hardrock 100 Results and Roundup Leadville 100 Photos and Post-TransRockies Run Update The 2010 Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc in Pictures

The Most Beautiful 2 Words in the English Language

juillet 19 2011
Source: Runner's World
As a guy who uses language and stuff wordsmith, I couldn't resist clicking this headline when I saw it recently:

What’s the Most Beautiful Word in the English Language?

That headline led me to a post on a blog called GalleyCat, which mentioned yet another blog, called Deshoda, that had "compiled a list of the 100 Most Beautiful Words in the English Language."

Since both of the blogs in question are run by editorial types, their lists include words like ephemeral and lagoon and onomatopoeia.

All nice words, no question. Evocative, mellifluent, packed with meaning. But we runners know better. We know that the most beautiful word in the English language is actually two words:

If there's a more glorious phrase in this world, I have yet to see it.

And yeah, technically one of those words is a number. I stand by my vote.


juillet 19 2011
Source: Hal Koerner
 Yes, the logo looks like an 80's ski genre movie poster complete with snow and egg yolk sun.  What's uncanny is that there is still snow on Mt A race your Co RD looks like she just rolled off the screen of Hot Dog or Ski Patrol but definitely not 2009's Hot Tub Time Machine, that was too good a movie.    Jenn Shelton carving turns on MT A last week.  What I'm really talking about if you've followed me this far is the upcoming Mt A 5K.  It's a benefit run for Jefferson Public Radio and is put on by store employees Jenn Shelton and Maya Nerenberg.  Sorry, Jenn doesn't actually work at the store she just takes GU's from it like she does.   This is the inaugural event and by all standards it shouldn't even make it off the ground.  But from what I've heard there's a keg at the finish, prizes for just about every finisher, a premium for first man and woman to the summit (you must ring the bell), and word is a new Hyundai will be raffled off.  OK, so I'm not so sure about that last one.  One thing I do know is that the event will be a great tune up for the upcoming Mt Ashland Hillclimb Run some two weeks later and will give competitors an idea about the best way to approach the summit.    I feel this race is pretty extreme and although I scoffed at the idea  months ago or rather the hypothetical proposition of such said event I am happy to see it gaining steam under the watchful eye of two incomparably capable race directors .It's amazing what, most likely, initiative and motivation can accomplish.  Perhaps you too will turn out Saturday and see what you've got stored.    

Is Blogging Revolutionizing Yoga?

juillet 19 2011
Source: Yoga Journal
Is yoga blogging the new jnana yoga? At the Yoga Festival Toronto (August 19-21) a few of the most vocal yoga bloggers in the blogosphere will attempt to answer this question during a panel discussion called "Yogging Heads: The Cutting Edge of Yoga." (Get it? Yoga + blogging = yogging.)

Carol Horton of the Think Body Electric blog, It's All Yoga, Baby blogger Roseanne Harvey, and Elephant Journal yoga editor Bob Weisenberg will talk about what blogging about yoga means to each of them and discuss what it could mean for the yoga community as a whole. We're all spending more time online these days and social media gives us an easy avenue to share meaningful information (often in the form of blog posts) and debate important issues.

In a recent blog post, Horton suggested that the yoga blogging community could be adding a more spiritual element to a practice that in the West has largely been focused on the physical practice. "I believe the yoga blogosphere's already proved itself to be an important development in the evolution of contemporary yoga, and that it has tremendous potential to become even more so," she writes.

If you read Yoga Buzz regularly, you are a part of this evolution she's talking about. So, we'd love to hear what you think: Why do you choose to participate in reading/commenting/writing yoga blogs? Do you view it as entertainment, a way to socialize, or a meaningful way to express your views on yoga? Could be changing the way we think about yoga?

Last, check out Roseanne's video below as she demonstrates (with cutting edge technology!) how the Yogging Heads panel discussion might go.

Toddlers + Track = Cuteness

juillet 18 2011
Source: Runner's World All this summer, hundreds of kids and their parents have been watching one little runner on the track at the Apex Center in Arvada. Little Lily Schatz is the "star" among the mini-tracksters.

More than 10 years ago, the Blazers running group got their start with a few moms, their children and a few friends. Now, close to 450 children run in this program designed for kids ages 3 to 16. The moms that started it all are still coaching, along with a few of their own children who have graduated to the role of coach.

Another former runner who serves as coach, Cody Schatz, has two children participating. Her youngest, Lily, is the youngest in the 3 to 6-year-old group.

"It's never a challenge to bring her, she wants to come. She wants to be here. I think when parents see her and see how small she is, how little she is, they think to themselves if they have a younger child, that they could do this next year," Schatz said.

You can see Lily in action starting around 1:05 into this video:

My favorite line: "Her spunky stride inspires those on the track, and off."


Go, Lily! Run fast!

Kendall Mountain Marathon and UTMB Training

juillet 18 2011

Yes, I owe of all you a Western States race report. That time will come. In the mean time, I jumped into a race over the weekend and thought I’d fill you in on my post-Western States training for Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc.

To start, I’ve been on the road for a day short of four weeks with two one-nights stays at home in Park City. This past Thursday, I traveled from Silverton, Colorado home to mail out items from the iRunFar store and run some errands. As always, things took much longer than expected. Arriving late Thursday and leaving again Friday afternoon just wasn’t going to happen. I accepted that fact and consoled myself with the prospect of two Grandeur Peak repeats (3,300′ or so per climb) in Salt Lake City on my way out of town Saturday morning. Then, at 9:07 Friday night, I received the following email from Meghan, “Look what you’re missing tomorrow! http://www..”

Kendall Mountain Marathon Silverton’s Kendall Mountain Run and Marathon were being held the next morning. I’d heard of the Kendall Mountain Run, a 3,800′ climb from 9,350′ in Silverton to the top of Kendall and back to town in 12 miles. I didn’t know of the two lap “marathon” nor the fact that the race was run the week after Hardrock. Needless to say, I quickly finished up the errands I was on, packed up things at home, and started the seven and a half hour drive to Silverton at 10:40 Friday night. One harrowing drive later (and, yes, driving the Million Dollar Highway over Red Mountain at 5 a.m. on no sleep is harrowing), I arrived at our campground at 5:40 a.m. I was in bed five minutes later and, after some tossing and turning, fell asleep for 45 or 50 minutes.

When I woke at 6:45, I quickly packed a some supplies in a backpack and walked the 3/4 of a mile to town for signup before dropping the bag at the nearby finish line, which also doubled as the marathon turn around point. When the gun went off, we ran a flat mile across town before starting the looooong climb. On a whim, I’d run Kendall for the first time just two days before (although I took a late fork that led me to a 12,800′ mine adit rather than the peak), but I ended up running much more of this climb even though I kept my heart rate in around 155 beats per minute, well under my 160 bpm effort I use for 50 milers. As we climbed higher, the pitch was tougher and the oxygen rarer, so I walked much more. Still, I was psyched to be run some shallower pitches above 12,400′ without too much effort. On the other hand, the final 250′ scramble to the peak left me breathless … repeatedly. The view from the top, however, was breathtakingly worth it.

The scramble back down? Well, I held my breath for that. I wore New Balance 890 road shoes as they’re light and supportive and all but 1 mile of the race was on dirt roads. I’m glad I wore them, but they’re not meant for 45-degree tractionless slopes! Once back on the road, I settled into a comfortable downhill rhythm. It was fun watching as my downhill pace continuously decreased as I dropped in altitude. I’d never seen that before, as it’d be much harder to gauge on trails.

I cruised back into Silverton and to the finish-line turn around where I resupplied. I went super minimal on the first lap with only the 4 “S”es – shorts, shirt (actually, a 2012 Mountain Hardwear Way2Cool singlet that’s the best running shirt I’ve ever worn), shoes, and socks, along with four GUs. That’s it. I didn’t want to carry water up that climb if I didn’t need to and the seven aid stations in 14 miles meant I didn’t need to. For the second lap, I picked up my iPod shuffle, Black Diamond Ultra Distance Z-Poles, cycling gloves, and four more gels (I popped one at the turn around, too). I probably spent two minutes in the aid station.

Heading back out of town, I got a nice boost from seeing Meghan on Main Street and it was appreciated. While this was a training run, I couldn’t help but think, wasn’t once enough, as I headed out for another 3,800′ climb when the vast majority of runners called it a day with one summit.

Me just after the turn around. Photo by Meghan M. Hicks.

To save you from the gory details, I made fine, if slower, progress to the second summit. Having music was nice (one ear bud only, so I could hear and cheer on runners headed down the mountains) and having trekking poles was even better. One marathoner passed me a bit over half way up the climb. He was running far more than I was, but I kept him close until the summit. I took my second scrambling descent quite easy as a couple hundred passages had left the mountainside treadless, I wasn’t as confident in my turnover, and I had nothing to gain. After all, this was a substitute training run for my planned Grandeur Peak double and I was running on less than an hour sleep.

I’ll be honest, I was disappointed with the rest of my descent. I ran fine down it, but was probably 40 seconds per miles slower than the first time. That’d be fine, but I’d purposefully contained myself the first descent to have something for the second go around. I did make one surprising discovery on that descent – I can use trekking poles to speed myself up on shallow-to-moderate declines. I love my trekking poles and worked them shamelessly for the final mile across town. I was glad to have finished.

Me in the final meters of the course. Photo by Meghan M. Hicks.

On the upside, I’d logged 7,600′ of climbing at an average elevation of 11,200′. Yes, I’d be climbing faster and perhaps training “better” if I were closer to see level, but there’ve got to be advantageous adaptations to such workouts at two miles and more above sea level. I was also psyched that I had an average heart rate of 152 to 154 beats per minute for all four of my town-to-peak or back splits. Plus, I figure a “marathon” with 7,600′ of climbing on next to no sleep was perfect training for the final two climbs of UTMB. I sure hope it was!

On the downside, I degraded a good deal on both the second climb and descent despite trying to hold back a bit the first lap. I was 1:26 for the first climb and 48:30 for the descent, although I think that includes 2 or so minutes in the turn around aid station. On the second lap, I climbed to the peak in 1:39 and came back to town in 53. At no point did I fade or feel bad, I simply wasn’t as quick the second lap. It’s quite possible that my lack of sleep and/or the cumulative effect of effort at altitude contributed to the slow down.

