Friday, October 10, 2014

Joe Gray, A One-of-a-Kind Mountain Runner - Running Times, 10/10/14

Really been impressed with what Joe Gray has done the last couple of years - fast times on the track, road, at cross country, and of course on trails.  A One-of-a-Kind Mountain Runner

A few weeks earlier I talked to new USATF 50k trail champs Tim Tollefson and Megan Roche for this article, Road-to-Trail Talent Continues

Friday, September 19, 2014

Tyler Sigl, Making an Ultra Splash - Running Times, 9/19/14.

A lot of times, by the time my stuff gets online, its outdated and I have to skip over stuff like The Rut, Run Rabbit Run, etc, and try to find other stories.  Last Sunday night then I talked to Tyler Sigl for this short article - Making an Ultra Splash.  He was a NCAA D3 cross country champion not that long ago, and ran a 5:27 50-miler last weekend.

A week prior to that, a preview of the 30th World Mountain Running Championships - U.S. Team Have World Mountain Championship Medal Hopes.  Allie McLaughlin earned the only U.S. individual medal, a bronze in the senior women's race.

And then also getting online last week was this article, Super-Distance Dogs, that first appeared in the September print magazine.  

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Oregon Road Trip 5

A long drive from the Lost Coast to Lake Tahoe, and then home via U.S. 50, the Loneliest Road in America with a quick drive through the Colorado National Monument.

Oregon Road Trip 4

After fully exploring the Oregon Coast, we kept going south into California and hit the redwoods, the Lost Coast, and the old Victorian town of Ferndale.  We'd planned to spent a night in Eureka, but were put off by the incredible amount of homeless people.  We retreated to a cabin off of Avenue of the Giants instead.  The Lost Coast was even more remote than expected.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Oregon Road Trip 3

When you give a camera to someone and ask them to take a picture of you, it always turns out badly.  They just frame it all wrong.  It's happened to us over and over again even with iconic spots as a backdrop, at the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone in May, at Cannon Beach's Haystack Rock earlier in the trip, and countless other times.  To remedy that, and to give ourselves an early anniversary present, we hired AmandaElise Photography.  The day of the sunset shoot, it was incredibly foggy and we were worried, but the results ended up spectacular.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Oregon Road Trip 2

After the Columbia River Gorge, we made it to the coast, and spent several days driving south, exploring little towns, eating seafood, and hanging out on empty beaches.

Elly threw a fit at first and didn't like it, but quickly warmed up to the beach.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Oregon Road Trip 1

We ended a 10-day road trip on Labor Day 2014.  The main destination was the Oregon Coast, but we hit a lot of country.  Chuck (age 4) and Elly (age 3) visited their 20th and 21st states (Elly has Wisconsin, Chuck doesn't).  My car went over 173k miles.  Lots of pics to catch up on from this memorable trip.

Above, Shoshone Falls near Twin Falls, Idaho. 

And below, pics from a hike in Oregon's Columbia River Gorge. 

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Victor Burro Race - 2014

I thought I was done for the year after Buena Vista, but was lured back for one more race.  We'd never been to Victor, two hours south near Cripple Creek, but found it to be a neat little town, the kind of town we like, not too much different from the towns of Austin, Nv. and Eureka, Nv. that we drove through a week ago on the Loneliest Road in America, US 50, through Nevada.  It's the kind of town where you'd expect to see a burro race.

As stupid as it was, I was a bit nervous, felt some pressure after my success in Buena Vista.  I knew Yukon Jack would be ready to run, but what about me?  I took two weeks completely off from everything after Buena Vista and then when I decided to do this race, started running again while on our Oregon road trip.  I did some beach running, maybe 6 miles at the longest, and then this week, only managed 3 miles on the treadmill each day - it was month-end close at work, and I was behind after that vacation.  I did play with the treadmill's pace and incline enough that each day's 3 miles was a workout, but still, my longest runs of the year have been Fairplay (15 miles), Buena Vista (12 miles), and now Victor (11 miles).  Embarrassing!  I have some work to do before next year, but as it was today, I felt great all day long and it was probably my best burro race thanks to an even, consistent effort, and that I was vocal with burro encouragement throughout.  

Yukon was wound up at the start.  I stayed 10 yards ahead of the start line and we spun in circles with him in a headlock for almost 10 minutes.  The small group of spectators found it amusing, but we didn't cause any trouble, so that was a win.  

We moved back to the starting line then, but the start was delayed about 10 minutes - a TV show was filming (look for me on ABC this time next year!).  And then about 10:40 AM, 30 or so racers took off, and we comfortably moved to the lead.

