Wednesday, October 29, 2008
A big weekend for fall racing! Team Inov-8 athletes will be looking for the nearest telephone booth to ditch the work clothes and switch into running clothes for Halloween weekend. JB, Rebekah, Sean, and Jenny will be taking on the historic Mountain Masochist 50mile. David Horton passed the Race Directing torch on to Clark. Continuing on the eastern assault will be a speedy pack consisting of Mark and Anne Lundblad, and brother-sister Shiloh Mielke and Meadow Tarves at the infamous Shut-in Ridge Trail Run. Have fun everyone and run strong!
Mark Lundblad Shut-in Ridge
Anne Lundblad Shut-in Ridge
Meadow Tarves Shut-in Ridge
Shiloh Mielke Shut-in Ridge
Jenny Anderson MMTR
Sean Andrish MMTR
Rebekah Trittipoe MMTR
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
After over a month's time in Miyar we are happy to report that Inov-8 Expeditioners Camilo and Anna have successfully conquered many of the virigin peaks. The expedition led through brutal weather conditions of rain, sleet and frozen toes. Furthermore they enjoyed a native sheep to take along for sustenance while taking on the rigors of Castle and Iris Peaks. Camilo suffered a case of bronchitis, but was able to recover to continue with Anna on their assault up to Long Life Ridge Peak, which they deservingly named considering they were the first to ever peak this area! Anna reported, "We did 7-8 terrifying rappels off loose blocks and down climbing over sketchy terrain before exiting the gully in one piece. We were exhausted beyond hallucination. We finished our decent down the steep moraine, crossed back over the icy river and down the huge boulders to our base camp where we arrived sometime after midnight. The ridge we named Long Life Ridge, 5.9, (1,400m) on what we named Peak 5,800 (5,820m)". Congratulations to both! What an adventure. Eat your heart out Indiana Jones! This is the real deal. For the full report, Read More. After a very long jeep ride over the Rhotang pass we arrived in Urgos, where we would begin our three-day trek into the Miyar Valley after spending the night on a helicopter-landing pad. Our cook, Tucshand, had arranged for the horses and horseman to meet us in the morning. Following some endless negotiations of prices and time, we packed up our 9 underweight, bony horses with gear and food to last one month and set off. The first day we had hiked only a few hours over bridges and through fields of green grass following the paths that shepherds use to move their countless numbers of goats and sheep, before the horseman stopped and absolutely refused to continue. They unpacked the horses and started in on their supply of Arak, a locally made whiskey. We were anxious to get to base camp so we begged and pleaded to keep moving. With little success we set up our tent among the cows and yaks we shared the area with. The next day we awoke to sunny blue skies, some hung-over horseman, and a yak at our front door. We packed up and started on Day Two, hoping to make it quite a bit further before having to call it a day. Along our way we bought a sheep, a black sheep that we picked out of the hundreds surrounding us. We tied our sheep named "Dolly" onto one of the horses and kept moving to our second camp where Tucshand would make some "Dolly curry." On day three we arrived at our base camp. A beautiful flat, green grassy area with a spring flowing right next to our site and the strong current of the Miyar River rushing past us. The location was perfect - right between the Nameless Valley and the Tawa Valley, the two locations where we wanted to do most of our climbing and exploration. We quickly set up our kitchen tent (a tarp and two poles) as well as our brand new Nemo Moki tent. This was to be our home for the next month. When we arrived at base camp, we were the only climbers there except for a Russian team camped farther up towards the Miyar glacier near the Jangpar Valley. We were able to enjoy the solitude only for a few days as we rested and organized gear. Then the first team of Italians arrived bringing a few horses and a team of three as well as a cook, Tensing, who would turn out to be a friend we will never forget. Closely following was another group of Italians bringing 22 horses, 12 team members, cooks, generators, computers, sat phones and all of the other modern luxuries. A few days later, Team Korea arrived, which was similar in size and technology, and in addition brought a large assortment of freeze-dried sardines and green tea. With two huge expeditions on either side of us we realized we were not alone on this alpine adventure. We hauled our first load up the steep moraine to the base of Castle Peak. Castle Peak is a large formation close to base camp and it looked like a great peak to get our feel for the rock. The formation consists of three summits, Castle Peak being the main summit followed by Iris Peak, and followed by an unclimbed summit. We, of course, chose a route that we thought would lead to the unclimbed summit. With our gear at the base we went back down the 1000 meters of steep moraine to base camp. The next morning we took an unplanned rest day only to have the weather turn in the afternoon anyway. Two days of rain and snow followed before the blue skies returned, allowing us to return to Castle Peak. We started up our new route not knowing what was to come. After completing the first two pitches of run-out death climbing, our toes cold beyond the level of pain, we decided to bail. After a somewhat epic retreat of not having anything to rap off or anywhere to place gear, we made it. Relieved to be safely back on the ground, we decided this route was not one we wanted to try again and so we set off to find other possibilities on Castle Peak. Along the way, we ran into the three Italians, who had set up a high camp at the base. They two were trying a new route to reach the unclimbed summit. Roberto, the leader of their expedition, had opened several routes on Castle Peak over the past years. He had given the name to Castle Peak, as well as to Iris Peak, which he named after his wife who died in a motorcycle accident the past year. A stupa, or memorial, still remains on the summit with her ashes. He was back to live his dream of first accents on all three summits. We could see the disappointment and fear in his eyes when he learned we were trying for the unclimbed summit also. With little thought at all, we decided the valley is so large and there are so many unclimbed peaks that we should find a different goal. This was Roberto' peak and we wanted him to have the summit. When we told the Italians about our decision, Roberto was very happy and gave us both a big hug. We hauled our gear back down the terrain and were content with the decisions we had made. The weather took a big change for the next 12 days. Snow, hail, rain, you name it, it happened. We resorted to our tent and only made the 10-foot trek to the kitchen for momos and tupka when necessary. We had been eyeing another peak in the Tawa Valley since our arrival also. We decided to go for this unclimbed peak with the next weather window. As soon as the weather let up a little, we hauled our load, this time bringing our Nemo Tenshi tent to set up a high camp, as this peak is farther into the valley then the previous attempted peak. As soon as we reached our desired