Your Online Source for Running Tue, 28 Feb 2017 01:25:53 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Wise Tips From Masters Runners On Staying Fit and Injury-Free Tue, 28 Feb 2017 00:52:54 +0000

At 42, elite runner Mike Wardian has achieved multiple records, including running the world's fastest marathon in an Elvis costume at the 2016 Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas Marathon (pictured here). Photo: Brian Metzler

Successful masters runners give insight into maintaining one's fitness and staying injury-free past the age of 40.

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At 42, elite runner Mike Wardian has achieved multiple records, including running the world's fastest marathon in an Elvis costume at the 2016 Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas Marathon (pictured here). Photo: Brian Metzler

Matt Mace, 56, has been on a running streak since 1985. He typically logs about 2,500 miles per year and has kept that volume going for at least a decade. He races as much as 20 times each year, including ultras, all without injury—making him something of a masters marvel, if not the envy of runners of all ages.

Jennifer Harrison, 46, a triathlon coach from the Chicago suburbs, can also point to a long streak of healthy running. Other than a short break for an Achilles injury in 2011, and bed rest during pregnancy, Harrison has been running without a break since middle school.

And then there’s elite distance-running phenom Mike Wardian, the 42-year-old from West Virginia, who recently rocked the World Marathon Challenge which consists of running seven marathons on seven continents in seven days. Aside from a bout of injury in 2012, Wardian has been crushing records and miles since 1995.

What’s the secret sauce that these masters have stumbled upon? More importantly, how can the rest of the running world take a page from their books?

The answers, as you might expect, are as individual as the runners themselves. But there are some common denominators from which everyone can benefit.

RELATED: Do’s and Don’ts for Masters Runners

Be Mindful

The response is familiar: listen to your body. Every runner knows it, but not every runner follows it. Mace, Harrison and Wardian, however, live it. “If something doesn’t feel right, I back off,” Wardian says. “I don’t care if the schedule calls for 80 miles that week. If I need to cut back to 60, I cut back to 60.”

Mace concurs. “I’m really good at being cautious if I need to be,” he says. “If something hurts, I scale back.”

Clearly it’s an approach that’s working and one that many coaches will preach. By taking a couple of days off as soon as pain shows up, runners can usually avoid taking weeks off when pushing through.

Be Realistic

Another tactic that these masters runners use is knowing their limits and respecting them. Mace says that he recognizes he’s not going to run as fast as he did 20 years ago and doesn’t try to push it. “Look, I’m not going to be dropping time off my PRs at this point,” he says. “So it’s not worth making big bumps in mileage and asking for an injury.”

Mace is also a fan of knowing what your strengths and weaknesses are with running, and then playing into them. “I’m never going to be a miler, so I don’t train to that,” he says. “I also knew early on that my threshold was 80 to 90 miles per week, not 100 or 110, so I keep that limit on myself.”

Harrison is a proponent of this approach as well. “I’ve come to peace with the fact that I’m not as fast as I used to be and I don’t try to compete with my former times,” she says. “I’ve reestablished my goals and plans for speedwork and racing.”

As a triathlete, Harrison has been able to focus on age-group awards as opposed to time goals, and she says this has been helpful to her. “In the running community, everyone is chasing PRs,” she says. “I have learned to let my ego and the clock go, and focus instead on being competitive with something other than the clock.”

Be Consistent

Consistency in training is a tenant most runners live by, and it definitely applies to these masters. When it comes to injury-free longevity, its consistency not only with regular running, but also with the approach to what works that counts. Wardian and Mace say they both train fairly similarly now as when they were younger and don’t let concerns with aging creep into their psyches. “Don’t let age dictate what you’re doing,” Wardian advises. “Let your body tell you what you’re capable of doing.”

Mace says he really hasn’t changed all that much since becoming a masters runner. In other words, if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it. “It’s not like I turned 40 and decided I had to do things differently,” he says. “I train pretty similarly now to how I always have.”

Wardian says that the one thing he has changed is running fewer miles than he used to, although his mileage still remains high. “I’ve realized that I can get by on so much less,” he says. “It’s not easy for me because I love running so much, but consistency is more important than the number of miles.”

Be A Cross-Trainer

All three of the masters runners spend time on activities other than running, and all three say that’s important. Mace, who has completed several Ironman distance races, says that swimming has been good for him. “I don’t really enjoy it,” he admits, “but I do think it helps.”

As a triathlete, Harrison also incorporates swimming and cycling into her routine and is a big believer in strength training as well. Pilates, core work and the like are all part of her regular routine. “In my 30s, I could get away without all the little things,” she says. “But now they add up.”

Even Wardian finds time for riding his bike, commuting to and from work daily. “I mix in a lot more cycling now than I used to, and I think that’s good for me,” he says.

Clearly it’s working—after a 200-mile week for the World Marathon Challenge, Wardian says he feels fantastic. “My legs feel really fresh,” he says. “I’m excited about being so fit.”

RELATED: 7 Injury Prevention Strategies for Pain-Free Running

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Q&A with “Run the World” Author Becky Wade Mon, 27 Feb 2017 19:58:28 +0000

Becky Wade (left) with Haile Gebrselassie, Photo: Courtesy of @beckyswade

After a year of running 3,500 miles in 9 countries, Becky Wade has written a book about her travels.

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Becky Wade (left) with Haile Gebrselassie, Photo: Courtesy of @beckyswade

Becky Wade, elite marathoner, Olympic hopeful, world traveler, and food enthusiast is currently in Sululta, Ethiopia, where she first drew inspiration for her recently published book, Run the World. The book describes her year-long journey of logging more than 3,500 miles in nine different countries after becoming a recipient of the Watson Fellowship from Rice University in 2012.

Wade didn’t set out to write a book, but after her return to the U.S., her book was the aftermath and processing of her journey. “I was initially reserved about not being able to do justice to the places I explored and the people I met. But when I framed it more as a chronicle of some highlights of the year and as a large ‘thank you’ to the incredible individuals I intersected with, it became a more manageable and meaningful project,” Wade explains. Wade’s Run the World takes you on a dream journey into cultures, food, running, relationships—and we caught up with the world traveler while on her book tour to share some of her favorite parts of the journey, and what’s in store next.

You describe so many delicious meals, but also cultural food experiences in your book. What was one really memorable food experience you had?

“Food was a massive part of my trip, and one of my favorite parts about traveling! I kept a recipe collection the whole year, and whittled those down to include one per country for my book. I’d say that one of my most memorable food experiences was a make-your-own-sushi feast that Susan and Tim Griffen hosted in Tokyo. I described it in Run the World, but I still dream of the fresh catches, straight from Tsukiji fish market, and flavorful toppings that filled their dining table that night. Devouring it on their living room floor with a room full of new friends completed the experience for me.”

What inspired you to go back to Ethiopia?

“I’ve been wanting to travel again since I touched down in the U.S. (after a few weeks of recuperating at home, of course), but didn’t have a good opportunity to leave the country until recently. A conversation I had with Sara Hall at the Houston Marathon got my wheels turning, and within a few days, I booked my tickets to spend three weeks in Sululta, Ethiopia, one of my all-time favorite places in the world. I figured that right after a marathon was a great time to go, while I’m still recovering a bit and don’t have to worry so much about the jet leg and unknowns of travel. I’d love to come back here again for part of a build-up in the future!”

Now that you’ve written a book, do you have other goals in mind? Can we expect another?

“I don’t have any plans for a major project like another book (yet!), but I’d love to continue doing some smaller-scale writing for running, travel, and food publications. While training, I also work part-time at an awesome company in Boulder called Black Lab Sports, a sports tech incubator that celebrates the intersection of business, sports, and art. I’m surrounded by driven, purposeful and energetic people (many of them athletes), and it’s been a great complement to my running.”

How was your first hometown marathon experience in Houston where you placed third?

