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!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Winter Running

Why is it so hard to train in the winter? Nearly every time I go running in the winter I have a blast yet I still struggle leaving my warm and comfy couch. The first 4-5 minutes are always tough but after that I'm usually great. I did a 2 hour snowshoes run up at Snowbasin today and that was awesome. Hard to run with this latest batch of snow but I needed a long session in the mountains. Probably only made it 7-8 miles. I've decided I'm going to run with snowshoes at least once a week to get ready for the Kahtoola 50k. It's in a month so I better get cracken. Recently I've been using the LaSportiva hobnails in my zero'd Cascadia's and it's been a dream on the packed Bonneville Shoreline Trail. Last two weeks I've only done about 25 miles per week but it's been good solid mileage. I'd like to beef it up over the next three weeks to get in decent shape for the 50k. At least I'm totally injury free right now. On a side note, if you want to know how I feel about the running footwear industry check out my fraudulent theory. Anyway, get out there and run no matter what. You'll feel better.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Bozung's Ultra Cup

Yes I did it. It was not well thought out and totally impulsive but while signing up for Squaw Peak 50 on December 1st I signed up for Bozung's Ultra Cup races. A 32 miles snowshoe race in 8 weeks is probably the most nerve-racking. I am obviously excited about Squaw, like every other year, but dreading another crack at the burning hot Katcina Mosa 100k. Should be another exciting year of racing!
Anticipated 2010 race schedule:
Kahtoola Bigfoot Snowshoe 50k Jan 30th
??Antelope Island 25k or 50k March 27th
BSTM April 24th
Squaw Peak 50 June 5th
**Hardrock 100 July 10th-12th (If I get in the lottery, which is highly unlikely)
Katcina Mosa 100k August 6th
**Wasatch 100 September 10th-11th (Lottery, pretty good chance...I'm feeling good about it)
??Maybe a later autumn race depending on how I feel.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Barefoot and Minimalistic Running

So I've mentioned several times that I would write about how over the last 5-6 months I have evolved my running. So here goes:

Yes, I have embraced the barefoot movement. In fact some friends and I have created a new website that I think you all should check out. In fact I just published a personal article about how my ultra running has been affected by barefoot running. This blog which has been renamed "The Ultra Experience" will stay the same. It is pretty much my personal journal. However, my theories, articles, running opinions, gear reviews, etc will all be posted on It is on my blog roll so check it often because it is/will be an awesome resource, especially as it grows and develops. It is not a true barefoot site yet we believe in the principles of barefoot running and adapting them to every day runners. Hence barefoot/minimalistic. Running barefoot is still extremely helpful yet not always practical. Check the website, it's pretty cool and it's only at it's early stages.

On a separate everyone getting amped for Squaw Peak 50 2010? Registration is in a week, so do not forget to send in your registration on December 1st. Ran part of the course yesterday and it is as great as ever. Cheers y'all.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Final Trip Up Ben Lomond

Ran Ben Lomond for what will probably be my final time for the year. If was nice to get out for a long run in the mountains while the weather was nice. Despite warm weather there was still a bunch of snow on the backside of the mountain which made things exciting. It got a bit dark on the way down but ended up being a perfect Saturday afternoon run. It was my sixth time to the top this year. I would like to try and do it mountaineer style over the winter. What was a 3 hour run will become a 16 hour ordeal. Worth the excitement. I am now ready for it to snow snow snow. Bring on winter!

Final grunt up the backside
Chillin on the top with Willard Peak in the distance

Friday, November 6, 2009

Baby Update

So Ari and family are doing great. Zanna has recovered incredibly well and I've been able to squeeze a couple runs in. How do you pass up this weather!? I don't find many babies attractive but I'm pleased to say my baby is better looking then most...honestly. Personal bias and emotion involved and I think he is amazingly beautiful. Here are some professional pictures taken 18 hours after Ari's birth. I had no idea how fun it is being a father!

Friday, October 30, 2009

"Let the great experiment begin!" Introducing Ari Emerson Beckstead

Zanna and I had our baby! Ari Emerson Beckstead was born on Tuesday October 27th at 5:20pm. He was 6 lbs 12 oz, 20 inches long and healthy. I have never been happier.

Many people have already asked where the name came from so here you go. It's a long explanation and probably lame but we like it. The direct translation for Ari in Hebrew is lion. Ariel is a common name in Israel, and in Judaism in general, meaning Lion of God. El is God in Hebrew but we like Ari rather then Ariel. Ralph Waldo Emerson is one of my favorite philosophers and his theories of transcendentalism match my feelings of running ultras. Like it or not, there it is.
Needless to say, Zanna and I are so excited to be parents and looking forward to this the ultimate adventure.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Bear 100 '09

Another year and another 100 mile race. This year was different. As Roger Smith and I would say for the next 27 hours...we are always on time. I had splits but A: it didn't matter because I wasn't going to worry or care if I was fast or slow and B: we hit nearly every split within minutes! It ended up being a super rewarding and dare I say easy(ier)? 100 mile race.

