Trail Running – Competitor.com http://running.competitor.com Your Online Source for Running Tue, 12 Dec 2017 21:49:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.5.2 http://running.competitor.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/3/files/2017/06/cropped-android-chrome-512x512-32x32.png Trail Running – Competitor.com http://running.competitor.com 32 32 How to Combine an Ultramarathon with a RV Trip in the National Parks http://running.competitor.com/2017/10/trail-running/ultramarathon-rv-trip-national-parks_169050 Thu, 12 Oct 2017 18:24:05 +0000 http://running.competitor.com/?p=169050 One ultrarunner shares tips on how to plan an RV trip around an ultramarathon after doing a 100-miler near the Everglades in Florida.

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While planning a trip to Biscayne and Everglades National Parks in Florida, I peeked on Ultrasignup.com in search of an ultramarathon in the area around the time my husband and I planned to visit the parks. And voila! There was indeed an ultramarathon, albeit far from these national parks, in Pensacola, Fla. I registered for the 2017 Wildcat 100 ultramarathon, my 21st ultra. The deciding factor was the availability of RV hook-ups at the race site. Plus, I had been training and had completed a 24-hour ultra in May. Combining an annual summer vacation in America’s national parks, with an ultramarathon, seven states away from home was a go.

Combining visits to a national park with a 100-mile ultra event in an RV makes for a fun trip. There’s no getting in and out of a car and into and out of a hotel/motel. The RV is your home on wheels with bed(s), a bathroom/shower, and a kitchen. It’s easy to hook up and unhook to water, electric, and sewer at the RV parks and campgrounds. We stayed in two different RV parks: Miami Everglades Resort and KOA Sugarloaf Key.

Based on our experience, follow these tips on what to pack, how to pack, and how to grocery shop for life in the RV and preparing for a 100-mile race.

Hiking/Running Clothes and Gear

1. A hundred miles is a lot of miles. Generally, the time limit is 30 to 32 hours. The Wildcat 100 time limit is 40 hours. Pack several sets of running clothes: shorts, skorts, sport bras, and singlets/tanks. The weather can change. Pack a rain jacket, light jacket, long sleeve shirt, running tights, caps, bandanas, cooling towels, underwear, compression wear, socks, and sport sunglasses.

2. Pack neatly. Pin each set of shorts/skort/running tights, singlet, sports bra, and underwear together with a safety pin. Gentlemen, adjust accordingly. Next, roll each pinned set of clothes into a compact bundle. I packed six sets of running clothes and used three sets.

3. Your toes and feet will demand shoe changes. Pack several pairs of running shoes. I packed my Asics trail shoes, Asics Nimbus Gel shoes, Vibrams, and Birkenstocks in separate plastic bags. The weather can change and your shoes will get wet.

4. Pack your first aid essentials. In a clear Ziploc bag pack Band Aids, Neosporin, Desitin, Vaseline, bug spray, After Bite, athletic tape, pain reliever, Tiger Balm, duct tape, tweezers, small scissors, toe nail clippers, bandage wraps, gauze pads, KT tape, sunscreen, and medication you may require.

5. Pack hiking clothes, swimwear, and water shoes. Depending on the trail terrain in the national park, pack hiking boots. Carry the first aid Ziploc bag in your backpack.

RELATED: 7 Essential Pieces Of Gear For Traveling Runners

How to Pack It All

packing running gear

Renting RV kitchen/cooking supplies, and towels, pillows, and sheets is expensive. The first roll of toilet paper is free. So be creative.

1. Fill a pillowcase(s) with your neatly rolled running/hiking/swim clothes. First, line up the rolled clothes to fit in a clear white trash bag. Insert the filled bag in a pillowcase to form a pillow. Pack the clothes-filled pillow in your suitcase.

2. Pack towels/bed sheets. Roll each bath and beach towel. Roll the bed sheets. Pack them in a separate white trash bag. We packed two bath towels, two hand towels, a towel for use during the ultra event, a kitchen towel, and four bed sheets.

Cooking Essentials and Stocking the RV Refrigerator

 For cooking, we packed these items.

  1. A camp cooking pot
  2. A skillet with a folding handle
  3. A pocket knife
  4. Condiments
  5. An apron

 

Healthy dishes

Before heading to the RV campground, go grocery shopping. In Florida, we shopped at Publix supermarket. Make a shopping list. Buy only what you need and what will fit in the compact RV refrigerator/freezer. Plan meals ahead of time. Our shopping list consisted of the following:

  1. Protein: chicken, pork, bacon, and eggs.
  2. Vegetables: asparagus, mushrooms, onions, spinach, cauliflower, and malanga (similar to taro root).
  3. Fruit: watermelon, bananas, peaches, mangoes, avocados, and tomatoes.
  4. Liquids: water and seltzer, dark chocolate almond milk, canned coconut milk, and Pepsi.
  5. Condiments: garlic butter and olive oil.
  6. Paper goods: a roll of paper towels (also used as napkins), paper plates and plastic ware for two people, a small bottle of dish soap, a sponge, and cleaning wipes to last the duration of the racecation without being wasteful.
  7. A Styrofoam cooler and ice.
  8. Special treats: Puerto Rican bread and shortbread cookies, and brownies from the bakery (we eat Paleo, but we’re technically on a vacation).
  9. Reuse grocery bags to collect trash. Reuse the white trash bags for dirty laundry.

 

RELATED: Why You Should Plan a ‘Runcation’ (And Travel Tips for Runners)

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Hash Hound Harriers: A Tradition That Cures Hangovers? http://running.competitor.com/2017/10/trail-running/hash-hound-harriers_161541 Thu, 12 Oct 2017 17:00:36 +0000 http://runhaven.lan/?p=8309 The group bills themselves as a drinking club with a running problem.

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Photo: Flickr

I live in Fort Collins, Colo., where beer is a hobby that is often combined with sports. However I was surprised to learn that beer-focused running dated back to World War II.

The run: The Hash Hound Harriers. The year: 1938. A handful of British colonial officers in Malaysia banded together on a Monday evening (good for them) to run away their weekend hangovers. They named themselves the “Hash House Harriers” after a house most of them lived in.

During the war, the group was not as active, but started again in 1946. The clubs recorded their objectives in 1950. The goals were to remain fit, feel younger, get rid of hangovers and get thirsty enough to drink beer.

From there, Hashing chapters started forming all over the world. Today there are over 2,000 groups in existence.

What are compelling reasons to join? Well, there is beer. And…no, that’s all you need to know. There is beer.

What sets hashing apart?

Hare and Hounds style. The group has a designated “hare” who leads the chase. The hare takes a head start to make a trail. Then, the group of “hounds” sets off to chase them. If the hare is “caught,” that person becomes the new hare.

Trail Markings and Callings. Trails are typically marked with chalk, sawdust or flour. Newer variations in snow use colored water splashes. Fake trail detours allow stragglers to catch up. Shrieks from horns, whistles or shouts of “On-On” are heard from front runners when the correct trail is found. Trails can vary between out and backs, loops, and destination runs. No matter where you end up, drinking is involved.

Nicknames. Group members rarely go by their real name. Instead, everyone is given a “hash name” based on something epic, embarrassing or an attribute of their appearance. If a member complains about their names or attempts to name themselves, they are intentionally given simple and boring names such as “glasses.”

Tradition: Keeping up with old traditions is one of the many things that makes hashing so awesome. Some of these traditions include:

  • Group Shirts. Easily identified by the outline of a human footprint, it might also be accompanied by their phrase “on-on.”
  • Socks. Knee high socks to protect from any elements, such as water, mud, thorns, etc.
  • Themed Runs. Themed races are held annually to raise money for local charities. The most common is the Red Dress Run. In 1987, group member had a high school friend come for a visit. She came straight off of the plane to meet him, and without changing, she ran with them in her red dress and heels. The tradition stuck.

Next time your run feels monotonous and lonely, look up the nearest hashing event in your area or any socially based run. If you’re a beer enthusiast with a running problem, definitely add a hash event to your bucket list.

