Running News Daily

Running News Daily is edited by Bob Anderson in Mountain View, California USA and team in Thika Kenya, La Piedad Mexico, Bend Oregon and Chandler Arizona.   Send your news items to bob@mybestruns.com  Advertising opportunities available.   Over one million readers and growing.  Train the Kenyan Way at KATA Running Retreat.  (Kenyan Athletics Training Academy) in Thika Kenya.  Learn more about Bob Anderson, MBR publisher and KATA director/owner, take a look at A Long Run the movie covering Bob's 50 race challenge.  

Index to Daily Posts · Sign Up For Updates · Run The World Feed

Articles tagged #Western States
Today's Running News

Share

Burnout Is Complicated

Kieran Abbotts is a PhD student at the University of Oregon, studying human physiology. He earned his master's degree in Metabolism and Exercise Physiology at Colorado State University. The lab that he works at now studies exercise and environment and stressors on physiology. In other words, he's an expert on how the chemicals in the body work during exercise, and what happens when things get out of whack. 

"Essentially, there are two kinds of training. There's functional overreaching, which means you stress the body with hard workouts and long runs. Then you provide adequate time to recover, and you induce adaptations," Abbotts said. This kind of training is ideal-your body is getting stronger. "You want to be functionally overreaching as an elite athlete-so that you're making progress and becoming a better runner, but also giving yourself adequate recovery." 

And then there's non-functional overreaching, which can feel the same to many athletes, but it's very different. 

"With non-functional overreaching you're essentially doing the same thing-big workouts, stressing the body-but not giving yourself enough time to recover. And so you start doing damage." That damage might take a long time to show itself, Abbots said, but it eventually will. 

This might be the most important thing to know about being an athlete at any level. Non-functional overreaching is exactly the same as very healthy training, except without enough rest. And rest is different for everyone, which makes it exceptionally easy to slip from functional overreaching into damaging non-functional overreaching without realizing it. Without adequate rest, the body begins to break down instead of build stronger. 

Stress Is Stress

Professional ultrarunner Cat Bradley, 31, living in Hawaii, has experienced fatigue and burnout in various forms, including just after she won Western States in 2017. 

Winning a big race is great, but it also means all eyes are on you-the pressure is high to stay on top. "After winning Western States, I took a month off, but I was still running at a high level. And for lack of a better term, I felt like I had a gun to my back," Bradley said. "I wanted Western States so badly, and after I won, so many things happened and I never shook that gun-to-the-back feeling. After a while, it led to burnout. I had to take a mental break." 

For many athletes, finding success can be the stress that makes non-functional overreaching feel necessary. How can you take an extended break when you're winning and signing new sponsor contracts? 

A second version of burnout for Bradley came when she went through an especially stressful situation outside of running. She was dealing with such extreme daily emotional stress in her personal life that everything else was affected, including running and training. When the body is enduring stress, it doesn't know (or care) what the cause is. We can't put our life into silos. If there's stress in one's life, everything else needs to be adjusted. It doesn't matter if that stress is "just work" or illness, or relationships. 

When you're overtraining, or chronically overstressed, your body is creating higher levels of "catecholamines" hormones released by your adrenal glands during times of stress like epinephrine, norepinephrine, or adrenaline. "Having those chronically high levels of overstimulation and not enough recovery, you wind up with a desensitization," Abbotts said. "Overstimulation also causes decreased levels of plasma cortisol. Cortisol is the stress hormone, and it plays a very important role in your physiology." 

When you're exercising or stressing the body, cortisol will go up, to help the body deal with the stress. But if you're constantly requiring lots of cortisol, your body will eventually down-regulate. It will adapt and then you'll have low levels of cortisol. This means trouble dealing with physical and mental stress. 

In February, Bradley experienced her most recent version of burnout, and it happened mid-race. Bradley was running the Tarawera 100-miler in New Zealand. Besides training for such a big race, she was also working full-time and planning and preparing for her wedding, which was just days after the race. On top of everything, travel to the event was incredibly stressful. 

"I was in fourth place, I could see third, and at mile 85, I passed out and hit my head on a rock," Bradley said. "We can talk about the reasons that I fainted, but I really think my brain just shut down-it was too much." 

For Bradley, reaching burnout has a lot more to do with outside stressors than the actual running. But now she's aware of that-she continues to work on not reaching the gun-to-the-back feeling. The need to please others. The fear of losing fitness in order to take care of her body. It's an ongoing process, but an important one. 

Overdoing Is the American Way

Professional ultrarunner Sally McRae said, based on her observations, Americans are really bad at taking time off. "I've traveled the world and Americans are really bad at resting," she said. "It's part of our work system. You go anywhere in Europe and everyone takes a month-long holiday. You have a kid and you take a year off. We're not conditioned like that in America. It's like you get one week and then after you work a decade, you get two weeks of vacation." 

For McRae, avoiding burnout and overtraining has a lot to do with creating a life that's sustainable. She started working when she was 15-years-old, so she realized earlier than most that life couldn't just be working as hard as possible to count down to retirement. 

"Perspective is massive when it comes to burnout. My goal every year is to find the wonder and the beauty and the joy in what I do. Because it's my job, but it's also my life," McRae said. "And I really believe we're supposed to rest-it should be a normal part of our life. Whether that's taking a vacation or taking an off-season. I take a two-month offseason and I have for a long time." 

One of the most important parts about rest and not overstressing the body is that everyone is different. An overstressed body can lead to hormonal imbalances, which in turn affects everything. 

"When you're overtraining, you tend to get mood changes and have trouble sleeping," Abbotts said. "Two of the big things that stand out are you're exhausted but you can't sleep. And the other is irritability-mood swings, and depression." When you get to the point that you've overstressed your body for so long that the chemicals are changing, pretty much everything starts falling apart.

And even though everyone is different, you'd never know that from looking at social media. "I know social media makes it seem like ultrarunners are running 40 miles a day, doing a 100-mile race every other weekend," McRae said. "And that's insane. You've got to be in touch with yourself. It's very different to wake up and feel sore or tired, but if you wake up and feel like you have no joy in the thing you're doing, you need a real break from it."

How Can the Running Community Do Better?

Elite ultrarunner and running coach Sandi Nypaver wants runners to get more in touch with how they're feeling and less concerned about numbers or what anyone else is doing. 

"I have to have honest talks with people I'm coaching. I need them to feel like they can tell me how they feel, because sometimes they think they have to stick to the training plan for the week no matter what," she said. "But the plan is never set in stone. It's meant to be adjusted based on how you're feeling. Some weeks we might feel great and not need to change anything, while other weeks we might have to totally crash the plan and do something else." 

It's easy to judge ourselves against everyone else, especially when results and reactions are so public and available. 

"It's easy to say, 'if that person only took three days off after a big race, and now they're already back to training, that must be what you're supposed to do,'" she said. "But even at the highest level, training is different for everyone. Resting is different for everyone." 

"Something that's really, really hard for many runners to understand is that once you're not sore anymore, that you're still not recovered," Nypaver said. "A lot of research says that things are still going on in your body for up to four weeks after, for certain races, depending on the distance." 

Sometimes it's difficult to be aware of subtle signs when the soreness is gone. "Convincing people that they need to chill out for a while, even past the soreness, can be really difficult." But after a huge effort, and before the next, people rarely end up saying things like, "I really wish I hadn't rested so thoroughly." Part of it is actually having a recovery plan. Putting rest days on the calendar, focusing on foam rolling and mobility on days that you're not "doing." 

"And, actually just relaxing. Taking it easy. It's not just a running model, we live in a culture where we're always being asked to do more," Nypaver said. "I wish instead of always thinking about doing more, we'd focus on how we want to be more. A lot of us want to be more relaxed and less stressed and happier and enjoy our lives. We need to put our attention on that instead of trying to do so much. It's something I struggle with all the time."

We don't get validation for resting, relaxing, and being present because there's no tangible thing to show for it. There's no "be really calm often" challenge on Strava. But the bigger rewards are great. You just have to trade in immediate dopamine hits for a much more balanced, happier life. 

Simple, right?

"One thing I'm doing, and asking my athletes to do, is to write down your intentions," Nypaver said. "One of my intentions is to chill out more this summer and enjoy it. I grew up thinking it's all about running, and I have to go all-in on running. But having other outlets, other things that I like to do, is so important."  

When you've reached burnout-an extended period of non-functional overreaching, prolonged rest is the only way to let the body fix itself. 

"Once you are overtrained, you need to stop training," Abbotts said. "It's just kind of the bottom line. Maybe some people can get away with greatly reducing their training load, but most of the time you need to stop. You need an extended amount of time off." 

There's nothing glamorous about rest. There's no prize money in relaxing. But it's the absolute key ingredient in extended performance, and in a much healthier, happier life. 

(02/10/2024) Views: 82 ⚡AMP
by Trail Runner Magazine
Share
Share

Canadian road and trail champ Anne-Marie Madden shares her wisdom

Canadian distance runner Anne-Marie Madden has been shining on both road and trails for years, most recently winning the masters division at the 2023 California International Marathon (CIM). Madden was third at Arizona’s Black Canyon 100K in 2022, earning her entry into the 2022 edition of the legendary Western States 100, where she took 11th place.

Madden, who works as a doctor in Vancouver, shared the secrets to her success in seamlessly transitioning between road and trail running with Canadian Running.

Early morning trail training

Balancing a thriving medical career with elite training demands a strategic training schedule. Madden’s weekdays are often dictated by long work hours, so she utilizes non-technical trails for pre-dawn runs with her dog, Tucker. Her days off become an opportunity for long, trail-focused runs.

“During this most recent marathon build, I made a concerted effort to do some long runs on the road,” says Madden. “My coach gave me a few workouts within a long run. This was useful on weeks when I had limited time off to do other workouts and it also built up my confidence running faster road paces again.”

Fuelling for both styles

Madden’s fuelling strategy adapts to the demands of each terrain. For shorter, more intense road workouts, she opts for liquid nutrition and gels, finding bars challenging to consume when running at a higher intensity. She uses different methods of staying hydrated during training: on trails, she uses a filter flask to refill water from natural sources, contrasting the convenience of refilling at water fountains on urban road runs.

Tips for runners hoping to shift between terrain

“One of the biggest mental shifts for road runners moving into the trail space is to let go of pace goals,” says Madden. “The terrain often dictates the pace. Running on trails is a great opportunity to hone in on perceived effort and to tune into our body’s cues.” Madden says this skill carries over to road racing.

“For readers with a road running background looking to do more trail racing, I recommend they introduce trail runs into their program on their easy days or for a portion of their long run,” says Madden. “They can eventually work in trail workouts such as hill repeats or speed work on gravel paths.”

Vert and alpine views

Madden’s social media posts highlight the beautiful B.C. trails where she runs with her exuberant dog. “The alpine views here are spectacular and the high numbers of park visitors means the trails are well maintained and great for running,” she says. She does the bulk of her long runs on the mountain bike trails in Pemberton and Squamish.

Madden says that while there are lots of great runs in B.C. with tons of vert., the snow pack can make it hard to find long sustained climbs to train on can be challenging in early spring: “something to keep in mind if you’re signing up for a big race with lots of vertical early in the race season.”

With that in mind, Madden will next be lining up at Black Canyon 100K on Feb. 10th, “a relatively low vert trail race which is easier to train for during the Canadian winter when a lot of the higher elevation trails are snow covered,” she says.

(01/29/2024) Views: 139 ⚡AMP
by Keeley Milne
Share
Black Canyon Ultras

Black Canyon Ultras

The Black Canyon 100K trail race takes place on the world class Black Canyon Trail near Phoenix, Arizona. This 80 mile long trail features incredible single track trails on an old stagecoach route, this course traverses across high desert grasslands and crosses through several arroyos and deep canyons on a classic journey in the desert Southwest. This historic trail is...

more...
Share

The Wild, Uncertain Science of Post-Exercise Ketones

A new review study points toward post-exercise ketone supplementation as a way to improve adaptation and performance. What does the uncertain science mean for endurance athletes?

I heard about athletes supplementing with ketones sometime in the mid-2010s. A company reached out, promising the next big breakthrough in endurance performance from this liquid supplement composed of a molecule naturally produced in the body from the breakdown of free fatty acids. They told me that the top cyclists in the world were already using ketones and that it was destined to take over running, too. They sent a few boxes…and they collected dust in the pantry. It felt like a biohack, and I wasn’t comfortable with it.

Over the years, more studies on ketone ingestion emerged, and I started to get more and more intrigued. Rumors came out that about 70 percent of the cycling peloton used the stuff. But they cost a ton, and it was hard to discern what was actual practice and what was just marketing.

It wasn’t until 2023, though, that I embraced that ketones were here to stay, whether I liked it or not. A 2023 study in the American Journal of Physiology-Endocrine and Metabolism had nine men complete two cycling trials, both with one hour consisting of two minutes at 90 percent of aerobic capacity (moderately hard), followed by two minutes at 50 percent of aerobic capacity (very easy). In both trials, the cyclists consumed a carb-protein drink immediately after exercise and at one, two, and three hours later. Here’s the study intervention: in just one trial, participants ingested 0.29 g/kg ketone monoester immediately after exercise and at one and two hours later.

The ketone trial led to 20 percent higher levels of natural erythropoietin (EPO) in the bloodstream.

For comparison, a 2005 study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that the initial exposure to altitude training increased EPO by an average of around 50 percent in swimmers, with large individual variability (returning to baseline after a couple of weeks of altitude training), with lots of variation across studies. Given that our bodies produce EPO to increase red blood cell production, and red blood cells transport oxygen that power endurance performance, the ketone study indicated that we could be seeing a supplement that supercharges adaptation and performance.

Context for Ketones

To be 100 percent honest, I was sad when I saw this study. I love performance physiology, but I don’t want to think about a new biohack. Maybe it’s a sign that I’m getting old when a study on cutting-edge science just makes me tired. Get these research protocols off my lawn!

But I also couldn’t bury my head in the sand (though that would probably increase EPO concentrations via hypoxia). Instead of giving into my old-coach fatigue, maybe I can help publicize the emerging science so fewer athletes have an information disadvantage. My final push was last week when a fantastic review article was published in the American Journal of Physiology-Cell Physiology by Ruben Robberechts and Chiel Poffé. If ketone supplementation has the potential that some think it may, the article could be a key step in the future of exercise physiology.

Before getting to the science, I think it’s important to lay out the stakes. Based on the articles (mixed with a heaping dose of gossip), I can see three different scenarios unfolding over the next 10 years.

One, post-exercise ketones don’t live up to their promise, and this is all a nothingburger. That outcome would please me the most, and we all know that what’s most important in science is my pleasure. If researchers did this type of theoretical analysis on other interventions (i.e. heat training, Vitamin D, lifting, ashwagandha, strides, beta-alanine, doubles, creatine), they could come back with similar findings. We are only talking about a few intervention studies and lots of theory, and future research could have different results. Plus, some critics would already be confident making their judgments as the Supreme Court of Nothingburgerland.

Two, ketones could become a more commonly used supplement with benefits for performance and health (like iron). They are expensive, which isn’t great, but maybe they will help athletes be healthier and faster, with limited side effects. On the flip side, maybe more research indicates tradeoffs that lead to benefit:risk calculations with performance or health. Over email, Dr. Poffé–an author of the review study and a key researcher in this field–says that “studies have shown divergent effects on performance depending on the exercise context and whether you take them before, during or after exercise.” Even if they are beneficial in some contexts, it’s not a simple equation of take ketones = get faster.

The third possibility is that they are banned as an illegal performance enhancer. I have no inside info on whether that’s a possibility, and at first blush, it doesn’t seem likely without some health risks. Dr. Poffé says “I honestly don’t see much of a reason to ban ketones while allowing other ergogenic supplements.”

So, yeah, we’re talking about a wide range of possibilities, which makes sense given the uncertain mechanisms and effects at play. Let’s dig in. (We got even deeper into the nuance on our podcast this week, which you can listen to here.)

Introduction to Ketones

As stated by the review study, ketone bodies “are molecules that are continuously produced from the breakdown of free fatty acids,” primarily in the liver. Ketone body production is upregulated during periods of low carbohydrate availability—that’s why you have heard “ketosis” thrown around for ultrarunners who practice low carbohydrate, high-fat nutrition, aiming to improve fat oxidation and avoid bonking. Ketosis via nutritional interventions comes with way too many downsides for endurance athletes, though, including everything from reduced bone density to diminished high-intensity performance. That makes sense intuitively because low carbohydrate availability is extremely stressful on most body functions, especially the endocrine system.

Ketone esters, enter stage left. Researchers figured out how to create an ester bond between a ketone body precursor and a ketone body (first in 1978 in rats, but not undergoing human testing until 2012). These ketone esters cause a “rapid and transient increase in ketone bodies,” possibly inducing ketosis. It was as if this evolutionary mechanism honed over millions of years now had a dimmer switch. For the chemistry nerds out there, you can probably guess what oral ingestion of an ester is like—not fun. Companies like HVMN honed the taste over time, and now I’d say that ketone esters taste like a robot’s ass. We can only imagine what they tasted like before.

Ketones have mostly been marketed as a before-and-during-exercise supplement, at least in the podcast ads I have heard. Take ketones, burn more fat at higher intensities, win the Tour de France, etc. However, a bunch of studies have shown limited to no acute benefit. For example, a 2017 study in Frontiers of Physiology found that pre-exercise ketone supplementation caused around a two percent performance decrease in 10 male professional cyclists doing a 50-minute time trial.

Perhaps there’s some protocol being used in the cycling peloton that improves acute performance, as the marketing claims indicate. Heck, Tom Evans reportedly took ketone esters on his way to winning Western States, so there must be some benefit for some athletes (or at least neutral impacts), possibly related to perceived effort. Anecdotally, when I tried ketones on a fatigued long run, the lights went out. Thankfully, I had my phone to call the Wuber (when my wife Megan drives to pick me up).

So perhaps it’s something else. Maybe all this ketone hype is because taking them improves recovery and hematological variables, confounding variables that are actually the driving force behind their use (maybe that even explains some of the success stories behind low carb, high fat nutrition approaches. I’d love to see the blood work!).

According to the review, after exercise, circulating ketone bodies are increased. However, any benefits athletes may see from a sustained increase are blunted in advanced athletes practicing good recovery nutrition. Ketone esters “may induce a unique physiological milieu to enhance post-exercise recovery and exercise adaptation as it allows to benefit from the potential beneficial effect of post-exercise ketosis in combination with other nutritional exercise recovery strategies (e.g., carbohydrate-protein recovery drink).” They had me at physiological milieu. Dr. Poffé says that his lab started ketone work in 2016 when “there was already some preliminary data showing that it could help riders during the Tour de France as a recovery aid.”

Mechanisms of Post-Exercise Ketones

I can’t emphasize enough how great this review article is, summarizing extremely uncertain science and studies. Before getting to the EPO mechanisms, let’s briefly touch on a bunch of other considerations. First, ketone bodies may cause epigenetic changes. For example, histone lysine β-hydroxybutylation could increase with ketone body increases, which may “increase transcription of genes involved in the adaptive response to exercise.” Across several different epigenetic mechanisms, it’s possible that ketone bodies could be a signal to the body to adapt to stimuli (which makes sense given their evolutionary role in exercise in energy-limited environments).

Second, ketones could “enhance the restoration of cellular energy status after exercise” while also blunting AMPK phosphorylation, which could enhance recovery due to its role in cellular stress or decrease adaptation due to its role in mitochondrial biogenesis. I love this one because that maybe-good, maybe-bad uncertainty regarding downregulation of AMPK points out just how little is known about the long-term consequences of post-exercise ketones, particularly in conjunction with other impacts.

Third, ketones alter g-receptor signaling, which “mediate cellular responses to a wide variety of external agents.” Fourth, ketones show anti-inflammation and anti-oxidation properties, which seems good at first glance but could theoretically cause long-term reductions in training adaptations since the inflammation response can spur adaptation. Fifth, ketones may influence neurotransmitter concentrations in the brain, which could profoundly impact perceived exertion (and possibly even mental health, though that’s a topic for another day).

The next cohort of potential adaptations are at the cutting edge of science but still theoretical. Ketones could increase muscle glycogen resynthesis, reduce protein degradation and enhance protein synthesis, spur angiogenesis that leads to more capillaries to supply blood to working muscles, induce favorable changes in muscle mitochondria, and improve sleep quality in athletes who are training hard. You can put those variables together with a 2019 study in the Journal of Physiology, where male athletes completed a three-week overload training block with six days a week of two-a-day training sessions, with one group having post-exercise ketones. That study found higher tolerated training load in the ketone group and improved performance. (The study was the subject of a Letter to the Editor disputing some of the conclusions.)

A 2023 study looked at a similar three-week overload block, validating the findings. They had 18 male athletes complete 10 training sessions per week, with one group taking post-exercise and pre-sleep ketones and the other taking a placebo. The ketone group “increased the number of capillary contacts and the capillary-to-fibre perimeter exchange index by 44 percent and 42 percent,” plus “substantially increased vascular endothelial growth factor and endothelial nitric oxide synthase expression both at the protein and at the mRNA level.” And the money finding: EPO concentrations in the ketone group increased by 26 percent. That study was eye-opening for the possible recovery and adaptation benefits of ketones, and it brings us back to the elephant in the room: potential hematological changes from increased EPO production.

Hematological Changes

In 2018, a study in the Diabetes Care journal found increasing levels of EPO after a ketone body infusion. The authors of the 2023 study that started this article cited this study as part of the impetus for their investigation (read their amazing summary here). We’re seeing similar findings in athletes in the 2023 studies, which found 20 percent and 26 percent increases in EPO production in the ketone groups relative to controls. But the science is not there to make a definitive conclusion.

In the title of this article, I promised uncertain science, and now we are deep in it. First, we don’t know how much this EPO change may impact performance. “Currently,” the review says, “it has not been identified if the observed changes in EPO post-exercise are indeed sufficient to induce an improvement in hemoglobin mass and oxygen transport capacity in humans, and whether these effects are additive to stimuli that are frequently used by athletes to increases EPO such as hypoxia.” It’s possible that these changes don’t correspond to performance benefits.

And get a load of this: “The precise physiological mechanism underlying ketone body-induced upregulation of EPO is currently unknown.” However, based on mouse models, the researchers theorize that it relates to H39K acetylation in kidney cells.

Are Ketones the Future?

There are tons of unanswered questions. How do these types of adaptations change over time? The longest study right now is a few weeks.

Do the processes change in female athletes? That’s one of my big concerns in making any recommendations since metabolic processes can vary based on gender. While more research is needed, Dr. Poffé indicates that past studies likely show that the results can be extrapolated to female athletes. “In a recent, unpublished study,” he says, “we observed that some effects are even more pronounced in females.”

How about aging athletes? Athletes of different levels, with different goals and backgrounds? What’s the right dosage and timing? Would the same responses happen at altitude? Should consumption be periodized? With similar studies, would other interventions lead to similar findings? Should ketones be banned altogether?

I don’t know the answers to those questions, and a lot more studies are needed before I make coaching recommendations other than “be careful” and “keep it simple.”

“Similar to most nutritional supplements,” Dr. Poffé says, “the long term effects (e.g. what occurs if you supplement for multiple years) are not known.” When athletes take ketones, he says instead of taking them chronically, to supplement “during periods of limited recovery opportunities,” like training camps. From a performance perspective, he advises to consider ketones when everything else is sorted out around training, nutrition, and recovery. They are “the final step,” not the first one.

In September, after reading the research, I dusted off that old package of ketones and opened up a serving for myself. Then I threw it in the trash because it seemed like a health hazard after all those years. I ordered a new package and started experimenting with them a couple days a week post-exercise. In October, at the Blue Sky Marathon, I closed the final four miles two minutes faster than last year to set a course record.

That probably had nothing to do with ketones, right? I’m no Olympian, but I train hard. And when looking back on the race and why I could finish so fast while feeling so good, I would be burying my head in the sand not to consider one of the only variables that changed.

I’m not sure what the future holds with post-exercise ketone supplementation. Maybe it’s all snake oil and placebo, with some studies that find physiological anomalies without a demonstration that it fundamentally alters performance trajectories, destined to be covering dust in the pantry of exercise physiology history.

Or maybe we’re seeing the dawn of a revolution in endurance training and performance.

 

(01/14/2024) Views: 177 ⚡AMP
by David Roche (Trail Runner Magazine)
Share
Share

Courtney Dauwalter and Jim Walmsley win 2023 Trail Runner of the Year

Trail running media community Freetrail have announced the winners of the Trail Runner of the Year (TROY), and the epic champions weren’t really a surprise: Americans Courtney Dauwalter and Jim Walmsley, both winners of the 2023 edition of UTMB.

TROY is a global award intended to recognize pro athletes within the sport by ranking their performances during the 2023 racing season. “It’s our hope that TROY will become an annual capstone, celebrating the year in competition,” Freetrail said when they created TROY in 2022.

Traditionally, contests like this one have been country-based, so Freetrail is taking a step toward inclusivity by making the competition international. “TROY is an extension of Freetrail’s mission to elevate the profile of the professional athletes in our sport while helping casual observers and the general public feel connected to their stories – hopefully creating diehard fans in the process,” Freetrail shares on its website.

We had some stellar Canadian athletes on the list, including Ailsa MacDonald of Cochrane, Alta., Edmonton’s Priscilla Forgie, Chilliwack’s Ihor Verys and Montreal’s Marianne Hogan. Americans took the lead, however, after remarkable performances in 2023.

Courtney Dauwalter

Ultrarunner and coach Corinne Malcolm says in the Freetrail announcement that “we are living in the Courtney Era and we aren’t mad about it.” The trail and ultrarunning community witnessed a historic chapter in 2023 as Dauwalter conquered the elusive triple crown of 100-mile races (Western States 100, Hardrock 100 and UTMB 171K) becoming the first person to win all three in one season.

Malcolm captures the essence of Dauwalter’s remarkable journey in 2023 when she says, “We’ve reached peak Courtney.” Before the triple was even an idea, Dauwalter kicked off her season with wins (setting new course records) at Bandera 100K, Transgrancanaria 128K classic, and a record-breaking performance at Western States 100 (WSER).

auwalter’s 2023 season unfolded as an extraordinary narrative of triumphs. Fans watched in awe when she ran to victory at WSER, breaking Canadian Ellie Greenwood‘s long-standing record by 77 minutes, and three weeks later, dominated the Hardrock 100, setting yet another course record.

The unexpected revelation of Dauwalter’s pursuit of the triple crown at UTMB adds a surreal dimension to her already illustrious season. “While she would go on to convincingly win her third world-class 100-mile of the season, completing a triple that will likely never happen ever again, she would also show us she was human, gritting through the final 50 km of the course… Leaving us absolutely speechless in the process,” Malcolm writes.

Jim Walmsley

Walmsley is a beloved fixture in the trail community, known for his immense talent and dedicated work ethic. Fans have followed the evolution of his ultrarunning career. Walsmsley’s journey is one of continuous growth, from three consecutive wins at WSER to a strategic move to Arêches, France, to learn from the likes of Francois D’Haene how to conquer UTMB.

“Just like for many of his mountain colleagues, that would also mean coming into the first spring race of the season off of largely ski fitness,” Malcolm says. “To qualify for the UTMB Finals Jim ran, won, and set the course record at the Istria by UTMB 100-mile race—in the process winning his first 100-mile race that wasn’t WSER.”

While temporarily sidelined with an ankle injury, Walmsley’s determination prevailed as he clinched victory at Trail La Frison Roche and, ultimately, UTMB. Fans watched a nail-biting race, with some doubts as to whether Walmsley would best compatriot Zach Miller, but “a switch flipped at Champex Lac,” and Walmsley secured his win in under 20 hours. Jim’s subsequent triumph at Nice Côte d’Azur by UTMB 100K not only cements his legacy but also earned him a golden ticket to WSER 2024, leaving the ultrarunning community in eager anticipation.

(01/12/2024) Views: 190 ⚡AMP
by Keeley Milne
Share
Share

5 creative ways to unlock your running potential

Every runner seeks the elusive formula for peak performance, and while traditional strategies play a vital role, exploring unconventional avenues can unearth untapped potential. Performance coaches, authors and the hosts of a new podcast called Farewell, Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness, recently shared some innovative ways to tap into your best performance.

These methods, adapted from the training of legendary ultrarunner Courtney Dauwalter, Kona Ironman champ Chelsea Sodaro, and Canadian Olympic champ decathlete Damian Warner, can help you build an arsenal of tools that will allow you to become your best running self, whatever your goals may be. Look Embrace curiosity over fear

In the premiere episode of Farewell, Stulberg interviews ultrarunning GOAT Dauwaulter, whose 2023 season saw her winning the triple crown of ultramarathons (UTMB, Western States 100 and Hardrock 100). Dauwaulter is known for her curiosity-based approach to racing and says that whenever she works her way through a unique challenge, she puts it into her “filing cabinet” of experiences built through more than a decade of running ultras.Consider approaching challenges with curiosity rather than fear.

Dauwaulter’s journey started with curiosity-driven road marathons, leading her to conquer ultramarathons and achieve astonishing feats. When faced with a daunting task, adopt a mindset of exploration, saying to yourself: “let’s just see what happens,” rather than feeling like you must succeed at all costs. The unexpected outcomes might surprise you and expand your perceived limits.Use the power of “yes”

Chelsea Sodaro, the Kona Ironman world champ winner, draws inspiration from a mantra the athlete and her husband taught their daughter when she was going through a “no” phase—“yes, yes, yes.” This simple yet potent affirmation becomes a guiding force during challenging moments. Applying this mantra encourages a commitment to embrace difficulties and lean into the hard aspects of training. The next time you encounter a tough run or race, channel the spirit of “yes, yes, yes” to shift from resistance to resilience.Less is more: subtract to succeed

Stulberg suggests challenging the instinct to add more when faced with a hurdle. Research shows that humans tend to be “adders,” inclined to incorporate new strategies, rather than simply subtracting impediments. When striving for behaviour change, consider subtracting obstacles instead of seeking additional solutions. Reflect on what you can eliminate or modify to clear the path to success, allowing simplicity to fuel progress.Consistency trumps perfect practice

Through several decades of elite competition, Canadian Olympic champion decathlete Damian Warner has learned the importance of consistency over perfection. His coach’s mantra—that there’s no such thing as a bad practice—highlights the importance of routine, unexceptional training days. Warner’s gold medal-winning experience underscores the power of sustained, consistent effort, even when conditions are less than ideal. Recognize that excellence is often built through everyday dedication rather than sporadic extraordinary performances.You are not your thoughts

In overcoming mental health challenges like OCD and anxiety, Sodaro shares a unique strategy—naming her brain (she calls hers Regina, after the character in the movie Mean Girls). By personifying intrusive thoughts, she creates distance between herself and her mental struggles. Runners grappling with mental hurdles can apply this concept, acknowledging that their thoughts don’t define them. Naming and dismissing unwanted thoughts can provide mental clarity and resilience during demanding runs.Ultrarunner Adam Campbell’s tips to master your mid-race mindset” — Canadian Running Magazine

View on the original site.

In your pursuit of optimal running performance, integrating these unconventional approaches can inject a fresh perspective, foster growth, and aid in unlocking your true potential. Remember, innovation often lies in the willingness to explore the uncharted paths of curiosity, affirmation, simplicity, consistency and mental resilience.

(01/07/2024) Views: 125 ⚡AMP
by Running Magazine
Share
Share

Five creative ways to unlock your running potential

Every runner seeks the elusive formula for peak performance, and while traditional strategies play a vital role, exploring unconventional avenues can unearth untapped potential. Performance coaches, authors and the hosts of a new podcast called Farewell, Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness, recently shared some innovative ways to tap into your best performance.

These methods, adapted from the training of legendary ultrarunner Courtney Dauwalter, Kona Ironman champ Chelsea Sodaro, and Canadian Olympic champ decathlete Damian Warner, can help you build an arsenal of tools that will allow you to become your best running self, whatever your goals may be.

1.- Embrace curiosity over fear

In the premiere episode of Farewell, Stulberg interviews ultrarunning GOAT Dauwaulter, whose 2023 season saw her winning the triple crown of ultramarathons (UTMB, Western States 100 and Hardrock 100). Dauwaulter is known for her curiosity-based approach to racing and says that whenever she works her way through a unique challenge, she puts it into her “filing cabinet” of experiences built through more than a decade of running ultras.

Consider approaching challenges with curiosity rather than fear. Dauwaulter’s journey started with curiosity-driven road marathons, leading her to conquer ultramarathons and achieve astonishing feats. When faced with a daunting task, adopt a mindset of exploration, saying to yourself: “let’s just see what happens,” rather than feeling like you must succeed at all costs. The unexpected outcomes might surprise you and expand your perceived limits.