UTMB Training All the advice I’ve received regarding training for the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc is to give up running for the summer and, instead, focus on hiking. I’m doing that in spades and doing so in one heck of a spot to do so – Silverton, Colorado.

It’s only three weeks since Western States, I’ve already logged 17 runs for 132 miles, and I feel great. In the week after States, I logged three short, easy (ok, hard, but slow) runs of 2-3.5 miles midweek before an 8 miler the Sunday after the race. I logged at total of 16.5 miles of mostly active recovery type work. None of this felt like “training.”

That Sunday 8 miler was the start of my “San Juan Sessions.” Have you ever seen photos of the Hardrock 100 course or heard people talk about it? Well, that’s what I’m doing every day. A typical day involves a 3,000′ climb up to 13,000′ or so followed by a run back down to where we started. Some days are quite a bit more than that.

In week two, I hit 58 miles in 6 runs (one double the day of the Hardrock 100) and two days off – Saturday and Sunday – while I concentrated on reporting on Hardrock.

In this past week – week three – I hit 73.5 miles in seven runs and one day off. There were two anomalous days last week. On Thursday, I climbed Kendall in the morning, drove home to Park City, and blasted out 8 miles on the trails and roads. The “hills” now seemed flat and I could crank out 6 minute pace on the roads. 7,000′ elevation seemed like sea level. That was fun! The other out-of-the-ordinary run was the marathon.

The day after the marathon I was flat and we cut back our planned outing to the spectacular Highland Mary Lakes. I was positively amazed that my legs were 100% fine. No soreness, stiffness, or fatigue at all. Two weeks of mountain training (and Western States) have really helped me in my quest to make my legs bombproof for UTMB. The two major detractors were core soreness, which greatly limited my desire to run, and limited lung capacity. After the marathon, I did a good deal of hacking from the altitude, dry air, and effort.

My totals for the past two weeks are:

13 runs, with 2 doubles 131 miles 39 hours on trail (although you could probably cut 20% for picture taking!) 41,500′ of ascent 44,500′ of descent 3 off days A heck of a lot of fun

We’ve been having such a good time in Silverton and it’s such good UTMB training that we extended our trip an extra two weeks after our planned departure last Thursday. I’m not sure when, but I hope to put a bunch of pics up of our San Juan adventures once I get a chance.

I will admit that I’ve ramped up my training way more than I’d recommend to anyone else, especially so soon after Western States. It’s a calculated gamble. I’ve recovered quickly from States, am doing very low intensity work, having two decades of base, and had a very easy past year and a half. In addition, this will be a VERY short UTMB training season of maybe five weeks total. Going forward, I’ve got another week and a half of prime mountain training in the San Juans, Karl Meltzer’s Speedgoat 50k, and a week of pre-Outdoor Retailer show training in SLC with lots of UTMB and Wasatch 100 runners in town looking for a same sort of training. After OR, I’ll start tapering although I’ll keep some UTMB-focused sessions on the calendar until maybe 10 days pre-race.

Call for Comments As always, feel free to ask questions about my Kendall Mountain run or my UTMB training!

Related articles:

2011 Trail and Ultra Race Plans? Dakota Jones and Matt Hart Pre-2011 Hardrock 100 Interview Marathon des Sables Training: Weeks 9-22

Seeing Trail Running Through New Eyes

juillet 15 2011

I’ve just spent the past two weeks in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains where we covered the Hardrock 100. Having seen many a mountain range, I’ve not seen any in the lower 48 that can come close to the beauty and scale of these mountains. These are mountains that beg to be seen … preferably during a multi-hour run with a few thousand feet of climbing to an amazing ridge-top vista. Thankfully, I could take in the full splendor of these mountains without glasses thanks to LASIK.

The Problem First a bit of background. I’ve not worn glasses for all that long. In fact, my first 10 years of trail running were glasses free. It wasn’t until sometime a short while into my law school days that the need for vision correct came into view. For the better part of two years, I either ran in my standard prescription glasses or in non-prescription sunglasses. It was only for my first 100, the 2004 Western States 100 the I indulged in pricey prescription sunglasses. For the next 6 years, every run included one of these pairs of glasses. This was not ideal.

Needing glasses to run was a drag and I had no desire to futz with contacts. Rain or snow would bead up on the lenses and make it hard to see. Likewise, steep climbs (i.e., powerhikes) led to the glasses fogging up. In either situation, I’d be left with the decision whether to run with the obscured glasses on or to take my glasses off and keep running. The latter option was fine when road running, but not cool when trail running on technical trail.

Plenty a long trail run started before sunrise or ended after sundown. A transition either way between day and night required a change of glasses. On training runs, it was only a slight inconvenience to carry a second pair. The need for a second pair was more than an inconvenience when a trail run would unexpectedly take me from daylight into twilight and beyond … when I wasn’t carrying my regular prescription glasses. In such situations I’d have to choose between trail running in low or no light with no vision correction or with sunglasses. Races with day/night transitions required preplanning and unwelcome compromises.

Needing two sets of prescription glasses could lead to big problems. Take, for instance, my run at the 2009 Marathon des Sables, a 7-day self-supported stage race in the Moroccan Sahara. Mid-race I began a 56-mile cross country stage at noon. As twilight approached, I hit the first walk-worthy climb of the day and decided to trade in my sunglasses for standard glasses. As I pulled the glasses from my pack’s hip-pocket my heart sank. My glasses were split in two! I had no tape or other way to repair them, so my choice was to go glasses-less, wear my sunglasses at night, or use half my broken glasses as a spotting monocle. With no glow sticks visible in the twilight, I relied on the spotting monocle and following footprints in the sand through the twilight before blindly traveling from glow stick to glow stick in the desert’s deep darkness. It was NOT a fun night. Fortunately, the remainder of the race had no more night running, but it was still a hassle to take in another week in Morocco with only sunglasses.

Me sporting duck taped glasses following my long night in the desert. Photo by Michael Wardian

The Solution I thought I was beholden to these problems for the remainder of my trail running days. Thankfully, Dr. Todd Nickel, one of my coaching students, shook things up last February. He suggested that I think about LASIK. He remarked that if I were interested and a good candidate, he’d love to perform LASIK on me at Heaton Eye Associates in Tyler, Texas.

Well, one thing led to another and I found myself in Dallas, Texas in early last June. As I’d had my screening and measurement examination done at a local California eye center, I visited Heaton Eye Associates for the first time the day before the surgery. I was blown away by their facilities. I took it as a great sign when I walked into the huge waiting room to see it full. I was further reassured by the fact that Heaton does enough LASIK work to own their LASIK equipment (many facilities rent the equipment a few times a month) and Heathon ophthalmologists such as Dr. Nickel specialize in LASIK and other laser surgeries.

Bryon Powell and Dr. Todd Nickel at Heaton Eye Associates

The Heaton staff were pleasant and familiar during my pre-op examination the day before surgery. I felt at peace with my decision to have LASIK done and looked forward to going under the laser the following afternoon.

On the “See-Day,” I showed up ahead of my surgery time and was taken to a tranquil pre-op room. There, I waited in a comfy leather massaging chair in calm, dim lights. I once again had the risks and actual steps of the procedure explained with plenty of time for questions. I was also briefed in full on my follow up care. Then, there was a small dose of anti-anxiety meds. I should add that while I waited, (but before the anti-anxiety drugs) I filmed some material regarding my less than pleasant experiences with trail running and prescription eyewear noted above.

While the surgery was never scary and not painful, it was unlike anything I’d ever experienced, so the meds were appreciated. I’ll spare the squeamish the details, but “odd” and “uncomfortable” would be the worst descriptors I’d attach to any part of the procedure. Both would be associated with pressure and unfamiliarity with having one’s eyeball held steady. There was no blood or pain and the uncomfortable sensation dissipated as soon as each eye was released.

After the surgery, I got a lift back to Dr. Nickel’s house, where I was staying and went down for the advised couple hour nap. Upon waking, it was odd to have to take glasses off to go about my business. You see, for a few weeks after surgery you were protective goggles while you sleep so that you don’t run your eyes. By the next morning, my vision was drastically improved. That improvement continued in the following days and weeks. Recovery was quick and painless. The only downsides during the post-surgery phase was the need for eye drops (I never used contacts, so this was quite weird), dry (sometimes, irritatingly so) eyes, and some starbursts when looking at lights at night. Those negative symptoms resolved in that order.

The Present Within a month or two, my improved vision and quick recovery left me with only reminder of my glassed-past, every once in awhile, I’d find myself pushing up my non-existent glasses. Actually, that lasted at least half a year, but I’m glad to say that I’ve now broken the habit.

Me finishing the 2011 Western States 100 without glasses. Photo by Glenn Tachiyama.

I could list all the awesome places I’ve trail run in the past year without the need for glasses, but that’d seem an awful lot like bragging so I’m not going there. Suffice to say, I LOVE not having to wear glasses. Sure, I often wear sunglasses, but it’s nice to be able to throw them up on my hat if it’s rainy, foggy, or my evening run turns into a night run without the worry of not having my clear prescription glasses with me. I can’t tell you how many times in the past I needed to make the tough choice of uncorrected sight or prescription sunglasses in situations where it would be better not to have them on.

Only two days ago, I was out in Boulder Gulch in the San Juan Mountains when we heard a small rock fall. As the conditions weren’t right for a fall caused by freeze/thaw cycles, we suspected an animal. After just a few seconds of searching, I spotted a marmot 500′ above on a cliff top a quarter mile away. I couldn’t believe that I saw it so quickly. It’s moments like these (and there are many of them) that I’m truly grateful to Dr. Nickel and Heaton Eye Associates for giving me spectacular vision without spectacles.

Related articles:

Julbo Ultra Sunglasses Running Sunglasses Overview 2009 MdS: Stage 3 (56 miles)

Nick Clark Post-2011 Hardrock 100 Interview

juillet 13 2011

Just two weeks after finishing third at the Western States 100, Nick Clark finished third at the 2011 Hardrock 100 in 27:43:21. In this interview, he talks about the race, his Westen States/Hardrock 100 double interview, and his upcoming races – Sierre Zinal and Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc, where he’ll have a rematch against second place finisher Dakota Jones. For more on Nick, check out our pre-Hardrock interview with him.

