A shout out to Gina Lucrezi, Aaron Saft and Amber Moran, as they all competed at the Cheyenne Canon race in Colorado over the weekend. The race was the final qualifier for the US team standard, which provided deep competition for runners looking to claw and scratch for the last two spots on both the men's and women's side.
Aaron ran a solid 9th on the men's side. Gina and Amber were 6th and 8th overall. Athletes said the X-talons provided excellent traction and feather-light comfort. Full results and report can be found here. The last remaining spot for the US team will be a "vote-in" at large bid. Cross your fingers and hope for the golden ticket, "willy Wonka style"!
Type rest of the post here
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
A shout out to Gina Lucrezi, Aaron Saft and Amber Moran, as they all competed at the Cheyenne Canon race in Colorado over the weekend. The race was the final qualifier for the US team standard, which provided deep competition for runners looking to claw and scratch for the last two spots on both the men's and women's side.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Last weekend Team Inov-8's Ben Nephew ran solid on the difficult alp trails in France placing 16th overall. Read Ben's report below.
IAU World Trail Challenge 7/12/2009
Trail des Cerces
Serre Chevalier, France
I’ve been avoiding writing this race report. I think it is because I’m worried that if I write the race report, it will mark the end of our experience in Serre Chevalier. Well, I’m home now and back to work, so I guess I’ll write my report. I’ll focus on the race itself, as trying to document the whole race weekend would amount to a small book. The course consisted of 42 miles of mostly singletrack trails over 3 major mountain passes with 10,500 ft of climbing at elevations from 6000 to 9500’ for most of the race. There were only 3 aid stations. I was expecting the race to be my hardest challenge yet, but I still underestimated how difficult the course was.
1. Trail des Cerces profile. It’s harder than it looks.
I woke up at about 2am to get ready for the 5am start. After 2 croissants with jam, 48 oz of extra strong Gatorade, and about 12 oz of coffee, I was off to the dark starting area. There were several hundred people there, and Matt Lonergan, the other American entrant, and I had a hard time making our way to the championship start. Before long, the race was off into the dark down a wide dirt path that was packed shoulder to shoulder with runners, some of them with sharp trekking poles strapped to their packs. The race went out at a solid pace, but it actually wasn’t as hard as the North Face 50 mile in NY earlier this spring. Matt went straight to the front, which wasn’t that far from the large main pack of 30-40 runners, and I settled somewhere around 30th place. The first 11k consisted of a gradual climb on wide paths, and at one point, I was up to 5th when I went under a rope that everyone else went around, passing at least a dozen runners. Apparently, this section of the course was the prelude.
As soon as we headed under a bridge to begin the real climb to the Col du Galibier, the pack splintered. I was pretty amazed at how fast the lead runners where hammering up the switchbacks. I just tried to settle into my own pace. As I passed Matt, who was backing off the pace, I wondered if I was pushing too hard given the altitude. I do most of my training at about 80ft above sea level, so I knew I was going to have a hard time with the some the climbing at altitude. Sure enough, the higher we climbed on the Galibier, the more I was passed. The first aid station was at 19k, near the last steep mile or so to the Col. The last 500’ were much steeper than I expected from the pictures from the course, and I used my hands quite a few times. Now that the sun was up, the scenery was incredible. The views were so immense; it was hard to actually process what I was seeing, almost to the point of disorientation. Reaching the top at 8,800’ after 3,800’ of climbing, we had a nice ridge run before starting a 3000ft descent that averaged 13%.
2. The real race starts up the Galibier. Matt Lonergan is in the background.
3. The final pitch to the Col du Galibier.
Think racing down Mt. Washington on the hiking trails. It was at this point that I realized that most of the pictures from the course were of the easier sections. The footing was not extremely difficult, but it was not all the super smooth Alpine paths I had seen in the photos. The other thing I realized was that the French locals could really run trails, the harder the better. I think some of those guys have mountain goat DNA. Although I held my own on that first long downhill, it was pretty rough on my quads. The trails were much firmer than what I run on in New England.
4. Starting the descent of the Galibier
After a few kilometers of flatter, rocky trails, we headed up about 2,500’ to 8,250’. This section was challenging due to the combination of runable sections and hiking sections. I was constantly switching back from running to walking, and it was very easy to kill your quads by running a few seconds up a section where you should be walking.
5. Climbing to the Col de Rochilles.
It was interesting to see the runner I was with trying to work out quad cramps right when my quads were began to cramp as well, despite all my pre-race Gatorade. I had put two Nuun tablets in my water bottles at the first aid station, so I took in as much fluid as a could, and tried to run through the cramps. Given that we were not even halfway through the race at 3 hours, and the hardest climb was coming, I was worried to say the least. Fortunately, the electrolytes from my Nuun tablets must have helped, as my quads totally stopped cramping a few miles later. It also helped to have some amazing views of three alpine lakes as we passed the Col de Rochilles. The next aid station was at 39k, which marked the beginning of the most ridiculous climb I’ve ever done.