RELATED: Serving Up Running Shoes and Fresh Microbrews

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Portland Parks Foundation Crowdfunding For Wildwood Trail Footbridge http://running.competitor.com/2017/09/trail-running/portland-parks-foundation-crowdfunding-wildwood-trail-footbridge_168386 Thu, 21 Sep 2017 01:56:27 +0000 http://running.competitor.com/?p=168386 The Portland Parks Foundation is working to improve the safety for both pedestrians and vehicles with a footbridge on the Wildwood Trail.

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Wildwood Trail in Portland, Ore., stretches for roughly 30 miles and is part of Forest Park in the northwest part of the city. The trail is a favorite spot of trail runners and hikers alike—it is designated by the Secretary of the Interior as a National Recreation Trail—and 96 percent of the trail is runnable. However, there is one issue: West Burnside Street.

RELATED: Trail Of The Week—Wildwood Trail In Portland, Oregon

That street is what has led the Portland Parks Foundation to already raise $2.3 million for the addition of a footbridge, which will pass over West Burnside Street. Right now, the trail crosses right over the street and with its 40 mph speed limit, it has been labeled a problem by local transportation authorities (as far back as 20 years ago). In fact, it is estimated that over 80,000 runners, hikers, walkers and schoolchildren navigate this crossing each year and as many as 20,000 cars flash past each day.

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The working budget for the footbridge is 2.5 million, though that number won’t be finalized until the end of 2018. The Portland Parks Foundation hopes to start construction on the footbridge next year. It will be 18 feet high and 190 feet long and was designed by Pacific Northwest artist Ed Carpenter. It was designed with the aesthetic of the local flora and fauna in mind to provide runners and hikers a continuous connection with nature.

Wildwood Bridge_2017-06-08_Perspective

The crowdfunding campaign began September 20 and is now live at oregonskitchentable.org.

RELATED: 5 Places To Run In Portland

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What It Looks Like To Run Along America’s Iconic Route 66 http://running.competitor.com/2017/09/news/route-66-salomon-tv_168353 Wed, 20 Sep 2017 17:35:29 +0000 http://running.competitor.com/?p=168353 Salomon athlete Max King decided to run from town to town in the American Southwest on Route 66 and document his journey along the way.

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Last summer, Salomon sponsored athlete Max King decided to embark on what he called a “running holiday.” With only his running pack and his two feet, he explored sections of the iconic highway Route 66. The 2,448-mile road, which originally ran from Chicago to Los Angeles, was a symbol of American progress. However the advent of the Interstate Highway System left much of the highway in danger or completely abandoned.

RELATED: Jack Of All Trades—5 Questions With Max King

King decided to travel through sections in the Southwest, documenting his experience. He visited communities still thriving along the road with a combination of running and rides from friendly locals. His journey features gorgeous scenery of the American west. It also highlights the spirit of those fighting to keep Route 66 alive.

“Everything that I saw out there is something special,” says King in the short film. “It represents a special piece of American history. And while only a percentage of the road has survived, its spirit lives on.

Learn more about King’s running holiday and Route 66 by watching the latest episode of Salomon TV above.

RELATED: Salomon Launches Clean Sport And Athlete Transparency Initiative 

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Darcy Piceu Sets New FKT On The John Muir Trail http://running.competitor.com/2017/09/trail-running/darcy-piceu-sets-new-fkt-john-muir-trail_168341 Wed, 20 Sep 2017 13:48:27 +0000 http://running.competitor.com/?p=168341 This past weekend trail and ultra-runner Darcy Piceu set her second Fastest Known Time (FKT) this year on the John Muir Trail in California.

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Photo Courtesy of Darcy Piceu

A HOKA ONE ONE elite trail and ultra-runner, 42-year-old Darcy Piceu, joined the ranks of the recent Fastest Known Time (FKT) successes and set one herself on the John Muir Trail on September 17.

RELATED: Joe McConaughy Shares How He Crushed The Appalachain Trail FKT Record

Piceu tackled the 211-mile trek from the summit of Mount Whitney to Yosemite Valley, while climbing 47,000 feet of elevation. The John Muir Trail starts at 14,496-foot Mount Whitney—the highest mountain in the continental U.S.—before passing through the Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks and coming to an end in Yosemite National Park.

Her time of 3 days, 4 hours and 12 minutes bested the previous FKT by over 11 hours. The previous record was set by Sue Johnston in August 2017 with a time of 3 days, 15 hours, 32 minutes.

RELATED: Austin Runners Set New Women’s Record For Wonderland Trail

“This high-altitude route winds along the Pacific Coast Trail through the Sierra Nevada mountains and features some of America’s most beautiful terrain,” said Piceu in a press release. “With most of the trek spent at 10,000 feet, this challenge played to my strengths as a runner and my training this summer—including an FKT on the Huyauash Circuit in Peru before the Hardrock 100.”

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Distance Runner Kasie Enman Returns To Competing After Brief Hiatus http://running.competitor.com/2017/08/news/distance-runner-kasie-enman-returns_167709 Thu, 31 Aug 2017 22:36:59 +0000 http://running.competitor.com/?p=167709 After putting a pause on her training to focus on family and recovering from an injury, Kasie Enman is back now with new racing goals.

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Kasie Enman competing at the 2017 Mountain Running Championships

Kasie Enman competing at the 2017 Mountain Running Championships Kasie Enman competing at the 2017 Mountain Running Championships in Italy. Photo: Richard Bolt

Almost two years ago, Kasie Enman hit the wall. The perpetual running machine stopped running.

After winning marathons, ultra races, a world trail running championship in 2011 and being a part of a U.S. North American cross-country championship team—plus winning a national snowshoe title—the former All-American at Middlebury College had to call timeout.

“I got sick and injured, and mentally and physically burned out in every way possible,” says Enman, 37. “I kind of shut down for a while.”

Training and running while working and raising one child was doable, but the stresses of a second child, an injury and the changes that come with getting older made her step off what she called her “straight path of running.” She halted training in the fall of 2015 and didn’t pick it up again until August of 2016.

“The combination of sleep deprivation and having two versus one (child), it was just a little bit harder to find that time to give yourself to recover and just get enough rest,” says Enman, who lives in Huntington, Vt. “I got progressively sort of run down and it all came to a head.”

In the past, whenever she had to slow things down because of injury or fatigue, she’d at least be able to cross train. Not this time.

“Because the energy fatigue was in the mix, I shut things down for a longer period,” she says.

RELATED: How To Start Running Again After A Short Break In Training

Enman is back now and running well. In early August, she finished second in the long-course (32K/19.9 miles) competition of the World Mountain Running Championships in Italy, leading the U.S. women to a team silver. The week before she finished 13th to help the U.S. win a team gold in the short-course competition (6.5K/4 miles), making a strong push over the second half of the route to pick up valuable points.

DSC_0313Enman helped the U.S. women get silver at the World Mountain Running Championships in August. Photo: Nano Hobbs

But Enman’s journey back has come with a learning curve. Since returning from her self-imposed hiatus, she’s trying to figure out how to train efficiently without pushing her body past its limits or adding to her daily stress.

“You just have to get to know yourself in a different way,” she says. “What I could do in the past may not be the same as what I can do now. What training looks like has to be a little different.”

She’s listening to her body more. If she schedules a hard day but then doesn’t feel right, she cuts the workout short.

“There are so many variables in the mix that I don’t know that I’ve honed in on an exact training formula that works perfectly, aside from not being stupid,” she says, laughing. “Not forcing things. Trying to learn from all the mistakes I’ve probably made.”

So far, at least, it seems to be working.

At the World Mountain Running Championships Enman ran the 32K course—which featured 8,000 feet of climbs and descents—in 3:57:30, 45 seconds behind winner Silvia Rampazzo of Italy. Enman had the lead for about three hours and felt strong.

“I felt I was going out really easy, but I took the lead,” she recalls. “I was surprised because I felt I was going at a really comfortable pace.”

