Saturday, January 29, 2005

Rocket J - The Fastest Pug This Side of the Mississip'

The Pug Rescue of Sacramento (PROS/Bays to the Border) wrote up a story on Rocky and me in their newsletter (pdf). For those of you who don’t know, Rocky the Pug (or "Rocket J" as we call him on the trails) was a huge influence on me getting started in trail running. We got him as a puppy, and he just loved to run…averaging 6-7 miles a stint at a sub-8 minute pace! Not your typical pug, I found out. Together we explored up and down the Santa Cruz Mountains, and before I knew it, I had built up a good base for trail running from chasing him through the hills.

(Photo by Christi Dunlap)

Although he has slowed down a bit in his middle age, he does still love to hit the trails (as a matter of fact, he's pawing at me to go out right now). If you're looking for a new companion, please do check out the PROS web site and see if there's a pug personality for you. The folks at PROS are great - if you like the site but don't feel like taking one home quite yet, feel free to donate. It's amazing how far they can stretch $20.

Thanks, SD

Bay Area Trail Runner Wins International Running Title...with PROS Alumni Rocky

In November 2004, Trail Runner magazine
named Scott Dunlap as the Overall Champion
for the "Non Ultra" distance (marathon and
shorter) of their 2004 Trail Running Trophy
Series, the largest trail running series in North
America. Dunlap competed with over 18,000
other trail runners for the international title.

The 2004 Trail Runner Trophy Series incorporated
over 200 trail running events from
March 1st to September 30th, taking place
in state and county parks, open space preserves,
and mountain trails throughout North
America. The off-road nature of trail running,
including steep hills, trails, river crossings,
and plenty of switchbacks, creates a
more "extreme" environment than the more
common road races and marathons. Trail running
is also one of the nation’s fastest growing
sports with 40.2 million active participants,
according to the Outdoor Industry Association.
Dunlap competed in 15 trail running
events (including three marathons) in
California, Oregon, Utah, and Colorado, with
three overall wins and top five finishes in 12
of the events to claim the #1 ranking.

"It’s an honor to be the Overall Champion,"
said Dunlap, "Trail running is a fabulous sport
with fun people, and a great excuse to get

Dunlap, a 35 year old software marketing executive
for Avolent, Inc., is no stranger to
the trails since he and his wife, Christi, relocated
in 2001 to a home in the Kings Mountain
area of Woodside, CA, adjacent to 70+
miles of trails in Huddart Park, Purisima Creek
Open Space Preserve, and various parks on
Skyline Boulevard. Dunlap trains by running
and biking in the Santa Cruz Mountains as
well as the Lake Tahoe area, and has logged
over 1 million vertical feet in the last year.

"Some of the most beautiful trails in the
world are right here in the Bay Area," said
Dunlap, "and it’s one of the few places where
you can reach mountains, beaches, lakes, and
trails in a 10 minute drive. I had lived in the
Bay Area for years before realizing that."

Dunlap literally fell into trail running in 2001,
after four years of 80-hour weeks in the Silicon
Valley start up world, a close brush with
the 9/11 tragedy, and a pug named Rocky
got him on the trails.

"I came to Silicon Valley in 1998 to join the
technology boom, and was lucky enough to
work with some fabulous entrepreneurs to
start some great software companies," said
Dunlap. After a brief stint at Netscape Com-
munications, Dunlap went on to be a marketing
executive at E.piphany Software
(EPNY) which had the 9th most successful IPO
less than two years later in 1999. He resigned
on the IPO day
to join Ben Horowitz to start
Loudcloud (now Opsware, OPSW) which went
public less than two years later.

"The pace was frenetic since the opportunity
was huge," said Dunlap, "but soon I was
burning out from the 80-hour weeks. I resigned
on September 7th, 2001…which
changed my life forever." Dunlap canceled
his last trip to New York City, where he had
planned to meet two business associates on
September 11, 2001. Within hours of the terrorist
attacks, he had found out that both of
his business associates had been killed.

"I was staring at my Palm Pilot, and there was the
meeting booked for World Trade Center 9
which was burning in front of me on the television.
When the calls came to tell me they
had been killed, I was in shock. And I couldn’t
just bury myself in work to avoid thinking
about it like I usually do – the rest of my
calendar was blank."

After days of moping around the house, his
wife, Christi, had an idea. She located a dog
from the Pug Rescue of Sacramento/Bay to
the Borders (PROS)
who had been rescued
from the streets of Oakland, and brought him

"At first he wasn’t so sure," said Mrs. Dunlap,
"here was this football-sized dog following
him around and who needed to be walked
and fed every day. But within weeks, they
were inseparable."

"Every day, Rocky would look at me like he
was saying ‘are we going out today? I would
really like to go out today’," said Dunlap,
"so I got off the couch each morning, picked
up the trail maps, packed some food and
water and we began running the trails. We
went everywhere in the Bay Area – Castle
Rock, Stevens Creek, Mt. Diablo, Marin Headlands,
Mt. Tam, China Camp, etc. I had hoped
to walk the trails, but Rocky wanted to run.
Hikers would tell me ‘you aren’t supposed
to run a pug like that’, but I would just have
to respond ‘you better tell him…he’s been
going for nine miles and has no signs of stopping’."

One day, Dunlap and his four-legged companion
came upon a trail running race in
progress. The lead pack of racers encouraged
him to sign up for the next race, where
Dunlap placed third.

"My running style was unlike the others, and
thanks to having to keep up with Rocky, I had
adapted to moving quickly through
switchbacks and rough terrain," said Dunlap,
"when I set my sites on winning the biggest
Series in trail running, I first thought ‘amateurs
don’t win these kinds of competitions’.
Yeah, and pugs aren’t supposed to be runners

So Dunlap began targeting the
Trail Runner Trophy Series in 2004 to complement
his work travel schedule as the VP,
Marketing at Avolent, Inc.

"When you travel for work, usually you just
see ‘downtown and a hotel’," said Dunlap,
"with the trail runs, I could see more of the
character and beauty of nature behind the
cities. With every race, I thought I had found
the most amazing wilderness in North
America…and then the next race would be
even more amazing. It was an enlightening year."

1 comment:

  1. Are you planning on writing about "how to win the Trail Runner Trophy Series"? I want that trip to Italy!!!
    - EricG


I LIVE for comments! Please add your thoughts, let me know you stopped by, etc., and be thoughtful of others. Always best if you sign your name, of course.

Latest Excursions