“My recent Houston Marathon experience was just the remedy I needed! After a smooth and successful marathon debut (2013 California International), my next two were tough, both condition-wise and personally. So, to have a positive experience, and a ton of fun on the course I know so well, meant a lot to me! My boyfriend Will and friend Cal helped paced me, and my parents and coach Jim Bevan were all over the place. The whole race just solidified that I’m called to the marathon distance and that I have a long way to go to reach my goals.” 

What’s your favorite post-run, go-to brunch?

“Favorite post-run brunch: Sous vide (60 degrees) eggs on homemade sourdough with avocado and lots of salt and pepper. One of Will’s epic smoothies on the side (a whole Vitamix loaded with over a dozen fruits and vegetables). Probably some coffee too, unless I’m about to nap.”

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

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Gear We Love: February 2017 Mon, 27 Feb 2017 19:36:04 +0000 Altra King MT" src="" />

Our favorite pieces of gear, from weatherproof jackets to trail shoes, that we've tested this past month.

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From weatherproof jackets to durable trail shoes to the softest denim track pants that’ll replace your jeans, our staff has highlighted our favorite pieces of gear we’ve tested this month. We swear by these items to make your running that much more enjoyable.

RELATED: Gear We Love—January 2017

Adidas Supernova TKO Jacket Cory Vines Lane Runner Tank Altra King MT Vuori Trail Short Patagonia Nano-Air Light Hybrid Vest Oiselle Denim Track Pants Pro-Tec Athletics The Orb Extreme Mini Nike Impossibly Light Jacket

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Shoe of the Week: Under Armour Horizon FKT Fri, 24 Feb 2017 23:39:03 +0000

A lightweight and versatile trail shoe that flexes with the foot.

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Other than the Fat Tire, Under Armour’s blue-rubber, over-sized mountain-bike-inspired trail shoe, the company hasn’t really done much in the off-road footwear space. The Horizon FKT is, however, a serious entry into the trail shoe market, and the versatility of this neutral ride offers quite a bit. The rubberized upper packs in plenty of protection, especially with its Keen-like toe bumper. A forefoot stone plate protects from underfoot protrusions as the cushioning is only moderate, making the shoe better suited for shorter runs, softer surfaces or those lighter on their feet. The outsole, with its Michelin rubber, provided testers excellent traction on a variety of surfaces, wet and dry, and the Horizon ran rather smoothly on pavement. The rubber overlays caused some irritation to some of our testers, so be sure to try the Horizon FKT on at a store where you can test them in motion to make sure they flex with and not against your foot.

This is the shoe for you if … you’re looking for a lightweight and versatile shoe for the trails that flexes with the foot.

Price: $130
9.8 oz. 
Heel-toe offset: 7mm

RELATED: Shoe of the Week—Brooks Launch 4

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Running Inside The Walls Of San Quentin State Prison Fri, 24 Feb 2017 19:30:14 +0000

Rahsaan Thomas circles the prison’s 400-meter course.

The San Quentin State Prison marathon program offers reform—and a rare, fleeting glimpse of freedom—for inmates serving hard time.

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Rahsaan Thomas circles the prison’s 400-meter course.

Rahsaan Thomas circles the prison’s 400-meter course.

The breath of 18 inmates is still visible in the air at 8 a.m. on Nov. 16, 2016, as they line up for the start on the west side of the prison yard. Standing under the San Quentin State Prison “Field of Dreams” scoreboard wearing white and grey, mesh and cotton, they stand in stark contrast to the mandated all-black dress code of the volunteer coaches and lap counters of the 1,000 Mile Running Club.

A row of sweats, hydration and nutrition awaits runners of the seventh Annual San Quentin State Prison Marathon. Chris Scull’s repurposed Sriracha bottle filled with an electrolyte solution lies on top of a pair of sweats. Chris Schumacher, a diabetic, has saved up a stockpile of jelly packets from mess hall-issued peanut butter and jelly lunches that he plans to take every 6 miles. Markelle Taylor’s lap counter waits for him with a Snickers Bar. Lorinzo Hopson has no nutrition at all, but will be strongly encouraged to drink throughout the race since he collapsed at mile 23 during the 2014 marathon, which required medical attention for dehydration and shut down the prison yard for 15 minutes.

Head coach Frank Ruona shouts some last-minute instructions at the start. “One hundred and four full laps. The 105th lap you stay inside on the baseball field. We’re going in one and a half minutes! Make sure you hydrate. Be smart. One minute!”

“T-minus one minute!” an inmate chimes in.

Markelle Taylor looks nervous. He could barely sleep in his cell the night before thinking about his attempt to break the 3-hour barrier. Coming off a successful period of fall training where he completed just over 25 miles in three hours, a 1:17 half marathon, and 59 minutes for 10 miles, Taylor has a shot at breaking the San Quentin Marathon Open Record (which he set in 2015 in 3:16:07) and becoming the first person to run under three hours in prison.

Others, like Tommy Wickerd, have been anticipating this morning for 364 days. Some ate a few slices of leftover pizza for breakfast and hope for the best, while others set out to run as far as possible through injuries because running, they explain, has become like breathing.

At coach Ruona’s command, the runners set off on the 400-meter loop course underneath the prison yard watchtowers past palm trees and barbed wire, along the dirt of the baseball field, up through the blacktop passing the basketball courts, and loop down past a 19th-century dungeon. Many of San Quentin’s population, including these runners, are serving life sentences for murder or manslaughter. It’s the only prison in the state of California with a death row. Security is tight.

       Coach Frank Ruona notes times and checks laps.

Six minutes into the race, Taylor, whose stride can be described as long and loping, has already separated himself from the group as he approaches the 1-mile mark. Without any warning or notice, all inmates in the prison yard drop to the ground. Coach Ruona sighs and notes the time on his clipboard, which will later be deducted from each runner’s final time.

A minute later, the runners get up and continue on. This “yard down” drill, which can signal anything from a conflict to routine prisoner transport, repeats five more times over the course of the marathon for a brutal total of 53 minutes, a new San Quentin Marathon record. Obviously, the runners of the San Quentin Marathon navigate  different challenges over their 26.2 miles than those in your average road marathon.

“It’s not pretty scenery. It’s fences and walls and barbed wire. You can kind of look over the wall and see a mountain a little bit, but for the most part it’s not really motivating landscape,” says Rahsaan Thomas. He’s 46, and has been here 15 years, serving a 55-years-to-life sentence. He describes his dream marathon as running in his hometown of New York City. His original reason for wanting to run a marathon stemmed from Puff Daddy’s completion of that same marathon.

“I don’t believe Sean Puffy Combs is tougher than me. No way,” says Thomas, who laughs heartedly at his own jokes. “If he  can run the marathon, I figure I need to be able to do it too.”

So far his longest distance is a half marathon. Today he covers 5 miles before bowing out to the sidelines to support fellow runners with tough-love comments and to cover the story for San Quentin News, the prison’s inmate-run paper. Thomas describes the link between running and writing as both being therapeutic outlets.

“Growing up, I was told I was going to be dead by the time I was 18,” Thomas says. “I kept being told that so much that I embraced it. I said if I’m gonna die, I’m gonna die fighting. I embraced hopelessness and was doomed because I bought into that mentality.”

In prison he turned to writing to leave a positive legacy to his son and mother. He has developed a writing career from prison as the sports editor for San Quentin News, a co-founder of Prison Renaissance, a contributing writer for the Marshall Project, and the author of the book Uncaged Stories.

“I think the way we write it out, we run it out,” Thomas says. “Run out our pains, our frustrations, our difficulties. One crazy thing about this club is I think we run for a penance. We don’t get a trophy or a Scooby snack or nothing for running a marathon. There’s no Olympic gold medals, and yet so many guys are out here dedicated.”

Frank Ruona, head coach of the 1,000 Mile Club

The 1,000 Mile Club is one of several volunteer-run programs at San Quentin State Prison. The prison sits on a prime piece of waterfront real estate in the affluent San Francisco suburb of Marin County. UC Berkeley journalism students volunteer with San Quentin News. Marin Shakespeare Company teaches weekly classes. With a relatively stable prison population, inmates have several opportunities to get involved in rehabilitation opportunities. For these runners, that involves training on a 400m loop day after day.

