The Ultra Experience

Here's to the adventures of my life which are usually ultra marathon trail running or fly fishing but may include other trips, experiences, thoughts, opinions, or pretty much whatever I want. As co-founder of Altra Footwear my life and adventures seemingly revolve more around developing and promoting the best footwear in the world...and I love it!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Logan Peak Trail Run 08

So last week I was still sick. After Squaw Peak 50 I ended up getting sick for over a week. I suspect is was from getting cold, wet, and exhausted from Squaw Peak and then going white water kayaking on back to back days in icy cold snow run-off. It sucked. Lets just say that since Squaw Peak I had run 6 times for a grand total of 50 miles. Pretty pathetic. Then in an effort to force my lazy butt back on the trails I signed up for the Logan Peak Trail Run a meager 5 days before race day. Needless to say I struggled but let me tell you that this race is a classic event that every Utah Ultrarunner should participate in.

One reason I signed up for this event was to visit my cousin's the Mechams. We rarely get up to Logan and this was a good excuse to visit family and take part in a new race. So Friday afternoon my wife and I drove on up to Logan (If you live in Davis County I am sorry because the traffic there truly sucks). Our incredible hosts hooked us up and first thing Saturday morning I was off to the event. The start was uneventful for the most part. Once the race started we all got in line behind Leland. Leland knew everyone was relying on him for pacing and course directions so he dutifully became the rabbit. The climb up Dry Canyon was brutal. My legs were more sluggish than I wanted and so I purposely went up a little slower then everyone else. I talked quite a bit with Jon Allen as we motored up the mountain. The terrain rose quickly and with it the mountain vegetation changed as well. Wildflowers, lush vegetation, aspens, and pines. It was gorgeous. Before I knew it we were at AS#1. The aid station was limited since they have to pack everything up on mules. I was in 7th place and had 4 guys directly in front of me which put me in an awkward position. I wanted to place well in this event and I made a ridiculously stupid move since I was already a ways back. After standing and watching the others fill their bottles, I got impatient waiting and decided to blow through the aid station. IT WAS SO STUPID. WHAT WAS I THINKING?!

The next several miles were amazing! The trail became a rolling singletrack of near perfection. I easily caught up to the front pack which would have happened even if I had taken 30 extra seconds to fill up on water at AS#1 (I'm quite bitter at myself for this if you can't tell). Anyway this section went quickly and was wonderful. The pack was thinning out and the trail runnable. Luckily there was a small water station at mile 10 which enabled me to finally fill my water bottle. By this point the front pack was down to five and nobody wanted to make a significant move past Leland. I was feeling pretty good through this section and then AS#2 crept up on me. I was in fourth place with all three guys right in front of me and I didn't want to get back logged like I did at AS#1. I had most of my bottle still full and without thinking I blew through this station as well!! STUPID! I don't know what I was thinking but next thing I knew I was in the lead and had spiced things up a bit for us frontrunners.

The climb up Logan Peak was relentless, snowy, and/or muddy. Jon Allen and Leland responded quickly to my move and together we climbed up the mountain. Knowing my downhill abilities I let them pass me to the top but caught them on the downhill. I polished off my water and filled up once back at the aid station. However, less than a mile down the road I started cramping! It was bad too. I had felt a few twinges earlier but this hit hard. I quickly took some electrolyte caps and drank a bunch of water as I slowed down moving into 4th place. The next 5-6 miles were pretty bad. The cramps dissipated but I knew they would come back. I drank all my water to fight the onset but there were no stations and the temperature was rising. I did everything I could to stay relaxed and within range of the front runners. The trail was amazing and the views incredible as I struggled on. I passed Greg Norrander who provided all of these fantastic pictures and then stubbled upon a spring at mile 23! I quickly filled up and decided that it was now or never to make my move. Off I went drinking as much water as possible trying to catch the leaders.

