Sunday, February 27, 2005

The Unstoppable Monica Scholz (An Interview)

When Monica Scholz, 37, is in the race, male and female ultra runners all know she is going to be a contender for the top 5. In just the last five months alone, she placed third overall at the Badwater Ultra in a stunning sub-30 hour time, just two weeks after a 22:06 at the Western States 100, and then went on to place third overall at the HURT 100 in Hawai'i in January ‘05, continuing her 4-year reign as first female finisher there on Hawai’i’s treacherous trails. Many ultrarunners don’t realize she’s also an ultracyclist, placing 2nd female at Death Valley’s Furnace Creek 508 (her winning combined Badwater/Furnace Creek time also gained her the “Death Valley Cup”). Monica also cleaned house on the 2004 Trail Runner Magazine Trophy Series, winning the female ultra division by racing all over the U.S. and Canada. And somehow through all this, she seems to have more fun than most, and manages her career as a divorce lawyer in her hometown of Jerseyville in Ontario, Canada.


(Monica Scholz on the final miles at Badwater)

I got a chance to catch up with Monica this week (in the virtual sense, that is).

1) It seems like you’re always racing an ultra-something, and we know you’re capable of doing 23 100-milers in one year like you did in 2001 (world record). How many races, and of what type, are you planning for 2005?

MS: My primary focus in '05 is on Race Across America (RAAM). It's 1000 miles longer than the Tour de France in 1/3 of the time. It's THE race of all races. RAAM aside, in '05 I've already done HURT. I'm hoping to better my Death Valley Cup time at Badwater and Furnace Creek. I'm running start to finish at Leadville with a friend of mine who has had trouble completing that race. Thereafter, I'm hoping to get to MN for Superior Trail, then Dan Rossi in Nov and Ancient Oaks in December.

2) Do you prefer the one day ultras, or the multi-stage races like the Marathon de Sables that you did in 2003?

MS: I totally prefer non-stop races, not necessarily only one day. I love the Sahara Desert but was totally frustrated by the stages at MdS. I wanted to keep going. I don't consider stage races ultra-events. There were alot of non-runners at MdS and for them the stages were important and necessary to get through the event. But it wasn't an ultra.

3) With races in such extreme temperatures, how do keep yourself hydrated and blister free? In Badwater, for example, how much fluids and calories are you taking in per hour? Any special equipment needs?

MS: For hydration, just keep drinking constantly. To stay blister free, I use Injinji tsoks. At Badwater, my calorie goal is 600 calories per hour. You gotta be constantly drinking and eating. No special equipment needs, just be ready for the heat.

4) What do you prefer to eat/drink?

MS: Anything protein based. Limited sugar, and I stay away from a "mostly liquid" diet like some. During the race I basically eat whatever proteins an aid station offers (nuts, turkey, ham, burgers). Friends have been known to bring me beef jerky or KFC along the race route.

5) You’ve run over eighty 100-milers all over the world – what do you think are the most difficult ultras out there? Are there any you haven’t done that you would like to?

MS: In terms of 100 milers, the HURT 100 is one of the toughest as well as Massanutten. I'd like to do the Trans 555k (a.k.a. La Route de Sel 555) one of these days.

6) Do you find synergy from training for the bike and run at the same time, or are you faster when you train race-specific? How much of each do you do? Do you do any other sports regularly?

MS: Bike and run training complement each other I think. I've been having consistently faster running times during the eight months or so since I started riding, so I think the riding is helping my running. I dabble in different other sports but don't do anything consistently other than running and riding.

7) You clearly have a great crew. Have you been working with them long? What’s the secret to you all having so much fun?

MS: The key to having a great crew is picking a group of responsible, non-egotistical folks who are focussed on the goals of the event and not on themselves. I have known my crew members for different lengths of time, some shorter, some longer. The length of time does not matter. It's just a matter of having quality people. The only secret to having so much fun is keeping everything in perspective. We all have day jobs and run for kicks. If we ever stop running for kicks, then we may have problems. So far no one's quit their day job.

8) Rumor has it you also have a four-legged training partner. Who is he/she, and how far can he/she go?

MS: Natash, my 12 year old Malamute/Shepherd is the reason I started running. I work 10+ hours a day and used to swim for 3 hours per day. Then Natash came into my life and I thought it sort of silly to have dog that I never spent any time with. So I started running to be with her. At one point we did 10 miles per day together. Natasha has had some knee issues so we do about 5km per day these days.

9) What advice would you give to somebody looking to do their first ultra? Their first Badwater Ultra?

MS: Fist ultra - go easy. Run well within yourself. Badwater - can't really answer that question in a nutshell. It depends alot on the person.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Run with Dean Karnazes, the Ultramarathon Man!

As part of a promotional tour for his book, Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner, Dean Karnazes will be running to over 25 bookstores across the U.S. in March/April, 2005 (check out the calendar below, or on his web site). This is a great opportunity to meet Dean, get a signed copy of his book, and ask him any questions you might have. I bet if you get your favorite running club to come along, Dean would be thrilled to meet them all.