As the sun rises over the wall and lights up the prison yard, runners shed gloves and hats as the temperature rises into the upper 50s. Other than occasional encouragement from coaches and spectators, the yard is quiet enough to hear the unique rhythm of each runner’s stride on the packed dirt of the baseball field as they  chip away at 26.2 miles, one 400m lap—with six different 90-degree turns—at a time.

The course, much like their life inside the walls, is monotonous and challenging, and yet something about it is freeing.

Participants and coaches for the 2016 marathon.

“It’s such a privilege working with Frank and the coaches,” says Chris Scull, who would go on to finish second with a PR of 3:37:39, or what he refers to as first in the “non-Markelle division.” “It transports me out of prison for three hours every Monday night and on these event days, I’m just another member of society,” he says.

The program has come a long way since Frank Ruona first got a call from the prison’s community partnership manager in 2005 asking about getting involved in a running program at San Quentin. Ruona, then president of Marin County’s largest running club, Tamalpa Runners, forwarded on the request in a club newsletter. After getting no response, he decided to check it out himself, approaching it like he does the weekly Tamalpa track workouts he still leads every Tuesday night.

Ruona was originally a basketball guy, playing basketball his first year at Santa Clara and later coaching his son. He spent four years as an officer in the Army and 25 years in construction. As competitive age-group runner, he ran workouts with the inmates until the pain and effects of a fractured hip he first sustained in 2003 gradually sidelined him. At 71, Frank is now retired, and spends more time at the prison. Through the years, he has gathered a small group of runners from Marin County to volunteer as assistant coaches, including Kevin Rumon, Diana Fitzpatrick and Dylan Bowman, the latter of whom is a professional ultrarunner sponsored by The North Face.

Ruona’s involvement extends beyond the walls of the prison. In 2014, he got four former 1,000 Mile Club members coveted spots in Marin’s famous Dipsea trail race. He’s visited hospitals, courthouses, jails and basements from California to Washington to keep up with paroled members, providing them assistance with jobs, character references, run training, and an invitation to lunch when needed.

“I’ve become much more aware over the last few years of some of the things these guys have encountered in life,” Ruona says, explaining his experience hearing the burdens of a criminal record in reentry to society and the frustration of figuring out how to survive in the current justice system.

“They tell us that [us] coming in means a lot to them, but we get as much out of it as they get out of it,” he says. “You feel good about doing something good for them. I’m a fairly devout Catholic, and Jesus said, ‘When I was a prisoner you visited me, and when I was hungry you fed me.’ I’m just trying to do some good.”

Chris Scull was the runner-up, finishing in 3:37:39.

Ruona smiles when he recounts one of the runners on the team telling him and the other coaches that completing the marathon was the first time he’s set a goal and seen it through to the finish.

He isn’t an overtly excited or talkative coach, but the words and actions he uses leave an impression with the team. “Frank don’t really say too much. He’s kind of quiet,” says prisoner Eric Moody, who would struggle to make it through 8 miles of the race. “He noticed I haven’t been coming out here lately, but he bought me some tennis shoes anyways. That lets me know that he’s thinking about me and giving me some encouragement to get back out here. Good man.”

Edward Scott, who is sidelined from the marathon awaiting a decision on foot surgery, describes his transformation since joining the running club. “I was always antisocial because of some of the things that happened at the other levels, so breaking that cycle and learning to trust was huge for me,” says Scott, 48. “As I’m going back into society, I know it’s O.K. to accept help.”

Marathoners leaving the start line.

Like a lot of the runners, Scott started at a Level 4, or maximum- security prison, where speaking with the wrong person or walking in the wrong part of the yard could be life threatening. “In my life on the street I was always in the shadows,” Scott says. “It’s helped me come out of my shell.”

As predicted, Taylor wins the marathon, but at 15 miles his effortless stride becomes labored and his pace slows from 7:03 to 8:19 per mile. He crosses the line in 3:21:19, slower than his record-breaking time last year, and bends over in exhaustion as he receives cheers from coaches and runners.

“It was tough. This was the hardest I’ve ever run,” says Taylor, looking like someone who just came in fourth at the U.S. Olympic Trials. A teammate approaches behind him and offers a bottle of water to splash the salt off his face.

Taylor, 43, has been in here serving a life sentence since 2004. He ran cross country and track for two years in high school, and started running in prison two years ago when he saw the stress inmates experienced of facing the parole board and being denied. He thought it would help him stay on track.

Taylor views each race as an opportunity to make amends as part of his 12-step program for addicts and alcoholics by dedicating his run to a larger cause. He’s run for different ailments and people like his mother, who suffers from diabetes, but today he ran for people who struggle to forgive others as well as themselves.

Markelle Taylor, San Quentin’s fastest runner

“Running … it’s just something  that it does,” Taylor says. “It helps you to think and be positive, and everything is good with running. It’s been great working with Frank. He reminds me of my high school coach, Don Dooley. He was like a father to me. My stepfather died and I never knew my father, so Frank is like a father to me. The coaches like Kevin are like my uncles. Dylan is like my brother. Diana’s like mom. We’re like a family.”

His disappointment with his race fades when he describes what running provides him. “These guys here are all brothers, especially the two guys I train with, Chris and Eddie. I call them my little brothers. We push each other and train each other.”

Tommy Wickerd met his goal of finishing the race.

As runners continue toward the finish line, Ruona points to fourth-place finisher Tommy Wickerd, who at 49 years old is a decade into serving a 57-year sentence, and says that a year ago he was 35 pounds heavier. After failing to complete the 2015 marathon, Wickerd set two goals: to get his GED, and to complete a marathon. Today he finished one of them in just over four hours.

“I love running,” he says, elated after his finish. “It takes me away from prison.”

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4 New Races To Get On Your Radar This Year Wed, 22 Feb 2017 21:41:10 +0000

Boulder Mountain Marathon, Photo: Glen Delman Photography

These newly established events are taking unique approaches to racing.

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Boulder Mountain Marathon, Photo: Glen Delman Photography

It used to be that most races were predictable, serious affairs. The gun went off, you honed in on your target pace, battled an endless stretch of boring asphalt toward the distant finish line, and when you crossed it, gasping for air, you were herded like a reeling bovine through a paddock area to receive your allotment of banana bites, processed bagels, watered-down Gatorade, and if lucky, maybe a container of Yoplait yogurt.

Today, new running events are emerging that bring runners together in exciting places to push physical limits and immerse in destination-specific cultural interests. If you are willing to shell out some cash for registration and travel, you can find a race that takes you on a journey through a beautiful town or scenic trail system before dropping you off at a post-race party with good food, live music, or craft brews that will send you to the clouds before your heart rate heads south of 180.

We’re always looking to make running more fun, so here are four new races that came across our radar.

RELATED: 25 Short, Fast and Fun American Road Races of 2017

For hop-heads

IPA 10K + Beer Mile
Sebastopol, Calif.

April 15, 2017

For a themed race to succeed, authenticity is paramount. With a whopping 52 breweries, distilleries and cideries based in California’s Sonoma Country, it seems this event has the ingredients ready. Combine that with average April temperatures in the 70s in the quaint town of Sebastopol that Jerry Garcia once called home, and you have the potential for a five-star running weekend. Start the day at 7:55 a.m. with a runner’s beer toast before the gun goes off. After the race, head to a festival featuring music paired with libations from local craft breweries like Bear Republic, Lagunitas, Henhouse, and Petaluma Hills. Oh yeah…there’s also a beer mile.

For your first off-road marathon

Boulder Mountain Marathon and 10-Mile Ascent
Boulder, Colo.

May 21, 2017

Many consider Boulder the running capital of the world, and this event, which takes place primarily on dirt roads and double-track high above the iconic city at an elevation of 8,000 feet, only adds to its cred. This is the race for you if you want to hit the dirt and push yourself on high-altitude terrain that has toughened many a world-class runner— you’ll be rewarded with sweeping views of the Flatirons to the south, and the snow-capped peaks of Rocky Mountain National Park to the north. After the race finishes, enjoy a Salomon-sponsored party and refuel with an amazing local, organic meal by RAD (Real Athlete Diets) and craft suds by Avery. The event also features a point-to-point 10-Mile Ascent, which climbs a grueling 2,500 feet up to the finish.