I led us out of town alongside 14-year-old Lyndsey D.  We took a wrong turn, but quickly corrected and kept our positions.  Further out of town Hal had moved into second and we again took a wrong turn, as did the next four racers.  I swear I saw a flag there, but a volunteer ran up to redirect us.  Yukon bombed downhill to regain the lead and we hit the day's first meaningful climb in first.  We ran the lower slope and settled into a hike higher up.  We looped around the hill and started back down, again with a pretty strong downhill pace.  It's not likely in a burro race, but I actually thought we'd have a chance to simply run away from the field on the strength of our downhill and flats.

Photo by Kelly Doke.

We crossed paths with racers still heading uphill though and our downhill pace slowed to little more than a walk as I forced Yukon in the opposite direction of everyone else. 

Photo by Kelly Doke.

Before long, Hal joined me and it'd be this way for the rest of the race.  The pace wasn't super quick, but, apart from faint singletrack navigation through a field, we were running as we headed around the southside of town.  Once or twice Yukon would freeze up until Hal and Laredo rejoined us.  I almost always pull Yukon, but a few times I did try to smack his rear with the rope and once, he donkey kicked, grazed my arm was all the impact fortunately.  Whipping him like that does get him to move, but he doesn't go straight - something to work on for next year. 

Climbing back into town near mile 5, Hal ran past and I was surprised that Yukon was okay with this, he didn't respond at all, at least initially.  Further up though as we came into the aid station, somewhere between mile 5 and 6, Yukon was running and I skipped aid - I had my pack on again - and regained the lead because of it.  Hal and I shuffled like this a few times, went through another out-and-back near mile 8 and got a read on the rest of the field - places 3-4 were together, as were 5-6, all surprisingly no more than two minutes back.

Photo by Kelly Doke.

Photo by Kelly Doke.

We then started the race's biggest climb, probably a nearly 2-mile climb.  The town of Victor is at 9,693' so we probably topped out at 12,000', at some mine - Victor is the "city of mines" and that is an appropriate name.  Probably halfway up this climb Hal and I again took a wrong turn, again I was the one that wrongly spotted a flag.  There definitely was a flag there, but it was to be taken on our downhill route, not now.  We probably lost two minutes here.  John V and Steve K were driving their burros hard and would've caught us anyway, but got a small benefit from our miscue.

The climb got pretty steep at the top - this was a much tougher course than either the Buena Vista 12m race or the Fairplay 15m short-course race.  It was hiking then, and at the top, myself, Hal, and John were all together.  I parachuted downhill as much as I could, using the rope to keep myself upright.  Yukon followed, although I was kind of surprised at this - usually he matches my downhill pace and doesn't need to be pulled.  Hal again leapfrogged me here, only to overshoot a turn and send us back into the lead.  We hit some singletrack that required some tight turns through rocks, slowed us down, but as we came off the final downhill and hit the pavement for a short run back into town, we had a good lead - maybe 10 seconds on John, and a little more on Hal.  I was yelling and pulling and trying to push Yukon into a sprint that would've sealed it.  We ran past one person filming with a phone and I heard them say, "here's your race winner."  And I thought we had it.

But in town Yukon froze and John got ahead.  I smacked Yukon with the rope and he went sidewise.  John widened his lead.  We were stuck for a moment.

And then Yukon responded.  I pulled hard and sprinted.  I think John thought he had it at this point, but looked back and we were coming in a hurry.  I actually crossed the line just ahead of John, but then immediately looked back and confirmed that his burro, Crazy Horse, was a head ahead of Yukon.  We finished in second by the closest of margins. You can see the whole sequence here.

Photo by Kelly Doke.

Photo by Kelly Doke.

Photo by Kelly Doke.

I probably led 85% of the race, Hal 14.9%, and John .1% - the final .1%.  That's burro racing.  

Yukon was pretty worked, moreso than after BV.  I took his saddle off and he had worked up a considerable sweat.  The boy is tough though, and fast. 

For a first-year race, Victor had some great prizes to add to the great course.  1st place collected a plaque with a quarter-ounce gold coin from a local mine mounted inside of a gold pan + $300 cash.  For second, I earned a plaque with a silver coin from a local mine mounted inside of a gold pan + $240 cash.

The last two races really have me looking ahead to next year.  I don't think I'm racing any differently than I did in past years, but the improvement is all about Yukon.  Big thanks again to Bill Lee and Brad Wann.  See y'all next year, or sooner.