2.- Use the power of “yes”

Chelsea Sodaro, the Kona Ironman world champ winner, draws inspiration from a mantra the athlete and her husband taught their daughter when she was going through a “no” phase—“yes, yes, yes.” This simple yet potent affirmation becomes a guiding force during challenging moments. Applying this mantra encourages a commitment to embrace difficulties and lean into the hard aspects of training. The next time you encounter a tough run or race, channel the spirit of “yes, yes, yes” to shift from resistance to resilience.

3.- Less is more: subtract to succeed

Stulberg suggests challenging the instinct to add more when faced with a hurdle. Research shows that humans tend to be “adders,” inclined to incorporate new strategies, rather than simply subtracting impediments. When striving for behaviour change, consider subtracting obstacles instead of seeking additional solutions. Reflect on what you can eliminate or modify to clear the path to success, allowing simplicity to fuel progress.

4.- Consistency trumps perfect practice

Through several decades of elite competition, Canadian Olympic champion decathlete Damian Warner has learned the importance of consistency over perfection. His coach’s mantra—that there’s no such thing as a bad practice—highlights the importance of routine, unexceptional training days. Warner’s gold medal-winning experience underscores the power of sustained, consistent effort, even when conditions are less than ideal. Recognize that excellence is often built through everyday dedication rather than sporadic extraordinary performances.

5.- You are not your thoughts

In overcoming mental health challenges like OCD and anxiety, Sodaro shares a unique strategy—naming her brain (she calls hers Regina, after the character in the movie Mean Girls). By personifying intrusive thoughts, she creates distance between herself and her mental struggles. Runners grappling with mental hurdles can apply this concept, acknowledging that their thoughts don’t define them. Naming and dismissing unwanted thoughts can provide mental clarity and resilience during demanding runs.

In your pursuit of optimal running performance, integrating these unconventional approaches can inject a fresh perspective, foster growth, and aid in unlocking your true potential. Remember, innovation often lies in the willingness to explore the uncharted paths of curiosity, affirmation, simplicity, consistency and mental resilience.

(01/05/2024) Views: 146 ⚡AMP
by Keeley Milne
Share
Share

Running Through the Night to Confront the Darkness of Substance Addiction

Ultrarunner Yassine Diboun found his own unique way to help those in recovery move through darkness together. It’s working. 

Since 2020, Yassine Diboun has made it a point each year to black out one square on his calendar with a Sharpie.

It’s a gesture to signify that on this day, typically set around the winter solstice, this 45-year-old ultrarunner and coach from Portland, Oregon, won’t run during the day, as he does most every other day of the year. Instead, he’ll watch a movie with his daughter, Farah, or cook a meal with his wife, Erica, eagerly waiting for night to fall. Because that is when the action starts.

Diboun has become a fixture in Portland’s trail running scene, a Columbia-sponsored runner and one of the most electric and positive forces in the U.S. ultrarunning scene today. He is also an athlete in active substance addiction recovery since 2004.

And here, at the confluence of endurance and recovery, is where Diboun enacts an annual tradition in Portland called Move Through Darkness. From sundown to sunup, Diboun runs through the evening, covering a route that connects city streets with trails in Forest Park while accompanied by dozens of other runners.

On December 9, Diboun will start his fourth-annual Move Through Darkness run. It may exceed 70 miles. It may not. That’s not really the point, though in some sense it is, for the more miles he runs, the more pledge-per-mile dollars he gains to funnel into future recovery programs, the very support structures that saved his own life two decades prior.

In 2009, Diboun and his wife moved to Portland, where he pursued a career in coaching. One of the first things Diboun did upon arrival was to connect with the recovery community, which led him to The Alano Club of Portland, the largest recovery support center in the United States.

Diboun’s personal history of substance addiction is circuitous and complicated—documented extensively in Trail Runner, The New York Times, Ginger Runner interviews, and others—but what’s most important to know is that it led him down a path that wasn’t his own. Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) and the 12-step program threw him a lifeline and he white-knuckled it to shore, reinforced by commitments to a plant-based diet and a healthy dose of body movement. (That’s code for running a ton of miles.)

Such discipline brought him to the highest levels of ultrarunning. He’s a four-time finisher of the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run (once in the top 10), a three-time finisher of the H.U.R.T. 100, in Hawaii, and he represented the U.S. at the IAU Trail World Championships in 2015. These accolades sit beside countless ultra wins and podiums.

His success story prompted Brent Canode, executive director of the Alano Club or Portland, to reach out to Diboun in 2018 with a proposition. Diboun had, by then, teamed up with mountain athlete Willie McBride, to start Wy’East Wolfpack in 2012. The business offers group functional fitness programs, youth programs, and personal guidance to get people outdoors and on trails.

Under Canode’s leadership, the Alano Club just launched The Recovery Gym (TRG)—a CrossFit-style facility offering courses for those in recovery, and Canode saw running as a natural extension of this program. He asked Diboun to spearhead a new running portion of the gym. For Canode, though models like the 12-step program were widely available and proven effective, he found the diversity of options for community lacking beyond that.

“What we learned was that a lot of folks don’t attend 12-step programs,” Canode says. “They haven’t found a connection anywhere else, and that’s a matter of life or death for a person in recovery.”

Together, the two started regular informal runs called the Recovery Trail Running Series, which evolved into a more formalized wing of the gym: Run TRG. This program quickly took off, offering evening group runs, outings that would often end in post-run dinners and fun gatherings. The groups grew bigger each week.

“We cultivated this community for anybody in or seeking recovery from substance addiction, and it really picked up some good momentum,” Diboun says.

When the pandemic shut everything down in March 2020, including The Recovery Gym and its new Run program, regulars instantly lost the group’s connection. Many relapsed and started using substances again. A few turned to suicide, including a prospective coaching client for Diboun who had met with him just one week prior.

“I know from personal experience that life can get too overwhelming at times and you get too stressed or overwhelmed and you can’t see anything,” Diboun says. “You can’t see any hope, so you just live recklessly, helplessly. In extreme cases, life can feel not worth living anymore.”

While running one evening by headlamp, Diboun thought about the fragility of hope, the pandemic, the recent suicides, and the ever-increasing need for community. The combination of isolation and mental health decline, paired with an uptick in running popularity during the pandemic (Run TRG, once relaunched, tripled in size), created an opportunity for Diboun to leverage his visibility as both a decorated ultrarunner and someone vocal about his addiction history.

An idea was born: Move Through Darkness.

For one night, sundown to sunrise, he would organize a run to crisscross the city, connecting various trail systems and raising visibility of the mental health challenges entangled with isolation and addiction. It would take place around the winter solstice, the longest night of the year.

The initiative would serve three main purposes: First, it would be a personal pilgrimage for Diboun, a reminder of his own ongoing relationship with sobriety. Second, it would offer another way for those in recovery to come closer during difficult times. And third, the event would raise financial support for the Alano Club of Portland, which serves more than 10,000 people in recovery each year through mutual support groups like A.A., peer mentoring services, art programs, harm reduction services, and fitness-based initiatives like The Recovery Gym and Peak Recovery, Alano’s newest program, which provides free courses in split boarding, rock climbing, and mountaineering. Over the last eight years Alano has won four national awards for innovation in the behavioral health field.

December 2020 was the first-ever Move Through Darkness event. About 30 runners participated throughout the night, joining Diboun in various sections of his sinuous route. Given that the invitation was to run upwards of 100K through the night in some of the worst weather of the year, the turnout was impressive. The group eventually made their way to Portland’s Duniway Track to complete a few hours of loops, encouraged onward by music.

One of those runners that first year was Mike Grant, 47, a licensed clinical social worker from Portland. Grant has been in long-term recovery with substance addiction and understands the initial hurdles of getting out there. During the event, Grant completed his first ultra-distance run by covering 50 miles. He hasn’t missed a Move Through Darkness run since.

This year, he’ll be joining again, in large because of Diboun.

“You hang out with Yassine for any length of time, and the next thing you know you’re running further than you ever have before,” Grant says. “He’s one of those people you just feel better when you’re around.”

The Move Through Darkness route is roughly the same every year, but it always starts and ends at the Alano Club, located in Portland’s Northwest neighborhood. This first year, his daughter, Farah, ran with him from Duniway to the Alano Club, which was a particularly special moment to share.

The fundraising component is a pledge-per-mile model, where you can pay a certain dollar amount for every mile Diboun will cover. All funds go to support the Alano Club, specifically the Recovery Toolkit Series. Other recovery-focused gyms are increasingly available nationwide, but The Recovery Gym is the only CrossFit affiliate in the U.S. designed from the ground up, exclusively for individuals in recovery.

Each week, TRG offers six to eight classes free of charge to anyone in recovery. Every coach holds credentials in both CrossFit instruction and peer mentoring for substance use and mental health disorders. An original inspiration for Run TRG was the Boston Bulldog Running Club, a nonprofit established in 2015 to provide running community reinforcement for those affected by addiction and substance addiction.

According to national statistics released earlier this year, 29 percent of U.S. adults have been diagnosed with depression at some point in their lives—the highest rate since such data was measured. Suicides in the U.S. reached all-time highs in 2022, at nearly 50,000 lives—about 135 people per day lost to self-inflicted death. In 2022, 20.4 million people in the U.S. were diagnosed with substance abuse disorder (SUD).

Oregon, specifically, is rated number one in the country for illicit drug use. In 2020, Oregon had the second-highest alcohol and drug addiction rates in the country, while ranking last in treatment options.

Canode says that, after 40 years of researching addiction and effective recovery, the single most important aspect of recovery success is authentic connection to a like-minded community. That’s why both Canode and Diboun are building an all-hands-on-deck approach to recovery through running, to strengthen connections through movement.

“In recovery, we know how to grind,” he says. “We are naturally great endurance athletes. We also know how to consistently move through darkness, which is especially true in the beginning of someone’s recovery journey. It’s often not rainbows and unicorns and lots of positivity. It’s a grind. It’s grueling.”

Annalou Vincent, 42, a senior production manager at Nike, is one of the many people who have reached out to Diboun from all over the Portland community.

“Finding Yassine and Run TRG saved my life,” she says. After starting a running practice in her thirties, she started feeling better and decided to question decisions like drinking alcohol. She eventually dropped booze and became a regular at the Run TRG. Vincent has worked closely with Yassine to develop and promote Run TRG, and has joined Diboun for various legs of Move Through Darkness over the years.

“I can’t imagine my life or my sobriety without running and this program, says Vincent. “Over the years I’ve seen it change the lives of many others. Move Through Darkness is an extension of that. This program and others like it are saving lives.”

Willie McBride, Diboun’s business partner, supports Move Through Darkness each year and has witnessed its evolution and impact.

“I think people really connect with this project because they understand those dark parts of life, and how challenging they can be. Darkness comes in all different forms,” he says. “But also the very tangible act of running all night, literally putting their body out there—coming together as a group sheds light right into that darkness.”

Diboun is reminded daily of his life’s work, to remain sober and offer his endurance as a gift to others, even when it gets difficult.

“I’m coming up on 20 years sober, but I’m not cured of this,” he says. “This is something I need to keep doing and stay on the frontlines.”

With record rainfall aiming for Oregon in December, this Saturday night calls for a 58 percent chance of rain showers, with the last light at 5 P.M. and the first light around 7 A.M. That’s potentially 14 soggy hours of night running. But this forecast doesn’t cause Diboun any concern. He’s used to it, used to running for hours in the dark, used to being drenched. He’s faced that long tunnel and knows that there’s always light at the end, as long as you keep trudging forward, and best when together.

“You keep passing it on,” he says. “You keep giving it away, in order to keep it. Gratitude is a verb.”

(12/10/2023) Views: 212 ⚡AMP
by Outside Online
Share
Share

Who Is Courtney Dauwalter’s New Ultramarathon Partner? It’s Her Mom.

Here‘s how the Dauwalter duo completed a dream of crossing a finish line together

The last loop was quiet beneath the full moon. Their shuffling feet on the packed, pebble-tossed singletrack punctuated the sleeping Sonoran Desert as the duo moved through shadows of saguaro cactus and prickly pear. Millions of white pinpoints began to appear in the dark sky.

That’s when 66-year-old Tracy Dauwalter, mother of ultrarunner Courtney Dauwalter—who was coming off of historic back-to-back-to-back 100-mile wins of the 2023 Western States 100, Hardrock 100, and UTMB, including two course records—started resharing doubts with her daughter, who kindly reminded Tracy many times throughout the last 13 hours, “that’s not useful thinking, so let’s not think it.”

Occasionally, Courtney would redirect their attention, pointing out this unique section of the course that they’d been past twice before. This time, she built a 60-second container to stuff all those fears inside.

“Tell me all of your doubts and frustrations. You have one minute,” Courtney told her mom. “Once you finish, you can’t complain out loud anymore. It’s not serving us to get to this finish line.”

Tracy spewed all of her negative thoughts, from her rolling stomach to her aching muscles, which was an important reset to get out of the whirlpool of heavy thoughts. I signed up for this, Tracy humbly reminded herself. Nobody’s making me do this.

A dedicated team, the pair was running three loops side-by-side in matching long running shorts, white baggy tees, Salomon hydration vests, and cactus-themed socks, at the Halloween-themed Javelina Jundred 100K race. The ultrarunning event is held the closing weekend of October in the McDowell Mountain Regional Park, an hour northeast of Phoenix, Arizona. Temperatures can climb into the 90s by mid-morning and dip into the low 50s once daylight disappears behind the McDowell Mountain Range.

Now 38 years old and living in Leadville, Colorado, Courtney had participated in the event once before, in 2016, when she was the race’s outright winner. She set the then-course record for the 100K, one of several performances that drew national attention to her astonishing endurance and athleticism.

Tracy, who’d just recently started trail running, had covered ultra-distances at 12- and 24-hour events across flat gravel, but had never before run this far on a trail. They selected Javelina’s rolling 100K with 3,924 feet of vertical gain. The majority of the climbing is packed into the gradual ascent from the Javelina “Jeadquarters” aid station, which serves as the start and finish of the race and basecamp, to the far side of the loop, Jackass Junction.

It was exactly here, at this midway point, after slogging up the final climb over rolling hardened granite and sandy washes, where Tracy had a sticking point. Fortunately, Courtney was there to fill up her water bottles and point out all the tasty options when they reached the runner’s buffet.

“Please keep eating,” she said, as the electronic dance music bumped. A few hours earlier, they enjoyed a surprise pick-me-up of McDonald’s cheeseburgers, delivered by crew masters Dick Dauwalter, Courtney’s dad, and Kevin Schmidt, her husband. But one of the biggest highlights during the race for Tracy was watching Courtney interact and commune with so many people in the trail running community.

“Courtney does this amazing sport, but even more, I adore the person she is. It’s one of my favorite things to watch the love that’s out there for Courtney, and the way she responds. To be in that world with her was really special,” Tracy said. “She was also really kind to me, even when I was frumping and I’d fall down, she’d help pick me up.” Courtney let out a laugh.

“Mom, you only fell one time!” said Courtney, laughing.

“I know, but it was embarrassing,” Tracy said.

While Javelina was the mother-daughter’s debut trail ultra finish, side-by-side, the experience wasn’t their first race together. When Courtney was in high school, the duo finished a rollerblade marathon together in St. Paul. (Rollerblading is a major pastime in Minnesota, where Tracy grew up and still lives today.) Here, she met Dick and raised Courtney, a middle-child to two brothers.

While growing up, Tracy played softball and badminton. In college, she ran cross-country and track. “I’ve always been interested in sports and done them at a level that I could make the team. I was never a star. Being on a team is social and taxes your body while working up a sweat,” she said.

When the kids were interested in soccer, she and Dick organized an adult co-ed squad. Now, she jogs, plays volleyball, and golfs. She and Dick enjoy motorcycle tours, too, like venturing through the Elk Mountains in Colorado. “I’m not great at anything, but I can hold my own, and it’s super fun—I’m willing to do any sport,” she said. The motto was much the same for the kids.

"I thought that it would be so cool to share this sport that I love so much with this person I love so much. I knew she could do it.”

“They could try any activity. But once they committed, they had to see that season through—whether they enjoyed it or not, we were committed. We didn’t miss practices or games. We made sure those were a high priority for them and us. That drove our lives for many years with lots of fun times, but boy, that schedule was crazy—we’d slam-dunk dinner at 4 P.M. so that everybody could get to practice,” Tracy said.

An accountability mindset is one that leads to showing up in other areas of life from work to class to chores, following through on responsibilities and gritting out less desirable tasks. “When things get hard, like college classes, your option is not to quit,” Tracy said. “You dig in a little deeper, get help, and get it done, which is the same with any sport.”

But perhaps their most special ingredient is that the Dauwalters know how to have fun. “Having fun while doing those things is just as important,” Courtney said. “Our family always worked hard, but we play hard, too. All of that combined is what makes life special. Having that be deeply ingrained in who I am helps me in everyday life, but also, for sure, in ultrarunning.”

While watching Courtney grow up, Tracy noticed her daughter had a deep motivation as a person and athlete. One of her earliest memories was two-year-old Courtney, who could barely walk, repeatedly riding a Big Wheel tricycle downhill with a group of kids and insisting she’d wrestle the bike up the hill by herself. As a kid, Courtney and her siblings played soccer, often on the same teams. Later, they ran high school cross-country and track. To fill the winter months, she tried basketball, but she had a propensity to quickly foul out, taking the bench for the remainder of the game.

One day, she came home with a bright idea to Nordic ski instead, which was foreign for a family full of downhillers. They picked up the equipment, Courtney joined a competitive team, and she practiced in nearby school fields. “All she did was wipe out. All the time. Dick and I are thinking, ‘I wonder what this is going to look like?’” said Tracy.

During those foundational years, Courtney would rush home after a Nordic race to report the number of crashes she’d had. “In a 5K, I would be psyched if I only crashed nine times—tripping, planting my poles, tumbling the entire time. I was so bad,” she said.

But Tracy bought a beat-up pair of cross-country skis and started to practice alongside Courtney. “We learned together,” Tracy said. “It was more fun to crash with somebody than to crash by yourself.”

By the time Courtney graduated, she was an all-state runner and had earned All-American honors as a Nordic skier three times. She was a four-time state champion, and her team acquired two national championships. In 2003, Courtney moved west to Colorado, where she raced collegiately on the Nordic ski team at the University of Denver. Three years in, her DU team won 11 meets and the 2005 NCAA Championship.

“Courtney was really good at everything she did, and it wasn’t because she was a natural,” Tracy said. “Anytime she tried a sport, she didn’t have an immediate knack for it, but she hung in there to develop it. She was a hard worker and determined.”

Years later, in 2015, any remaining questions of physical stamina were laid aside—for both Tracy and Courtney, who proved to have a serious knack for endurance. Courtney broke the ribbon at her inaugural ultra race, the 2011 Prickly Pear 50K in San Antonio, Texas, and her curiosity about wanting to run longer continued to grow. The following year, she dropped out of the Colorado’s Run Rabbit Run 100 Mile race at mile 60 with throbbing legs, questioning her ability to cover that much ground in a single push.

Frustrated by not meeting her goal, Courtney registered for her first 24-hour race, the 2013 FANS Ultra Races, a more manageable format than an ultra on singletrack. Her family joined to crew and run laps, providing entertainment and support, including Tracy. They didn’t have much of a background in ultras and were green to any strategy.

Regardless, Courtney wrapped a total of 105 miles on that two-mile gravel loop around Lake Normandale Park in Bloomington, Minnesota, completing her first non-trail century-distance, and gaining confidence. Two months later, she crossed the finish line of the Superior Fall Trail Race 100 Miler in Lutsen, Minnesota, her first 100-mile distance on trail, and stood on the podium for second place.

Moving forward, the FANS Ultra Races became a family tradition. Courtney returned to the 2014 event, besting her first summer with 123.6 miles. Tracy decided, if she was going to crew and run laps with Courtney, she might as well sign up herself.

“She was like, ‘Heck, I’m going to spend the whole day out there anyways. Why not put some time on my feet?’” Courtney recalled.

In 2015, she tallied 109.2 miles while her mom, then 57 years old, covered 66.8 miles. Their annual pilgrimage continued in the 24- or 12-hour format, over the next several summers, coinciding with Courtney’s ultrarunning career picking up steam. She won the 2016 Run Rabbit Run 100 Mile with a 75-minute lead, and along with the title, the world’s largest ultra purse: $12,000.

By the summer of 2017, she retired from her position at the Girls Athletic Leadership School in Denver where she taught science and coached cross-country. “In an interview a few years ago,” Courtney said. “I was asked if I could run an ultramarathon with anyone in the world, who would it be? ‘My mom,’ I said. I thought that it would be so cool to share this sport that I love so much with this person I love so much. I knew she could do it.”

In an interview a few years ago, she was asked, if she could run an ultramarathon with anyone in the world, who would it be? “My mom,” she said. “I thought that it would be so cool to share this sport that I love so much with this person I love so much. I knew she could do it.”

Tracy heard the recording and, despite having never run on trails, she immediately called her daughter. “Let’s do it. I heard you want to run an ultra, so let’s sign up for something,” she said to Courtney. “If someone puts a challenge in front of me, it can even be pretty insane, and I’m a sucker for trying to rise to that challenge.” In addition to the competitive spark, the invitation felt sentimental.

Committed to doing an ultra together, they accepted that it might be a winding road to get there. The two picked the 2022 50-mile Superior Fall Trail Race in Lutsen. Mid-route, they missed the cut-off. Tracy shrugged and shook her head recounting the unfinished event. Courtney refused to let the DNF be a negative thing. “You learned so much in that first summer, mom,” she told her. “Dialing in all of those pieces helped immensely this year. And we decided, we’re not done. We still need a finish line together.”

As soon as registration opened in January, the duo signed up for the 2023 Javelina Jundred 100K. “I was nervous coming into this race because I was bouncing off of that epic fail of the first 50-miler we tried, which was a wake-up call. You have to prepare yourself,” said Tracy.

“It was not an epic fail,” Courtney countered.

That winter, Tracy clocked workouts on a treadmill. From April onward, she ran outside four or five days a week for 10 to 20 miles. Courtney researched singletrack trails around Lone Lake, which her mom became excited to explore. One of the biggest challenges of learning to run on trails is her tendency to shuffle and trip, Tracy confessed. Building confidence, she finished the Willow 20 Miler in May and Afton Trail Run 50K in July. Like her daughter, Tracy didn’t keep a close log of her mileage, and her training was not systematic.

Courtney’s advice, true and simple, rang in her mind: Spend time on your feet.

“People asked me if I coached her. Absolutely not,” Courtney said. “I did try to be helpful—harping on testing nutrition, wearing a pack so that her body gets used to one, and hiking uphills—so her race day could be much better. She was the one putting in the work and figuring out routes where she could do laps or get on hills. I admired from afar.”

“It helped that Courtney kept reminding me, ‘This was our run together, our race, and it could look however we could make it.’ If I crawled, that wouldn’t be disgusting. It got ugly, then it got not ugly,” Tracy added.

Staying lighthearted, Courtney countered, “It never got ugly. There was never a doubt that we would make it to the finish.”

Fortunately, the elation did come around. Next to her daughter, Tracy crossed the finish line of Javelina Jundred 100K in 17 hours and 38 minutes with a smile in the glowing lights, after staying up into the night running, eating, and sharing pain—but mostly, laughing—with her daughter. They’d gone full circle together, both on the circuit they’d traveled in the desert as well as in life.

“I think you beat me by, like, a half-second, mom,” Courtney said.

“I know,” Tracy bantered back. “I think I was really needing to be done, so I rushed with a half-second sprint.”

(12/03/2023) Views: 178 ⚡AMP
by Outside Online
Share
Share

Canadian ultrarunner Priscilla Forgie loves this super-quick soup

It can be tricky to fit both healthy eating and regular running into an already jam-packed schedule, especially during the holiday season. This lightning-quick soup recipe, a favorite of Canadian ultrarunner Priscilla Forgie, is full of nutritious vegetables (easily tailored to your taste), with a lentil protein boost and lasagna noodles to up your carbohydrate game. It’s the perfect meal-in-a-pot to cook up in mere minutes after a nippy winter training session.

Forgie, an Edmonton-based ultrarunner, is coming off a stellar 2023 season, with a top-ten finish at Western States 100, and 12th place at CCC (100K) by UTMB. She enjoys experimenting with plant-based recipes (Forgie is vegan) to fuel her adventures, and for this soup, notes: “I always add extra nutritional yeast for added cheesiness.” While the recipe comes together in moments in an Instant Pot (or other pressure cooker), it can easily be made on the stovetop and left to simmer (leave the noodles out until shortly before you are ready to eat).

Instant Pot Lasagna Soup

(adapted from Vegan Richa)

Ingredients

1 tsp oil

1/2 onion chopped

1 cup chopped veggies (can be a combo of peppers, carrots, zucchini or whatever you prefer)

1/4 cup red lentils (uncooked)

1 cup tomato puree (or marinara or tomato sauce)

1-1.5 cups diced tomato

2 tsp Italian seasoning (1 tsp basil, 1/2 tsp oregano and parsley, with a generous dash of thyme/sage and rosemary)

1/4 tsp each onion powder, garlic powder

1/2 to 3/4 tsp salt (use less if there is salt in the tomato sauce)

2 cups water or veggie broth

5 oz lasagna sheets, broken into small pieces (or pasta of choice)

Black pepper and red pepper flakes to taste

1 Tbsp nutritional yeast

1 cup packed spinach (optional)

Directions

Heat oil in Instant Pot on sauté mode. When hot, add onion, garlic and a pinch of salt. Cook for two minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add veggies and stir in. Add red lentils, tomato purée, tomato, salt, Italian seasoning, onion powder and garlic powder and mix in. Add lasagna sheets and water or broth, mix in well (use smaller pieces for the Instant Pot).

Close the lid and pressure cook on manual high for three minutes. Let the pressure slow-release for 10 minutes, and if there is still pressure left in the pot, manually release it carefully to open.

Mix in the black pepper, pepper flakes and nutritional yeast. Taste and adjust salt and flavor if needed.

Fold in the spinach if using. Let sit for a few minutes before serving, and add vegan cheese (or regular cheese, if you prefer) for a more lasagna-like flavor. Enjoy!

(11/27/2023) Views: 252 ⚡AMP
by Keeley Milne
Share
Share

America’s Oldest Continuously-Held Ultramarathon Is Only Looking Forward

After 60 years, the JFK 50 Mile Race is sticking to its community-centered approach, and people keep showing up

Mike Spinnler cries nearly every time he recounts memories as a runner and long-time race director of the JFK 50, the oldest continuously run ultra in the country.

Such memories include the time he first ran the iconic Maryland race when he was 12 years old, or the year he cheered on his 60-year-old wife as she crossed the finish, or memories of watching his two sons racing. For him, this race is a member of the family.

In 1993, five years after his tenth JFK finish, Spinnler became the race’s second race director, where he’s been ever since. By then, he’d set the course record (5:53:05) in 1982, and added another win in 1983, for a total of five top-five and six top-ten finishes.

Thirty years later, it’s still his pride and joy. He’ll immerse in the magic of the event again on Saturday, November 18, as more than 1,000 runners take the journey through the historic route that’s so dear to his heart.

“It just keeps growing in its prestige,” he says.

The JFK 50 started in 1963, the same year President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. The president had instituted a public health program to improve the nation’s fitness, supporting the launch of a series of 50-mile races around the country. But as years went on, the only one that stuck around was the JFK 50.

“Kennedy’s mission was this: Improve your physical fitness, improve your lifestyle, improve your country,” says Spinnler. “We heeded his call and have been doing it for 60-plus years.”

The JFK 50 course is located about an hour northwest of Washington D.C., covering traditional lands of the Indigenous Massawomek and Shawandassee Tule (Shawanaki/Shawnee). One of the race’s primary appeals is that it’s a horseshoe-shaped, point-to-point course with three distinct sections: The Appalachian Trail (miles 0-15), the Canal/Tow Path (miles 15-42), and the rolling finish (miles 42-50).

The race starts in Boonsboro, Maryland, follows a few miles of paved roads before connecting with the Appalachian Trail (AT), where the course climbs more than 1,000 vertical feet in five miles, crests to the high point, and follows rocky singletrack before dropping 1,000 vertical feet halfway into the race (mile 14.5), to connect with a flat marathon distance along the C&O Canal Tow Path. The last several miles are rolling country roads, where it finishes at Springfield Middle School in Williamsport.

In 2019, Seth Ruhling, an unsponsored athlete, showed up to the JFK 50, slept in his car the night before, and won the race in a blistering 5:38:11, his debut 50-miler. Within hours of winning, he sealed a sponsorship with The North Face.

Ruhling, 29, now lives and trains in Boulder, Colorado, and he’ll be returning for his second JFK 50. Since Ruhling’s 2019 win, he has made a name for himself with a sixth place finish at the Pikes Peak Marathon in 2021, second place at Montana’s Rut 50K, first place at the Broken Arrow Skyrace 46K, and most recently, sixth at CCC 100K during the week of UTMB in Chamonix, France.

In 2020, JFK 50 was one of the only races in the country that didn’t shut down with the pandemic. Ruhling had planned on racing, but got injured. “I always wanted to go back,” he says.

Ruhling was particularly drawn into this year’s race because of its deep field of registered elites, which had at one point included 2023 Western States winner Tom Evans, Matt Daniels, Adam Merry, and Sean Van Horn—all of whom have since dropped.

His strategy for the mixed course, which requires technical trail chops as well as fast road turnover, is to attack every single section. He says that, while the JFK 50 is known more as a “track race,” it’s a mistake to discount the early trail miles. “The record is going to happen on the towpath, sure, but only if it’s set up with efficient running on the AT section,” he says.

(11/19/2023) Views: 299 ⚡AMP
by Outside Online
Share
Share

30 Hours at Javelina Jundred, the Burning Man of Trail Running

Inside the spectacle of ultrarunning’s most festive top-tier 100-mile race

It’s a hot, sunny Saturday afternoon in the desert northeast of Phoenix, and Lindsay DesRochers is being chased by a dinosaur—as if 85-degree heat, a creaky left knee, and a hot spot on her right big toe aren’t enough to worry about during her first attempt at running 100 miles.

The 44-year-old senior creative recruiter from Scottsdale is 41 miles into the Javelina Jundred, and she also has to contend with a Tyrannosaurus rex who’s making her giggle. The dinosaur is, in fact, local trail running legend, Jerry Bloom, who is sweating and gasping for air inside an inflatable costume that’s kept afloat with a tiny battery-operated fan. He is dressed up as the dino-in-residence and runs alongside DesRochers briefly as she finishes the second loop of the five-lap course before sitting down to refuel and rehydrate in her crew tent.

“The problem with this thing isn’t the heat. It’s just that there’s no oxygen in here. If you run very far, you get oxygen deprivation,” says Bloom, 70, a three-time Western States and Hardrock 100 finisher who’s also run Javelina twice. “For me it’s all in good fun to support Lindsay. I’ve given up trying to be fast a long time ago. But what I’ve learned is that it’s not how far you go and it’s not how fast you go, it’s how you look while you’re doing it.”

Welcome to the Javelina Jundred—the biggest, wildest party in the trail running world.

It’s pretty obvious that the Javelina Jundred is the zaniest event in trail running and, to be frank, nothing even comes close to this dusty desert cavalcade of curiosities. It’s not quite the Burning Man of running, but it might just be better because, first and foremost, it’s a legit ultrarunning event.

More than 850 enthusiastic runners toed the starting line at 6 A.M. to begin the five-lap 100-miler, and about 400 more began the three-lap 100K an hour later. There’s also a single-loop, 19-mile nighttime race called the Jackass Night Trail for about 200 runners that includes a wild DJ’ed party at the Jackass Junction aid station and finishes as the Saturday night revelry is still going strong back at the race compound.

But because Javelina always happens on the weekend before Halloween, there’s a natural party vibe and a non-mandatory-yet-compelling reason for runners, pacers, and support crew to wear costumes. And, let’s face it, Halloween gives everyone license to fly their freak flag, so when you mix that with ultrarunning, just about anything goes. Only here it’s known as Jalloween.

This year’s most popular dress-up themes seem to be tropical and western, but, almost predictably, there are quite a few Barbie and Taylor Swift cosplayers, as well as a few heavy metal rock stars, glow-in-the-dark skeletons, and several very creepy clowns. Dozens more runners race through the desert wearing bunny ears, fox tails, and devil horns.