For fit foodies

Buford Highway Half Marathon
Atlanta, Ga.

Oct. 1, 2017

The Buford Highway corridor just north of Atlanta is home to more than 1,000 immigrant-owned businesses, so it’s no surprise that this zone is an emergent foodie’s paradise. Burn calories over a half marathon, 10K, or 5K distance, and then dive into a festival that features cuisine from nine different restaurants—from Guatemalan and Columbian to Northern Chinese and Indonesian. Rumor has it the coconut buns from Hong Kong Bakery are the best post-race reward ever. Bon Appetit!

For your first 50

Dead Horse Ultra
Moab, Utah

Nov. 17, 2017

Thinking about a 50-mile trail race? To say this full-day desert journey didn’t disappoint is an understatement. The stunning sunrise, sci-fi-looking landscape of odd rock formations, sandstone canyon views, and largely runnable terrain in mild November temps, capped by a delicious post-race enchilada dinner, made this race a winner. Dead Horse began as a 50K two years ago, and on the heels of a successful effort, the producer, Mad Moose Events, rolled out the 50-mile in 2016. For 2017, they’ll offer 50-mile, 50K and 30K distances.

RELATED: 19 Challenging Yet Stunning Trail Races to Run in 2017

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Allow Us to Introduce You to Running’s First Lady Of Frosting Tue, 21 Feb 2017 23:47:30 +0000

Jessica Hamel, founder and CEO of Frost’d, Photo: Josh Vertucci

She created Frost’d, a vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free and GMO-free 'snacking frosting' for runners.

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Jessica Hamel, founder and CEO of Frost’d, Photo: Josh Vertucci

Every Thursday night, Jessica Hamel is in an industrial kitchen mixing ingredients, lugging around giant bags of sugar and containers of coconut oil. Three years ago, the 31-year-old ultra-distance trail runner from Boulder, Colo., decided to put her passion for cooking and baking into a business and created Frost’d, a natural coconut oil-based “snacking frosting.”

“Ultrarunning increased my sweet tooth, and I didn’t want to eat all the junk that was out there,” Hamel says.

Hamel claims she loves Nutella, but that it’s full of artificial ingredients and contains dairy, which she avoids. She started tinkering in her kitchen and came up with the formula for Frost’d.

The “snack frostings” (spread it on pancakes, dip fruit in it … or just eat it with a spoon) have a coconut-oil base, and are vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free and GMO-free. Hamel jokes about how many ultrarunners have their own special diets and that her frosting is ultraunner-friendly. In fact, she’s amassed a following in the sport.

Frost’d sponsors runners Clare Gallagher, Hillary Allen, Cat Bradley and professional obstacle course racer Nicole Meracle with free product: 10-ounce jars of flavors Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla, Mexican Hot Chocolate and Honey Lavender Lemon.

Hamel began running during college at Northeastern University in Boston, and during a study abroad in South Africa.

At the time, she was sure she’d pursue a career in the fashion industry and move to New York City. She spectated the Boston Marathon and thought, “I could do this.”

She trained for the New York City Marathon, ran it in “around 4 hours,” and knew she wanted more. Then a move to Boulder and the adoption of her dog, Jack, inspired her to ditch the roads for the trails.

“Jack’s the primary reason I became a trail runner,” she says. “He’s my best running partner.”

The Kelty paced her during an attempted Fastest Known Time (FKT) on Southern Colorado’s 101-mile Rainbow Trail, running 26 miles. And Hamel says he’s run up to 30.

And though she’s tackled challenging events like Run Rabbit Run 100-miler, Never Summer 100K (where she placed third in 2015), the San Juan Solstice 50-miler and the Dead Horse 50-mile race, she’s not addicted to racing.

“I’m realizing I can go run 50 miles by myself and have an awesome time,” she says. Still, Hamel has her sights set on a future Hardrock 100, if she gets in.

“I really like to pace random strangers,” she says with a laugh, explaining how she’s been paired up with two different strangers at Hardrock, and has paced at Leadville, too. It’s more than just Frost’d that keeps Hamel busy though. She also juggles her own social media consulting company, and creates content for the Follow Your Passion Project—a collection of stories from fellow female entrepreneurs. Meanwhile, she’s coming out with two new frosting flavors: Coconut Tumeric and Rose Cardamom, and working toward single-packet servings. It all means Hamel sometimes runs less than she wants to. Still, she makes it happen.

“I know that it’s a necessary part of my routine,” she says. “It’s the only thing that really calms my brain down. I get my best ideas running.”

RELATED: 6 Guilt-Free Chocolate Bars for Runners to Indulge

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Shalane Flanagan Withdraws from 2017 Boston Marathon Tue, 21 Feb 2017 23:07:24 +0000

Flanagan announced on Facebook that an injury has sidelined her from competing in this year's race.

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2014 Boston Marathon WeekendShalane Flanagan in the lead at the 2014 Boston Marathon. Photo:

Shalane Flanagan announced on Facebook that she will be withdrawing from this year’s Boston Marathon. According to her post, she fractured her lower back bone during a snowy training run in Portland, Ore. It was a tough call to make for the three-time Boston marathoner who has described Boston as her “favorite hometown race,” and has made it widely known that it’s her goal to win it one day.


This injury follows an impressive display of performances in 2016, including her 3rd place win at the U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon in February, a new American 10K record in June, and then her sixth place finish at the Summer Olympics in Rio. Although Flanagan has expressed her disappointment in her inability to compete on April 17, the tenacious marathoner is far from giving up and already hopeful of her return next year. “One thing I know, is that marathoners are used to suffering and overcoming challenges. We come back to try again…and again.”

RELATED: U.S. Olympic Marathoners are Boston Bound in 2017

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First Fastest Known Time of the Year Awards Announced Sat, 18 Feb 2017 00:37:15 +0000

Ultrarunner Pete Kostelnick, shown here during a training run, set out from San Francisco with the intent of running across the U.S. in record time. Photo: Justin Britton/Hoka One One

Winners of the first FKTOY Awards for 2016 have been announced and their running adventure feats are pretty incredible.

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Ultrarunner Pete Kostelnick, shown here during a training run, set out from San Francisco with the intent of running across the U.S. in record time. Photo: Justin Britton/Hoka One One

Discussions of Fastest Known Time (FKT) records, which entail burly, independent efforts by diehard runners and adventurers, are often relegated to message boards and beers around a campfire instead of mainstream sports news and the glossy pages of magazines. But with more and more people establishing times on iconic routes, the concept, created by runners Peter Bakwin and Buzz Burrell, is becoming mainstream. And now, these adventurous runners have a chance to win the newly announced annual Fastest Known Time of the Year (FKTOY) award.

Heather “Anish” Anderson and Pete Kostelnick have been announced as the women’s and men’s FKTOY winners for 2016.

Anderson, who has completed 35 ultras and holds the overall self-supported (backpacker) records for the Appalachian and Pacific Crest Trails, set a new self-supported record for the Arizona Trail. The 35-year old from Washington State covered the 800-mile route in 19 days, 17 hours and 9 minutes, often in triple digit temperatures, two days faster than the men’s self-supported FKT.

“I never expected to be selected from such an amazing group of efforts on an incredibly wide variety of challenging routes,” says Anderson who is a personal trainer and Ultimate Direction Ambassador. “The Arizona Trail is an incredible wilderness trail and I am thankful to have experienced it in such a unique and challenging way.”

Kostelnick, who lives in Missouri and has completed 27 ultras and is a two-time winner of the Badwater Ultramarathon, won the honor by breaking the 36-year-old Trans America record by four days. Averaging over 72 miles a day for 6 weeks, the 29-year-old Hoka One One-sponsored athlete covered the 3,067 miles from San Francisco to New York City in 42 days, 6 hours and 30 minutes.

