Tuesday, November 29, 2005

2005 Trail Runner Magazine Trophy Series Final Scores

The final scores for the 2005 Trail Runner Magazine Trophy Series that concluded in September are posted. You can find the marathon-and-under category here, and the ultra category here. My hat is off to all the participants who got out there and RAN! Nice job, everyone.

Congratulations to the ultra ladies Kami Semick and Bev Abbs for finishing 1-2 overall in the ultra category. Both had amazing seasons! Congrats also to Rob Apple for running 577 miles in 11 ultras - he should get a free couch or something.

Dale Reichneder won the marathon-and-under category hands down with his nationwide trek (and the grand prize), with Michael Robbert and Bernie Boettcher not too far behind and each winning their age groups. Tania Pacev pulled ahead of Angela Brunson to win the top female slot and fourth overall. I finished up fifth this year (aka, first loser ;-)).



CARBONDALE, COLO., NOVEMBER 23, 2005 - In its January 2006 issue scheduled to hit newsstands at the end of November, Trail Runner magazine announces the winners of the world's largest trail race series.

The 2005 Trail Runner Trophy Series, co-sponsored by outdoor company LaSportiva, lasted from March 1, 2005 to September 30, 2005, and encompassed 106 North-American trail races and over 20,000 athletes. The Series-divided into two distance divisions (Marathon & Shorter and Ultra)-gave runners the chance to compete for prize packages from sponsor companies and a Grand Prize trip to Italy's Dolomite Mountains. Athletes earned points for completing races, and bonus points for top performances.

Marathon & Shorter Division - Men
Malibu, California, attorney Dale Reicheneder, 39, led the Series from start to finish. He applied his hard-working spirit to the Trophy Series calendar and pieced together a mind-boggling racing schedule that had him traversing the country and Canada. He raced in 23 events, drove a total of 4800 miles to and from them and amassed 60,319 frequent flier miles.

In April, Reicheneder confessed, "I have been given a lot of latitude in leaving work early Friday to fly somewhere--although I'm often racing with only a few hours of sleep and jet lag."

Not even runner-up Michael Robbert of Littleton, Colorado, could match Reicheneder's frantic racing schedule. Robbert, who finished second to Woodside, California's Scott Dunlap in the 2004 Trophy Series, managed to run 13 races-the second-highest total behind
Reicheneder. Dunlap also gave chase to Reicheneder, finishing fifth overall.

Reicheneder's relentless summer did take a toll. In mid-June, he said, "The list [of injuries] is long, but I keep pounding away-obviously some days are better than others." After the Series, Reicheneder joked, "More than once, people were calling me 'Ahab' [in Moby Dick the monomaniacal fisherman obsessed with catching a gargantuan whale]."

Reicheneder's race total also clinched the Trail Runner Trophy Series Grand Prize awarded to the athlete completing the greatest number of races. The prize package, provided by LaSportiva, includes a trip for two to the 2006 dolomite Sky Race in Italy, lodging in Italy's scenic Val di Fassa, rental car and two pairs of LaSportiva trail-running shoes.

Reicheneder, who is single and has never been to Italy, "I'm really amazed at how all the women I know are begging to go with me-there must be something special about Italy!"

Reicheneder, however, the Series is about much more than a trip. "It represents a goal that no slouch could ever hope to win," he says. "Certainly, I could buy my own ticket and vacation in Italy anytime, but going by virtue of spending countless hours and miles of training, through the hardships, racing and personal sacrifice, is a feeling of accomplishment that can't be bought with a credit card."

Marathon & Shorter Division - Women
Angela Brunson, 33, from Los Angeles, California, sat in the Trophy Series driver's seat through August. She raced strong at several California events and also traveled to Trophy Series races in Colorado.

Tania Pacev, 45, methodically gained on Brunson with her annual barrage of non-stop racing. Pacev, from Littleton, Colorado, is a prolific competitor and a frequent fixture at many races in the Rocky Mountain region. Her schedule-and top finishes-had her nipping at Brunson's heels as the Series entered its final month.

That's when Pacev found a finishing kick. She sized up the schedule of remaining races and made arrangements to run in three of them. When she won the American Discovery Trail Marathon (Colorado Springs, Colorado) on September 5, she seized control of the Trophy Series lead.

Brunson placed second, first in the 30-39 age group.

Pacev, who also placed well in the Trophy Series Ultra Division, jokes, "I'm one of those people who likes to win overall, not just win the old-broad division."