Shortly thereafter I reached the final aid station, filled up my bottle, and took off. I soon caught and passed Leland as I speedily made it downhill hearing that the leader was 2 minutes ahead with less then 4 miles left. Sadly the water was too little too late and I cramped again coming to a grinding halt. It was awful. I polished off every drop of liquid and my last electrolyte pill in a desperate attempt to keep running while hobbling down the trail. Leland caught and passed me in the climax of my pain at which point I then decided that I was going to beat that old man if it took everything I had. The next few minutes were painful but that water and pill kicked in just in time. Leland and I ran the next mile together at which point I decided to take a chance and pass him. Yelling and hollering I challenged Leland to catch me and off we went. That old bugger is tough and for the last mile I kept looking over my shoulder yelling at Leland to keep moving. He would holler back that he was cramping bad. We must have been quite the sight running as hard as we could on cramping legs. With 200 yds to go I knew that the worthy running legend wouldn't catch me as I kicked it in yelling and hollering to a second place finish in a time of 4:53:38. I think I might have driven Leland too hard as he crossed the finish line 14 seconds later and colapsed due to his cramping. Check out the results here:

To be honest I had so much energy at the end of the race but my poor legs took the brunt of my stupidity with the cramping. Dehydrated with too little sodium I was a mere 2 minutes from the winner Jon Allen. Wade McFarland ran an awesome race and finished 4 minutes back from Leland in fourth place. All-in-all it was a great course and a great day. I needed to get out and push myself again and what a perfect challenge. Plus there was cash prizes! For second place I got $60 cash and a great pair of Smith sunglasses! Note to self- don't blow through 2 of 3 aid stations on a 90 degree day. It's painful. Here's to the next few weeks of early morning high altitude trailrunning. Yahoo!!! Happy trails.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Squaw Peak 50, 2008

Squaw Peak 50, 2008 is a year to remember..."the year of the mud" as it is already being called. For some reason I am hopelessly hooked on this race. I think about, plan, train, eat, sleep, dream, and live for the Squaw Peak 50 miler. This year was no different, yet my preparation was frustrating to say the least. Hamstring injury early in the year, school and work taking up lots of time, and 16 days in Europe. Don't get me wrong, graduating from college and a once in a life time trip to Europe are great but it does hinder the training for Squaw Peak. I did however carefully plan my long runs and rest weeks to correlate with my hectic schedule. With my preparation the best I could muster, I woke up on June 7th 2008 ready to race.

Not two steps outside my garage and my plans were in serious turmoil. RAIN! And lots of it. Quickly my mind started making tweaks to my pre-formulated plan. What do I need to wear now? Drop bags? Pace? Oh well. At the starting line I didn't wait long in the rain but rather kept warm in the car. Minutes before the start I got out and headed over. It looked like everyone else was more bewildered than I was. Like usual John didn't mess around at the start and the race began with a simple verbal command "Go". Man was everyone taking the start slow. But then again, that was my plan as well. Plus I had the added benefit those first few miles of running with good friends. Christian Johnson, Dave Hunt, Peter Lingren, Karl Jarvis, Shane Martin, Joe Martel, and heck, we even had Davy Crockett up there. It was fun and time went fast. The mud, however, had other ideas. It was still raining and with the ground becoming increasingly over saturated it began to take it's toll on the runners and our times. Several times I slipped and had to use tree branches to pull myself up the mountain. We were already passing the early starters and the rain was turning to snow. I was surprised by how quickly the field thinned out. My split to Rock Canyon was very slow and my hands were so cold at AS#3 that I was there much longer than anticipated trying to put on my running vest and zip up my jacket. Thanks to the aid station volunteer who finally zipped up my jacket for me!

Heading over Kolob Basin through 3 inches of beautiful fresh snow was a highlight for me. I had started slow, was running relaxed with good friend and training partner Karl Jarvis, and the feeling of running through the lightly falling snow in the mountains was surreal. Then while passing some early starters, the silence was broken with the sound of "Nice job, your in 5th and 6th place!" I was stunned. I had thought more people were in front of us. I had decided before the race that place would not be an issue for me. I would run my splits and listen to my body. Of course with the rain, snow, and mud I had quickly stopped looking at my watch and was focusing on running smoothly while listening to my body. Karl and I continued to run the next 7-8 miles together down into Hobble Creek. We passed Brian Price and motored up the asphalt. It went so quickly! Soon I had also gaped Karl and entered AS#6, mile 26, hollering and yelling with excitement. I was pumped and feeling good. I filled up my water bottle, grabbed some gels, and off I went.
I felt my race died last year at mile 27 and this year I was determined to run this entire section...which I did. I soon passed Rich McDonald and before I knew it I was taking the turn up Sheep Creek. I didn't even fill up my water bottle, which worried me a bit but the weather was so cool that I wasn't perspiring. Heading through the Sheep Creek meadows and aspen groves was another highlight for me. I was now running in a solid 3rd place and feeling great. I ran as many sections as I could and made great time down into Little Valley. I grabbed my waist belt out of my drop bag (up til now I had used only a single 20 oz handheld), ate some potato's with salt, and was off to Windy Pass.

