Thursday, July 29, 2010

Voyageur 50M & The Great Danes

Two big events to write about but not a lot of time to write so I am going to do the bullet list post:

Voyageur 50M

(with apologies for doing a great disservice to the race/runners by not writing a proper race report)

- Chris Gardner was on fire. He took the lead from Dusty Olson somewhere close to the turnaround I think, getting there in 3:17 and running strong all the way home for a 6:55 finish - one of a very small number of people to run sub-7 in the 29 year history of the race. He clearly wanted this badly and his hard work and dedication paid off. And he seemed to be smiling every time I saw him!

- Kim Holak won the women's race in 8:30 - leading from start to finish. Another runner who was very happy every time I saw her! I really hope we can race together next year - I think it would be fun to see if we can push each other and one or both of us go sub-8. A girl can dream...

- Andy did an awesome job directing the race. It is always difficult taking over an event that has been around for years but I think everyone appreciated the way he kept the integrity of the race while adding a few things here and there.

- It was fun watching the intense competetion among the top male runners. The top 4 were within 4 minutes of each other at the turnaround. Chris Lundstrom took second, Dusty third and Brian Peterson (check out his new blog!) finished strong for fourth.

- John had a stellar first half. And a second half deserving of the mug I presented him with later. I have no doubt I will pay for my smart-ass-ed-ness next year...

- There were a lot of first time 50 mile runners out there including Lisa, Holly, Amy, Chris, Dan and Arika. Oh and Jeff D who signed up the day before! Kudos to Lisa who wasn't feeling great for something like the first 35 miles but kept plugging away and it all came together for those last 15 miles. If you can get through that on your first 50 miler you are pretty much made to do this :)

- Great to see so many familar faces that I generally only see at races - Tracy & Rasmus (more on them later!), Scott M & Chris H who I first met at this race back in 2008; the sconnies (Brad & Robert); Shelly, Robert & Chris, Dawn & Matt, Bohdan, Kim M, April, Connie (way to go - 2nd place and 2 hours faster than last year!!)... and many more. Congrats to all of you - Voyageur is never an easy day.

- And as always, it was fun meeting new faces - Dave D from the LPTR gang; and Kyle from Nebraksa who unfortunately had to drop due to injury and hence I met him by giving him a ride back to the high school - turns out he'd also run Psycho Wyco.

- I had a blast hanging out all day, taking pictures along with Lynn Saari at the Swinging Bridge and several other places, running supplies between a few AS (catching up with Leslie & Sam, Anne, Alicia & Maria, Eve and others who were doing a great job keeping the runners hydrated and fed). I brought a few dropped runners back to the start from various spots, managed to see quite a few people finishing - including Vale taking 4th and improving on her time by 40 minutes! And then later I swept from Grand Portage to Forbay Lake... I ran pretty hard in between pulling the tape as the runners were long gone and all I could think was how I need to remember how it feels to run strong along here on the return journey next year!

- Lots of photos from the race at the website and my set here.

- Camped for the weekend at Fond Du Lac - awesome campsite and great company.

Pre & Post Voyageur

- Friday I ran an out and back on the SHT from Highland & Getchell trailhead. I love this section of the trail. There is just something surreal about running so close to (and under) I-35 and yet still being on this technical singletrack. Love it.

- Sunday I intended to run an out and back from Fond Du Lac to Ely's Peak but got rudely interrupted by a bear and her cub. Though I didn't make a fuss about it and decided to let them be while I backed away slowly and fled the other way once I was out of sight and hearing distance. Phew. I am done with bear encounters on the SHT!

- The foot felt great during all of my runs. OK, that is not quite true. Something felt a little off after the run Saturday evening, probably because I had run a little fast. But it felt fine Sunday morning and has continued to be good during a few runs so far this week. I am thrilled to be back at it. Only a few weeks until Where's Waldo - which I will be running, not racing!

The Great Danes

I was delighted that Tracy and Rasmus had decided to coordinate their trip over with Voyageur - got to see Tracy several times during her race. Rasmus had opted for the Carlton Daze 5K the night before - and only got beaten by 2 Kenyans. Rasmus himself is half Kenyan. There's a good explanation for why he doesn't exactly look Kenyan - or at least Steve is going to write one soon. I think that is what we decided while running the Brickyard Hill this afternoon? Yes, it was a meeting of the bloggers! While it was great to see the guys up at Voyageur I was super excited to have been able to arrange a run together today. Steve's idea for the Brickyard was perfect. And despite their sad news earlier this week, Tracy & Rasmus were still able to make it. After a tour of the brickyard - pretty cool to learn the history of the place - and a little running... we headed over to Jerabek's for some yummy pastries and great coffee (check this place out, you won't be disappointed!). It was a good time. The hill repeats not so much but the conversation and laughs absolutely. Until next time folks.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The place to be...