Related articles:

Dakota Jones Post-2011 Hardrock 100 Interview Nick Clark Pre-2011 Hardrock 100 Interview Nick Clark Post-2011 Western States 100 Interview

Dakota Jones Post-2011 Hardrock 100 Interview

juillet 12 2011

Dakota Jones’ introduction to ultrarunning came watching the Hardrock 100. This year, he finally got to run the race … and run he did. Dakota finished second in 27:10. For more on Dakota’s take on his inaugural Hardrock 100, you can also check out our pre-race interview with him and Matt Hart.

Related articles:

Nick Clark Post-2011 Hardrock 100 Interview Dakota Jones and Matt Hart Pre-2011 Hardrock 100 Interview Dave Mackey & Dakota Jones Pre-TNF EC Interview

Julien Chorier Post-2011 Hardrock 100 Interview

juillet 11 2011

We interviewed Julien Chorier after his 2011 Hardrock 100. In his American ultra debut, Chorier ran a 25:17, for the third fastest time in Hardrock history. For more, you can also check out our pre-race interview with Julien.

Related articles:

Julien Chorier Pre-2011 Hardrock 100 Interview 2011 Hardrock 100 Results and Roundup Vince Delebarre and Julien Chorier Pre-2010 UTMB Interviews

Come Get Some!

juillet 8 2011
Source: Hal Koerner
 The 2011 Siskiyou Out Back is tomorrow and with that we want to wish everyone a great time on trails.  This years course has been rerouted due to excessive amounts of snow on the crest and PCT.   It's a fast first 20+ so don't be fooled into thinking it's going to stay that easy.  The climb up Time Warp will be daunting and punch runners into the sun just as you reach the highest elevation of the day.  Rogue Valley Runners will be waiting for you at the aid station and we'll get you moving on to those last few miles!  See you out there!    

The Right Tools for the Job

juillet 3 2011
Source: Running Times

How many shoes are in your regular rotation? A lot of beginner runners typically own one pair of running shoes but quickly find one pair isn’t enough. More experienced runners usually have several shoes in their quiver, but sometimes those of us who have been running for a long time don’t have the right tool for the job. Running in a variety of shoes can help avoid overuse injuries because they all stress and strengthen muscles and soft tissue differently. (You don’t run with the exact same gait in a lightweight racing flat as you do in a cushioned high-mileage trainer.)

Even though running shoes aren’t cheap, it makes sense to have a shoe specific to every type of running you do. Generally, most of the best training and racing shoes are in the $85-$105 range; a lot of the shoes — but not all — in the $120-$140 range are trumped up with “technology” and flashy elements that don’t add to the performance value of shoes. (That said, we’ve seen the rise of boutique running shoe brands that only have performance-oriented models priced in the $130-$180 range.) However, if you value running, you should consider your shoes an investment in your health and well-being, and having the right pair of the job can help you avoid injuries. Besides, if you have five to seven pairs of shoes in your quiver, you’re not likely wear out any very often.

Don’t think you need more than a half dozen pairs of running shoes? Here’s a checklist of possibilities with specific uses. If you have two pair of several of these categories, it might mean you have 12-15 pairs of shoes in your regular rotation.

1 — Lightweight, cushioned shoe for long, slow distance runs — hopefully neutral or at most, depending on your running gait, maybe a shoe that adds a little stability through firmer form or a wider outsole surface area; (If you’re running in gait-controlling stability or motion control shoes, quit running and instead work on strength and form.)

2 — Lightweight flats for tempo, fartlek and speed sessions;

3 — Lightweight racers for short distances;

4 — Lightweight but slightly more cushioned racers for longer distances;

5 — Lightweight trail shoes for trail training and longer races; (Yes, you can use your road running shoes on smooth trails without any technical features, but even trails that are slightly rugged, wet, muddy or steep will reduce the shelf life or your road shoes.)

6 — Lightweight trail racers for short-distance racing; (Depends on the terrain and the distance, but there are distinct advantages to having a trail racer matched to a specific race.)

7 — Durable, protective and optimally cushioned mountain-oriented trail shoes for jagged, technical trails; (Yes, there is a time and a place for slightly heavier, more built-up shoes.)

8 — Spikes for speed work, track races and cross country races;

9 — Barefoot-style shoes for after-workout drills; (And if you’re very lightweight, nimble on your feet and do a lot of drills and general strength work, then perhaps you can use these for more than just drills.)

10 — And not to be overlooked is a good pair of softly cushioned recovery shoes, slides or mocs that give your feet a break immediately after races and during recovery days.

Of course, barefoot running zealots will say that a runner doesn’t need shoes at all, thus saving what could be $200 to $500 per year. I suppose that works for some, just as running in the same pair of shoes every day works for some, too. To each their own. But I can’t name a single good runner who runs barefoot most of the time or one that owns just one pair of shoes.

Western States - a Bearish Ending

juin 28 2011
Source: Kami Semick
I was in Northern California last weekend for Western States 100.  Nature handed us a beautiful day as we headed out from Squaw Valley at 5am on our 100 mile journey.  Everything was going to plan – start conservatively, have a solid middle and then hold on for the end.  Except the end threw way more at me than I planned. I had passed Tracy Garneau for the lead around mile 90 at Browns Bar Aid Station.  We exchanged pleasantries, and then my pacer, Prudence L’Heureux, and I, set off for the Hwy 49 Crossing (93.5) where we would see our crew for the last time, then onto No Hands Bridge (mile 96.8).  I had been battling stomach issues since the trail from Forest Hill down to the river, so although I was still moving forward, and close to hitting the sub 18-hour time frame, I wasn’t feeling especially spiffy.  But I didn’t think I needed to feel spiffy, as I knew I was extending my lead over Tracy, and we had less than 5 miles to go.  So when I heard what sounded like a big guy charging the downhill around 95 miles, I shifted aside and waved him through.  Well the him was a her, and it was Ellie Greenwood.  “That” I thought to myself “is impressive.”  I tried to respond for all of 10 feet, but knew I just didn’t have it in me to challenge her pace on the downhill.  But, I thought that there was a chance that she was going to blow up, and I still had the ability to run, and was able to run the hills.  Knowing we had our last big climb ahead of us up to Robie Point, I didn’t think I was out of the game. And once I hit the pavement of the last mile, I knew I could fly.“Stop!”  Prudence my pacer had stopped in the middle of the trail as we were about ½ mile from Robie Point (98.9 miles).  “Bear.”  I wasn’t that concerned – just yell and clap and a bear is supposed to run away.   The bear was going up a tree overhanging the trail, and Prudence was sure she saw a cub with it.   Mom and cub, now that is a little more concerning.  We paused for a few seconds, then decided to make some noise to scare if off.  We clapped our hands and waved our arms and yelled as we moved forward.  The bear dropped to the trail and started towards us hissing.  The thought flashed in my mind “I didn’t know bear’s hissed.”  We yelled some expletives as we ran back down the trail.  We stopped after a couple hundred feet, sure that the bear wasn’t fully charging us, and gathered ourselves.  What the hell do we do?   There was no way to “go around the bear” as the trail is cut into a hillside, with thick brush and rock on both sides.  We considered running back down to No Hands to get some help, but I ruled that out.  We could see the aid station lights at Robie Point, so we started yelling for them.  No response.  We yelled louder, flashed our lights.  I couldn’t believe that another runner had not come up the trail yet.  Finally we saw a headlamp moving down the trail from Robie Point.  Wanting to make sure the person knew what to expect, I yelled “be careful, it’s a bear with a cub”.  The headlamp turned around and went back up.  After what seemed like an eternity, but was probably only 10 or so minutes, Tracy and her pacer showed up.  According to the splits, they were 7 minutes back at Hwy 49 crossing, and add another few miles to that, we were probably 10 or so minutes ahead.  Our conversation went something like this:  “Why are you stopped?”  “Bear and cub, and she’s angry.”  “Oh bear, we have those in Canada, let’s go.”  So as Tracy and her pacer lead the way, the bear once again drops out of the tree and starts for us.  We all run back down the trail. “Oh shit, you were right, she is angry”   “Yeah, that’s why we’ve been standing here for TEN MINUTES!!”  As we all contemplate the situation, we see another set of lights coming up the trail.  Another runner, male, and a pacer.  “Why are you stopped?”  “Angry bear with cub.”  “FUCK THE BEAR, I WANT TO FINISH!!”  “We don’t want to see you get mauled.” He flashes his lights up the trail and sees the bear in the tree.  “Shit, we should all just stick together, walk slowly, stay as a group.”  Thinking there is safety in numbers, we all start up the trail, sweet-talking the bear “Please let us by, we just want to fin…”, Bear drops out of the tree and it’s all elbows and high knees.  I am ashamed to say that my only instinct was to make sure that I am not the last person.  There is no camaraderie when you’ve got a bear chasing you uphill.  At least we had gotten past the fulcrum and were able to go up the trail instead of down.  After about a hundred yards, we realized the bear let up, we all slow down.   Shaking our heads and still affected with temporary Tourette’s, we make our way to the aid station.The volunteers at Robie Point were sparse with their words.  We said “There was an angry bear on the trail.”  “Yes.” “Did you hear us yelling at you?”  “Yes.”  That was it.  Granted there is probably nothing in the volunteer manual on “angry bear containment,” but I found it interesting at mile 99, I had more words than they did.  With a little over a mile to go, I am emotionally done with the race.  Prudence and I start jogging in, both still dumbfounded about the bear experience and all the time lost.  With about a half-mile to go, we hear fast moving feet and see lights coming from behind.  Then I hear the voice of my friend, Nikki Kimball.   My first reaction is “Nikki is feeling better and having a great race.”  Then I realize it’s me she’s racing.  “Nikki, did you see the bear on the trail?”  “No bear, just a rattle snake”  “Your not going to make me race you in, are you?”  With that, she did not respond, only accelerated.  Honestly, had the tables been turned and it was me catching up to the second place person, I would race too.  So, it was game on.  Half a mile to go and we are approaching 10k race pace.  We hit the track with me in front, and I hear my sister yell “she’s catching you!”  So I shift gears once again to put a little more cushion in between us.  As we cross the finish line, all I can think is “Really?”  Did this last 5 miles really just happen?   (video of the sprint finish)

Remembering Ric

juin 22 2011
Source: Hal Koerner
Ric Sayre 1954-2011 “Hey Ric”. I sure will miss saying that. He was so understated and even keeled that calmness and capability seemed to effervesce from his pores. Perhaps that was because he was almost deaf and couldn’t hear a damn thing or perhaps that was just because he knew something I didn’t. Hopefully, if all goes well, someday down the road we will all come to know what Ric knew and if I had to guess, it probably relates to living simply and humbly and being a good person. The Rogue Valley in particular and the world in general not only lost a great runner but vastly more detrimentally lost one of the finest and most unique individuals I have ever met. We should all try to be a bit more Ric-esque in our endeavors. Things would be better.Please help us remember this mans indelible impact on life, running and Ashland by joining us 9 am Sunday, June 26 on The Plaza for a memorial run through Lithia Park and beyond.