When Enman finished she thought she’d lost by quite a bit. When she realized how close it was, she wished she “could have found 45 seconds somewhere.”

Now Enman is looking forward to new challenges and goals. Her life remains busy, with a 7- and 4-year-old and multiple jobs she’s sought or created that allow her time with her family or to work from home. She and her husband produce maple syrup on their property. She also coaches a local running club, the Green Mountain Athletic Association, and is director of First Strides Vermont, a program for beginning women runners. The former full-time teacher also has a part-time contract to lead an outdoor-learning program at her daughter’s school.

“When people ask what I do for work, I say, ‘It’s complicated,’ ” she says.

But the part-time jobs give her the time she wants with her family and for training. Now, as she nears 40, she has a new goal: Return to her roots on the road, qualify for another Olympic Trials Marathon and see if she can set a marathon PR (her best is 2:37:14).

She’ll run the Chicago Marathon on Oct. 8 and hopes to do others. She calls the marathon her “unfinished business.”

“I realize now I can go and explore fun trails in the mountains when I’m older and slower, but I can’t really go for a road marathon PR legitimately after the next couple of years,” Enman says. “I don’t want to walk away without trying for it. I’d have some regrets.”

RELATED: Photos From the 2016 U.S. Mountain Running Championships

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She Became A Leadwoman While 18 Weeks Pregnant http://running.competitor.com/2017/08/trail-running/leadwoman-18-weeks-pregnant_167528 Mon, 28 Aug 2017 17:22:19 +0000 http://running.competitor.com/?p=167528 Erin Drasler trained for and completed all five races in the Leadville Trail series while pregnant, capped off at the Leadville Trail 100.

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Erin Drasler crossed the finish line of the Leadville  Trail 100 in 29:03:45. That accomplishment made the 36-year-old woman a Leadwoman—at 18 weeks pregnant. To become a Leadman and Leadwoman, participants complete five races in the Leadville series—Leadville Trail Marathon, Silver Rush 50 MTB or Run, Leadville Trail 100 MTB, Leadville 10K Run and Leadville Trail 100 Run presented by New Balance—in a single year.

We chatted with Drasler to find out about her training, what it means to be a Leadwoman and what she wishes pregnant woman knew about exercise during pregnancy. (As a note, she laughed when telling us that her first pregnancy took place during her Emergency Medicine residency, which she considers longer and definitely more stressful than the races.)

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Did you find out you were pregnant during the series?

“No, before the series started, so it was during my training. On the first race of the series I was already nine weeks pregnant and then on the last race of the series I was 18 weeks.”

They say if you’re active you can keep exercising safely, but were you worried about taking this on once you found out?

“The thing that I was most worried about was that a lot of the challenge of the Leadwoman series―and doing 100 miles and endurance racing in general―is that it’s mental; you have to push through walls and that’s what I was most worried about. I wasn’t worried about continuing to be active during pregnancy because I know that it’s safe and I had a pretty high level of activity before I got pregnant. I wasn’t worried about continuing it, but I was worried about pushing through any sort of lulls or pushing myself because I feel that’s where you can get into trouble; I was worried about not having the same mental ability to push through walls that I basically would not have if I was not pregnant. I pretty much thought I might drop out the whole time, especially all the long races. I was like, Well I’ll just see how it goes, but I was not 100 percent convinced that I was going to finish because I felt like I was going to put my baby first.”

Did you have any issues―especially during the first trimester―that impacted how you were out on the course?

“I did. I had some issues with nausea and I had a lot of issues with dizziness and lightheadedness. My blood pressure was really low and I guess fortunately for me I felt better when I was exercising, but it was certainly harder to exercise just with fatigue and everything. It was harder to get the same volume of training. I think my training definitely suffered, which was also a little bit worrisome going into the series. I think that I had as good of a training block as I could have.”

Do you think women shy away from doing these kinds of challenges? Are you hoping to encourage woman to not let pregnancy stop them from doing things like this?

“I feel like when I found out that I was pregnant, I searched on the internet to try to find stories of other women that have done similar things and had good experiences with it. There’s really very minimal out there and I mean, it’s not for everyone. I think one thing that I found is that obviously, you’re heavier and you’re not as fast. I was 12 pounds heavier when I did the Leadville Trail 100. But I think that if you’re not thinking about it as racing then it’s very doable. I don’t think it’s dangerous to the baby and I think that’s one thing that I felt like I struggled with over and over again. When everybody found out that I was still going to do it, they gave me this look like I was insane. People have this perception that you’re going to cause damage to the baby. A lot of conservative guidelines don’t really have any evidence behind them. Just dealing with the conservative stigma that I was getting was really difficult.”

Is there anything you would change or do differently for any of the races that you can think of? Or are you pretty happy with how it all went?

“I’m pretty happy with how it all went. Because I wasn’t feeling that well during first trimester, I sometimes had to pick whether to focus on running or biking; because the run was what I really wanted to finish, the run was sort of my goal and it’s just such an emotional experience. I’ve been up there pacing my husband many times for it, so that’s what I really wanted to finish and I feel like sometimes I focused on that more than the bike. I’m not a particularly good cyclist, so I think that was a big struggle for me, especially since I really didn’t want to fall. I think that I took the downhills far slower than I otherwise would have, but I don’t think I would have done that differently. I just felt like that was what I needed to do.”

RELATED: Michael Wardian Completes 100-Miler and Marathon In One Weekend

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A Trail Runner’s Account Of Running Ireland’s Wicklow Way http://running.competitor.com/2017/08/trail-running/trail-running-irelands-wicklow-way_167504 Fri, 25 Aug 2017 19:21:15 +0000 http://running.competitor.com/?p=167504 A trail runner explores an 83-mile trail called Wicklow Way in the countryside of Dublin, Ireland.

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Just south of Dublin, Ireland, you’ll find everything imagined of an Irish countryside. The green hills are sprinkled with grazing sheep, lined with stone walls, spotted by lakes, and adorned with stands of bright yellow Gorse bushes. There are valleys home to ancient ruins, standing as stone reminders of past wars, rebellions and exploits. And, of course, the quaint villages and pubs filled with aged whisky, local stouts and ciders, hardy cooking, and warm hearths.

Should you choose to weave this all together in an action-packed adventure, you can run the Wicklow Way, an 83-mile trail that runs between Wicklow and Marlay Park in Dublin. Depending on how much time you are able to take and your desired pace, you can run all or most of the Wicklow Way in a long weekend or, alternatively, you can make a full week of it and add on some side trails and take in some more of the southeastern Irish coastal sights.

As the brainchild of J.B. Malone, born in 1914 in Dublin’s southern suburbs, the Wicklow Way came about through his meticulous notes and regular hikes into the heathery hills that he explored and shared by documenting the history and landscape in various writings. The first complete concept of the trail was published in 1966.

The route allows one to run through history with variety at every turn, covering every surface one could desire, and some that may elicit an expletive or two. The footing types include boardwalks of raised wooden planks covered by chicken wire and U nails, mud, bogs, some road connections, rocks, sandy sections, and grassy tracks over the knolls that afford coastal views of the Irish Sea.

I arrived in Dublin early on April 21 and took an incredibly scenic train journey along the coast to Greystones, where Fred Verdier of Wicklow Country Tourism met me and shuttled us to the start of our run at the Glenmalure Lodge, a beautiful pastoral setting where we met up with runners Paul Daly, Stephen Brennan, and Cindy Doyle. Daly and Brennan then gave us a guided running tour leading the way from Glenmalure to Glendalough, covering some incredible terrain and views that included waterfalls, Lungnaquilla Mountain (one of Ireland’s highest), and, eventually, some lakes that marked the 18K day’s stopping point.

The day was completed with dinner at the Wicklow Heather Restaurant, where we had our first pints of Guinness and were given a tour of the historical prints of famous Irish authors like James Joyce and Bram Stoker.