I got my hands on an early copy of the book and couldn't stop reading it. There's all kinds of great insights and stories such as a blow-by-blow of his first Western States 100, how to run in -50 degree weather, and why you should always have Round Table Pizza in your cell phone for all-night runs. He also delves deep into the psyche that drives someone to push the limits, but not at the expense of a balanced life. Unlike the Lance Armstrongs of the world, Dean doesn't get paid $60,000/day to go hard - he does it for the love of the sport and the curiosity to reach the fullest potential of the human mind and body. You don't have to be a trail runner to appreciate that.

Happy running,

- SD

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
*Friday, March 18: LA, 7:30 PM -Barnes & Noble in Santa Monica, 3rd St. Promenade, 1201 3rd St., (310) 260-9110

*Saturday, March 19: Pasadena, 2:00 PM -Vroman’s in Pasadena, 695 E. Colorado Blvd., (626) 449-5320

*Friday, April 8: Orange County, 7:00 PM -Barnes &Noble, 791 South Main St., Suite 100, Orange, (714) 558-0028

*Thursday, April 28: San Diego, 7:30 PM -Barnes & Noble, 10775 Westview Parkway, (858) 684-3166
back to top

------------

BOSTON
*Monday, March 21: Boston, 6:00 PM event at Kiehl’s, 112 Newbury Street, (617) 247-1777
back to top

------------

NEW YORK
*Tuesday, March 22: NYC, 7:30 PM -Barnes & Noble, 2289 Broadway (at 82nd), (212) 362-8835
back to top

------------

DC
*Wednesday, March 23: DC, 7:00 PM -Olsson’s in Arlington, 2111 Wilson Blvd., (703) 525-4227
back to top

------------

ATLANTA
*Thursday, March 24: Atlanta, 7:00 PM -Chapter 11, 2345 Peachtree Road, (404) 237-7199
back to top

------------

CHICAGO
*Friday, March 25: Chicago, 6:00 PM -Borders, 755 W. North Avenue, (312) 266-8060
back to top

------------

PORTLAND
*Monday, March 28: Portland, Noon at Nike & 7:30 PM at Powell’s, 1005 Burnside Street, (503) 228-4651
back to top

------------

SEATTLE
*Tuesday, March 29: Seattle, event at Amazon.com, then 6:00 PM run at Seattle Running Company, followed by 7:00 PM talk/signing at Seattle Running Company, in conjunction with University Bookstore, 919 East Pine Street, (206) 329-1466
back to top

------------

SAN FRANCISCO/SACRAMENTO/BAY AREA TOUR
*Wednesday, March 30: Bay Area, 3 Books Inc. appearances:
12:30 PM stock signing at Burlingame, 1375 Burlingame Ave., (650) 685-4911
5:30 PM stock signing at Laurel Village, San Francisco, 3515 California St., (415) 221-3666
7:30 PM party on Chestnut Street, SF, 2251 Chestnut St., San Francisco (415) 931-3633

*Saturday, April 2: Capitola, 2:30 PM -Capitola Book Café, 1475 41st Avenue, (831) 462-4415

*Monday, April 4: San Jose, 7:00 PM -Barnes & Noble, 5353 Almaden Expressway, (408) 979-0611

*Tuesday, April 5: Corte Madera, 7:00 PM -Book Passage, 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., (415) 927-0960

*Wednesday, April 6: Danville, 7:30 PM -Rakestraw Books, 409 Railroad Avenue, (925) 837-7337

*Thursday, April 7: Oakland, 7:00 PM -A Great Good Place for Books, 6120 La Salle Ave., (510) 339-8210

*Tuesday, April 12: San Francisco, 12:30 PM -Stacey’s, 581 Market Street, (415) 421-4687

*Wednesday, April 13: San Francisco, 7:00 PM event at REI, 840 Brannan Street, (415) 934-1938

*Thursday, April 14: Sonoma, 7:30 PM -Reader’s Books, 130 E. Napa Street, (707) 939-1779

*Wednesday, April 20: Sacramento, 7:00 PM -Borders, 2339 Fair Oaks Blvd., (916) 564-0168

*Thursday, April 21: Grass Valley, 6:00 PM -The Book Seller, 107 Mill Street, (530) 272-2131

*Friday, April 22: Bay Area, 3 Copperfield’s appearances:
10:00 AM stock signing at Calistoga, 1330 Lincoln Avenue, (707) 942-1616
3:00 PM stock signing at Santa Rosa, 2316 Montgomery Drive, (707) 578-8938
7:00 PM formal event at Petaluma, 140 Kentucky Street, (707) 762-0563
back to top

------------

Advanced praise for Dean Karnazes and his book,
ULTRAMARATHON MAN:
CONFESSIONS OF AN ALL-NIGHT RUNNER

“This running memoir (written without a co-author) paints the picture of an insanely dedicated - some may say just plain insane - athlete. [But Dean’s] masochism is the reader’s pleasure.”
--Publishers Weekly

“Charming and surprisingly quirky, providing the perfect escapist fantasy for couch potatoes and weekend warriors alike.”
--Kirkus Reviews