Top 20 Overall: Trophy Series Marathon & Shorter Division
Dale Reicheneder, Malibu, CA, 846.2 points (Grand Prize and 30-39 age-group champion)
Michael Robbert, Littleton, CO, 524.2 points (20-29 age-group champion)
Bernie Boettcher, Silt, CO, 386.1 points (40-49 age-group champion)
Tania Pacev, Littleton, CO, 384.9 points (40-49 age-group champion)
Scott Dunlap, Woodside, CA, 341.4 points
Jerry Graham, Spokane, WA, 292.9 points (50+ age-group champion)
Angela Brunson, Los Angeles, CA, 277.2 points (30-39 age-group champion)
Amy Yanni, Rapid City, SD, 209.6 points (50+ age-group champion)
Paul Brett, Silverthorne, CO, 197.8 points
Katie Mazzia, Eagle, CO, 196.9 points
Eric Black, Dillon, CO, 185.1 points
Chris Gibbons, Hackensack, NJ, 178.1 points
Gary Black, Englewood, CO, 173.2 points (<20 age-group champion)
Sarah Evans, Alta, UT, 172.8 points
Gail Salowey, Park City, UT, 169.8 points
Jim Harrington, Negaunee, MI, 166.8 points
John Edwards, Ladysmith, British Columbia, Canada, 166.7 points
Cheryl Stephenson, Boulder, CO, 165.1 points
Kathy White, Lakewood, CO, 162.0 points
Mark Lundblad, Asheville, NC, 151.3 points

Ultra Division - Men
Ultra Division Champion Jeff Christian of Beaverton, Michigan, proved that trail running is alive, well and flourishing in the American Midwest. His Trophy Series race schedule focused on America's Heartland and included long-distance epics in Michigan, Illinois and South Dakota.

True to his roll-up-the-sleeves roots, Christian gutted out several top finishes, including an overall win at the Leanhorse Ultra 100-Miler in western South Dakota's Black Hills and a second-place finish at the Sulphur Springs 50-Miler in Ancaster, Ontario (Canada). Surprisingly, Christian, 31, is not a life-long ultrarunning ace. Although he ran high-school cross country (he was the state high-school champ in the two-mile and runner-up in the one-mile), he didn't run all through his twenties. Shortly before he turned 30, he took a look in the mirror, realized "I was getting too portly" and began running again. The results speak well of his natural athletic ability and his potential.

Christian barely edged out Kentucky ultraspeedster John Hemsky. Hemsky had an outstanding season, placing second overall in both the Kettle Moraine (Wisconsin) and the McNaughton Park (Illinois) 100-Mile Races. Over the course of his summer, Hemsky traveled thousands of miles, from Virginia, where he ran the Massanutten Mountain 100, to South Dakota, where he ran against Christian in the Leanhorse 100. Christian confessed to being a bit nervous and awestruck over the head-to-head showdown, "John Hemsky is one of my idols; it was exciting to run against him."

Ultra Division - Women
100 kilometers-62 miles-is roughly the distance between Denver, Colorado, and Colorado Springs, CO, or twice the distance from Seattle, Washington, to Tacoma, Washington. And Kami Semick, 39, covered that distance in trail races four times to win the Trophy Series Title. The Bend, Oregon, resident had previously run shorter distances, but decided that 2005 was her year to perfect a longer distance.

And she perfected the 100-kilometer distance with gusto. Semick won the competitive Miwok 100K (California), Kettle Moraine 100K (Wisconsin) and Where's Waldo 100K (Oregon). Just for good measure, she also ran the National 50-Mile Trail Championship at the White River 50 (Washington) in late July and finished second in a deep, elite field.

Semick, who is married with a three-year-old daughter, had to earn her Trophy Series stripes, outscoring perennial trail-ultrarunning star Beverly Anderson-Abbs of Red Bluff, California. Anderson-Abbs led in mid August, but Semick's second-place finish at September's Great Eastern Endurance Run 100K (Virginia) put her ahead for good. Semick and Anderson-Abbs finished 1-2 in the overall points standings, as well, beating out all male Trophy Series participants.