The next morning we were greeted by a chipper group of Wicklow-area trail runners. The route of the day detoured from the classic Wicklow Way to include Scarr Mountain and Djouce Mountain. The 32K day was clear enough to see the Irish Sea and the Guinness estate, which features a black-watered lake and imported white sands to mimic the look of a Guinness pint.

Exploring the Wicklow Way, I had covered more than 50 very pleasant miles in three days, met some wonderful people and tasted some delicious food and drink that makes this running destination a sport worth exploring.

RELATED: What You Need To Know If You Are Traveling To A Race

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Texan Ranch Transformed Into A Trail Runner’s Playground http://running.competitor.com/2017/08/trail-running/reveille-peak-ranch-texas_167452 Thu, 24 Aug 2017 00:03:49 +0000 http://running.competitor.com/?p=167452 With 25 miles of continuos trail, Reveille Peak Ranch in Burnet County, Texas has become an endurance athlete's haven.

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Photo: Courtesy of Rogue Trail Series

“I finally finished. After six months of working from dawn to dusk, we now have 25 miles of canted, soil-managed, mud-free, non-intersecting trail!” exclaims Vol Montgomery, owner of Reveille Peak Ranch in Burnet County, Texas. Montgomery was more tired and relieved than proud, and that says a lot about his modest, determined work ethic.

I met Montgomery on a cold, rainy day in December, when he took a break from his trail work to show me the lay of Reveille Peak Ranch, a 1,300-acre nature and adventure center in the Texas Hill Country of the Highland Lake District, used for outdoor education and training. During weekdays Reveille is often occupied by law enforcement, military, and especially SWAT and Special Ops teams that use the rugged, remote and diverse terrain for a wide variety of training. It even has SCUBA diving facilities.The day I was at the ranch, there was a group leaving the base compound for long-range rifle practice instructed by a Navy Seal trainer.

Reveille Peak Ranch still serves as an active cattle ranch. However, Montgomery supplements that with training on weekdays, and on weekends the ranch becomes a playground for running, mountain biking, obstacle course and multisport events. “It is a versatile piece of land and I use to its fullest capacity,” Montgomery explains.

Montgomery has strong ties to the Texas service community, given that he’s a sixth generation Texan and a member of the “Sons of the Republic of Texas.” Texas Rangers run so deep in his family that they pre-date Texas’ statehood.

“I know we go back before 1836, but I haven’t done a lot of the research before that point,” said Montgomery. After graduating from Texas A&M University, Montgomery started a network integration company in Austin. In only six years the company had grown so much it became an Inc. 500 award recipient for— fastest-growing privately-held company in the U.S. Montgomery’s company was acquired in 1999 and he retired from the tech industry a couple years later.

Montgomery then threw his enthusiasm into making Reveille Peak Ranch what it is today—converting it into a race destination extraordinaire for trail runs, ultras, mountain bike races, multi-sport events and Spartan racing. He set up a permanent obstacle course on the property and did such a fine job with the course that Montgomery was asked to duplicate it for Camp Gladiator in Austin and a SWAT team that wants one as well. He builds the obstacles out of used drilling pipe, which has a great patina of rust to give needed grip and traction.

Reveille Peak Ranch also features a big cook-house, covered pavilion and plenty of elegant rustic space for post-race celebrations. One of the most scenic parts of Reveille Peak Ranch is called “Decision Point,” a rocky vista where Montgomery married his wife. And just down the road from Reveille Peak Ranch sits Canyon of the Eagles, a 940-acre park, offering a spider web of winding running trails, camp-like accommodations, and an excellent restaurant.

Now that there are 25 miles of continuous trail—Montgomery is going to use a survey team to make sure the measurement is precise because he doesn’t trust the accuracy of GPS and barometric pressure readings—Reveille Peak Ranch is poised for more and bigger races. There is a mile worth of climbing within the 25 miles, and the trail is almost never flat. Montgomery’s long-time friend, Paul Carrozza, former owner of RunTex stores and track coach of Austin’s prestigious St. Stephen’s Episcopal High School, recommended that a good portion of the Reveille Peak Ranch trails be wide and smooth so that Austin runners used to the Town Lake , now called “Lady Bird,” would be able to adapt to the hills of Burnet County. Montgomery took his friend’s advice, but somewhat tongue-in-cheek, has named the hilly section of the 25-mile trail “Carrozza Boulevard.”

Reveille Peak Ranch also plays host to Captain Karl’s Night Trail Race, Pandora’s Box of Rox (both organized by Tejas Trails), some obstacle course races, mountain bike races and “A Girl & A Gun” national training conference. Montgomery hopes to make the trail the first IMBA-certified park in Texas with flow trails, shuttle assist gravity terrain and a four-lap 100-mile course that would be a Leadville 100 qualifier.

RELATED: 5 Places To Run In Dallas

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Michael Wardian Completes 100-Miler and Marathon In One Weekend http://running.competitor.com/2017/08/news/wardian-100-miler-marathon-double_167367 Mon, 21 Aug 2017 22:15:17 +0000 http://running.competitor.com/?p=167367 Michael Wardian raced both the Leadville Trail 100 and Pikes Peak Marathon in Colorado this past weekend, breaking a 24-year-old record.

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When it comes to breaking extreme records in running, Michael Wardian is the guy to do it. Earlier this year he broke the World Marathon Challenge (7 marathons on 7 continents in 7 days) time record—averaging a 2:45:56 per marathon—and last year he broke the Guinness World Record for fastest marathon in an Elvis costume in 2:38:04 at Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas. And this past weekend, he just added another insane record to his collection. He raced both Colorado’s Leadville Trail 100, one of the toughest 100-milers in the U.S., and Pikes Peak Marathon, a grueling mountain marathon ascent, back-to-back with only 6 hours of rest between the two.

Mike Wardian

The Leadville 100 started at 4 a.m. on Aug. 19, in which Wardian finished in 20 hours, 18 minutes and 57 seconds in 10th place overall. In an Instagram post of the results, he describes his run, “I had altitude and bathroom issues (14 times) but kept fighting and digging and fought back to earn 10th place.”

He then had 6 hours to drive to the Pikes Peak Marathon in Manitou Springs, Colo. (about 2 hours from Leadville), rest and get ready for his second race that weekend, which started at 7 a.m. on Aug. 20. However, the Pikes Peak Marathon isn’t just any ordinary marathon, it’s essentially a 26.2-mile ascent at high altitude with an average climb of 11 percent.

Wardian completed the mountain marathon in 6 hours, 2 minutes and 55 seconds.

The 43-year-old from Arlington, Va., is the second person to complete the double, breaking a 24-year-old record, according to this Facebook post. Marshall Ulrich completed both races on the same weekend in 1993.

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Austin Runners Set New Women’s Record For Wonderland Trail http://running.competitor.com/2017/08/news/new-womens-record-wonderland-trail_167202 Tue, 15 Aug 2017 21:08:31 +0000 http://running.competitor.com/?p=167202 Austin runners Allison Macsas and Mallory Brooks ran the 93-mile trail completely unsupported in just over 29 hours to take the new record.

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Mallory Brooks (left) and Allison Macsas (right) on the Wonderland Trail.Mallory Brooks (left) and Allison Macsas (right) on the Wonderland Trail.

Yesterday, runners from Austin, Texas, Allison Macsas and Mallory Brooks set off on the Wonderland Trail, leaving the Longmire trailhead at 6 a.m. Today, they arrived at the end of the roughly 93-mile trail that circumnavigates Mount Rainier in Washington in just over 29 hours. Completely unsupported along the way—with a team tracking them only via GPS—they have broken the previous Wonderland Trail women’s unsupported speed record of 31 hours, 11 minutes and 56 seconds set by Candice Burt in 2012.