location, a perfect flat area surrounded by large boulders and near the waterfall that would allow us to collect water, the dark clouds came rolling in. We cashed our gear and quickly headed back down towards base camp. By the time we reached camp we were covered in snow and freezing. Tucshand greeted us with a warm cup of chai and we once again took shelter in our trusted Nemo tent. The next three days it stormed. Finally the weather broke again and we headed to our high camp. We knew it was our time. Arriving at the high camp in the early evening, we were able to scout out our line. From base camp we could only see a wide crack system on the south face leading onto a large ledge, and we did not know for sure if it would go. When we peered through the binoculars from our high camp we could see the system would indeed lead us to the ledge allowing us to traverse on to the main wall. We awoke early and started towards the base. Arriving at the base, we started climbing around 9am. We followed a chimney system for four 70-meter rope lengths. Climbing was mostly 5.8ish with a 5.9 roof section on the 3rd pitch, being the crux of the climb. The chimney system led us to a ridge where we then climbed diagonally up three slabby 70m pitches towards the main wall. We found ourselves in a trough under the main wall allowing many option for reaching the summit. We chose a vertical line straight up the face exiting onto the summit through a small notch. The main wall was five 70 m pitches of 5.8 and 5.9 climbing with some loose rock, but overall good quality slab and face climbing. We arrived on the summit at 4 pm excited to have reached the top of our first peak here in the Miyar valley. Not knowing an exact descent, we didn’t waste much daylight before heading down. Luckily we were able to scramble all the way down the west face back to our high camp before dark. This peak we named Coni Peak (5,200 m), and the route Directisima, 5.9, (840m). As we neared our base camp, we were pleasantly greeted by a liaison officer from the Indian Mountaineering Foundation who happened to be with the Korean team. He instantly asked us what we were doing here in the valley and if we had climbing permits. We had heard a rumor of his arrival and were prepared for his interrogation. Luckily, we had left our gear at our high camp and had nothing but small packs and trekking poles. "We are trekkers, of course," we told the officer, "no climbing, only looking." Not satisfied with our answer he began to question our cook in Hindi. Fortunately, Tucshand knew the deal and covered for us telling the L.O. we truly were only trekkers and we do "no risky, only looking". We were set. All we had to do was lay low and hide our gear, watch our words, and hope he would leave. After our climb Camilo had a cough that worsened, so we went to see the Italian doctor the large team had brought with them. Measuring his oxygen and listening to his lungs he determined him to have bronchitis and started him on antibiotics. For the next few days we rested and waited to see if the cough would pass. If not, we knew we might have to go down to a lower elevation for recuperation. Luckily after a few doses of antibiotics, Camilo’s energy returned and we were psyched to climb again. Also to our good fortune, the liaison officer had retreated down the valley to the nearest town because of a "bad back" although there was a rumor of someone slipping him a pill that causes diarrhea. Next we set off into the Nameless Valley hoping one peak would call us among the others and sure enough it did. Peak 5,800 had no record of being climbed before and with its long ridge and sheer face it stands proud among the other peaks in the valley. The peak is not far in the valley and we were feeling very acclimated by this point, so we decided to assault the ridge without a high camp. Starting at 4am we left base camp crossed the cold, ice-covered river, arriving at the wall around 8am. We simu-climbed for approximately 800 meters of the long 5.7, 5.8ish northwest ridge moving as quickly as possible. We belayed two pitches of 5.9 near the upper section before unroping and scrambling low 5th class towards the summit. We arrived under a short snow couloir that led to the pre-summit and the traversed 100m of extremely loose rock to the main summit. We reached the summit around 5pm. This was the summit of all summits!!! The views were awesome allowing us to see into all three valleys and the countless amounts of spires surrounding us. We were happy as ever, but knew we had only made it half of the way, as we still needed to find a descent with only a few hours of daylight remaining. We started down the west face, mostly scrambling and down climbing over loose rock. We had thought we could possibly make it down the whole way to the valley floor this way, but we would be many miles away from camp. So instead we chose a different path that turned out to be somewhat epic. After down climbing and scrambling for hundreds of meters we found ourselves in a large rock gully on the west face. The gully was full of huge loose boulders ready to give at any time and had huge drop-offs that seemed to arise without any notice as the darkness set in. At one point I had stepped on a large one that gave way under my feet. The huge boulder and I both went flying towards Camilo as he leapt out of the way, grabbing me in the process. We were soon exhausted and contemplating an open bivy, as the valley floor seemed farther and farther away. We knew we had to get off the wall even if it was only to make it onto the moraine. At least we had the company of a full moon, and even though it did not help much inside the gully, it still was nice to know it was out there. We did 7-8 terrifying rappels off loose blocks and down climbing over sketchy terrain before exiting the gully in one piece. We were exhausted beyond hallucination. We finished our decent down the steep moraine, crossed back over the icy river and down the huge boulders to our base camp where we arrived sometime after midnight. The ridge we named Long Life Ridge, 5.9, (1,400m) on what we named Peak 5,800 (5,820m). The days following our climb brought more bad weather and the Italians forecast, which seemed to be right on most of the time, was not in our favor. With all the other teams retreating from their high camps to wait out the week-long predicted storm, we decided we should wrap it up and get out of the valley before the conditions worsened. After spending close to a month in the valley, we were ready to head back to Manali and enjoy the comforts of tandoori chicken and garlic naan. Tucshand called for the horses, we said our goodbyes to our new friends and headed out happy with our success. We would like to thank every one who supports and follows our adventures Camilo L. & Anna P. Expeditioners
Monday, October 27, 2008
I really like what Wynn has started with his 50 Trails/50 States post earlier today. I'd like to open this up to get input not only from Team Inov-8 members but also from some of our visitors to the blog site. So let's hear it for your favorite trail in your state of residence. E-mail Wynn back with your thoughts or respond to this post. Maybe your trail will make the list if you can plead your case well enough. I'm already thinking about some good ones here in Western North Carolina.