The first climb we just got in line and walked. After several miles I was a bit worried we had started too slow but we had great conversations with the likes of Tom Remkes, RD Bruce Copland, Eric Johnson, and several others. The weather was pleasant although a bit warm. But we just meandered our way up the mountain. 1st aid station was no rush and a few minutes slow but it's a hundred miles so we didn't care. Roger and I ended up running the next 10 miles with Shane Martin which is always a pleasure. We did however begin to noticed a trend that would occur frequently over the next 75 miles and that was passing people who went out too fast.

AS #2 and we were in and out and closing in on AS #3. It was already starting to warm up a bit and so I drank as much as possible. I had a drop bag at AS#3 with another water bottle and some food. Who knew 22 miles would go by so effortlessly? The climb to Cowley is beautiful, remote, and ever so gradual. With the temperature rising I took every opportunity to bath myself in the cool stream which we crossed numerous times. I was still holding back when minutes before the aid station I drank the last of my water. It was perfect timing...literally in fact as we entered the aid station 3 seconds behind schedule! Not a bad prediction for 30 miles. I filled my water bottles with ice and Nuun, ate a bunch of solid foods including stuffing a hand full of pretzels into my pockets, and was off. Roger started to feel a bit queasy over the next section but he kept pace as we motored along. Soon we reached a pivotal junction and noticed a runner far ahead who had missed the turn. We shouted and yelled for 10-12 seconds before the runner heard us and turned around. It was the eventual women's winner Katherine Dowson. However, moments later I felt so good going down into Right Fork that I gaped Roger by the farthest of the race, 2 minutes, as I cruised to AS #5 mile 37.
My wife was there and we took our time changing socks, eating food, and refilling our again empty water bottles. I knew the next section would be bare and hot so I loaded up and off we went. To my frustration I slipped while crossing a stream not 10 minutes from the aid station soaking my right foot. Nothing I could do but keep moving and hope the blisters could be kept at bay. I always hate this next section. It is exposed and miserably hot. I again ran out of water but by drinking at the aid stations and polishing off all my water in between I managed to stay relatively hydrated. Again at Temple Fork my wife was there to greet us and get us what we needed. I didn't need much. After 45 miles I was barely feeling warmed up and off we went. With more shade and being late in the day, it cooled off nicely. Roger started to feel better and soon we were having an emotional experience flying through the mountains. It was great.

Tony's Grove is always a wonderful welcome. It's gorgeous this time of year especially at that time in the evening. As we entered the AS Roger saw Dave Hunt and yelled at him to come run with Dave with that gleam in his eye sprinted to his car, got dressed, grabbed the necessary nutrition, and was sporadically running with us, all in a mere 10 minutes! It was awesome. Dave grandfathered me into ultra running and it was so fun having him along for the next 11 miles. White Pine is incredible. Truly the most beautiful part of the course and with the sun setting it only increased the beauty. I started to feel the effects of running nearly 60 miles at that point but I quickly snapped out of it with Dave and Rogers enthusiasm. Soon we we cruising effortlessly on the long gradual descent to Franklins. We ran with Mike from CO for most of the later half and passed friend Davy Crockett. With flashlights ablazing we entered Franklins AS yelling and hollering with excitement. In 3 minutes I had on a fresh shirt and an overflowing backpack fresh with goodies thanks to my wife and Matt . Dave had left us but Golden Harper was now on pacing duties. With lights and trekking poles (one each) we were continuing onwards. What was a terrible 7 miles in 2008 seemed like a cake walk in '09. We had moved from 36th place to 18th place and there we would stay. It was quiet now but Golden took great care of us despite my stomach turning a bit sour. I barely blinked at the spot I dropped from the race in '08 and as we entered Logan AS to the triumphant musical greeting I smiled at the prospect of what I was doing. Once past that point, the monkey was off my back and I was redeemed. Roger however was gorging himself on the homemade salsa, which after a moments reflection I quickly followed suite.