6. Not a bad spot to go for a run.
As I looked up ahead, I could not figure out how the hell we were going to get out of the valley we were in without a helicopter. We were surrounded by huge mountain walls. From 40-42k, we climbed over 1,800.’ This is where the hiking poles came into play, although most of the top runners did not run with them. As I watched people pass me, they did seem to help; I almost stole a set from one runner out of curiosity! To make things more interesting, as we climbed up and past another alpine lake, the trail turned into a 6 inch wide indent that cut sideways across a 45 degree slope of loose talus. A slip would have led to a fall of 100-200’ down into the ice-cold lake. The final section of the climb was a genuine rock scramble where you were using your hands as much as your feet.
7. Marking the course up the rock scramble to the Col des Beraudes.
There was no time to rest at the 9500’ Col des Beraudes, as we were immediately directed down into a couloir that had ropes for the first 100’ or so. The reason the ropes are there is to prevent traumatic brain injuries from uncontrolled falls. As I concentrated on staying upright, and held onto the ropes, tightly, two locals came flying down the rocks without even touching the ropes. Insane. I like to think I’m a decent downhill runner, but these guys were just crazy. We dropped about a 1000’ in the first kilometer of descent. I held my own on the downhill once we got past the ropes, but my legs suffered once again from the pounding, and I struggled to maintain a fast pace on the runable sections of flat and downhill terrain from 43-55k.
8. A slightly technical section.
Here is another section where the course was deceptively hard. The trail to the Col du Chardonnet looks like a very gradual uphill. At 8,500’, all hills become significant if you are not acclimated. To make things more difficult, this 2k section was covered by shoebox-sized blocks of talus. It was a struggle to maintain any sort of running pace. There were two quite exciting moments on this short 2k section. The first was when I slipped crossing a hardened snow field and dropped about 20 ft. If I hadn’t have been able to stop, I would have slid about 300 ft down the snow into a pile of boulders. It definitely got my adrenaline flowing!
9. The snow field I fell on.
Soon after this section, I was greeted by a friendly Alpine ranger on a section of trail that passed over a cliff ledge that dropped about 500ft. I am guessing his job was to call the helicopter to pick up the body. It’s unlikely any sort of rescue would be necessary. When I got to the Col, I actually stopped to turn around to take in the view, which was absolutely spectacular.
The next 8k of downhill was runable, but by this point, the race was pretty spread out, and I felt very isolated at times in such impressive terrain. I did run past several groups of hikers in this section who were all very supportive. Throughout the race, people seemed to be very excited by my USA singlet, and I received so many, “Go USA,” and, “Yes We Can” cheers that I lost count. Some say the French are not that friendly to American tourists, but I can’t identify with that sentiment. I felt very welcome during my entire stay in Serre Chevalier, and especially so during the race.
My legs were getting pretty tired by the time I hit the last aid station at 53k somewhere around 7 hours into the race. I had hoped to be much closer the finish by this time, and was worried about how I would handle the last 1900’ climb from 55-60k. I ended up hitting the aid station with several other runners, and we all seemed to take our time refueling for the last 15k. I was really sick of drinking the provided sports drink, so I filled a water bottle with Coke, and put two Nuun electrolyte tablets in.
I left the aid station feeling much better, and was able to catch up with three other runners, a Swede and two French runners. After a couple of kilometers of climbing, I followed the Swede around the locals, and tried to stick with him up the last section of the climb. I didn’t have enough left in my legs, and he slowly began to pull away. I’m not sure who was up there, but an English speaking gentleman yelled down that we were only 50 meters from the top of the Col de Buffere, and I replied that I only had 50 meters of climbing left in me! I passed a Belgian runner right at the top, and tried to get my legs going for the last 8k of downhill to finish. The problem was, the faster I went, the more my quads hurt. About half of this downhill section was on hard pack dirt roads, which was bringing tears to my eyes with each stride. I spotted the Swede on a couple of longer stretches, but could not reel him in. I also noticed a couple of runners about a minute behind me with about 6km to the finish.
10. Section of dirt road in the last downhill 8k.
Although I was confident that I didn’t need to push the pace on the final descent, I did anyway. There were two reasons for this. I was worried that my wife, Stephanie, would be wondering where I was after 8 hours on the trail, and I had delusional thoughts that I could catch some runners.
It was very warm down in the Valley as I wound down the switchbacks in the last 5k to the finish. The last sections of the trail were some the nicest of the course, as I finally got onto some soft forest trails.
11. Finally some soft trails!
I ended up with a time of 8:30:40, which was less than a minute behind the Swede, Rickard Seger. Surprisingly, the there was no one within 6 minutes behind me. My place was 16th, and based on the start list, about 25% of the men’s field dropped out at some point. After getting some fluids, I headed back onto the course to wait for Matt to finish. I’m not sure what the temperature was, but I can tell you that the tar was melting on the roads. Every single runner that came down the road had the same look on their face: they were gritting their teeth, most likely from the pain in their quads. As Matt ran by in 21st place, he gave me a look and a low five, and we knew exactly how each other felt. We were both very happy to have survived such a challenging course. I rarely consider finishing a notable achievement, but while I’m happy with my place, I’m just as happy to have survived the course. It was the hardest race either of us has ever done.