“This is a safe space for everyone to have fun in their own unique way,” adds Dan Gampon, a Hoka sports marketing representative from Hawaii. “It’s a fun way to give the people a chance to be weird and bring a part of themselves that they might have been wanting to bring out, and give them the opportunity just to have fun anyway they want to.”

Some crew tents are decorated with accouterments to match a particular theme, but most feature colorful holiday twinkle lights, camping chairs, sleeping bags, and coolers full of adult beverages. While there’s a stash of fancy engineered nutrition supplements and electrolyte drinks in every tent, there’s also the widest range of healthy and not-so-healthy snack food you can imagine. (I’m looking at you, guy simultaneously drinking a Red Bull and eating a handful of marshmallow Peeps.)

The Javelina staff and volunteers are fully into the Jalloween theme, too, especially race director Jubilee Paige, who dons several costumes during the 30-hour event—including getups she calls Race Director Barbie, Weird Barbie, The Dude, Cousin Eddie, Chef’s Kiss, and A Macaroni Penguin. She once again ends the event dressed as the Pope—a.k.a., “her Joliness”—because she considers Sunday “Jallelujah Javelina,” a day of celebration.

The Javelina Jundred was founded in 2003 by Phoenix ultrarunner Geri Kilgariff as an irreverent, party-oriented run on a multi-loop course, and gradually gained regional and then national popularity as word spread through the ultrarunning community about how much fun it was. Local ultrarunner Jamil Coury took over as race director in 2008. The next year he started Aravaipa Running, a Phoenix-based company that bought and now owns 75 other running events in Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, and New Hampshire.

Despite increased popularity and significant growth, Coury, Paige, and the rest of the Aravaipa crew have been able to maintain Javelina’s grassroots experience while growing it to about 1,500 runners in three events with at least that many pacers, crew, and family members hanging around the race compound. In many ways, it represents the best of both where trail running has been, but also where it could be heading.

“The race was born from a fun spirit of running with friends and looping in the desert—shout-out to Geri Kilgariff for her creation of the event in 2003,” Paige says. “But as it’s evolved, we saw opportunities to elevate the race to an ‘event’ experience for runners and crews—an ultra festival—the music and lights and entertainment just enhances that experience. However you experience Javelina, I just want you to have fun!”

As the sun begins to set, several top competitors in the 100-miler are scattered out on the remote sections of the course in hot pursuit of four Golden Ticket entries into next summer’s Western States 100. (Two tickets each for the men’s and women’s races.) That includes Boulder, Colorado, runner Jonathan Rea, who is back after a second-place finish a year ago, and—with newfound confidence from a fourth-place finish at the CCC 100K in Chamonix, France—is tearing up the desert trails on course-record pace. Triathlete-turned-ultrarunner Heather Jackson, who splits time between Bend, Oregon, and Tucson, Arizona, also takes it out hot, hoping to make up for a frustrating fifth-lap fade last year after unbearable quad pain reduced her to a walk and forced her to settle for a fifth-place finish in her 100-mile debut.

Earlier in the day, Denver’s Rajpaul Pannu and San Francisco’s Anna Kacius made quick work of the less-competitive, three-lap 100K race, finishing first and second overall, respectively, and setting new men’s (7:15:53) and women’s (8:13:07) course records in the process, while winning by more than an hour over their nearest competitors.

Ultrarunning GOAT Courtney Dauwalter from Leadville, Colorado, is out there, too, but she’s not racing for the win. She’s running the 100K with her mom, Tracy, a 66-year-old avid trail runner from Edina, Minnesota. They attempted a 50-miler in Minnesota last fall, but were timed out before the finish, so this year they chose the big party race in the desert where Courtney set a course record in 2016 before she became a household name. They’re not in costumes, but they’re running as Team Bucket List and wearing matching white shirts, cactus-themed socks, and olive-green-and-black shorts.

Because runners constantly revolve through the turnaround point at the start/finish area, everyone else is always on the move throughout the race compound. Some are drinking craft beers and mingling as they wait for their runners, while others are watching the race livestream on their phones or from the jumbotron in the Javelina Jeadquarters circus tent. Still others are devouring freshly cooked artisan pizzas made to order in the Freak Brothers Pizza mobile brick wood-fired oven.

Rousing cheers and applause catch everyone’s attention every few moments as an elite runner arrives—including the ever-smiling Jackson, who quickly heads out on her fifth and final lap with a 30-minute lead in the women’s 100-miler.

“Heather is just amazing,” says Troy Brown, 48, a trail runner from Coto de Caza, California. “She’s always smiling. I’m just a fanboy, but I like anyone who can smile that much through pain.”

After Jackson runs out of sight, Brown quickly shifts his focus to getting his feet into an inflatable T-Rex costume so he can participate in the costume contest, an informal event that brings out a sheriff riding an inflatable rooster, Minnie Mouse, a foursome of Teletubbies and, of course, several dinosaurs. There’s also a guy dressed as Aladdin wearing a large golden lamp around his waist who is joined by a scantily clad Jasmine character who not-so-discreetly rubs the lamp in a Not Suitable for Work (NSFW) scene that draws both raucous laughs and shocked gasps from the crowd.

One of the best dressed-up groups of the event is a foursome of women from California’s Healdsburg Running Company: Dominique Chevalier (“Western Barbie”), Krista Kappus (“Alien Barbie”), Saddie Alloway (“Rootin’ Tootin’ Diva Barbie”), and Susan Oh (“Disco Bob Ross”). But the costume contest winners are the Montana Mermaids, a bikini-and-grass-skirt trio from Bozeman—Lena Romeo, Kara Haskell, and Liv Bleskin—who were there to crew and support elite runners Rachael Norfleet of Montana in the 100K and Utah’s Ryan Montgomery in the 100-miler.

The sun begins to set, but the party’s just getting started as DJ Colter Stillwell pumps tracks through the sound system as a full moon rises in the eastern sky. One of the rowdiest dancers is Brendan O’Hara, a Colorado trail runner who’s dressed up in a red-and-white mouse outfit with flashing lights similar to what popular Canadian electronic musician Deadmau5 wears on stage. As lots of energized runners entered in the Jackass race are about to head out into the night, two professional fire dancers perform a mesmerizing routine adjacent to the start line.

Just after dark, Rea comes flying into the finish area, stopping just short of the finish line to pantomime deadlifting a colossal barbell before crossing the line in a new course record of 12:43:10. Seattle runner Blake Slattengren stopped the clock next in 12:58:07 to claim the second Golden Ticket, while Montgomery ran another strong race to take the final podium spot in 13:01:14.

Redeeming herself from last year, Jackson finishes strong to win the women’s race and finish sixth overall, thanks in part to the aggressive pacing of Devon Yanko. Jackson’s time of 14:24:47 is the second-fastest women’s time ever behind Camille Herron’s 14:03:23 course record from 2021. Spain’s Ragna Debats (14:55:27) outran Riley Brady (15:29:17) to earn the second women’s Golden Ticket.

Not long after midnight, the Dauwalters finish, too. Covered in dust, sweat, and even a little bit of blood—Tracy took a tumble on the first lap early the previous morning—they cross the finish line after 17 hours of running with big smiles and hug in a classic mother-daughter moment. Late Sunday morning, DesRochers makes it to the finish line, too, in 27:31:41, battling hard to overcome dehydration, an upset stomach, and nagging hip flexor pain at various points during the race.

“I was prepared for it to be hard, and I knew I was going to hurt. At some point, I was like, Oh, right, this is what running 100 miles feels like,” DesRochers says. “It was difficult, but I kept my positive mental attitude the whole way. I have a buddy who has a saying, ‘Forward is a pace,’ so I kept repeating that and kept putting one foot in front of the other and I didn’t quit.”

Something that’s especially apparent at Javelina is that everyone is celebrated as an equal, regardless of finishing times, trail running experience, athletic ability, age, or any other dissimilar details. The event goes out of its way to create an environment that promotes visibility and inclusion for everyone, and the community of participants seems to embrace it by cheering and encouraging for everyone the same.

It has partnered with Native Women Running, Latinos Run, and Black Men Run each of the past several years to bring their runners to the race, and it was also one of the first ultra events to offer a non-binary category. This year there were six non-binary runners racing over its three races, led by Willow Dolde in the 100-miler (20:01:29), Andreas Anderson in the 100K (13:54:30), and Tasha Hartwig in the Jackass 31K (6:42:07). (Although Brady, a non-binary runner from Boulder, was competing in the women’s division because they were racing for a Golden Ticket, they were also, unofficially, the top non-binary runner in the race.)

As the golden hour comes and goes early Sunday afternoon—and final finishers Holly Sitzmann,  Jim Buckley, Brittany Edmiston, and Leslie Astle squeeze under the 30-hour cutoff with help from their pacers and crew—it’s clear that everyone at Javelina is celebrated equally and enthusiastically. That also includes two unofficial finishers—Rayna Rodriguez and Tatiana Orozco—who complete the 100-mile course just outside of the time cutoff, but are welcomed by a scream tunnel of remaining spectators and the adulation of Paige even though neither will receive a finisher’s buckle.

“Javelina is a celebration, and the invitation to run and participate at Javelina extends to everyone,” Paige says. “I want to ultimately show how amazing the community is and that this sport is for everybody and every body—the spirit of ultra is diverse and should be celebrated.”

(11/05/2023) Views: 269 ⚡AMP
by Outside online
Share
Share

Courtney Dauwalter completes 100K race with her mom

After her historic year in ultra-trail, how could Courtney Dauwalter possibly squeeze in another success this season? The answer, it seems, was to add another Dauwalter.

The American trail-running legend, who in 2023 became the first athlete to win Western States, Hardrock 100 and UTMB in the same season, realized her long-held goal of completing an ultramarathon with her mother, as she and Tracy Dauwalter crossed the finish line of the 100K course at Arizona’s Javelina Jundred this weekend.

The Javelina 100K course consists of three loops that take runners through trails northeast of Phoenix. The route features rolling singletrack through the Sonoran Desert, leading past giant saguaro cactus and granite boulders in and around McDowell Mountain Regional Park.

The elder Dauwalter crossed the finish line in 17 hours, 38 minutes and 33 seconds, one second ahead of Courtney. The Dauwalter duo just cracked the top 100 in the 100K women’s division, landing in 98th and 99th place. They finished in 180th and 181st place overall among the 100K’s 301 finishers.

Before the pair toed the start line Saturday, Courtney shared in an Instagram post that it has been a “dream” of hers to run an ultramarathon with her mother.

“Last year we tried a 50 mile race together in Minnesota but got cut off for time. We decided that was just one part of our story together and are now back trying to get that sweet, sweet finish line,” she wrote.

While crossing the finish line was a triumph for the mother-daughter team, the overall effort was a fuller family affair, with Courtney’s husband, Kevin Schmidt, and her father, Dick Dauwalter, crewing the duo.

“Kevin and my dad are back on crew duty so I have no doubt we’ll be plenty taken care of,” wrote Courtney.

A subsequent Instagram post showing the mother and daughter celebrating their accomplishment drew a long list of commenters sharing their congratulations—and more than a few remarks about where the younger got her famously winning smile.

“It’s not hard to see where @courtneydauwalter gets her awesome smile from,” wrote one wellwisher. Added another: “Who the heck is their dentist?”

It was also an unforgettable race for the 100K’s top finishers. Topping the men’s podium in the 100K race in 7:15:53 was Rajpaul Pannu, who broke the course record set last year by Scott Traer (7:31:46). Anna Kacius, the top women’s finisher, placed second overall in 8:13:07, beating the course record set last year by Lotti Brinks (8:36:01).

Jonathan Rea ran 12:43:10 to break the 100-mile course record set last year by Dakota Jones (12:58:02).  Heather Jackson won the women’s 100-miler in 14:24:47.

 

(11/01/2023) Views: 354 ⚡AMP
by Paul Baswick
Share
Share

Australian ultrarunner makes history by racing UTMB and Ironman World champs

Ultrarunner Lucy Bartholomew made running and triathlon history on Sunday, becoming only the second woman ever to finish the 171-kilometre Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB) as well as the Ironman World Championships in the same year.

Bartholomew ran remarkably well at both events, taking a tenth-place finish at UTMB in 27:39:22, and completing what was only her second Ironman in 10:43:41, with a 3:31 marathon time.

The double–nearly 400 kilometres of challenging racing–has only been conquered by one woman before Bartholomew: Ireland’s Diana Hogan-Murphy, in 2014. Bartholomew is also the fastest person of any gender to have completed both events in the same year.Bartholomew shot to fame in the ultrarunning world in 2018, when she was the third female at the Western States 100. The runner shared on social media that she lost some of the joy in racing in the years following her WSER podium, and after her 2022 race ended in a DNF, she wasn’t sure if she’d race 100 miles again.

“You show up (almost) every day to run so that you can run even more on the race day, finish and not be able to run, only to want to run, and then run to aid in the recovering of the running and to prepare for more running,” Bartholomew explained. “To take myself out of this cycle I decided to tick a bucket list idea to do an IRONMAN triathlon. It was a ‘one day, someday’ objective that I pulled forward to help pull me out of feeling stuck.”Bartholomew’s first Ironman, in Western Australia in December 2022, qualified her for the Kona World Championship event in Hawaii.

While the runner had only planned to complete one Ironman, she felt she couldn’t miss the opportunity to race in Hawaii. “Not being one who steps down from a challenge, it seemed right to go one more,” she said.

“I’ve swum, biked and run my way to fantastic recovery from UTMB and moderate triathlon fitness for Kona,” Bartholomew said pre-race. “It was a fun, fine balance to play with these two big events so close to each other.”

 

(10/21/2023) Views: 286 ⚡AMP
by Running Magazine
Share
Share

He Qualified for Team USA. Then Came the Bill.

Even as trail and ultrarunning explode, the spoils of professionalization aren’t spread equally across the sport. Athletes on this year’s U.S. 24-hour team are looking to change that

Scott Traer qualified for his first U.S. national team more than a decade ago in 2012. He was new to the sport and naive about what it took to compete at the international level—even after being selected as one of the country’s best athletes in the 24-hour discipline, a niche tributary of trail and ultrarunning where athletes complete as many laps around a track as possible within 24 hours.

While the 24-hour race format may seem eccentric, well-known names like Courtney Dauwalter, Kilian Jornet, and Camille Heron have dabbled in the ultra-track scene. International governing bodies regulate the discipline with USA Track & Field (USATF), the national governing body for track and field, cross country, road running, race walking, and mountain-ultra-trail (MUT) disciplines, overseeing the American contingent. 

Traer, then 31, was working odd construction jobs in and around Boston to make ends meet while training when he got the call from USATF that he had been selected for Team USA.

“I was really excited,” says Traer. “Then, I found out that I had to pay for everything. So I was like, ‘Forget about it.’” 

That financial reality took the wind out of Traer’s sails. He didn’t have the disposable income to foot the bill for international travel and didn’t have paid time off from his jobs. While he was disappointed that he wouldn’t get to represent his country in 2012, he was still determined to pursue his dream of chasing a career in coaching and racing. 

Now, Traer, 42, is a full-time coach living near Phoenix and working with the Arizona-based event organization Aravaipa Running as an assistant race director. He has earned top accolades in the sport, including a course record at the Javelina 100K and a Golden Ticket to Western States at the Black Canyons 100K, eventually leading to a top-ten finish at the Western States Endurance Run. 

True to his blue-collar roots, he is known for racing in unbranded gear, typically a long-sleeve, white SPF shirt unbuttoned and flapping in time with his stride. Ten years after making his first 24-hour team, he re-qualified for the opportunity to compete for the U.S. again, this time for the 2023 IAU 24-Hour World Championships in Taiwan (which international sports federating bodies officially refer to as Chinese Taipei), on December 2. 

The catch: USATF is only providing a stipend of $600 to Team USA athletes.

Oregon ultrarunner Pam Smith has competed on Team USA seven times in the 24-hour and 100K world championship events. Now, she’s serving as the Team USA manager to help steward the next generation of ultra athletes. But that passion has come at a cost. 

“I estimate I’ve spent around $10,000 in personal funds to be able to compete at the world championships and to represent the USA at these events,” says Smith, 49, who finished fourth at the 2019 IAU World Championships in France. “USATF does pay for the manager’s travel expenses, but there is no other compensation; in fact, the managers have to use their own funds to cover some fees, like membership dues and background checks.”

It might surprise fans of the sport that many of their favorite athletes are paying significant money to sport the red, white, and blue uniform—and that many can’t compete because they cannot shoulder the cost. The U.S. is known for strong 24-hour runners, and the men’s and women’s teams both won gold at the previous IAU 24-Hour World Championships in 2019 in Albi, France, with two individual podium spots. 

“The U.S. has many of the best 24-hour runners in the world,” says Smith. “It’s a shame that these athletes don’t even get their airfare covered.”

While Smith’s airfare is covered, her work and that of her colleagues is presumed to be done on a volunteer basis. (A quick online search shows a flight to Chinese Taipei from most U.S. cities costs in the $1,500-$2,400 price range.)

Trail running, particularly the elite side of the sport, is at an inflection point. While some races dole out prize money, and a select few athletes at the top of the sport command respectable salaries, most runners at the elite level rely on a scattershot combination of brand partnerships and personal funding to float their racing. While the sport’s very best athletes are well compensated professionals, most “sponsored” trail runners earn between $10,000 and $30,000 per year. Between travel, gear, nutrition, and other expenses, many runners at the elite level are fronting their own cash to compete. 

When Chad Lasater qualified for Team USA after a strong run at the Desert Solstice 24-Hour Race, he hadn’t planned on making the team. But, when he found out he’d qualified, he started looking into the logistics and was shocked to discover he’d be responsible for paying his way to Taipei. 

“The cost of airfare, lodging, food, and time away from work can be significant, especially when traveling to somewhere like Taipei,” says Lasater, 51, from Sugar Land, Texas. “I feel that everyone should have an equal opportunity to be on the U.S. team, and the cost of traveling to the world championships should not preclude anyone from accepting a spot on the team. We should really be sending our best 24-hour athletes to the world championships, not the best athletes who can afford to travel.”

Teams that rely on individual brands or athletes to foot the bill will prefer runners with sponsorships or disposable income and can afford to take time off work and pay for childcare. 

At the top of the sport, like the world championships, it’s routine to see completely unsponsored runners competing with no brand affiliation, especially in the eccentric realm of 24-hour track events. Even some sponsored runners don’t always get their travel expenses covered. 

While a world championship event is certainly a big deal, it doesn’t command the same fanfare and media attention as other marquee events, like the Western States Endurance Run or Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc, where many brands prefer to focus their resources. 

Jeff Colt, a 32-year-old professional ultrarunner for On who lives in Carbondale, Colorado, publicly debated the merits of returning to Western States in California this year or competing in the 2023 World Mountain and Trail Running Championships in Austria in early June. (The trail running world championships and 24-hour world championships are different events, but the Team USA athletes who compete in each one face similar challenges when it comes to funding and market value to brands.) He ultimately decided to claim his Golden Ticket and compete at States. More eyeballs on the event mean a higher return on the investment for running brands, which in turn elevates athletes’ value to their sponsors 

“My sponsor, On, was clear that they supported my decision either way, but they were more interested in me running Western States,” says Colt. “And rightfully so. There’s a lot of media attention at races like States and UTMB, which allow brands to activate and get visibility for their logo. That support feels good as an athlete, too. It’s not just better for the brand.”

Nike has an exclusive partnership with USATF; all athletes competing at any world championship event in the mountain-ultra-trail disciplines (as well as the Olympics and World Athletics Championships for track and field and the marathon) must wear Nike-issued Team USA uniforms that are provided to the athletes free of charge, with the exception of shoes. Any photos or videos of professional runners at these events are less valuable to competing running brands because their athletes will appear bedecked in another company’s logo. This disincentivizes many brands from investing in unsponsored athletes’ travel expenses and limits athletes’ ability to get financial support, most of which currently comes from shoe and apparel brands in the trail running industry. And if athletes cannot compete because of illness or injury, they must return parts of the kit. Even if they keep the kit, many sponsored runners’ contracts prohibit them from training and racing in the gear, so it gathers dust at the back of their closets. 

Arizona runner Nick Coury, preparing to compete on his third U.S. 24-hour team, says this contract limits the economic opportunities of unsponsored athletes—partially because it disallows an athlete to place another sponsor’s logo on the Nike gear. 

“This is especially upsetting to many because Nike provides large sums of money to USATF for this arrangement, yet neither passes through significant support to national teams despite USATF being a nonprofit aimed at ‘driving competitive excellence and popular engagement in our sport,’” says Coury, 35, from Scottsdale, Arizona. “USATF is taking money from Nike, restricting elite athletes to fund themselves through sponsorship, and doing little to nothing to encourage a competitive national team.”

One athlete, sharing anonymously, reported selling parts of their Nike kit to help offset travel expenses. “It’s the same kit [100-meter and 200-meter track and field superstar] Noah Lyles wears, so it’s super valuable.”

Traer thinks it’s unfair that athletes are forced to wear Nike gear and render free labor supporting a huge company, especially when the 24-hour team isn’t fully funded. Lyles, an Adidas athlete who won the 100-meter dash at this year’s World Athletics Championships in Budapest, had to wear Nike gear while warming up and racing, too. But his travel and expenses were paid in full by USATF, and his Adidas relationship benefits because track and field stars get considerably more exposure than ultrarunners. Furthermore, in track and field, the world championships serve as a prelude to the biggest running event on the calendar, the Olympics, which take place every four years and attract an expansive viewership that reaches far beyond hardcore running fans.

“It bothers me because Nike is making a huge amount of money,” Traer says. “I don’t want to hear that there isn’t enough money to support athletes because I see smaller brands in our sport that have less money doing a much better job supporting athletes.” 

Nancy Hobbs is the chairperson of the USATF Mountain and Ultra Trail Running Council, the division of USATF that oversees the U.S. 24-Hour Team. Her executive committee has been discussing more equitable distribution of funds. Initially, funding was based on the number of years the championships had been held and how many athletes were attending. 

Ultimately though, it comes down to the relatively small amount of Nike money that USATF allocates to the USATF MUT Running Council.

“With a certain amount of money in the budget, we could choose to send fewer athletes (i.e., just a scoring team with no spares in case of injury, etc.), but the council discussion has been on the importance of fielding a full team with some additional athletes for attrition and providing more athletes an opportunity to compete internationally (provided they qualify for the team based on selection criteria),” says Hobbs. 

Though the compensation for mountain-ultra-trail athletes may feel low, it is significantly higher than in the past. In 1999, a mere $250 was distributed to each MUT subcommittee, totaling $750 for all 1999 expenses. In 2013, MUT teams received $25,000 in funding for travel. This year, $83,000 was distributed across all of the teams it sends to international championships for MUT disciplines. 

“We’ve come a long way with MUT since 1998,” says Hobbs. “We have more work to do. This is a volunteer-driven group which is passionate about our sport and trying to provide athletes opportunities through championships, teams, and programs within the structure of USATF.”

Coury qualified for his third U.S. 24-hour team in 2021 and broke the American 24-hour record. He’s had to fund his travel out of pocket for all three international appearances. He says the lack of funding limits the team’s ability to compete on the world stage. 

“I’ve found it extremely challenging to train for a 24-hour event while holding a full-time job, as have others, and I know I haven’t and won’t hit my personal potential as a result,” says Coury. “We’ve seen an explosion in the competitiveness and interest in trail races, and part of that is the ability for ultrarunners to make a living as professional athletes. We see very few runners in the 24-hour space who can go professional, which reflects in our team’s competitiveness.”

While Team USA won both gold medals in 2019, international competition is escalating. Coury says opening up additional funding would help draw elites and strong amateurs alike to try their hand at the 24-hour format, which would help Team USA’s standing on the world stage. 

“Athletes like Courtney Dauwalter and Camille Herron have represented Team USA multiple times and been key to our results,” says Coury. “Yet I am certain they must weigh training, qualifying, and representing Team USA against the sponsorship opportunities in trail ultrarunning, where financial support is much greater. I imagine there would be more interest from some of our most capable athletes if we had a better financial story around the team, providing a path for it to fund an athlete’s career instead of costing out of pocket. Given the prospects of making a living at a trail race versus paying to represent Team USA, I’m positive we’re discouraging some of our best athletes from even wanting to try.”

In previous years, Team USA has resorted to raising money through bake sales and selling T-shirts to raise funds for the team’s travel expenses. Past team captain Howard Nippert made and sold ice bandanas to support the team. This year’s captain Smith is hosting fundraising dinners. Coury says that the ultrarunning community has stepped up to support the team where traditional funding has failed. 

“It reminds me in some ways of the amateur athlete situation back in the 1970s, where representing your country came at a significant financial burden and really made athletes reconsider it,” says Coury. “Why isn’t USATF making it desirable to train and compete for Team USA? Why is it seemingly doing the opposite?”

The 24-hour team is at a crossroads: either it will receive adequate funding and support to send the best team possible to the world championships, or it will maintain this status quo while Team USA falls further and further behind on the international stage. Traer has launched a petition on Change.org to draw attention to the funding issue and is determined to sound the alarm about how a lack of funding holds athletes and all of Team USA back. 

“No one should have to decide that they made Team USA but can’t afford to pay to wear their country’s flag,” says Traer. “If an athlete earns their spot on the team, they should get the support they need to compete. End of story.”

(10/07/2023) Views: 309 ⚡AMP
by Outside Online
Share
Share

New prison marathon documentary chronicles San Quentin's 1,000 Mile Club

26.2 To Life, by San Francisco filmmaker Christine Yoo, documents the story of the San Quentin Marathon–a marathon that takes place every November inside the walls of a maximum-security prison, and which, for several men, has represented a path to rehabilitation and a new life. The film opens in U.S. theatres on Sept. 22.The club, which evolved sometime after a small group of volunteer coaches were given permission to start a running club in the prison 16 years ago, is called the 1,000 Mile Club–the idea being that interested inmates could rack up 1,000 miles during their period of incarceration.

The club’s leader is volunteer coach Frank Ruona, a veteran of 78 marathons (including many Boston Marathon finishes) and 38 ultras. Other regular volunteers include Western States Endurance Run board president Diana Fitzpatrick and popular ultrarunner Dylan Bowman.The film documents the 2018 San Quentin Marathon, which involves 105 laps of the prison yard–a combination of gravel, pavement and dirt, with six 90-degree turns in each loop. Twice, that year’s marathon was delayed–once by wildfires in the area, and once by deaths in the prison due to drug overdoses. Sometimes the race itself is interrupted by alarms. When an alarm sounds, everyone in the yard must drop to the ground. The first time an alarm sounds during the 2018 marathon, the men are sitting on the ground for seven minutes.

Then the race resumes.As he does every year, the club’s fastest runner, Markelle Taylor (nicknamed “The Gazelle”), won the race. As it happened, Taylor’s sentence was commuted the same year, and he went on to run the 2019 Boston Marathon as a charity runner, finishing in 3:03–a nearly seven-minute personal best.

San Quentin is a Level 4 maximum security prison, and many of the men depicted in the film are serving life sentences for murder. Each describes what led to their incarceration, but Ruona says he’s not interested in their crimes–he will lend an ear if an inmate wants to talk, but he does not ask what brought them to San Quentin. He is simply there to help–and to be a witness to the transformative power of running to change lives that are sometimes without hope. “I just feel like I am my brother’s keeper,” Ruona says, citing an Old Testament verse about Cain and Abel. “If he needs help, I’m gonna try and help him.”At the time the film was made, another runner, Tommy Wickerd, had been sober and gang-free for 18 years, and had recently completed his high school diploma. He applied for a commutation of his sentence, but never got a response.

His earliest possible release date is in 2053; he will be 86 when he gets out. But he’s philosophical. His wife, Marian, is determinedly loyal, and he has a son with whom he has a strong relationship. “If I keep running, I’ll be all right,” he says.

26.2 To Life opens in theatres in New York City, the San Francisco Bay area, Los Angeles, Milwaukee and Seattle on Sept. 22, and there will be a 72-hour virtual premiere from Sept. 29 to Oct. 1. There are currently no screenings scheduled in Canada, but we’ll provide updates if that changes. For more information, consult the film’s website, here. 

(09/16/2023) Views: 1,127 ⚡AMP
by Running Magazine
Share
Share

2023 UTMB Women’s Race

Was there actually any doubt that American Courtney Dauwalter (pre-race interview) would actually win UTMB? If her performances throughout the summer were any indication, it would have been foolish to bet against her. After winning and setting course records at both Western States 100 and Hardrock 100 earlier this summer, this win might just be the cherry on the cake, or the cerise sur la gateau, as the French would have it.

The legend of the sport led from the early miles, and in typical Courtney fashion, smiled and joked her way to the win with a time of 23:29:14.While Emma Pooley, of Switzerland, led for the initial kilometers of the race, it didn’t take long for Dauwalter to move to the front. Sporting her trademark smile and happily interacting with volunteers at aid stations whenever the opportunity presented itself, Dauwalter simply makes it look good.

The top three women, Dauwalter, Pooley, and France’s Blandine L’Hirondel, came into Les Contamines, 32 kilometers into the race, within seconds of each other. It would be the last time we would see the front of the race together, as by Col du Bonhomme, 12 kilometers later, the gap between Dauwalter and second-place Manon Bohard Cailler, of France, was nearly 10 minutes. L’Hirondel and Chiina’s Fu-Zhao Xiang (pre-race interview) came through another two minutes later. Germany’s Katharina Hartmuth (pre-race interview) came over the dark col another five minutes in arrears. The situation remained essentially unchanged through Les Chapieux at 51 kilometers and Lac Combal at 69 kilometers, except the gaps were growing. 

Nearly 10 hours into the race, Dauwalter came through Courmayeur at 81 kilometers, not even bothering to stop at the aid station. Bohard continued to keep the gap manageable at 18 minutes, but it was really starting to look like another runaway victory for the American for the top step of the podium. But the race for the rest of the top spots was just starting to get interesting. L’Hirondel and Xiang remained close in third and fourth, just a few minutes back of Bohard, and Hartmuth continued to lurk another 20 minutes back. This early in the race, there were still many within striking distance. Coming through Refuge Bertone at 86 kilometers, the top five remained unchanged and Canada’s Ailsa McDonald, Poland’s Katarzyna Solińska, the U.S.’s Sabrina Stanley and Leah Yingling, and Claudia Tremps of Spain filled out the top 10. 

Somewhere before Arnouvaz at kilometer 99, Bohard took a fall that would ultimately take her out of the race. She entered the aid station walking gingerly, but was determined to keep going. This development opened up podium possibilities even further, and Xiang and L’Hirondel continued to run together at Grand Col Ferret, 50 minutes behind the ever-steady, smiling, and happy Dauwalter. Hartmuth was just 15 minutes off a podium position. 

With the arrival of Saturday morning came renewed spirits for many. Dauwalter arrived to sun at La Fouly running 26 minutes under her own course-record pace. L’Hirondel and Xiang came in just under 50 minutes back, but now there was daylight, in the form of a couple of minutes, between the women. Hartmuth remained in fourth, 65 minutes down, Solińska in sixth, Yingling in seventh, and Spain’s Maite Maiora came through in eighth looking relaxed and focused. Stanley remained in the top 10. Bohard finally succumbed to injuries from her fall and would withdraw from the race.

By La Giète, 130 kilometers in, the gap between Dauwalter and second place was over an hour, but the fight between the rest of the top five remained tight. Xiang moved into second and Hartmuth third, just minutes apart, as L’Hirondel began to feel the distance and time in her legs and dropped back. Solińska and MacDonald continued in fourth and fifth, running together almost two hours behind Dauwalter and nearly 50 minutes behind second and third places. Things remained relatively unchanged at Trient at 144 kilometers. Dauwalter looked good, Xiang was 66 minutes back, and Hartmuth was a mere minute behind her. Solińska and MacDonald followed another 50 minutes back, with Maiora trailing them by 15 minutes.

With victory seemingly all but assured for the American, the battle for the other two podium spots started to get heated on the closing climbs and kilometers. Through Vallorcine at the base of the final major series of climbs, Hartmuth moved up into second after biding her time the entire race, now seven minutes ahead of third-place Xiang and fourth-place L’Hirondel, a further nine minutes back. Maiora led Solińska in fifth and sixth just under two hours behind the leader. 