“Hook up some jumper cables to Dean Karnazes’ will power, and you could probably light a small California town.”
--San Francisco Chronicle

“The ultimate ultrarunning specimen.”
--Runner’s World

“One of the AMAZING BODIES OF THE YEAR.”
--GQ

“2004 Ultrarunner of the Year.”
--Competitor Magazine

“This book will cause the jaws of even navy SEALs to drop and remind everyone of what it feels like to be truly alive.”
--Sam Fussell, author of Muscle

“The Quintessential Ultramarathoner”
--Outside Magazine

Thursday, February 24, 2005

A run at the bottom of the world, for children (L.A. Daily News)

When you're out running this weekend and "feeling a little cold", just think about Larry Meyer, an extreme distance runner running the bi-annual Antarctica Marathon. Below is a story about him in the L.A. Daily News, and you can also read about him here. Note the phone # to donate to the cause.

Good luck, Larry, and stay warm!

- SD

A run at the bottom of the world, for children


For the past 20 years, Larry Meyer has raised thousands of dollars for the Blind Children's Center in Los Angeles. On Saturday, the Glendale man will continue his winning ways when he straps on his trail running shoes for the seventh Antarctica Marathon and Half Marathon.


(Larry Meyer practices for the big run)

The 26-mile-long trek on the remote, frozen continent will take him past icebergs, penguins, seals and whales.

"(Running in the Antarctica Marathon) is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,' said Meyer, an estate planning attorney. "I'm really using it to contact everybody I know to support me with pledges to the Blind Children's Center. The response has been fantastic.'

This will be the 40th marathon for Meyer, who has raised about $24,000 for the center by running in long-distance races over the past two decades. His fund-raising goal for this run is $8,000.

The Antarctica Marathon represents a unique challenge for the 57-year-old.

"One of the things I decided to do is to try and run a marathon on every continent,' said Meyer, who has done so in North America, Australia, Europe and now Antarctica. "Every two years, they have the Antarctica Marathon, so I figured before I got too old I better try it.'

Meyer began volunteering at the center about 20 years when he was asked to create a fund-raising program for the agency, which provides preschool and therapy for blind and partially blind children ages 6 months to 5 years. Because so much of what people do is learned by sight, children at the center are taught basic skills, such as how to smile, to crawl and to chew.

The center is funded exclusively with private donations and all services are provided free of charge.

To make a pledge for Meyer's run or to donate to the Blind Children's Center, call Laurie Headley at (323) 664-2153.

-- Nicole Sunkes

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Trail Running Past and Present - An Interview with Nancy Hobbs

For those of us fairly new to the trail running scene, we take for granted all of the organization that is in place - national championships, best practices for race directors, clubs and teams, etc. - but it wasn’t that long ago that trail running was just a hobby. But thanks to passionate people like Nancy Hobbs, trail running has the structure that allows it to grow gracefully and become inviting to a wider audience. Nancy began trail running in the early 80’s, and was soon consumed in the sport as Race Organizer for the Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon (1985-1995), team manager, co-author of The Ultimate Guide to Trail Running, Senior Editor of Trail Runner Magazine, founder of the All American Trail Running Association (AATRA), and instrumental change agent in getting Mountain Ultra Trail (MUT) started and organized within the USATF, the largest running association in the world.


(Nancy Hobbs cranking down the Barr Trail)


Nancy is still active in the trail running scene, and was kind enough to share her thoughts on trail running and help me sort through the acronym soup of organizations.


1) USATF, AATRA, RRCA, AARC, AUA, MUT - it seems like trail running has more acronyms than the Dept of Defense. Could you give me a brief description of what these organizations do and how they are linked, if at all?

NH: USATF is our national governing body for track and field, racewalking, running and a member of the USOC and IAAF (two more acronyms for you). Within USATF there is a long distance running division chaired by Fred Finke and three disciplines under LDR - women's (chaired by Elizabeth Phillips), men's (chaired by Jim Estes) and masters (chaired by Norm Green). The MUT (mountain ultra trail) council falls under the purview of LDR (as does cross country council). USATF stages championships at association and national level which includes trail and mountain as well as ultra distance events (on trail, track, and road). AATRA is the All American Trail Running Association whose mission is to represent and promote trail and mountain running. AATRA is a member of USATF and also of the RRCA (and of Running USA - RUSA). The RRCA experienced some growing pains over the past few years and the AARC (Association of American Running Clubs) was formed. The two groups merged this past January. Member clubs of the RRCA enjoy insurance benefits and a 501 (c) 3 group exemption (provided they are not-for-profit groups). The AUA is the American Ultrarunning Association and also a member of USATF (and also RUSA). The AUA is represented as a voice for ultrarunning in the US. The AUA is also a member of the IAU (International Association of Ultrarunning). USATF has a delegate to the IAU. USATF also has a delegate to the WMRA (World Mountain Running Association). Another group that represents "Skyrunning" is the FSA (Federation of Sport at Altitude) based in Italy with affiliates in the US, Mexico, Spain, France to name a few. Now there's a mouthful!