The temperature finally started to cool down but it didn't effect us. We were in the zone. My feet were getting a little sore but otherwise I felt great. For being only 7.1 miles this section did drag on a bit but entering mile 76 Beaver AS was great. A bustle of activity as Golden, Dave, and soon to be pacers Danny and Brian Tavoian waited on us hand and foot. It was touching to me and a perfect example of what true friendship is. I am indebted to all of them. Roger and I by this point, although wordless, were going to finish together no matter what happened. This experience sealed our friendship, and thankfully we now had 2 pacers to look out for us. I did hit my first major slump leaving Beaver AS. I just got tired and my stomach wanted to know nothing else. We walked up most of the next 5 miles to Gibson AS where I had some of the best soup and watermelon of my life. It hit the spot and we were off. I was feeling great now but I could tell that my feet were breaking down. Roger also struggled a bit through this section but with little hesitation we made it to AS #12 mile 85. Golden and Dave were waiting at 4:45am to help us out.
The next 7 miles were tough. Roger and I yo-yo'ed back and forth with random highs and lows. My blisters blew up and I had to resort to a mere shuffle but on we went to the final aid station Ranger Dip. With the sun coming out and the smell of the finish line before us we didn't wait around long. Neither of us could eat much aside from soup and by this point both of our feet were toast and that technical downhill to finish the race was ridiculously painful. For the first time in the race we slowed down past our goal splits but we didn't care. With friends helping us on and an awesome pregnant wife, we ran the final stretch. It was super emotional for many reasons yet I had overcome and accomplished. Tied for 18th place in a time of 27:25.37 Roger Smith and I crossed the finish line. I was so happy.
Miracously I have recovered so well. Maybe it was giving Geoff Roes a ride back to his car from the finish line that kept the adrenaline flowing, or the incredible grilled trout and shrimp at the finishing BBQ, or maybe it was my new even midsoled "zero drop" shoes, possibly is was the outpouring of love and friendship involved in getting me to the finish line. Regardless, this race just did it for me. It's indescribable but undeniable. The Bear 100 '09 just rocked my world!
Thanks to all the volunteers and race directors, family and friends, congrats to all finishers, may you all hybernate well this winter. Keep fueling the Bear!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Closing in on the Bear

It draws near...100 miles. It's always such an anxious feeling. This year in particular as I have had two tough 100 milers over as many years and without a huge base it makes me a bit unsettled. The nice thing is that I have decided to begin at a very conservative pace. No grandeur goals this year. My tentative splits put me at 27 hrs but that is after a slow start. To achieve that goal I will have to run much of the second half of the race, which by all means I intend to do. 100 milers have a way of forcing you to adapt though.
I do have some interesting plans for shoes, nutrition, hydration, lighting, and a trekking pole (I've become quite fond of using a single trekking pole as of late). We shall see how it all turns out and I'm excited for the challenge.

Competition looks hard to predict. After his huge performance at Wasatch Geoff Roes has to be the standout favorite. Some young relative newcomers Luke Nelson and Nick Pedatella will be in it for 2nd and 3rd but will be tested by none other then The King himself Leland Barker. With so many runners coming from out of state I didn't see too many other standouts. There's probably of few of them out there though. Good luck to all...I know I need more than my share!

Anyone else get excited looking at this?

The Bear!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Uniquely Wasatch 100

This years Wasatch was unique in so many ways yet despite the fact I didn't run it, I feel so much closer to it. It started with the need to get my volunteer work for the Bear 100. I sent an email to the Wasatch race directors and found out that they needed help at the Sessions Lift Off aid station at mile 28.3. I contacted Kent Cravens the aid captain and we were off on quite the off road bumpy journey.

The hype pre-race was huge but when the first runner was spotted in the distance my heart rate sky rocketed. Geoff had made an early move and had several minutes on Meltzer. As I watched them run it shocked me how effortless they ran. The quickness wasn't blatant but they were so relaxed and smooth. It seemed so natural. Frankly I was shocked. The shock only furthered throughout the day as I kept hearing splits and the eventual finishing times! Congrats to those two for going way under record pace while pushing the human body and mind. Incredible. Nearly as impressive were Betsy and Mandy showing us men what true competition and toughness are.

This was only the start for my day as nearly 250 more runners needed attention. I had a blast filling water bottles and shouting hello's to all the runners. When everyone was through Sessions I had nothing to do and tons of extra food so I decided to check out the race at Millcreek. I didn't get there in time to see the leaders but the aid station seemed to need my help and appreciated the extra food. It was great helping out and seeing nearly everyone having great races...Erik, Dave, Peter, Christian, Chad, Phil, Scott K, Roger, Matt, Tom, Davy, Scott M (who ended up wearing my arm warmers from Millcreek to the finish because he somehow didn't pack anything but a light jacket!), and especially friend/student Matt Galland who I would get to pace from Brighton to the finish. Running around getting soup, convincing Neal Gormand that we would need at least arm warmers before Brighton, filling water bottles, taping Chucks feet, grabbing drop bags, etc was more fun then I could have possibly imagined!