There of course were obstacles along the way on the single-track trail that has over 22,000 feet of elevation gain and loss. This includes a hard river crossing 64 miles into their journey at South Mowitch, where the bridge has been washed out and the water is waist-deep. Macsas and Brooks successfully crossed the river at 12:04 a.m. in the middle of the night, as reported by Macsas’ fiancé Gabe Steger, who co-founded running tour company Rogue Expeditions with Macsas, and has led the charge in updating the Austin running community about the duo’s progress. Brooks is the founder and race director at Spectrum Trail Racing based in Austin.

brooks and macsas 2Mascas (left) and Brooks (right) relaxing at the finish point. 

Earlier this year, Macsas won the Austin Marathon in 2:48:17, over 10 minutes faster than the second place female. In 2016, the Skechers athlete finished 22nd at the United States Olympic Marathon Trials. Brooks is no stranger to Mount Rainier, as the trail runner summited it, along with Mount Baker, Grand Titan, Mount Whitney and Pico de Orizaba. She coaches runners at both Rogue Running and Pure Austin Fitness. The athletes spent time training at elevation in order to prepare for their Wonderland Trail Fastest Known Time (FKT) attempt.

Brooks and Macsas’s goal was to break 30 hours on the trail as reported by the Austin American-Statesman. They finished with a final time of 29:12:25.

RELATED: 3 of America’s Top Trail Running Towns

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New Short Film Shares The Secrets To Ultrarunner Karl Meltzer’s Success http://running.competitor.com/2017/08/news/film-karl-meltzer-speedgoat-hoka_166770 Wed, 02 Aug 2017 16:54:45 +0000 http://running.competitor.com/?p=166770 HOKA ONE ONE has released a new short film called The Speedgoat about the life and career of prolific ultrarunner Karl Meltzer.

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In celebration of their newest trail shoe, Hoka One One has released “The Speedgoat,” a short film about the life of ultrarunner Karl Meltzer. The 20-minute video takes viewers though Meltzer’s childhood, how he entered the sport and the pivotal moments in his career. Both the film title and the new shoe, The Speedgoat 2, are based on his nickname.

Meltzer’s ongoing career has been prolific. He has won more 100 milers than any other ultrarunner. He also holds the Appalachian Trail thru-hike speed record with a time of 45 days 22 hours and 38 minutes. Throughout “The Speedgoat,” he shares his perspective on running and how he achieved these accomplishments.

The film also dives into the creation of the Hoka Speedgoat trail shoe inspired by Meltzer. Although his past sponsor turned him down, Hoka enthusiastically embraced the idea of an all-terrain running shoe. He became the brand’s first sponsored athlete in 2010 and credits Hoka with revitalizing his career.

“I always dreamed of having a shoe called the Speedgoat out there,” Meltzer said in the film. “I didn’t necessarily think it would happen. Now we have a badass trail shoe that can handle any terrain.”

Filled with great storytelling and beautiful running scenery, “The Speedgoat” is a must-watch for any ultrarunning fan. Meltzer’s life perspective is unrelentingly positive. The joy he receives from running is at the heart of the film.

“I encourage everyone to find that passion, that happy place even when it gets tough and gnarly. That’s really part of the fun and when we have fun, it’s better than anything else in the world.”

View the entire film below.

RELATED: Hoka Launches New Elite Team For 2017

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Why The Rocky Mountain Slam Is The Toughest Race Series In Ultrarunning http://running.competitor.com/2017/07/trail-running/rocky-mountain-slam-ultrarunning_166675 Mon, 31 Jul 2017 22:28:03 +0000 http://running.competitor.com/?p=166675 The Rocky Mountain Slam, a series of five races through the Rockies, is the quirkiest and toughest race series in ultrarunning.

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Hans-Dieter Weisshaar, a 63-year-old from Germany, is a six-time slammer, the most ever. Photo: Courtesy of Rocky Moutain Slam

Almost every year, Leland Barker creates trophies for runners who complete the Rocky Mountain Slam, an annual test of endurance, fitness, perseverance, altitude and logistics.

To claim one of Barker’s trophies, a big hunk of chainsaw-cut wood burned with the athlete’s name, date and races, runners must complete four out of five designated 100-mile trail races over a 3½-month span. Since the first completed slam in 1999, it has been accomplished just 59 times by 30 runners. Some years, as many as eight runners have earned the prize. However in other years, it’s been zero.

“It’s definitely a feeling of accomplishment,” says Andrew Barney, 44, of American Fork, Utah, who’s done it four times. “I know a lot of runners who say they only run one 100 a year, and that’s big enough for them.”

The only runner who hasn’t collected the big wooden trophy is Barker himself. He completed the Slam in 2003 but never gave himself the award.

“I meant to,” he says, laughing. “I had a piece of wood saved to make an award for me and I never got around to making it.”

That’s just fine with him, though. The 59-year-old resident of Smithfield, Utah, has gotten all he’s wanted out of the Slam—and more.

Barker is the race director of the annual Bear 100 Mile Endurance Run. The race, which crosses the Utah-Idaho border, was founded in 1999. Barker wanted a way to attract more runners to his race. He’s not certain of the date, or who actually came up with the idea, but says the Slam sprouted from a discussion between himself, Roch Horton, Hans-Dieter Weisshaar and Errol Jones. The idea was inspired by the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning, which has been around since the 1980s and challenges runners to complete the nation’s four oldest and most prestigious 100-milers in a calendar year.

To complete the Rocky Mountain Slam, men and women have to finish four out of five annual races in the Rockies: the Bighorn 100 in Montana in June, the Hardrock 100 in Colorado in July, the Leadville Trail 100 in Colorado in August, the Wasatch Front 100 in Utah in early September and the Bear 100 in late September. Leadville and Wasatch are also part of the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning.

RELATED: Why Leadville’s Cutoff Queen Has The Toughest Job In The Sport

“We wanted the Bear to be the final race,” says Barker.

It’s an informal fellowship. Runners don’t have to register, notify anyone of their intentions or pay any special fees. The only requirements are to finish the two mandatory races—Hardrock and Bear—along with two of the other three. Then, Barker recognizes those runners at the awards ceremony. They earn Barker’s wood trophy and, sometimes, a T-shirt.

It’s so informal that the first runner to complete the Rocky Slam in 1999 was grandfathered in. James Ballard of Montana ran the Hardrock, Leadville, Wasatch and Bear races the year before Barker and his buddies had even come up with the idea.

Nobody earned the Slam in 2000. Betsy Kalmeyer of Colorado was the lone qualifier in 2001. In 2002, no one earned the trophy. Then, in 2003, Barker was one of five slammers, a group that included Weisshaar, a 63-year-old from Germany who would go on to be a six-time slammer, the most ever.

“He was amazing,” says Barker. “He was doing it when he was my age. I’m no longer doing 100-mile races. Actually, he was older than me when I started doing it. He didn’t go real fast, he was one of the last finishers usually. But he really enjoyed doing 100-mile races. He’d come to the United States and do one every weekend all summer long.”

Most judge Hardrock as the toughest race of a difficult bunch. “It’s an amazing amount of climb and descent,” says Barker.

In fact, it’s more than 66,000 feet of elevation change at an average elevation of 11,000 feet. Each race has its challenges. Leadville is run at high altitude, with a 30-hour time limit. The Wasatch (“100 miles of heaven and hell,” is its slogan) has big climbs and descents, as do the Bear and Bighorn. To Barney, the five races all share Rocky Mountain character of steep terrain, unpredictable weather, high altitude and beautiful scenery. He says there’s a “ruggedness” of rocky trails.

“It’s a lot of steep climbing,” says Barney. “And all kinds of weather conditions. Even in summer, you can have snow. I’ve dealt with all kinds of conditions, from heat to downpours to blizzards.”

Barney completed his first Slam in 2009 and his fourth in 2016. In a perfect scenario, he would probably do four of the Rocky 100 races every year. However, he could not get into the Hardrock race this year. But he did run Bighorn and will be doing Wasatch and the Bear.

That’s one of the logistical challenges making the Rocky Mountain Slam more difficult. As the number of ultrarunners surges, races become more impacted and many adopt lotteries. Hardrock, Leadville and Wasatch now have lotteries. Bear and Bighorn fill up quickly, so it’s important to register early.