Recently I had the pleasure of catching up with good friend and colleague Rick Cleary. I bumped into Rick the other day on a trail run, and he was busy hacking away at a fallen tree stump; continuing his countless hours of trail stewardship and maintenance within our area. We started to run, Rick with saw-in-hand, as we crested over the Kinnickinnic River gorge. A little background on Rick: Rick has consistently been a top 5 finisher including a slew of runner-up finishes in many of the Upper Midwest Ultras. Rick also is a 5-time champion of the Duluth Northwood’s Snow Shoe Marathon Championships and boasts a hearty 2:44 marathon best. Furthermore, Rick has coached our high school’s XC and track teams for many years. In the last two years however, Rick decided to pursue other ambitions, one in particular was his invention toward improved fitness. What started out as an idea while driving home after XC practice has now turned into a reality.
Rick’s invention of the Shoe Odometer allows runners/walkers from all levels to record and analyze their shoe wear to help prevent injuries, while measuring stride rate, mileage, and steps. This unique device is a nuts and bolts gadget that provides very useful information, with simplistic use. To discover more about the Shoe Odometer and to purchase your own, please follow this link: SHOE ODOMETER Rick was kind enough to take time to answer some of my questions after our run.
Rick Cleary: Competitive runner, Coach and Inventor of the Shoe Odometer
Interviewed by: Wynn Davis
1.Can you tell us what sparked your curiosity in regard to the pursuit of the Shoe Odometer’s reality? You know that feeling you get when you don’t know how many miles you have on your shoes? I never liked logging my shoe miles; I’d have good intentions, but invariably I’d miss a day or two and before I knew it, I wasn’t logging anything. It was the same with my student athletes. And yet, any coach will tell you that whenever there is an injury, the first question asked is “How many miles do you have in those shoes?” I knew there had to be a better way to track shoe wear.
2.Could you lead us through some of the significant processes that were involved in the creation of the Shoe Odometer? Furthermore, I have to imagine there were some bumps along the way; any major challenges you faced?
I was pretty naïve; I thought that I’d hire a few consultants, explain my idea and it would all come together. Finding the right combination of electronics to do everything that I wanted was particularly difficult. It had to be accurate, use minimal power, and yet be durable enough to withstand the forces of running and walking. On top of that, it needed to be easy to use, small enough to put on your shoe and weigh next to nothing. The engineers would design a prototype to meet my specifications. Then, I’d test this prototype and find that for various reasons, like being too big or too heavy, it wouldn’t work for runners and we’d have to go back to the drawing board. This occurred countless times. Looking back, I’m glad I didn’t know how hard development would be – in some ways it was helpful to be naïve. The process was daunting, long and caused many sleepless nights. Kinda like training for an ultra.
3.Starting from your initial idea all the way to the end product, how long was the timeframe?
It was at least a four-year process. During the first year, I thought up various ideas and worked through the pros and cons. In the second year I solidified the Shoe Odometer idea, I talked about it with my running friends and their affirmations that they would buy this product, compelled me to take it further. It was a little more than 2 years ago when I hired the first engineer and started development.
4.What types of features does the Shoe Odometer provide for runners and walkers? The Shoe Odometer monitors your shoe wear and stride rate. It also records your work out in miles and steps. It’s automatic; it’s designed to go to sleep when you’re not using it and it comes to life as soon as you start exercising.
5.What are some of the benefits of the Shoe Odometer that may not be found in other technological running tools found on the market? The Shoe Odometer is the only device on the market that automatically tracks your shoe wear. It is also the only self-contained stride rate monitor at this affordable price. There really is no other device on the market at this price that does everything the Shoe Odometer can do.
6.I found the ‘stride rate’ feature to be a very useful tool in respect to the fact that it allowed me to improve upon what I thought was an already efficient stride. Was this your idea when including it to the Odometer?
Yes. I wanted runners to have a way to get feedback on their stride. Many runners would like to know how they are running, but they have nothing to compare it to. The Shoe Odometer’s stride rate feature will automatically give you this feedback on every run. Running coaches like Dr. Jack Daniels believe keeping your stride rate at around 180 strides per minute will ultimately keep you running injury free. This makes the Shoe Odometer kind of like having your own personal running coach.
7.Do you see any improvements or modifications to the Shoe Odometer that you would like to manipulate in the future?
I’m always open to and welcome any feedback runners might have. In the development of the Shoe Odometer, real runners tested the product and offered their honest feedback. Presently, I’m very proud of how uncomplicated and easy the Shoe Odometer is to use. I would carefully consider adding a new feature, but it would have to make sense.
8.Now that your Shoe Odometer has entered the market, where can outdoor enthusiasts purchase your product?
Outdoor enthusiast can get the Shoe Odometer at: www.shoeodometer.com
9.The Shoe Odometer caters well to both novice and competitive athletes. Would you agree that there are advantages for all levels of fitness?
Yes, the goal of the Shoe Odometer is to help active people stay healthy. That goal is as important for the novice runner as it is for the elite athlete.
10.The Shoe Odometer is manufactured in the USA and utilizes eco–friendly packaging and battery life without effecting overall quality. Were these elements that you were looking for in regard to the oversight and production of your product?