12. Approaching the finish.
13. 100% pure French Alpine dirt. I took some of the trail home with me.
I couldn’t have run as well without Steph’s help. She took care of our son Gavin and allowed me to focus on the race on Friday and Saturday, in addition to many other race weekends throughout the year. Gavin was an integral part of my training, as he happily sat in his pack or jogging stroller on many training hikes and runs. Bringing 40 pounds of solid baby 4300’ down Mt. Washington after racing up the mountain was ideal training for the Trail des Cerces. The race organizers did a tremendous job, and although this championship is very young, I think all the athletes felt extremely honored to represent their countries due to the efforts of the many individuals involved with the race. It was truly a memorable event. I have to thank Howard Nippert and the USATF MUT council for providing the opportunity to compete in France. I also appreciated the performance of my Roclite 320’s, as my feet were in perfect shape after the race. Although I was sore, we did a family hike the day after the race, and several more during the remainder of our vacation in Serre Chevalier.
While I’d like to compete in the IAU Trail Challenge again, I might just switch to coaching. I have one prospect that exhibits tremendous potential….
14. Gavin doing a hill workout.
15. Au revoir, Serre Chevalier!
The White River 50 mile race host of the USATF 50 mile National Trail Championships is this Saturday. Brian Morrison will be representing Team Inov-8 and will be a strong contender.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Race Pro 18 pack:
For this year's Barkley Marathons I selected the Race Pro 18 pack and hydration system. I have always used water bottles/water bottle waist packs for my long-distance hikes and runs, however, my race philosophy led me to give the bladder system a try. I was putting particular emphasis on going-light, which translates several ways: first it means you bring only what you absolutely need. Second, what you do bring must be as lightweight as possible.
It was my yoga instructor who initiated part of my race philosophy. During class she made a comment saying, "Use that big back of yours". Eureka. One thing I never liked about the waist packs is the pressure and discomfort on the gut, especially when it's weighted down with a night's worth of gear. By switching to the backpack/bladder i could transfer that weight to my shoulders and perhaps be able to carry more water. I love the shape and style of the RacePro 30, but I preferred the smaller RacePro 18 because of the size and large external mesh pocket which is a catch-all design with a single buckle.
For the first 20 miles (eight hours) of the event I wore the team tank-top jersey which was not compatible withe the shoulder straps of the Race Pro 18. I was able to make the change early enough to the short-cropped sleeve team jersey which worked well. The pack itself is extremely lightweight and durable. My pack has faded a bit with use (I ski backcountry with it in winter) but even after 100 miles of Barkley briers and bushwhacking, I can't find a single puncture or loose stitch. I stuffed it with a fair amount of gear (rain gear, lights, food, water) and never really gave it much thought. It served me well. The bladder is a 32 ounce style which I filled in the mid-point of each loop in areas of poor water access. Along with that I stashed a 20 oz water bottle in the mesh pocket, which I could reach without taking my pack off.
My favorite feature of the pack is the built-in safety whistle in (literally in) the sternum strap buckle. I used it at the close of each loop to announce my arrival. It's LOUD!
Also: I rotated between 3 pairs of Inov-8 shoes: 2 pairs of Roclite 320s, and a pair of Flyroc 310s.
I enjoy these styles. The Flyroc is more of a gnarly terrain walker/hiker. I wore these for my entire AT speed hike, actually 9 pairs. The Roclite is a classic trail runner, light, tough, big toe bow, flexible, aggressive. Both are light, meshy and wicked tough. I had no foot problems, except for a blackened big toe-nail from bashing it so many times over the 57 hours, 37 min. I selected these because of their aggressive tread, but more importantly for their ability to be semi-rigid, while allowing lateral movement (ie. walking side hill).
It was a great lightweight set-up. I highly recommend these three products.
Andrew "Traildog" Thompson
In this addition of 50 trails / 50 states we head to the Hawkeye state. Iowa sits quietly amongst other trail enriched states, but if you peel back the thin veneer you'll find many beautiful wilderness areas in Iowa that will sure to please any trail runner or hiker. Yellow River Forest is located in Allamakee County in northeast Iowa. There are over 25 miles of marked & maintained trails in the Paint Creek Unit alone. Read more below for further information..
The first lands acquired for Yellow River State Forest were purchased in 1935 with funds that were appropriated to support the Civilian Conservation Corps (C.C.C.). The original purchase was adjacent to the Yellow River near its confluence with the Mississippi and the name "Yellow River Forest" was appropriate. In 1949, 1500 acres of the Forest was transferred to the National Park Service and became a part of Effigy Mounds National Monument. The larger units of the state forest are now located in the Paint Creek watershed, north of Yellow River. Subsequent land purchases consolidated scattered tracts and today the forest is 8,503 acres in size.
Yellow River Forest is located in a physiographic region called the Paleozoic Plateau. This region includes northwestern Illinois, southwestern Wisconsin and southeastern Minnesota. It covers most of Allamakee County (in which Yellow River State Forest is located) and parts of Clayton, Fayette, Winneshiek, Howard, Dubuque, and Jackson Counties.
In contrast to most of Iowa, which is covered by deep deposits of glacial drift, the dominant feature of the surface of the Paleozoic Plateau is limestone and sandstone bedrock.