Soon I headed off to grab some real food and meet Matt at Brighton. After 14 hours of aid station work I was tired so I took a quick 45 minute nap but it didn't last as I was wired from watching the race all day. So I went in to see most of the above mentioned guys a 3rd time before starting my pacing duties. Matt arrived at 1am and we didn't mess around. After only 10 minutes we were off in good spirits. Matt had taken care of himself all day so I pushed him. Needless to say we passed 14-15 runners for a 27 hr 14 min finish. Matt ran super strong that last 25 and I personally loved every second of it having drawn so much closer to the race.

Congrats to all Wasatch runners and I will hopefully get my name drawn as one of the lucky few to toe the line in 2010. For now the excitement is turning to the Bear 100 as I taper and prepare. Matt's pace was perfect preparation as my goal time is sub-27 hours. Lot's of excitement and anticipation in the Beckstead household. It's my turn next week.

Congrats Matt

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Ben Lomond, Mtn Goats, and I...

After a long weekend of work (aka huge Labor Day Sale), I was aching to get out on a nice run. Quite literally actually as I had tweaked my back slepping a kayak around at work. So I hit my favorite trail...Ben Lomond. I went out at a conservative clip but felt solid and just maintained the effort. 45 minutes into the run I realized I hadn't walked a step and still felt great. On a whim I committed myself to running every step of the way.

I wasn't breaking any speed barriers but I was just motoring along with effortless strides under very moderate and comfortable temperatures. As I was nearing the final mile which I knew would be a grunt I looked up to behold a small herd of mountain goats!....then another group...and another! To my dismay I counted nearly 40 goats on the face of the mountain. It was incredible and with the surge of adrenaline it only furthered my determination to run the peak.

Those who have run the peak know what the last mile is like. Torn up trail, steep switchbacks, and on this occasion, mountain goats in every direction. As I neared the summit fatigue set in and the pace slowed but my determination never faltered as I grunted up the final section to what felt like the top of the world. My time to the top: 1:41 via N. Ogden Divide without walking or stopping for a second. I felt great and was quite proud of myself. To my surprise there were 5 more mountain goats feeding not 20 yards away! It was surreal.

The way down was equally impressive as the mountain goats were even closer. I took my time and relaxed making it down in exactly an hour. It's amazing what we have at our disposal along the Wasatch Front. On a side note, I will be manning the Sessions Lift Off aid station this weekend and pacing a buddy the last 25 miles. For those running a huge GOOD LUCK is in order.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Tackling the Beast

I just hadn't been feeling well most of the year. I couldn't put my finger on it but my body was off kilter. After taking most of June off running I started back slowly in July but most runs would end the same...massive stomach aches a mere 25-30 minutes into each run. As I would walk back to the trailhead I would curse my misfortune but I didn't know what was wrong. Aside from stomach issues an overall drain of energy followed me wherever I went and whatever I did.

Finally towards the end of July after struggling though 35 mile weeks, my wife booked an appointment to go visit a doctor ( I hate going to the doctor!). She feared I had contracted a parasite from our Middle East trip in the spring and since my primary problem since then including Squaw Peak 50 was severe stomach pain and diarrhea, I conceded. Come to find out I had a bacteria called h. pilori which, as in my case, was accompanied with a peptic ulcer!

Within days of starting my medication I was feeling significantly better and starting to crank out the mileage. The Uintah trip gave me even more confidence when at the end of a tough week of backpacking I easily cranked out 22 miles. That only feed my momentum and now for the month of August I have comfortably run 311 miles including 96 miles this past week and feeling better then ever.

What have I decided to do with this sudden comeback? Head back to my former nemesis The Bear 100. I sent in the application today and am fully committed with one goal in mind...finish in under 30 hours. Pride aside I intend not to race this event but to run it. There is a distinct difference. Less stress, less pride, but a more controlled focus. The DNF from last years event has haunted me and I intend to get the monkey off my back by running a smart and solid Bear. There are other aspects to my sudden increase in mileage. I'll post on the biomechanical changes on my next post. For now it's time to tackle the bear!

Still feeling good somewhere around mile 25 w/ Christian Johnson. Bear 100 2008.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

B's Uintah Grand 8 Route

The group on top of Kings Peak

The Uintah Mountains were epic as usual. This trip was especially fun as I hand picked a unique route that led us over some of the most remote and highest spots in Utah. I call it the "Beckstead Grand 8 Route" as we did a gnarly figure 8 through some of the best terrain in the world. Two people bailed just days before and it ended up being Shane Martin and myself on the adventure.