Top 20 Overall: Trophy Series Ultra Division
Kami Semick, Bend, OR, 1204 points
Beverly Anderson-Abbs, Red Bluff, CA, 903 points
Jeff Christian, Beaverton, MI, 883 points
John Hemsky, Fort Thomas, KY, 831 points
Annette Bednosky, Jefferson, NC, 741 points
Scott Jurek, Seattle, WA, 710 points
Andy Jones-Wilkins, Oakland, CA, 641 points
James Kerby, Carnation, WA, 622 points
Tracy Thomas, Champaign, IL, 600 points
Donna Utakis, Amherst, MA, 582 points
Rob Apple, Merfreesboro, TN, 577.5 points
Tera Dube, Martinez, CA, 548 points
Connie Gardner, Medina, OH, 524 points
Nikki Kimball, Bozeman, MT, 524 points
Ryne Melcher, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, 524 points
Kevin Dorsey, Cordova, TN, 522.6 points
Matthew Estes, Ellington, CT, 505.6 points
Paul Schoenlaub, St. Joseph, MO, 502.6 points
Sue Johnston, Waterford, VT, 500 points
Louise Mason, Chicago, IL, 500 points

About the Trophy Series
As the world's largest trail-running series, the Trophy Series is a seven-month-long points-based competition with two categories: Marathon and Shorter Distances and Ultra Distances. Participants earn points throughout the series, and the winners receive huge prize packages-including gear packages provided through sponsors Kahtoola, HoneyStinger, Petzl, SofSole, ProTech, Insport, Princeton Tec, Bad to the Bone Endurance Sports, ProTec Atheletics and Maverick Sports Medicine, Montbell, Big Agnes, Injini, Salomon, DeFeet, highGear, Camelbak and Penguin Brands.

For complete details, including full results, additional age-group champions and past news releases, visit
www.trailrunnermag.com. Contact Garett Graubins (above) to schedule interviews with any 2005 Trophy Series champions.

# # #

Monday, November 28, 2005

Running the Santa Barbara 9 Trails 35-Miler

Over the Thanksgiving weekend, I traveled down to Santa Barbara, CA, to spend the holidays with my in-laws and run the Santa Barbara 9 Trails 35-Mile Ultra. I easily put on a couple of pounds with our feast and subsequent leftovers - why not try and work it all off in one run? Plus I would get a chance to see the incredible views of the Pacific from atop the rugged coastal mountain range of the Los Padres National Forest.

(Views of the Pacific Ocean from the trail, photo courtesy of Luis Escobar)

I had first read about 9 Trails in UltraRunning Magazine last year, and was drawn by the combination of a small town, neighborly atmosphere and the grueling, steep course with over 10,000 vertical feet. Once I saw the map (easily the coolest trail map I've ever seen), I was hooked for sure. Started in 1990 by Patsy Dorsey, the 9 Trails has consistently drawn a fun group of ultra runners and triathletes from the surrounding Santa Barbara and Los Angeles communities. Patsy and Race Director (and the only 14-time finisher) Luis Escobar ordered perfect weather for this years race, and over 80 people toed the line to give it their all.

After a brief racer meetings to go over the basics ("no whining" and "your time doesn't end until Patsy gives you a hug" among them), Luis recognized many of the volunteers that make this race so fun, as well as the 15 or so first-time ultra runners crazy enough to call 9 Trails their first. The sun rose up over the mountains and showed us the way up the first hill, the easiest of the five peaks. On this out-and-back course, that would make for a smooth start and finish. Well, as smooth as one could hope, anyway.

(Patsy and Luis get everyone off to a good start)

Within a few miles, we were atop Isolation Point, and the trail became extremely rugged. Going downhill was even tougher than going uphill in many sections. I watched the front 6-8 runners peel off as they mountain-goated down the rocky terrain. Two of the guys I was running with started to say they should hit the turn-around in 2:50 or so, but their hopes were dashed as soon as we hit the 16-degree climb of the Tunnel Trail. By the time we hit the top, my winded cohorts had adjusted their halfway time by 40 minutes.

One more steep valley and climb, and we hit the highest point in the race (2450') and headed down a few miles of paved road to the Gibraltor aid station at mile 9. I got a PB&J (and a hug!) from Margie, one of the heralded volunteers, and she promised hot soup would be waiting for my return trip. I headed down the hill with "Shigy", a really funny and talented triathlete, who warned me that there were some obstacles ahead. I thought he said something like "rabbit hole" and "rappelling", but that couldn't be right, could it?

Turns out Shigy was right - within a few miles we were lowering ourselves down a section by rope. We passed Stu Sherman soon afterwards, nursing a broken ankle, and another runner who had injured his shoulder. Shiggy started to slow down, saying the "ribs he cracked last weekend were started to bother him". My God, what is with these people?!? Soon afterwards I was down on all fours crawling through a section of thicket (this must be the "rabbit hole"), followed by a 1-mile climb that averaged - I kid you not - an 18-degree incline. At this point I was just hoping to make it out alive.