Throughout this whole process I wanted to develop a product that I could feel good about. Manufacturing the Shoe Odometer in the USA was based in part on quality control, but keeping business local was also a significant consideration. Another consideration was the environment. It would have been hypocritical for me to manufacture something that could be harmful to the environment. Months were spent working on a way for the Shoe Odometer operate on very little power. I have to admit that it feels good that we came up with a way for the Shoe Odometer to only use one battery in its six to ten year lifespan.
11.Now that you have all this time on your hand, what are your goals for the future?
I’m working on spreading the word about the Shoe Odometer. I don’t have an advertising budget; therefore the success of the Shoe Odometer will depend on more of a ‘grass roots’ word of mouth campaign. Even though this will keep me busy, I’m also training for the Northwoods Snow Shoe Marathon in Duluth this January, 2009.
A sincere congratulations to Caleb Chatfield this weekend. Caleb ran to an impressive win at the RockCreek 50km race just outside of Kansas City, posting yet another course record to his resume in the process. Caleb was kind enough to send me his report. He wore the Roclite 295's; light, ground control, and good bite on the rugged single-track, much like the Roclite 305's. Caleb, Kyle Amos, Shane Jones and Ben Holmes are the stewards behind the infamous Kansas City Trail Nerds. This group does an incredible job providing a plethora of superb events ranging in distances and trail maintenance throughout Kansas.
I had in my mind what I wanted to run and thought that goal was attainable. I was wrong. These trails are far more technical and there was a little bit more elevation than what I remember (I paced my good friend Kyle through the fist loop of the 50k last year). Let's just say I'm not in climbing shape, yet. I went out very reserved just settled toward the back of the lead runners in around 5th or 6th place. Usually, I don't hit my rhythm until 4 or 5 miles, but today was a little different story. I was starting to get a little nervous around 6 that I was going to be tight the whole day. Around 7 or 8 everything started moving fluidly and I just started cruising a more-than-welcome feeling. I caught up with the lead runner around 11 miles put a little distance on him and then he got back to me at the next aid station. Around 1/4 mile out of that aid station I pulled him back in and took off to run alone for the rest of the day. I came through the halfway point a little over where I wanted to be time wise and came to realization that breaking 4 hours was probably out of the question today. Relaxing for the first half of the second loop It became apparent that it was going to hurt the last 5-7 miles. The ups and downs and had taken their toll on my feeble, untrained quads. The technical trail opens up around a 1/2 mile for the finish making it easy to cruise in. It was hard to keep the smile off my face reaching the finishline. It was good to get back out there and have some fun on the trails. It hurt a little more than I wanted, but a gallon of chocolate milk, a turkey and a course record make it all worthwhile!
Now onward to Psycho Wyco 50km (winter version).
Friday, October 24, 2008
The folks here at Inov-8 continually strive and adhere to pro-active philosophies in regard to sustaining a more eco-conscious way of doing things. These methods are carried out both on and off the trails. In this new addition of Inov-8 entries I will be pursuing a quest to explore the various trails that runners, hikers and outdoor enthusiasts alike have experienced over the years; paying homage to the rewards these trails have provided us, in hopes that these entries will generate further conservation and appreciation of these natural sanctuaries. With the help of our viewers and communication outside of this site, ultimately I will bring you the "dirt" on some of the countries best trails to explore. Although there are many grand trails, I will only be highlighting one trail per state. The best of the best you could say. Each trail entry will include detailed demographics, facts, history, places to visit along the trail, and events hosted on the trail, etc..
In this inaugural edition of 50/50, I thought it was appropriate to start out with a trail that defies the bold and the beautiful. A trail located in my neck of the woods (Upper Midwest) and I can't think of a better time of year to describe this trail to you now that the colors have peaked here in the Northwoods. What trail you ask? When I think of Minnesota, many stellar trails come to mind (i.e. Afton State Park, Zumbro, Border Trail & Kekekabic Trail in the BWCA). However despite all of these gems, I feel as though there is one that stands on its own and reigns supreme. And I'm fully convinced that if you aren't satisfied by the challenge and beauty of this trail, then you have no hope. So without further ado, I present to you the Superior Hiking Trail of Minnesota. Please Read More
Superior Hiking Trail: Duluth, MN – Otter Lake Rd./Canadian Border (270+miles).
The Superior Hiking Trail stretches nearly 300 miles along Minnesota’s North Shore; Lake Superior. The southern trailhead begins in the beautiful harbor city of Duluth. The trail extends northward to Otter Lake Rd./Canadian Border where it connects with its sister trails, the rugged Kekekabic and Border Route trails located in the infamous BWCA.
The SHT is routed along a ridgeline made up of ancient volcanic rock (basalt/rhyolite) followed by eroded rock left by the Great Ice Age. The SHT offers a plethora of panoramic views of Lake Superior. The structure of the trail has stayed true since the beginning. Expect burly/narrow single-track. Rocks and roots go together like beer and brats. Furthermore, it is characterized by its elevator shaft ascents and descents coupled with rock outcroppings, cliffs, river valleys, and functional bridges. Distances of a mile or more showcase some of the finest rivers, waterfalls, and gorges in the world. Fellow ultrarunner, Stuart Johnson of Kansas and 11-time finisher of the Superior Sawtooth 100miler described the trail/race course as, “World class.”
The SHT is very well marked with SHT blazes along with North Country Trail blazes colored blue. White blazes mark spur trails that will lead you to epic landmarks or camping sites. The general area sits at around 600 ft. above sea level, but there are numerous points that reach up to 1,750 ft.
Key Destinations off-trail:
Duluth: Before you depart or if you are finishing, you’ll find many sweet places in Duluth to explore, from the many parks to the lake front boardwalk. Stop in at the old Fitger’s Brewery along the boardwalk and have a cold Lake Superior ale. Also inside you’ll find Trail Fitters, a great outdoor store headed by trail runners Erik and Denise Kaitala. Erik has plenty of knowledge regarding the trail if you have questions. He has the current speed-thru record.
