Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Moab 50K

Well, the Moab Red Hot 50K++ lived up to it's name. There was a fast field that started, and they stayed fast to the end. Dave Mackey broke last year's course record of 4:03:02 set by Kyle Skaggs, in 3 hours 58 minutes. Tim Parr was right behind him in 3:59 and Karl Meltzer rounded out the top three with his best finish in 4:13. I was there at the finish to watch them and it was inspiring to see them all fly by the 33K runners still coming in. They were moving!
As for my race, definitely not Red Hot. In fact, it was pretty cold. As has been the trend for the last two Moab 50k's, I got a cold the week before the race started. In years past, it lasted a couple days and I was fine by race day. This year, it got worse and worse until Saturday morning I had the aches with gallons of green gunk coming out my nose and lungs. Being a little stubborn, I decided to run anyway. I thought I'd take it easy and enjoy a nice run on real dirt. After 5-6 miles I realized that taking it easy wasn't going to cut it, but I didn't want to stop so soon, so I decided to finish the first big loop and drop at mile 17. I should have just stopped at the first aid station. The only real good thing about the day was enjoying running along with John Wheelwright and Cam Davis for a few miles. Cam kept me entertained with his high energy and it was good to catch up with John a little bit.
I dropped at the same time as Nick Pedatella, winner of last year's Boulder 100. He was having some knee problems. We decided to walk back to the start. Luckily, someone came by and picked us up and saved us from the 5 mile walk backto our cars. Then I drove to the finish in time to watch the winners come through. Kevin Shilling ran a fast 4:39. Not bad for a long run of two hours coming into the race. All in all, it was nice to get on dirt for a few miles, but disappointing to not be able to get out and really run. I look forward to feeling better and to the Buffalo Run in March.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Orcas Island 50k Report

As I awoke at 6:00am to the rumble of yet another freight train in the clean but rundown Motel 6 in Troutdale Oregon, I wondered if I was a little nuts for dragging my wife and myself 900 miles to go run a 50k on Orcas Island in Washington State. I mean really, 900 miles for 31 miles just doesn’t make sense. It sounded like a great idea in December when I was looking for an alternative to the great but knee punishing Moab Red Hot 50k+. Now as the time and money were disappearing quickly I was starting to question my other idea of driving 900 miles to run a 50k instead of flying. My wife seemed to be taking it in stride and at least we were getting to spend allot of time together. So off we went in good spirits for 6 more hours of driving to catch the ferry in Anacortes Washington.

As we neared the San Juan Islands my apprehension disappeared, I had forgotten just how impressive and beautiful the Islands are even though I had lived on Orcas Island off and on for 3 years in the mid 90’s. Marge and I lucked out and arrived 25 minutes before the express ferry left for Orcas. The ferry was full of trail runners going to the race and the trip passed quickly as it only took an hour to arrive at the Orcas ferry dock. Marge and I were approached by a young lady and was asked if we could shuttle some food for herself and her boyfriend to make there bike trip a little easier going out to Doe Bay on the other side of the Island, we off course said yes we would help it’s a Island tradition to help who ever you can as you’ll will see them again many times, and I was hoping for a little extra good karma for the race.

View from cottage looking south

Marge and I checked into our cottage right on the beach and basically had the whole quaint but rundown resort to ourselves as nobody was staying there accept us two, made for a very quiet nice evening before the race. We had plenty of time to sleep in as the race did not start until 9:00am to allow people to come over on the ferry the same day as the race.

We arrived at the race about and hour early and just got to see the early start 50k runners head out, they were being directed by last years winner Matt Hart, it was a little comical because Matt really wasn’t really sure if he was sending them the correct way, turns out it was, lucky for Matt and the runners. After a short pre-race meeting James Varner R.D sent us on our way, and as usual I ended up somewhere mid pack and just kind of cruised listening to people chat and trying to settle into a nice rhythm. The pack spread out after 20 minutes or so, the trail was slightly muddy but very smooth and cushioned with moss, pine needles and leaves. The trail weaving in and out of old growth Douglas Fir and Cedar trees passing small lakes and streams. There was a bit more climbing than I expected before the first aid station at mile 9.8 but with the climbing also came some really nice easy down hill running on smooth trails and nice logging roads.

Me coming into the first Aid Station

After aid station 1 came the first real big climb of the day, a Squaw Peak 50 type climb with a vertical gain around 1,000 feet. It was basically straight up, and no real trail for the fist half. This was followed by another nice long downhill through more mist filled old growth trees and ferns. We then headed around Mountain Lake for a few miles. At this point I had run out of water and ended up filling my bottles straight out of the lake, I didn’t know they had water available at mile 18 just on the other side of the lake. I was guessing I was somewhere in the top 20 but wasn’t really sure how many runners had gone out hard and had sprinted away.