Barney acknowledges that doing four 100-milers in a summer is physically challenging, especially in years when the Wasatch and the Bear are within a couple of weeks of one another.

But, like other ultrarunners, he loves the mountains, trail running and being with friends. He enjoys pursuing the Slam and the feeling of accomplishment. He admits getting “a sort of empty feeling” when he can’t get into a race like Hardrock. Plus, there’s a spiritual pull to running 100 miles through the wilderness.

“At Hardrock, in the middle of the night, I had a chance to just lay down and turn my light off and look at the stars at 13,000 feet,” he says. “You don’t get to do that very often. Just enjoying being out there and the moment, seeing sunrises and sunsets and sunrises again in the course of one race, it’s something…It let’s me think about my place in the world and the universe and where I fit in.”

RELATED: Ultrarunner Kilian Jornet On Peaking At The Right Time

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Why Leadville’s “Cutoff Queen” Has The Toughest Job In The Sport http://running.competitor.com/2017/07/news/leadville-cutoff-queen_166492 Thu, 27 Jul 2017 20:01:50 +0000 http://running.competitor.com/?p=166492 Sandy Monahan is known as the "Cutoff Queen" at Leadville 100, and her job is to tell people when their race is over and they've been cut.

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Almost every sport has them, and their nicknames are often as gruesome as the news they deliver. The Cut Man. The Hatchet Man. The Turk. They are the ones who tell you when you’ve been cut from a team. “Coach wants to see you. Bring your playbook.”

Running is no exception. And at a grueling event like next month’s Leadville 100 Trail Race in Colorado, failing to meet time standards throughout the course will bring you face-to-face with Sandy Monahan—aka The Angel of Death … aka The Angel of Mercy … aka The Cutoff Queen—where she’s tasked with delivering some tough news.

It’s Monahan’s job to tell you your race is over and you’ve been cut. You didn’t meet the standards. You’re not going to finish. It’s unsafe for you to continue—whatever the case may be.

She’s seen from experience the detached and mechanical way some of her predecessors or those at other races handled the athletes. While crewing for her husband Mike during multiple Leadvilles, she watched athletes get cut in a manner she described as “distasteful.”

“People spend years to get into condition so they can do an event like that,” says Monahan, who will be doing cuts for (she believes) her 16th Leadville. “And for some people to be so thoughtless and not willing to be considerate of their feelings and not take into account the environment when calling the cut. That chaffed at me. That’s how it got started.”

Sure, she crushes dreams. But that doesn’t mean she can’t be pleasant about it. And she also understands what’s at stake. Leadville—The Race Across The Sky—pushes runners to an altitude between 9,200 and 12,600 feet through the Colorado Rockies. Her and Mike, who has logged more than 1,000 Leadville miles, work together as a team. They have been around the sport long enough to know the tell-tale signs when someone needs to be pulled.

“Our need to cut people off is more based on safety issues,” says Monahan, 66. “These people are off in the middle of the woods. We have a legion of volunteers out there making sure people are safe. As the race progresses, it becomes even more important and serious to get runners off the course if they aren’t going to be successful.”

RELATED: “Moments at Elevation” Captures the Beautiful Challenges of the Leadville 100

And though she wields an iron fist, she does so with a gentle hand. She’ll give constant updates, often talking to a runner’s crew when she recognizes trouble. She’ll offer guidance, encouragement and some expertise. She’s climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and hiked the Inca Trail in Peru. She knows her stuff. And yes, hugs are always available as needed.

“I thought it should be done in a less brutal, more thoughtful, kinder, more sympathetic way instead of ‘Time. You’re out. Goodbye. See you later,’” she says. “I don’t just pull people. I try to triage.”

Many have tried to slip past her watchful eye. Others have offered bribes. “Someone offered me their American Express card one year, no questions asked,” she says. Once a spouse, after Monahan cut her husband, made fairly graphic death threats.

“Sandy’s empathy for the runners she must cut is so very evident and she has a way of making each person know that they dug deep, gave it their all and that each fulfilled their personal promise to commit, not quit,” says race director Merilee Maupin. “She knows exactly the grit, guts and determination it takes to finish.”

Of the monikers that stuck, the Cutoff Queen is the catchiest. It’s also the one she likes the least.

“I don’t feel like what I’m doing is a queen’s task,” she says. “I’ve been called the Angel of Death or the Angel of Mercy. I prefer either of those. I hope that no matter what, they see me as some sort of an angel.”

RELATED: Almost Any Runner Can Finish A 100-Mile Ultramarathon

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Ultrarunner Kilian Jornet On Peaking At The Right Time http://running.competitor.com/2017/07/trail-running/kilian-jornet-peaking_166551 Thu, 27 Jul 2017 16:51:55 +0000 http://running.competitor.com/?p=166551 In this exclusive Q&A, Jornet shares what it takes to push yourself to the limit and how to prepare for big challenges and goals.

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It’s been a busy couple of months for one of the world’s premier ultrarunners. In May, Kilian Jornet, 29, reached the summit of Mount Everest without additional oxygen or fixed ropes. Unsatisfied with his performance the first time around because of a stomach bug, he did it again within a week. Two weeks later, it was the Spaniard’s first half marathon in his adopted home of Norway, followed by a victory at the end of June at the Mont Blanc Marathon in Chamonix, France. He recently took some time to swap emails about his double Everest ascent, how he prepares for a race and his thoughts on the growing trail running trend of Fastest Known Times (FKTs).

After reaching the summit of Mount Everest, what’s the first thing you do? How do you savor the moment?

You are not fully aware of what it means. I just stayed there for a short while trying to recover a bit from the climb and being focused as I knew I had to go down. Besides, it was very dark, so I couldn’t really see anything. I took a few pictures and videos but that’s it. I think it’s not until you’re down in camp that you realize what you did.

The second ascent wasn’t planned. How quick was the turnaround and what sort of mental preparation was needed to make the second climb?

When I was climbing the first time, I had a stomachache. I had to go very slowly. It was there when I decided I wanted to try again if I had good weather, just to test myself and see how I would do it without being sick, as I felt good in altitude.

From Mont Blanc to the Matterhorn to Denali, each mountain surely presents its own challenges. Is there one that stands out to you in terms of difficulty?

Every mountain has its own thing. It might be the altitude, the technical sections or even the weather. And sometimes all at once, so it’s difficult to choose.

RELATED: Watch Kilian Jornet Run and Ski the Seven Summits of Romsdalen

What was your preparation like in the days leading up to Everest?

For me what was more challenging was the acclimatizing to altitude. I trained with a hyperbaric chamber a few weeks before departing to the Himalayas, and then I headed to the Alps to spend some time in altitude. I was in another 8,000 meters, Cho Oyu, with my girlfriend, Emelie, so when I arrived to Everest I felt very good. This was my main goal for the expedition and I’m very pleased with the result. When I was in the base camp of Everest, my daily routine was one day of activity, one day resting, and I think this is how I got ready. Try to rest a lot and eat well the days before the challenge, even though it gave me a stomachache at the end.

Obviously there is a high degree of physical stress that goes with these types of ascents. But what about the mental stress?

I’ve trained a lot in this aspect for a while now. I’ve been competing for 15 years and have been going to the mountains since I was a kid, so the mental part has been key in my preparation. These past few years, what I’m trying to do is train for stressful moments where you need to make decisions quickly. By pushing myself to the limit—but in a controlled environment—it has allowed me to learn to master my mind, so when in complicated situations I can take the good decisions.

With FKTs becoming more of a trend, do you feel like they enhance the sport? Or does it put more emphasis on the competition and less on the experience?

For me speed records are to be broken, and it’s exciting to see how people are trying to improve and try to beat these records. I also think though that you need to do this for fun, to get better and to overcome your limits. When it stops being fun or challenging, I think it’s not worth it.