Granite Man and More

juin 21 2011
Source: Hal Koerner
The picture above portrays many a serene Sunday at Applegate lake, but if you look close you can see that on this day a battle was brewing up in the hills that ring the reservoir.  The Granite Man 10 miler came on the heels of the Triathlon/Duathlon held on Saturday where wetsuits, bikes, and pounding feet set the scene for this steadily growing series of events.This years Granite Man was a tale of two pre-race vibes.  As much as many of us would have loved to camp at the beautiful aforementioned lake complete with community and camaraderie another group stayed back in A-town to pay homage to what had become a lifelong endeavor.  One of our own, Chris Rennaker, or Renegade, or  Renninger to some, finally graduated from sales associate to sales representative. No, not quite he's still working on that, but he did conquer the Masters program at SOU and is now ready to teach the youth of southern Oregon all things environmentally sound.  So we all wanted to know what would become of this celebration and subsequent race.  Luckily for us the RD raises the starting pistol at 9, making the journey south of Jacksonville a little easier to handle. This race is in it's 5th year and the course has been a staple for all of us when we circumnavigate the lake in winter and the snow levels require it.  It's a little bit of a grunt as you ascend Collings Mountain in the first 3 miles gaining a quick 1,000ft.  From there the course undulates the ridge and you catch quick glimpses of the Siskiyous.  This year it was hard to miss the Red Buttes and Greyback Mountain as they glared white, just like a shirtless runner waiting for summer to show.  You then descend back to the lake where the trail contours the water level back to Hart-Tish park.  Erik Skaggs had won the race the 3 previous times and would be tough to beat on this tailor made course. Likewise, this was Jenn Shelton's first race in southern Oregon and she knew the time to beat.  For Erik there was redemption as he bested Tyler Davis who had placed in front of him at this years Pear, while stamping out a new course record.  Jenn followed suit (of her man) with a new course record of her own even after staying up all night trying not to hear her high school girls CC team through ripstop walls.  So revelers went four deep in the top 5.  Pretty impressive numbers, but they don't tell of the true granite man on that day.   Coach Bob Julian took an impressive dive on the descent around mile 7 trying to allude yours truly and still managed to run within inches on the finish line for a would be 4th before hightailing it back out on the course unknowingly.  He did make it in before heading to urgent care where he is reportedly doing well.   Here are the results,  but the pictures below behold the real glory.  Yes purple shorts and no this isn't the swim portion. Erik and Tyler take it out early. Here's that picture Jenn, if you're lucky you might stay there at the 4th of July run. Pete kicking it old school with the headphones AND 32oz Gatorade. Erik is pointing to Leland to get back into his house or put a shirt on. Friday night's theme, Rubix Cube party Annie thinking this is too close to Western States.  Meghan's wonders if these will help with all the snow glare at WS100. Laura's LED western cap is not the most awesome part of this shot! Tim wonders if this bag can carry a cougar home?  They're pretty heavy.

Best Town Ever

juin 10 2011
Source: Hal Koerner
Ashland on the short list for 'Best Town in America' honor Outside Magazine has 10 finalists; you can vote online   By John Darling For the Tidings Posted: 2:00 AM June 10, 2011Ashland has been named to the Top 10 "Best Towns in America" by Outside Magazine, which is asking the public to vote for the one, best-ever "dream town" that offers the best access to outdoor recreation, along with "culture, perfect scenery and stress-free and reasonable cost of living."The Ashland Chamber of Commerce is urging people to get on the magazine's Facebook page and vote for Ashland during the three-week contest, noting that the winning town will grace the October cover of the publication, with all the prestige and economic benefits the come from being named "Best Town Ever.""It's a great way to showcase Ashland for its outdoor attractions and beautiful landscape — and to put us on the map for other reasons than our cultural amenities," said Katharine Flanagan of the Chamber.Outside last year recognized Ashland as one of the top trail-running cities in America and, said Hal Koerner of Rogue Valley Runners, such notoriety in the "best of" articles (it has placed in the poll before) may trigger more traffic and growth but "it will be the right kind of traffic and growth, because this is a discerning town and we're far away from big-city complexities."It's not a call to get everyone in the world here tomorrow," he said. "We do responsible growth here. Ashland has quality — the best attributes of a big city, without the downside — and a lot of cities (in the poll) don't have that. We have good weather, outgoing people and easy access (to outdoor activities) without the crowds."Tia Boddington, editor of UltraRunning Magazine, moved her publication here from Denver in large part because of great running trails and Ashland's other pluses and says, "Ashland absolutely deserves to be on that list."Boddington says such fame is a "mixed blessing," but is mostly positive, with more people and more boost to the local economy. It also creates the necessity for the trails and rivers to be better maintained for recreation and could nudge housing costs, which remain "quite affordable in the valley, though maybe not in Ashland." She adds, "I moved here for the running, bicycling, skiing, climbing, all of it — and Ashland would be a good choice for Best Ever Town because it's not just the outdoor lifestyle; it's also the restaurants, university, so much intellectual activity, great food and lots of music. Once you get through playing outside, you can dress up and go have fun."Outside is the most influential general interest magazine for outside activities, said John Baxter of United Bicycle Institute in Ashland and, its lauding of Ashland is a "good thing ... though Ashland is already on the map for biking" since the Mount Ashland Super Downhill Race "brought a lot of industry types and generated a lot of press."Baxter says there's no bad effect from making "best of" lists, as "it spurs the economy ... and might cause substantial economic growth from cycle-related companies moving to Ashland."For the past 15 years, the magazine's editors have voted the Top 10 list, but this time will let the public name the best town on its Facebook, with the winner not only being on the cover but featured on Outside TV. Readers are invited to post comments, photos and videos.The other towns being voted on are Portland, Ore., Portland, Me., Boulder, Colo., Santa Fe, N.M., Tucson, Ariz., Burlington, Vt., Madison, Wisc., Charleston, S.C. and Chattanooga, Tenn."This is Outside's first major social media contest and we are expecting a heated debate from our followers — in addition to extensive buzz surrounding this wildly-popular topic," said Jen Wittman, Outside's director of marketing, in a news release. "This is a great program to demonstrate strength of our multimedia brand and engage active-lifestyle enthusiasts nationwide in a fun competition. I am hoping for some crazy stunts from our athletes, personalities and tourism boards from the top ten towns as they work to get the attention of our editors."John Darling is a freelance writer living in Ashland. E-mail him at's the link to FaceBook.

This is Bazically How it Went Down

juin 8 2011
Source: Hal Koerner
"G’Day to one and all, on this very nice Monday in Oakhurst, California!  I have just returned from the Fish Camp area where Frank and I removed ribbons.  Thanks to a few nice runners, it was less of a job than I thought.  Runners had removed 80% of the orange tape before I arrived. We must keep the Forest clean. OK, where do we start with this story!  As you all know by now, including the runners who didn’t make the 22nd Annual running of the Shadow, we had a tough couple of weeks.  With my good luck we were able to congregate at Green Meadows for a magical event.  At the popular pre-race dinner I explained the new Plan C course details.  Our bad winter weather, including over 30 inches of snow in the Fish Camp area, really played havoc with my original course.  The new course had a main-road crossing with the 11 mile loop on Miami Motor Bike Trails, all areas of danger for runners, but because I lead a clean and quiet life style we had no mishaps!  Of course, the 30 or so volunteers did help some!  One runner decided his head was strong enough to challenge a tree branch and ended up in the local Oakhurst emergency room with 12 staples required to hold his noggin together. But he returned to Green Meadows to enjoy the entertainment and no legal action…. Many thanks mate.  Yes, we had our usual turnout of good runners.  My mate and past 6 time winner Oswaldo Lopez did his usual appearance 30 minutes before the start along with running mate Benny Madrigal.  My long time good mate Bruce LaBelle finally made it to Fish Camp as did Hal Koerner with wife Carly.  One never knows who may turn up.    I know the first timers where ready to rumble!  To those who expected an accurate 50K course – tough – 29 miles is an ultra.  Come back again maybe I can add a few miles!  Over the years we have had many distances, but no one really complains.  It’s just tough to have a course record that stands. So, we got started in a slight drizzle with 121 smiling faces on the start-line.  Boy was I happy to see them run out of GM after 2 tough weeks.  I raced round to the highway 41 crossing in down town Fish Camp where Nancy and her twin Susan were handling the danger of crossing a main highway!  All the runners were still happy and those who offered verbal abuse to the RD will be named later.   I then drove South to help Big Mike set up the first aid station.  The front runners arrived on time and didn’t stop to wine and dine.  I then took off again with McDoogal in tow to set up his station, Karen my long time helper arrived on time.   Finally, my mates from Fresno - Brandon and young Chris followed me down a couple of hills to their station at the lowest point of the course.  Actually, it was a nice bridge crossing with fast flowing water, trouble was the front runners had beaten us there and so we had to refuel them on one of the steep climbs up from the river.  No problems.  Nice surprise was to see my OC mate Michelle Barton charging up the long hill in third place and only minutes behind Hal and Ozzie baby.  She was smiling and shouted "I love your new course".    By the time I hit the course again the front-runners had reached McDoogal and were heading North.  I stopped at Big Mike’s station and he shouted “They had gone through heading up to Fish Camp”.  Back in Green Meadows my good mates Stef and the young twins from Orange County had prepared the aid station.  The 2 speedsters arrived together and left together heading for the Dump turn around point.  I arrived there to find the volunteers were not at the right location, but only a 100 yards away.  So a quick move and all was reset and ready for the leaders and only a minute or two later they arrived.   Big Hal had taking a 200 meter lead and Ozzie had removed his shirt, both now a little intense, because the final downhill was around the corner.  By the time I returned to GM they had both finished, were chatting and going over respective stories of the race.  Both enjoyed the new course and the bad conditions were not a factor.  Hal considered it a little more than a challenge in prep for WS, but praised Oswaldo.  Miss Hair arrived in GM with a fan fare of cheers to finish third overall and another win from the talented mum.  Ken Letterie came in smiling and happy to be the third man.  Second women overall, Hal’s wife Carly was 48 minutes behind Miss Red Blur and third was Christy Scott only 6 minutes further back. " - Baz Hawley R.D. Carly crushes the downhill to the finish. Yep, 96 finishers and Shahid, Carly and I made it in the top 15!     1 Hal Koerner m 35 3:24:46 2 Oswaldo Lopez m 39 3:25:18 3 Michelle Barton f 40 3:58:03 4 Ken Letterie m 28 4:02:04 5 Jim Magnan m 53 4:24:47 6 Randy Vadertwig m 37 4:25:31 7 Ali Shahid m 25 4:28:25 8 Jonathan Byers m 23 4:31:33 9 Duane Miller m 38 4:31:57 10 Howie Stern m 41 4:38:45 11 Michael Roberts m 54 4:39:51 12 Bruce Labelle m 55 4:41:14 13 Dennis Koors m 39 4:41:29 14 Matt James m 34 4:43:49 15 Carly B. Koerner f 29 4:46:11 Here's my Garmin detail, I feel it was closer to 30 miles considering my 2:20 4th mile. Moving well but...... I love this guys enthusiasm! We all hobbled away from the 22nd running of the Shadow of the Giants 50k thinking we must return and give the standard course a try.  I waited forever to make up my mind and run this event and I thank Carly and Shahid for pushing it. I congratulate them on their new personal bests and perhaps the breakthrough performance of the year goes to Shahid for his 7th place finish and 30 plus minute improvement.Carly, one ultra away from 30, will go for it on her 30th birthday at the S.O.B. 50k. Like they say, it's all downhill from there.  What do you do after running 50k?