Near the top of the final climb at Tête de Béchar, 161 kilometers in, it was Hartmuth in second, 56 minutes down. L’Hirondel moved into third 15 minutes back and Xiang kept the pressure on for the final podium spot, trailing by just four minutes. The next gap to Maiora remained about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, Dauwalter made short work of the final descent to the finish line in Chamonix, finishing in 23:29:14 and completing the ultimate trifecta of ultrarunning, winning the Western States 100, Hardrock 100, and UTMB all in one year. “Anytime you have a chance to take on a crazy challenge, I think we should,” she said afterward.The battle for the final two podium spots didn’t let up until the very end. Coming through La Floria, just four kilometers from the finish, Hartmuth led L’Hirondel by a mere nine minutes, and both women looked strong all the way to the finish. They would finish just over 40 minutes behind Dauwalter, Hartmuth in second at 24:10:52. L’Hirondel, the multi-time trail world champion, finished in third at 24:22:50 for her debut 100 miler.Xiang would fade away from podium contention in the final kilometers but held on for an incredible fourth-place finish, improving on her seventh place in 2022. But really, the excitement of her race finish was only added by receiving a marriage proposal on the finish line. Having met her now-fiancé — she said yes! — four years ago at UTMB, the proposal really was a perfect ending to her race. 

Maiora finished fifth, an impressive result after her DNF in the race in 2021. 

(09/03/2023) Views: 465 ⚡AMP
by Eszter Horanyi I run far
Share
North Face Ultra Trail du Tour du Mont-Blanc

North Face Ultra Trail du Tour du Mont-Blanc

Mountain race, with numerous passages in high altitude (>2500m), in difficult weather conditions (night, wind, cold, rain or snow), that needs a very good training, adapted equipment and a real capacity of personal autonomy. It is 6:00pm and we are more or less 2300 people sharing the same dream carefully prepared over many months. Despite the incredible difficulty, we feel...

more...
Share

Jacquie Mannhard, JP Giblin take the honors at Leadville 100

Americans Jacquie Mannhard and JP Giblin took the spoils at the Leadville 100 with two exhilarating performances at the race in Colorado, USA. The pair dominated the women’s and men’s races respectively – each winning by a comfortable distance.

Mannhard completed the 100-mile out and back course in a time of 21:24:55, finishing almost two hours ahead of her nearest rival. Giblin, runner-up in 2022, crossed the line first overall in a time of 17:07:25, over 40 minutes ahead of Luke Paulson in second.

Both victors were some way off the course record times set by Matt Carpenter (2005, 15:42:59) and Ann Trason (1994, 18:06:24).

Magnificent Mannhard

The Boulder-based ultra runner, who is at home in the Colorado mountains having won the Kessel Run Ultra (60KM) in November, 2022, produced a strong performance to set a time of 21:24:55 – the slowest women’s time since 2010. Despite that fact, she was the class of the field taking the win by one hour, 51 minutes and 56 seconds.

Second over the line was fellow American Lucie Haines. Haines had enjoyed a pair of victories in Colorado Spings in May and June winning the Valkyrie Trail Race (50K) and Ring the Springs (100K). But at Leadville she was unable to keep apace with Mannhard as she finished in a time of 23:16:51.

Canada’s Madeline Wighardt denied the Americans a clean sweep on the women’s and men’s podium by finishing third in a time of 23:32:57. The 22-year-old finished second in the Quebec Mega Trail (QC) 110K race in 2022 as she starts he fledgling career.

Colleen Noonan was next over the line – another who has enjoyed 2023 success in the state. The American won the North Fork 50 Mile/50K at Buffalo Creak and Chase the Moon 12-hour Solo. Noonan had to settle for bronze at Leadville, however, as she finished over two hours behind Mannhard in a time of 23:33:57. Carrie Stafford (23:48:50) was fifth over the line just under the 24-hour mark.

Glorious Giblin

Another Colorado-native took the victory in the men’s race as Giblin topped the podium. The 29-year-old, who finished 18th at Western States in June as well as second at Bandera 100K in January, finished in a time of 17:07:25.

He was followed over the line by Luke Paulson (17:47:55). The 31-year-old, who won the Yamacraw 50K in Kentucky in May, was 40 minutes and 30 seconds off the pace.

Scott Tarer was third over the line in a time of 17:54:12, just six minutes, 17 second further back. The 42-year-old won the Crown King Scramble 50K in May and finished 15th at Western States in June. He is a previous winner of the Javelina Jundred, the Hennepin Hundred and the Vermont 100.

Great Britain’s Ry Webb finished fourth in a time of 18:38:13 – an hour and a half behind the race winner. Webb has +800 rating on the UTMB Index won the 2021 Lakes in a Day 50 miler, Patrick Cabe (19:34:54) rounded off the top five.

 

(08/21/2023) Views: 500 ⚡AMP
by Stuart Dick
Share
Leadville Trail 100 Run

Leadville Trail 100 Run

The legendary “Race Across The Sky” 100-mile run is where it all started back in 1983. This is it. The race where legends are created and limits are tested. One hundred miles of extreme Colorado Rockies terrain — from elevations of 9,200 to 12,600 feet. You will give the mountain respect, and earn respect from all. ...

more...
Share

Canadian trail superstar Priscilla Forgie shares plant-based tips and treats

Edmonton’s Priscilla Forgie is one of the hottest names in Canadian ultrarunning right now, and she has a wealth of knowledge about training and fuelling. The top Canadian at the epic Western States 100–miler in July (Forgie finished in eighth place), Forgie has taken the podium in a startling number of races in the past year, including first at the Squamish 50-mile and 50/50 (50 miles and 50K) a second-place finish at Canyons Endurance Run, plus an overall win at the Near Death Marathon, where she set a course record.

Forgie eats a plant-based diet and has some great tips for those of us who are looking to move toward plant–based fuelling.

“One of the biggest things I’ve learned with plant-based baking and cooking over the years is to stay curious and don’t be afraid to try new things,” she says. “Plant-based options do not need to be complex,” Forgie adds, and says being open to modifying recipes is key. “Be gentle with yourself, have fun, and fuel your body well.”

Quick plant-based meals and snacks

“These are all on-the-go meals full of protein and nutrition and are all delicious,” says Forgie.

Tempeh or chickpea salad sandwichesEdamame with salt and pepperPopcorn with coconut oil, salt and nutritional yeastHummus with veggies or crackersAir-fryer tofu bites

Oat bake with raspberries

“This is a recipe I’ve created over the past year, and it provides so many variations that I never get sick of them,” she shared. “I have the flexibility to use what I have in my pantry any given week.” Feel free to mix it up and use what you have in these delicious healthy treats.

Base

Mix the following together in a large bowl:

2 cups of oats (large flake or quick)1 tsp baking powder1 tsp cinnamon1/2 tsp salt (regular or sea salt)2 cups of milk (soy, almond, coconut, hemp)1/4 cup maple syrup (or brown sugar, agave, mashed bananas or applesauce)2 Tbsp of flax or chia seeds3 Tbsp of melted coconut oil (can substitute applesauce or mashed banana)

Add-in options (can also use any of the following as toppings after pouring into dish)

1/3 cup raisins or chocolate chips2 cups frozen fruit, sliced bananas or thinly-chopped apples1-2 scoops of desired protein powder1/2 cup of chopped walnuts, pecans, peanuts or a combo2/3 cup coconut flakes6 Tbsp cocoa powder

Directions

Pour into an 8×8, 9×9 or 11×7–inch greased baking dish (a muffin tin also works) and bake at 350 F for 35 to 45 minutes or until the top is golden.Can drizzle maple syrup, chocolate or brown sugar on top after baking. Allow to cool, slice and serve.Great to freeze for future adventures.

(08/16/2023) Views: 427 ⚡AMP
by Keeley Milne
Share
Share

Montreal ultrarunner Mathieu Blanchard to join star-studded UTMB field

Montreal’s Mathieu Blanchard has confirmed he will toe the start line at Ultra Trail du Mont-Blanc in two weeks, joining an elite lineup that organizers of the 171-km race are billing the strongest elite field since the race began 20 years ago.

Blanchard will be vying for his third consecutive podium finish in Chamonix on Sept. 1. He ran last year’s race in 19 hours, 54 minutes and 50 seconds to finish a close second behind Spain’s Kilian Jornet, who ran 19:49:30 for a new course record. In 2021, Blanchard finished third behind French runners François D’haene (20:45:59) and Aurélien Dunand-Pallaz (20:58:31).

In June, Blanchard ran 15:37:02 to finish sixth in his Western States Endurance Run debut. He told Canadian Running after the race that Western States presented a uniquely difficult challenge: “I pushed through, I fought hard, my body was super painful like never before,” he said, adding he was proud to earn the “mythic buckle” awarded to Western States winners.

Among the giants of trail running Blanchard will be up against at UTMB is British runner Tom Evans, who ran the fourth-fastest time in Western States history (14:40:22) to win this year’s men’s race, and who finished behind Blanchard at last year’s UTMB to place third (20:34:35).

“I’m incredibly enthusiastic about the idea of taking part in the UTMB this year,” Evans recently told UTMB. “I’m coming into the event in a much better position than last year when I was fresh from a knee operation. The race is so full of history and for the 20th anniversary, I want to be part of the story by doing a Western States 100 Endurance Run and UTMB double. It’s a big challenge and with the strength of the peloton, it won’t be easy, but it’s a contest I’m looking forward to and believe I can achieve.”

In addition to Jornet, this year’s men’s field will see the return of American Jim Walmsley, who finished fourth in last year’s race (21:12:12) and who has held the Western States course record (14:09:28) since 2019.

Other notable entries in the men’s field include Swiss runner Jonas Russi (winner of the Lavaredo Ultra Trail by UTMB 2023), fellow Swiss runner Jean-Philippe Tschumi (who shared victory at the 100K Trail 100 Andorra by UTMB with the American Ben Dhiman) and Sweden’s Petter Engdahl.

Arguably the most compelling storyline from this year’s UTMB will be American trail running phenom Courtney Dauwalter‘s quest for the triple crown following her resounding victories at Western States (where she ran 15:29:33 to smash the 16:47:19 course record set by Canadian Ellie Greenwood in 2012) and Hardrock 100 (where she set a new course record in 26:14:08). The Golden, Colo.-based runner won UTMB in 2019 (24:34:26) and again in 2021, when she set the current women’s course record (22:30:54).

She stands to face fierce competition from an elite field that includes New Zealand’s Ruth Croft (who finished second at Western States last year), Germany’s Katharina Hartmuth (winner of this year’s Eiger Ultra Trail by UTMB), Italy’s Martina Valmassoi (winner of the 2022 TDS in Chamonix) and Hungary’s Eszter Csillag, who finished fifth at last year’s UTMB.

(08/16/2023) Views: 372 ⚡AMP
by Paul Baswick
Share
North Face Ultra Trail du Tour du Mont-Blanc

North Face Ultra Trail du Tour du Mont-Blanc

Mountain race, with numerous passages in high altitude (>2500m), in difficult weather conditions (night, wind, cold, rain or snow), that needs a very good training, adapted equipment and a real capacity of personal autonomy. It is 6:00pm and we are more or less 2300 people sharing the same dream carefully prepared over many months. Despite the incredible difficulty, we feel...

more...
Share

New to Pacing? Three Expert Running Pacers Share Their Best Practices.

acing at long distance running events is common in North America, but it can also be intimidating. Here are seven essential tips from veteran ultra athletes. Emily’s stomach had definitely gone south. She couldn’t keep anything down, vomiting every few steps. Her pacer Buzz Burrell, a fixture in the ultra scene, had encouraged various forms of nutrition and drink with a side of optimism—it’s just a rough patch, aid station’s in a half-mile, the sun will be up soon. After all, that was his job, right? To lend the moral, emotional, and logistical support Emily needed to get to the finish line.

But when the hurling continued, he got out a flashlight and inspected the latest effluent. “It was blackish red, like a stomach lining,” he noticed. “And that’s when I said to my runner: ‘You know, I don’t think we ought to do this.’”

While that scene might be uncommon, it’s an example of the dire scenarios a pacer might encounter during an ultra-distance race. A pacer may need to be prepared to play all sorts of roles in service of helping a runner achieve their goals, even if it means knowing when to call it quits. They can be cheerleaders, drill sergeants, nutritionists, aide-de-camps, trail doctors, raconteurs, and comedians. It’s an art, one that requires close communication between pacer and runner.

While pacing is uncommon in European ultras (it’s not permitted in UTMB races, for example), it is a frequent feature in the U.S. Both on the track and in marathons, pacers are in from the start and step off somewhere halfway, but those who are pacing an ultra usually pick up their runner after the halfway point and accompany them for some or all of the last part of the race.

Some purists argue that the psychological advantage of having clear-thinking, uplifting company in the later stages contravenes the spirit of the endeavor, while others find it a way for friends or family to share in what might otherwise be a time-consuming and self-centered undertaking.

The practice of pacing originated as a safety precaution—race directors didn’t want runners to get lost or collapse out on the trail alone. The 345 percent increase in participation in ultras over the last twelve years guarantees that, while some runners are very experienced, there’s also an influx of neophytes who could benefit from the company of a pacer. And yet, at the same time, there’s a contingent who have never worn a pacer bib.

For those new to pacing, or some of us who have been thrown into the fire to pace a friend without any guidance, here are seven essential insights on the art of pacing from a few of the sport’s veteran pacers. Unsurprisingly, these three pacing pros are also experienced ultrarunners. In fact, it’s been suggested that pacing is an excellent way to learn the tricks of the trade before signing up as a competitor.

After interviewing these three experts, several themes emerged on what to expect when pacing a runner, and how to prepare and execute on your responsibilities:

Buzz Burrell: “You might be trudging along while your runner is throwing up, but I put a different spin on it. As a pacer, I’ve skipped the first 50 miles of the race, which means I’m feeling good, walking into aid stations, eating sandwiches. I haven’t paid a thing for this race! As a pacer, I can enjoy the beauty of the course. This runner might be a dear friend of mine, and I want to help him, but I’m also a free food kind of guy.”

Justin Grunewald: “I think the most common reason is to help someone you care about conquer their demons, and get from point A to point Z. For me, Tyler [Green] is a friend, but he’s also hugely accomplished. I learned so much from him by pacing, I think I could take 30 to 60 minutes off my time from what I learned from pacing.”

Nicole Bitter: “To be a part of a loved one’s attempt at achieving a goal, that’s almost better than if I did it myself. Some people can’t run 100 miles or don’t want to—pacing is a way to share in the experience. A lot of people find fulfillment in pacing, maybe more so than racing.”

BB: “This is critical. It’s not just two friends saying ‘Let’s go for a run together.’ First, discuss goals. Talk about possible scenarios.”

JG: “We talked about Tyler’s objectives. He’d finished second and fourth at States in past years and was completely overlooked as a top finisher this year, so he really wanted to go for it. He had dropped his pacer before, so he wanted someone who could go 32-33 miles. We talked about his intricate cooling routine and how it was going to go at aid stations.”

NB: “It’s critical to understand your runner and what makes them tick. I love to talk when I have a pacer. I want them to tell me funny stories, what happened earlier in the day. Some people don’t want to talk; they’re just in the zone.”

BB: “Be well-fed and well-hydrated, and know when your start time will be. Never become part of the problem; don’t be a liability. Know the pacer rules, like no physical assistance. Usually “muling”—carrying your runner’s food or gear—is not allowed, though it is at Leadville, so be aware of the rules. Know the course, the aid stations, and cut-off times.”

JG: “At Western States, cooling is 15 percent of the race, so everything had to go right at aid stations. Typically, about a half-mile out from an aid station, I’d ask what he wanted to drink. I’d get Coke, ice cubes, water in one bottle, Tailwind in the other.”

NB: “Make sure you and your runner are a good fit, that you’d want to spend some time with this person. Be confident you can cover the distance you’ll be pacing easily. Take care of yourself or you won’t be equipped to pace.”

BB: “It’s unlikely your runner will be feeling great. They may be sick. They may be on a bummer. It might be hot or stormy. I tell first-timers: ‘You feel bad. So does everybody else. This is what it looks like.’”

JG: “They might be too mentally fatigued to know what they need. Tyler told me his arms were numb, which told me he needed electrolytes. Hyponatremia and dehydration are really tricky to differentiate, but, in my experience, they almost always need more electrolytes.”

NB: “Expect the unexpected. You don’t know what could happen. You might not even get the chance to pace if your runner drops out. Keep a positive outlook, and be a problem-solver.”

BB: “The first-time runner needs stability, support, and mild encouragement. Remind them to start eating and drinking 45 minutes into it. Don’t wait until your stomach starts to go. The veteran probably knows this so you can get into actual pacing, behind or in front of them, moderating the ups and downs. For someone who just wants to finish, concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other.”

JG: “Normally, Tyler takes it out slower and picks people off, but this time the theme was ‘no regrets,’ so I reminded him of his objectives, of who he is, of how proud his family will be. He ran in front of me so I wouldn’t distort his view of rocks and roots.”

NB: “It’s nuanced. My husband is competitive so I usually talk about how we need to catch that runner in front of us. The hunt mentality. Or if we need to pick it up, I joke, ‘Wow, are you keeping up with me?’ Some races, like Western States, are dialed in to the tech, and can feed the pacer info on how far ahead or behind their runner is.”

BB: “‘It’ll be fine’ is our mantra, as long as it’s just a mental or emotional low. You can always come back from that. I’ve had runners say, ‘I’m out. I can’t do this.’ I have them sit down, take some deep breaths, let their heart rate come down. Heck, you can take 30 minutes at an aid station, change your socks, and march back out.”

JG: “I told him [Tyler Green] he was looking great. He hit a rough patch, so we focused on hiking 10 steps, running 10 steps. Relentless forward progress. I’d tell him things like, ‘In 800 meters there’s a downhill.’ Late in the race, no one wants to eat, so I kept thinking of what’s going to sound good, to get in some calories.”

NB: “My husband is usually in the zone, not talking, but he enjoys when I tell him stories and point out nice views.”

BB: “Personally, I’m always going to protect my runner’s health first. Finishing is second. There are thousands of stories of people getting through awful circumstances, but I’m not going to encourage them to go on if I think it’s damaging to their health.”

NB: “In the 2016 Western States, my pacer called my day. I had hyponatremia and we didn’t feel it was safe. It’s good to have a close friend make those tough calls.”

Being a good pacer is perfect training for becoming an accomplished ultrarunner. All of our expert pacers routinely switched roles in their many years in the sport. And for those new to the sport, pacing is a great way to dip your toes before actually signing up for a long-distance race. Regardless of whether you ever intend to go the full distance or not, the many roles of the pacer make for a rich, fulfilling experience.

(08/05/2023) Views: 299 ⚡AMP
by Outside Online
Share
Share

Courtney Dauwalter to race UTMB this year

The U.S. ultrarunning phenom, hot off her record-breaking finishes at Western States and Hardrock 100, will be looking to best her own course record in Chamonix in September.

Ultrarunning sensation Courtney Dauwalter has announced she’ll be toeing the start line at Ultra Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB) in Chamonix, France on Sept. 1, setting the stage for what is sure to be one of this year’s most highly anticipated ultras, following her recent record-breaking wins at the Western States 100-mile Endurance Run and the Hardrock 100.

The 38-year-old shared on social media Friday morning—with an apparent mix of excitement and trepidation—her decision to take on the famed 170-km course, which features 10,000m of vert around the base of Mont Blanc.

“We decided to do UTMB!” she wrote. “I have no idea how this will go, or what I’ll be able to squeeze out of my body & brain in one more 100 mile race this summer, but that makes it even more interesting to try! Mont Blanc, here we come! Race date: Sept 1”

The big question surrounding the September race will be whether Dauwalter, who holds the UTMB course record following her 22:30:54 finish in the race two years ago, will be able to best herself to claim the championships and course records at Western States, Hardrock and UTMB within a span of less than three months.

On June 24, Dauwalter not only demolished the Western States women’s course record that had stood for more than a decade (16:47:19 set by Canadian Ellie Greenwood in 2012), but beat most of the men, finishing in 15:29:33 and sixth overall.

Just three weeks later, she turned in another mind-blowing performance at the Hardrock 100 in Silverton, Colo., crossing the finish line in fourth place overall in 26:14:08. Dauwalter’s run was more than an hour faster than the counter-clockwise record set by Diana Finkel of South Fork, Colo., in 2009, and 30 minutes faster than Dauwalter’s own overall women’s course record set last year.

In addition to holding the course records at UTMB, Western States and Hardrock 100, Dauwalter, who is based in Golden, Colo., holds the record at Diagonale des Fous on Reunion Island.

 

(07/28/2023) Views: 378 ⚡AMP
by Paul Baswick
Share
North Face Ultra Trail du Tour du Mont-Blanc

North Face Ultra Trail du Tour du Mont-Blanc

Mountain race, with numerous passages in high altitude (>2500m), in difficult weather conditions (night, wind, cold, rain or snow), that needs a very good training, adapted equipment and a real capacity of personal autonomy. It is 6:00pm and we are more or less 2300 people sharing the same dream carefully prepared over many months. Despite the incredible difficulty, we feel...

more...
Share

Don’t tell me what’s impossible – Tom Evans confirms UTMB is up next

Tom Evans has announced that he will run at this year’s Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB) after a late alteration to his 2023 plans.

The British runner claimed a “dream” victory at Western States last month to add to his “super fun” Ultra-Trail Snowdonia win in May and second place at Black Canyons 100K in February.

Evans crowned his return from knee surgery to finish third behind Kilian Jornet at last year’s UTMB, but had not scheduled in the iconic Chamonix race for 2023.

Western States recovery

His race calendar for this year, which he shared on Instagram in January, included a Fastest Known Time (FKT) attempt of the Bob Graham Round in September, but there was no mention of UTMB following Western States.

However, after his dominant win in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains, a defiant Evans suggested that UTMB could still be on the cards.

“If I recover well from this, I’ll race UTMB this year,” Evans said at the end of adidas TERREX’s documentary on his Western States win.

“People have said it’s impossible to do. Don’t tell me what’s impossible or not.

Irresistible challenge

Over the next three weeks, Evans’ recovery clearly went to plan and yesterday he revealed that he was unable to resist the allure of UTMB, which takes place next month.

“Couldn’t resist the chance to make more memories like this,” he wrote on Instagram. “See you in Chamonix!

“Next up… UTMB.

“The Western States 100 / UTMB double is something that has always interested me. It wasn’t on my original plan but things have to change with how you’re feeling!

“And now, I can’t wait for the challenge!”

(07/27/2023) Views: 358 ⚡AMP
by Olly Green
Share
North Face Ultra Trail du Tour du Mont-Blanc

North Face Ultra Trail du Tour du Mont-Blanc

Mountain race, with numerous passages in high altitude (>2500m), in difficult weather conditions (night, wind, cold, rain or snow), that needs a very good training, adapted equipment and a real capacity of personal autonomy. It is 6:00pm and we are more or less 2300 people sharing the same dream carefully prepared over many months. Despite the incredible difficulty, we feel...

more...
Share

Three things ultra beast Courtney Dauwalter can teach all runners

Courtney Dauwalter has been stunning the ultratrail world over and over: not only does she keep winning every race she runs, but she’s been obliterating course records and beating almost all of the men. On Sunday, the Leadville, Colo.-based athlete annihilated the Hardrock 100 course record, finishing an incredible fourth place overall, only three weeks off setting a blistering new Western States 100 record. Here’s what you can learn (no matter your distance of choice) from the way Dauwalter trains and races.

1.- Run with joy and gratitude

It sounds simple, right? Running and racing should make us happy, but training can all too easily get filed as a chore on an endless to-do list. Dauwalter exudes joy and gratitude when she races, no matter the day or situation. Dauwalter is known by competitors and fans alike for the big smile she shares with everyone on the course. 

She effusively thanks volunteers and takes time to ask how her crew is doing. She high-fives all the little kids. On the Some Work All Play podcast, coach and ultrarunner David Roche asked Dauwalter what she would like her legacy to be. The trail phenom answered with her trademark humility and graciousness: “In general? That I made people smile and laugh and have a good time.”

Most of us won’t win a course record at a world-renowned event, but we can embody Dauwalter’s attitude in our own training and races. Checking in with others, savouring the fun of moving our bodies, and that simple thing, smiling, will make everything feel a little bit easier and a lot more fun.

2.- Adjust your training according to how you are feeling

Dauwalter has no coach, doesn’t follow a strict training plan, and goes by feel. She’s clearly perfected the art of self-awareness over time, but there’s a takeaway there for all of us. Even though it can be incredibly helpful for runners to follow a program or have guidance while they train, keeping a reserve of flexibility and using self-check-ins can help the regular runner optimize their performance.

“There are so many ways to train, enjoy, and go after running goals. Having a training plan, using devices and analyzing data, or not doing any of those things, are all great options,” Dauwalter recently explained to trailrunnermag.com “I think it depends on the person and how they find joy. But I also think there is no downside to occasionally leaving the watch at home and heading out the door for a run where you just listen to your body and not worry about metrics.”

Keep things loose, and be willing to adjust your plans if you feel the need for a data-free jaunt or when you note that your body is needing more rest.

3.- Eat with exuberance

Dauwalter is known for her sweet tooth and habit of fuelling long races with cheese quesadillas. She’s often heard asking for her post-race beer, and even her Instagram tagline declares her a lover of long inseams and candy. Dauwalter told Roche that she refuses to restrict what goes into her body: “If it sounds good, if it tastes good, if it fulfills a craving, then it’s exactly the thing that I’m eating.” Eating makes her happy.

Eating has a complicated dynamic for some, and runners come from a wide array of nutritional needs and preferences. Whatever your relationship with food and fuel, bringing Dauwalter’s enthusiastic spirit into your kitchen or food choices can make food more fun.

(07/17/2023) Views: 477 ⚡AMP
by Keeley Milne
Share
Share

2023 Hardrock 100 Women’s Race

If it wasn’t for Courtney Dauwalter (pre-race interview) running the Western States 100 just three weeks prior, crushing the women’s record there, and potentially being a bit worn out at the start line of the Hardrock 100, it would have been hard to find someone to bet against her winning the race this year. But if she were to falter, there were several women who were ready to jump at the opportunity.

For the first part of the race, it seemed like France’s Anne-Lise Rousset Séguret was going to do just that. While Dauwalter led in the very early miles of the course, Rousset opened up a sizable gap coming through Maggie Gulch at mile 15.5 and was moving with enthusiasm toward Pole Creek, the next aid station. She came into Sherman at mile 30 in seventh overall in 6:29, looking strong. Dauwalter was just six minutes behind, and Annie Hughes (pre-race interview) came in next, 52 minutes off the lead. With still many miles to run, it was still anyone’s race. Frenchwoman Claire Bannwarth (pre-race interview) came through just seven minutes later and was followed by Japan’s Kimino Miyazaki (pre-race interview), who was 1:22 off the lead but looking spry and happy.

The top-two women came back together through Grizzly Gulch at mile 36 with Hughes trailing them at just under an hour back. When Rousset led Dauwalter into Grouse Gulch, mile 43.5, by nearly 10 minutes after traversing Handies Peak, the course high point, it seemed like maybe the Western States 100-Hardrock 100 double was going to be too much for Dauwalter to handle.

But it’s never a good idea to bet against the most dominant female trail ultrarunner of this generation. By mile 50, she’d closed the gap to four minutes, and in Ouray at mile 58.5, it was down to two minutes. When it came to the climb out of Ouray, Dauwalter made her move, and the elastic to Rousset finally snapped over the top of Virginius Pass. Dauwalter never looked back.

Meanwhile, Hughes stayed steady in third place while dealing with stomach issues and the rest of the women’s pack, including Miyazaki, Bannwarth, Christina Bauer, Whitney Mickelsen, Darla Askew, Becky Bates, and last-minute waitlist entrant Emily Halnon, who only got into the race the morning before, continued to chase — all within close proximity to each other.

 

Dauwalter ran into Telluride at mile 74.5, her pace still hovering just a few minutes over course-record pace, but now 23 minutes ahead of second-place Rousset, and executed the fasted crew stop of the Telluride aid station, getting in and out in under three minutes. She was on a mission.

Just 10 miles later, she was well below course-record pace, crushing the Bear Creek Trail climb out of Telluride and moving herself into third overall as some of the lead men began to falter. Rousset also continued her relentless march, and while she was 48 minutes back on Dauwalter at mile 84, she was only three minutes up on course-record pace.

In the end, there was no catching Dauwalter as she ran back to Silverton to kiss the rock with a new women’s counterclockwise course record of 26:14:08, besting the one set by the legendary Diana Finkel in 2009, and finishing fourth overall. She also set a new overall women’s record, beating her old time of 26:44:36, which she set last year.

Not only that, she set a new overall record for the Western States 100-Hardrock 100 double with a combined time of 41:43:42, beating Jeff Browning’s old record of 42:12:43 that he set in 2016.

Rousset would finish second after a gutsy run with a time of 27:29:55, which registers as the fifth-fastest time in event history, and Hughes would hold onto third with a time of 32:13:03 after spending nearly 100 miles battling stomach and breathing issues.With large gaps between the first, second, and third women, all eyes turned to the competition between fourth and 10th where the time gaps were tight and the women were often in the aid stations together in the back half of the race. Miyazaki and Bannwarth ran in close proximity to each other battling for fourth and fifth, while Mickelsen, Halnon, Bates, Askew, and Bauer seemed to maintain the same overall pace as the miles ticked by.

(07/16/2023) Views: 388 ⚡AMP
by Eszter Horanyi -I run far
Share
Hardrock 100

Hardrock 100

100-mile run with 33,050 feet of climb and 33,050 feet of descent for a total elevation change of 66,100 feet with an average elevation of 11,186 feet - low point 7,680 feet (Ouray) and high point 14,048 feet (Handies Peak). The run starts and ends in Silverton, Colorado and travels through the towns of Telluride, Ouray, and the ghost town...

more...
Share

How to Properly Prepare for Hot-Weather Races

Ah, summertime! It's one of the best seasons for long trail runs, but it's also the hottest and one of the most difficult times to train.  

As temperatures and UV indices climb, runners in many regions can feel the dew point explode, and that can make it seem like any semblance of fitness gained over the winter and spring is suddenly gone. We can all recall an early summer run that makes us not only question our confidence, but whether we're going to make it through the next few months.

There are notoriously warm races on the horizon, and there's a lot of talk about heat and how to mitigate it: sauna training, layering, topical cooling-all the tools to get amateur and elite athletes alike through challenging conditions. Many of the runners who just raced the Western States 100 had relied on mid-afternoon runs when temperatures were at their highest, as well as sauna or hot water immersion training. The race, as with many other summer and early fall races, typically boasts soaring high temperatures along sections at lower elevations.

For decades, the three most-watched sporting events worldwide-the Summer Olympics, FIFA World Cup, and the Tour de France-are typically held during the hot summer months of the Northern Hemisphere. However, prior to 2012, most of the scientific literature on heat acclimation for athletes was based on laboratory testing and controlled environments, and not from real competitions in scorching conditions. With eight of the hottest years in recorded human history having been logged since 2015, global sport organizations such as the International Olympic Committee have finally placed enormous emphasis on providing up-to-date guidelines and recommendations in order to keep athletes safe.

The COVID-19-delayed Tokyo Olympics in 2021 were the hottest Games in modern history with temperatures soaring into the mid-80s and humidity hovering at 82 percent during the women's marathon. The good news is that it sparked considerable discussion and hypothesizing in sport-science communities about best ways for the athletes and their teams to prepare and endure heat. Ultrarunners everywhere watched as the world's best distance runners implemented topical cooling techniques such as pre-competition ice vests and bags of ice during the marathon-a relatively new or at least a more aggressive tactic to attenuate the impact of heat before and during competition.

Heat is considered an equalizer, an element that everyone has to manage, no matter if you're attempting to train or race through it. But does it have to be a performance-sapping equalizer? Can heat training (potentially year round) be viewed as an opportunity to improve fitness, tolerance, and mental strength for challenging race day conditions?

How Heat Impacts Performance

First up, let's discuss what happens when athletes exercise in the heat. Blood flow to the skin, as well as sweat rate, increase to promote heat dissipation. While aimed at keeping the human body safe, these processes increase physiological strain and the chance for dehydration in prolonged endurance events, leading to a subsequent increase in cardiovascular strain. This creates a chain reaction that negatively impacts aerobic performance. Researchers globally agree that the most salient way to lessen the strain that heat imposes is to perform a heat acclimation period ahead of race day.

Improvements in aerobic performance and thermal comfort achieved through heat acclimation are bolstered by these processes, as outlined in a 2011 scientific article from the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine.

Heat Acclimation

Let's dive even further into what the science says about heat acclimation, when and how to implement it, and what athletes of all levels can do to mitigate heat stress before, during, and after exposure to a hot endurance event.