Looking forward to seeing the action from the sidelines this year. After being lucky enough to have 2 of my best races on this course in '08 and '09 I didn't want to tarnish the bright and shiny memory that is Voyageur by showing up to race unprepared - so instead I will be helping out and hopefully seeing a lot of people have a lot of fun. That is, if one considers the power lines fun - which you must if you have signed up! I may just have to run that section to share in the fun...

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Beta V

I hadn't thought about it when I scheduled the op for right after Bighorn but it turned out that my return the trails would coincide with the annual Beta run on the Superior Hiking Trail. Perfect timing! The Beta run was originally conceived as a test run for the Sawtooth 100 mile race directed by Larry Peterson. I first joined the group up here in 2008 when I was training for that race - my one and only 100 to date - and it was a really great opportunity to share the trail with some more experienced ultrarunners. It has equally become a wonderful weekend to enjoy with friends.

Friday morning myself, Maria, Holly and Jim met at Lutsen and ran north to Cascade River State Park. It was a beautiful 15 mile run. I had run the first 6 miles to Caribou Trail back in May but the next section to Cascade was new for me. And what a pretty section it was - very cool to be able to see both the vast inland forest and the great lake at the same time from several ridges along the trail. After a very short run last Sunday and then 4 miles on Wednesday I was thrilled to be able to go that far with no foot issues. Well, I shouldn't say no foot issues - my feet were definitely feeling the trail, but the ankle felt good. The tibialis tendon is slightly tender just above the ankle bone but it was exactly the same before and after the weekend so I figure it's just going to take a bit of time for the tendon to fully recover from being disturbed during the surgery.

We took our time enjoying the fabulous weather, plenty of hiking and numerous raspberry picking stops! The only bummer was Maria's stomach wasn't cooperating. After picking up cars back in Lutsen we stopped off across the road for a dip in the Lake - found the perfect spot on the beach at the mouth of the river where the warm water meets the icy cold waves. Back at the house later we caught up with everyone else and started to make a (small) dent in the mountain of food that had accumulated.

Saturday morning we set off for the Caribou wayside to join the trail at around mile 68 of the race with some people planning to finish at Temperance and others going further north, some all the way to Lutsen (~34 miles). Others still, opting for a more interesting route. Suffice it to say that if you see any signs during Sawtooth that read "Flags left, Lake right" you can assume they are meant for Eric. I fell into a nice relaxed pace with the Friday crew, with Tom and Jason always within "hearing" distance... :)

It was another beautiful day, getting pretty warm in the unshaded sections. Jason and Amy had kindly put out water the night before so we had a quick stop a few miles in at Sugarloaf and a refill a few hours later at Cramer. A fully stocked aid station greeted us at Temperance in the form of Tom & Nancy's car - coke and corn chips are hard to beat after 16 miles on the trail! Those of us who were continuing along headed off towards Carlton at a nice clip - being led by Jason after I took us off trail! The hike up Carlton was gorgeous - it's amazing how much fun it can be when you're not mid-race. Holly and I decided to call it a day at Sawbill. I was really enjoying being out on the trail but once I sat down on the grass for a few minutes as we refilled water I knew that "quitting while ahead" was the smart thing to do. Jim, Tom and Jason headed off towards Oberg and then onto Lutsen to complete a very nice training run... I guess a 50K+ could be considered a taper for Voyageur??

After a dip in the lake the legs felt somewhat refreshed but I decided to abandon plans for a Sunday morning run. 37 miles on the SHT is good enough on any weekend and probably more than enough after a month off. I am thrilled to be feeling good as I try to get back into some sort of reasonable race shape in time for Where's Waldo. Though I am sure the endless chocolate, cookies and cupcakes will do their part to counteract that. Tomorrow. Tomorrow will be the start of the end of the over-indulgence.

After a smorgasbord of delicious food Saturday evening, we chilled out on the rocks by the fire (that Holly taught me to how to light). Chatting the night away, watching the starry, starry night, listening to the sound of lapping waves. I make no apology for sounding like a sap. Two days of running the trail with friends, sharing good food and great conversation. Not to mention the humour provided by Mr. Look-It-Up. This is what weekends were made for.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Badwater-Arrowhead Double

- How tough do you have to be to run Arrowhead?