For many years, and even today, the term "driftless area" was used, reflecting the belief that this region had never been glaciated. Thin, isolated areas of glacial drift do occur in the area, however. This drift is probably pre-Illinoian in age and approximately half a million years old. The ruggedness and deep dissection of the landscape is due to the elements having been at work for that period of time.
Much of Yellow River Forest is marked by rugged terrain with numerous rock outcrops, bluffs and steep slopes. On the major upland divides between drainages, the bedrock is overlaid to varying depths with pre-Illinoian glacial till and this in turn is overlain with Wisconsinan loess of various thickness.
The major Yellow River Forest plant communities are maple-basswood, oak-hickory and bottomland hardwoods. Prairie species may be found on dry bluff tops, rock outcroppings and steep slopes that face south and west.
Yellow River Forest is home to many species of wildlife who live in its various habitats. From a recreational standpoint, Yellow River Forest presents opportunities for hunters to take deer, squirrel, raccoon and various species of waterfowl and upland game birds; the trapper to harvest beaver, mink and other furbearers and the angler to take trout and other species of gamefish.
click on this link for a printable map
Monday, July 20, 2009
The flight was part of preparations leading up to the world's most spectacular adventure race, the Red Bull X-Alps which began yesterday at 11:30, July 19 in Salzburg.
The athletes will compete in the 818km event, where competitors must hike and fly through the Alps and negotiate seven turnpoints before
reaching the goal in Monaco. Every competitor will have a GPS device
which tracks their exact position and displays it on a Live Tracking
map on the official event website.
Air traffic at busy Salzburg airport was diverted temporarily to
allow the athletes to fly directly over the dramatic Festung
Hohensalzburg castle. It's the first time permission has ever been
granted from the control tower for such a stunning flight.
Team Inov-8 athlete Chris Gardner has given us an insightful review of the Roclite 285. This shoe uses our performance last, with 2-arrow cushioning (lower profile), sticky rubber Roclite outsole, which yields a responsive feel with a slightly narrower fit. Once thought of as only a short distance trainer and racer, Chris proves in his review that this 10 oz. shoe can take on the demands of a 50k trail race. We have many athletes on the team who simply love this shoe and I received many kudos for the fit and function of the Roclite 285. Please read the review by Chris below.
I think this can be a very fine line that an ultrarunner must walk; light enough to be a real advantage in reducing leg fatigue and allowing a quicker turnover on the trails, but yet not too light and minimal so as to leave your feet feeling punished at the end of a race. I think an ultrarunner has to be honest with them self and think through this decision carefully before a race.
So too I found myself thinking through shoe selection ahead of the Chippewa Moraine 50k at the end of April; What Inov8 shoe to select? How light of a shoe do I choose? What were the conditions, both technical level of the trail and moisture conditions of the trail, going to dictate?
I ended up zeroing in on the Roclite 285’s. Seemed like a bit of a gamble going with such a light weight choice since even the Inov-8 catalog lists the model as a lightweight model for short and fast races. That was even more evident as I sat in the Super 8 Hotel room the night before the race with two buddies of mine that were running the race the next morning, and one pulled out a pair of Montrail Masochists and a pair of Vasque Blurs. They both were in disbelief, and somewhat in doubt, about the minimal and lightweight design of the uppers of the 285’s paired with the aggressive outsole and predicted some dire consequences for my feet the following day.
After a few test-runs in the days prior to the race, I was confident in the 285’s flexibility to perform over the course of a 50k race consisting of continuous up’s and down’s on a soft a loamy single track trail. The 285’s lived up to be just that; a lightweight shoe that provided me with a level of protection and stability that allowed me to focus on the race and my effort, and not even think for one moment during the whole course about how my feet were feeling; possibly the first time I’ve ever been able to say that during an ultra distance race.
The grip provided by the Roclite outsole was tenacious on the uphills, again allowing me to put my energy and focus on working hard, instead of worrying about slipping or a lack of grip on the single track surface.
I can’t say enough about how light these shoes felt on the trail, particularly later in the race; to the point of not even noticing that they were there which is quite a significant difference from most shoe choices in an ultra. I noticed a definite lightness to my turnover towards the end of the race that I didn’t notice in prior years running in heavier trail shoes.
Another great benefit of the 285’s is their open mesh upper which allowed water to easily drain, keeping my feet dry and comfortable.
I suppose the 285’s passed the final exam for me when I finished the race and took my shoes off. For a minimal racing shoe, I was surprised that I had no residual soreness along my forefoot. My arch felt great and all my toes and their nails were in great shape and fully intact. I think that says a lot when you can wear a pair of 10 oz shoes for a 4 hour trail race.
I would say that to wear these shoes for this length of race, well-developed ankle stability is a must as the uppers tend to be extremely low profile. This is typically not a problem for ultrarunners since they have most likely spent years running trails and therefore gaining the natural adaptation of strong ankle stability muscles. Overall, my lasting impression of the 285’s was extremely positive and my race experience was a true testament to how versatile and durable this excellent set of lightweight Inov-8 racers can be over the course of a technical 50k trail race.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Congratulations to Team Inov-8's Kelli Lusk on her 6th place finish at very competitive Barr Trail Mtn. Race last weekend. Out east, Emma Garrard took 6th at the XTERRA Northeast Cup. Nice work ladies!