A study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine in 2015 provided the first-of-its-kind, gold-standard consensus recommendations for heat acclimation, and remains one of the most cited pieces of recent literature regarding training and competing in heat, along with Julien Periard's comprehensive review from 2021 for the American Physiological Society. In both reviews, the authors discuss heat acclimation, hydration, and cooling strategies as the pillars of successfully competing in the heat.

The authors report that most adaptations happen within the first week and more slowly within the following ten days. In order to achieve near complete adaptations to fully optimize aerobic performance, athletes need to plan for two weeks of focused acclimation. A pre-Tokyo Olympics study from 2020 suggests following the gold standard of 10-14 days of long-term heat acclimation followed by a shorter five-day reacclimation period just ahead of competition (during the taper period) in order to get the most out of "peak weeks" of training without compromising the health of the athlete with the added stressor of heat training.

It is important to note that the average loss of heat acclimation is roughly two-point-five percent per day following 48 hours without exposure to heat. But reacclimation happens quickly. The rate of decline varies from individual to individual and typically occurs at a slower rate than induction to heat acclimation.

The literature favors training in the same environment as the upcoming race, and if that isn't possible, training indoors in a heated room is the next best option. These once-a-day sessions should last at least 60 minutes, at an easy effort, while keeping a close eye on heart rate (preferably at about 75 percent of max heart rate). Athletes should expect to see their heart rate decrease as adaptations continue to occur, and as such, the duration or intensity of the session should be increased in order to maintain the training stimulus.

What if you don't have access to the same outdoor environment nor the set-up to train in a heated room? A study from 2007 demonstrated that 12 sessions of post-exercise sauna bathing at approximately 190 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes at a time over the course of three weeks enhanced endurance performance.

What about dry heat versus humid heat and acclimating to either? The science demonstrates that acclimating to dry heat improves exercise in humid heat and vice versa. But acclimating in humid heat evokes higher skin temperatures and circulatory adaptations. In other words, the stereotypical dad statement: "But it's a dry heat!" holds somewhat true.

Are there benefits to heat acclimation when your race is in temperate or cool environments? A study from 2010 on cycling performance demonstrated a five percent increase in VO2max in cool conditions versus an eight percent increase in hot; a six percent improvement in time-trial performance in cool conditions vs. an eight percent improvement in hot; and an equal increase in power output at lactate threshold in both cool and hot conditions of five percent.

Hydration

Training in hot conditions increases sweat rate, which leads to progressive dehydration (if fluid intake is not increased), causing a similar cascading effect that is essentially the reverse of what happens during heat acclimation: decrease in plasma volume, evaporative heat loss, and cardiac filling all leading to a reduction in capacity to tolerate the effort in the heat.

A 2015 study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine underscores the importance of starting training or competition in the heat in a well-hydrated state with sodium supplementation before and during the event, minimizing body water mass losses during prolonged exercise in the heat, and being sure recovery hydration regimens include sodium, carbohydrates, and protein.

A 2010 study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology demonstrated enhancement and acceleration of heat adaptations, as well as further increases in blood plasma volume by taking in a protein-carbohydrate mix (0.3g of protein/kg of body weight and 3.6kcal of carbohydrate/kg of body weight) within 10 minutes of heat training.

Cooling Strategies

Numerous studies underscore that cooling strategies implemented immediately before, during, or after competition should be used in addition to heat acclimation, not as substitutes. Cooling strategies provide the most benefit during sustained exercise, but should not be used for sprinters. They include both external methods like ice bandanas and saturated towels, cold water immersion, fanning, topical menthol sprays, and internal options such as the ingestion of cold fluids or ice slurries. (Did someone say post-run slushies?!)

Ice bandanas and saturated towels demonstrate the ability to lower skin temperature (without lowering muscle temperature and risking injury) and effectively lower cardiovascular strain. Ice slurries have been shown to be more effective at cooling athletes than cold fluid ingestion, as the latter has also shown reductions in sweating and evaporation. The literature encourages combining techniques (external and internal), as doing so has a higher cooling capacity than the same techniques used in isolation.

 

A meta-analysis from 2020 found that topical menthol spray caused cooler thermal sensation and improved thermal comfort, but no significant differences in sweat production, core temperature, or heart rate were demonstrated. Findings showed external application, warmer environment, and higher body mass indices as improving menthol's effects on endurance performance without compromising the body's response to the heat.

How to Apply This in Training?

For athletes targeting a warm or hot race, we have a few options in how to structure heat acclimation. As a coach, I recommend against adding in heat acclimation as a novel stimulus without an anticipated hot race on the calendar, because most athletes still have a lot of other low-hanging fruit to grab first. (Looking at you, quality sleep!). If you are a highly trained athlete, chat with your coach prior to initiating heat acclimation in the absence of a warm-weather event on your schedule.

If you have a history of RED-S (Relative Energy Deficiency In Sport), work closely with your coach and medical team to be absolutely certain you aren't adding in too much stress to your training all at once. Taking body weight measurements can be a part of hydration monitoring, but it's important to contemplate the pros and cons of doing so. Another consideration is making sure you have a clear picture of your iron/ferritin status prior to initiating a robust heat acclimation protocol, as iron is lost through sweat.

(07/15/2023) Views: 394 ⚡AMP
by Trail Runner Magazine
Share
Share

Hardrock 100 preview: will Courtney Dauwalter do it again?

The Hardrock Hundred Mile Endurance Run (HR100), known for its high altitude, deep elite field and challenging entry process, begins Friday at 8:00 a.m. E.T. This year’s event, the first ever to be live-streamed, promises to be a thriller. Runners will encounter over 10,000 metres of elevation gain while facing extreme weather conditions, navigating treacherous terrain and attempting to avoid altitude sickness.

Only 140 participants get to line up at Hardrock each year, and this year’s contenders include the remarkable Courtney Dauwalter, fresh off a jaw-dropping performance and course record at the Western States 100, and other well-known elites. The race will be live-streamed on the Run Steep Get High YouTube channel. Here’s what you need to know to follow along.

HR100 both begins and ends in Silverton, Co., and athletes are above 3,300 metres elevation for much of the race. It was founded in 1992 as a tribute to the miners who used to follow “their mules and instincts, prospecting the San Juans for gold, silver, and other metals,” the race website explains. With a finishing cutoff time of 48 hours, athletes know they are in for a long haul. The course switches directions every year, and this year runners are moving counter-clockwise around the looped course.

The women’s race

All eyes are on the phenomenal Dauwalter this year (but when are they not?) after a stunning performance three weeks ago at Western States, where she set a blistering new course record (78 minutes faster than Canadian Ellie Greenwood’s from 2012) and placed fifth overall. Canada’s Stephanie Case, who was second last year, has withdrawn from this year’s event. 60-year-old legendary ultra machine Pam Reed of Jackson Hole, Wyo., will be tackling the third part of her WSER/Badwater 135/HR100 triple this year.

Leadville, Colo.-based Dauwalter holds the course record for HR100 in the clockwise direction (26:44) from 2022; this year runners will move counter-clockwise, and that course record is 27:18 for women, set by Diana Finkel in 2009, and Dauwalter will most certainly be looking to challenge that time. Will her legs be tired? Will she win the entire thing? We can’t wait to find out.

Also from Leadville, 23-year-old trail phenom Annie Hughes won the Run Rabbit Run 100-Miler and High Lonesome 100 Mile in 2022, and the Leadville 100 Mile in 2021. She’s a high-altitude ultrarunning champ, and has also compiled some wins in really long races–she won the Cocodona 250 Mile in 2022 and Moab 240 in 2021.

If you haven’t heard of France’s Claire Bannwarth, it’s time to brush up: she was the first woman in the 432-kilometre 2022 Winter Spine Race (by more than 24 hours), and will be making her North American racing debut at HR100. Bannwarth races prolifically and runs long–she will be jumping into the Tahoe 200 Mile race a week after HR100.

Colorado’s Darcy Piceu, fresh off the waitlist, is a veteran of HR 100, with the 2023 edition being her 10th running. Piceu boasts three wins and five second-place finishes, and she was fourth in 2022.

The men’s race

With Kilian Jornet, last year’s winner (and course record holder in the clockwise direction) not returning this year, the podium seems up for grabs. None of the other top four men from 2022 will be headed to the San Juans, but a very accomplished group of athletes will be lining up and fans will be eager to see who holds up to the HR100 test.

Ohio’s Arlen Glick is a master of the 100-mile distance, running 12:57 to win the Umstead 100-miler in April and taking a speedy third at October’s Javelina 100. Like Dauwalter, Glick raced at WSER last month. He placed 14th, while he took third in 2022. Glick will be a hot contender and fascinating to watch at HR100.

California-based Dylan Bowman is a Hardrock veteran, placing second at the 2021 edition. Bowman has had a lower racing profile in the past year while working on Freetrail, a media business and trail running community. He’s been training in the San Juans pre-race and is eager to showcase his ability.

France’s Aurélien Dunand-Pallaz has over 10 years of ultrarunning success, but gained notoriety in 2021 when he took second at UTMB and won Spain’s Transgrancanaria. He missed the 2022 edition of HR100 for the birth of his child and is a favourite in his debut this year.

Oregon-based trail running legend Jeff Browning will be taking on his sixth Hardrock at age 51. Browning won in 2018, and finished fifth the past two years. In October, Browning won the Moab 240 in 57 hours, and more recently, he showcased his fitness by winning the Bighorn 100.

 

(07/13/2023) Views: 450 ⚡AMP
by Keeley Milne
Share
Hardrock 100

Hardrock 100

100-mile run with 33,050 feet of climb and 33,050 feet of descent for a total elevation change of 66,100 feet with an average elevation of 11,186 feet - low point 7,680 feet (Ouray) and high point 14,048 feet (Handies Peak). The run starts and ends in Silverton, Colorado and travels through the towns of Telluride, Ouray, and the ghost town...

more...
Share

When you consistently stress the body and the mind, you are changing your chemical makeup. Here’s what the latest science tells us about burnout

Kieran Abbotts is a PhD student at the University of Oregon, studying human physiology. He earned his master’s degree in Metabolism and Exercise Physiology at Colorado State University. The lab where he now works studies exercise and environment and stressors on physiology. In other words, he’s an expert on how the chemicals in the body work during exercise, and what happens when things get out of whack.

“Essentially, there are two kinds of training. There’s functional overreaching, which means you stress the body with hard workouts and long runs. Then you provide adequate time to recover, and you induce adaptations,” Abbotts said. This kind of training is ideal—your body is getting stronger. “You want to be functionally overreaching as an elite athlete—so that you’re making progress and becoming a better runner, but also giving yourself adequate recovery.”

And then there’s non-functional overreaching, which can feel the same to many athletes, but it’s very different. “With non-functional overreaching you’re essentially doing the same thing—big workouts, stressing the body—but not giving yourself enough time to recover. And so you start doing damage.” That damage might take a long time to show itself, Abbots said, but it eventually will.

This might be the most important thing to know about being an athlete at any level. Non-functional overreaching is exactly the same as very healthy training, except without enough rest. And rest is different for everyone, which makes it exceptionally easy to slip from functional overreaching into damaging non-functional overreaching without realizing it. Without adequate rest, the body begins to break down instead of build stronger.

Stress Is Stress

Professional ultrarunner Cat Bradley, 31, living in Hawaii, has experienced fatigue and burnout in various forms, including just after she won Western States in 2017.

Winning a big race is great, but it also means all eyes are on you—the pressure is high to stay on top. “After winning Western States, I took a month off, but I was still running at a high level. And for lack of a better term, I felt like I had a gun to my back,” Bradley said. “I wanted Western States so badly, and after I won, so many things happened and I never shook that gun-to-the-back feeling. After a while, it led to burnout. I had to take a mental break.”

For many athletes, finding success can be the stress that makes non-functional overreaching feel necessary. How can you take an extended break when you’re winning and signing new sponsor contracts?

A second version of burnout for Bradley came when she went through an especially stressful situation outside of running. She was dealing with such extreme daily emotional stress in her personal life that everything else was affected, including running and training. When the body is enduring stress, it doesn’t know (or care) what the cause is. We can’t put our life into silos. If there’s stress in one’s life, everything else needs to be adjusted. It doesn’t matter if that stress is “just work” or illness, or relationships.

When you’re overtraining or chronically overstressed, your body is creating higher levels of “catecholamines,” hormones released by your adrenal glands during times of stress like epinephrine, norepinephrine, or adrenaline. “Having those chronically high levels of overstimulation and not enough recovery, you wind up with a desensitization,” Abbotts said. “Overstimulation also causes decreased levels of plasma cortisol. Cortisol is the stress hormone, and it plays a very important role in your physiology.”

When you’re exercising or stressing the body, cortisol will go up, to help the body deal with the stress. But if you’re constantly requiring lots of cortisol, your body will eventually down-regulate. It will adapt and then you’ll have low levels of cortisol. This means trouble dealing with physical and mental stress.

In February, Bradley experienced her most recent version of burnout, and it happened mid-race. Bradley was running the Tarawera 100-miler in New Zealand. Besides training for such a big race, she was also working full-time and planning and preparing for her wedding, which was just days after the race. On top of everything, travel to the event was incredibly stressful.

“I was in fourth place, I could see third, and at mile 85, I passed out and hit my head on a rock,” Bradley said. “We can talk about the reasons that I fainted, but I really think my brain just shut down—it was too much.”

For Bradley, reaching burnout has a lot more to do with outside stressors than the actual running. But now she’s aware of that—she continues to work on not reaching the “gun-to-the-back” feeling. The need to please others. The fear of losing fitness in order to take care of her body. It’s an ongoing process, but an important one.

Overdoing Is the American Way

Professional ultrarunner Sally McRae said, based on her observations, Americans are really bad at taking time off. “I’ve traveled the world and Americans are really bad at resting,” she said. “It’s part of our work system. You go anywhere in Europe and everyone takes a month-long holiday. You have a kid and you take a year off. We’re not conditioned like that in America. It’s like you get one week and then after you work a decade, you get two weeks of vacation.”

For McRae, avoiding burnout and overtraining has a lot to do with creating a life that’s sustainable. She started working when she was 15-years-old, so she realized earlier than most that life couldn’t just be working as hard as possible to count down to retirement.

“Perspective is massive when it comes to burnout. My goal every year is to find the wonder and the beauty and the joy in what I do. Because it’s my job, but it’s also my life,” McRae said. “And I really believe we’re supposed to rest—it should be a normal part of our life. Whether that’s taking a vacation or taking an off-season. I take a two-month offseason and I have for a long time.”

One of the most important parts about rest and not overstressing the body is that everyone is different. An overstressed body can lead to hormonal imbalances, which in turn affects everything.

“When you’re overtraining, you tend to get mood changes and have trouble sleeping,” Abbotts said. “Two of the big things that stand out are, you’re exhausted but you can’t sleep. And the other is irritability—mood swings, and depression.” When you get to the point that you’ve overstressed your body for so long that the chemicals are changing, pretty much everything starts falling apart.

And even though everyone is different, you’d never know that from looking at social media. “I know social media makes it seem like ultrarunners are running 40 miles a day, doing a 100-mile race every other weekend,” McRae said. “And that’s insane. You’ve got to be in touch with yourself. It’s very different to wake up and feel sore or tired, but if you wake up and feel like you have no joy in the thing you’re doing, you need a real break from it.”

How Can the Running Community Do Better?

Elite ultrarunner and running coach Sandi Nypaver wants runners to get more in touch with how they’re feeling and less concerned about numbers or what anyone else is doing.

“I have to have honest talks with people I’m coaching. I need them to feel like they can tell me how they feel, because sometimes they think they have to stick to the training plan for the week no matter what,” she said. “But the plan is never set in stone. It’s meant to be adjusted based on how you’re feeling. Some weeks we might feel great and not need to change anything, while other weeks we might have to totally crash the plan and do something else.”

It’s easy to judge ourselves against everyone else, especially when results and reactions are so public and available.

“It’s easy to say, ‘if that person only took three days off after a big race, and now they’re already back to training, that must be what you’re supposed to do,’” she said. “But even at the highest level, training is different for everyone. Resting is different for everyone.”

“Something that’s really, really hard for many runners to understand is that once you’re not sore anymore, that you’re still not recovered,” Nypaver said. “A lot of research says that things are still going on in your body for up to four weeks after, for certain races, depending on the distance.”

Sometimes it’s difficult to be aware of subtle signs when the soreness is gone. “Convincing people that they need to chill out for a while, even past the soreness, can be really difficult.” But after a huge effort, and before the next, people rarely end up saying things like, “I really wish I hadn’t rested so thoroughly.” Part of it is actually having a recovery plan. Putting rest days on the calendar, focusing on foam rolling and mobility on days that you’re not “doing.”

“And, actually just relaxing. Taking it easy. It’s not just a running model, we live in a culture where we’re always being asked to do more,” Nypaver said. “I wish instead of always thinking about doing more, we’d focus on how we want to be more. A lot of us want to be more relaxed and less stressed and happier and enjoy our lives. We need to put our attention on that instead of trying to do so much. It’s something I struggle with all the time.”

We don’t get validation for resting, relaxing, and being present because there’s no tangible thing to show for it. There’s no “be really calm often” challenge on Strava. But the bigger rewards are great. You just have to trade in immediate dopamine hits for a much more balanced, happier life.

Simple, right?

“One thing I’m doing, and asking my athletes to do, is to write down your intentions,” Nypaver said. “One of my intentions is to chill out more this summer and enjoy it. I grew up thinking it’s all about running, and I have to go all-in on running. But having other outlets, other things that I like to do, is so important.”

When you’ve reached burnout—an extended period of non-functional overreaching, prolonged rest is the only way to let the body fix itself.

“Once you are overtrained, you need to stop training,” Abbotts said. “It’s just kind of the bottom line. Maybe some people can get away with greatly reducing their training load, but most of the time you need to stop. You need an extended amount of time off.”

There’s nothing glamorous about rest. There’s no prize money in relaxing. But it’s the absolute key ingredient in extended performance, and in a much healthier, happier life.

(06/29/2023) Views: 479 ⚡AMP
by Outside Online
Share
Share

Courtney Dauwalter breaks record at Western States 100 by almost 80 minutes

Ultramarathon runner Courtney Dauwalter crushed the women’s course record at the Western States 100-mile race in California, taking more than an hour off the previous best time.

Dauwalter finished the Western States 100 – the world’s oldest 100-mile race – in 15 hours, 29 minutes and 34 seconds, almost 80 minutes faster than Ellie Greenwood’s record set in 2012. The race was first run in 1974.

“I just kept asking [my legs] to do one more mile for me and they kept responding, so I was very thankful for that,” Dauwalter told iRunFar about the last 20 miles of the race.

“I was definitely, though, deep in the pain cave and really focused on every single step, every single second.”

Cooler weather contributed to faster times at this year’s Western States 100, which started in the early hours of Saturday morning in Olympic Valley, California.

Snow covered much of the initial stages of the course before runners descended into a recently unshaded section scorched by last year’s Mosquito Fire.

After running with fellow American Katie Schide, Dauwalter started pulling away around the 30-mile mark, steadily eating away at Greenwood’s course record.

Covering 18,000 feet of climbing and almost 23,000 feet of descent across Californian trails, the race finishes on a high school running track in the city of Auburn in Placer County.

“I couldn’t believe when the track suddenly showed up and you make that turn, I was like: We did it! We’re here!” Dauwalter told iRunFar.

“Because that was the moment where I let myself actually believe that we had finished and we were about to be able to stop moving.”

Dauwalter, who is set to defend her title at the Hardrock 100 in Colorado in three weeks’ time, also won the Western States 100 in 2018, though her time this year was nearly two hours faster.

Most people’s idea of fun wouldn’t involve running for hours on end through brutal, undulating terrain – but ultra-marathon sensation Courtney Dauwalter is no ordinary person.

While an ultra-marathon is technically defined as any race longer than 26.2 miles, Dauwalter’s exploits tend to take place at distances far greater than that, usually between 100 to 250 miles. 

The 38-year-old’s list of achievements is almost interminable. Dauwalter, a four-time ‘Ultra Running Magazine Ultrarunner of the year,’ holds multiple course records for the obscenely long races around the US and abroad. 

Dauwalter’s breakout moment came at the Moab 240 – an annual 240-mile race in Utah. At the 2017 edition, shortly after making the decision to become a full-time ultra-runner, Dauwalter completed the course a scarcely believable 10 hours ahead of all other competitors – male and female.

The Transgrancanaria event on February 24 – Dauwalter’s most recent escapade - resulted in her 15th straight race win by gender dating back to March 2021, according to results database Ultrasignup. 

The Minnesota native completed the grueling 128km course (79.5 miles) – including over 7000 meters of elevation gain - around the Canary Island in a course record 14 hours 40 minutes: over 90 minutes ahead of her closest competitor.

(06/26/2023) Views: 634 ⚡AMP
Share
Share

2023 Western States 100 Women’s Race

None of the first four women from last year’s race — Ruth Croft, Ailsa MacDonald, Marianne Hogan, Luzia Buehler — returned. That made Zimbabwe’s Emily Hawgood (pre-race interview) the highest returning finisher from 2022. Hawgood’s pretty much a race local now too, living in nearby Roseville, California. But it was 38-year-old Courtney Dauwalter (pre-race interview) that came into the race as a favorite. She won here in 2018 in 17:27 and was looking to avenge a late drop at the 2019 race.

Dauwalter was first up the Escarpment. At 2,500 feet, it’s the race’s biggest climb and it happens right away in the first three miles. But 2022 UTMB winner Katie Schide (pre-race interview) was right there too. Schide, an American who’s lived in France for the past seven years, hit the top in 46 minutes with Dauwalter and the two dropped into the Granite Chief Wilderness together. Already Dauwalter and Schide, age 31, had a three-minute lead on third-place Ida Nilsson (pre-race interview) from Sweden.

By mile 11, Lyon Ridge, Dauwalter and Schide’s lead on third-place Nilsson had ballooned to eight minutes. And then it got even bigger as the two completely broke away from everyone else. At mile 16, Red Star Ridge, no one was within 14 minutes of the front two. Nilsson, Hawgood, 2023 Black Canyon 100k winner Keely Henninger (pre-race interview), Taylor Nowlin, professional triathlete-turned-ultrarunner Heather Jackson, Canada’s Priscilla Forgie and Jenny Quilty, and 2022 sixth-place finisher Leah Yingling (pre-race interview) all ran inside the early top 10.

The Mosquito Fire limited crew access this year and everyone met their crews for the first time at mile 30, Robinson Flat. Dauwalter was in at 5:07 and out within a minute, and still on her 2019 splits. Schide took a longer break and changed shoes, exiting the aid station three minutes behind the leader. The two had completely broken open the women’s race. Nilsson, in her 100-mile debut, had been alone in third to this point, but was now joined by Henninger, Hawgood, and Nowlin.

At mile 34, Miller’s Defeat, the course record watch started. Dauwalter and Schide were under Dauwalter’s own 2019 splits and Ellie Greenwood’s 2012 course record pace. Dauwalter was five minutes up on Greenwood’s splits, and Schide was three minutes faster. Even more, the two were over 30 minutes in front of third-place Hawgood at mile 38. Dauwalter and Schide were out front for the win and the course record, and the other contenders grouped behind them.

Dauwalter was red hot up the Devil’s Thumb climb at mile 48, but Schide hadn’t given up much time. She took longer in aid and left six minutes after Dauwalter. Hawgood, Nowlin, and Henninger came in together next, now 40 minutes behind second-place Schide.

At Foresthill, Dauwalter was 25 minutes up on record pace. Schide conceded only another two minutes over the last stretch and was 11 minutes behind Dauwalter. While Dauwalter and Schide were still off the front, the race dynamic was heating up behind. The third- through eighth-place women were all in Foresthill together with only three minutes separation. Hawgood was there first among the chase group, but Hungarian living in Hong Kong Eszter Csillag quickly jumped from eighth at mile 52 to fourth at mile 62. Nilsson was fifth, and Henninger, Katie Asmuth, and Nowlin were all there too.

Dauwalter ran 2:10 from mile 62 Foresthill to mile 78 at the American River. Only the men’s winner would run a quicker split on this day, and only eight men have ever run a faster split in the race. Dauwalter was five levels better than everyone else, and she was boldly racing without a pacer too. Schide stayed comfortably in second, but fell further behind Dauwalter’s quickening pace and river conditions necessitated that everyone cross the American River in a boat this year.

From Foresthill to the river, Katie Asmuth vaulted into third, past Eszter Csillag and Ida Nilsson. Asmuth was seventh at Foresthill and picked up four spots on the downhill Cal Street stretch, outrunning common expectations in coming back from injury. All three women split faster from Foresthill to the river than Schide did and even if the front two were gone, the women in general were running really fast. There’s bound to be some bad luck in a 100 miler though, and Henninger fell just before the river and dislocated her shoulder. She would then drop from the race at mile 80, Green Gate, due to that injury.

Dauwalter’s incredible second half and incredible race brought her to the Placer High School track finish in 15:29. Dauwalter completely shattered the record books and set a new standard that is likely to last for a lifetime. Ellie Greenwood’s 16:47 course record had stood since 2012. Dauwalter will next race the high altitude 2023 Hardrock 100 in Silverton, Colorado, on July 14. Dauwalter is the Hardrock course record holder, too, but Western States plus Hardrock will certainly be a challenging double.

Schide challenged Dauwalter early, and outpaced the rest of the women’s field in doing so. Schide was in second for much of the day, ultimately finishing as runner up in 16:43. That was also under the old course record.

Csillag, who was fifth at the 2022 UTMB, had a remarkable second half to finish third in 17:09. It is the race’s fourth-fastest run ever. And she just edged out Asmuth, who moved up from last year’s ninth-place run to finish fourth in 17:21. Asmuth’s time was just inside of Ruth Croft’s winning time from last year, and is the race’s fifth-fastest ever.

Hawgood earned a second straight fifth-place finish. In 2022 she was able to finish fifth in 18:16 and in this year’s faster race Hawgood was fifth in 17:26. That time ranks eighth-best ever and is just faster than what Dauwalter ran to win in 2018.

Taylor Nowlin improved her finish place by one from prior year, but like Hawgood greatly improved her finish time. Nowlin was sixth in 17:40. One-hundred-mile debutante Ida Nilsson was seventh in 17:43, and Priscilla Forgie was just minutes back in eighth at 17:46. Leah Yingling was a repeat top-10 finisher in ninth at 17:49. For perspective, no year had seen more than three women finish under 18 hours before. But this year nine women finished under 18 hours. It is the new standard for women’s racing at Western States.

The 25-year-old Meghan Morgan took the prized 10th-place finish in 18:11, thereby guaranteeing a chance to automatically return next year.

(06/25/2023) Views: 565 ⚡AMP
by Justin Mock I Run Far
Share
Western States 100

Western States 100

The Western States ® 100-Mile Endurance Run is the world’s oldest and most prestigious 100-mile trail race. Starting in Squaw Valley, California near the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics and ending 100.2 miles later in Auburn, California, Western States, in the decades since its inception in 1974, has come to represent one of the ultimate endurance tests in the...

more...
Share

2023 Western States 100 Men’s Race

There’s nowhere to go but up at the start of the Western States 100, and Jia-Ju Zhao from China charged the opening climb. Despite snow, Zhao hit the top in 42 minutes. Slower to the top, Frenchman Mathieu Blanchard (pre-race interview) and Brit Tom Evans (pre-race interview) turned to greet the brilliant sunrise together.

Zhao won the Ultra-Trail Mt. Fuji 100 Mile in April 2023 and is a two-time winner of the Doi Inthanon by UTMB 100 Mile in Thailand. He pushed his early lead to five minutes at Lyon Ridge, mile 11, while 2022 fourth-placer Tyler Green led the early chase group. Green had finished as high as second here before, in 2021, but was running more aggressively toward the front earlier than ever before.From mile-15 Red Star Ridge to mile-25 Duncan Canyon, the chase group started to make up time on Zhao. Tom Evans, Chinese runner Jia-Sheng Shen, and Dakota Jones (pre-race interview) were among a group that cut four minutes from Zhao’s lead over just nine miles. Evans was third here in 2019 in 14:59, and Jones had just biked 680 miles from his home in Utah to the race start.

Zhao was quickly swallowed up in the next five miles to Robinson Flat, mile 30, and soon fell out of the top 10. A lead trio of Tom Evans, Dakota Jones, and Jia-Sheng Shen came into aid at 4:45, meeting their crews for the first time. At mile 30 and with Zhao falling backward, Anthony Costales (pre-race interview) was fourth, and then he was with Tyler Green at mile 38 in fourth and fifth. The two would barely separate the rest of the race.Evans and Jones dropped Shen on the climb to Devil’s Thumb, mile 48, and the two leaders came into aid together in 7:03. Four minutes back Costales had caught Shen on the big climb, and Tyler Green, Jeff Colt, New Zealand’s Daniel Jones, Ryan Montgomery, Mathieu Blanchard, and 47-year-old Ludovic Pommeret were inside the top 10. Those six were 14 minutes apart. 2022 third- and second-place finishers Arlen Glick (pre-race interview) and Hayden Hawks (pre-race interview) were back in 11th and 16th, respectively. After earlier moving up, Hawks had just lost several places and would later drop with injury at mile 55. Other top-10 finishers from 2022 Cody Lind, Scott Traer, and Alex Nichols were all noticeably outside the top 10 too.

As the race shifted to its mile-62 Foresthill hub, Evans gained some separation on Jones and entered the aid station first, but as Evans changed shoes and socks, Jones didn’t wait and exited first. Jones was now in the lead by himself for the first time and he was overheard voicing his intention to break Evans. Some 11 minutes back of those two leaders, Green and Costales were again together and in third and fourth. Shen and Jeff Colt were just minutes back of those two, and Colt was remarkably almost an hour faster than a year ago when he finished 11th.Jones and Evans separated leaving Foresthill and anticipation ran high for their next steps. The two had been together for nearly the entirety of the race to this point. Jones wanted to make a move and Evans wanted to keep up with (the) Jones. The duel ended quickly and dramatically though. Tom Evans dropped a 5:54 downhill mile and hit Cal 2, mile 71, in 10:12. That surge pushed Jones eight minutes back at mile 71. It was just nine miles from Foresthill to that split on Cal Street, but the front two had shattered and moved in opposite directions the rest of the race.

Evans ran alone to the river crossing at mile 78, and ultimately to the finish. Tyler Green, Anthony Costales, Jeff Colt, and Jia-Sheng Shen all overtook Dakota Jones on the way to the river too. Forget about Elm Street, Jones was having a bit of a nightmare on Cal Street.

Evans, the 2022 UTMB third placer, continued to put time on the field the rest of the way. He finished in 14:40 and that’s the race’s fourth fastest finish ever. The mark trails only Jim Walmsley and Jared Hazen in 2019, and Walmsley’s 2018 mark too. Evans was a runaway winner, but the rest of the top 10 was much more closely packed.Tyler Green pushed on in second, and held off an Anthony Costales chase over the last 15 miles. Green finished in 15:04. It was his second runner-up finish and a big personal best for the course. He was able to finish with his baby boy on his shoulders. Green’s 15:04 was the race’s 11th-fastest finish ever. Costales was third in 15:09, the race’s 13th-fastest finish ever.

Jia-Sheng Shen and Daniel Jones both finished fast. Shen clocked 15:19 and Jones was fifth in 15:22. Mathieu Blanchard and Ryan Montgomery both overtook Jeff Colt late. Those three — Blanchard, Montgomery, and Colt — finished in 15:37, 15:38, and 15:42, respectively. Local runner Cole Watson bettered his 2022 14th-place finish with a ninth-place 15:54.

In 2019 the top 10 all went under 16 hours. This year’s 10th-place man Janosch Kowalcyzk from Germany just missed matching that feat. He finished in 16:09.

Seven of last year’s top 10 returned, but only Tyler Green was able to again make the top 10. The 2022 top 10 finishers Ludovic Pommeret, Arlen Glick, Scott Traer, Cody Lind, and Alex Nichols finished 12th, 13th, 15th, 16th, and 28th this year, respectively. As earlier mentioned, 2022 runner-up Hayden Hawks dropped.

After running near or in the lead through Foresthill, Dakota Jones finished 17th in 17:00.

Early leader Zhao’s high risk, high reward start ended with a drop at Michigan Bluff, mile 55.