2) Why are these organizations important to a trail racing individual?

NH: Events have insurance that are sanctioned by USATF or RRCA. The event director must pay for the insurance as well as medical, safety measures, etc. When an individual participates in races, part of the fee will cover some of these amenities (in addition to T-shirts, etc.) Events not insured through USATF or the RRCA probably insure through a third party carrier - often very costly. I guess the bottom line is that athletes should support organizations that support them. All of the above support the sport and the athletes they represent.

3) Trail running has a kicked-back culture to it - do you think too much organization could dilute this?

NH: These organizations have been around for ages (some longer than others). It is up to an individual to join, or support an organization. A majority of trail and mountain runners as you know do the sport for the personal benefit. They are not joiners. They like the solitude and lack of politics or rules on their trail runs! It's more about the challenge and adventure and someone doesn't need to race to experience these things.

4) You’ve seen a lot of growth in trail running over the years. What has surprised you the most?

NH: The fact that some people are surprised that trail and mountain running events have gotten so popular. I think lots of folks are still stuck in the mindset "I'll get hurt if I run on a trail." Or "I'll get hurt if I run fast downhill." That is probably one thing. The other is probably the increased participation by women (actually not that surprising to me being a female). The industry (retailers, shoe companies, magazines) has responded to the growth -- a surprise? No. There is another group to market to.

5) What have been the most crucial developments in the growth of the sport?

NH: The response of the industry leaders (footwear, apparel, energy products, magazines, advertising). Race directors promoting their events. Race directors adding events and starting new events. More opportunities to participate in races.

6) Do you think trail running will ever be as popular as say, Ironman Triathlon? What would need to happen for it to get there?

NH: I think if there was ONE event that stood out, the popularity would follow. An event like Pikes Peak was headed in that direction and still might get there. An event like Dipsea has a great allure. I think you need a few things - TV, TV, TV! Lots of PR, a good participant field, drama...

7) Is there enough prize money in the sport to sustain a pool of professionals today? Do you think it will happen?

NH: No. I wish more event offered prize money. This would also help create "heroes" in our sport and encourage athletes from cross country backgrounds and track and road running to cross over. We're getting these folks little by little.

8) According to the kids in my neighborhood, cross country running is “cool” again and there are huge numbers of kids signing up. Perhaps this is part of a bigger trend?

NH: I hope so! We have a junior mountain running team that is slow to get off the ground, but the kids that have participated love it.

9) As a former Race Director, what advice would you give to somebody organizing their first race?

NH: Wow. Read my book! Go to races, ask questions. Don't think you know everything even if you've directed a road race.

10) Are you planning any racing for yourself this year?

NH: Not sure. I'm fairly entrenched in administration. I had some great races last year, but it's hard to stay at a high level of fitness when other life pursuits are ever-present. I'm pretty competitive --- not only with others, but with myself. I do enjoy hopping in a race to pace someone who wants to set a PR (I did this in a road 5K in November). I like setting goals in my running, and last year I had a goal to finish the Pikes Peak Marathon (after an 11 year hiatus). My training was going in a great direction for a top five finish and then I got really sick with a virus. That knocked me out for 3 weeks before the race. I was still congested the week of the race and just gutted it out because I had set a goal to run and finish (I still ran about the same time as I had 11 years prior). It was unsettling in some ways because I was really fit before I got sick. At least I ran injury free last year and this year is starting out the same.

11) Your book, The Ultimate Guide To Trail Running, is still very popular. Is there a sequel/update?

NH: Perhaps. Adam and I have talked about writing a trail running book for women. We may do an updated version in the future.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

My iPod Playlist for Running Ultra Marathons

I've been getting lots of requests for my current iPod playlist for running ultras from my previous post (thanks everybody). You'll find it below - 8 hours of high stompin' tunes to keep your pace up. For those of you on iTunes, I created an iMix called "Dunlap's Ultra Marathon Mix" with the top 20 songs for easy downloading; just search on the title and you should find it. Some of the best stuff isn't available on iTunes - I would highly suggest Freq Nasty, ILS, Prodigy's Dirt Chamber Sessions, and Boom Boom Satellites. You can them from Amazon.com.

If you have other suggestions, I'm sure others would appreciate it if you would add a comment below. And be careful out there - I almost ran over a horse the other day because my tunes were blaring. Keep the volume low or you might eat hoof.

Have fun!