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Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Jenny Anderson took to the rugged trails of West Virginia over the weekend and notched her 2nd win in a row at Rattlesnake 50km. It looks as though her orienteering quest of the North Carolina mtns. a few months earlier provided a good base. Good work Jenny!
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Saturday, July 11, 2009
The 2009 Inov-8 USATF-NE Mountain Circuit winds down tomorrow (June 12) at the Ascutney Mountain Challenge at Ascutney State Park in Vermont. Like all of the races in this year's Mountain Circuit, registration is above last year's numbers, with close to 200 runners expected for race day.
More astounding is that there are still 100 potential Mountain Goats, people who have run all 6 races in the series. This will surpass the highest ever Mountain Goat total by over 30 runners. Those who receive the coveted Mountain Goat designation will earn themselves a bypass of the 2010 Mount Washington Lottery, a tough entry to obtain in the race's 50th Anniversary.
Those Mountain Goats are surely to be proud as they will have ascended over 12,000 feet and descended over 4000 feet over those 6 races, which took place over an 8 week period between Memorial Day weekend and now.
The Ascutney Race sees a course change this year, with the bottom half on the traditional paved mountain road and the top half of the 4.5 mile course on trails. This is the 2nd race this year in the series that has changed traditional courses.
For a complete list of current standings in the Inov-8 USATF-NE Mountain Circuit, go here
In his first Hardrock 100, Team Inov-8's Andy Jones-Wilkins ran to a strong 4th place finish at the Hardrock 100mile in Silverton, Colorado Saturday. Andy's time of
28:09 was one of a couple sub 30 hour finishes. Similar to Badwater it looks as though runners have found a way to crack the code at this race in the last three years. Good work!
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Tuesday, July 7, 2009
We have three talented and speedy ladies toeing the line this weekend. On Saturday Jenny Anderson will be defending her 2008 title at the Rattlesnake 50k. This is a hilly singletrack course in the Kanawha State Forest outside of Charleston, WV. Race day conditions are usually hot and humid. Inov-8 is a proud sponsor of this race.
On Sunday, Emma Garrard, who has been tearing it up lately on the Xterra scene, will be racing at the Xterra Northeast at the Sugarbush Resort in Warren, VT. Inov-8 is also a sponsor of this race. Lastly, Kelli Lusk will be racing at the Barr Trail Race in Manitou Springs , Co. The race will go up 6.3 miles on the Barr Trail gaining 3,630' where it will turn around at Barr Camp at 10,200' elevation and then turn around for a fast and furious descent. Good luck ladies.
Jenny Anderson - Rattlesnake 50k
Emma Garrard - Xterra Northeast
Kelli Lusk - Barr Trail Race
On June 10, I embarked on one of the greatest adventures of my life. Rebekah Trittipoe, Anne Lundblad and I (representing three decades of life) began our assault on the South Beyond 6000 (SB6k). The SB6k is a challenge that demands the summiting of 40 North Carolina peaks that stand in excess of 6000 feet in elevation. Fifteen of these peaks are unmarked and untrailed. All peaks must be connected on foot requiring nearly 300 miles of trekking. We completed our goal in less than seven days (6 days, 13 hours, 31 minutes) and most importantly we accomplished our goal as a team every single step of the way. We learned a tremendous amount about our own physical and mental capabilities but, most importantly, we learned about being patient with ourselves, with each other and working as a team. The views, the sights, the rains, the heat, the crew, the wildflowers, the mountains, the bushwhacking, each and every one of the forty peaks, the trails, the laughs will be forever engrained in my memory.
To accomplish this goal, I had a tremendous amount of support. In addition to our amazing crew, the products I used proved to be critical in ensuring my daily success. First and foremost, my Inov-8s never failed me and I used a total of four pair. The Roclite 320s were my staple as they handled perfectly on every type of terrain imaginable without issue day after day. The sturdy midsole really helped give me a little added support when our days called for 16+ hours on the trail. Most days, our feet were wet so for added relief I switched to the Flyroc 345 GTX and, other times, Roclite 312 GTX. Both GoreTex shoes performed beautifully as they are breathable and waterproof. They did the job I was hoping they would do - keeping my poor feet dry. Through puddles, shallow streams, and rain I not only had dry feet but their sticky rubber helped me traverse slick terrain including wet rocks and muddy trails. On my last day, as my legs began to feel heavier and more labored, I switched to the weightless feel of the Roclite 295s. The fit and handling of these “rock star” shoes were exactly what I needed as we finished our sixth day, nearly 300 miles later and 40 peaks in the bag. Thanks to inov-8’s shoe ideology and technology my feet survived beautifully and I am ready for my next 50k race this week.