The DeWitt Seitz building has the best smoked salmon sandwich you’ve ever tasted! Wash it down with a cold Two Hearted Ale.
Two Harbors: Excellent dives with cheap, but tasty grub before jumping back onto the trail. The SHT headquarters is located in an old house on the main drag. They have lots of useful maps, updates, etc.
Key Destinations on-trail:
Castle Danger/Split Rock Lighthouse: Some of the best vistas of Lake Superior can be found here. You may even see a complacent looking ship carrying taconite or sailboat in the far off distance.
Gooseberry Falls State Park: One of the seven state parks along the trail. The visitor’s center is state of the art and the campsites are excellent. Just about every park will lead you to right to the lake where you can enjoy an ice cold soak.
Bean and Bear Lakes: Atop of beautiful outcroppings you will look far below and notice both of these small, clean and very deep lakes. Brace yourself as you begin your assault up to Mt. Trudee where you will be rewarded with another unctuous view.
Tettegouchee State Park: Seemingly never ending waterfalls including the highest waterfalls in Minnesota. Bless your barking feet in the crisp Baptism River.
Finland: A good location to spot a wallowing moose. In the winter time this is an aid station area for the John Beargrease sled dog race and the half-way point of the Superior Sawtooth 100miler.
George H. Crosby Manitou State Park: This area will greet you with plentiful cedar roots, but more impressively the steep river gorges.
Grand Portage: Take the ferry across to Isle Royale National Park. This is a pristine sanctuary where foot travel is the only means of transportation other than boat. On the island, enjoy the 150+ miles of rugged but well marked single-track. There are many superlatives about this island. It is the largest island on a fresh water lake; the island itself has the largest lake within an island within a lake. And that lake has the largest island within a lake within an island within a lake. Confused yet? Ha! See for yourself.
Outlooks and Peaks: Carlton Peak, Moose Mtn., Oberg Mtn, Mystery Mtn, Cascade State Park: Stairway to Heaven.
Flora & Fauna:
The SHT has some the most diverse plant/tree life in the world thanks in part to the eclectic ecosystems. Inland woods will lead you through damp/craggy cedar swamps, paper birch forests, boreal/old growth forests, and hardwood hills. You’ll also find pine studded/junipers along the arid ridgelines.
Look for fox, black bear, moose, deer, grouse, lynx, timber wolves, coyotes, eagles, and if you hit it right in the spring, the salmon and steelhead run.
Races: Superior Fall Races: Superior Sawtooth 100m/ Superior 50m/ Moose Mtn. Marathon
Spring Races: Superior 50km/25km
Bay to Bay 10km
Wild Duluth 100km
•The SHT is a great place to snowshoe in the winter!
•Recommended times to experience the trail… ANY TIME! Although the fall is ideal with the crisp weather and colors in full peak. Spring is inviting and summer is even quite good as the breeze from the lake helps keep things cool generally speaking.
Relevant links: SHTA, DATA
With all of this information mentioned above it is clear to see why the Superior Hiking Trail gets Best in Trail for the representation of the state of Minnesota.
What state and trail will be picked next? You’ll have to wait and see…
Thursday, October 23, 2008
RUNNING YOUR FIRST ULTRA
by Anne Lundblad
I frequently receive emails from runners who want to run their first ultra. Maybe reading about the exploits of Dean Karnazes, aka Ultramarathon Man, has piqued their curiosity, or perhaps they’ve completed several marathons and are seeking a new challenge. Whatever the case, they have decided to take the plunge into the world beyond 26.2 miles and are seeking advice on how to accomplish this goal. Here are some of the tips I generally share with them:
Run a marathon first. Rare is the person who can jump from a 5k to a 50k. Success is more likely if you progress gradually, allowing both your body and your mind to adjust to the increased workload. I ran for close to twenty years before I attempted my first ultra. I’m not suggesting that everyone needs two decades of training and racing, but I do believe that it was the years of accumulated miles, rather than the six months of training immediately preceding the race, that gave me the strength to complete the distance.
Choose a race four to six months out. Now is the perfect time to target a spring race and begin to ramp up your mileage. If you’ve been running consistently for some time, you may be able to get by on a four month build up; otherwise, five or six months is preferable. There are many great races in the country to choose from. Two comprehensive sources for locating upcoming ultras are http://www.coachweber.com/ultramarathoncalendar.htm and www.ultrarunning.com.
Train on terrain similar to that of the race. If you’ve chosen a race contested on gnarly singletrack, you’d better get plenty of experience scrambling over rocks and roots. If the course offers lots of steep climbs and descents, practice your powerwalking and downhill skills. Speaking of walking, it is perfectly acceptable in ultras. Whereas walking in most road races carries with it a certain degree of embarrassment and even shame, some ultras are won or lost on the basis of a competitor’s ability to powerwalk up hills without losing ground. Some ultrarunners like to practice a structured run/walk strategy, e.g. run ten minutes, walk two; however, I prefer to let the terrain dictate my pace.
Practice eating and drinking on the run. While most people can make it through a marathon on fluids and perhaps a gel or two, you will require much more nourishment in an ultra. Fluid and calorie intake is a must, as a 50k can take as long as 4-5 hours for a competitive runner and up to 8-9 hours for a back-of-the-packer. The good news is that the slower pace of an ultra is generally easier on the digestive system, meaning that you can take in solids while on the run. Most ultras have aid stations every several miles, but don’t let this fool you – mileage on trails is not always accurate and sometimes it can take over an hour to run those “3-4 miles”. Carrying a handheld bottle or fanny pack is advisable in order to ensure that you’ll have fuel when you need it.
Another note on aid stations – some of them tend to be quite abundant. Beware the temptation to eat and drink things that you haven’t tried in training. My friend was psyched to see ice cream sandwiches at mile thirty-two of Bull Run, until he saw fellow runners barfing them up several miles down the trail. Try to avoid the cake, pizza, cheeseburgers and tequila shots until after the race. As ultrarunning great Howard Nippert puts it, “It’s a race, not a buffet.”