The route

We ended up catching several hundred fish (I swear it's not a fish story!), hiked over 70 miles, bagged four 13,000 foot peaks in one day, went over 7 mountain passes, endured several rain lightning and snow storms, while having an awesome time all in a mere five days. Packs were max of 30 lbs and got lighter every mile for an absolutely epic trip. Pictures speak louder than worlds so check out the pics and the route!

Shane heading to Milk Lake

Also, as everyone knows I work for a gear shop but are people interested in gear reviews from my experiences? I love to support my shops but this blog is not a shameless plug. However, I do have the opportunity to try out some of the latest and greatest gear so let me know if you want to hear about the good and the bad. I wouldn't mind giving an objective analysis on the gear I use but I don't want people to feel like I'm constantly pushing my business, gear, or sponsors on people.

August 15th Snow Storm in Upper Yellowstone Basin

Anyway, it's a great time to be alive so cram it all in as summer is quickly coming to a close. Happy trails and adventures to all.
Looking south along the Kings-Emmons Ridge
View from the ridge.
Milk Lake
Fresh Spring Water!
Red Castle

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Uintah Fastpacking Loop (anyone interested?)

So my yearly fastpacking trip is coming up and I've talked to several people who are interested in coming along so I thought I would throw out the invitation to anyone who is in shape and up for a challenge.
The trip this year is a unique loop composed of some of the highest sections of the Uintah Mountains in Northeast Utah. The trip will be from August 11th-17th and will total 65-70 miles. We will start at the East Fork Black Fork trailhead and proceed south on trail 103. Up and over Squaw pass then taking a left turn onto the Highline Trail 025 over Porcupine Pass, Tungsten Pass, and finally Anderson Pass. From here we will head along the Kings-Emmons Ridge bagging Kings Peak, South Kings Peak, Painters Peak, and Trail Rider Peak. All 13,000 ft peaks, before traversing south into Timothy Basin. From Timothy Basin we will head west along trail 055 over Bluebell Pass to Milk Lake and then bushwhack north to the rarely visited Kings Lake. Continuing the journey we will reconnect to the Highline Trail before quickly heading north on trail 054 over Smiths Fork Pass. The final stretch will consist of trail 111 over Bald Mountain to the starting point of East Fork Blackfork Trailhead. Catch all that? Check out the map below:

Right now the crew looks like it will be myself, Golden Harper, Shane Martin and possibly 1 or 2 more. The goal is to move fast and light while catching as many fish as possible! If you are dying for an adventure, are an experienced backpacker, and are in trail marathon+ shape, give me a call or email me at runfishyrun at hotmail dot com. Yes I'm aware I've limited who is invited by a drastic margin but this is my vacation. I know it's last minute and getting work off is near impossible but this route has to be one of the coolest routes I've ever seen and I'm quite proud to claim it as uniquely my own. Let me know asap if interested. It will be great high altitude training for that fall 100 miler or marathon you're training for. Life is it up!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Ben Lomond Peak

After a very stressful week at the Outdoor Retailer (more on the highlights later), I decided it was time for a nice long run. I had yet to summit the looming Ben Lomond Peak, located above North Ogden, and I decided today would be the day. My running has been casual this past month. Consistent 25-30 mile weeks but I hadn't done any long runs. This would be a bit of a test.
Minutes out of the trailhead I saw a sign that distressed me. As of July 15th motorbikes would be allowed on the trail. Moments later the deafening roar of motorized bikes and the ensuing dust cloud surrounded me. I know I've offended people on my blog, which I have never intended, but understand this perspective and do not take it personally. It is a horrible shame that a pristine wilderness setting such as the trail to Ben Lomond is marred by loud trail damaging vehicles. Maybe it was my experience at Wasatch 100 when at mile 92 as I was descending into Pot Bottom I almost got ran over by a couple of motorcyclists who could care less that I had been running for 26 hours. Anyway I was appalled that motorbikes are allowed on such pristine high use trail trail.

Aside from almost being run over a couple times by motorbikes I had an amazing time on the beautiful single track trail. Views of Ogden, Eden, Logan, and the Great Salt Lake complemented the array of wildflowers and distant peaks. I felt great the whole way up and even better on the way down. Means I need to get my butt out of bed in the mornings and do some more long runs. My new goal is to run this peak once a week! The ascent took me 1 hr 48 minutes and the descent took me 1 hr and 7 minutes for a perfect 3 hour 16 mile run. Something special occurs on such a trail run which you can't fully explain. If you've had it, you understand. If you haven't, no words can describe.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Hayden Peak Backpacking Trip

The Uintah mountains are home for me. I have such fond memories of the Uintahs. In fact some of the earliest and most distinct memories of my life occurred when I was 5 years old while my family was horse camping/backpacking at Mohican Lake in the Grandaddy basin. I carried my first backpack (clothes, sleeping bag, and foam pad) when I was 8 years old on a 7 mile trip into Duck Lake. Although more exotic trips have taken precedence over the last few years (LDS mission, Alaska, study abroad in the British Isles, Hawaii, a NOLS course, backpacking Europe, John Muir Trail, southern Utah, etc), I find peace and solice in the feeling of being completely at home in the Uintahs.