SD

You Walk Away, Filter (The Amalgamut)
Block Rockin' Beats, The Chemical Brothers (Dig Your Own Hole)
Vertigo, U2 (How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb)
Leave You Far Behind, Lunatic Calm (The Matrix)
Superunknown, Soundgarden (Superunknown)
2 Females, Freq Nasty (Bring Me The Head Of Freq Nasty)
Shake Break Bounce, The Chemical Brothers (Push the Button)
Name of the Game, The Crystal Method (Tweekend)
Ready, Steady, Go, Paul Oakenfold (Bunkka)
Get Up Get Off , The Prodigy (Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned)
Feel Good Time, Pink (?)
Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now), C & C Music Factory (Sony Music 100 Years: R&B - From Doo-Wop to Hip-Hop)
Been A Long Time, Richard Humpty Vission (Richard Humpty Vission)
ONENESS, BOOM BOOM SATELLITES (Out Loud)
La Machina Latina, Freq Nasty (Bring Me The Head Of Freq Nasty)
Smartbomb, BT (Movement In Still Life)
6 Space (Next Level), ILS (Soul Trader)
Over the Line, The Crystal Method (Tweekend)
Left Right, The Chemical Brothers (Push the Button)
No Soul, ILS (Soul Trader)
High Roller, The Crystal Method (Vegas)
The Boxer, The Chemical Brothers (Push the Button)
Going Under, Evanescence (Fallen)
Pearl's Girl, Underworld (Everything Everything: Live [IMPORT] [LIVE])
Keep Hope Alive, The Crystal Method (Vegas)
Prime Audio Soup, Meat Beat Manifesto (The Matrix)
Spitfire, The Prodigy (Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned)
Welcome To The Fold, Filter (Title Of Record)
SCATTERIN’ MONKEY, BOOM BOOM SATELLITES (Out Loud)
This Love, Maroon 5 (Songs About Jane)
Basket Case, Green Day (Dookie)
Hypocrites (Naked Funk Remix), Junior Delgado (Y4K: Mixed By FreQ Nasty - Next Level Breaks)
Time To Build, The Beastie Boys (To The 5 Boroughs)
Whats That, Exodus Quartet (The Best Of Acid Jazz: In The Mix)
Sil Num Tao, Freq Nasty (Bring Me The Head Of Freq Nasty)
Spybreak (Short One), Propellerheads (The Matrix)
Roll It Up, The Crystal Method (Tweekend)
PUSH EJECT, BOOM BOOM SATELLITES (Out Loud)
Cherub Rock, Smashing Pumpkins (Siamese Dream)
Girl You Have No Faith In Medicine, The White Stripes (Elephant)
Keep Hope Alive, The Crystal Method (Vegas)
You'll Be Under My Wheels , The Prodigy (Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned)
Break On Through (To the Other Side) [Remix], BT vs. The Doors (Break On Through (To the Other Side) [Remix] - Single)
Da Funk, Total Fusion Featuring Evenson (Y4K: Mixed By FreQ Nasty - Next Level Breaks)
Wicked Dub, Tayo Meets Acid Rockers Uptown (Y4K: Mixed By FreQ Nasty - Next Level Breaks)
Here I Am, Lexicon Avenue (Y4K: Mixed By FreQ Nasty - Next Level Breaks)
Leave, R.E.M. (New Adventures In Hi-Fi)
Brooklyn 2 Brixton (Featuring Kovas), Freq Nasty (Bring Me The Head Of Freq Nasty)
Oh Word?, The Beastie Boys (To The 5 Boroughs)
Duboniks Comin' Thru, Duboniks (The Best Of Acid Jazz: In The Mix)
The KLF / Frankie Bones / Meat Beat Manifesto / Herbie Hancock / Mark The 45 King / Proppeller Heads / Beastie Boys, DJ Mink (The Dirtchamber Sessions Vol. 1)
Mindfields, The Prodigy (The Matrix)
Star 69, R.E.M. (Monster)
Down, 311 (311)
Showtime, Big Dada Sound (Xen Cuts (Disc 1) [Box Set])
Soul Pride, Neptune (Xen Cuts (Disc 2))
Sweeter Love, Blue Six (Beautiful Tomorrow)
Heavyweight, Sharpshooters (The Best Of Acid Jazz: In The Mix)
3 Play It Cool, Crazy Penis (The Outernational Sound)
Drop Your Weapon, Crazy Penis (A Nice Hot Bath With...)
Simbarere, Antonio Carlos & Jocafi (The Outernational Sound)
Re-Return Of The Original Artform, Major Force (The Outernational Sound)
Don't Stop 'Till You Get Enough, Michael Jackson (Off The Wall)
Pressure Zone, Beck (Midnite Vultures)
Bombs Away, Paris Texas (Like You Like An Arsonist)
Wake Up, Rage Against The Machine (Rage Against The Machine)
Lord Of The Null Lines (Aquasky Vs Master Blaster Remix), Hyper-On Experience (Y4K: Mixed By FreQ Nasty - Next Level Breaks)
My House Is Your House, Phil Keiran (Y4K: Mixed By FreQ Nasty - Next Level Breaks)
One Thing Leads to Another, The Fixx (Reach the Beach)
In a Big Country, Big Country (I Want My 80's Box! (Box Set))
The Fly, U2 (Achtung Baby)
Fashionably Late (Thunderbull Remix), First Floor Brothers (DJ Chicken George -- Chicken Soup Vol. 4)
Tanguedia III, Nickodemus & Osiris (DJ Chicken George -- Chicken Soup Vol. 4)
Feel Alright, ILS (Soul Trader)
Trapped, ILS (Soul Trader)
Magic Man, Heart (Dreamboat Annie)
Bodyrock, Moby (Play)
Ray Of Light, Madonna (Ray Of Light)
Rock And Roll Is Dead, Lenny Kravitz (Greatest Hits)
Star 69, R.E.M. (Monster)
Ain't No Right, Jane's Addiction (Ritual De Lo Habitual)
Disposable Heroes, Metallica (Master Of Puppets)
Photograph, Def Leppard (Pyromania)
Burden In My Hand, Soundgarden (Down On The Upside [IMPORT])
Cold Hard Bitch, JET (Get Born)
Through The Never, Metallica (Black Album)
Over the Line, The Crystal Method (Tweekend)
Spitfire, The Prodigy (Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned)
Memphis Bells , The Prodigy (Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned)
Wake Up Call , The Prodigy (Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned)
You'll Be Under My Wheels , The Prodigy (Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned)
The Way It Is , The Prodigy (Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned)
I Don't Care Anymore, Phil Collins (Hello, I Must Be Going!)
Science Force - Antidoping Trax, Science Force (Chill Out Cafe Vol 1. Irma)
Slok - One To Go, Slok (Chill Out Cafe Vol 1. Irma)
Busenfreund, Walkner Moestl (Suzuki In Dub)
Rez/Cowgirl, Underworld (Everything Everything: Live [IMPORT] [LIVE])
Spellbound, Tango (DJ Kicks (Disc 1))
Twist, Underworld (A Hundred Days Off)
Peace Train, Cat Stevens (Greatest Hits)