(06/25/2023) Views: 479 ⚡AMP
by Justin Mock I Run Far
Share
Western States 100

Western States 100

The Western States ® 100-Mile Endurance Run is the world’s oldest and most prestigious 100-mile trail race. Starting in Squaw Valley, California near the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics and ending 100.2 miles later in Auburn, California, Western States, in the decades since its inception in 1974, has come to represent one of the ultimate endurance tests in the...

more...
Share

2023 Western States 100 Women’s Preview

The 2023 Western States 100 is just around the corner and we’re here to take a look at the pointy end of this year’s women’s field. Before we get started, in case anyone needs a reminder of this unique, point-to-point, net downhill course, here are the stats for the standard course: 100.2 miles, 18,000 feet of climbing, and 22,000 feet of descending.

At the time of writing this, we don’t know if the huge snows of this winter or last year’s wildfire on the course will necessitate any significant course modifications for this year’s running. However, we know the race organization is doing everything they can to host the race on the normal course. We also know that those conditions will likely play into the competition, with snow present on the first 25 miles of the course for a spicy warm-up, as well as miles of wildfire-exposed course that’s likely to make the middle miles feel more severe than normal. And, also, we are expecting the normal race-day heat.

Last year’s race further showed how much faster the Western States women’s field has gotten in recent years. While Ellie Greenwood’s 2012 course record of 16:47 has remained untouched, 15 of the 24 fastest women’s times at the race have been logged in just its three recent races — 2019, 2021, and 2022 — with those 15 times logged by 13 different women. Ruth Croft’s 2022 winning time of 17:21 was the third-fastest women’s time ever while fifth-place Emily Hawgood’s 18:16 would have won the women’s race in all but 10 other years.

We’re in for one heck of an exciting women’s race at this year’s Western States 100. None of last year’s top-four women are returning while everyone who finished between fifth and ninth will be returning. Lining up aside those five will be another half dozen women, each of whom could make a push for the podium, including a couple of the world’s best 100-mile racers at the moment. Another dozen strong women will add to the excitement in running for the top 10.

As you’d guess, iRunFar will be there to report firsthand on all the action as it unfolds starting at 5 a.m. U.S. PDT on Saturday, June 24. Stay tuned!

A special thanks to HOKA for making our coverage of the Western States 100 possible!

Emily Hawgood – 5th, 18:16:02

Well, look at that, Zimbabwe’s Emily Hawgood comes into the 2023 Western States 100 as the top returning women’s runner after her fifth-place finish last year. That fifth place is no fluke as over the past two years, Hawgood has been seventh at the 2021 Western States 100 as well as taking 10th and sixth at the past two UTMBs. Living over here in the U.S., she ran and won the same local 50k both last year and this February.

Leah Yingling – 6th, 18:32:31

After many years of quieter success, Leah Yingling made herself known with a great 2022 season. In addition to taking sixth at Western States in 2022, she was third at the Bandera 100k, third at the Transgrancanaria Advanced 60k, second at the Canyons 100k, and 19th at the Trail World Championships 80k. She’s started her 2023 just as strong with a second place at the Way Too Cool 50k in March and a win at the Bull Run Run 50 Mile in April.

Taylor Nowlin – 7th, 18:46:42

Although she’s run ultras since at least 2016, I’d have to say that 2022 was Taylor Nowlin’s best season to date. Not only did she take seventh in her 100-mile debut at Western States, she also took fourth at the Black Canyon 100k and ninth at CCC. We can’t find any race results for Taylor so far this year, so we’ll have to wait until race day to find out what kind shape she’s in.

Camille Herron – 8th, 18:51:54 (2022 post-race interview)

What a journey it’s been for Camille Herron at Western States! She DNFed in both 2017 and 2019 before finishing in 27:28 in 2021. She kept at it last year, finishing eighth in 18:51. I’d hypothesize that what’s sure to be a snowy course in 2023 could challenge that inspiring progression, but she’ll surely come into the race fit if her recent racing is any indication. In December she clocked 13:02 for 100 miles at the Desert Solstice races before setting the 48-hour world record of 270.5 miles this March.

(06/15/2023) Views: 548 ⚡AMP
by Bryon Powell
Share
Western States 100

Western States 100

The Western States ® 100-Mile Endurance Run is the world’s oldest and most prestigious 100-mile trail race. Starting in Squaw Valley, California near the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics and ending 100.2 miles later in Auburn, California, Western States, in the decades since its inception in 1974, has come to represent one of the ultimate endurance tests in the...

more...
Share

2023 Western States 100 Men’s Preview

The Western States 100 is set for 2023. The iconic point-to-point, net-downhill course takes in 100.2 miles, 18,000 feet of climbing, and 22,000 feet of descending, as it starts at the Palisades Tahoe ski resort in Olympic Valley, California, and finishes at Placer High School in Auburn.

Environmental conditions will play into the race’s competitive story this year. With record snowfall throughout the upper elevations of the Sierra Nevada, the mountain range through which the race travels, runners will encounter plenty of snow over the course’s first quarter, along with numerous high water crossings lower down as all that snow melts.

Some 16 miles of the course were burned over by last fall’s Mosquito Fire, leaving miles of shade-less terrain. And of course, there will probably be weather at play, with the event’s notorious heat likely to encompass the middle and lower elevations of the course.

The men’s race at last year’s Western States 100 was sharp, with just 50 minutes separating the first and 10th finishers. Seven of that stellar line-up are back this year, as well as some serious additions like the U.K.’s Tom Evans, French-Canadian Mathieu Blanchard, and Dakota Jones.

Although there are notable absentees including reigning champion Adam Peterman and course-record holder Jim Walmsley, the depth of this men’s field suggests it could be an even tighter race this year.

As you’d guess, iRunFar will be there to report firsthand on all the action as it unfolds starting at 5 a.m. U.S. PDT on Saturday, June 24. Stay tuned!

A special thanks to HOKA for making our coverage of the Western States 100 possible!

Be sure to check out our in-depth women’s preview to learn about the women’s race and, then, follow our live coverage on race day!

The top 10 runners in the 2022 race were invited to return for 2023. Unfortunately, reigning champion Adam Peterman is out with injury, and seventh-place Vincent Viet of France has opted not to return. It also looks like fifth-place Drew Holmen has withdrawn, as he just finished fifth at the Trail World Championships 80k, held in Austria 15 days before Western States.

Hayden Hawks – 2nd, 15:47:27

Last year’s second-place man, Hayden Hawks, was pretty jovial in his post-race interview about not being able to best race winner Adam Peterman. But without the reigning champion present on the start line, this could be Hawks’s year. Despite struggling with the heat last year, his finish time knocked two hours off his eighth-place finish from 2021, and there are lots of indicators that he could have more to offer on this course.

Some of his previous top performances include a 5:18 win at the 2020 JFK 50 Mile and a win at the 2018 Lavaredo Ultra Trail. So far this year, he’s warmed up by winning the Canyons 50k and taking second at the Tarawera Ultramarathon 100k.

Arlen Glick – 3rd, 15:56:17

Arlen Glick surpassed a lot of people’s expectations when he took third at Western States last year. Although he went into the race with bag of form in the 100-mile distance — having won the Javelina 100 Mile, the Mohican 100 Mile and the Burning River 100 Mile all in 2021 — this was his initiation into mountainous ultrarunning. He took to it very well, running a stormer to place third, and has since logged more mountain miles, taking second in the Run Rabbit Run 100 Mile later in 2022, before returning to the 2022 Javelina 100 Mile to place third.

Tyler Green – 4th, 15:57:10

Tyler Green took fourth at Western States last year, and forced third-place Arlen Glick into an uncomfortable sprint finish as he closed on him in the race’s final moments. In terms of placing, he was back from his second-place finish in 2021, but improved his finish time by about 14 minutes in his third go at the race. In 2019, he placed 14th in a time of 16:51, in what was a very fast year.

Following on from Western States last summer, he had a below par run at the 2022 UTMB, making it just inside the top 50, but showed he is back on form with a third-place finish at the 2023 Transgrancanaria. Last year in his pre-race interview he spoke about stepping back from his day job of teaching to focus more on track coaching and his own running, so that may have allowed him to come into this year’s race with better preparation than previous years.

Ludovic Pommeret (France) 

Ludovic Pommeret, sixth at last year’s Western States, went on to inspire veteran racers everywhere with a commanding win at the 2022 TDS at age 47 — almost an hour clear of second place on the demanding route. Some of his other top performances include a win at the 2016 UTMB, where he also took fourth in 2021, and a win at the 2021 Diagonale des Fous.

He’s probably at the other end of the spectrum of Arlen Glick, in that his best performances have been on courses more mountainous than this one, but he’s still not to be underestimated.

Not many ultra-trail runners have made Kilian Jornet sweat to the degree that French-Canadian Mathieu Blanchard did at last year’s UTMB. The two battled it out all day for a close finish, in which Blanchard took second place — under the existing course record — thus earning his Golden Ticket into Western States. He’s been mixing it up a lot this year, taking second in the 146-mile Coastal Challenge Expedition Run stage race in Costa Rica, third in the Marathon des Sables, and running 2:22 in what looked like a fairly casual effort at the Paris Marathon.

(06/14/2023) Views: 494 ⚡AMP
by Sarah Brady
Share
Western States 100

Western States 100

The Western States ® 100-Mile Endurance Run is the world’s oldest and most prestigious 100-mile trail race. Starting in Squaw Valley, California near the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics and ending 100.2 miles later in Auburn, California, Western States, in the decades since its inception in 1974, has come to represent one of the ultimate endurance tests in the...

more...
Share

Tete Dijana looks to defend his crown at Comrades Marathon

The 2023 Comrades Marathon is nearly upon us, with thousands preparing to take on the down route from Pietermaritzburg to Durban.

This year’s race has an official race distance of 87.7km, as competitors race for victory in a number of prize categories – the men and women’s winners earning over €20,000.

The men’s field this year features a number of past winners – as does the women’s – and promises to be an exciting race from start to finish.

Dijana aims to crown Nedbank again

Last year saw five of the top seven finishers all come from the Nedbank running club, but it was Tete Dijana who proved chief amongst them.

He won last year’s race in a time of 5:30:38, with clubmate and 2019 winner Edward Mothibi three minutes behind him and Dan Matshailwe, another Nedbank runner, a further three minutes behind Mothibi.

Expect all those names to feature near the top three, with Nedbank set to work together once more to assert dominance over South Africa’s most famous ultra.

Perhaps the chief non-Nedbank competitor will be 2018 winner Bongmusa Mthembu. Fourth last year, he was the fastest non-Nedbank runner and has set himself more preparation time for the race this year, competing in the Om Die Dam 50km, which he won in 2:56:33.

He is a three time-winner at the Comrades Marathon, his first in 2014 when he was registered with Nedbank, and his other two coming in back-to-back wins in 2017 and 2018 for his current team Arthur Ford.

International talent

The last non-South African to win the race was Stephen Muzhingi, the Zimbabwean taking three titles in a row between 2009 and 2011, and it seems a tall order to expect anyone other than local runners to take the title.

But regardless, there are those who will be competing. British runner Shane Cliffe has finishers in the Lakes in a Day and The Grand Tour of Skiddaw to his name.

There’s also Simon Brown, who has run the Marathon des Sables and qualified for the cancelled Western States 100 in 2020, and experienced runner and coach Ian Sharman.

(06/07/2023) Views: 449 ⚡AMP
by Olly Green
Share
Comrades Marathon

Comrades Marathon

Arguably the greatest ultra marathon in the world where athletes come from all over the world to combine muscle and mental strength to conquer the approx 90kilometers between the cities of Pietermaritzburg and Durban, the event owes its beginnings to the vision of one man, World War I veteran Vic Clapham. A soldier, a dreamer, who had campaigned in East...

more...
Share

World-record holder Camille Herron lands a bird feeder after ruling the roost in her final long-distance race before Western States

U.S. ultrarunner Camille Herron broke the men’s course record at a trail marathon in Texas over the weekend, confidently capping off her last long-distance race ahead of the 100-mile Western States Endurance Run at the end of the month.

Herron finished Saturday’s 42.2-km race at the Texas Trail Running Festival in 3:49:47, beating the men’s course record by 1:41 and the women’s course record by almost 29 minutes. She completed the four-loop course at the Grelle Recreation Area trail system in Spicewood, Texas, more than 40 minutes before this year’s top men’s finisher and more than an hour before the marathon’s second-place women’s finisher. There were 10 runners in the women’s category of this year’s race and 57 competitors overall.

Herron proudly displayed her first-place prize—a bird feeder in the shape of a Texas Longhorn—in social media posts over the weekend. “It was a great course and good prep for Western States,” Herron wrote. “I won a really sweet bird house. Thank you @trejatrails for putting on a fun event.”

Herron, who lives in Oklahoma, wrote that it had been a few years since she’d run in Texas and that it was good to be back: “They have a great trail community—I’ll have to come back for more.”

Amid the many congratulations posted in her Instagram feed, Herron was asked if Saturday’s race will be her final long run before Western States, which kicks off in California’s Olympic Valley on June 24. “Yep,” she replied, “ready to roll.”

A “roll” is exactly what Herron has been on at events large and small in 2023. The runner, who has set world records in 50-mile, 100-mile, 100-kilometer, 12-hour and 24-hour events,  set the 48-hour women’s world record in Canberra, Australia in March by running 435.336km. If she’s to add to her impressive string of ultrarunning records at this year’s Western States, Herron will have to best the 16:47:19 run by Vancouver’s Ellie Greenwood in 2012. Herron cracked the top 10 in the women’s field at last year’s Western States, running 18:51:54 to place eighth.

Looking beyond Western States, Herron will be among 10 women athletes to compete in Lululemon’s recently announced Further six-day ultramarathon next March.

She noted she’ll also need to fit hanging a birdfeeder into her busy schedule, and that she’s curious to see who flocks to her newest racing trophy. “Can’t wait to see who becomes our new neighbor.”

(06/06/2023) Views: 419 ⚡AMP
by Paul Baswick
Share
Western States 100

Western States 100

The Western States ® 100-Mile Endurance Run is the world’s oldest and most prestigious 100-mile trail race. Starting in Squaw Valley, California near the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics and ending 100.2 miles later in Auburn, California, Western States, in the decades since its inception in 1974, has come to represent one of the ultimate endurance tests in the...

more...
Share

Gene Dykes, 75, sets seven U.S. masters records

Accomplished ultrarunner Gene Dykes, 75, looks to have set no fewer than seven U.S. masters records at a 12-hour race in his home state of Pennsylvania over the weekend, surprising himself as he pushed past health issues to pass the 100-km mark with 400 metres to spare.

The records, which have yet to be ratified by USA Track and Field, include the fastest outdoor track times in the U.S. men’s 75-79 category for 25K (2:48:33), 30K (3:24:08), 50K (5:40:39), 20 miles (3:41:28), 50 miles (9:25:10) and 100K (11:56:26), and the longest distance run in that category for a 12-hour period (100,481 metres). Dykes set the records during his 12-hour overnight effort at the Dawn to Dusk to Dawn Track Ultras in Sharon Hill, Pa., on May 13-14. 

The 100K record was the most surprising to Dykes, who has broken multiple records since he took up competitive racing in his 60s. “I didn’t think I had a prayer,” he says. “It’s hard running 100K at my age. I only made it by four minutes.”

Making his latest effort even more remarkable was the fact he was battling a host of health issues on race night.

“I told people I’m battling the three C’s out here,” says Dykes. “Two weeks ago I contracted COVID, and I also had cold symptoms going into the race. Six months before I had been diagnosed with blood cancer, and that’s been really hurting my fast pace, but I have this theory that it doesn’t affect ultra paces and that seems to have really been borne out here. The only symptom I have is that I can’t breathe hard enough when I run fast, but when you’re running 12 hours, you’re never running hard. I was really happy to be able to get through 12 hours with all those health problems.”

Dykes says although he has been sitting out races recently due to health challanges, it was important for him to step up to the starting line over the weekend, as he prepares to make history next month as the oldest finisher of the 100-mile Western States Endurance Run.

“I kind of had to take a chance, because the really big race is next month,” says Dykes. “That’s a big deal. I’ve got a sponsor, and everybody’s expecting me to become the oldest-ever finisher there. So I thought, If I can’t run for 12 hours, how am I going to run for 30 hours?”

The self-described “ultra geezer” says his race on the weekend—his longest since receiving his cancer diagnosis—is a good confidence booster ahead of Western States.

“When you haven’t done something that like in a while, doubts creep in. A lot of things could have gone wrong. I could have got nauseated, I could have bonked, running out of glycogen, in which case you’re going to slow down no matter how much you want to run faster. None of those things happened. You get in this strange mindset where you just kind of dial out misery and keep on going.”

Reflecting on his latest effort with humility, Dykes says many of the U.S. masters records he set on the weekend were “low-hanging fruit,” saying he could “think of a half a dozen 75-year-olds out there” who could have set records in the 25- and 30-km distances “if they had the mind to.”

He adds, however, that he was proud to have hit the 100-km distance under the wire. “At 50 km I asked my crew to find out the new pace I would have to run over the next 50 km for the 100 km. I had to pick up from my comfortable pace. I thought I don’t care if I have no chance—I’m going to run the pace I need and keep doing it until I can’t do it anymore.’ Somehow, for seven hours I managed to keep pushing myself right up to the ending bell.”

Dykes is now looking forward to bringing that same determination to Western States on June 24-25. “It’ll be fun trying,” he says. “There are just so many ways to enjoy running. I’m really fortunate.”

(05/17/2023) Views: 494 ⚡AMP
by Paul Baswick
Share
Western States 100

Western States 100

The Western States ® 100-Mile Endurance Run is the world’s oldest and most prestigious 100-mile trail race. Starting in Squaw Valley, California near the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics and ending 100.2 miles later in Auburn, California, Western States, in the decades since its inception in 1974, has come to represent one of the ultimate endurance tests in the...

more...
Share

Gene Dykes hopes to become oldest Western States finisher

Gene Dykes, the record-setting 75-year-old ultrarunner from Philadelphia, will hit the trail this summer in a bid to become the oldest finisher in the history of the 100-mile Western States Endurance Run. 

This year’s event, which takes place June 24-25 in Auburn, Calif., will mark the race’s 49th year.

The current oldest finisher is Nick Bassett of Cheyenne, Wy., who finished the 2018 race in 29:09. (The cutoff for all finishers is 30 hours.) Bassett was 73.

A self-proclaimed “ultra geezer,” Dykes started competing in races when he was in his 60s and has since broken multiple records for his age group. In 2021, he broke the M70 50K world record at the USATF national 50K road championships in East Islip, N.Y., crossing the finish line in 3:56:43 and beating the previous record of 4:15:55, set by Germany’s Wilhelm Hofmann in 1997, by nearly 19 minutes. Dykes broke the M70 100-mile and 24-hour track records at the Dawn 2 Dusk 2 Dawn 24-hour ultramarathon in Sharon Hill, Penn., in 2019.

In 2018, Dykes ran his fastest marathon time—2:54:23—at age 70 at the Jacksonville Marathon in Florida. The result would have seen him take the world M70 marathon title from former record holder Ed Whitlock, but Dykes’s final time was not ratified due to the race not being a USATF-sanctioned event.

In total, Dykes has run 157 marathons and ultras since 2006. His daughter Hilary will pace him at this year’s WSER.

Dykes is being sponsored in his latest effort by Calgary-based Stoked Oats. As part of their support, the company has kicked off its Breakfast with Gene series on Instragram and YouTube. The series will feature guests including Vancouver-based WSER female record holder Ellie Greenwood, three-time WSER racer Michael Wardian and race director Craig Thornley.

In 2016, 72-year-old Wally Hesseltine made a valiant and heartbreaking attempt to break the “oldest finisher” record, but missed the 30-hour cutoff by two minutes.

“We are thrilled to be supporting Gene on his journey to WSER,” says series host and Stoked Oats founder Simon Donato. “Running 100 miles is a tall order for professional runners, let alone someone in their 70s. What Gene is trying to accomplish is truly remarkable and we’re looking forward to supporting him every record-setting step of the way.”

Western States, first run in 1974, is the world’s oldest 100-mile trail race and one of the most prestigious. Each June, 369 runners from across the United States and around the world embark from the start line in Olympic Valley, Calif., to tackle a challenging course to the coveted finish line at Placer High School in Auburn.

(04/26/2023) Views: 423 ⚡AMP
by Paul Baswick
Share
Western States 100

Western States 100

The Western States ® 100-Mile Endurance Run is the world’s oldest and most prestigious 100-mile trail race. Starting in Squaw Valley, California near the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics and ending 100.2 miles later in Auburn, California, Western States, in the decades since its inception in 1974, has come to represent one of the ultimate endurance tests in the...

more...
Share

UTMB World Series introduces new pregnancy policy

Organizers of the UTMB World Series—billed as the world’s ultimate trail-running circuit—say they have committed to supporting mothers and their partners by introducing a new pregnancy policy that will apply to UTMB World Series events in the 2023 season.

The policy (which includes deferral and priority entry guidelines for athletes who are pregnant, athletes with a partner who is pregnant and athletes who are adopting or birthing via surrogacy) encourages runners to return to the trails in a safe way and within a timeframe that is considerate of individual circumstances following birth.

For events with an entry lottery, including UTMB Mont-Blanc, Lavaredo Ultra Trail by UTMB and Eiger Ultra Trail by UTMB, the policy states women will be given a full refund and priority entry to be used within five years for races in the 50K, 100K and 100M categories, and within two years for 20K races.For all other events, the policy allows for women who become pregnant after registration to defer their entry for up to two years for the same race, or receive a full refund.

Partners of pregnant women as well as parents who are adopting or birthing via surrogacy will have the option to defer their entry for up to two years or receive a full refund.

Organizers say the policy was created following a lengthy consultation process, which included gathering expertise from sports and medical professionals, the Pro Trail Runners Association, and athletes such as Sophie Power, who made headlines in 2018 when a photo of her breastfeeding midway through UTMB went viral.

“I’m delighted that UTMB World Series is launching a world-leading pregnancy deferral policy that supports all women to return to racing when they are ready,” said Power, founder of SheRACES. “At SheRACES we look forward to continuing to work with UTMB World Series going forward, sharing our insights to ensure more women from all backgrounds participate in these iconic events.”

UTMB World Series organizers say the new policy comes as part of an effort to encourage more women into the sport and to build on UTMB Group’s commitment to equal opportunities. In line with the actions put in place in previous years, in 2023, male and female elite athletes will be equally represented on the start line of all three UTMB World Series Finals races at the sports pinnacle event UTMB Mont-Blanc, thanks to the new sports system, which sees elite athletes qualify through a series of events throughout the year.

UTMB World Series adds it also remains committed to equal media coverage and representation on communication platforms including UTMB Live, as well as equal prize money for male and female athletes.

UTMB is one of several prominent races—including Western States, the London Marathon and the Calgary Marathon—to have recently introduced policies aimed at supporting mothers and pregnant athletes.

(04/20/2023) Views: 482 ⚡AMP
by Paul Baswick
Share
North Face Ultra Trail du Tour du Mont-Blanc

North Face Ultra Trail du Tour du Mont-Blanc

Mountain race, with numerous passages in high altitude (>2500m), in difficult weather conditions (night, wind, cold, rain or snow), that needs a very good training, adapted equipment and a real capacity of personal autonomy. It is 6:00pm and we are more or less 2300 people sharing the same dream carefully prepared over many months. Despite the incredible difficulty, we feel...

more...
Share

Competition Is Stacked at This Year's Lake Sonoma 50

The Lake Sonoma 50 is one of the fastest and most competitive 50-milers in the U.S., and it's turning up the notch on competition in its 16th year. 

Set in the rolling foothills near Healdsburg, California, the hilly course is known for its smooth singletrack and more than a dozen creek crossings. For the first time, Lake Sonoma will be the 50-mile selection race for Team USA, and all runners who race their way onto the podium will get an automatic invitation to run for Team USA in the long-format race in this year's  World Mountain and Trail Running Championships set for June 6-10 in Innsbruck-Stubai, Austria. 

While Lake Sonoma has always been a competitive event (previously a Golden Ticket Race), that invitation has certainly encouraged a high level of competition. 

"I'm super psyched for Lake Sonoma to be a USA Selection Race," says Gina Lucrezi, race director and founder of Trail Sisters, a non-profit that supports women in the trail space. "This event has been a top 50-mile race in the U.S. since its inception. John Medinger, Lisa Henson, and Skip and Holly Brand have created a sought-after course and event, and I'm proud to continue their legacy of keeping it a barn burner event, pulling in top talent to test their fitness and abilities." Lucrezi represented the U.S. at several USATF MUT Championship events, and she's excited that her event will extend that opportunity to a new generation of ultra athletes. "It's both an honor and privilege to host this opportunity for runners vying to represent the USA," says Lucrezi. 

The event is Trail Sisters certified, which means there will be equal podium spots, awards, women's specific race swag, menstrual products at aid stations, and equal space for women on the start line. Lake Sonoma races are held within the Native lands of the Southern Pomo. The Southern Pomo are part of the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, a federally recognized tribe. The race has also partnered with a local charity, The Children of Vineyard Workers Scholarship, which provides education funding to the kids of agricultural workers in the area. 

"In terms of diversity, equity, and inclusion, when hosting the lottery, we split the field 50/50 male/female. (Non-binary folks were grouped in the field that they noted as their gender assigned at birth). We then utilized gender-specific waitlists if participants cancel or defer, but we extinguished our waitlists and then allowed for open registration to fill our vacant spots. In the lottery form, we requested race and ethnicity information," Luzrezi told Trail Runner in an interview. "This provided insight into the diversity of signups and helped us make sure the starting line could be as diverse as possible."

Sweet Sixteen

In its 16th year, Lake Sonoma has ushered a generation of ultrarunners onto the scene, and many are returning to reconnect with those fond memories at an event that epitomizes the grassroots appeal of trail races, with an internationally competitive field. 

Ultrarunner Devon Yanko is competing in the marathon after her win and earning a Hoka Golden Ticket at Javelina Jundred, says she feels a deep connection to the race after winning it early on in 2010. Building up to Western States in June, Yanko says her primary objective is to feel healthy and enjoy the race. 

"I have been a part of Lake Sonoma almost since its inception and have been a spectator/crew for most of its biggest years," says Yanko, who formerly lived in San Anselmo, California. "It was an extension of my local community and always had the best vibes. I'm mostly looking forward to seeing friends, supporting the race, and helping keep the tradition of Lake Sonoma alive."

Many runners have long histories with the buttery, grass-lined trails. Lake Sonoma was one of the first ultras OCR athlete and ultrarunner Amelia Boone ever knew about more than a decade ago. But, a broken femur derailed her initial attempts at the 50-mile event, and she's been looking for an opportunity to get back to Lake Sonoma's start line ever since. She says the high level of competition and community vibe were big draws as well. 

"I'm looking to run strong in a competitive field. It's been a while since I've run a race with a super deep field, so I'm looking to put the ego aside and have some faith in myself. My ultimate reach goal would clearly be top 3 to qualify for the U.S. World team, but that'd just be a bonus," says Boone. "Oh, and give as many high fives on the trails as possible."

Brett Hornig, a coach and athlete from Ashland, Oregon, hopes that the third time's the charm. He's run the race twice, and hasn't had the day he wanted.

"LS50 was one of the premier 50-mile races in the world when I was first introduced to trail and ultrarunning around 2014, so the allure of competing against the best has always been there for me," says Hornig. "That initially drew me to the race, and the competition is still there, but it is the community who puts on the race that keeps me coming back. The race directors (both past and current), the volunteers, sponsors, and fans of the sport put on an incredible event that everyone should check out for themselves at least once."

Ryan Miller, the winner of the 2022 Gorge Waterfalls 50k and Bandera 100k, from Vero Beach, Florida, says he's excited by the fast and smooth Sonoma trails.

"The primary allure of Lake Sonoma 50 has to be the trails themselves. Have you seen the videos and pictures of this place?! It's absolutely stunning. I'm most looking forward to the competitive racing with big stakes as it tends to bring the best out of everyone," says Miller. 

The proximity to wine country doesn't hurt either. 

"Throw in a deep competitive field, prize money, my wife's excitement to go to California wine country, and an opportunity to earn a spot on the World Championship team, and it's a no-brainer for an athlete like me focusing on the 50K-100K distances."

Miller, like others, is gunning for a podium finish that would earn an invitation to race for Team USA at the World championship. 

The race field is chock full of talented runners, including the women's field with Abby Levene, Anne-Marie Madden, Allison Baca, Tara Fraga, Sarah Keys, Megan Drake, Sarah Biehl, Erin Clark, Natalie Sandoval, Erin Viehl, Amelia Boone, Anna Kakis, Catrin Jones, Mercedes Siegle-Gaither, Sarah Cummings, Kristina Randrup, Jackie Merrit and Hannah Osowski.

The men's race includes Miller, Hornig, Drew Holmen, Seth Ruhling, David Kilgore, Drew Macomber, Preston Cates, Terence Copeland, Reed Breuer, Aubrey Myjer, Charlie Ware, Ryan Sullivan, Caleb Olsen, Chris Myers, Jason Schlarb, Erik Sorenson, Matthew Seidel, Morgan Elliot, Addison Smith, and Travis Lavin.

"The overall Lake Sonoma race event is focused and centered on community," says Lucrezi.   "I'm really excited about our new start and finish location and the celebration vibe we are creating. No matter your pace, experience, or what place you finish, Lake Sonoma is an event that welcomes all runners and fosters friendships made through the event and on the trails."

(04/08/2023) Views: 580 ⚡AMP
Share
Lake Sonoma 50

Lake Sonoma 50

The race is held on the rugged trails at Lake Sonoma, about 10 miles northwest of Healdsburg. The course is 86% single track and 9% dirt roads, with the first 2.4 miles on a paved country road.The race starts at 6:30 a.m. and has a 14-hour time limit. ...

more...
Share

Course records fall at chilly Black Canyon 100K in Arizona

Temperatures were cooler than usual at Saturday’s Black Canyon 100K near Phoenix, Ariz., a Golden Ticket race for Western States Endurance Run. The race started just a degree or two above freezing, and gradually got warmer as the day wore on, resulting in some record-breaking finish times. 

Anthony Costales of Salt Lake City, Utah, took the overall win in a new course record of 7:32:50 (20 minutes faster than Sage Canaday’s CR from 2016), improving on his fifth-place finish last year. Keely Henninger of Portland, Ore., won the women’s race in 8:45:30, three minutes ahead of Brittany Petersen’s CR from 2021, and 15th overall.

Tom Evans of the U.K. finished second, five minutes behind Costales, with Germany’s Janosh Kowalczyk third, in 7:40:00. All three were ahead of the previous course record. American pro triathlete Heather Jackson, who is relatively new to the trail running world, took second in the women’s race, in 7:47:59 (also under the previous CR), with Meghan Morgan third, in 8:53:52.

The first and second women and men receive automatic entry to the Western States Endurance Run, to be held June 23 in Olympic Valley, Calif.

Top Canadians

Elliot Cardin of Bromont, Que., was the fastest Canadian in the 100K race, snagging an eighth-place finish in 8:10:22, after finishing 14th in 2022. Mercedes Vince, another relative newcomer to the trail scene, was the top Canadian woman, finishing 14th, in 10:04:20.

The 60K race, which took place Sunday, was won by Joshua Park (4:37:10) and Mimmi Kotka of Sweden (4:55:46, for sixth overall). 

(02/20/2023) Views: 597 ⚡AMP
by Anne Francis
Share
Black Canyon Ultras

Black Canyon Ultras

The Black Canyon 100K trail race takes place on the world class Black Canyon Trail near Phoenix, Arizona. This 80 mile long trail features incredible single track trails on an old stagecoach route, this course traverses across high desert grasslands and crosses through several arroyos and deep canyons on a classic journey in the desert Southwest. This historic trail is...

more...
Share

Ultrarunner Camille Herron announces new sponsor: Lululemon

Hundred-mile and 12-hour world record holder Camille Herron of Oklahoma City, Okla. ended speculation about her new sponsor with Wednesday’s announcement that she has joined forces with the running and yoga brand Lululemon. The runner recently announced that she would be sponsored by a company that is new to the ultratrail space in 2023. “It feels like a dream come true,” Herron told us after a week spent at the brand’s Portland, Ore. facilities.

Herron is the first and only woman to achieve sub-13 hours for 100 miles, 150 km for 12 hours and 270 km over 24 hours, and she won the 90-km Comrades Marathon in South Africa in 2017. She reached 100,000 lifetime miles in 2022. She was formerly sponsored by Hoka.