To be considered for the FKTOY, FKT holders must have their principal residence in the U.S. or Canada, the FKT may be anyplace in the world, in which documentation is required and the effort must have taken longer than one hour to accomplish.

Bakwin and Burrell created the Fastest Known Time website to track records and establish a protocol for documenting records. Documentation is essential to the process, with satellite trackers and third party verification required for a record effort to be recognized. Burrell also suggests anyone who wants to establish a speed record should announce his or her intentions in advance, invite others to join in the pursuit and document everything immediately.

According to Bakwin and Burrell, who also established the FKTOY awards, the annual competition “celebrates core qualities such as personal vision, creativity and determination.” A jury of 21 people, runners and adventurers in their own right, voted for the winners from a list of five nominated FKT records for men and women. With no fixed voting guidelines, voters judged records based on their own unique equation. Suggested parameters included: how much did the record “raise the bar”; were you inspired; how much research, planning and organization was required; did it establish a better style or new way of looking at a route; and how long the previous record stood, among others.

“The appeal of FKTs are their individualistic nature, requiring personal vision, creativity, and self-determination. These are the qualities that are core to ultrarunning in general and should be the ones future participants should look to achieve in their attempts,” says Burrell about what future FKTOY contenders should keep in mind. “A big part of being nominated is being able to inspire.”

RELATED: Inside the Fastest Known Time Trend

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The Technology of Running Fri, 17 Feb 2017 21:04:46 +0000

After losing both his legs to a rare form of meningococcal disease, Dell Miller vowed to return to running. Before, going for a run

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After losing both his legs to a rare form of meningococcal disease, Dell Miller vowed to return to running. Before, going for a run required little more than a pair of Mizuno Wave Riders. Now, it would require something far more advanced.

To view Dell’s full story, click here

“Dell, from day one, had goals for running,” says Matthew Mills of Hanger Clinic. “I was excited to work with him, to get him back doing what he loves to do. That is our job—as prosthetists, they come into our clinic and they are looking for restoration, to return and restore patients to activities they previously did, and in some cases more.”

Dell wanted more. His victory-lap ambitions included marathons around the world—his way of showing he had not only overcome adversity, but also transformed into a new and improved version of himself.

But first, he needed a new and improved version of his legs. Standard prosthetics, which have a full-length foot and heel, are too heavy and clumsy for running. As a team, Matt and Dell developed a customized pair of running blades made of lightweight carbon fiber. Just like selecting a perfect pair of running shoes, Dell considered everything from footstrike to flexibility. Many of the same technological ideals of his favorite Mizuno Wave Riders, like cushioning and energy transfer, applied to running blades.

Dell immersed himself in the design process. Every detail was selected with care and consideration. He could even customize his own stature.

“In Dell’s case, since both legs were amputated, he had a unique ability. While I was talking to Dell and having him walk, I asked him, “How tall do you want to be?” He had a huge smile, and gave his height requirement. I told him that over time, as he familiarized himself with a prosthesis and learning to walk again, I would continue to increase his height, as tall as he wanted to be. Naturally, Dell was thrilled with this offer. After several months and follow-up appointments, he stands right around 5 feet, ten inches.”

With every tweak and every follow-up visit, the product evolved beyond just carbon fiber—they became Dell’s legs, the limbs that would make him a runner once again.

“As a new prosthetic user, you don’t simply just put a prosthesis on and walk out the door and are never seen again,” Miller says. “It’s a process, and requires an excellent relationship between the prosthetist and patient. We monitor and make adjustments to ensure a perfect fit.”

As a runner, Dell knows all about a perfect fit. He found it before in the Mizuno Wave Rider, a wearable piece of technology that allowed him to go faster, farther, and more comfortably. Today, his technology has evolved to a new form—but the love of running remains the same.

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Don’t Even Think About Crowdfunding Your Race Costs Thu, 16 Feb 2017 23:48:13 +0000

Illustration: Valerie Brugos

Are you looking to try to crowdfund your way to your dream race? Stop that—here's why you’ve gotta earn it all on your own.

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Illustration: Valerie Brugos

When I was about 11 years old, I wanted—no, needed—a new bike. My heart insisted on a pink 10-speed in the window at the Hostel Shoppe in Stevens Point, Wis. But heart is not currency, and, as a kid, currency was scarce.

So I begged. I begged my parents for more chores, and when that wasn’t enough, I begged my neighbors to let me cut their grass, babysit their brats and wash their cars. I begged the people outside the grocery store until they bought my mediocre homemade cookies at French-pastry prices. I worked and saved until the day I gleefully took a hammer to my piggy bank at the cash register of the Hostel Shoppe.

Today, adult-me hires the neighbor kids to pull weeds and happily plunks down $3 for a slightly-burned snickerdoodle, because kid-me hasn’t forgotten what it’s like when passion and piggy bank fail to align.

But I will not contribute to your marathon GoFundMe.

The GoFundMe website is intended to aid in raising money for noble causes. Want to build a school for kids? Start a GoFundMe. Want to help a sick family member? GoFundMe, ASAP! Want to give a thousand orphaned kittens a home? Start a GoFundMe, and please include photos so I can make schmoompy noises. But if you simply want to race The Boston Marathon, GoFundYourself. (Unless you’re running for an important cause or nonprofit organization and fundraising money for it as well.)

About once a month, I get a request from strangers to promote a crowdfunding attempt for race costs. Sometimes it’s a person’s first marathon, sometimes it’s a bucket-list Ironman; more often than not, it’s just another race.

“Race fees are expensive!” They say. “Travel costs are through the roof! HELP ME ACHIEVE MY DREAM! SPREAD THE WORD!”

Right. Because there is no cause that deserves strangers’ philanthropy more than a hobby. I don’t know how anyone can browse this site, see a request to help a family replace a home that burned down in a Christmas Day fire, and think it appropriate to request $2,000 because you want—no, need—to fly cross-country for a marathon.

When did entitlement replace self-reliance? Have we forgotten there are bigger problems in the world than the exorbitant cost of destination races? I get it: It’s expensive. But that’s not a hardship. That’s your choice. That’s life.

If you want to fly to South Africa to race Comrades, start saving. If race fees cost too much, volunteer at the expo in exchange for free entry. If you want your dreams to come true, do the work to make it happen yourself. No one owes you a damn thing.

You best break out that piggy bank, kid.

RELATED: Out There—Just Read the Damn Article

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6 Ways Acupuncture Can Benefit Runners Thu, 16 Feb 2017 21:50:08 +0000

Sarah Hammer, L.Ac., a marathoner and licensed acupuncturist. Photo: Vev Studios

This centuries-old therapy can help you perform your best. Here's what you need to know before signing up for acupuncture.

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Sarah Hammer, L.Ac., a marathoner and licensed acupuncturist. Photo: Vev Studios

Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine practice that involves inserting fine needles into the skin at certain points called acupoints, which, when stimulated, are thought to promote the body’s natural healing processes. Used by more than 3 million Americans each year, this ancient healing art has specific benefits for runners.

Sarah Hammer, L.Ac., a marathoner and acupuncturist in Portland, Ore., says that while most of her runner-patients initially seek treatment for pain or an injury, they often notice, as she did, that acupuncture also improves their overall health—which translates to stronger running. That’s because regardless of the specific ailment, acupuncture seeks to balance and restore energy throughout the body, she explains.

Here are six ways this centuries-old therapy can help you perform your best.

RELATED: Alternative Treatments for Running Injuries

Strengthens Your Immune System

Research shows that during periods of heavy training, your risk of acquiring an upper respiratory tract infection increases. According to the National Cancer Institute, acupuncture may help your body fight off infections by enhancing white blood cell activity. Several acupoints are associated with regulating immunity, but the key is to get treatments before you get sick, such as every two weeks during marathon training, Hammer says.