Great way to cool your knees (aid station 2)

The last big hill started at mile 18 and went up close to 1,500 vertical, my plan was to push hard from the bottom of this climb to the end of the race. For once my plan worked and I passed 7-8 people on the climb. The last aid station of the day was at the top of Mt. Constitution (elevation approx. 2,400) at mile 22. This was followed by some moderate downhill and climbing, and then a very long downhill to Cascade Lake, followed by an easy 1.5 miles around the lake and to the finish. My time 5:42, good for 12th place.

What a great race, 31 miles, 7,000 vertical, fantastic views, forest, lakes, waterfalls and wonderful smooth pine cushioned trails with just enough technical sections to keep your mind busy. There were also the tough competitive Northwest Runners I have come to expect and admire. The overall winner this year was Adam Lint in a time of 4:32 and first place women went to Ellie Greenwood, with a 7th place overall in a time of 5:18. This all followed by a great bluegrass band, homemade chili, cookies, beer etc….. I’ll be back some day but I will probably take that airplane ride.
(Results) Pictures by Glenn Tachiyama

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Moab Red Hot

I am planning on running the Moab 50K this weekend.  The original plan was to spend a sunny weekend with the family away from the rain and snow.  However, the weatherman doesn't like that idea and is calling for rain and snow on Saturday and Sunday.  As much as my  family loves spending time together,  a weekend cooped up in the Comfort Inn didn't sound too appealing.  
I am still planning on running the race, and I'd  like to carpool  down on Friday and come back Saturday.  If the one person who reads this has any similar plans, let me know and we can make some arrangements.  My hotel is pre-booked and non-refundable so I've already got that worked out.  
Happy trails-


Sunday, February 8, 2009

Short n Steep 2.0

Saturday morning Peter, Sam, Brian H. and myself headed out for one of my favorite BST routes I call the short n steep. This route is about 13 miles and takes in about 3500' to 4000', a good quad buster for the early season when the higher trails are still packed with snow.

Heading up toward the shoreline from the zoo Peter suddenly stopped to point out the most amazing moonset I've ever seen. As the moon was descending toward the western horizon it appeared to be further north than usual, setting just next to the state capitol. But that wasn't the amazing part, the fact that it was huge and on fire was. I can't recall ever seeing a moon quite that large or that color, really quite cool.

Making our way up the south ridge of Mt. Wire we were greeted with a stiff cold wind blowing from the southeast before making our way down to George's Hollow. This proved to be the most painful part of the day for me as we post-holed through shin deep crusted snow. Down around the living room to the mouth of Red Butte where Brian and I said goodbye to Peter and Sam, as they had to get back early.

Up and down Van Cott was pretty uneventful and as we started up the mouth of Dry Creek I presented my new route extension idea to Brian. I wanted to head up our favorite climb, the Unkle or aka Black Mtn Ridge then head down the ridgeline following the route of the BSTM. We both felt great, the weather looked as though it was going to hold so we decided to do it. About halfway up the climb the wind started to pick up and I noticed a few snowflakes swirling around us. The scene was giving me flashbacks to our mid-December whiteout in the same place. Sure enough once we hit the ridgeline the wind intensified forcing me to hold on to my hat and lean sideways into the wind. It wasn't quite as bad as the last time we got caught up there but still pretty cold.

Back on the BST it felt like summer compared to where we had come from. The temperature was still in the 40's but the wind had pretty much died down. The new route extended the run by about 4 miles and added an additional 600' to 1000' of climbing. I was worked and it felt great. As Brian and I made our way back to the car we started scheming a way to make it a real epic. Instead of heading down Black Mtn Ridge, go up, following the steeplechase route. I haven't mapped it out yet, but I imagine it would be 20+ miles with 6000'+ vert. Maybe in another month or two...

In other news, I went up to the Wasatch Lottery. I'm happy to report all of us that put our name in, got in. Should make for a fun summer of racing and training.

Still waiting to hear how Greg did up at the Orcas Island 50k, hopefully he'll post a report when he gets some time.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


I found some and it wasn't muddy or covered in ice and snow. This last weekend the family packed the car and headed down south for Zion. Leading up to the weekend I didn't have a lot of time to plan a run so I looked on Utah Mountain Biking for some ideas. The other factor I had to consider was that it was a family trip and I didn't want my run plan to dominate our time. That pretty much eliminated running in Zion National Park and Gooseberry Mesa, my 1st and 2nd choices, since we were staying in Hurricane. That left a couple of options that were close to town, the JEM, Hurricane Rim, and Gould trails.

Since I would be starting in the dark I decided to start at the Hurricane Rim trailhead and run up the road 4 miles to the JEM trailhead. From that point on I could complete a loop, with a short out and back on the far end on DIRT utilizing the JEM and Hurricane Rim trails for 21 miles of sweet singletrack. In hindsight I should have included the Gould trail but I had no idea how well the trails would be marked. Turns out the mountain bikers down there have done an impeccable job of building and marking an excellent set of trails.

At any rate, I ended up getting in 21 miles in a little over 3 hours. The road section pretty much sucked but it only lasted 35 minutes or so before I was on true singletrack.

The family made sure to give me the full workout by hiking Angel's Landing and the Upper Emerald Pool, which was completely frozen, good times.