- How tough do you have to be to run Badwater 135?

- How tough do you have to be to run both, in the same year?

- How tough do you have to be to win both, in the same year?

Ask Zach Gingerich!

He may not have had the day he hoped for back at FANS 24hr in June but he certainly made it happen in Death Valley yesterday and today.

Mt Whitney Portal 135M

1. Zach 24:44:48
2. Oswaldo 25:05:38
3. Jamie 26:16:12 - new course record!!

Matt Aro was at Darwin (90.1M) at 23.52 (28); Iso Yucra 25:12 (38); Adrian Belitu 25:15 (40).

Monday, July 12, 2010

Badwater 135M

Follow the action from Death Valley here.

Matt Aro from Duluth is the sole MN representative. Other runners people here will be familiar with include Adrian Belitu who came up from Chicago to run Zumbro back in April. And another veteran Zach Gingerich, aiming to improve on last year's 3rd place finish, was here in MN last month to run (and win) FANS 24hr.

No WI runners but KG is pacing Iso Yucra.

Last years winner Marco Farinazzo from Brazil is back again and also vying for the top spot will be Jorge Pacheco.

In the women's race Jamie Donalson is the favorite after her phenomenal run last year and continued success on the trails and road, particularly in timed events. Connie Gardner from Ohio is up there with her so far.

Times for a few people below. I think the first five are/were the top five runners at that checkpoint...

Stovepipe Wells 41.9M

Jorge 5:29
Marco 5:43
Zach 6:00
Jamie 6:47
Connie 6:49
Adrian 8:22
Iso 10:26

Furnace Creek 17.4M

Matt 3:14 - I wonder if he is still on the course as he started at 8AM (I think all of above except Iso started at 10AM)

Day 2 Updates...

As the runners continued through the night there were quite a few changes in position. I had missed one of the leaders in the above list - Lopez Oswaldo; And I should never have doubted Matt Aro... he is out there alright. Lots of cool photos on the webcast page. This batch by Chris Kostman include a few of Matt.

Last year's winning time was 23:39; CR is 22:52 (Valmir Nunes, 2007). Women's CR is 26:51:33 (Jamie Donaldson, 2008)

Lone Pine 122.3M

1. Zach 21:38
2. Oswaldo 22:11

Darwin 90.1M

3. Marco 15:28
4. Jorge 16:36*
5. Jamie 16:41
9. Connie 19:25
12. Pam Reed 20:04

* Jorge had been almost an hour ahead at Panamint Springs 72.3M - the biggest lead all day

Panamint Springs 72.3M

34. Adrian 18:04
38. Matt 19:07
42. Iso 19:54

Zero to Sixty (Two)

Today is 3 weeks from surgery and I can take the boot off. Which is somewhat irrelevant since I stopped wearing it last Wednesday. It just felt like I was walking better without it. Apart from a few spin classes and swimming, I continued to stay off my feet as much as possible all of last week and iced the ankle at night. There is still some swelling around the incision but it has healed nicely.

I ran 10 minutes yesterday evening. The foot felt fine. Everything else felt awful. Then I went to my first Hot Yoga class in over 3 weeks. I expected that to be pretty rough but actually it felt good and there was only one or two poses that I had to modify slightly. And that had more to do with being out of shape than any issue with my foot.

All in all, I can’t complain about progress to date. SHT Beta V weekend is coming up so I would like to be able to run a little but if not I am happy to hike. It’s the Superior Hiking Trail after all. And there is no point in pushing it now. Although, there is a small matter of a 100K race in 6 weeks time…

I would really love to be able to run Where's Waldo 100K (Oregon) as Kami and I are both signed up for it and looking forward to hanging out with our friend Carrie who moved to Portland last year. But I will only race it if I am in good shape for it. I will definitely travel out there and get some good training in if I don’t race, and could always pace Kami if she was up for that. Leading up to that I am excited to be heading out to the Marin Headlands area again to pace Alicia (Hudelson) at Headlands 100M August 7.

The longer-term goal is to have another good run at Hellgate 100K later this year so that is really what I am focused on. It will be exciting to run that race having some experience on the course. I will still be scared shitless in the lead up to it worrying about the midnight start and the weather conditions. But I feel like I can really target my training for the course especially having decided to take a few other races off my calendar.