Index of Blog Entries

I occasionally update this page to organize original entries by category (last categorized on 1/1/14). If you're seeing this page for the first time pop up in your blog reader, it's because your feed is set to get all "updated pages". If you would prefer to just get new stories, use the buttons on the right, down the page a bit (under "Syndication Links"). These will point your blog readers to a Feedburner feed that is set to "only new stories".

But as long as you're here, feel free to get to know some ultrarunners, read about some races, and comment all you would like.

Thx, SD

Interviews (2005-2009)
-----------

Research
------------

Products I Would Like To See
------------

Fiction

------------

Races - 2014
------------

Races - 2013
------------

Races - 2012
------------


Races - 2011
------------
Races - 2010
------------
Races - 2009
------------
Races - 2008
------------
Races - 2007
------------
Races - 2006
------------
Races - 2005
------------
Races - 2004
------------
You can also click here to get a full Google map of all of these races!

Articles About Scott Dunlap
-------------
(the biggies)

(other fun stories)
Personal Records (PR's):
----------------------
1-mile: 5:09 (Armory, 2010)
4-mile: 22:08 (Santa Barbara 4-Miler, 2010)
10k: 34:45 (Donner Lake Triathlon, 2006)
10-Mile: 57:11 (Presidio 10-Mile, 2012)
Half Marathon: 1:16:24 (San Francisco Half Marathon, 2012)
Marathon: 2:44:35 (Boston Marathon, 2013)
50k: 3:20:48 (Caumsett 50k, 2010)
50m: 6:11:55 (Fall 50m, 2014)
100k: 9:14:10 (Pony Express 100k, 2007)
100m: 18:12:09 (Burning River 100m, 2010)
Olympic Distance Triathlon: 2:18:41 (San Jose International Tri, 2004)
Half Ironman Triathlon: 5:01:02 (Big Kahuna Tri, 2005)
Ironman Triathlon: 12:04 (Ironman Hawaii, 2010)

    Saturday, February 12, 2005

    Knowing the Distance - An Interview with Dr. David Dreyfuss

    How do you know that a trail marathon will equal exactly 26 miles and 385 yards? Few things are as frustrating as clocking a PR, only to realize that everyone clocked a PR thanks to the course being two miles too short. But then there are folks like Redwood Trails, who will start many races by saying “you MUST start at this post, otherwise you'll be 90 feet short”. Curious to how they can get so accurate on a varied terrain, I tracked down the man behind the method, Dr. David Dreyfuss, who addresses “accurate measurement” like a true PhD from MIT, helping dispel rumors of GPS accuracy, and explaining what it really takes to measure a course to the very last inch.


    (Dr. David Dreyfuuss, out on the trail)

    Brief background on who you are and how you got into the trail business.

    DD: Well, I've been a lot of things and worn a lot of different hats over the years. Roughly, I still think of myself as an experimental physicist, though I have a doctorate in Gas Dynamics (MIT, 1980) and have spent much of my recent professional career developing digital printers--laser printers and the like. I came out to California to try my hand at a start-up ventures in new color printing technology, helping launch Google Answers, and rebuilt the website and e-commerce business for Aqua Safaris, a Santa Cruz SCUBA shop. I'm also a board member and edit the quarterly national newsletter for the Viola da Gamba Society of America - and yes, I also occasionally perform on the instrument.

    So how did you find Redwood Trails?