Corrects Muscle Imbalances

When muscles are imbalanced, they can trigger a chain reaction resulting in muscle, joint and tendon pain, says Matt Callison, L.Ac., a San Diego-based acupuncturist who trademarked Sports Medicine Acupuncture. To correct these imbalances, he inserts needles into motor points as well as specific acupuncture points to release tight segments of myofascial tissues—the membranes that surround and connect your muscles. “When you balance the muscles, you decrease the stress on irritated areas,” Callison says.

Accelerates Healing And Recovery

Clinical studies have amply documented that acupuncture improves blood circulation. “Because of the healing and growth factors in the blood, anything you can do to increase the amount of blood flow to an injured area, the better off it is,” Callison says. Acupuncture is especially helpful for healing tendons and ligaments, he says, which have been shown to have 7 percent less blood flow than muscles.

Protects Against Chronic Stress

Chronic stress undermines performance and wreaks havoc on our health. Recently, a team of Georgetown University researchers showed that acupuncture provides some resilience against chronic stress. In a series of animal studies, they found that acupuncture not only suppressed stress-related hormonal changes, but that the treatment’s effects lasted for four days. “Four days is quite long if you think of the effects of drugs, for example,” Dr. Ladan Eshkevari, who led the study, says. “Most drugs only last hours, not days.”

Improves Sleep

Recent clinical studies show that acupuncture promotes quality sleep, which runners know is critical to running strong, recovering well and preventing illness. Unfortunately, the CDC reports that nearly 10 percent of Americans suffer from chronic insomnia. “The reasons for poor sleep are different for every person, which is why acupuncture is so effective in treating it,” Hammer explains. “Unlike taking a pill, it gets to the root causes.”

It’s Mobile

Acupuncture pop-up clinics are part of a growing trend that brings the service to you. “Acupuncture can essentially be done anywhere,” says Hammer, who has treated runners during Hood to Coast, one of the world’s largest and longest relay races. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we don’t see more pop-up acu-clinics, like we see chair massages, at the end of races to enhance recovery.”

RELATED: 6 Proven Methods for Reducing Aches and Pains

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5 Tech Trends You’ll See In 2017 Thu, 16 Feb 2017 19:12:02 +0000

This is going to be a very good year for runners, thanks to the newest gadgets and gizmos that are set to hit the market.

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This year promises to be an exciting one for running tech: more wireless audio, the Apple Watch and Android Wear watches, longtime GPS watch brands upping their game, new and better physiology monitoring and apps are all in store. Even treadmills get interesting—with workouts following virtual, highly visual courses.

RELATED: Innovative New Music and Wearable Tech Gear for Running

Truly Wireless Music

With phones increasingly ditching the headphone jack, wireless and even totally wire-free audio will become the norm with improvements in battery life, sound quality, and in-ear heart rate sensing all becoming more common and less expensive. On the GPS watch front, Apple will emerge as an ever more significant player in audio through deep integration of its earphones to its OS. Jabra’s Elite Sport also senses heart rate and even repetitions, while Bragi and others all contend for our ears.

The Battle of the GPS Watch Platforms

Android Wear-based GPS watches from Polar, New Balance and others along with Apple Watch phone-free GPS apps such as Nike+ Run Club and Runkeeper will compete fiercely with the proprietary Garmin, Suunto and TomTom platforms for our run data. Will the downsides of Android Wear and Apple Watch—battery life, programming restrictions—hamper their popularity, or will the flexibility of adding apps for myriad day-to- day needs win out? The longtime players will not be standing still, with new form factors and options to encourage every-day, all-day use, along with training-specific apps. New on-watch capabilities will emerge, such as US TOPO and cycling maps preloaded and viewable on the new Garmin 5X with turn-by-turn alerts along routes, points of interest and map data overlays.

Run Form Sensing Gets Practical

Run form sensing and apps will get ever more sophisticated with an increasing focus not just on the data but what to do with it during and after the run. Clip-ons from companies such as Lumo and SHFT now coach on the run and provide pre-run tips, in-run feedback and post-run exercises. Others such as RunScribe capture and analyze foot, shoe and stride data, while Stryd gets at run power. The challenge for these will be in personalizing the coaching. The use of phone cameras emerged late in 2016 as a tool to analyze body mechanics and then recommend exercises with the Saucony Stride Lab app, which allows any runner to experience laboratory-style form assessment. As more of these types of apps emerge, getting accurate shoe recommendations from an app will become a reality.

Beyond Heart Rate Sensing

Wrist-based HR will become increasingly ubiquitous and reliable. Expect to see new styles to monitor heart rate variability, sleep and activity—even rings such as the new Motiv Ring. Resting heart rate, sleep patterns and other metrics of well-being and recovery are poised to become part of our training and daily routines. Expect simpler, more useful app displays of these data, along with breathing and meditation exercises to help runners balance training, stay healthy and manage stress. Fitbit, Apple, Whoop, The Wellbe, ZoomHRV and others have recently introduced such products and features. The challenge in 2017 will not be all that data—but how to easily understand and practically apply what it tells us day in, day out.

The Dreadmill Gets Less Boring

Platforms such as Zwift have recently become popular in the cycling world for making indoor trainer workouts less boring by following on-screen virtual courses while competing and riding with others worldwide, live. Early running betas and introductions from Zwift and Run Social have emerged. Because almost everybody finds the treadmill boring, we expect these virtual experiences to grow in capabilities and popularity

RELATED: 9 Tips and Tricks for Your GPS and Heart Rate Monitor

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Cancer Survivor Completes DONNA Half Marathon in a Walking Boot Thu, 16 Feb 2017 00:54:51 +0000

Despite a broken bone in her foot, Melissa O'Neil was determined to participate in her 7th DONNA Marathon weekend.

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Melissa O'NeilMelissa O’Neil on Ponte Vedra Beach during the half marathon portion of her Booby Trap Challenge.

The 10th running of the DONNA Marathon and Half Marathon to Finish Breast Cancer took place on Feb. 12. This year it raised more than $5 million and inspired more than 10,000 runners to participate in the various events, with individuals flocking from all 50 states and setting a new standard as the largest single DONNA Marathon weekend field. And, even more impressive, this year more breast cancer survivors than ever participated.

Donna Deegan, the founder of the DONNA Marathon, is a three-time breast cancer survivor, having served as the local newscaster for Jacksonville, Fla., for decades. More importantly, she is the catalyst for what is now a tremendous movement that raises funding for The DONNA Foundation, an organization that supports groundbreaking breast cancer research at the Mayo Clinic and also generously provides financial assistance to those living with breast cancer.

“There were so many milestones and so much love on the course. I am beyond grateful and, with this much joy surrounding us, I know we will just continue to build toward a world without breast cancer, ” said Deegan of this year’s event.

On the Friday preceding race weekend, a group of runners clad in pink (a prelude to the weekend’s color of choice) took part in the shakeout run on part of the marathon route along Neptune Beach. One of the runners, Melissa O’Neil, was wearing a walking boot, but nevertheless dressed to run.

Despite a broken bone in her foot, O’Neil was determined to complete the Booby Trap Challenge, which entails running a 10K and then a 5K on Saturday, and either the full or half marathon on Sunday. This was her seventh DONNA weekend and, as a two-time breast cancer survivor, the race is near and dear to her, her husband and her two children. She delayed foot surgery for the DONNA Marathon and told her surgeon that, as a survivor, she needed running as her outlet.

Melissa O'Neil 2Melissa approaches the half marathon finish line with her husband and son as proud escorts.

O’Neil, 49, who is a nurse and lifelong athlete, was first diagnosed at the age of 30 when she was elbowed in the chest playing basketball—a blessing in disguise—and found a lump. After a mastectomy and reconstruction in 1997, she threw herself back into life. However, five years later, she found another lump in her armpit. The cancer had returned. She was given a 30 percent chance to live, and had surgery, chemo and radiation.

“During all of my treatments, I ran. It was God, me, and the road. At first, to me, running represented running away from cancer and my fears. I would run to clear my head. I would pray and sometimes cry,” O’Neil explained. Her first race was a 5K, the 2003 Seattle Race for the Cure, when she was still undergoing treatment. She said that when she was approaching the finish she heard her kids yell, “Go, Mommy, Go!” “Every emotion hit me and I realized I wasn’t running away from cancer, but I was running toward life.”