Don’t skimp on the long runs. Even though I once had a coach who maintained that “you can run a 50k on a whim”, this is not a practice I recommend. No matter how long you’ve been running, there is simply no substitute for logging the miles. It is during those long hours on the trail that you will discover what you are really made of and how your body and mind respond to extreme fatigue, certain foods and energy drinks, and even boredom. These runs, which for a 50k should be at least 20-25 miles, build your confidence and your strength. Once you have three or four of these under your belt, you will approach the race with assurance that you can do it.
Although the idea of running an ultra may be intimidating, it is an achievable goal – if you’re willing to put in the effort. See you on the trails!
Monday, October 20, 2008
Inov-8 athlete Ben Nephew took on an interesting venture of the Long Trail over the weekend and was filled with lots of surprises, and beautiful landscape. You can read his report below.
A Taste of the Long Trail
I actually planned to run some the last section of the Long Trail in VT originally on the weekend that Jonathan Basham was going to finish his unassisted run. Since it was going to be a family camping trip, and the forecast was for a hurricane of rain, we cancelled the trip. I figured that was it for this fall, as most of the campgrounds were closed by mid October, and it was starting to get cold. However, my wife wanted to try out our new family tent, and in spite of a chilly forecast we headed up to southern Vermont for a camping trip with our friend Chris, and our 20 month old son, Gavin.
We got to our campsite in Woodford quite late, but managed to get our enormous family tent set up pretty quickly. We ordered some pizza, ate smores, and got organized for me to get some miles in on Saturday. The original plan was to get going at 4:30am and try to get in as many as 70 miles in a reasonable time. Although that plan went out the window, it was still a good trip. The first issue was finding my staring point. I thought I could get onto the trail a few miles north of the MA border from a dirt road, but after wasting a lot of time searching, we couldn’t find the road. By the time I started, it was 6am, and I was 5 miles south of where I wanted to start. The second issue was choosing the Broad Brook trail as my route to get to the Long Trail. Don’t ever try to hike this trail, ever. In the dark, it was almost impossible to follow, and involved several crossings of the substantial Broad Brook. I wasted a lot of time trying to find the trail, and trying to get back and forth across the brook about 8 times. I am surprised I didn’t end up in the Brook. After a while, I was so frustrated with the crossings that I started to get a bit too adventurous in choosing where to cross.
Once I got onto the actual Long Trail at Country Road, I was pleased to see that it was much easier to follow. By that point it was 7:30, and I had only run about 6 miles. It only took me 2 hours to do the first 11.7 miles on the Long Trail. I stopped to change shoes and refill my waist pack at Route 9, with help from Steph, Chris, and Gavin. The next 22.6 miles to the base of Stratton was more challenging, but I was still feeling pretty good. I met up with Team Spanky Rascal (Gavin’s nickname) just below the summit of Stratton, and we actually decided to call it a day there. I felt fine, but Gavin and Steph were both tired from a poor night of sleep, and they had been driving all over the place to meet me. I was going to head up the last short section to the summit when Gavin starting crying, and I was officially done at that point. Instead of trying to get in a few more miles, we hiked down Stratton together, and went for nice dinner at Laney’s in Manchester. It was a much shorter day than planned, but I still felt fine, despite the early frustration. I really appreciated the support from Steph, Chris, and Gavin, especially after I realized how difficult it was to get to the other side of Stratton.
Today, I went for a 2.5 hour hike with Gavin in his pack, and my legs felt better as the hike progressed. One of my reasons for doing the test run on the Long Trail was to see how sustainable a faster pace was. Although I think I could maintain a relatively fast pace for quite a while, I think if I did the entire trail, I would slow down some. The trail is very technical, as I expected, but even running 10 minute miles is mentally tiring. I’m the type of person who doesn’t need much sleep, so there is no point in trying to get the miles in as fast as possible. I would still like to get some sleep, but running for 18 hrs a day would be more sustainable than trying to do the same mileage in 16 hrs.
In the end, I only put in 47 miles, including 3 miles hiking back down Stratton to the car. Here are the numbers:
47 total miles
43.6 miles of mostly running almost to the Stratton summit at 12:44 pace.
11.7 miles at 10:15 pace on one section of easier terrain.
2 pair of Inov-8’s (Roclite 315’s and 320’s)
Saturday, October 18, 2008
As this blog is being written, many teams are still on the course of the Monsoon Adventure's Desert Dash III. But not team YogaSlackers. Racing as a 4-person team, the yogis cleared the course in a record 2hr and 49 minutes....over an hour ahead of the next racer. Sam and Jason were racing with two first time racers, Deb Huie and Chelsey Gribbon, both of whom are students of Jason's at the yoga center where he teaches. In fact, both are taking part in the 250 hr teacher training program, which happens to meet for a 6-hour yoga session at 1 pm the same day of the race.
Type rest of the post here
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
In this addition of Athlete Profile we take a look at another Beast from the East, Mark Lundblad. Mark has produced a hearty race resume in a variety of different distances. Both Mark and his wife Anne shared USATF 50mile championships last year at Tussey 50m. Furthermore, Mark is the team manager of the USA Team Inov-8 and has done a fantastic job attaining such a duty. A close knit group who loves adventure, healthy living, and the outdoors. Mark was kind enough to take time to answer a few of my questions.
Inov-8 Athlete Profile Interview: Mark Lundblad
Interviewed by: Wynn Davis
1.Can you tell us a little bit about how your running career began?
I did not start running till I was about 24 years old. I participated in many different sports growing up but not running. It was not until after I got fat and lazy in college that prompted me into action. I now wish I had started sooner.
2.Residing in the trail runner’s haven of Asheville, North Carolina can you recommend the wandering trail runner any particular trails, races and/or parks that you prefer?