Herron says she’s most excited for the support she’s received beyond her athletic ability: “It means a lot to me that they appreciate my human qualities beyond my athletic talents,” she says. “My professional background is in science and research, and they recognized how I can help the brand with my scientific knowledge. I’m a cerebral person–I’m more than an ultrarunner. It spoke to my heart that Lululemon recognized this. They seemed to know more about me than I knew about myself! I was blown away.”

The philosophy

Herron is excited to be partnering with Lululemon because of their track record as a brand that has women front and centre, and she joins a long list of other female Lululemon-sponsored runners, including Colleen Quigley, Mirna Valerio and Tara Davis, and others. “I feel a sense of women’s empowerment joining with them,” Herron says. “They believe in me and support me, and they care about the whole human. They’ve been asking me about my mental health and wellbeing, and I thought that was really cool–I’ve never been asked about that. I’ve connected with someone to help me with my mental and emotional health, and how I manage stress.”

“Last year at Western States, I started my period after the Forest Hill aid station, and I shared that, and it resonated with a lot of women. Sharing my journey, my athletic career in my 40s–that’s pretty much unheard of. It’s really cool for me to have Lululmeon’s support. I’m very grateful.”

The gear

Herron’s excited about Lululemon’s running clothing: “We’ve been having fun mixing and matching that top [the Invigorate Training Tank] with shorts. I really like old-school split shorts, and Lululemon has that. I imagine myself being a unicorn or a superhero, mixing and matching Wonder-Woman-type colours. We’re bringing back colour to the sport!”

She is also impressed with their socks, and their run bras: “Being an ultrarunner, I spend a lot of time on my feet,” says Herron. “To be able to take off my socks after a run, and my feet are dry and my toes are in good shape, is huge. “I also love how they put pockets in everything.”

She’s also impressed with the brand’s efforts to produce high-quality running shoes, even if shoes appropriate for very long days on the road, track or trail remain a work in progress. “Me being a science person, I can offer a lot of feedback on developing their shoes,” Herron says. “It’s such a great opportunity to collaborate. We’ve had lots of meetings–I’ve been to the company headquarters in Vancouver and met the shoe people; all the products are incredible, and I’m excited to bring them to the ultratrail community.”

Goals for 2023

Herron is excited for the future: “I feel so blessed to be 41 and still getting faster,” she says, adding that she’s grateful for the brand’s support. “This is a long-term commitment, not only for my athletic career but also helping them with product development. I’m going to be continuing my focus on world records, try to improve some of them, and also go further; I want to go for the 48-hour and 6-day records; I’m hoping I have the opportunity this year to go beyond 24 hours.”

This summer, however, she’ll be focused on trails, with Western States in June and Leadville (another 100-mile trail race) in August. “Every time I show up at Western States, I get a bit better,” she says.

On Feb. 18, Herron plans to challenge her own world records for 100 miles and 12 hours at The Raven in Mount Pleasant, S.C. She will also plan to qualify for the 24-hour world championship in Taiwan, which takes place in December 2023.

(02/18/2023) Views: 1,230 ⚡AMP
by Running Magazine
Share
Share

Run through the winter like a pro with these tips

Unlike many endurance athletes who switch to skiing in the winter months, elite ultrarunner Ellie Pell runs all winter. Her experience running through the cold, dark months has resulted in some wisdom–when it’s coldest out, Pell often fits her running in the early mornings, before sunrise. 

Pell was a fan favourite at Western States last year, where she finished 14th among the women (this year she’ll be back to crew her best friend and golden ticket winner Riley Brady). From Ithaca, N.Y., Pell recently relocated to Boulder. “I also have poor circulation in my hands, which can complicate both running enjoyment and opening nutrition packets,” says Pell. Here are a few things she has found to help.

Use gloves with a wind mitt, or gloves under mittens

The friction between the fingers in the gloves increases warmth, and the wind mitt protects the heat from leaving your fingers. If it is especially cold, I put a pair of hand warmers inside the mitt to cling to, but unless you are under 10 degrees (or have Raynaud’s syndrome) the wind mitt is surprisingly good at trapping that heat.

Keep fuel close to the body (for warmth) or drink your nutrition

“There is nothing worse than a frozen gummy or cold gel when it is cold outside,” says Pell. “It also stinks when sports drink freezes in the nozzle or bottle.” Pell solves this issue by keeping her nutrition as close to her body (and heat centre) as possible. She also tries to limit the number of packets she has to open, so she doesn’t waste time struggling to open packaging with cold fingers.

Pell says she favours gummies or chews on really cold days, because she can open them pre-run. “The hardest thing in the winter is drinking cold fluid when it’s cold, she says. “I try to prepare by using warmer water in the morning when I prepare my bottles and keeping them near the heater in my car–every little bit helps.”

On icy roads, experiment with trail shoes/microspikes 

“I find the winter is a great time to test out different trail shoes on the icy or snowy roads,” Pell says. “The traction on soft surfaces after a big snowstorm is a better focus for me than trying to maintain a pace.” Pell explains that a good road-to-trail pair of shoes work really well for this, and help a runner get to know the feel underfoot. Later, when things thaw, this training makes it easy to decide whether the shoes would be a good pick for a race day in the mountains.

“Having recently moved to a place that has mountains to run all year, the ice doesn’t stop our training,” she says. Pell carries a nice pair of microspikes in her pocket or pack to use if she hits icy sections.”It sounds a lot more burdensome than it is, and when your luck runs out dancing over the ice, that extra few ounces of gear is worth it,” she says.

Use the tools available for you (no shame in hitting the treadmill or track)

Even if you’re a hardcore all-season trail and mountain runner, the treadmill is worth considering on really cold days. While you’ll certainly gain mental toughness from running in the cold, Pell says sometimes an indoor run may be more beneficial if it’s nasty out, especially if you have speedwork scheduled.

“When it’s under a certain temperature (which varies for everyone), it becomes difficult for muscles and tendons to adequately warm up to assume the turnover needed for effective speedwork,” she says.”Instead of chancing a pulled muscle or tendon, if a treadmill is an option, take it!”

If indoor training is not an option, Pell says winter is a good time to focus on effort over pace.”Tuning in to how your body feels at a certain effort, rather than pace, is very useful for trail runs and races with varied terrain,” she adds.”Keep the effort honest, do your best and get ready to fly, come spring.”

(01/30/2023) Views: 548 ⚡AMP
by Keeley Milne
Share
Share

After Mosquito Fire and Heavy Rains, Western States Trail Requires Serious Work

California's largest fire of 2022 never quite grew to a tenth of the size of 2021's nearby Dixie fire, but that isn't to say it did not have an oversized impact. 

Over 46 days spanning a portion of September and October, the Mosquito Fire burned more than 76,000 acres of forest from the town of Foresthill up to the edge of the Sierra Crest near Olympic Valley, costing state and federal fire agencies $181 million in firefighting salaries and resources. Beyond the monetary cost of the fire, far greater impacts were felt in the surrounding communities, including the loss of 78 structures and residual effects to livelihoods. The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) has focused a lot of its efforts on recreational infrastructure because of its economic importance in the area. The USFS has since performed an internal study to quantify the impacts of the wildfire, and related these findings to local stakeholders including residents and businesses. 

Existing within the boundaries of the Mosquito Fire is the Western States Trail, specifically, the 12.4 miles between Last Chance and Michigan Bluff, often known as the "canyons" of the Western States 100 course-one of the most well-known sections of the course. This relatively short section of trail ascends 5,226 feet and descends 6,406 feet, cresting at Devil's Thumb, traversing over 36 switchbacks, and passing Deadwood Cemetery that hosts the remains of the miners and Chinese laborers who built this trail, once among a litany of trails developed by the Washoe people that lived on this land, in the late 1850s. 

Thankfully, for those chasing a golden ticket entry or already accepted into this year's race, the staff at Western States has been communicating with the USFS since the beginning of the blaze and have been "working full-time on getting the trail open ever since," said Craig Thornley, Western States race director. Thornley says an agreement has been reached between the race and the USFS, to leverage private funds in order to repair the trail and open in time for the late June race. This is anything but the normal or anticipated result, Thornley said. 

"Both races I direct, the Waldo 100K and Western States, were impacted by wildfire in 2022, and that was in a relatively light fire year," he says. "What most race directors appear to do is take the approach of waiting for land managers to tell them when the trail can be used again. In this case we were front and center, asking: 'what do we need to do to get this open?' If we hadn't, it could be several years until the race would be feasible."

This work had, up until the December holiday break, included a number of volunteer days aimed at adding water bars and other trail fortifications to reduce erosion impacts from typical winter rains. These volunteer days were made feasible, in large part, thanks to the quick action of the USFS Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) teams, which typically address wildfire areas to fell hazard trees and create plans for restoration work. 

Wildfire had impacted this trail in the past, most notably during the American Fire of 2013, lending the Western States team experience as to how to ensure the event would go forward. Also, the 2008 Western States 100 was canceled because of poor air quality, due to numerous wildfires in the area. 

Based on the efforts made last fall, Thornley believed the trail would re-open in plenty of time for the race this June. But that confidence was shaken at the end of December, when a number of atmospheric rivers crossed the Pacific Ocean and dumped heavy precipitation in California. 

On the evening of January 5, 2023, a forest order was issued by the Tahoe National Forest, noting extreme damage to the burned sections of both Western States Trail and Mosquito Ridge Road, a key artery to access aid stations in this stretch. Due to the damage, the USFS issued an access closure until December 31, 2023, which would threaten the possibility of this year's race happening. In most cases, this closure would last until the USFS accrued funding and fully repaired the trail and road, which typically takes two to four years, with orders being renewed each calendar year, depending on the forest region budget. 

A New Approach 

The Western States team is confident that the order will be reversed once trail maintenance is completed. However, due to USFS budgetary constraints, this trail maintenance will be funded by private donors through the Western States nonprofit structure, on the behalf of the government, a strong partnership and plan between event promoters and land managers. 

While it is impressive that the Western States staff has been able to, in all likelihood, stave off race cancellation or delay, there is a larger question to ask: what do individuals, race promoters, and sponsoring brands do under the face of rising hazards in the present and future? 

In California, the Santa Ana winds have driven wildfires followed by rain events for centuries, but climate modelers warn that the number and severity of wildfires of the past several years, as well as the frequency of high-severity extreme precipitation events, highlight a worsening climate trend.

No longer is climate change and public land management solely impacting individual communities for discrete periods of time. It is also placing a serious threat to the start line of arguably the most lauded trail running event in North America. The burning of one trail, which will likely require hundreds of thousands of dollars to restore and treat for public safety, is forcing the hand of major race promoters, and the entire outdoor industry, to consider where climate change fits in their yearly budgets. 

While the question as to what Western States runners should expect this year is clearly front and center, most see the writing on the wall-the industry must adapt to and address climate change. Fortunately, Western States will almost assuredly happen this year, but only because of the immense work ethic, generous donor giving, and long-term community building of the event staff. 

While Western States has the funding to avert disaster this year, both Canyons Endurance Runs by UTMB and the Tevis Cup equestrian event are held in April and July, respectively, on the same trails. There is no guarantee the trail will be open and usable as early as April, or in good condition for horses by July. At the time of publication, UTMB staff were in communication with Western States and land managers to find solutions for Canyons in 2023. However, no official statement has been issued at this time. 

Of course, these three races alone are not the first to be impacted by both natural disasters and a limited federal budget for trail restoration. For example, in the last decade, Santa Barbara's Nine Trails has seen the same cascading disaster chain. Such complications have also been experienced along trail systems in Flagstaff, Arizona, Glenwood Springs, Colorado, and across the Pacific Northwest. 

Thornley credits the decade-long relationship building with the USFS, California State Parks, and private landowners for their ability to quickly avert closure, noting the volunteer trail work days and private fundraising the event has done in collaboration with these land managers over the years. Western States has acted as an exemplar for other events to emulate in the coming decades, under a shifting climate system. However, one must ask whether other trail running event organizers have considered the time necessary to build these relationships with land managers, and to make plans accordingly before the next natural disaster strikes. The future of the sport depends on the urgent planning and trust-building of these various stakeholders.

(01/29/2023) Views: 511 ⚡AMP
by Trail Runner Magazine
Share
Share

Here's Why It Feels Like Every Elite Runner Is Changing Sponsors Right Now

Tim Tollefson celebrated the new year shoveling a lot of snow, dreaming about a summer of possibility, and changing his shoes.

After six years with Hoka, Tollefson, 37, the well-known elite American ultrarunner from Mammoth Lakes, California, signed a new multi-year sponsorship deal with Craft. It might seem like a curious move this time of the year, but, in reality, most athlete sponsorship contracts in running are one-year partnerships that end on December 31. That typically gives brands the upper hand in these situations because they can have an easy out whenever an athlete doesn't have a great year of results, or they no longer fit with their marketing goals. It always comes down to the money, though sometimes it's in the athlete's best interests to start fresh, to leverage their recent results and social media platform to find a better deal with a brand that better fits their racing goals.

Because there are more brands partnering runners than ever before, and presumably more sponsorship money available, top-tier distance runners who are still at the top of their game-like Tim Tollefson, Allie McLaughlin, Josette Norris, Paige Stoner, David Ribich, Dani Moreno, Erin Clark, Natosha Rogers, Colin Bennie, Dillon Maggard, Camille Herron, and others-have been able to seek out new opportunities to continue their careers with the necessary support.

The terms of the newly signed deals haven't been disclosed, but there is a huge range in pay for professional distance runners-roughly $15,000 on the low end for a partially sponsored trail runner without significant international results, to $300,000 at the high end for a top-tier marathoner with Marathon Majors podium results. Certainly that means some live a life of luxury, while others are forced to work part-time jobs and pinch pennies to get by.

But there are also often signing bonuses, as well as premiums paid for earning appearance fees, major victories, global medals, podium finishes, breaking records, and other incentives, so running faster can be a fast track to a boost in income. However, most athletes are considered independent contractors, and many have to pay for their own healthcare, body work, and travel, depending on the details of their brand partnership.

"You start getting an idea of who's going to be available, for one reason or other, in the last few months of the year, and that's when brands and athletes start talking," said Mike McManus, Hoka's global sports marketing director. "As an athlete, you're as valuable as whatever money anyone wants to give you, but it's a process and all about negotiating. Sometimes you can match the money being offered; sometimes it just doesn't make sense for the partnership."

What Tollefson liked about Craft was similar to what he liked about Hoka six years ago-an upstart brand ready to make an impact in trail racing, its new line of trail shoes, and the trail community overall. Craft sees Tollefson as a runner with name recognition and several significant race wins in the past three years, not to mention a leader in the sport who started the Mammoth Trail Fest last year.

"This [new partnership with Craft] has reignited my deep passion for the sport and has reminded me of the things I want to accomplish," he said. "It's almost like a start-up situation led by passionate people who are excited to make an impact and want to support the people who are along for the journey. Curiosity drives me and I like a challenge. I know I am going to have some lifetime achievements ahead."

More Big Moves in Trail and Ultra

After an extraordinary year of racing on the trails, Allie McLaughlin changed from On to Hoka as her primary sponsor. The charismatic 32-year-old from Colorado Springs won the daunting Mount Marathon race in Alaska, placed among the top five in several Golden Trail Series races, and won both gold and bronze medals in the inaugural World Mountain and Trail Running World Championships in Thailand. She'll be representing the U.S. in this year's World Championships in Austria, in June, while also returning to the OCC 54K race, as part of the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB) festival in Chamonix, in August.

"It was really interesting to see how much trail means to them [Hoka], not only with their sponsorship of UTMB, but in general how they're helping push the sport forward," said McLaughlin, who had been with On since 2021. "There are a lot of reasons I like what Hoka is doing, but ultimately, the emphasis they're putting on the team and their athletes is really exciting."

Other trail and ultrarunners who have switched brands include Erin Clark,  who finished 7th at last year's CCC, who left Hoka to sign with Nike, even though her partner, Adam Peterman, the 2022 Western States 100 champion and ultrarunning world champion, re-signed with Hoka. 

Spanish trail runner Sara Alonso has changed from Salomon to ASICS, while Craft also signed Arlen Glick, a prolific 100-mile specialist from Ohio, and Mimmi Kotka, a Swedish runner with numerous podium finishes in Europe, to its team. Meanwhile, previously unsponsored American trail runners Tabor Hemming (Salomon) and Dan Curts (Brooks) are among those who have signed new deals.

Meanwhile, Dani Moreno, a world-class mountain runner from Mammoth Lakes, California, and Camille Herron, a record-setting ultrarunner from Warr Acres, Oklahoma, are both also leaving Hoka for yet-to-be-announced brands that offered better deals.

Bigger Transitions for Road and Track Runners

For track athletes and marathon runners, a change of shoe brands is often a more involved change, mostly because it often means changing training groups and coaches, too.

For example, Josette Norris, the fifth-place finisher in the 1,500m at the 2022 World Athletics Indoor Championships, not only switched from Reebok to On, but she left Reebok's Virginia-based Boston Track Club, and coach Chris Fox, and moved west to Boulder, Colorado, to join the On Athletics Club under Dathan Ritzenhein.

Similarly, David Ribich, one of the best American mile runners on the track last year, switched from the Seattle-based Brooks Beasts track club to the Nike-backed Union Athletics Club under Pete Julian.

Colin Bennie, the top American finisher in the Boston Marathon in 2021-previously with Reebok but unsponsored last year-signed with the Brooks Beasts but will be training on his own in San Francisco. Dillon Maggard, who was second at the U.S. cross country championships and ninth in 3,000m at the indoor world championships in 2022, is returning to Seattle to train with the Brooks Beasts, after being unsponsored last year. Natosha Rogers, who was a finalist in the 10,000m at last summer's World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Oregon, has changed from Brooks to Puma, but will continue to train on her own in Colorado. Middle-distance runner Cruz Culpepper, after short stints at the University of Washington and the University of Mississippi, gave up his remaining college eligibility to sign with Hoka and its NAZ Elite (NAZ) team.

Last summer, Paige Stoner left the Virginia-based Reebok group and Fox, her longtime coach, to train in Flagstaff, Arizona, partially because she didn't have other marathoners to train with on a regular basis in Charlottesville. She increased her volume last fall training with Sarah Pagano and Emily Durgin and won the U.S. championship at the California International Marathon in December with a course record of 2:26:02, her debut at the distance.

In January, Stoner parlayed that into a new deal with Hoka, as she also joined the Flagstaff-based Northern Arizona Elite and will be training with a group of strong marathoners-including Aliphine Tuliamuk, Alice Wright, Kellyn Taylor, and the recently unretired Stephanie Bruce-under the guidance of coaches Alan Culpepper, Ben Rosario, and Jenna Wreiden.

"I was especially drawn to NAZ because they have proven to be a powerhouse in the marathon, which will likely be my primary focus in the years to come," Stoner said. "I believe the team has all of the tools it takes to compete at the highest level in the sport, and I am eager to begin this new chapter."

Learning the Ropes

For track and road running, the path to success for elite-level, post-collegiate athletes typically includes earning a sponsorship right after the track season in June and joining a sponsored training group and coach. From there, it's all about improving times and placing high in U.S. championship races, with hopes of becoming fast enough to earn a spot in elite track meets in Europe or one of the World Marathon Majors.

But most road and track runners have agents to help smooth out those transitions, whereas most trail runners do not. Plus, trail running is considerably more unstructured, with a greater range of race distances and a lot more unknown variables. That means the challenge of figuring out what opportunities exist on the trails-what races to run, how to train on trails, what gear is needed, how to race considerably longer distances, and how to attract sponsors-often requires them to learn on the fly.

Those are all reasons professional trail runner Andy Wacker recently formed The Trail Team, a non-profit organization that will help guide young runners along the path becoming successful, potentially sponsored trail runners, while also playing a role in boosting the level of competitive trail running in the U.S.

The Trail Team put out a call for candidates to become one of six inaugural team members in 2023. Once selected this spring, those athletes will go through a training camp, receive a stipend, get continued mentorship from Wacker, McLaughlin, Adam Peterman, and Grayson Murphy, and prepare for a variety of U.S. races.

"I've reached out to a lot of young athletes and the main thing I found is they need a mentor," said Wacker, a Salomon-sponsored athlete. "They don't necessarily need a coach-a lot of them have a college coach that they might continue working with-but they need someone who is going to help them with all of their questions and translate everything to trail running.

"It's still really hard to be an individually sponsored athlete, and I think it's hard for a young athlete to get recognition and build their brand, so we're hoping to help with that," he added. "There are more participants and more excitement than ever in trail running, but there are also growing pains. So there are a lot of ways we think we can help so they don't have to figure it out on their own."

Like Wacker, Tollefson is one of those athletes who did have to figure it out on his own. He was a good runner in high school and college, but he never qualified for the state meet and never earned All-American honors. But, with a relentless work ethic, he's become one of the most successful American trail runners of the past decade, having placed second at the CCC 100K in Chamonix, in 2015, and twice placed third in the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc 171K in 2016 and 2017.

Although his personal race plans aren't finalized yet, those deals are allowing him to step away from his career as a physical therapist and become fully immersed in running for the first time in his career.

"All of us athletes are multidimensional; we're more than just a pretty face rocking a bib," Tollefson said. "Everyone has a unique story. I think there are more brands interested in telling those stories, and Craft is definitely one of them. Some people have written me off, but I'm confident my best races are ahead of me. Craft believes in me, and I feel like I need that belief to get the best out of myself."

(01/29/2023) Views: 666 ⚡AMP
by Trail Runner Magazine
Share
Share

More Prize Money Is Flowing Into Trail Running. What Does That Mean for the Sport?

Annie Hughes, one of the top trail runners in the U.S. for the past two years, had another amazing season running ultra-distance races in 2022. On September 17, the 24-year-old Hoka-sponsored runner and part-time college student won the Run Rabbit Run 100 in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, her fourth win of 100 miles or longer since April. Earlier this year, she won the Coldwater Rumble 100 in January, Cocodona 250 in April and the High Lonesome 100 in July. 

Those were all exceptional efforts in really challenging races, but the big difference she experienced after crossing the Run Rabbit Run finish line, 21 hours and 26 minutes later, was that she won $17,500. (And yes, she was handed one of those cartoonish, oversized checks at the awards ceremony.)

Run Rabbit Run is one of the rare American trail races that offers a relatively large prize purse, and for a decade, it's been the largest in the sport. Hughes earned $15,000 for winning the women's race and split another $5,000 with Arizona trail runner Peter Mortimer (who placed 12th overall) as part of the event's new team competition.

"That wasn't the reason I was drawn to the race, but it was definitely pretty cool to win that much money," Hughes said. "I'm glad I did it, because it wound up being a really great race with an amazing course on a beautiful day."

The origins of trail running were always more about the joy and freedom of ambling through the natural world, and less about the specific time and pace of any run or race, which is why winning big cash prizes is mostly uncommon in the sport, even for top-tier runners like Hughes. Over the past two years, Hughes has won 10 races of 50 miles or longer, yet her Run Rabbit Run victory was the first time she's ever earned money for her efforts. 

More sponsorship money and bigger cash prizes are flowing into the sport, helping the top athletes earn a full-time living in the sport and become global stars. But that evolution has also created a desperate need for a unified governing body and more consistent drug-testing as doping becomes a more acute concern.

A Windfall of Prize Money

Historically, America's biggest and most notable trail running races haven't offered any prize money at all-Western States 100, Hardrock 100, Dipsea Trail Race, Leadville 100, Mount Marathon Race, Seven Sisters, Black Mountain Marathon/Mount Mitchell Challenge-partially because races simply couldn't afford to pay it, and also because, at the soul of the sport, that's not what the races were historically about or why most top runners were competing. 

But with the continued growth of the sport-trail running has grown by 231 percent over the past 10 years, according to one report-and the dawn of a new level of professionalization over the past decade, there is a lot more money being injected into the sport. That includes more high-profile events and race series, more brands investing in the sport, more sponsored runners and trail running teams, as well as a growing expectation that prize money should be part of the equation as it is in road running, triathlon, and even obstacle course racing.

For many years, The North Face 50 near San Francisco was one of the only ultra trail races in the world to offer a significant prize purse. From its inception in 2006, until it disappeared after 2019, that race famously awarded $30,000 in prize money, which included $10,000 to the top finishers in the men's and women's races, plus $4,000 for second and $1,000 for third. It was a race to look forward to at the end of the calendar year, both for the cash awards and the prize-induced competition that drew top runners from around the world.

During that span, Run Rabbit Run, though a lower-profile race, quietly began dishing out some of the biggest payouts in the sport, in part because race organizers Fred Abramowitz and Paul Sachs believe in rewarding its top athletes for their efforts (as well as giving back to the community via even bigger charitable contributions). The race winnings come primarily from entry fees of the 600-runner event and sponsors, if and when the race has them. That wasn't possible back in the early days of the sport, when entry fees were minuscule and cash sponsors were mostly non-existent, but things have started to change.

Abramowitz and Sachs, who both earn their living as attorneys, are unique in that they want to give back to the elite athletes and the Steamboat Springs community, but they also want to help grow the sport. Abramowitz outlined what he calls "A Blueprint for Sponsors of Ultra Running," a three-page document that explains how and why trail ultrarunning-both as a sport and as individual races-can connect to more casual runners, sports fans, and the general public. 

He points to the rampant growth of NASCAR, Professional Bull Riding, and professional poker over the past 20 years from their roots as fringe sports, relatively speaking, to mainstream spectacles with massive fan bases, TV contracts, and social media followings. Trail and ultrarunning aren't there yet, Abramowitz has noted, but they've certainly been growing rapidly.

"Today millions watch those events, though the actual number of participants is minuscule," Abramowitz wrote in his missive. "Ultrarunning can learn from these events: it needs new ideas, new ways of attracting the already committed runners and the casual sports fan to our terrific sport. Fields need to be competitive and races [need to be] dramatic; there are hundreds of 100-mile races, but those that offer competitive fields are a handful at most. Most ultra-races offer spectacular scenery in interesting venues." 

Abramowitz said sponsors should support races such as Run Rabbit Run that offer prize money not merely because it's good for sport, but also because prize money can attract competitive fields, and competitive fields attract interest-from spectators, participants, potential sponsors, and the general public. He also points out that having prize money at more domestic races is a way to keep the sport from becoming entirely Euro-centric, which has been an increasing trend in the past several years.

The trend of cash purses seems to be increasing, and on the face of it, that's good for elite athletes capable of podium finishes. But it's a complex topic and one that certainly will simultaneously increase the competitiveness of the sport while, some argue, continue to pull the sport away from its organic, racing-in-nature roots that was mostly viewed as the antithesis of competitive road racing. 

On the same day Run Rabbit Run paid out  $75,000 in total prize money, the Pikes Peak Ascent awarded $18,000 in prize money for its top 10 finishers-including $3,000 apiece to the men's and women's winners-while the Pikes Peak Marathon, on September 18, had an additional $10,500 in total prize money for the top five runners. The races also offered $2,000 (Ascent) and $4,000 (Marathon), respectively, as course-record bonuses, and a $10,000 premium to any runner surpassing a pie-in-the-sky time well ahead of the course records. None of those records were broken, but the $28,500 in total prize money-partially backed by  the Salomon-sponsored Golden Trail Series-was one of several large prize purses offered at U.S. races this year.

Other big American prize purses were also primarily tied to the Golden Trail Series events-the $50,000 spread over four races at the mid-June Broken Arrow Sky Races in Olympic Valley, California, and the September 25 Flagstaff Sky Peaks 26K race in Flagstaff, Arizona, where runners competed for $18,000 in prize money and a chance to compete at the Golden Trails World Series Final, and the $15,000 winner's earnings at the Madeira Ocean & Trails 5-Day Stage Race in October. 

Also of note, the November 18-20 Golden Gate Trail Classic paid out $25,000 in total prize money to the top five finishers in both the 100K and half-marathon races, which were part of this year's nine-race $270,000 Spartan Trail World Championship Series.

Meanwhile, the Cirque Series, sponsored by On, paid out $3,600 in total prize money at each of its six sub-ultra mountain running races in the U.S., including $1,000 for the men's and women's winners. The Mt. Baldy Run-to-the-Top on September 5 in Southern California offered $3,000 to runners who broke the event's longstanding course records, and Joe Gray and Kim Dobson obliged by taking down each mark.

Most U.S. Trail and Mountain Running Championships have a minimum of $2,000 in prize money. Typically that comes from regional sponsors eager to support the local race organizations, such as the case with Northeast Delta Dental's contributions behind this year's Loon Mountain Race in Lincoln, New Hampshire, which hosted the U.S. Mountain Running Championships. That event had a $1,500 total prize purse that was paid out to the top three men and women in each race, but it also had an additional $1,500 for an Upper Walking Boss premium that was spread among the top three fastest times in each gender on the super-steep upper part of the course.

Meanwhile, the 2022 World Mountain and Trail Running Championships in Thailand paid out $66,000 to the top five finishers over four races, including $4,000 to the winners of each event.

"(The prize money) is way better than it's ever been, both for the athletes earning it and the number of sponsors who are contributing to it," says Nancy Hobbs, executive director of the American Trail Running Association and the chairperson of the USATF Mountain Ultra Trail Council that oversees national championship races and the U.S. Mountain Running Team. 

From a longer view over the past decade or so, Joe Gray agrees there is more money coming into the sport than ever before. As a top-tier pro since 2008 and 21-time U.S. champion, he's regularly won more prize money at high-level races in Europe for more than a decade. But more than the growth of prize money, he has seen more brands interested in putting money behind athletes, races, and the sport in general.

"I think there has always been prize money there, and if you're successful you could make a lot more money really quickly," said Gray, a two-time World Mountain Running Champion. "I do think there is more money coming from the sponsors paying out better contracts and bigger bonuses, which I think will wind up being more beneficial to athletes overall."

Most elite trail runners get annual stipends from their sponsoring brands and bonus money for top performances. Gray is backed by Hoka, but he also has sponsorship deals with Fox River Socks, Kriva, Never Second, Knockdown, Tanri, Momentous, Casio, and GoSleeves. In addition to Hoka, Annie Hughes gets additional support from Ultraspire, Coros, and Tailwind Nutrition. But the life of professional trail runners-independent contractors who don't get healthcare and retirement program benefits-can get expensive with the growing cost of travel, regular bodywork/physio treatments, and private health insurance. 

The sport's top-tier elite athletes-Joe Gray, Kilian Jornet, Courtney Dauwalter, Jim Walmsley, Maude Mathys, and Scott Jurek, among others-make a good living from their sponsorships. But there are really only a handful American trail runners making more than about $50,000 a year from shoe brand sponsorships. (Most "sponsored" trail runners are making somewhere between $10,000 to $30,000 per year.) The bottom line is that winning prize money, for those who are fast enough to consistently finish on the podium in big races, certainly helps make ends meet and is necessary to keep the sport's top athletes from having to work other jobs so they can focus entirely on training, recovery, and racing.

"This [2022] is the first year I've gone all-in on trail running," said Hughes, who worked as a waitress in Leadville the previous two years. "I'm able to live off what I make, but I'm not really saving anything. So it was really nice to win that money because then I can put some away in savings."

Higher European Standards 

So far, Abramowitz appears to be right about the sport shifting to more of a European focus, and it's, at least in part, tied to the increased prize money that has attracted competitive athletes. While many top-tier European events have paid out modest prize purses for years, some of those races have also helped out visiting runners by way of travel stipends, hotel accommodations, or appearance fees. That's partially because European races are generally larger (500 to 1,000 participants or more) than U.S. races (typically fewer than 500 participants).

Unlike Hughes, who only raced in the U.S. this year, American runner Abby Hall, who runs for the Adidas-Terrex team, raced three times in Europe and earned prize money each time. She placed second in the Transgrancanaria 126K in the Canary Islands in March (which doubled as the Spartan Trail World Championship), finished third in the CCC 100K in Chamonix in August, and won the Transvulcania by UTMB 72K back in the Canary Islands in October.

Like Hughes, Hall receives an annual stipend and race bonuses from her sponsor, but admits it's been nice to have more opportunities to win money-both because it helps her make a living wage and because it's consistent with other professional endurance sports.

"In the past, it hadn't even been a consideration before, for how income would work out as an athlete," Hall said. "But this year it actually added up to be a decent amount. I'm grateful for the opportunities."

In 2022, American runner Hayden Hawks won an off-the-radar 100K a race in Krynica, Poland, and brought home the 100,000 zloty winner's prize ($26,000), one of the bigger individual purses ever awarded in trail running. In 2017, when Hawks won the CCC race, he didn't win anything because UTMB had refused until 2018 to offer prize money at its races, partly because race founders Catherine and Michel Poletti have believed that increased prize money will bring more incentive for some athletes to consider doping or that agents would take too big of a cut. 