Having completed her 10K at 8 a.m. and the 5K at 10 a.m. on Saturday through downtown Jacksonville, O’Neil was set for Sunday’s half marathon, inspired by a fundraiser dinner at the Mayo Clinic, where doctors work hard in the labs to come up with a cure and, in some cases, have succeeded.

O’Neil finished the Booby Trap Challenge, as her husband, son and other family friends joined in the final miles of the run and became part of the parade to the finish.

Ahead of O’Neil, Joan Benoit-Samuelson, the first women’s Olympic Gold Marathon winner in 1984, claimed the top Booby Trap Challenge time(2:32:44) for the women’s half marathon. Meaghan Neuberger won the marathon (3:06:53), as did Matthew Barresi (2:30:23). A local high school student, Terrance Sessoms, who attends Sandalwood High, won the half in 1:18:22 while another local, Julie Stackhouse, took the half marathon win in 1:19:02.

RELATED: Cancer Survivor Carol Dellinger Completes 300th Marathon in Honolulu

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Trails for All: Opening Up Trail Races to Visually Impaired Runners Tue, 14 Feb 2017 22:01:13 +0000

Impaired sight isn’t stopping a growing number of runners from hitting the trails and competing in races.

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kyle resizedKyle Robidoux, sandwiched between guides Dane LeBlanc (front) and Ray Charbonneau at last year’s Vermont 50.

There are some runners who make trail ultras look easy. Folks like Killian Jornett or Devon Yanko, for example. But even those at the top of their game will tell you running 50 or 100 miles is never an easy undertaking.

Imagine, then, adding an extra element of difficulty to the game. Say, running those same ultras without the benefit of sight. That’s just the challenge a growing number of ultra runners are proving doable. These visually impaired runners have decided their disability won’t get in their way of doing what they love. They’ve run 50Ks, 50-milers and even some of the most legendary monster runs, such as Leadville and Badwater, all within the same stringent cutoff times as their sighted counterparts.

Each will tell you, however, they couldn’t do it without their wingmen (or woman), skilled guides who offer up their vision to get visually impaired runners across the finish line. Together, the sighted and sight-challenged runners make up a determined, fierce team that can navigate the gnarliest of trails for miles on end.

RELATED: Guiding Amelia

Finding a way around

When 41-year old Kyle Robidoux was growing up he was an active kid and played an assortment of sports. As the genetic condition retinitis pigmentosa (RP) led to progressively limited vision in his 20s, however, he became less active and more convinced that he couldn’t run.

In his early 30s, overweight and a new father, Robidoux started walking in a nearby park to drop some pounds. “One day, in my work clothes and shoes, I just started running,” he says. “I tried again the next day for a little longer and then just started increasing my runs.”

It wasn’t long before Robidoux started running marathons, and after mastering the art of guided road running, the next step was getting onto trails. “I wanted to change up my training and I love being outdoors in nature,” Robidoux explains. “I started with shorter trail runs and progressed from there.”

Now he has an impressive number of ultras under his belt, all with the help of skilled guides by his side. “I have tunnel vision, so I like to run two steps behind my guides,” he says. “I can mostly follow his or her back but I can’t see anything of the terrain we’re covering.”

This is where a guide’s ability to call out all obstacles—from logs to roots to rocks and steps—becomes essential. Robidoux has a regular pool of guides from which to draw in New England, where he is based. “When you know your guide and run with him or her regularly, you can relax and trust that they will get you through it,” he says. “My favorite call out is ‘smooth sailing.’” That’s when the team hits a patch of smooth, buffed trail without anything technical to face.

In the course of a typical ultra, Robidoux will use several guides, usually in 15-mile increments. The job of guiding is not only physically taxing, but also mentally tiring, thanks to the laser focus it requires. He has found about half of his guides via United in Sight, a visually impaired and sighted runner matching service, which has been around since 2015.

One of Robidoux’s guides last year was Amy Rusiecki, a 37-year old ultra runner and race director of the Vermont 100. “Kyle first contacted me asking about qualifying for my race,” she says. “We got to talking and I offered to help guide him at a 60-mile qualifier.”

It was during their 15 miles together that Robidoux proposed an idea to Rusieck: Offering up a disabilities division at this year’s Vermont 100, the first of its kind at an ultra race.

“We talked about how to do this and what the advantages were on both of our ends,” she explains. “This is a group we want out there, and by having a division with a different set of regulations, it opens the race up to runners who otherwise might not be able to do it.”

Decorated ultra runner Maggie Guterl will be among Robidoux’s guides at the VT100 and looks forward to the job. “I’ve been guiding runners for three years with the Achilles team,” she says. “And when I heard he needed guides for Vermont, I volunteered.”

The day of the race may be Robidoux’s and Guterl’s first time running together, but that doesn’t concern either party. “What he’s doing is brave and cool, and having a chance to pace him will be fantastic,” Guterl says.

The master

Jason RobidouxJason Romero is guided through the dark by Brandon Stapanowich during the 2016 Spartathlon.

While he missed the cutoff for the Vermont 100 this year, Jason Romero, 46, from Denver, is perhaps trail running’s most well-known visually impaired runner. He can count Leadville 100, Badwater, Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim, and even a run across America in his list of accomplishments. He’s excited by the new division at Vermont this year: “Creating a challenged athlete’s division is a monumental step in acknowledging and inviting people with disabilities to challenge themselves at the highest levels,” he says. “We need more champions like Amy in all areas of life.”

Like Robidoux, Romero is impacted by RP, and hasn’t allowed it to take away from his enjoyment of trail running. “I have about 15 percent of my sight,” he explains. “It’s like looking through two toilet paper rolls.”

When logging his miles at night, Romero likes to use handheld flashlights and headlamps, along with reflectors on his guides’ ankles. He also likes running with experienced trail runners. “They’re going to take the path of least resistance and for a blind runner, that’s essential,” he says. “They also have to have a certain personality type.”

Romero wants a guide who isn’t going to be frightened of the task or pity him. “I almost want a drill sergeant,” he says. “My guide’s job is to get me from point A to point B before the cutoff. I want to compete.”

Since getting started on trails around 2010, Romero has seen the numbers of guided runners increase exponentially. “I’m amazed at how many more are hitting trails now,” he says, “but I want to see more. People with visual impairment can do so much more than they realize.”

Visit United in Stride if you are interesting in sharing your sight as a guide or if you are looking for a sighted guide near you.

RELATED: Visually Impaired Runner Chaz Davis Runs Record-Breaking Marathon

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What Would Americans Rather Do Than Run a Marathon? Tue, 14 Feb 2017 00:52:50 +0000

The folks at take a lighthearted look at the lengths some people would go to avoid running a marathon.

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As a dedicated runner, sometimes it’s hard to believe everyone isn’t as passionate about the sport as you. But, sadly, they aren’t. Hundreds of thousands of people run marathons every year, which means that millions of Americans don’t. The folks at thought it would be fun to take a lighthearted look at the lengths some people would go to avoid running a marathon. Fair warning: Some people really have NO interest in running 26.2 miles! Do these excuses sound like anyone you know?

Out of 2,000 anonymous respondents in the survey, 53 percent identified as male, and 47 percent identified as female. The ages ranged from 18 to 77, with an average age of 34 years old.

RELATED: The 20 Best Cities to Train for a Marathon

Would you rather run a marathon or …

Choices, choices, choices and more choices—sometimes life can feel like an endless game of “would you rather.” And that’s exactly what the people at asked 2,000 people. It seems that 42 percent of respondents would rather shave their head than run a marathon.

Would you rather run a marathon or

Food over fitness

If forced to make a choice between your favorite food groups (assuming pizza and beer count as food groups) and running, 35 percent of respondents would rather have a slice of their favorite pizza pie than six-pack abs.

food over fitness

Breaking Bod

This was meant to be tongue in cheek—always say “no” to self harm (hill repeats don’t count)—yet 21 percent of those asked said they would break their thumb if it meant getting fit without working out.

breaking bod

Men versus Women

Men and women agree, 26 percent would rather forgo seeing family for six months than running a marathon. Even more women, 38 percent would give up sex for six months if it didn’t mean lacing up for that long run. Men weren’t quite as eager on this front, with only 20 percent thinking it was a reasonable idea.