In addition to the shoes, the mudsoc 20 was an ideal sock. Between the mudsoc and the miraculous Smartwool socks my feet were left without any real issues. In fact, I never used a single band-aid during our entire adventure. Another great inov-8 product was the pro-pack 12. Although we had some issues with the straps rubbing our shoulders and it took us time getting used to carrying weight during our run, the packs were the perfect size for carrying our food and extra clothing on sections that would leave us without aid for hours. The strategic location of the hydration resting on our hips was ideal for weight distribution and comfort. Last year, I used this pack when climbing peaks out west and found it to be the ultimate tool for peak bagging.
As far as nutrition goes, Honey Stinger saved the day providing me with just the right amount for energy and the perfect balance I needed for recovery. My absolute favorite was the new pomegranate organic energy chews. They were better than candy (which is saying a lot if you know my sweet tooth).
Another superb piece of gear was the GoMotion chest lights. The bright, sternum 3-watt bulb, the convenience of it attaching to our inov-8 packs in a jiffy and the perfect positioning of the light was ideal for the crazy technical terrain we endured in the early morning hours and late night miles.
During the day, my eyes were grateful to Julbo for making a killer pair of trail shades. These weightless photochromic lenses not only did the trick when it came to proper shading and lighting on the trail but they shielded our eyes during the tough bushwhacking sections as well.
Throughout our 6 day journey, I know that we had the best support crew by our side. By the same token, being supplied with the best products on the market ensured that we would get the job done. Of course, inov-8 shoes and packs are at the top of the list. However, Smartwool, Honey Stinger, Julbo, and GoMotion were equally responsible for helping us accomplish our goal under much more comfortable conditions. For my next adventure(s), I will look no further than to these first-rate companies and their superior products.
Monday, July 6, 2009
I just finished off my second week of "active recovery", after getting crippling knee pain in Colorado. I've been trying to keep my knee moving a bit and relaxing and letting the injury work itself out. I've almost got basic club juggling down, and my flexibility has increased markedly! Feeling pretty confident this weekend, I decided to make a bid for the summit of Mt. Shasta! I tagged along with my friend Natalie from the UCSB outdoor department, her sister, and 5 of her sisters friends. We wound up in Mt Shasta City preparing to climb about 7000 vertical feet over 6 miles, half of which was on thick snow, in one big push. Just two weeks ago I could barely move my knee, but regular yoga has done wonders. I still had my Kahtoola running crampons, my now worn-out pair of Inov-8 X-Talon 212s and a pair of Drymax socks, so I figured I'd be alright.
The start was mellow but early (7200ft, 1AM), I pushed mostly with my trekking poles and took it easy on my knee, not really knowing what to expect. We hit snow at 9400ft, put on our crampons, and started up the mountain. I had the lightest snowtravel system of the bunch, especially compared to the hard-shell boots that most of the party was wearing. All the way up people commented about my shoes and crampons, which looked (and were!) much more flexible, comfortable, and light than anything else on the mountain. I found that in normal shoes I would have suffered much more from cold feet. My tried-and-tested 212's give my feet plenty of warm blood, to prevent them from getting frostbitten. If the conditions had been less beautiful, I would have thrown on my extra warm pair of wool socks, but there was no need. Also, I can wiggle my toes even in crampons!
We summited with no problems, took a few photos, marveled at the view, and started back down. We met up with the rest of the crew about 400ft down, who were a bit behind us. Natalie decided to summit again with her sister, who was suffering from wicked bruises from her hard-shell boots. I waited for them to come down, and we glissaded down over 3000ft of gorgeous snowfields. Needless to say, the way down was a bit faster than up, and we wound up back at camp by 4PM. My feet got really wet for the first time (despite the 212's being non-waterproof) during the glissade. Nobody was spared, though, from wet feet. Luckily, now down, my feet didn't stay cold for long.
- cross-posted at MountainManDan.net and yogaslackers.blogspot.com
Runner-in-Chief of iRunFar.com, Bryon Powell, was able to catch up with ultra runner Kevin Sullivan after his success at this year’s Western States 100. Below is a glimpse at the interview of the event.
iRF: What shoes, gear, and nutrition products did you rely on during the race?
K.S: I ran the entire race in a single pair of Inov-8 Roclite 305's and a pair of Drymax Hot Weather Socks - both are sponsors. Both companies make a phenomenal range of products that are truly suited to what we did and I am fortunate to have their support - before, during and after the race. As you know, I also wore the Rudy Project Noyz sunglasses with ImpaxtC Photochromic clear lenses. They are outstanding sunglasses and ideal for the alternating sunny/shaded conditions at WSER. The Noyz are extremely light and durable and I've worn that at a number of races.
As for my nutrition, that's confidential, but the one thing I'll say is that it is essentially all liquids. It was perfect for the race conditions this year and I was well fueled, without issues, all day. I supplement with Clif Shot Bloks - great product - and a few other random things.
For the entire interview, see iRunFar.com
Congrats to Team Roam/Inov-8 who placed 2nd OA at the Siege on Fort Yargo. Attached is Paul Humphrey's race report.
Team Roam/Inov‐8 Siege on Fort Yargo Race Report
For Roam/Inov‐8 the day dawned VERY warm & humid, probably the most humid of the summer so far. Starting at 9am when the sun was well up and doing its thing didn’t help either. Siege on Fort Yargo is very popular annual sprint adventure race held every July at Fort Yargo State Park in Winder Georgia. It attracts a very large field with over 100 teams showing up this year to compete against other teams and of course the heat and humidity.