UTMB finally began offering prize money to podium finishers in 2018 with a total purse of about $34,000 (35,000) and continued that through 2021. But after forging a business relationship with Ironman and launching the new UTMB World Series, it has increased the prize money awarded in Chamonix. In 2022, UTMB said it paid out about $162,000 in total prize money (the approximate equivalent of its stated 156,000 prize purse) to the top 10 men and women finishers of the UTMB, CCC, and OCC races.

That includes $10,400 to the winners of each of those races, with approximately $5,200 going to second-place finishers and $3,125 for third. Fourth- and fifth-place finishers in each of those races earned about $1,500, while 6th through 10th took home $1,000.

While those more notable ultrarunning paydays can be big windfalls for a trail runner, they still pale in comparison to what elite-level road marathoners and triathletes earn at the biggest races that have a much larger audience, including live TV coverage. For example, the 2022 Boston Marathon awarded $876,500 in prize money and $150,000 to the winners, while New York City Marathon paid out $530,000 in total prize money at its November 6 race, including $100,000 to the men's and women's winners. The 2021 Ironman World Championships in St. George, Utah, had a $750,000 prize purse, including $125,000 to the winners, similar to what was awarded at the 2022 Ironman World Championships October 6-8 in Hawaii. 

While only a few top trail runners could have opted to pursue a marathon or triathlon career instead of trail running, what's more relevant is the spike of growth trail running. Although it is not yet internationally televised as major marathons and triathlons are, the surge in participation and livestream viewing options is starting to bring in more media attention and sponsorship money than ever before. And more media attention begets more participation and professionalization. 

"I think we'll definitely see ultra-trail running continue to grow for years to come," says Mike McManus, director of global sports marketing for Hoka. "I think it's at a point where it's just on the cusp of the real growth that's coming and all that will come with it, similar to where the marathon was in the 1980s and triathlon in the 1990s. It might never be as big as marathoning, but trail running will definitely get more built out as it continues to grow."

"It's nice to make some money for the sport we do. This is my job, and being able to support my family with a decent chunk of money is pretty nice," Hawks says. "I definitely don't go after races just for money, but if there is a gap in my schedule where I can win a little bit of money, I am definitely going to take advantage of that for sure. I want to continue to be in this sport and live this lifestyle as long as I can, so knowing that there are sponsors and races investing more in runners is something I am really grateful for."

The Ongoing Dilemma

While Abramowitz and Sachs have been eager to give out prize money at Run Rabbit Run, not all races are equipped to do so. Many U.S. races are garage-shop operations that barely break even, while some are just too small to make it happen. The Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run (WSER) is operated by a non-profit organization, and offering prize money goes against the mission of the race, says race director Craig Thornley.

The biggest concern that race directors have, including Thornley, is that prize money attracts athletes willing to use performance-enhancing drugs because the sport lacks a comprehensive anti-doping strategy that includes both post-race testing and out-of-competition testing.

"In general, I think the prize money is probably a good thing because professional athletes are able to make a living," Thornley said. "But I think, as a sport, we'll probably have to be more aware of people trying to use drugs or some other ways to get that prize money." 

A few years ago, the Western States 100 famously announced its zero-tolerance policy regarding the use of performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) that prohibits any athlete who has been determined to have violated anti-doping rules or policies-by World Athletics, World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), or any national sports federation-is ineligible for entry into the WSER. Although Western States has regularly drug-tested its top finishers, only a few other big trail or ultra-distance races test its finishers with a WADA-sanctioned program.

Thornley believes the incentive to cheat has probably increased as more brands have stepped up to sponsor athletes, but the increase in prize money probably makes it more tangible. 

He's not the only one. Ultrarunning coach and podcaster Jason Koop, an outspoken proponent for authentic drug-testing in the sport, agrees, saying that it's time for the sport to collectively start developing mandatory drug-testing protocols, even on a small scale. While he doesn't believe doping is prevalent in trail running, he believes it's definitely already an issue.

"People would be fooling themselves if they thought that every trail running performance was clean. If you think that that's the case, then I have a bridge to sell you," Koop says. "Prize money or no prize money, I think the bigger thing is that the ecosystem is developed enough and there is enough financial reward at stake to where everyone kind of owes it to everybody else to get something done."

In other words, it's time for the sport to take some next steps-either by big governing bodies or small factions of people interested in the long-term health of the sport-to develop more structure and universal anti-doping policies.

(01/14/2023) Views: 1,243 ⚡AMP
by Trail Runner Magazine
Share
Share

Didn't Get Into Western States or Hardrock? Here Are 10 Alternatives

This fall, 4,909 runners put into a lottery in hopes of getting one of 369 spots in the 2018 Western States 100, perhaps the most iconic 100-mile race in the United States. Similarly, this year saw 2,236 applicants for the Hardrock 100, a notoriously difficult high-altitude race in Colorado's San Juan Mountains with just 145 available spots.

If you didn't get into of these races (perhaps yet again), don't fret. There are plenty of other races with a similar combination of terrain, camaraderie and spirit.

There are now more than 150 100-mile races held annually in North America alone. Here are 10 races that can cure even the most stubborn Hardrock or Western-States FOMO and get you motivated about training.

1. Eastern States

Held in northern Pennsylvania, this a 103-mile, single-loop course is run almost entirely on singletrack. The race follows Pine Creek, a scenic river that runs through the Appalachian Mountains. But with more than 20,000 feet of elevation gain, it isn't for beginners-which makes it all the more rewarding.

When: August 11, 2018

Where: Waterville, PA

Register: www.easternstates100.com

2. Wasatch 100

Looking for an altitude-heavy race with terrain that ranges from wet scree to dry valleys and everything in between? The Wasatch 100 offers 24,000 feet of elevation gain over a point-to-point course outside of Salt Lake City, Utah. The point-to-point offers plenty of wildlife viewing opportunities, too: past participants have seen everything from elk, sheep and moose, to bears, mountain lions and rattlesnakes. Come prepared.

When: September 7, 2018

Where: Kaysville, Utah

Register: www.wasatch100.com

3. Fat Dog 120

If you haven't run a race across the border, you're missing out. Held in British Columbia's Cascade Mountains, the Fat Dog 120 is comparable to Hardrock in terms of difficulty, with more than 28,000 feet of elevation gain over its 120 miles. Running through three provincial parks and featuring everything from alpine meadows to technical singletrack to groomed trails circumnavigating aqua blue lakes, Fat Dog also brings the weather: expect dry heat, scattered lightning, torrential rain or crisp, nipping temperatures-sometimes all during the same race.

When: August 10, 2018

Where: Keremeos, B.C., Canada

Register: www.mountainmadness.ca

4. Cruel Jewel 100

Expect almost 106 miles of either up or down-there's maybe one part of this course that is flat, but even then your hip flexors will be firing off as you hop over myriads of logs. Cruel Jewel is not for the faint of heart: the event boasts over 33,000 feet of gain and your quads won't let you forget the 33,000 feet of loss. Out of the 106 miles, 95 are run on singletrack through the Chattahoochee Forest. It's an often-overlooked Southeastern event with plenty of shade.

When: May 18, 2018

Where: Blairsville, GA

Register: www.dumassevents.com

5. Ouray 100

The Ouray 100 is a close neighbor to Hardrock, and now in its fifth year of existence. It may not cover Handies Peak or cap out above 14,000 feet, but it does deliver 8,812 feet more climbing. Nestled in the ever-captivating San Juan Mountains of Colorado, the race is considered a "graduate" level 100-miler-after all, the last 10.6 miles of the event pass through the finish area (don't quit now!) to face a 4,844-foot climb before doubling back to the finish.

When: July 29, 2018

Where: Ouray, CO

Register: www.ouray100.com

6. San Diego 100

San Diego is a year-round running destination, which means by the time June rolls around, the temperatures are often in the 90s. In some years, this can mimic a hot Western States, making it a great alternative event. The San Diego 100 course covers five unique areas featuring pine forests, manzanita scrub, a scorching climb through the heat-trapping Noble Canyon and sweeping desert views as the route traces parts of the Pacific Crest Trail.

When: June 8, 2018

Where: Lake Cuyamaca, CA

Register: http://www.sandiego100.com/

7. Bear 100

How many 100-milers take you from one state to the next? The Bear 100 begins in Logan, Utah and ends 100 miles later in Fish Haven, Idaho, all while taking advantage of the changing fall scenery. Expect to see bright red maples and shockingly yellow aspens while climbing more than 22,000 feet. For those who suffer in high-altitude races, the Bear tops out at 9,000 feet, making it a bit more manageable. Bonus points for the overall male and female awards, which feature an engraved picture of Old Ephraim, a famous Grizzly bear who reportedly once roamed the wilderness areas that runners pass through.

When: September 28, 2018

Where: Logan, UT

Register: www.bear100.com

8. Plain 100

Tired of aid stations? Bored with just finishing? Looking for something soul-numbingly hard? Try the Plain 100. In its first eight years, the event had zero finishers. Even today the race has less than a 50-percent finishing rate.  What makes Plain so tough? No course markings; no aid stations; two humongous, remote, gorgeous and difficult 50-mile loops with a single re-supply point between. Never mind the elevation gain (and the endless hours alone on the trail.) You know you're in the Plain 100 when, as race participant Martin Miller explained, "you quit at mile 70, but have to drag yourself to the finish line to find anyone who cares." This event is just plain tough.

When: September 15, 2018

Where: Leavenworth, WA

Register: www.plain100.com

9. Cascade Crest 100

The 20th edition of the Cascade Crest 100 (affectionately called CCC) will run the regular route despite 2017's reroute due to nearby wildfires. The trail follows the Pacific Crest Trail for the majority of the beginning miles before dropping down via a steep, roped section. From here runners will work their way through a 2.3 miles-long tunnel before emerging on the latter half of the course. Unfortunately, it doesn't get easier. Expect to hit "The Trail from Hell," which is more bushwhacking than running. The crowning point of the race is a series of steep climbs and descents called the Cardiac Needles, which, at 80-something miles into the race, are no joke. Be sure to pause along the way to look up and out; the views alone make this one worth running.

When: August 25, 2018

Where: Easton, WA

Register: www.cascadecrest100.com

10. Mogollon Monster

The Mogollon Monster traverses one of the most heinous routes in all of Arizona, the technical, undulating Highline Trail, (which also happens to be home to the notoriously difficult Zane Grey 50.) At first glance, the event's 22,000 feet of climbing might seem average amongst other 100-milers on this list, but know that within those 100 miles, you'll be hard pressed to find more than 100 feet of smooth trail. The region is remote, rugged and covered in more loose rocks and fallen trees than you could ever dream up.

When: September 15, 2018

Where: Pine, AZ

Register: www.mogollonmonster100.com

(12/11/2022) Views: 573 ⚡AMP
by Trail Runner Magazine
Share
Share

Western States 100 aims for inclusivity in updated policies for transgender, non-binary, and pregnant athletes

One of the oldest and most respected ultratrail races in the world has taken a further step at making their race more inclusive. On Wednesday morning, the board of Western States Endurance Run (WSER) released policy updates around transgender and non-binary entrants, as well as an updated pregnancy deferral policy.

WSER says that these new rules align with their “goal of ensuring fair and inclusive practices that respect the personal rights and dignity of transgender and nonbinary entrants while preserving the integrity of competition for awards and records.”

In October, Riley Brady became the first ever non-binary athlete to secure a golden ticket to WSER, finishing second at Javelina Jundred 100-mile race. While Ultrasigup allows runners to choose from three gender categories, it was the first time that Javelina Jundred organizers had included a non-binary division. An already urgent and important conversation about the need to expand inclusivity in ultrarunning–and inclusivity in general in the sport–became heightened after Brady’s remarkable performance.

In an article Brady coauthored with coach David Roche in trailrunnermag, Brady explains: “Leading up to Javelina, I had emailed the race directors to inform them that I was seeking a Golden Ticket, which the race organization asks you to do. On my Ultrasignup page, I have indicated my gender as ‘nonbinary’ and my division as  ‘female.’

As this was the first year Javelina had a non-binary division, the live results updates defaulted to the gender category. “As I understand it now, that misunderstanding may have contributed to some confusion online after the race, even as I emailed them in advance and followed the rules at every step,” shared Brady.

While WSER already had policies in place for transgender athletes, they have now clarified and updated those regulations, as well as added clear rules for non-binary entrants and an updated and more inclusive pregnancy deferral policy.

Updates for transgender athletes

Transgender women can register to compete in the female category, provided they have been undergoing continuous, medically supervised hormone treatment for gender transition for at least one year prior to the race, or in the male category with no restrictions.

Transgender men can register to compete in the male or female category, unless they are undergoing hormone treatment related to gender transition that includes testosterone or any other banned substance in which case they must register in the male category.

Policy for non-binary athletes

During registration all entrants will have the opportunity to select their gender category–male, female, or non-binary. Entrants who select nonbinary will also need to choose a  category (male or female) for results and awards.

Non-binary entrants who are male-assigned at birth must select male as their category for results and awards, unless they meet the requirements for transgender women to compete in the female category under this policy.

Non-binary entrants who are female-assigned at birth can choose the female or male category for results and awards, unless they are undergoing hormone treatment related to gender transition that includes testosterone or any other banned substance, in which case they must select the male category.

Pregnancy deferral policy update

In order to defer a race entry due to pregnancy, entrants must submit a pregnancy entry deferral request in writing to the race director no later than one pm on the Friday before the race, as well as provide written confirmation of the pregnancy signed by a physician or medical professional.

The pregnancy deferral policy applies to anyone with a race entry who is pregnant at the time they enter the lottery and gets selected, becomes pregnant after the lottery and prior to race day regardless of how they obtained their race entry (lottery, sponsor etc.), or is an automatic entrant (top ten, golden ticket, etc.) and becomes pregnant or gives birth after obtaining their race entry and prior to race day.

(12/01/2022) Views: 608 ⚡AMP
by Keeley Milne
Share
Western States 100

Western States 100

The Western States ® 100-Mile Endurance Run is the world’s oldest and most prestigious 100-mile trail race. Starting in Squaw Valley, California near the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics and ending 100.2 miles later in Auburn, California, Western States, in the decades since its inception in 1974, has come to represent one of the ultimate endurance tests in the...

more...
Share

Sarah Biehl delivers historic performance at 60th annual JFK 50

The 60th annual edition of America’s oldest ultramarathon deserved a special performance, and Sarah Biehl (first photo) more than delivered Saturday Nov 19 at the JFK 50 Mile.

Biehl, 28, of Columbus, Ohio, smashed the women’s race, running away with the victory in a course-record time of 6:05:42 while finishing 11th overall. The previous mark of 6:12:00 was set by ultrarunning legend Ellie Greenwood in 2012.

“Oh my gosh, she was a mile ahead of the record Ellie Greenwood set 10 years ago that nobody had come within five minutes of,” JFK 50 Mile director Mike Spinnler said. “You know, and I hate to do this, gender vs. gender, but it may be the greatest performance in JFK history. 

“Ellie Greenwood was the world champion, Ellie Greenwood won Comrades, Ellie Greenwood won Western States, and she beat Ellie Greenwood’s record by a mile. And we know how hard Ellie had to run that day to win because she was chased. It’s just remarkable and inspiring. She just missed the top 10 overall, and it was the best men’s field ever. Amazing.”

In his JFK debut, Garrett Corcoran, 26, of Salt Lake City, Utah, won the men’s title in 5:29:47 — the No. 5 performance in race history.

Overall, 966 runners reached the finish line within the 13-hour time limit.

For Biehl, this was her third straight JFK. She was the women’s runner-up last year in 6:22:03 after placing fifth in 2020 in 7:22:32 in her ultramarathon debut.

“At the end of the day, I wanted to win,” Biehl said. “Coming here last year and getting second, that was awesome. But after getting second, you have the goal of winning, so that was my main priority. But I also had the course record in mind, too, and the splits and where I needed to be.”

By the time she came off the rocky Appalachian Trail at 15.5 miles, her lead over second place was over 13 minutes. Over the next 26.3 miles on the C&O Canal towpath, the margin increased to more than 19 minutes, and she only continued to add to it over the final 8.4 miles of paved roads to Springfield Middle School.

“I’m ecstatic right now,” Biehl said. “I’m a little in shock, to be honest.”

Caitriona Jennings (third photo), 42, of Ireland, finished second in 6:28:53 — the JFK’s No. 8 all-time women’s performance and a masters (40-and-over) record.

Jennings competed in the marathon at the 2012 London Olympics and was fresh off two big-time ultramarathon efforts, placing first in the European 50K championships last month after taking third at the 100K World Championships in August.

She went into her JFK debut Saturday with the same goal as Biehl’s  — a course-record victory.

“I struggled from the start, pretty much. It just wasn’t my day,” Jennings said. “But fair play to Sarah, she had an absolute stormer. Wow, so impressive, amazing. 

“It’s a lovely course. I was hoping I’d enjoy it more,” she added. “For some reason, I just couldn’t settle. It was a harder race than I expected. I’ve had two tough races in the last (few months), but I’m not making excuses. I was beaten fair and square. Maybe I expected too much of myself today. But you win some, you lose some. That’s what sport is. It just makes the good days all the better.”

Shea Aquilano, 21, of Carmel, Ind., placed third in 6:40:40.

Sub-4:00 miler wins men’s title (second photo).

Corcoran, who used to live in Baltimore, retuned to his former home state with some flair — including running shorts with the Maryland flag design.

“Dude, I’m out here, I’ve got the shorts, I’ve got to rep, right?” he said. “I know where I’m at, and I know I’ll get a lot of love for this.”

Corcoran, who ran a 3:59 mile in college, showed that speed kills at any distance.

“It feels like another life when I ran sub-4:00. I was 19 years old,” he said. “It’s been a fun journey. When I graduated from college, I just about hung up the running shoes, and didn’t really know what I was going to do. 

“I moved to Baltimore for work, and kind of realized it was the best way to have a good social life, at least for me, so I joined a running club, the Falls Road Running Club, and I made a lot of good friends. And once the pandemic hit, all the races got canceled, and I started dragging a friend of mine in Baltimore on these really long runs. I had so much fun and really got into the ultra distance.

“The JFK was a good excuse to come back and see some friends.”

Corcoran took the lead on the towpath around Mile 31 and never relinquished it.

“There was an aid station at 30.5, and (Matthew Seidel), who ended up getting fourth, he was just ahead of me,” Corcoran said. “He turned around and saw me not far behind him and walked for a little bit and then started running with me. He was like, ‘Hey, let’s run together, man. Let’s work together.’ And then, like a quarter-mile later, I just kind of floated away from him. I was like, ‘I guess it’s me by myself now. Hope nobody catches me.’”

Makai Clemons, 26, of San Diego, closed hard to take second in 5:32:19, finishing less than 3 minutes behind Corcoran after trailing him by more than 9 minutes at the end of the towpath section at 41.8 miles.

“I’ve been watching his training on Strava, and he’s been throwing down some filthy workouts,” Corcoran said of Clemons. “I was telling him after the race that he was one of the guys that was on my radar.”

Preston Cates, 25, of Flagstaff, Ariz., placed third in 5:33.23. Overall, eight men finished under 6 hours, a JFK record.

“Back in my generation, we always wondered what would happen if a 28-minute 10,000-meter runner or a sub-4-minute miler started doing the trails,” said Spinnler, a two-time JFK champ who lowered the course record to 5:53:05 in 1982.

"And now they’re doing it. The prize money, the national teams, the international competitions, it’s all there — all the incentive that wasn’t there a generation ago is there. All of the sudden, the sub-4-minute milers are coming to the sport. We had two of them in the race today, and we also had two Olymians. It’s so exciting for the future of the sport.”

Canadian Reid Coolsaet, a two-time Olympic marathoner, ran near the front before dropping out on the towpath.

(11/20/2022) Views: 697 ⚡AMP
by Andy Mason
Share
Share

Apple Fitness+ Aims to Make Yoga More Approachable for Runners

Think you don’t have time to stretch it out? The app routines last just 10 minutes each.If you ever wanted to make yoga a part of your regular routine and then got distracted by the need to chase more miles, cross off to-dos, or maybe spend some much-needed R&R on the couch, you’re certainly not alone. An hour-long yoga class can seem like a big commitment, even if you do want to reap the rewards of the practice, like better recovery and wellbeing. 

Research shows that yoga is, indeed, good for runners. It can support heart health, reduce anxiety symptoms, and bolster your bones—not to mention the poses simply feel good for the tight hips and calves many marathoners tend to struggle with thanks to clocking many miles.

With this conundrum in mind—runners wanting to do yoga, but not making the time for long sessions—Apple Fitness+ teamed up with well-known ultrarunner, Scott Jurek, who won the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run a record seven straight times and once held the fastest known time for completing the Appalachian Trial, and who has also been practicing yoga for about 20 years. They also tapped yoga instructor and Fitness+ trainer, Jessica Skye, and created a six-session series, with classes lasting just 10 minutes each. 

Runner’s World sat down with Jurek, Skye, and Jay Blahnik, vice president of fitness technologies at Apple to talk about the yoga program, what it’s all about, and how it aims to open the doors to the mind-body practice for more runners.

What You Can Expect from the Apple Fitness+ Yoga for Runners ProgramBlahnik says that to make the shortened sessions in the program work for runners, they decided to get specific. Each session targets a goal: hip mobility, core strength, glute work, looser legs, stable ankles, and shoulder mobility. 

Skye tells Runner’s World that they chose these themes by thinking about what runners need to address—or as Jurek puts it, considering the “problem areas” of runners—starting from the feet and working up through the shoulders. Each pose is meant to address issues runners face in those areas of the body.

During each class, you’ll move from one pose to the next in a sequence, but not in a flow-style (or vinyasa) in which movement is linked to inhales and exhales. Nevertheless, Skye still puts an emphasis on deep breathing throughout each 10-minute sequence.

“This is geared for the person who doesn’t think yoga is for them. And we always have a modifier—in all of our workouts, there’s always someone that’s showing an option that has a smaller range of movement, or they might be using blocks, or something like that, just so wherever you’re at on your yoga journey, even if you’re right at the beginning, you can always do it,” Skye says. 

Blahnik adds that the goal of the 10-minute sessions was to make them easy to squeeze in before or after a run or in the morning or evening. This versatility would, therefore, make it more seamless to maintain a regular yoga habit. And it is often true, when you know you only have to commit to 10 minutes, you’re more inclined to press play. 

The Mental Side of Yoga for Runners

Jurek says one of the biggest benefits to these sessions, and yoga in general, is allowing you time to tune into your body and recognize the benefits of slowing down. This can pay off on the run when you better notice the way your body is moving ant the beginning of the workouts, Skye encourages you to remember your intention and why you decided to take class or move your body. In a panel at the Apple store after the Runner’s World interview, Jurek talked about this intention-setting practice coming into play on the run—especially during long races in which you’ll likely experience tough mental moments.

“Whether it’s prayer, intention, or having something to look to beyond your own state [of hurt during a marathon]…just having that hope out there and realizing ‘I can get through this, because of A, B, and C,’ I think those are really important things to have,” Jurek says. “Try to cling onto those things that can motivate you and help you get through those dark spots [in a long run], because they happen and they’re normal.” 

Why Apple Fitness+ Wants to Make Yoga Less Intimidating

Some runners feel the need to be super bendy in order to take a yoga class. But the truth is, there’s no being “good” at yoga—you don’t have to be flexible at all in order to do it or gain advantages from it. That’s what Apple aims to convey, simply by having Jurek in the frame and not afraid to wobble throughout class. 

“I was the person that had all the blocks and all the props and all the extra help that I could because I was the most inflexible person in the room,” Jurek says about his first experiences in the studio. “And I think that can be intimidating to runners, because running isn’t something [in which] you need mega flexibility. But you want to avoid injuries, develop body awareness, and you want to have the strength. So, for runners, it’s about making [yoga] approachable, and having a setting where they feel like ‘okay, I can be stumbling.’”

While taking the yoga sessions, you’ll hear Skye suggest body placement for certain poses and Jurek almost always mentions that it’s okay if you can’t get there—that shortening your stance, or using props, or looking different than Skye in the pose is perfectly acceptable. 

The message: Instead of focusing on how good you are at yoga (or running, for that matter), focus on consistency, being in the moment, and enjoying it. “It’s just like running—there is one day where you decide, I’m going to put one foot in front the other,” Jurek says. The same goes for yoga. To make it a part of your routine, you simply need to take it one breath, one pose, one session at a time—even if it’s just 10 minutes. 

(11/13/2022) Views: 601 ⚡AMP
by Runner’s World
Share
Share

Setting running goals

Why did that race not go as planned? I have had that thought several times in my running career. Is the race not going as planned, or is it more that I did not begin my training by setting proper race goals?

Setting proper race goals begins with the training plan. As I look back over races where I achieved my dreams, my training plans were built around realistic expectations and training specificity.

The principle of specificity states that sports training should be relevant and appropriate to the sport for which the individual is training in order to produce the desired effect. … Essentially, specificity training means that you must perform the skill in order to get better at it. When it comes to running, this means…race is on hills = train on hills, race is in the heat = train in the heat. (Defined on verywellfit.com)

When I achieved my goals, my training plans were founded on establishing proper training paces and allowing for a small amount of natural progression in my ability as the training weeks unfolded. In training leading up to not-so-successful races, I lacked focus on training paces. Instead, my main goal was purely to achieve higher weekly mileage. This training approach is entirely acceptable if the goal is to cross the finish line. However, as these race dates approached, I began to formulate unrealistic time goals that had no connection to the results of my training plan. In other words, I got caught up in the excitement of the upcoming race and how I would like to finish but was not capable of at that moment.

Set Goals Before the Season

Before beginning any training plan or racing season, I write down my planned races. I not only set goals for each race but set progression goals for the entire season. My loftier goals either come at the end of a training cycle or the racing season. It can be easy to get excited about an upcoming season or training plan, but if I don’t think through my schedule and goals first, I find that I never quite reach what I set out to achieve. Dreaming grand accomplishments in my mind is great, but putting them on paper and building my training plan around these goals creates both accountability and opportunity for reflection during and after the season.

What are Your A, B, C Goals?

I set several goals for every training cycle and almost every race. For example, my recent training and racing goals for the Canyons 100k were sub-12 hour finish (goal A), sub-15 hour finish (B), and finish for my Western States 100 qualifier (C).

As I progressed through training toward this race, I kept these goals in mind. I set up training paces based on what would allow me to achieve Goal A. However, when I could not take as much time as desired to train my ability to climb, I knew this goal would be a stretch to achieve in races like Canyons 100k. The race features 16,000 feet of elevation gain, and without training specificity, the course would present as more of a challenge to me. Before the race started, I settled with Goal A being out of reach and focusing on achieving either Goal B or C.

My result of Canyons 100k was 14:44:44, just under my B goal of sub-15 hours. The development of the race was much more than just the time goal, though. With the proper time to set goals initially, track my progress toward the goals throughout training, and adjust my plans accordingly, the result was a 100k race where I truly enjoyed the journey from start to finish.

Set Goals That Are Not Time Specific

There are other achievable goals than running a specific time in an upcoming race. And, it may come as a shock, but there are other goals you can set besides just those related to pounding the pavement or trails! What might those goals be?

(1) Overall Fitness

In the middle of planning our race calendar and training plan, are we considering our overall fitness? As runners, we often neglect the importance of strength training, cross-training, and other activities that may complement our running. Maintaining our overall fitness does require spending time on other activities besides running. When we complete these complementary activities, we are improving both our bodies and minds, the latter being very critical to a long and successful race season. To re-kindle the interest in a sport from your past, join a recreational soccer or softball league, or plan to attend a weekly yoga or spinning class at your local gym. Mix it up, have fun, and watch your overall fitness soar!

(2) Improve Nutrition

We run to eat or drink! I’m sure you have heard or used this line many times before, but have you stopped to consider how your eating habits could be impacting your performance and ability to reach your running goals. It’s not to say that we should not enjoy mixing both eating and running. However, we should be mindful of what we are eating and how much. I know in the weeks that I have a few fewer drinks and bowls of ice cream, I feel better and perform more to my expectations. Plan ahead and prep your nutrition just like you plan your run training.

(3) Impact Your Community

It’s easy to get so focused on our training plan and running goals that we forget about all those that support the running community and us. Take time to welcome new runners into your group runs, volunteer for a park clean-up, volunteer at races, or say thank you to those who support your crazy running habit and dreams!

(4) Becoming a Smarter Runner

Just like reading this article on Setting Proper Race Goals, invest in your running performance by taking time to educate yourself. Make it a goal to read a new book, watch an inspirational documentary, or attend a running or fitness clinic/camp. We will never become so experienced as runners that we can not learn something new. The sport is still evolving, technologies are changing, and our bodies are constantly changing as well.

(11/08/2022) Views: 966 ⚡AMP
by Sunrise Running Company
Share
Share

Ultrarunner Tim Tollefson shares mental health challenges in new film

Tim Tollefson is a celebrated American ultratrail runner with wins at big races like the Javelina Jundred, Lavaredo Ultra Trail 120K and Ultra Trail Australia 100K; in 2017 he was third overall at Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB), finishing well under 20 hours.

But then followed a string of failures, including at this year’s UTMB, which went badly from the start, forcing him to drop out about four hours in. (Tollefson went into the race with a positive COVID result.) A new film, What Goes Unsaid, reveals something only those closest to Tollefson knew previously–alongside his many successes and the admiration of his fans, for years Tollefson has been dealing with poor mental health and an eating disorder.

Tollefson, who is sponsored by Coros, had a tough adjustment when his family moved from rural Minnesota to the Auburn, Calif. (the sight of the iconic Western States 100 finish) when he was 10, and he was bullied– for wearing glasses, for his accent and his haircut. He started running in middle school, which helped him feel more accepted.

But it also made him want to be leaner, and more like the other runners’ body types he observed on the team; and since he wasn’t the only one trying to eat less to force his body to conform to an “ideal” body weight, he didn’t realize how insidious and dangerous it could be. 

Tollefson qualified for the 2012 Olympic Marathon trials, but struggled in his brief marathon career, ultimately switching to trail running, which he hoped would bring greater success (and therefore self-acceptance). UTMB represented, in his mind, the acme of achievement in the ultratrail world–and he describes his 2017 podium finish, where he broke 20 hours (along with winner François D’Haene and runner-up Kilian Jornet) as the best race of his career. (He finished third in 2016 also.)

But the euphoria was short-lived. In 2018, he returned to UTMB and DNF’d–and again in 2019 and 2021. In the flim, he reveals that, even during the good years, he would almost be paralyzed with anxiety over being seen by others, and by perfectionism, severe body dysmorphia and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Interestingly, this is one of the reasons he was attracted to UTMB: it starts in the evening, and much of the first half of the race takes place in darkness. By the time the sun rises, he has run long enough to feel slightly less bad about being seen. “I feel thin again, because I’ve run for 12 hours,” says Tollefson.

Tollefson says it’s not the running, or the altitude, that strikes fear into his heart–it’s being seen by other runners. He says he has been counting calories since 2003, and he only sought therapy recently. He now recognizes that what he sees when he looks in the mirror is distorted and not real. 

Having grown up in the area and competed at Placer High (where Western States runners finish), Tollefson avoided it until 2021. He admits he was always critical of the race, whose course is not as technical or as spectacular as UTMB’s. Ultimately, he realized he was holding it to an unfair standard–much as he had always done to himself and his body. And he decided to run it.

He finished fifth last year, and as his fans already know, this year he finished, but not without struggling mightily–against dehydration and a powerful urge to quit. He placed 33rd overall, with a time of 20:41:28. “I decided that I wasn’t going to give up on myself,” Tollefson told filmmaker Billy Yang, who was commentating, after finishing. He also felt he owed it to his crew the volunteers and the runners who didn’t make it off the waitlist, to finish. 

He shares his story now in the hope that it will encourage others to do the same. Several female athletes (including Olympic bronze medallist Molly Seidel, trail runner Amelia Boone and steeplchaser Allie Ostrander) have shared their stories, but as Tollefson’s makes clear, eating disorders are not limited to female athletes. (Canadian beer miler Corey Bellemore opened up about his own experience during the pandemic.)

“When other people share things publicly, and I relate or emphathize, it makes me feel less alone,” he says. “I’ve never had the confidence to reach out to those people and say thank you, but I know it has an impact.”

(10/11/2022) Views: 832 ⚡AMP
by Anne Francis
Share
154 Tagged with #Western States, Page: 1 · 2 · 3 · 4


Running News Headlines


Copyright 2024 MyBestRuns.com 18,201