This past weekend was no different. Golden Harper and I set about for a quick trip to Ryder Lake and McPheter Lake with the goal to bag Hayden Peak from the backside. The trip was almost flawless. The 9+ miles in were banged out in less than 4 hours and we found a perfect campsite on a grassy ledge between the two lakes. Mosquito's were a bit voracious but the views were perfect. We fished Ryder lake that night which produced plenty of small Brook trout and an occasional Cutthroat.

The following morning we were all about business and off we went despite a few scattered showers. The rule was as soon as we even heard thunder we were to head down for cover. Luckily a mild breeze and a couple spattering drops of rain were all we encountered as we scrambled up the mountain. The way is rocky with no trail but can be accomplished by most strong, stable, and determined hikers. From our campsite we summited in 1 1/2 hours including a couple of picture/breather breaks. Seeing Kings Peak in one direction and Mount Timpanogos in another is pretty awesome! Serenity Now! (with no sarcasm)
The way down was a little more difficult and provided for some careful navigation. Once at the saddle where you can either scramble down to the Mirror Lake Highway or McPheter Lake we found a steep ravine with stable snow. So what would two semi-mature 27 year old men do? Slide down the 50 degree slope and avoid the boulders of course! Unfortunately our camera battery died or else we would have some gnarly pictures of the 30 seconds and 600 feet of blissful descent. A nap, fast afternoon fishing at Ryder, a real thunderstorm, slow but big fish at McPheter Lake, and an eventful day came to a close. Tired but content with life we curled up and slept to the indescribable smell of mountains.
The final day was uneventful compared to the previous. Taking our time in the morning we unsuccessfully went to go and catch the big one at McPheter and then had some fast pond/stream fishing at the outlet of Ryder. The hike out went quickly as we swiftly hiked down the mountain with our lightened packs. Another great trip and the Uintahs continued to impress both the eye and the soul.

Note the slide path below the moon. Yep...that was it!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Back to the Uintah's and training

I've been in such a slump since Squaw Peak. The weekend of June 28th jumpstarted me as I hit a last minute backpacking trip to the Uintahs which was amazing. I did a round-a-bout loop to the Cuberant Basin off the Mirror Lake Highway. It was only about 7 miles total but was a fantastic rejuvination physically and emotionally. The trail and terrain were wet and sloppy the whole way but it helped me break in my new Zamberlan boots. In fact since starting my new job at Canyon Sports I haven't backpacked much and this solo journey was the perfect situation to test out all my new gear I've acquired over the last few months. I'm now truly confident that the Exos 46 is the greatest backpack ever made! Tried out several other products on the trip but I'll spare the details aside from the boots and pack, which were the highlights.
The trip was needed though. Zanna and I have done a couple of car camping overnighters but there is something special about getting far away from everything. This trip was perfect as the flyfishing was decent, mosquitos weren't too bad yet, views perfect, and the temperature ideal. So great that I'm heading back this weekend!

It also got me training again. After what was almost a 3 week running slump I ran 31 trail miles this week and felt great. It's amazing how much better I feel when I'm running. No goals or races planned for this summer. I might throw a shorter race somewhere along the way but I'm tentatively planning on running the Moab 50 miler in September. I want to revamp my running and I plan on taking my time while having fun with it (more details on that later). Also I'll cram as much backpacking and flyfishing in along the way. Here's to summer mountain adventures!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Squaw Peak 50 2009 By the Numbers

8:05:32- Winning time by Scott Jaime.
3- The number of 50+ year old men that kicked my butt on race day.
4- Degrees warmer at the start and degrees cooler at the finish then historical averages.
237- Record number of starters on race day.
226- Record number of finishers.
95- Record percentage finishing rate.
8:07:50- New Masters Record set by 2nd place finisher Kevin Shilling.
19- Number of grammatical errors per email from the race director.
24- Record number of finishers that went under 10 hours.
5- Manscill family members that finished the race.
3- Extra miles Christian Johnson ran while still finishing 10th overall.
10- On a scale of 1 to 10 how funny/insane/energetic/hyper Dave Hunt is on race day.
18- Number of energy gels Scott Kunz (13th place) had strapped to his body at the start of the race.
100- Percent of energy expended on race day.
46- More Squaw Peak finishes I want to have before I quite ultra running!