I love that I am so confident of my training ability after one easy week that followed two weeks of doing N O T H I N G but eat, drink wine and watch TV.

A sporting weekend...

World Cup final - despite it being a crappy game I was happy that Spain won as they played the better football over the course of the tournament.

Tour de France continues into the mountains - I am enjoying following Nicholas Roche, son of former Irish cycling star Stephen Roche.

Hardrock 100M - how about Diana Finkel’s amazing run! She is an absolute rockstar on that course.

Dances with Dirt, Devil’s Lake - Congrats to Kami on her 50 mile win! And to Kim & Andy Holak who both won in the 50K race. Way to represent MN folks!

Half Voyageur - I have never run this race but it somehow seems a lot more challenging than simply half the full - I hear there was a swamp involved this year? Also, I was surprised to see Lundo show up in Eve's pictures - I hope it was a recon run ahead of the full as we all really, really want to see him run that. I suspect it is only a matter of time until Steve starts a poll on his finish time. No pressure Chris!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Baby steps...

Recovery is going well. I saw the surgeon last Thursday and he was happy with progress. He cleared me for spin class and to swim once the incision had healed just a little more. I didn't do either until Monday. I mean, where would I find the time between the World Cup, Wimbledon - and now the Tour de France? Oh, and there was Afton...

But Monday I decided it was time to get off the couch and try to undo some of the damage that goes hand in hand with two weeks of zero activity. I know, 2 weeks is not that long but for someone who can't sit still outside the environs of a yoga class it seemed waay too long. Pool running felt good so I decided to try an easy spin class after that. All good. Tuesday and this morning another spin class and swam with the group last night at the lovely 50M outdoor pool in New Hope. OK - not exactly baby steps but taking it pretty easy and all low impact activities. Might do a yoga class over the weekend and then the boot can come off Monday. To be honest I think I am walking better without the boot these days than with it but I will do as I am told. And for the most part I am sitting down at work so I can just take it off and put my feet up. Yes, it is still considered work.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

More Afton Fun

Check out Matt's video footage of the race - great stuff!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Afton Trail Race 2010

What. A. Great. Day.

And I wasn't even racing!! As I have found over the past few years of volunteering at a number of trail races, the days when I'm not wearing a race number can be just as enjoyable. And slightly easier to recover from...

It was a perfect day for being at the start/finish area as we had probably the nicest conditions of the entire race course - fabulous sunshine but a strong breeze and plenty of canopy cover for shade. I had the job of keeping track of awards for both the 25K and 50K so for the first few hours while the races were getting underway I got to catch up with people and take lots of photos. I got quite a few of the 50K 1st loop coming through AS 6 and the finish line for both races. Though I was caught off guard by the speedy 25K winner as I had mistakenly though the CR was over 1:40... and even though I was moving around well (and probably more than I should) with the gimpy leg I'm not quite up to 6:21 pace. Yet.

This year the race hosted the first USATF-MN Trail Championships so that added to the excitement - money to be won! And also to the complextity of the awards process. But Sam Rush was on hand to take care of that end of things.

We saw incredible times for the lead finishers in both races considering the conditions. Of course the course changes had people debating whether it was a faster or slower course. The new course has runners spending a bit more time in the open prairie so that may have been tough yesterday. But I think the climbs on the new course are pretty equal.

On the women's side the Masters dominated in both events. In the 50K Eve came through the 1st loop with Dani Ashford (running her first 50K) but Eve's strength on the hills and her affinity for the hot weather saw her pull away soon after and she went on to take the win in 4:24:11. Someway off her incredible CR of 4:13:21 (2008) but taking 3rd overall shows what a brilliant time it was on the day.

In the 25K Sue Ruben's 2:08:43 win set a new Masters CR by a few precious seconds! Replacing Elizabeth Flannery's 2:08:46 mark set last year. 2nd place went to a girl half her age Kelsi Upmann 2:10:40. The Senior Masters was won by Lisa Ann Trainor 2:21:01 - coming in less than a minute ahead of the second 50+ lady Sarah Barker 2:21:56. Gotta love that - women in their 40's and 50's running so strong while at the same time seeing more and more younger women drawn to the trails.