Staring at the Sun

juin 8 2011
Source: Running Times
The longest days of the year are here and, in many parts of the country, enduring sunlight. In past years I’ve avoided putting on sunscreen because it smells bad and leaves me feeling like I’m covered in a thin coat of plastic until my next shower. On a hot summer day, nothing is less appealing. Enter JĀSÖN sunscreens. The SPF 30 Mineral Formula (4 oz., $14.99) is one you can easily forget about once you’ve put it on. It doesn’t leave you feeling like a plastic bag or smelling like a swimming pool — in fact, it doesn’t smell like anything. It is easy to rub in and doesn’t rub away easily when you get sweaty or dirty. The formula uses only minerals (as opposed to chemicals) and is safer for babies as well, so one tube can suit the entire family.

If you prefer something with a higher SPF, the SPF 45 Sport Formula (4 oz., $11.49) is another good option. With a noticably different ingredient list than the Mineral formula, the Sport formula still contains several of the brand’s signature organic ingredients, for what that’s worth. It is also supposed to be slightly more sweat/water resistant though this claim is notoriously difficult to test! At any rate, it is more pleasant than many other brands I’ve tried and does it’s job with aplomb.

Comrades 2011

juin 4 2011
Source: Kami Semick
I returned to South Africa last week to run the historic Comrades Marathon race.   The specifics:  86.97 kilometers (54 miles).  This year was an “up” run – starting in Durban and ending in Pietermaritzburg.  The first marathon climbs about 2200 ft, with very little decent.  The remaining 28 miles rolls, gaining about  3500 ft and losing about the same.  20,000 people entered the 2011 race, and I think I read 14,000 showed up at the start.  As I talked about in my post about last year’s experience, South Africa has a complex political and social environment.  Granted huge amounts of progress have been made since the end of apartheid in 1990, but coming from the United States, it is difficult to not feel a little out of step with the surrounding environment.   South Africans live in a very “on guard” state.  Durban itself can be very unsafe.  Daytime safe zones dot the city map, and security guards are in place 24/7 to ensure these areas stay safe.  At night, movement is extremely restricted, and day and night, taxicabs are scrutinized to ensure they are “safe” before taking a ride.   That being said, there are only a few bad eggs that make it an unsafe environment.   But it is the vast majority of the people of South Africa that are the grounding force and make the overall experience wonderful.  This year I ran for NedBank, a South African based running club.  The athletic system in South Africa is organized around a club system, which comes into play in major events such as Comrades.  Serious contenders run for a South African club which gives the runners access to crew points along the course as well as club incentives and other perks such as transportation and accommodations.  I chose to stay at a small Bed and Breakfast versus staying with the team at a large hotel.  It was important to me to be able to prepare my own food and to distance myself from the pre-race commotion.  At the recommendation of my friends from Bend who were also running Comrades, Geof Hasegawa and Tonya Littlehales, I booked a room at the Rosetta House, which is located in the “safe” neighborhood of Morningside in Durban.  Being at the Rosetta House allowed me to be able to walk to a local grocery store, chill when I needed to chill and to have a wonderful, home environment from which I could prepare myself for the race.  Bill and Lee, owners of the Rosetta House, were over the top in helping to accommodate my needs.  Their hospitality and the quiet location was exactly what I needed in order to recover from the travel and get myself mentally prepared to race.  The race started at 5.30 am.  In order to avoid the anxiety from last year where we arrived at the start only 5 minutes before the gun, we left the B&B at 4 am so that we would have plenty of time to navigate the congestion and arrive without raising my heart rate.    It maybe funny to read, but the race went by in a blur.  One would think that running for six and a half hours would be tedious with a lot of time to think and take everything in, but I really don’t remember much. The first half seemed dark, and the second half I was uber focused.  The highlights for me – the first third I didn’t feel snappy.   In fact, I thought I was going to have a mediocre day.  So this reinforced my mantra to conserve in the first half so that I could run the second half.    By the halfway point, I felt my energy start to flow, and I started pulling away from the people around me.  The last quarter of the race, I was in full flowing mode.  I felt like I was running solidly, and assuming that I could keep a steady flow of calories coming in, I was going to be able to hammer to the end.  I think I was six minutes back from the Russian twins at the halfway point, and was able to pull in four of those minutes in the last 27k.  The stats:  7.10 per mile pace through 42.96 kilometers; 7.08 pace for the remaining 44 kilometers.  One surprise that I had was how long and steep the final climb, Polly Shortts, was with less than 12k to go.  It’s proof that you can study something on a map, and even run it from the other direction (down) and neither does it justice for hitting such a long, steep climb almost 50 miles into a fast road race.  Most people around me were walking up the hill.  I remember mentally thinking “oh good, no one is running this hard, so I’m just going to do a plodding run up it.”  And plod I did, but I managed to pass a handful of runners along the way.  In fact, the video of me coming over the crest of Polly Shortts says it all - - I can see how heavy my legs felt and how it took a good 400 meters to get rolling again.  Once again, the crowds along the way were phenomenal.  It's hard to express the complete joy I felt in the second half all due to the people who came to watch the race and who put so much energy into cheering and encouraging each and every runner.  How can I ever repay that?  Thank you, once again, South Africa.  Comrades Results: Men

      Stephen Muzhingi (ZIM) 5:32.45

      Fanie Matshipa (RSA) 5:34.29

      Claude Moshiywa (RSA) 5:42.05

      Jonas Buud (SWE) 5:42.44

      Gift Kelehe (RSA) 5:43.59


      Elena Nurgalieva (RUS) 6:24.11

      Olesya Nurgalieva (RUS) 6:24.35

      Kami Semick 6:26.24 (US)

      Ellie Greenwood (GBR) 6:32.46

      Farwa Mentoor (RSA) 6:35.49

Are Your Toes Correct?

juin 3 2011
Source: Running Times
Both the current revolution in running shoes and the natural running trend are tied to the notion that a runner’s form can be more efficient when the foot is able to move more freely, as if it were unshod. While working through his own foot problems and reading research of the late Dr. William Rossi that suggested that Americans wear their shoes too small, competitive masters runner and Portland-based podiatrist Ray McClanahan developed a running aid to increase dynamic foot strength and efficiency.

Made from medical-grade silicone, Correct Toes is a device that allows the toes and transverse arch to properly splay when the forefoot is loaded just before the start of a new stride and maximize propulsion. It’s available in three sizes but works best in training shoes with a wide toe box.


2011 Comrades Marathon Preview

mai 27 2011

Sunday will see the world’s most competitive ultramarathon. It won’t be held in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains nor Europe’s Alps. Nope. It’s the 86th Comrades Marathon and will be run in the 52 miles that stretch between Durban and Pietermaritzburg in South Africa. Not only is it the world’s most competitive ultra, it’s also the world’s largest with more than 10,000 finishers in recent years and an incredible 19,617 entries this year! Almost as shocking is the fact that only 4,882 of those runners will be “novices” as Comrades first-timers are known.

While the race has received scant attention in the US, that might be changing. This year 179 Americans signed up for the race, the third most of any nationality. The vast majority of racers are, not surprisingly, South African, but there are also 253 UK residents, 152 Australians, and 115 Brazilians signed up for the race. As suggested, these ranks include a number of the world’s best ultrarunners. We’ll highlight a few familiar runners who’ll take part in this year’s race.

Leading the American men is Michael Wardian. In case you’ve not been paying attention, Wardian was the International Association of Ultrarunners (IAU) 2010 Ultraraunner of the Year, has placed third at the past two IAU 50k World Cups, and was also third at the 2010 IAU 100k World Championship. He’s also got no fewer than five USATF ultra-distance national championships. Last year at in his Comrades debut, Wardian placed 26th in 6:02 coming through 50 miles with a PR split of 5:21. He’ll be looking to move into the top 10 for a “gold medal” this year. (We interviewed Wardian before last year’s Comrades.)