    DD: I started my relationship with Redwood Trails by responding to an ad for aid station staff. I've never been much of a competitive runner; I can probably count the number of races I've entered on one hand, and I'm not particularly fast. However, I do have a lot of useful skills related to trail running. I have thousands of miles of trail and wilderness travel experience, hiking, backpacking and recreational running. I spent three summers leading backpacking trips as a Ranger at Philmont Scout Ranch. I also have a lot of experience orienteering, which is to trail running roughly as trail running is to road running--it's off-trail running through the woods with map-and-compass navigation between control points. So I already knew many of the trails that Redwood Trails uses for events, and the basics of scouting, navigating and marking a race route are kind of second nature.

    It would seem with the advancement in GPS that measuring trails these days is pretty easy.

    DD: GPS (Global Positioning System) has revolutionized many aspects of navigation, mapping, surveying, and position determination. A $100 handheld receiver can tell you your location in three dimensions (let's say, latitude, longitude and elevation) to about 10' accuracy, at least some of the time. With slightly more expensive equipment and some patience (to average out some randomness that exists in the measurement due to things like atmospheric effects, and to allow time for the satellites to move around a bit), you can locate a single position at least of couple of orders of magnitude better--good enough to match or exceed the accuracy of typical surveyors' instrumentation.

    But while GPS continues to get better, it is still an imperfect technology. To get the 10' accuracy, you need what is called "differential" GPS--simultaneous measurement of a known location so that some sources of inaccuracy can be subtracted out. Right now, differential GPS is readily available in the US via a couple of extra satellites that continuously broadcast the measured location of a set of fixed ground stations, which in turn have well-known absolute locations. Unlike most of the GPS satellites, which are in relatively low polar orbits, these two extras are in geostationary orbits near the eastern and western horizon. Unfortunately, that means they are often out of sight behind a ridge. Without their assistance, the accuracy drops to more like 30' at best. And, although nominal accuracy is the same for horizontal (lattitude and longitude) and vertical (elevation) positioning accuracy, practical experience shows that the elevation accuracy and repeatability is usually worse than the horizontal accuracy).

    There are about 24 satellites in the system right now. In principle, you can get a position fix as long as you can see at least three of them at any given time. With an unobstructed horizon, you can typically see at least ten, but if your view of the sky is partially obstructed by hills or even dense trees, you can easily lose sight of most of them. Accuracy drops as the number of visible satellites goes down, and also gets worse if the visible satellites are clustered too close together. Airplanes and boats can navigate quite accurately using GPS, because they almost always have a good view of the sky down to the horizon. Car navigation systems generally cheat by assuming that you must be on their known network of mapped roads and using dead reckoning by direction change and wheel rotation when GPS signal is lost (occasionally generating some amusing errors, when their best efforts fail!). In any case, such cheating is not useful if your goal is measurement instead of navigation! Trail users in mountainous and wooded terrain find GPS to be useful, but only intermittently. Tests on numerous Redwood Trails routes have shown that there are always portions of any interesting run where accuracy is poor, and occasional complete loss of usable signal is very common in most locations.


    So, given that the technology is not really there and perhaps never will be what does work?

    DD: All the "old-fashioned" measurement techniques! You can choose any number of specific tools depending on your goals and the accuracy you need or want--surveyors' transits, tape measures, odometers, pedometers, etc. If you're "lazy," you can try to estimate distance off a map or by using published or posted trail distances, and reading elevations from a topo map. Many trail events are, in fact, organized based solely on such estimates. Occasionally we find specific trails that have been accurately measured and are accurately mapped and posted. More often, we find that such measurements are approximate at best, and large errors are not uncommon! We encountered one example where an advertised marathon route was short by several miles.

    We measure all of the routes we use ourselves. Our preferred instrumentation is a wheel rolling along the ground. Depending on the circumstances, we use either a "measuring wheel" or a bicycle, essentially counting revolutions or fractions of a revolution of the wheel. For elevation, we use a barometric altimeter. When we generate a profile for a new route, we typically record elevation every 500' and both elevation and distance at all major landmarks (trail junctions and so on). This can be done with pencil and paper, but more recently, we usually use a pocket tape recorder with a headset microphone which allows data recording almost without stopping. Barometric altimeters are accurate to a few feet as long as the weather is stable and a reference altitude can be found to zero out the day's weather conditions.

    How can you ensure accurate measurements?

    DD: As with any measurement, accuracy requires attention to detail. And, of course, "precision" does not guarantee "accuracy"! We use a measuring wheel which reports measured distances in feet, but not surprisingly, we never measure exactly the same number of feet for a given trail route. Trails often have rough surfaces, and it is almost impossible to roll a wheel along exactly the same detailed path on a repeat measurement. The accuracy of a measuring wheel also depends on the constancy of the circumference of the wheel. If the wheel acquires a layer of mud, its diameter increases. It may expand with increasing temperature. It may wear with use. If it has a pneumatic tire (as do most bicycles), the circumference also depends on tire pressure and rider weight. For best accuracy, one needs to check the calibration of the wheel against a known distance on a similar surface before and after the trail measurement.

    So, do you use the same method that is required by the USATF to certify a course.