For some reason I don't remember a lot of this section. I remember running a surprising amount but I was really just comfortably pushing the pace. Up and up I was running, grateful it wasn't raining. Boy it sure went quick. I felt that I was a machine running up the mountain, gelling every 30 minutes, drinking every 10-15 minutes. At the base of Bozung Hill I ran into Phil Lowry, good friend and last of the 4am starters. Soon my machine was chugging slower than I wanted. After being in California all week the lack of oxygen hit me. I consorted to slugging up the hill instead of powering up it. I took a look back and could see 2 dots behind me 15 minutes away. They wouldn't catch me, especially on the downhill. I painfully made my way up Bozung Hill with Phil breathing down my neck. We even paused a time or two to take pictures of each other(check back later for the pics). Once at the rock cairn I left Phil and stumbled down the large rocks (there's no trail) into Windy Pass, again yelling and hollering with excitement. The group up there led by Jim Skaggs are all-stars, that's all I need to sat about that.

As I was quickly leaving the aid station someone cautioned that the trail and snow patches were slick so be careful...I barely heard them I was so excited knowing that the race was almost over. I fell. A lot. That snow up there was slick! and after 3 or 4 rather hard falls I realized that making it down in 45-50 minutes was not going to happen this year. So I had to slow down a bit over the icy snow patches and try to then switch gears and let-er-buck on the open runnable sections. It was surprisingly hard to really open up coming down the mountain. I don't know if it was the switching gears due to mud and snow patches or my stabilizer muscles which had been overworked due to the days conditions (my legs were sore!). I suppose it was a bit of both. But down I came as fast as I could. It felt awesome though. That was one thing about the race this year. I felt so good the whole race. Maybe because I wasn't worried about time or place, just running as well as I could. Maybe I finally dialed into my nutrition and blister problems. But for whatever reason I was having so much fun.
I hit As#10 without stopping. I did drop my belt and jacket off with my wife but I had no intention of slowing down. It was weird because those last 4 miles were awful during previous years but this year they felt great. I was tired and my legs were heavy but I held form and finished strong. My finishing time was 9:36:35 in 3rd place. I couldn't have been happier about the way I raced. After talking with several people I feel that with the weather and trail conditions the way they were my time was equivalent to a 8:45:00. Considering my preparation I was overjoyed with my time and the way I ran. Maybe next year will be even better! Who knows and who cares? 2008 was awesome. I hope everyone else felt good about their race. I know the mud was a problem for some people but one thing about Ultra's is that they are going to be run regardless of weather or conditions. Congratulations to anyone who finished this race or volunteered to make Squaw Peak a success. Thanks and Happy Trails!

London, England

We were only able to squeeze two days in London but it was worth it. I served an LDS mission there and attended a summer study abroad program there. I wanted to go and just re-experience the vibe of London. We ate Kebabs, chocolate biscuits, and Indian food; bought some new clothes (British make fantastically superior suits, shirts, and ties), and just walked around the streets of London. It was fun, quick, and brought back lots of great memories! Cheers to London, the greatest city on Earth!

Sunday, June 8, 2008


From Prague, Zanna and I took a train to Vienna. What quaint is to Prague, gaudy is to Vienna. Definitely a bigger city with more hustle and bustle. The cathedrals were even more ornate and the city much more modern. We particularly enjoyed the museums which were by far the best we had seen. Amazing art and history collections. We spent 2 days in Vienna and then we got a rent-a-car to see the rest of Austria.

With Salzburg as our headquarters, we spent the next several days finding the smallest most mountainous roads we could and off we went exploring. It was so much fun! I was able to do several great trail runs and it was beautiful. The alps were incredible! We spent one evening in Innsbruck and then our fourth day in Salzburg. Props to Austria for having awesome roads and trails. We would stop at random small cafe's in the mountain for awesome meals and great views. I do love the mountains!

Prague, Czech Republic

I am well behind in my blogging and over the next week I will catch up on all my adventures ranging from Europe, Mexico, and Squaw Peak.