Wardian, a runner with The North Face, will be joined by teammate Ian Sharman. Sharman, a British national living in the States, bested Wardian by mere seconds at last year’s race, where he placed 24th in 6:01:13… just 73 seconds off his sub-6 hour goal. (Read his in-depth 2010 race report.) Since then, he’s run the fastest trail 100 mile time on American soil with a 12:44 at Rocky Raccoon this past February. (iRF post-Rocky Raccoon interview)  This will be Sharman’s fifth Comrades.

Wardian and Sharman will be challenged by a bunch of studs … that we know nothing about such runners as the defending champ, Stephen Muzhingi, along with Jaroslaw Janicki, Ludwick Mamabolo, Lucas Nonyana, Oleg Kharitonov; Bongmusa Mthembu, Peter Molapo, Fusi Nhlapo, and Peter Muthubi.

Wardian and Sharman are damn good ultrarunners, but the household names among this year’s women’s competitors may be even more impressive. We think that’s fair when talking about the likes of Lizzy Hawker, Ellie Greenwood, and Kami Semick!

Hawker’s won the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc more times than anyone else with three victories (iRF post-2010 UTMB interview), but her skills aren’t reserved to the mountains. She’s also a speed demon on the roads. For example, in 2006 she won the 100k road world championship in 7:28:46. Last year, Hawker returned to the 100k world championships and battled for the lead all day before finishing third in 7:33:26.

It was Greenwood who locked with Hawker in epic battle at last year’s 100k World Champs (the race is worth a read) and ended the victor in 7:29:05. That victory should come as no surprise as Greenwood has won at least eights ultras in the past year with no losses that we can think of offhand. Those wins includes a second overall finish and women’s course record at last August’s Canadian Death Race and seventh overall at the American River 50 mile in 6:25:43 in April.

Another past world 100k champion (2009 in 7:37:24), Kami Semick was fourth woman at last year’s Comrades Marathon. She just published her race recap. Last August, Semick won the Vermont 100 in 16:42 and this spring finished second to Greenwood at the American River 50 with a time of 6:34:37.

While Amy Sproston might not have a 100k world championship to her credit, she’s quickly gaining the recognition she deserves in the ultrarunning world. For example, she joined the Montrail Trail Running Team this year and backed that up with a fourth place finish at the Miwok 100k in 10:02:41 earlier this month on the heals of a five week injury hiatus. Last November, she won the JFK 50 mile in 6:57:16, the eighth fastest women’s time in the race’s long history.

All that said, the twins Elena and Olesya Nurgalieva will be hard to beat. Joining them up front among the women will be Marina Myshlyanova, Farwa Mentoor, Tatyana Zhirkova, Lindsay van Aswegen, and Adinda Kurger.

Call for Comments Who will you be rooting for this weekend? Who else of note is running?

Do you have any interest in running Comrades? Why or why not?

Related articles:

US Men 2nd at 100k World Champs; Incredible Women’s Race Americans Semick and Wardian Run Well at Comrades Marathon Michael Wardian Video Interview: 2010 Comrades Marathon

“Hell On Two Wheels” Tops Cycling Books

mai 25 2011
Source: Triathlete Magazine
San Diego author’s “Hell on Two Wheels” takes readers inside the 3,000 mile Race Across America. When Amy Snyder first pitched the idea of writing a book about long-distance bike racers, the response was quick and to the point. “If it’s not written by Lance Armstrong”, a publicist told her, “you don’t stand a chance.” Last week, Snyder’s book “Hell on Two Wheels” was released and quickly became the No. 1 cycling book on Synder, who has called La Jolla home for the past six years, is a first-time author and she says every day is a new adventure in her life thanks to her new book. “In the first 24 hours it became the No. 1 book in Amazon’s cycling category,” Synder said. “And it was No. 767 overall. I was just astounded by that — to break 1,000 on the first day was just crazy.” Snyder’s journey to writing a book on an endurance sport is a bit unconventional. It was only after she retired in 2005 that she took part in her first Ironman Triathlon. At age 45, Snyder found that experience “taught me a lot about myself, failure … it taught me that being vulnerable and asking for help is OK.”