One of the challenges of having a large field creates difficulty in moving so many people at the start of the race. Each the race directors come up with some new way of beginning this sprint AR but none the less challenging race.
The format this year was as always trekking, mountain biking and canoeing however you were able to complete the last 2 race disciplines in any order you liked after sending a single runner from your team to find your team number and thereby determine what discipline you would complete first. To be considered ‘full course’ you had to complete a minimum of 2 checkpoints on each discipline before you could ‘blow off the rest’ in that discipline and move on to the next.
We got biking first which was a good one to start with a quickly set out to gain as many points as we could on the bike. This enabled us to cover lots of ground and we quickly got all the bike points with a few points allowing and requiring us to drop the bikes and bush whack on foot to collect additional points. The most challenging was B1 with a challenging bushwhack to punch our passport. We returned to the TA and decided to then head out on the trekking section to get as many as we could. By this time it was a full on hot day and we worked our way around the lake getting as many points as we could but also setting ourselves a drop dead time to be off the trekking course and starting the paddling section. Most of the trekking points we got were relatively easy, however TP 8 was tricky and with us running out of time we decided to leave it and take a well earned (& cooling) swim across the lake. We didn’t go for any of the trekking points at the northern end of the lake and only collected 1 more point between the swim and heading back to the TA.
This race is all about time management and trying to get all points (as we were told) was close to impossible, as it proved to be true. Therefore teams needed to think carefully about strategy and how many points and which points to get before moving on.
It quickly became apparent if you spent too much time on the canoeing section (other than the minimum mandatory 2 checkpoints) you would be disadvantaged by the fact that canoeing is a lot slower than biking or running.
Therefore we planned accordingly and set out on the canoe section with the intention of getting the minimum of 2 points. Which were close to together and located at the southern end of the lake. By now we had heard from various friends and teams that CP 7 was really hard to find. Which would present some problems for us as that was one of our minimum points that we had decided to get. However we got a break from Jen Rendele from Checkpoint Zero/Inov‐8 who we passed on the swim across the lake informing us that CP 7 was hard to find, but telling us where it was. Her description was right on and we
remembered the ‘metal bridge’ where she told us it was when we were on the trekking section. This proved to be really helpful as we went right to it, compared to horror stories of numerous teams spending 30+ minutes in some cases looking for it.
From there we headed back to the TA and finish line knowing that with what little time we had left we would be able to get anymore canoe points and unable to go back and get trekking and bike points once you moved onto another section.
We finished with a decent amount of extra time which always raises the question of ‘could we have got more?’ yes but not on the canoe section. And by then that’s all we were able to get.
We finished in 2nd place behind Outspoken Bikes which contained one of Roam/Inov‐8’s other team mates, Julia Radmann. They got 35 points, we got 30, and were equal with 3rd place team, however we had a better finishing time and therefore took 2nd placed.
This race is always well attended and great for the sport of Adventure Racing. Lots of teams participate and the atmosphere is great. Roam/Inov‐8 decided to split up for the day with our 3rd team member Dwight Shuler racing with an all male team.
My team mates for the day Matt and Jen did a great job. It was hot and humid with the swim serving all of us well. This race is over quickly and there isn’t much room for error. We hung together and got a good result in the end. Thanks to the Trailblazer AR club for putting on another great race and being able to handle the large number of teams with great ease.
At the 4th annual Loon Mountain Race, Kasie Enman of Huntington, VT, set a new woman's course record, with a winning time of 53:17, besting the previous record of 53:36 that she set in 2007.
On the men's side, Central Mass Strider Jim Johnson, in his Inov-8 X Talon 212s, passed three other runners on the final downhill to take the victory in 48:25. Jim's time is the 3rd fastest on Loon finishing time ever, behind only course record holder Eric Blake and Paul Low. Jim was in the lead for much of the race before being passed on the 40-45% grade of the Upper Walking Boss trail (see picture above, looking up to the top of Upper Walking Boss).
For more photos of the race, visit Scott Mason's website and also Kristin Wainwright's. Results and race stories are here
The Inov-8 USATF-NE Mountain Circuit winds down next weekend at the Ascutney Mountain Challenge in Vermont. We have more "Mountain Goats" this year than ever before, it's great to see the continued upward trend of the growth of mountain running in New England.
Sunday, July 5, 2009
Earlier in the year I posted some unique initiatives that people, communities, and institutions were doing to cohesively bind thoughtful ideas and principles in an effort to promote a healthier, helpful, and happier lifestyle. This leads me to another interesting organization called the Bike Cave Collective located in Duluth. Operated in the bowels of a Catholic Church, this group of individuals recycles used and old bikes for people to borrow, trade, and use a means for everyday transportation. A bike cooperative. Help repair or build a bike and not only will you learn something new, but you'll be able to keep a bike. Featured below are two exciting and informative video links that I'm quite sure you will enjoy from the Upper Midwest. Bike Cave Collective. Critical Mass Bike Ride. The Bike Cave motto: We are a people of resurrection called to breathe new life into a dead world. So we collect trashed bikes from dumpsters and junk yards to transform them into new creations. By renewing dead bikes we are reminded that with work, patience, hope and creativity our world can be redeemed. You gotta love the bike mass, especially Davy Crockett on a highrider. Oh yeah, and on a side note: Minnesota was ranked top 10 places to bike in the world. Neat.