Men versus women

Run for your money

How many times have you heard, “You couldn’t pay me to do that?” As it turns out everyone has their price, and they are rather high. Respondents in Arizona, Massachusetts and South Carolina said it would take more than $200,000 for them to run a marathon. That will pay for a lot of entry fees!

run for your money

See the full report here.

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7 Pieces Of New Gear Perfect For Chasing New Goals Mon, 13 Feb 2017 22:00:05 +0000

It's time you treat yourself to some fresh gear for the season.

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Whether you’ve set your sights on new goals or simply want to celebrate the new season, treating yourself to fresh gear is often the perfect inspiration for getting out the door on chilly days.

RELATED: Sneak Peek Look at New Outdoor Running Gear for 2017

Photos: Oliver Baker

Nuun Vitamins Outdoor Research Gauge Tee The North Face Flight Series Warp Capris InjinJi Ultra Compression Toesock Zensah Traction Running Socks Saxx Kinetic Run Short Sugoi Coast S/S

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6 Guilt-Free Chocolate Bars For Runners To Indulge Mon, 13 Feb 2017 20:21:58 +0000

Although sweet and delicious, these bars are chock-full of fuel or nutrition for runners.

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These aren’t your ordinary chocolate bars. Although sweet and delicious, these bars are chock-full of fuel or nutrition—perfect for runners wanting to avoid the sugar spike of a Snickers bar. With unique flavor pairings and energizing ingredients, go ahead and indulge—guilt-free—in a chocolate bar.

RELATED: 4 Amazonian Superfoods to Include in Your Diet

Photos: Oliver Baker

Clif Bar Nut Butter Filled Energy Bar Chocolate Peanut Butter Alter Eco Dark Quinoa Chocolate Bar Rise Chocolatey Coconut Protein Bar FitJoy Chocolate Iced Brownie Protein Bar Glukos Chocolate Energy Bar Ohso Chocolate Bar

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Ajee’ Wilson Breaks 14-Year-Old 800-Meter Record at Millrose Games Mon, 13 Feb 2017 18:56:20 +0000

Ajee' Wilson celebrates her USA indoor 800m record of 1:58.27 set at the 2017 NYRR Millrose Games. Photo: Chris Lotsbom for Race Results Weekly

Ajee' Wilson shattered the American indoor 800-meter record in 1:58.27.

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Ajee' Wilson celebrates her USA indoor 800m record of 1:58.27 set at the 2017 NYRR Millrose Games. Photo: Chris Lotsbom for Race Results Weekly

(c) 2017 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

Ajee’ Wilson brought the crowd to its feet at the 110th NYRR Millrose Games, shattering the American indoor 800-meter record in 1:58.27. Wilson and teammate Charlene Lipsey, coached by U.S. Postal Service mail carrier Derek Thompson, led a one-two sweep in one of several terrific races at the New Balance Track & Field Center at the Armory in Upper Manhattan.

“Before we came out here today, my coach knew we were going to go 1:58,” Wilson said, speaking about herself and Lipsey, who became the second-fastest American ever indoors at 1:58.64.

Heading into every race, Thompson is known to give Wilson very specific directions. It has worked in the past, leading Wilson to national titles and global medals. This season, he’s told her to simply run by feel.

With training partner Kimarra McDonald doing the pacing, Wilson and Lipsey both shot to the front and tucked in behind their friend. Just like in practice, the trio rounded the Armory oval and hit 400 meters in 57.15 seconds.

“The last 400m, when she peeled off, I just wanted to keep the momentum going and keep the pace going,” Wilson said. “We knew we could have went 1:58. My coach told us we were in shape to do it so it was something that we were going for.” Wilson emphasized the word “we,” if she was going to succeed, Lipsey would to.

In the final lap Wilson noticed Lipsey was right off her shoulder and closing in. Going to the well, Wilson dug deep and shot to the tape in 1:58.27. When the time popped up on the board, she noticed Lipsey’s mark of 1:58.64. Together, both had dipped under Nicole Teter’s 14-year-old American record of 1:58.71 (set here at The Armory in a national championships race without the benefit of pacemakers).

“I think that was more for my teammate than it was for me,” Wilson said, speaking of her celebration with Lipsey. The pair began training before this season. “That’s a huge PR for her. I’m just beyond excited. It was a big jump for her. She’s come out and trained with us, and it’s definitely been the biggest blessing to my career, to my training. We have a great friendship and I’m super happy for the both of us.”

Also breaking a record was high schooler Sammy Watson. The Henrietta, N.Y., native finished sixth in 2:01.78, shaving .02 from Mary Decker Slaney’s 2:01.8 national high school record.

“My goal was to try to be competitive,” Watson said. “I was just trying to calm my nerves and get the experience of running with the professionals.” She’d only learned that she broke the record when speaking with members of the media.

“I knew if I could go under 1:30 [for 600m] then I could get close to two minutes, very close,” she added.

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Research Shows Running Can Help Cure a Broken Heart Fri, 10 Feb 2017 20:22:50 +0000

In the throes of a broken heart, science and experience say running is exactly what you need.

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Heartbreak hurts. Whether you’ve lost a loved one, broken up with your S.O., or even lost your job, grieving is essential, and everyone has their own unique way of making it through the pain. And yes, that pain is real.

According to a 2010 study at Rutgers University, rejection activates the same areas of the brain as actual physical pain. Turning to ice cream and cocktails may be satisfying for the short term, but they aren’t a long-term answer. Getting physical, as in running, is a healthier coping tool. Not only does running stimulate brain chemicals that fight physical pain, its blood-pumping, stress-relieving, mood- and brain-boosting benefits—the very things that make exercise good for you in general—make it especially valuable when suffering emotionally and mentally.

Marathoner, ultra marathoner, New York City running evangelist and all-around fitness phenom Robin Arzon registered for her first marathon in 2010 to recover from a breakup.

“Owning my space in the world through running repaired my broken heart,” says Arzon, who is now engaged. In fact, she calls running “one of the greatest bonds” with her fiancé, who proposed to her after they crossed the finish line of the 2016 Philadelphia Marathon. 

Much of the reason running helps can be traced to endorphins—feel-good brain chemicals that may ease depression, provide pain relief and are responsible for the “runner’s high”—released during a run. Ditto for dopamine, another neurotransmitter released during periods of intense cardiovascular activity that has been shown to help counter mental dark clouds. According to a recent study from the Journal of Neuroscience, movement also increases the brain’s GABA neurotransmitters, which help to control anxiety and fear.

Exercise is a proven self-esteem booster. For an even greater sense of accomplishment, set some goals—attainable ones and stretch ones. Be it running around the block or registering and training for a marathon, striving for and meeting goals will make you feel like a rock star. Once you’re run through your thoughts and emotions, consider running with a friend or joining a running group. Both are ideal ways to connect with others, a proven mood enhancer.

Want to sleep better and reduce stress? Again, running is the answer. The general health benefits of sweating it out are a given for long-term wellness. Running can also help with how you think.

Based on a recent study from the University of Arizona that looked at male, cross country runners age 18–25, running helped improve brain connectivity, thought patterns and decision-making—something that’s often compromised when you are upset. The improvement comes from running’s repetitive motions and the complex cognitive functions that accompany it. When running, you are constantly monitoring your surroundings, traffic, how you feel and more. Those thoughts force you to be in the moment, providing a temporary break from dwelling on your loss.

Running may be the last thing you feel like doing when you’re in the throes of a broken heart, but science and experience say it’s exactly what you need. So take a deep breath, lace up and hit the road (or a trail). Do it again and again and consider even training for a race. The long-term engagement will work wonders for you and your heart.

RELATED: 10 Amazing Benefits of Running You Might Not Have Known

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