RELATED: Kilian Jornet Wins Hardrock 100 After Dislocating His Shoulder

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The Lure Of The Wild And Remote Bears Ears National Monument http://running.competitor.com/2017/07/trail-running/remote-bears-ears-national-monument_165946 Tue, 11 Jul 2017 23:05:50 +0000 http://running.competitor.com/?p=165946 Located in Utah, lacing up and exploring the area by foot is the key to unlocking the magic of this remote undeveloped, precious wilderness.

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Running Through History

Immense mesas punctuated by sandstone buttes and the occasional arch rising into the sky: This is Bears Ears National Monument in southeastern Utah. To some the desert environment may appear harsh and unwelcoming—a place to pass through on the way to the Grand Canyon or Moab—but that is why lacing up and exploring the area by foot is the key to unlocking the magic of its rugged canyons, winding waterways, countless petroglyphs and ancestral ruins.

However, much of this undeveloped, precious wilderness could be lost. Currently, the national monument status of Bears Ears (and 26 other culturally significant and wild lands established under the Antiquities Act of 1906) is being reviewed by the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Ultrarunner Luke Nelson ran through the park last fall. After his experience, he became an advocate for preserving the area’s culture and national monument status. In May, he joined sports nutrition company GU Energy and the local Four Corners School to help educate others about the land’s history, its unique qualities and his connection with the area.

“As the distractions of daily life are lost in the miles, the natural world opens its secrets. It is in that space where I found my place and connection to Bears Ears,” Nelson says.

RELATED: Behind The Trail Running Initiative Advocating To Protect Public Lands

What You Need To Know

With tens of thousands of archaeological sights, and miles upon miles of trails, the 1.35 million acres of Bears Ears National Monument can infiltrate your psyche, like the area’s red sand does the fabric of your clothes. As a national monument, Bears Ears—named after two area buttes that look like their namesake—lacks a comprehensive trail-management plan and ever-present rangers like those of nearby national parks such as Arches or the Grand Canyon. Some of those aspects may come with time, but for now the uncrowded remoteness is part of the allure of Bears Ears.

When running area trails, come prepared with plenty of water and a map—and let someone know where you’re headed. Also double-check trail markings, as many of these routes have been traveled for more than one thousand years, with some of the ancient markings still intact. In fact, Bears Ears is home to tens of thousands of archaeological sights (like the petroglyphs, left) connected by canyons, waterways and trails.

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Why You Should Run The Mont Blanc Marathon http://running.competitor.com/2017/07/trail-running/mont-blanc-marathon_165864 Wed, 05 Jul 2017 23:25:48 +0000 http://running.competitor.com/?p=165864 Flying to France may seem like an extravagance, but for trail and mountain running fanatics, the Mont Blanc Marathon is a must-do race.

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mont blanc marathon

Flying to Europe to run a race may seem like an extravagance. And it is, no doubt. But, if trail running is your jam, heading to France to hit the dirt and experience the cult status of European trail running first hand at the Mont Blanc Marathon, in Chamonix, is an inspiring event like no other.

The event, which takes place the third week in June, encompasses eight trail races, including an 80K, a marathon, 15K race for 16-22 year olds, a half marathon, nighttime team race, 10K, vertical K and a kids race for young dirt lovers from 5-15 years old. Even with all of the events, the Mont Blanc Marathon is more than a race. It’s an international celebration of mountain running in a veritable trail playground like no other. And the best part is everyone is invited. There are legions of avid fans lining race courses and crowding the mountain top finishes, an adventure-loving culture, a race village, cheese (so much cheese), wine and some of the most beautiful trails you will ever have the chance to run.

“You experience the French culture and energy around sport, plus it’s the most beautiful course in the world,” says Mike Ambrose, a marketing associate for Salomon, who traveled from Ogden, Utah, to run the 80K. “There is so much fanfare around sport, especially in these mountains. People have such appreciation for it.”

RELATED: Stunning Images of France’s Mont Blanc 80K From Start to Finish

Even if you aren’t running a race (which you should), the spectating is off the charts with mountain top finishes, gnarly climbs and serious on-course battles. Between races, hang out with athletes in the race village or explore the valley’s trails on your own. Hiking up is a popular choice when it comes to trails around Chamonix. Thanks to gondolas, which take care of the ascending for you, down and cross-country routes are also popular choices. Take a break in-between trails with mid-run refreshments at refuges and trail side cafes. If you think a cola or a coffee is good after your run, try one in the middle! The only limit to the options is time and your abilities. For ideas, get a trail map and check in with the folks at Run the Alps for guiding services and suggestions.

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However don’t let the sheer beauty of the place fool you. Running in and around Chamonix is serious big mountain running, with rocks, ledges and rapid weather changes. A little preparation goes a long way into making your experience safe and enjoyable. All the events have mandatory gear requirements, so be sure to read the fine print before signing up. Even if you’re having a tough race or run, remember to appreciate the athletic history and splendor of the place.

“I probably had the worst race of my life yesterday, but I cannot wait to do it again net year,” Ambrose says. “When I come here, it brings out every good feeling in me about running. It’s also really easy to be grateful and in the moment at this race, even when I’m dizzy and feeling like shit!”

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Where to stay

Airbnb is a popular option in Chamonix. There are plenty of charming hotels as well. Try L’Hélio or Chalet Hôtel Prieuré for their central locations, well-appointed modern rooms, reliable Wi-Fi and in-hotel restaurants and bars.

Where to eat

La Calèche

If you are in the mood for authentic regional cuisine (including LOTS of cheese), an impressive wine list and old-school décor, this is a must visit.

La Remise

Just outside of Chamonix in Argentiere, this cozy, alpine oasis offers updated interpretations of classic French cuisine made with local ingredients.

What to do, besides run

Mer de Glace

Catch the iconic red Montenvers Train, a rack and pinion railway, in Chamonix. Take it up to Montenvers where you can explore the Mer de Glace glacier. (Fair warning, LOTS of steps are involved.) Enjoy a meal at the Grand Hotel du Montenvers and set out on several hikes. Additionally, if you’re up for it, you can run the 10K back to Chamonix.

Auguille du Midi

Simply riding the cable car to Auguille du Midi is a breathtaking experience. Once you’re there, be sure to take in the 360-degree views of the French, Swiss and Italian Alps, explore the museum and grab a bite to eat.

Where to get your gear

There are many options for picking up new running gear. Simply cruise through the race village to check out the latest offerings. Or stroll the streets of Chamonix and peruse the racks at more than a dozen outfitters and retail outlets, such as Salomon, The North Face, Columbia, Arc’Teryx, Asics, Patagonia and Mammut.

RELATED: Running Around Mont Blanc in 6 Amazing Days

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Western States Adds Drug Testing Protocol To 2017 Race http://running.competitor.com/2017/06/trail-running/western-states-endurance-run-adds-drug-testing-2017-race_165350 Mon, 19 Jun 2017 23:33:09 +0000 http://running.competitor.com/?p=165350 For the first time in its 44-year history, the race will be implementing a new drug testing policy and protocol.

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Credit: facebook.com/wser100; Photo by Luis Escobar

This upcoming weekend, runners will take off on the 44th edition of the Western States Endurance Run (WSER). And for the first time in its history, the world’s oldest and most prestigious 100-mile trail run will be enforcing new drug testing policy protocol on those runners.

The drug testing will take place post-competition and will be handled by an independent third-party drug testing administrator using urine sample protocols in accordance with World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) rules and regulations. All runners on the final start list could be subject to drug testing, which will be conducted immediately following competition.

Runners selected will be notified by officials as they finish the race and will head to a secure area near the finish line at Placer High School in Auburn, Calif.

“Drug testing at this year’s Western States is an important and necessary step in deterring use of performance-enhancing drugs in our sport,” Medinger said in a press release issued on behalf of the Run’s Board of Trustees, who earlier this year voted unanimously to implement drug testing in 2017. “We are hoping that by taking a leadership role regarding this important issue, other races throughout the world will also make a strong commitment and take a strong stance toward fostering a drug-free future for our sport.”