    DD: Essentially yes! The USA Track & Field Road Running Technical Council establishes measurement standards and procedures that are used for all events for which distances are certified for record purposes. The process requires the use of a calibrated bicycle with a special counter mounted to the wheel. A calibration course of at least 1000' must be run four times before and after each set of measurements. A course must be measured twice along the shortest possible route (usually not much of an issue for trail runs). Repeatability must be better than 0.08%. A "safety factor" of 1.001 is used to ensure that the actual race distance is AT LEAST the advertised distance. If a new record is set for the distance, the course may need to be recertified for distance, and the safety factor helps ensure that the record will not be disqualified for being set on a "short" course. So next time you think you're running 26.219 miles for a marathon, if it's a certified course, you're likely running at least an extra 138 ft--more of you don't cut all the curves as tight as possible. Or think of it as 5 ft per mile--not all that significant.

    We went through this process to certify the Bizz Johnson Marathon so that it could be used as a Boston qualifier. Most of our trail races have no real need for formal certification. Each is a unique race with special topographic challenges, and records are really only meaningful for that particular route. But Redwood Trails tends to be obsessive about accuracy anyway. In most cases we relax our measurement accuracy requirements by skipping the repeated calibration checks and simply double-checking the race-day distance measurement against our previous profile run. But worst case, our distances are still accurate to within better than a hundred feet on a 10K. (If you can feel that difference when you're running, let us know--we'll hire you!) And while the RRTC requires the use of a calibrated bicycle, we usually prefer to use a measuring wheel instead, both because it is allowed on all trails while bicycles are not, and because it can go essentially anywhere you can run or walk (or even climb!). We do use a measuring wheel with a large circumference (six feet--like a bicycle wheel but with a solid rubber tread on a steel rim--makes a very stable circumference) which we find does a better job of averaging out small trail irregularities than a smaller wheel. Curiously, Rolatape claims accuracy for their measuring wheels without special calibration of the same 0.08% as the RRTC targets for measurement repeatability!

    How much time can trail measurement take?

    DD: Well, as with any careful measurement, you can't rush the process, and you have to be prepared to back up and start over if something goes wrong or measurements don't repeat to sufficient accuracy. It took us the better part of two days to complete the certification measurements for the Bizz Johnson Marathon. We had to establish our own custom calibration course on a section of the Bizz Johnson Trail surface, measuring it with a 100' steel tape and correcting for temperature. Then the measuring bicycle got a flat about eight miles out, essentially requiring that we start over. After that we chose to do segments of no more than about seven or eight miles at a time complete with repeats and calibration checks before doing the next section, so that in the event of another "instrument failure," we would not lose too much data. But we never had problems with repeatability, typically about 0.02% even on the relatively loose dirt surface of the Bizz Johnson Trail.

    What about marking the trails on race day?

    DD: We try not to make trail running an exercise in navigation! Many runners are accustomed to road events where they are pretty much forced to follow the race route, and they often tend to "zone out" while running. On a trail run, they do have to pay at least a little attention to where they are going, but our routes are well-marked, complete with mile markers, and we double-check for vandalism immediately before start time. The mile markers are the main reason that we have to measure the trail one more time for race day--we can't leave permanent markers in place. In addition to mile markers, we typically post direction signs at all trail crossings and turns, generous wrong way signs along incorrect route choices, and orange ribbons along the correct route away from any trail junction or intersection. We also may station a "traffic cop" at any difficult intersections where runners may be taking multiple routes, either for different races or different legs of the same race. The marking process isn't fast either! It can easily take six hours or so to fully mark a half-marathon route even if one runs between marking locations. And, of course, there is unmarking to be done after the race as well!

    What mileage do you use for race results?

    DD: I presume you mean, "what distance do we use to calculate "pace" for a race?" We use the actual measured distance, of course (including the 1.001 "safety factor" if the race has a certified distance). Trail races are often advertised at "standard" distances (marathon, half marathon, 10K, 5K). Where possible, we try to adjust the start or finish location, or the length of an out-and-back dogleg to make race distances "right," but sometimes that just isn't practical, and the real distance may be a little longer. Our courses are never short, because we can always add a little extra distance somewhere if the natural trail length is short. If a race is long, we try to let runners know, both before and after the race, exactly how far they did go (though if they ignored all the wrong way signs, they're on their own!).

    At Redwood Trails events you always have results available right away. I understand that you using your own timing software. Aren't there existing commercial software packages out there?

    DD: Sure, there are existing commercial packages to manage race results. But as one of the most active race management organizations around, we tend to develop our own ideas about how things should work, and it can be problematic to impossible to customize someone else's package. I've been programming for some 35 years now, and had plenty of support from Eric Gould (who has award winning software design credentials himself), my wife (another MIT PhD), and my son Ethan who is now a freshman at Stanford. We wanted a robust, easy-to-use package that would allow us to manage our complete events from pre-registration through immediately available results at the event and same-day posting of results with an easy-to-use interface on the web site. It might seem that there's not much to the task of recording start and finish times for a couple of hundred runners, but it turned out to be a good deal more challenging than we had expected.

    Thanks for the interview, David. Looking forward to the Palo Alto Vista Run on March 5!

    Cheers,

    SD