We have so many great trails here it is difficult to pick just one. I love long climbs and descents so I would say the Mt. Mitchell Challenge course is right up there. The Mountain to Sea trail that borders the Blue Ridge Parkway in Western North Carolina is a great single track trail that has a little bit of everything for every trail runner, from nice rolling terrain to tough climbing. The Shut In trail is one of the tougher sections of the MTS trail and we have a race on it here in early November of almost 18 miles point to point with over 3k total elevation gain. It has a big waiting list to get into the race every year. I live on the campus of Warren Wilson College and they have 40+ miles of great trails just out my backdoor, so I’m pretty lucky.
3.Can you tell us a little bit about your connection and/or mission with Inov-8 and your role as Team Manager and athlete?
I started out being a sponsored athlete with Inov-8 about 4 years ago. Prior to that I owned a running specialty store for a few years and got to try lots of different trail shoes and Inov-8 by far is my favorite. I kept telling everybody how great these trail shoes were and unknowingly got lots of trail runners to try these shoes. I kept bugging the folks at Inov-8 about sponsoring this runner and that runner and some trail races. I think I woke up one day and was the Team Manager and eventually a sales representative fro Inov-8. Truthfully being an end user first of the shoes and believing in this product helps me to explain to others what a great product we have at Inov-8. I enjoy connecting with all the athletes on Team Inov-8 and hearing about their experiences and I think we have the best group of athletes top to bottom any team manager could hope for. Working for Inov-8 has been a very positive experience with top notch co-workers here in the US and the UK who are very supportive of the sport of trail running and both teams here in the US and UK. We have a grassroots mentality and not a corporate feel which is a big part of what attracted me to Inov-8.
4.Last year you ran a very stout time at the Tussey 50m, which served as the USATF 50mile championship race along with some stiff competition. Can you describe how your race unfolded? What it was like for you and your wife do both take overall?
I knew going into this race who my competition would be and I also knew the forecast for warm temps. I usually like to stay within myself and let someone else take it out but I made my mind up that I would try to stay with whomever and let it come down to who would slow down the least. At 50k or so I thought I was in trouble as I was pretty wiped out from the fast pace early on but it turned out my competition was not faring much better. I just stayed focused and pushed the last 8 miles as hard as I could. I never thought I had the race won until I crossed the line as too much can happen when you are pushing that hard under warm and humid conditions. I was very pleased with my performance, then the icing on the cake was seeing my wife winning the women’s race and setting a CR. It was a special day that I wish I (we) could duplicate again some day.
5.I can only assume that your fondest running partner is none other than your wife Anne who is a remarkable runner. How do you balance running, work, and raising a child while still managing to run at World-class levels?
Yes we do like to run together when we can but we usually have to work out a schedule at the beginning of the week and make sure we stick to it (she is better at this than me..ha). We are both pretty type-A so we have some good structure to make everything work. I’m the wrong person to complain to about not having time to get your training done. You have to be creative sometimes and you have to make it a high priority. If not “life” can get in the way. Our daughter definitely comes before running but everything else can be juggled somewhat. It also helps to have a treadmill and trails in our backyard and I run at lunchtime quite often at my work as does Anne.
6.Unfortunately we all experience a bad race, but they often teach us a great deal. Can you tell us what you learned from your experience at White River 50m this year?
I was in the best shape of my life going into White River 50 but this race proved to me more than ever that you still need to execute a sound race day plan. The cool race morning temps sort of lured me into going out too fast. However I had lots of company so it seemed like things were progressing well. I figured out I was in trouble at the top of the first of two big climbs when someone behind me said we were only a minute or so behind Uli Steidel’s CR time. I knew that was not the “plan” and I basically let my head talk me out of the race. My Achilles was pretty flared up as it had been during my training and I let it get to me mentally. I tried to pull it together but for the first time I took a DNF. I was pretty embarrassed as I never thought I would drop out but it will hopefully teach me to stay in control, run my own race and not assume anything on race day.
7.This spring you set the course record at Bel Monte 50k. You the went on to take wins at both Mississippi 50km and the hot and humid Bull Run 50m. Can you touch upon any memorable experiences from these races?
The beginning of this year started off a little rough by getting the flu right before the Mitchell 40 Challenge. However things turned around with the next 3 races. Bel Monte was a surprise as I never thought I could run that fast over technical terrain. Anytime you can get near a Sean Andrish CR winning time you have done something. Bull Run turned out to be a suffer fest with much warmer and humid temps than expected. What made both of these races special was that again Anne won for the ladies side however she had to do me one better by setting a CR at Bull Run.
8.Along with 50km’s you seem to really find success in the 50mile distance. What do you acquire this to and do you ever plan to experiment in the 100km or 100mile distance?
I think it is a good distance for me. Just the right amount of speed and endurance that suits me well. I don’t have much speed at all so I rely on strength and endurance and usually a sound race day plan. I think if you want to do well in racing then you train and run those races that suit you best. I’m for challenging myself from time to time but I would rather run distances and courses that set up well for me. I would like to try a 100k or a 100 mile next year when I’m 40…ugh.
9.What are your strengths and what are your weaknesses?
See above. I love doing long runs so that is a strength but I usually dread track workouts. Another strength I have that can become a weakness is I don’t race ultra distances as often as my competitors but I train pretty hard. Sometimes my training gets me injured but I usually toe the line ready. I sometimes hear a lot of excuses standing on that starting line and that just fuels the fire.
10.Can you tell us a little bit about your training philosophy and any favorite workouts?