Inside Triathlon Magazine Archives: A Profile Of Linsey Corbin

mai 25 2011
Source: Triathlete Magazine
It’s early evening on a Monday in late May, and I’m sitting in a booth at Mackenzie Pizza in Missoula, Mont., drinking a pint of Moose Drool beer. Mackenzie Pizza has a back country ambience to it; the cherry wood luster of the booths and pillars is set off by warm yellow lighting and the required décor in a true-blue Montana establishment, namely references to hunting, fishing and grizzly bears. I sip on the thick brown ale as I listen to Chris Corbin talk about all things dear to his heart: fly-fishing, rivers, Big Sky beer—the local brewery and makers of Moose Drool—and most important of all, his wife, elite long-distance triathlete Linsey Corbin. Originally from Arkansas, Chris possesses the same earnest, small-town friendliness that inhabits just about everyone I met in Missoula. Yet he’s by no means a low-key guy. Listening to him talk about fly-fishing, you wonder if he’s going to levitate. And when the subject turns to Linsey and her career in triathlon, you wouldn’t be surprised to see blue sparks start to fly. Linsey is sitting right next to him, by the way, her attention frantically immersed in a BlackBerry, with a worried expression crossing her Hilary Swank good looks. While we wait for chicken and vegetable pizza to arrive, she thumb scrolls her phone as if trying to crack a secret code. “Her coach sent her the wrong training schedule,” Chris explains. “He accidentally sent her the plan for one of his other athletes.” He pauses as we both glance at his increasingly desperate wife and the untouched glass of beer poised before her. The intensity of the moment rises; maybe the e-mail will come through, you sense she’s thinking, if the buttons get pushed harder. Chris drinks his beer, smiles and gives a this is why my wife is great shrug and says, “She’s hoping to get the new plan.” Linsey Corbin blew onto the world stage of triathlon in 2008, when she finished fifth at the Hawaii Ironman. With a sweeping grin, she was an instant crowd favorite—careening through the finish chute slapping hands with fans, waving a cowboy hat and beaming a ray of authentic joy that the often-grim Hawaii Ironman seems in short supply of. But her girl-next-door persona would become cause for concern for Corbin fans wanting to see her climb upward in the sport rather than drift away. Getting into the top 10 at the Hawaii Ironman demands hard work and great talent. Getting into a fight for a top-three finish demands a cruel level of hunger and sacrifice. Triathletes with great expectations have come, fizzled and gone simply because they were just too damn nice. I was reminded recently how Linsey Corbin was in danger of being filed in the happy-go-lucky see-ya column when a colleague heard that I was writing a story on her. “Linsey Corbin?” he replied. “The girl with the cowboy hat? Really?” The remark was no doubt fueled by her disillusioning 11th place showing at the 2009 Hawaii Ironman. Was she going backward? Was she comfortable with a single top-five placing and now she was happy to cruise? No. The truth was Corbin had ratcheted up her intentions for 2009. Five to seven hours of training per day was a normal routine at the office, and in the Montana winter this meant indoor bike trainer workouts of up to four hours. Weekly long runs were in the three-hour range while averaging 400 miles per week on the bike. She threw fire at her weakness, the swim, by enduring torturous workouts like 10 x 400 meters of pulling with paddles. To cap her pre-season buildup she used Memorial Day weekend to string together a 165-mile ride (with four mountain passes), a 75-mile ride spiked with hill repeats and a final 130-mile ride. Surely she’d be ready to crack open a new frontier of performance in 2009. But it wasn’t to be. Although Corbin finished a respectable second at Boise 70.3 and took first at the Vancouver sprint triathlon, her fourth-place finish in July at Vineman 70.3 stung. “Finishing fourth was a mediocre result,” she told me. “I figured that I hadn’t worked hard enough.” Corbin responded by increasing the already towering workload. She also added more races, searching for a finish-line confirmation that the work was finally hard enough. She entered Calgary and Lake Stevens, two races from the 2009 70.3 circuit, dying a bit more with each start, placing fifth and sixth respectively. In a last ditch effort to gain the form she craved, Corbin went to Hawaii six weeks out from the world championship and, by default, trained hard every day. “You can’t go easy in Kona,” she says, recalling the experience. “You just can’t spin easy on the Queen K.” Three-time Ironman champion Peter Reid is largely credited for developing the now common “Kona camp,” but Reid knew the incinerating nature of training on the Big Island and kept it contained to a few weeks or less, always returning to Canada well before race day so he could recover. Corbin stayed right up through race week. When she started having trouble sleeping at night, she thought it was because of the heat. She never considered her body was running up the white flag of severe overtraining. By the start of the 2009 Hawaii Ironman Corbin had little left to give. Her 9:44 finish left her out of the top 10 and a later battery of tests revealed a staph infection, vitamin deficiencies and anemia. For months Chris Corbin had been lobbying his wife to make a change in her approach but with no firm success. After the crushing disappointment in Kona he made his final plea, bluntly telling her, “If you like finishing 11th just keep doing what you’re doing.” On the day after the 2009 championship, Linsey had breakfast with Chris Lieto, hours after Lieto’s breakthrough where his monster 4:25 bike and 3:02 run locked him in a duel with Craig Alexander and allowed him to hang on for an impressive second place. Lieto could see that Corbin was on a path similar to his own, where a high, hard mileage ethic ultimately can grind you to pieces. Lieto had been there: a level of achievement not in line with the gigantic amount of work he was loading into it. Lieto made a coaching suggestion to Corbin, a bright and rising star in the business, someone in tune with their predicaments from the inside out: Matt Dixon. “I wouldn’t be coached by anyone else,” Lieto says. “He’s the new school. I saw the decline in Linsey’s performance. That’s why I recommended him to her.” A Brit, Dixon came to the U.S. in 1992 to swim at the University of Cincinnati. Thanks to the tough, high-volume program it was renowned for, he felt at home. After college, he became a professional triathlete because he assumed his studies in physiology, batched together with the killer work ethic that drove him through 80,000 yards a week in the pool, would translate well into a sport where a race was measured in hours as opposed to a few minutes. “I was world-class at training,” Dixon says. “I believed that more was always better.” Dixon got off to a promising beginning. “I had fine results to start. It was due to two years of accumulating mass mileage.” When results decayed, Dixon’s choice was to do even more. “I should have known better. I was doing it all wrong despite having a master’s degree in clinical physiology.” Dixon says that the body can handle only so much and eventually a tipping point is reached, which was precisely his fate. “I suffered a complete metabolic shutdown.” The damage was severe, and the only remedy toward restoring health was a year of absolutely no exercise. Dixon used the time to think about what had happened, realizing that a return to professional racing was beyond him. “The experience was a catalyst. I began to look at things in a more logical sense.” In his reflections Dixon determined that his true calling was as a coach. He galvanized his awakening philosophy by working with his first pro, American Tyler Stewart, who clocked 60 hours a week at a job and had at most 15 hours per week for training. Dixon began channeling his belief that success in multisport is first and foremost about establishing and maintaining overall health and consistency as opposed to focusing on sheer cardiovascular volume. Since going pro, Stewart has posted top-five results in a range of Ironman and 70.3 events, including the win and course record at 2009 Ironman Coeur d’Alene. Dixon and Corbin first met last October after Corbin’s 11th-place death march. “She was very similar to how Chris Lieto looked to me when I first met him,” Dixon recalls. “Her muscles were like Swiss cheese, full of micro tears and knots, and she didn’t have any vitality or vibrancy. She looked fit, but she just wasn’t healthy.” Dixon spent time watching Corbin train and put her through a basic set of tests. “I saw right away she was a fantastic athlete. Her numbers were great, and I watched her swim, bike and run and saw nothing but potential.” He also took note of her mental drive and character. “She’s a lovely person, very friendly, but with incredible drive. She clearly had the commitment to do whatever was necessary to succeed.” But what was critical, Dixon told her flatly, was whether or not she’d make the sweeping changes he would recommend to her. The two decided to test working together. Corbin would race Ironman Arizona in November, and Dixon emphasized she had to follow his plan to the letter. There would be no improvising or extra workouts. “He told me he would do it as long as I did what he said,” Corbin says. “We struggled a lot,” remarks Dixon. “It was like an intervention.” In the six weeks between Kona and Arizona, Corbin’s longest bike was three hours and longest run was less than 90 minutes. Ten pounds of muscles returned to her frame, and she found it was easier to follow Dixon’s orders than she might have imagined. “My mind was dumb, like mush, so I was almost like a robot,” she says. Corbin finished second to Sam McGlone in 9:13:46, a surprising turnaround after being declared a zombie less than two months before. Despite the proof of a good result, the ensuing months of following Dixon were rough on Corbin. Dixon teaches his athletes to revise the way they see the ancillary aspects of training. “It’s a total approach,” he says. “You need to give equal value to functional strength, recovery and nutrition as you do to swim, bike and run.” A core workout, in Dixon’s world, has similar weight to a tempo run. This pushed Corbin to the edge of an internal cliff several times. “When you train as hard as she does you live and die by every workout,” Chris Corbin says. “She had let go of the program that had garnered so much success and replaced it with something completely different. In the six months leading up to New Orleans 70.3 she was a basket case.” “It was like leaving home,” Linsey admits. The stress of change built to a climax the day before New Orleans 70.3 in April. When Linsey sat down for lunch with her husband and Dixon at a seafood restaurant, she began to unspool. When Chris peeked up from his gumbo he saw his wife “being really weird. She was worthless, barely able to chew on a piece of bread, just sitting there completely lockjawed.” “I had my first massive freak-out,” Linsey remembers. “I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t talk. Nobody wanted to be around me.” When Linsey left to go to the bathroom a stunned Dixon asked, “Is this normal?” “No,” said Chris Corbin. “This is the first time I’ve ever seen this.” He later figured it out: Having her workouts overhauled top to bottom by Dixon, she had nothing solid to gauge a race effort by. She simply had no idea what was going to happen when the gun went off. “They were still working through their relationship,” Chris says. “He had so much confidence in her fitness, and she had absolutely none.” The next morning, Linsey woke up, said let’s do this thing, and nailed a solid second-place performance. Corbin’s confidence ticked upward but there was still a long way to go. Dixon knew she wanted to do well at Wildflower but he told her she wouldn’t—it was still too early—and she didn’t, finishing out of the top 10. Dixon has very little interest in making an athlete spectacular in the spring. “It’s a long season,” he explains. His program was designed to deliver Corbin to two peaks, one in June at Ironman Coeur d’Alene, and the other this October in Kona. It was in January when Dixon made the bold prediction to Corbin: “At Ironman Coeur d’Alene you’re going to win and you’re going to break the course record.” To Dixon, there was nothing bold about this prediction. It was a matter of numbers, verified talent and an athlete with the determination to carry out a plan. It all added up. If she simply signed on to the program she would arrive in Idaho healthy and with the capacity to race a 9:15, a course record-breaking time. It was that simple. There was no doubt she would do the work, eat right and attend to the lifestyle necessary to absorb the training and leave no stone unturned. The final question was of her confidence. During Corbin’s four years she had collected a set of strong results, but a big win remained elusive. In Chris Corbin’s opinion, the final element was belief. He saw his wife struggle to understand what it was that the likes of a Chrissie Wellington was doing that was different from what she was doing. “She’s had some self-doubt,” Chris says. “She was doing Matt’s program but still didn’t believe in it. It was the last piece of the puzzle.” When Linsey noticed that, on the day in early May when she finished 11th at Wildflower her friend, Meredith Kessler—also coached by Matt Dixon—finished second in St. George, Chris made an effort to cut self-doubt off at the pass. “I said to Linsey, ‘What are you going to do? Ask her who her coach is?’” When it comes to Missoula, the Corbins have put this city on the triathlon map. Perhaps because of the harsh winter climate and remote destination, not many have followed, and the triathletes that Linsey trains with are few, but tough. Although Linsey grew up in Bend, Ore., she calls herself “Montana-made,” and her love for Missoula is apparent. A college town with old Victorians, brick roads and a village with mom-and-pop bars and restaurants, one of her favorite pastimes is to frequent University of Montana football games. After her morning swim you’ll likely find Linsey making a stop at Espresso Break, her favorite coffee house. (“They put Starbucks out of business!” she says with a proud smile.) The best sandwiches in town, Chris and Linsey insist, will be found at the Rattlesnake Trading Company on the east side of town. The Corbins live in a cozy bungalow with a well-stocked kitchen, and although she’ll tell you, “I’m no Martha Stewart,” she loves to cook, shopping with sustainability in mind at the local co-op. Their house doesn’t have a TV; instead, NPR plays over the radio. When they need fresh eggs they use six-packs of Big Sky beer to barter with their chicken-raising next-door neighbor. When asked if Chris ever joins Linsey for a workout, he recounts how he once went with her on a bike ride she had labeled an easy recovery spin. “All I know is it took me four days to recover from it,” he says, adding that during the ride she accusingly declared, “You’re just coasting!” That said, on off-days the couple loves to go out together on their rowboat. Linsey reads or takes a nap and Chris casts the fly. When it came time to propose a few years back, Chris grabbed a fly box, took a shop vacuum to it and artfully placed the ring inside. At the ritual moment offshore, Chris asked Linsey if she could get a fly out for him whereupon she found the sparkling engagement ring. Five sweeping valleys converge upon Missoula. It’s an outdoorsman’s dream. The Clark Fork river cuts across downtown Missoula and later joins up with the Blackfoot, made famous by Norman Maclean’s A River Runs Through It. The Lolo National Forest offers 1,800 miles of trails and the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness area to the east measures at 1.3 million acres. Chris tells me that “pothole” lakes are scattered across the state, a reference to the smaller lakes left behind by receding glaciers. Bike riding is epic and windy. On her blog Corbin once wrote, “We biked to Idaho and back,” humbly adding, “It’s not as far as it sounds.” Uh, yeah it is. Confirms Chris, “After Linsey gets on her bike, it’s hard to get her off.” On occasion the couple considers moving away from Missoula—maybe to Boulder? Tucson? San Francisco? But each time they return from a trip, they cherish Missoula all the more. Besides the emotional connection, there’s simple economics. When Linsey got stuck with a parking ticket in San Francisco she was alarmed to see that it was $60. “It’s only $2 in Missoula,” she says. Being Montana-made, however, pushed Corbin near the brink, and the essence of her commitment to work with Dixon is that she would focus on quality and not overwhelming quantity. On June 28, Corbin lined up for the goal race in Coeur d’Alene after a week in which Dixon had told her she was going to feel a bit sluggish. But on the Sunday of the race, even after a 1:01 swim left her eight minutes behind the lead, Corbin leapt on her bike and combined a 5:07:44 ride with a 3:04:36 run, patiently erasing a four-minute lead established by Meredith Kessler, making the final pass at the 18-mile mark of the marathon, and going on to snap the course record with a 9:17:54 victory, validating Dixon’s January prediction. Any doubts remaining about the new program were likely erased as well. Plenty remains to be seen about how Corbin’s triathlon career will unfold. But she’s certainly not just a gal in a cowboy hat—she’s a gal in a cowboy hat that can win an Ironman. The question now is, how far can she go? And how far can she go in the era of Chrissie Wellington? The only ones truly qualified to judge the character it takes to compete for the title in Kona are those few who have done exactly that, and three-time world champion Peter Reid, who never minces words, sees in Corbin someone who has the goods to give it an honest go. “I met Linsey a few years ago at a half-ironman in Vancouver,” Reid says. “I walked away feeling impressed.” Reid says that most of his interactions with pros can be described as strangely one-sided—they usually tell him everything they’re up to or angle for information on how to win the Hawaii Ironman. “With Linsey I had a genuine conversation about triathlon. She was unique. She seemed extremely balanced with a ton of hidden talent and a huge work ethic. Over the years we’ve exchanged e-mails from time to time and she always asks the right questions. By right questions I mean that she sees the big picture. Winning the Ironman is so much more than how many hours you trained and what you did for training. Linsey gets it.”

Terra Nova Ultra 1 Bottle Pack Review

mai 25 2011

Terra Nova’s Ultra 1 is the most incredible waist bottle pack I’ve ever seen or used. Why? It weighs in at just 1 ounce/30 grams and is easily trimmed down to 26 grams (.95 ounces). To put that in perspective, the next lightest single bottle pack in my gear collection is a simple Nathan pack that weights in at 5.40 ounces/154 grams. In other words, the Ultra 1 will be my race day bottle pack going forward.