Type rest of the post here
Friday, July 3, 2009
Now that everyone's legs have recovered from the up and down challenge at the Cranmore Hill Climb, it's a straight shot across the Kancamaugus Highway (say that three times fast) to Lincoln, NH to Loon Mountain Ski Area for the Loon Mountain Race.
The area surrounding Loon has a lot of history on the trails, all being parts of former railroad logging operations on the East Branch, Livermore Falls and Lincoln Woods railroad areas from years past. Some interesting info on the area is here . For those of us who now live in the area 100 years later, the old railroad beds give us some of the best trail running in the White Mountain National Forest. All of the ski trails at Loon recognize this history with names like "Upper Walking Boss", "Haulback", and others, all named from logging industry terms of the time (picture is one of the locomotives used in the area for logging).
The Loon Race is primarily an uphill only race that was originally started in 2006 to be a qualifier race for the US Mountain Running Team. Since then, the race has become legendary in New England Mountain Running Circles for the famed "Upper Walking Boss Trail", which is in the last mile of the race. It consists of a 1/2 mile climb up a 40% grade ski slope to the top of North Peak before you bomb down the Sunset trail on the other side to the finish. To give you an idea of the steepness, when this trail is groomed for skiing in the winter, the groomer is attached to the top of the mountain with a winch, for it's too steep for it to stay on the slope without sliding off. Upper Walking Boss is aptly named because most of the 200 or so runners who take it on each year end up power walking it. See an interactive trail map of the ski area here and see complete details on the race, including registration info, pictures and video from last year here
Mountain Circuit Standings
The Inov-8 USATF-NE Mountain Circuit standings are pretty crazy right now, with tight competition in several age divisions. See the current standings here Also, in an incredible testimonial to the success and poplarity of the series, there still are over 100 potential "Mountain Goats" who can bypass the Mt. Washington Lottery by running all 6 races in the circuit. That's almost a 100% increase over last year. If you count Mt. washington, that means these hearty souls are running 7 mountain races in 8 weeks. Pretty impressive and great to see the sport continue to grow, which is only possible because of sponsors like Inov-8. And Speaking of the Inov-8 crew, they'll be out at Loon selling shoes and letting you get a chance to check out the latest styles.
Thursday, July 2, 2009
I was once suspect of Gortex shoes. I thought they would make my feet sweat and once wet, that they would never dry out. I was wrong. On the SB6K, the 312s, a sharp-looking black shoe with yellow trim, proved to be my favorite. We had a lot of wet weather to contend with. My feet stayed much drier for longer than in traditional shoes. And, even when it was not raining, the constant exposure to wet grass proved no contest for the 312s. They kept the wet out. Of course, if you play submarine with the shoes, water will get in the shoes and your feet will be wet. But surprisingly, the shoes will still drain and the feel is much like any other shoe that takes a good soaking.
The other reason this shoe was a favorite for my week trudging up and down those tough North Carolina Mountains is that the toe box is generous. As the week went on and the miles piled up, my feet swelled, making shoe-wearing something less than pleasant. But the 312 best accommodated my puffy feet, giving me the support and protection I needed.
So if you are like me and hesitant to try a Gortex model, give the 312s a try. They worked great during our adventure and proved themselves in the winter months by keeping my feet warm and dry in slush and snow.
If you are like me, I wear a headlamp because that’s what I’ve always done. Some are better than others but all tend to give me that annoying light tunnel that drives you nutty at 3 am. But, recently I tried the Go Motion LED Sternum light on an assault of the South Beyond 6000, a trek of approximately 300 miles that summits 40 peaks in NC all in excess of 6000 feet, more than a third having no trail access. This bright 3 W light attached quickly and easily to my hydration pack with the battery pack stowing way unnoticeably in the rear pocket. The sternum light cast a bright glow on the ground, easily adjusted whether I wanted to focus close to my feet or out in front on easy terrain. My neck was not strained by having to hold my head in odd positions to direct a head light to specific spots on the trail. The weight, not much at that, was not even noticeable.
I used the light in the wee hours of pre-dawn and in the failing light of day. Either way, it provided the illumination that I needed. This was my first experience with a non-headlamp form of trail lighting and I am anxious to try the various other products that GoMotion has available. For me, their theme song should be “You light up my life” because they do it so well!
This was my first trip to the famous White Mountains of New Hampshire. I had no idea what to expect, except that the trails and terrain are no joke. I had done some research on the Mt. Cranmore race from prior years and found that it was a pretty gutsy place to run. After receiving race information from Paul Kirsch, I wasn't so sure I was ready to handle the course. It consisted of two 6k loops...half of the loop was a great thigh burning climb, and the other a screaming downhill. I figured that before I would freak out and worry, I should just wait and see it for myself.