But my adventure in Prague was most surprising. I had heard great things about Prague but I was genuinely surprised by it's beauty. My wife and spent 3 1/2 days in Prague and never got bored! Mostly we just walked through the streets admiring the architecture and quaintness of this unique city. It really felt like we were in the 18th century. I was shocked by the colors of the buildings, the amount of beautifully preserved cathedrals, and the narrow quaint streets. The people weren't the most talkative but our stay in Prague was incredible.

Some of the highlights were: Prague Castle- Up on a hill it dominates the surrounding city and is gorgeous to walk through. St Charles Bridge- Try to ignore all the peddlers, but the statues, the views, and just the feeling of this area is incredible. Jewish Ghetto- Somewhat sad but at the same time quite amazing. The old cemeteries and synagogues are quite inspiring. Town Center- This square is awesome! Cathedrals, statues, ornate houses, and beautiful gardens. Best to find a little restaurant off this main thoroughfare like we did. Better food, quainter location, and cheaper. Of course all of these places will be in any handbook but they really are strikingly beautiful. The highlight of Prague was some cheap nosebleed tickets to Mozart's classic "Don Giovanni." It was unforgettable! Don't skip out on this charming city if you ever have the chance to visit.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

What's up with Squaw Peak 50 2008?

So Squaw Peak 50 is less than 6 days away! Since getting back from Europe two weeks ago I have run nearly the entire course at least once. The training has been good and again I have high hopes this year. Here is an update:

Snow Levels: Don't freak out...the snow is not as bad as John was predicting a month ago. Expect snow starting when the trail leaves the road at mile 11. It will be solid snow for the mile climb/bushwhack, then off and on over the next 2 miles to Horse Mtn. There will hopefully be a dry shoulder to run on for part of that. Once over Horse Mtn there will be a slide path or two to cross but little else. Aid station #4 will be moved to mile 20 due to lack of access! Hopefully we find out more details from John before Friday. The next snow you see will be on Mtn Lion Traverse at mile 36. Couple of slide paths. Bozung Hill, mile 39, will be solid snow although once you crest the top it will be dry all the way down to Windy Pass Aid Station. From here the snow will be virtually solid for the first mile, which will suck, and then after that there will be a couple of slide paths to cross. We ran to Windy Pass on Friday, 8 days before race day and there was lots of snow. It is melting fast but some of the slide paths will be ice! So the total snow on race day will be between 5-6 miles. A little wet but it shouldn't make that big of a deal if you are familiar with running on a little snow. Plus the Rock Canyon climb and Bozung Hill are easier climbs with snow on them anyway!

Top Finishers: Not too many guesses here....Kevin Shilling and Allen Belshaw should battle this thing out for the victory, I'll take Kevin this year though. The trailer group will be more interesting this year. Erik Storheim and Myself are the two top returning finishers from last year but we have a bunch of newby's who could surprise us namely:
Karl Jarvis-2nd Moab 30K, 3rd Antelope 50K, 2nd BSTM, and Runner's Corner Team Member with awesome speed and great climbing abilities. He will be up there for sure!
Ryan Cooper- Colorado Boy with lots of experience. Ex-Montrail regional sponsor with lots of speed and experience.
Scott Eppelman- Team Injinji Member, USA 24-hr team member, but can this Texan handle this tough Mtn race?

Other probable top 10 finishers are:
Daniel Schmidt- After cramping in 06 and a wrong turn on 07 he will be coming back with a vengeance.
David Larsen- A consistent solid runner.
Rich McDonald- Great runner and been there before but is he prepared?
Shane Martin- This Runner's Corner Team Member stud is fit this year and ready to rock.
Dave Hunt- Ex-Runner's Corner Member and newly appointed Wasatch Speedgoat member is consistent but will his Zane Grey's experience effect him?
Matt Galland- Runner's Corner Team Member who has the potential but will he make this an A race?
Runner's Corner Team Members, all of which should be in the top 25:
Brian Beckstead
Karl Jarvis
Shane Martin
Matt Galland
Shaun Christian
Joe Martel
Marc Sanderson
New Woman Team Member- Marcee Christian

Good luck to all runners this weekend especially close friends and "customers" (I couldn't think of another word for all the people who come into Runner's Corner for are included in friends). Good Luck!

Personal Strategy- Last year I was in amazing shape but I went out way to fast. I'm looking to sit back that first half of the race and turn the heat on for the second half. Although my training has been a little inconsistent I'm hoping to PR by running smarter. Look out Squaw Peak 50!