I believe in a higher mileage base and the right mix of speed workouts and recovery runs. Everyone is different so you need to train for what your body can give you in return. An experimentation that can lead to injury but as you learn from training mistakes you should eliminate downtime from injury. For ultra training the long run is most important and I try to mirror the terrain and topography on my long runs to the race course that I’m training for. I’m pretty regimented about this so I miss out on some group long runs that are more fun and social because I train alone or with Anne. I do one short turnover speed workout a week and one tempo run or steady state effort per week. I do not do speed work unless I’m training for a goal race. My favorite workout is long tempos or long steady state runs. I treat every run, every day with a purpose. I don’t push a recovery run when I feel really good it just takes away from when you need to go fast. I run very slow on recovery runs, it can be boring but it has it’s purpose in a training plan.
11.Who would you consider some of your greatest competitors over the years?
My greatest competitor is myself, if I can be physically and mentally ready then go execute that is all I can ask for on race day. Whatever happens, happens.
Probably Eric Grossman would be one of my competitors who I seem to race against more than anyone else. If he is there on race day I know it will be a long day. Jason Bryant is a friend who lives nearby and I’m sure I’ll be racing against him more and more. Will Harlan another local ultra runner and good friend who does not race very often but when he does it is usually trouble for everyone. I really respect his abilities and outlook on running and life.
12.Is there a particular Inov-8 shoe you gravitate towards?
My favorite shoe was the Roclite 315 but since then the Roclite 295 has won me over, it is perfect for my feet. I also like the Roclite 305 and 312 GTX.
13.What do you know now that you wish you would have known when you first started running?
I wish I had known how to train smarter and get on the trails more often. I started out racing on roads and had lots of injuries (stress fractures). I also wish I had started running earlier in life, man I really missed out.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
with a time of 27 hours and 30 minutes in Whiskeytown, CA. As the
only team to complete the whole course and collect maximum points
within the time limit it was a strong finish to the 2008 racing
season. A full race report with photos will be posted soon.
Thanks again to Inov-8, Brunton, Ritchey, Ellsworth, Magura and BooCoo
Monday, October 13, 2008
Thursday, October 9, 2008
Raced in my third XTERRA USA Championships last Sunday in Incline Village, Nev. It was my first time in the pro division, which was the strongest field to date. My overall time of 3:08:24 put me in 12th place (5th American.) More than 7 minutes faster than last year with the run course being longer. Had the fifth fastest run split thanks to my Inov-8s. Too bad they don't make wetsuits and bikes also :)
Also a big thanks to Inov-8 for donating a Race Pro Pack for the Jamie Whitmore fundraiser. It was one of the hot items that helped raise more than $12,000 to help pay for her cancer treatment. See how she's doing here. Check out a more complete race report at the Sierra Sun.
Type rest of the post here
After nearly 3 full days of racing, the Checkpoint Zero / Inov-8 adventure racing team of Jenn Rinderle, Hunter Orvis, Paul Cox, and Peter Jolles crossed the finish line in third place. This years edition of the race featured hiking and mountain biking on the Poison Spider mesa, paddling on the Colorado river, trekking in the Manti La Sal National Forest, and a lengthy section of the famous Kokopelli trail.
Having come off a somewhat disappointing finish last year, the team was fired up to make a good showing at this years Xstream Expedition. Armed with the experience from last years race, we were better prepared for what the course might throw at us, or at least that's what we thought.
Very early in the race we started to encounter what would become our biggest enemy over the entire course, Tribulus terrestris, otherwise known as the goathead. The prickly little pods laid waste to our tires and supply of bicycle tubes. We ended up with so many flats, I don't even know how many tubes we went through during the race, but suffice to say, it was the equivalent of several years worth in our usual south eastern terrain.
Aside from our troubles with natures perfect caltrops, the team held up well in the blistering sun, baking heat, lightning storms, and wind driven snow. Even with the variety of conditions thrown at us this year, it was the first time in the events history that the race had not been called off on account of weather.
Adventure racing is notoriously hard on equipment, and this race was no exception. Our equipment suffered some pretty obscene abuse, everything from filling our Inov-8 shoes with sand from dunes, to loading up our Race Pro packs with 2, even 3 bladders to try and keep ourselves hydrated during the 10-12 hour unsupported legs we had to complete. While I'm sure these weren't the conditions the designers had in mind, everything worked fantastically and kept us moving the entire time. Not one team member suffered any blisters on their feet the entire time, which is quite a feat considering how many hours we were on them.
At the end, the team was very happy to cross the finish line after 70 hours of racing, of which, only 3.5 of those was sleep. With a week and a half of recovery under our belts, we're already looking forward to our next event, the Upstate Adventure Race. If you're interested in more photos of our race, please see our photo gallery.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Wynn Davis will be in Cassoday, Kansas racing the Heartland 50 mile through beautiful prairies and the Flint Hills area. Sean Andrish with be racing in Rothrock State Park, PA for the the 50 mile USATF National Road Championship also known as The Tussey Mountainback 50 mile Ultramarathon. Greg Feucht will be lacing up his road flats (F-lite 230's?) and racing at the Chicago Marathon this Sunday. Good luck to all!
Wynn Davis - Heartland 50 mile
Sean Andrish - Tussey Mountainback 50 mile
Greg Feucht - Chicago Marathon
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
After 3 nights and a few hours into the fourth day, I managed to cover 108 miles on the LT. I ended my hike at Appalachian Gap due to ankle pain and swelling. Without a doubt, an athlete can expect to experience pains, swelling, soreness, and so forth during multi-day runs/hikes. However, through my experiences, I have learned that there are some symptoms which are indicative of a more serious issue, such as severe pain that progressively gets worse. The ankle pain that I experienced was exactly that. On the second day of my hike, I felt a burning sensation in my ankle that eventually led to severe pain that ultimately slowed my pace substantially. Under ideal conditions, "making good time" on the LT means moving at 3 mile/hr pace. On the 3rd and 4th day, I was well under this pace and the pain was becoming more severe by the step. I attribute the injury particularly to running steep descents while carrying a 25 lb. pack, something that I have not much recent experience with.