Official results can be found here.

See you next year.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Squaw Peak 50 2009 Race Recap

Well, it never did rain. I had hoped for some rain. The weather was nice though and what a competitive year! It was fun seeing so many familiar faces and spending time with such quality people. I'm also quite proud of my race predictions. If Christian Johnson hadn't taken a wrong turn I would have been even closer. Of course I didn't hit my goal time but I'm OK with my race. I broke the A-standard of 10 hrs which made me happy. Some years are better than others but the race broke down like so:

It was a bit warmer then expected at the start which I thought would for sure end up in an afternoon thundershower. I started off slow and was amazed at not only how fast but how many runners sped off the starting line. I took it easy but almost too easy. I got backlogged after two miles as the running path led into a narrow single track. I passed several groups including team member Davy Crockett and found myself right were I wanted to be with Dave Hunt, Phil Lowry, and Leland Barker. Here I ran for many miles. I saw and talked with these guys and many others. It was fun running with so many people around me.

We passed several more people putting us around 25th place. I got a bathroom stop out of the way which was nice and I motored along. As we hit the rock canyon aid station I was feeling good and relaxed hitting my desired split of 2:00 hrs. The next section was great as I caught and ran with Roger Smith, Greg Norrander, and Peter Lindgren. Along with Dave Hunt we ran together for quite a while. I had a drop bag at AS 4 mile 16 which I fumbled with for too long. But I got in stride and time went quickly.
Heading down into Hobble Creek I decided to quicken the pace and make good of this long down hill section. Not too long though and I was heading into the bushes...again...and again. Commonly called 'the craps' it did not bod well for the race. I made the best of it and made good time...until I got stung by a bee! I screamed in pain and killed that proclaimed SOB. My right quad is still sore from what looked like one of those large bumble bees. I ignored the pain and it gradually dissipated. I still had plenty of water heading to AS5 so I blew right though it.

I was still feeling good although my pace seemed a little labored as I motored up the asphalt passing 7-8 more people. I ran with friend Scott Kunz for a while as well as Ben Corrales both of whom are improving hugely and great runners. I was only 4 minutes slower then goal pace at mile 26. It was great seeing family here as my wife, mother-in-law, and cousin Josh came to cheer me on. Here is where I feel the real race starts.

I headed up the dirt road at a good clip and ran with Leland for a good stretch passing 2-3 more runners. Leland's pace was a bit quicker though and heading up Sheep Creek I started feeling a little sick to the stomach. Another bathroom stop I thought would take care of it but it never quite went away for the rest of the race. Sheep Creek was a lonely section seeing not a soul but I held pace. I quickly filled up and got my drop bag at Little Valley to power through those last 17 gruelling miles.

Shortly out of Lilttle Valley Christian Johnson suddenly appeared out of no where. He had taken a wrong turn while in 4th place and ran several miles off course. He was in a surprisingly good mood despite his unfortunate setback and left me in the dust as I told him to get back after it. I continued to run solid for 2-3 miles but my stomach pain was growing and I was having a hard time eating and drinking. Soon I was struggling. I kept moving but I was slowing down and getting passed by many of the same people I had passed in the middle of the race. Scott Kunz, Peter and Greg, Dave Hunt, and Chad Brackelsburg (glad to see he finally committed!). Bozung Hill was a killer. I vowed never to stop and didn't but that hill seemed to go on forever. 1,200 ft of vertical in a mile is ridiculous. Reaching Windy Pass was a relief but with stomach problems and not eating much since Little Valley, I was pretty spent. Matthew? Christensen Jr helped me out like usual. How come I didn't know you could volunteer to hike up to such an amazing place and help out at ultras when I was 16? Very cool.

As I looked at my watch I realized that a sub 10 hr finish was still possible. It motivated me greatly to finish hard and plow down the mountain. For the first time in a race I tried some ginger chews which I threw in my belt last minute. They surprisingly worked! It noticeably took the edge off my stomach issues but I was still breaking zero speed barriers heading down the mountain. Usually I'm strong on downhills, especially this one, but I was struggling just to keep running on this rocky decent. I got to the final aid station and gave my wife an emotional huge. I knew I would finish in under 10 hrs running a tough race.
No need to stop though as I didn't have any more ginger and couldn't stomach eating or drinking anything. I enjoyed those last couple miles getting passed only by Sandy White. We ran together for a few minutes commenting on the tough race we had run. Those meadows are always so green and Timpanogos so amazing. Good friends Heath Thurston and Karl Jarvis were out on the course cheering me and others on to the finish. I pushed to the end finishing in 9 hours and 55 minutes, 22nd place.

