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!

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!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Squaw Peak Course Update

The course is in great condition!  On Friday, I started at mile 2 and ran to mile 26.  The snow has melted quickly, however there is one major problem.  An avalanche slide path at mile 8 is not going anywhere.  It was 7-8 ft high and 30 ft wide.  This means the Rock Canyon Aid Station (#3, 10.4) must move back over two miles.  It shouldn't be too big of a problem since the Horse Mtn Aid Station (#4, 16) looks accessible.  There will be 8 tough miles between those aid stations though.  Most of the snow I encountered will undoubtedly melt away and there should be a dry shoulder for most of the way.  The bushwhack section will be a mud hole and the mile before Horse Mtn there are several steep and tricky slide paths that will not melt away.

Once to Horse Mtn Aid #4 it's all clear as you make your way downhill into Hobble Creek.  Unless you're like me and forget to pack your flashlight.  Coming down the mountain at 10:00 pm without a light sucks!  I also wish I had brought a camera to take some pictures.  Oh well.  As I neared the asphalt without crashing I was relieved.  That is until I looked up at a light post 100 meters before the asphalt and turfed it hard.  A couple of scratches with a damaged ego but I was fine.  I reached mile 26 in a time of 4 hrs and 43 minutes having run 24 miles and feeling quite strong!

Less than 10 hours later I found myself where I left off at mile 26.  The first couple of miles were slow as I warmed up but by Sheep Creek I was feeling great.  The course is so green right now and the trail is perfect.  The rivers will be crossable and the mud minimal.  For some reason I always smile when I get to Little Valley.  Whether training or on race day there is something about it.  Maybe it's the perfect technical bomber downhill into Little Valley, or the subtle realization that your not going to die, or maybe it really is just a gorgeous area.  Either way I enjoy Little Valley.  

Surprisingly I really enjoy that first climb as well.  Interestingly it looks like there has been a flash flood up there.  The river is much more channeled making it easier to cross with the surrounding ravine washed out in several places.  There are plenty of downed tree and twigs which the trail crew will have a heck of a time clearing out.  I kicked and grabbed as many as I could but there is a lot.  None of which create a problem until you get to the North side of Bald Knoll.  Along with several slide paths and snow patches, there are several major downed trees that will create a problem for the trail crew and on race day.  Once you make the turn south down to Berryport Pass the trail is clear to Bozung Hill.  This is where I turned around but Bozung Hill did not look like it had much snow.  I was shocked at how little was on the mountain.

I had pushed the pace the whole way up and now I decided not to pound my legs by taking the way back nice and easy.  It was a perfect run.  There was a nice cloud cover the whole way and the last 45 minutes there was even a nice drizzle of rain which I loved.  It was great seeing Phil Lowry out on the course as well.  I finished the 24 miles in 5 hours and 15 minutes.  It was fantastic!  It got me very excited for the race in two weeks.

I finished this week totaling 69 miles 100% trails with 15000 ft of elevation gain.  I feel great.  With a two week taper I should be ready to go come race day.  I hope everyone else is as excited as myself!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

May Training...Anyone else need some last minute Squaw miles?

I arrived home from Israel on May 5th. With Squaw Peak 50 getting close, I immediately began a relatively aggressive training schedule. Due to my lack of base and need for quick strength I have chosen to go vertical. In the last 12 days I have run 122 miles which in and of itself isn't that great, but it was with roughly 26,000 feet of vertical over 100% trail! Shockingly I feel decent although on my last run I was dragging pretty bad. After a couple days off I will hit the trails for one last week of mile cramming.

If you need some last minute Squaw miles, you are welcome to join me. On Friday May 22nd at 5:30 pm I am planning on running from Nuun's Park (mile 2) to Hobble Creek (mile 25) where my in-laws live. The following morning at 8:00 am I will start at the end of the asphalt (mile 26) and run as high as I can get which is presumably the base of Bozung Hill (mile 37-38) and back. Anyone is welcome. The Friday night run will consist of some snow and you will need a headlamp. If you need a ride back to Provo Canyon I can accommodate that. Preferably if someone could drop a car off in Hobble Creek that would be great as I am staying the night at the in-laws at mile 25. An 8:00 am start on Saturday should allow people who might want to come from longer distances and allow me the sleep I need since I will be running/shuttling until late Friday night. Should be good to get some solid miles in, see the course, the snow levels, etc. If you want to join me on either run then let me know via some sort of media...or just show up. Either way I will be there. The pace will be moderate. Looks like this week will be hot so stay hydrated!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Pictures say a thousand words! I won't say much about the Middle East but it seemed to me such a turbulent place with an amazing history both old and new. The center of three of the worlds most historic religions, it brought so many thoughts ranging from spirituality to politics. Does it get more polarized than that?

Mt Arbell Gethsemane

Our trip started in Ammon Jordan although we spent the majority of our time in Northern Israel and Jerusalem. We visited places such as the Dead Sea, Jordan River, Tel Dan, Golan Heights, Nazereth, Caesarea Philippi, Capernaum, Megiddo and the Jezerel Valley, Bethlehem, Yad Vesham (Holocaust Memorial), Masada, Qumran, Western Wall, Gethsemane, Joppa, Tel Aviv, and plenty more. Our tour guide was my father-in-law, Richard Holzapfel, who knows more about Israel then anybody I've ever met. We got to spend a lot of time with the in-laws which actually was great.

Mine Fields Western Wall

All-in-all we had a wonderful trip and I am still trying to digest all the information I learned. I will never forget my experiences there and I came home with the urgent feeling of wanting more peace in my life and in the world around me. So don't mess with me or else....!

Masada Hezekiah's Tunnel

Most places I visit I feel content about my experience and have little desire to return but I can see myself revisiting Israel over and over. Too many important events have occurred there over the centuries and it calls you back. I can't wait to go back.

Jerusalem Dome of the Rock

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Safely home.

Just got back from a two week hiatus from the Middle East yesterday. Had a fantastic time which I will write about at a later date.

I also starting training yesterday! My monthly total for April was....65 miles. How pathetic is that? Injury and then being out of town played huge roles of course. After the vacation/time off running, I feel invigorated both physically and mentally. I've had two great runs since getting home and the jet lag is under control so far. Lets see how many miles I can crank out without re-injuring myself before Squaw Peak.

Here's a few highlights from the Trip:
Floating the Dead Sea
Caesarea Phillippi
Hiking Masada