What is the Ultra 1? A single bottle pack made out of a crazy-light material called “Ultra.” Thin strips of Ultra hug your hips before transitioning into a 3/4 front strap. There’s a small, rear key pocket (you’re brave if you use it as such) that holds up to 3 GUs.

How best to use the Ultra 1? As with most bottle packs, the Ultra 1 takes some adjusting to get the fit right and eliminate bounce. I find that keeping the pack low and tight is key. When I first put the pack on I’ll often tighten it, then take it off to shorten the strap another inch or two, then reattach it below the points of my hips. If, after a few hours, I’ve found it’s ridden up above the points of my hips, I unclip it for a second and reattach it lower. After many hours, I do get a bit sore on the front of each hip, but the minimal weight of the pack and its limited contents prevent this from being too much of a bother. For me, the race-day weight savings are worth the trade off in comfort.

Is the Ultra 1 the most comfortable pack you’ll ever use? Heck no! There are plenty of comfortable single bottle packs out there. This is a light-as-possible, no-frills, race-day pack. If ounces and grams matter to you, this is your pack. They do to me and that’s why I would strongly consider wearing the Ultra 1 for all races up to 100 miles.

Will this pack last forever? Um, no. I’ve not found its breaking point, but it is made from ultralight fabric. If you want to prolong its life, I’d use a few times it to see if it works for you and then use it only on race day. Or, if you’re like me, you will use this incredible product as often as you want and enjoy carrying one less weighty item.

Can I make the Ultra 1 even lighter? Yes! I was able to make the pack 10% lighter in less than five minutes, including tool finding time. The only way to significantly lighten the pack (if 3-4 grams is significant) is to cut off some of the pack’s excess strap. I would not do this until you’ve logged a few runs and know how much strap you need… then loosen it and still be generous with leaving strap. You don’t want to be left with too little! I would lightly singe the cut end of the strap to prevent fraying and, if possible, sew a doubled-over end onto the strap to keep it from easily slipping out of the buckle.

I also cut out the small tag found inside the bottle holder and used tin snips to cut off the mouth piece of the whistle included in the waist buckle. While the whistle still works, you’d be as well off cutting your finger nails as making these latter two changes.

How can I get my hands on the Ultra 1? You can get the Terra Nova Ultra 1 ($45) and other game changing running products in the iRunFar Store. To make things easy, you can also order the pack directly from this review. Flat rate shipping in the US is $6, while it’s $11 to Canada and Mexico and $12 to the rest of the world.

Questions and Comments As always, feel free to ask any questions you may have. I’ll do my best to answer them. Disclosure Yes, I’m reviewing a product that is sold in the iRunFar Store. You’ll see more of that and with good reason. It’s because I will only include a product in the iRunFar store if I think it’s the very best at what it’s intended to do. These are products that get me genuinely excited. These are products I fully believe will help you perform at your best. For example, the Ultra 1 stopped me in my tracks at last summer’s Outdoor Retailer show. I waited anxiously to get one… and then for my runs to become long enough to warrant using it. As soon as I’d run 32 miles with the Ultra 1 at the Antelope Island Buffalo Run, I knew I needed to share it with all of you by way of the iRunFar Store, a place where products carry the weight of my personal and professional endorsement.

Related articles:

My New Running Pack Mistress: Terra Nova Laser 20L Review Inov-8 Race Pro 22 (and Inov-8 Shoulder Strap Bottle Holders) Review Salomon Advanced Skin S-Lab Hydration Pack Review

Photo Gallery: 2011 Swimwear—Jolyn Clothing

mai 24 2011
Source: Triathlete Magazine

Have You Ever Hit a Car?

mai 24 2011
Source: Runner's World

'Get off the road!'

In Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There, Lewis Carroll's sequel to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Alice finds herself exploring a fantasy world that is a mirror image of the one she's used to.

After today's run, I can relate.

Three of us were out for an easy 4-miler around town, mid-afternoon. We were chatting and shuffling down a quiet street around 1 mile in, when one of us — let's call him, oh, Peter — lightly clipped the driver-side mirror of a parked car. That's right: A runner hit a car.

Here was Peter's reaction, word for word:


The other two of us — let's call them, oh, me and Warren — chuckled. Talk about a hit-and-run! Ha ha! Then we continued our run and forgot about the whole thing. (The car was fine, in case you're wondering, you bunch of worrywarts.)

But later, in the shower, I got to thinking: How common is this? And should I have this mole checked out?

So I put it to you, the running public:

Have any of you actually hit a car during a run? If so, under what circumstances?

Also: Does this mole look funny to you?

NYC's Outdoor Smoking Ban: A Minor Victory for Runners

mai 24 2011
Source: Runner's World

It's official, fellow oxygen lovers: We are one full day into New York City's ban on smoking in most outdoor places. explains the new law thusly:

The law, which Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed in February after it was passed by the New York City Council, will make smoking illegal in New York City's 1,700 parks and on the city's 14 miles of public beaches. Smoking will also be prohibited in pedestrian plazas like Times Square.

The ban is designed to help curb exposure to secondhand smoke as well as reduce litter.

And also notes that:

New York City follows in the footsteps of 105 municipalities (in states including California, Hawaii, Massachusetts and New Jersey) that have banned smoking on public beaches, according to data from the advocacy group Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights. Major cities include Los Angeles, Minneapolis and Seattle.

I've been following this story pretty closely, because I happen to be:

a former resident of New York City (and still an occasional visitor); a runner; and one of those persnickety people who finds cigarette smoke not just annoying, but vile.

Most of the reaction to NYC's new law has been predictable: Anti-smoking advocates applaud it as an overdue step toward better health for all; some smokers shrug and move on; others sputter about Nazi Germany.

I won't surprise you to hear that I'm a supporter of the ban. I'm also waiting for a similar law to trickle down to Allentown, Pa., my current hometown — a fantasy that I indulged Saturday morning during a long run in the Lehigh River Parkway, which happened to be hosting a fishing tournament that day. (Do they hand out cartons of smokes along with those hip waders and foam coolers? Jeez.)

At the same time, I am curious to see where exactly the smokers will go next. When smoking was banned in workplaces, commercial aircraft, and movie theaters, smokers flocked outside. Now — some places in some cities, anyway — they can't smoke there, either.

Maybe we can limit public smoking to specially outfitted cherry picker trucks that would drive around like taxis and pick smokers up (literally) to puff away 30 or 40 feet above the ground?

Hey, it could happen. And my local government could prohibit camo-clad folks from standing shoulder-to-shoulder along the Parkway running path and belching smoke all morning.

I'm not holding my breath.

'What We Learned About Runner's World,' by Some Awesome South Mountain Middle School Students

mai 23 2011
Source: Runner's World

Note from Mark: This post comes courtesy of several students from South Mountain Middle School, Allentown, Pa., who visited the Runner's World offices recently to learn what goes into making a magazine and a web site. For the online portion of the visit, I spoke about the web site in general and RW Daily in particular, and asked the students to help me write a blog post. (First they helped me write the headline, above.) The theme: "What We Learned About Runner's World."

See? Told you we had class.

Here's what they had to say…

"RW mag opened my mind to new ideas and it was a great experience." – Nataly, 13

"I didn't really know that this much work went into making a magazine — how complicated the process is, and doing it three months in advance." – Esmeralda, 13

"I thought that magazines were boring but they can teach you a lot." – Yasim, 13

"Today I learned about the process of making magazines and what people do to make the cover and to make the articles." – Savannah, 12

"I learned that it's not all about advertisement. It's about what's going on in the runners' lives." – Leilany, 13

“The amount of work that is put into a magazine is extraordinary, and it’s amazing how people don’t notice how much work is put into it!” – Lisa, 13

“I learned how hard the staff works to make the magazine. I also appreciate how the staff took their own time to explain how they do their jobs.” – Brooke, 13

“Runner’s World is a wonderful magazine run by a creative and innovative staff.  They have insightfully influenced me and sparked an interest in media and advertising.  I will use this experience for future campaigning and writing.  I have learned what art directors look at when deciding which photos to use.  This experience will influence me very much in the next few decades to come.” – Nathaniel, 13

“I learned that it takes a lot of effort to make a successful magazine.” – Jhon, 13

“When I went to Runner’s World it was so much fun. I thought making a magazine was easy, but I learned that it was a lot of hard work. Runner’s World rocks!” – Edwin, 13

“I never knew how much work went into making a magazine. Also I never knew how big the magazine was.” – Nick, 13

“The experience was amazing and fun! All the time that is needed to put into a single magazine is amazing. The trip was just breathtaking.” – Kristen, 13

“After visiting Runner’s World magazine it really opened my eyes to all the hard work placed into making a magazine. This experience was so influential that I even want to be a journalist! So, thank you Runner’s World for this awesome opportunity.” – Savannah, 13

“This was an amazing experience that really showed me how to make a magazine and how much dedication it takes just to make one issue. It was really awesome visiting Runner’s World!” – Jocsan, 13

“I thought that making a magazine was easy, but now I realize that the process is time consuming and challenging.” – Cole, 13

“I learned how much it costs to make a magazine and that they have to work three months early in order to make the magazine in time.” – Yosmar

“I never knew that making a magazine took so much work. It takes about a month. Coming to Runner’s World was amazing. It was so crazy!” – Kamila, age 12

“I learned that it takes a lot of work to make an amazing magazine, and it costs a lot of money to make just one magazine.” – Alison

“I enjoyed the field trip! I learned so much about how magazines are created, and I enjoyed the activities.” – Rachel, 12

“The field trip was very interesting and exciting! I would like to do it again and again!” – Vanessa, 13

“It was really fun. Wow! It is a long process to make a magazine!” – Kristal, 13

"I learned that Mark Remy is an astonishing person, and also very smart and handsome." – Joe, 13

…Okay, I made that last one up. Everything else came straight from the kids, though.

And you know what? They're right: Making a magazine (and a web site) is a lot of work. And a long process. And so crazy.

I would like to do it again and again. And so I — and all of us here at Runner's World — will do just that.

Take care, kids, and come back anytime.