On the men's side the 50K promised to be quite the race with Pat Russell in town, Chris Lundstrom toeing the line and Brian Peterson hoping to continue his incredible season. All 3 came through loop 1 well under 2 hours with Pat maybe a minute ahead and Chris and Brian together at 1:54. Pat ran into issues and decided to pull the plug I think around halfway through the 2nd loop. Brian made the smart decision to let Chris pull ahead heading into the final lap so that by AS3 there was already a decent gap. Chris continued at the same pace and ran strong to the finish not hampered by a thrilling spill coming down Campground! We all knew the course record was in danger and sure enough Chris crossed the line in 3:48:10 (7:21 pace) - running almost even splits (wow!) and taking over a minute of the previous record (3:49:44) that had stood since 2005. Brian was next over the line in a time of 4:04:49. If ever there was a race to go out hard it is Afton on a day like this when the heat is almost always going to take it's toll on the 2nd loop. I also want to mention the 3rd place male (4th overall) Ryan Braun, who at 26 was one of the youngest guys in the longer distance. I first met Ryan at last year's Moose Mountain Marathon where we ran together for several miles. I remembered telling his (slightly worried) parents at the finish that this was just the start of his trail running career and sure enough he then took on his first 50K at Wild Duluth finishing 2nd, followed by a 9th place finish in a competitive field at the Superior 50K in May.

In the 25K it was a repeat win for Ben Kampf in 1:38:24, just under a minute off his CR set last year (1:37:39). He was followed by Ed Whetham in 1:44:44, bettering his time last year by 5 minutes. Of note, four of the top 5 finishers this year were also in the top 5 last year with a few changes in position. While there were several strong Masters runners in the 25K it may be a while until Matt Haugen's record of 1:50:29 is broken (set in 2004).

The age range on the trail is worth mentioning. 14yr old Connor Gabbert took on the 25K while for the girls we had several under 20, the youngest being 15yr old Kaylee Ryan who finished alongside her sister and mum. At the other end of the scale were 70yr olds Ken Norwood and Patricia Wolkoff showing us how it's done. In the 50K, 22yr old Wesley Rolnick, and 2nd place finisher Dani Ashford along with another 23yr old Alisha Mayer were the youngest out there, while 66yr old Herb Byun and 65yr old Kathy Schmidt represented the grand masters exceptionally well.

The results are already uploaded on the race website as well as links to the hundreds of photos (also posted below). I've included a few of the more memorable moments below.

To mark the race having raised more than $25,000 for the Afton State Park, park manager Gene made a presentation to John (photo credit Jen Pierce)...

Everyone had a chance to check out the new course map thanks to Jason's map-making skills (photo credit Jen Pierce)...

Steve was a bit worried he can going to have to wear a cut-off bright pink tee - but instead I decided to honor his blog that has at one time or another made us laugh, cry or just shake our heads in disbelief. Here is Bill modeling one of the shirts...

Ben winning the 25K (photo credit Jen Pierce)...

And picking up his award (all awards original artwork by race director John Storkamp)...

25K female winner Sue picking up her awards (Overall and 1st Masters)...

Kami and Igor finish the 25K together - 2 weeks after Kami's run at Bighorn 50M and 1 week after Igor's IM CDA finish...

You'd be forgiven for thinking this 25K runner was wearing a tie-dye t-shirt and had not suffered a bloody nose...

Unless you had seen her at the start of the race...

Chris winning the 50K in course record time (photo credit Jen Pierce)...

And picking up his award...

And later doing some core work (photo credit Jen Pierce)...

Classic finish by Brian (photo credit Jen Pierce)...

Eve finishing strong...

And picking up her award...

Vale racing to the finish line and demonstrating that her unique water bottle holding skills do not hamper her running ability...

Team TCRC does it again (photo credit Jen Pierce)...

Marcus ran the 50K in his Vibrams but switched to a truly barefoot feel by the end...

Zach trying to tell us he'd done a Steve Quick but with no blood and no bones sticking out we were having none of it...

It wouldn't be Afton without Tom & Nancy...

For more photos - and they are ALL worth checking out -

Helen (picasa)

Londell (picasa)

Jen (flickr) (Zach also posted a subset of these on his facebook)

Matt (picasa)

Once again it was a beautiful day to be on the trail. And a lot of fun to be at the finish line for the day... catching up with friends, meeting new people, some of whom I only knew from this blogland, a tasty hamburger (or 3) for lunch, followed by fresh strawberries from Lisa and washed down with a few unnamed beverages from Karen.

Congrats to everyone who raced, volunteered and supported - you are all part of a wonderful community. And kudos to everyone who completed their first trail race and/or ultra yesterday. There is no better place to do so than at the Afton Trail Run.