You can read the WSER full drug testing policy and protocols document here.

RELATED: Western States Endurance Run Announces Zero-Tolerance Doping Policy

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Women Who Win This Trail Race Will Be Paid More Than Men http://running.competitor.com/2017/06/trail-running/women-win-trail-race-will-paid-more-men_165261 Thu, 15 Jun 2017 23:58:08 +0000 http://running.competitor.com/?p=165261 The committee of the Barr Trail Mountain Race on Pike's Peak voted to pay the female winners 20 percent more than the male winners.

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Photo: facebook.com/BarrTrailMountainRace

This July 16, the women who cross the finish line to take the top three spots in the Barr Trail Mountain Race will be paid 20 percent more than their male counterparts.

The race committee of this 12.6-mile race on Pike’s Peak enacted the change to reflect the wage gap between men and women in today’s workforce. In Colorado Springs, near the course, the Colorado Springs Gazette reported that women in their area make 73.6 percent the salary that men take home, according to a recent study.

The prize amounts have been increased to $420, $300, and $180 for the first, second, and third woman, respectively, and $350, $250, and $150 for the men. In fact, race sponsor Simon Gutierrez and race committee member Timothy Gore donated to the prize pool for the women personally to show their belief in the cause.

“I am passionate about equal rights across the board in minorities and I figured this was a way on a pretty big trail race to make a statement about my position on the disparity between women’s pay in general across any job—and also especially in the sports field,” Gore shared over the phone. “I have been on the committee and run the race—it is my favorite to do—and I said would make a statement. This is a grassroots race—the group that puts the race on isn’t doing it full time—and we really come together as a family.”

Nationally, USA Track & Field and the World Mountain Running Association are making strides toward gender equality on the trails. Both men and women raced the same distances at the USATF Mountain Running Championships in 2016 and this year will be the first that men and women will race the same distance and are represented by equal team sizes at the World Mountain Running Championships.

RELATED: Equal Distances For Men and Women at 2016 U.S. Mountain Running Championships

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Ultrarunner Kaci Lickteig Aims for Second Consecutive Win at Western States http://running.competitor.com/2017/06/news/kaci-lickteig-aims-second-consecutive-win-western-states_165163 Tue, 13 Jun 2017 19:43:11 +0000 http://running.competitor.com/?p=165163 The 2016 Western States champ returns to the ultra race on June 24 and is feeling fit enough to possibly win this year's event.

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Kaci Lickteig
Her first year running Western States in 2014, Kaci Lickteig finished in 6th place. Photo: Derrick Lytle

As Jason Koop sees it, Kaci Lickteig isn’t the most talented runner at this year’s Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run. Her 2:44 marathon PR is good, but not great. Others have her beat by 12 to 15 minutes. In college, she wasn’t a standout for her Division III team, which she made as a walk-on. When she began running ultras five years ago, her resume didn’t scream “future star.” Plus, she lives and trains in Omaha, Neb., hardly the cradle of mountain trail running.

Yet Koop, who has coached Lickteig since 2014, says she’s smart, tough and adaptable. Her sum is far more than the parts.

“What Kaci is able to do is really put the complete package together,” he says. “She takes every ounce she’s been given and manages a race very well.”

Lickteig proved her racing abilities in 2016, winning Western States on her third try in 17 hours, 57 minutes and 59 seconds, the fourth-best time by a woman since the inception of the storied race in 1977. The victory was the highlight of a terrific 2016 season, in which she won seven of her eight races of 50K or longer. Among her victories were the Bear 100-Mile Endurance Run in Utah and two 50-milers. She also earned the female Ultrarunner of the Year Award from Ultrarunning Magazine.

After battling injuries and illness throughout 2014 and 2015, Lickteig entered last year’s Western States healthy, fit and eager to win a race she’s wanted to win for years. Even though temperatures were in the 90s, Lickteig says everything clicked.

She hadn’t intended to take an early lead, yet found herself up front with Devon Yanko for the first 15 to 20 miles. She kept it up, grinding up and down the steep terrain en route to the finish line in Auburn, Calif. Lickteig didn’t think she had won until she crossed No Hands Bridge over the American River with a sizable lead and three and a half miles to go. She finished 14th overall, almost an hour ahead of runner-up Amy Sproston.

“The effort felt so manageable and it felt natural to be there,” Lickteig recalls of her early lead. “I just continued and never looked back. It was just one of those dream days.”

The “Pixie Ninja”

Lickteig, 30, has one of the best nicknames in ultra running. At 5-foot-3 and about 95 pounds, she is the “Pixie Ninja,” a tag applied by her Nebraska running buds years ago. It’s a name she likes, and it suits her. She’s an assassin on the course, yet is energetic and upbeat, a person who aspires to be happy whether she’s running a race, working as a physical therapist or hanging out with her two dogs, friends and family.

Lickteig believes finding happiness on the trails has been one of the keys to her success.

“If I run happy, I run well,” she says.

In any 100-mile race, there will be hard times and pain. However, Lickteig tries to exorcise negative thoughts. She focuses on the scenery and the fact she’s getting to do what she craves. She fell in love with ultras because she enjoys pushing her body through barriers. The longer the races, the better.

“I think a lot when I run,” she says. “I really take in everything around me, my surroundings, being happy about being out in nature, looking at the trees. I just feel free and alive when I’m like that. I feel like a little kid again when I used to go exploring. Just having that purity of being out there is what makes me happy.”

Koop says it’s a reflection of who she is. “She’s able to maintain that personality—that happy go lucky, I’m a happy person, I’m a happy runner—in the face of the rest of the environment, which is quite hard, right?” he adds. “It’s a 100-mile race, it’s super hot, it’s really competitive and there’s a big spotlight on it, but she’s able to be true to herself and her personality.”

Lickteig’s victory at Western States in 2016 was also the result of her evolution. In 2014, she ran 20:07:10 in her Western States debut, finishing sixth among women and 40th overall. In 2015, she was the second woman (24th overall) in 19:20:31. That first year, she hadn’t understood what she was up against.

2015 Western States Endurance RunSecond-place finisher Kaci Lickteig high fives spectators on her way to the finish line at the 2015 Western States 100. Photo: Matt Trappe

“I was way naïve about the race and how much the downhills were going to affect me,” she says. “The race destroyed my quads by mile 40 and I had a really bad last 60 miles.”

From that, she learned she’d have to control her gait on descents and “not get sloppy.”

PHOTOS: 2015 Western States Endurance Run

Last year, too, she was determined to run under control until she reached Forresthill, past the halfway point, where she picked up her pacer. Feeling strong, she was able to “race more” over the final 40 miles. She stayed hydrated and as cool as possible and kept the positive mantra.

“If I had any negative thoughts, I hurried up and changed my thought process,” she says.

Her Hero

Ahead of this year’s Western States Endurance Run on June 24, Lickteig says she’s injury free and fit. She’s running about 100 miles per week and feeling strong. She’s aiming not only for Western States, but her first international race, the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB), a 100-plus miler through the Alps—traversing through France, Italy and Switzerland—in August.

“It’ll be more of an experience for me to get my feet wet on different terrain, a much harder mountain,” she says of her preparations for UTMB.

Although Lickteig has been busy training for a big 2017, her thoughts often drift to her grandmother.

June Cords, 79, raised Lickteig and remains close to her. The two talk on the phone daily. Now Cords is battling cancer. Lickteig calls her grandmother her hero, and recently posted a video of her on Twitter, as she celebrated the completion of a recent round of treatment. Lickteig’s voice breaks as she talks about her.

Lickteig, who can run 100 miles over mountain passes and ignore pain with a smile on her face, says it’s her grandmother who is the champion in the family, and her inspiration.

“Her body’s weak, but she’s strong inside and she’s fighting so hard,” Lickteig says. “She’s such a fighter, it makes me want to be the best I can be. Nothing I go through will ever compare to what she’s going through right now.”

RELATED: 72-Year-Old Has Unforgettable Finish at the Western States 100

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