I felt overwhelmed but happy. Happy to finish, happy to have been supported by so many people, happy to experience the existential endorphin pain referred to as ultra trail running. I felt blessed to have so many friends and family who are 100% supportive of my weird hobby. I wasn't overly happy about my time and race placing but not upset about how I ran. In fact it was really fun seeing so many people and having so many different conversations. Congrats to Scott Jaime who held off a late surging Kevin Shilling. Props to all my friends but especially teamates Ron Greenwood and Shane Martin who finished 6th and 9th respectively. As well as Marci Lameroux and Eve Davies for finishing 5th and 9th. Full results here. I ran hard and had a great time! The pathetic part was in the shower having only finished a couple hours earlier when I found myself making calculations and already planning next years race!

Congratulations to all finishers, a huge thank you to all volunteers, and happy trails to everyone.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Final Prep- Squaw 09

With a little over two days until Squaw Peak I am making all my final preparations for race day. Last week I ended up with 31 miles which I focused on speed and climbing in attempt to fine tune for race day. Monday I ran 10 miles easy with Shane Martin and I felt like I was chomping at the bit. Tomorrow I intend to run 5 miles easy to loosen the legs.

Also if you have any last minute questions, Gu's to buy, or if you just want to shoot the bull for a few minutes, I will be hanging out at Runner's Corner all day this Friday from 10am-5pm. If you haven't heard or seen, I have a giant Squaw Peak TOPO map which is custom made for Squaw. I'll have it posted at the store to go over final preparations, race strategy, aid station adjustments, etc. It should be fun and the store is only 5 minutes away from the race briefing so stop on by. Runner's Corner 336 East 800 South in Orem.

If you didn't get into the race or want to be part of the fun, John Bozung still needs volunteers up at the Windy Pass Aid Station. 5 mile hike in and very possibly the most exciting part of the course. Contact Bozung at jbozung at aol. com. Thanks in advance to all the volunteers who make Squaw Peak possible!
I wish everyone a great race and look forward to seeing my favorite group of people and running in my favorite race. Cheers and good luck!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Squaw Peak 50 Competitors

The 2009 Squaw Peak 50 looks like another great one! The competition should be fierce and course conditions fast. Unfortunately with Karl Meltzer and Allen Belshaw withdrawing from the race the front pack will be small but the chase pack looks larger than ever. Here are my picks for the mens race:

1st Scott Jamie- Hasn't run the race over the last few years but in the meantime he has been cranking out wickedly fast times over notoriously tough courses. Will be the frontrunner from start to finish, near or under 8 hrs!
2nd Eric Storheim- Always strong, he should run well like usual. Maybe this year we won't let the leader out of his sights.
3rd Kevin Shilling- Extremely talented and two time winner. If he wants it he will contend for the victory.
4th Christian Johnson- Has improved every year and this year looks to be his year.
5th Ryan Cooper- Long time competitive runner from Colorado. I believe it's his first time at Squaw Peak so we will see how he does.
The mens chase pack should be huge with lots of past competitive athletes showing up. It should consist of:

Leland Barker
Todd Schmidtke
David Larsen
Daniel Schmidt
Roger Smith
Shane Martin
Rich McDonald
Dave Hunt
Scott Kunz
Matt Conners
Jeff Lamora
Peter Lingren
Shaun Christian
Phil Lowry

Several other 1st time Squaw Peakers to look out for are Ron Greenwood and Clyde Behunin. Both of whom are excellent marathoners jumping into the ultra scene. The top 20 runners should all be under or close to 10 hrs. It looks like the deepest field since 2004.

As for me, I'm predicting a 9th place finish in 9 hrs and 19 minutes. This looks like an average year for me. I'm in good shape and if things go well I might be able to shave a few minutes off but I'm not in the shape I was the previous two years. I'm in very similiar shape as 3 years ago when I ran 9:19 for a 10th place finish. My planned splits are almost identical to my 2006 time.

As for the Womens race, it looks very competitive as well. My predictions are as follows:
1st Sarah Evans- After her Wasatch 100 victory combined with her youthful speed she should be the one to crush the competition although her inexperience could lead to a blow up.
2nd Birgitta Johnson- Knows the course and knows her limits. She will do well as always.
3rd Milada Copeland- Military precision. Could have a huge day and contend for win.
4th Deanna McLaughlin- Knows how to pace a tough course.
5th Eve Davies- After her solid performance at Zane Grey, she should come into this race strong.
6th Marci Lameroux- Local favorite has improved every year and should tear up the course.
7th Marcee Christain- Does well every year and this year should be no different.

Looks like it will be an awesome race! I know I'm excited. The red athletes all belong to the Runner's Corner/Hammer Mountain Team. Good luck to fellow team members and all runners next weekend!