(Heading through the rabbit hole, photo courtesy of Luis Escobar)

By the time I hit the turnaround, I was eating everything in site. Christi and her parents had come to see me, and gave words of encouragement. Christi checked my salt level (by making sure salt rings were encrusted on my face), and said I looked good, so I grabbed another handful of M&M's and headed back.

I ran with Sook Gumpel (holding 2nd place female well) and a few others, and we had plenty of time to chat given the steep terrain. The front runners had about 25 minutes on us, and I guessed we were around 14th or so. Sook and others were doing a much better job on the downhills than me, but I was making up time on the uphills. John Shields went by us, and I paced behind him up to the Gibraltor aid station (mile 26). As promised, Margie was ready for me with soup, sandwiches, and potatoes, so I just sat down for two minutes and had some lunch. The breeze began to pick up, beckoning us to get back down into the canyons, so I cranked up the Beatles on my iPod and headed out.

(I'm all smiles at the turnaround as I break out from the trees and see the goody table, photo courtesy of Christi Dunlap)

I found a rhythm and headed down the winding Rattlesnake Trail. The canyon was beautiful, especially around the creek. The farther I ran, the more people I saw laying out on the rocks enjoying the lush canopy. Where did they all come from? A couple of teenagers flagged me down and said, "uh...you're the only one we've seen go by with a number on and we've been here for an hour...". Uh, oh. I know what that means - wrong turn! I had a map on me, and the helpful locals quickly pointed out where I had missed a turn about 1.5 miles back. I couldn't get angry though - I had really enjoyed this section of the trail! So I just worked my way back up the hill and found where I had missed the turn. The chalk line was there, but had been largely wiped out by the foot traffic. I grabbed some rocks and tried to make the turn a bit more clear just in case somebody else was spacing off to their music. ;-)

Over the last few miles, I caught up with Shari Hammond, whose family support crew (husband and two young kids) seemed to miraculously appear at every aid station. Her optimism, pouring from a love of the area, helped me take my mind off the fact that I had been running for almost 9 hours, the longest I had ever been out on the trails. She knew the last two miles by heart, telling me exactly how many minutes were left at each turn, and pulled us in so we could get our hugs from Patsy.

(Everyone gets a hug from Patsy at the finish!)

At the finish, Luis joked with me that I got "10 trails for the price of 9", and then pointed me to the abundance of food, ice cream, and ice cold beer. Many of the kids that were waiting for mom/dad also enjoyed the cookies and ice cream as a reward for their patience! My quads were shot from all the hills, but I managed to finish without broken bones or blisters, so I considered the race a success. This was a good eye-opener for the kind of training I will need to do should my Western States lottery come through (note to self - more leg strength training, and find steeper hills), and the type of soreness that arrives when you are out all day. And I will certainly be back for next year!

A couple of quick notes to future racers. First, it can be 1+ hours between aid stations, so bring lots of water. Second, this race has a small limit so sign up early. Third, AWESOME t-shirts. Overall, I would highly recommend this race as a challenging event and a perfectly good excuse to spend some time in gorgeous Santa Barbara.



Sunday, November 20, 2005

The Virginian Speed Demon, Sean Andrish (An Interview)

In the small world of ultrarunners who actually “compete” in 100-milers (rather than “finish” like normal mortals), Sean Andrish is one of the best. Not only has this Virginia-based phenom won races such as the 2004 Hellgate 100k, 2002 Mountain Masochist, and 2003 Finger Lakes Trail 50-mile, but he also won the 2005 USATF 100-mile USA Trail Championships at the Mohican 100-mile in an outstanding sub-17 hour finish. Hot, rocky, lots of vertical, doesn’t matter – Sean has yet to meet a trail he doesn’t like.

I caught up with Sean on e-mail to talk about his season to date.

(Sean at the JFK in 2000, photo courtesy of VHTRC)

First, congratulations on the USATF 100-mile trail championships! Was that your peak race for the year? Tell us a little about how that race went.

Yes, the USATF 100-mile trail championships was one of my peak races for the year. I had decided to run the Mohican 100-mile race even before I was sure it was going to be the national championship because I wanted to try and run a relatively fast 100-mile race. All of the 100-milers that I had run up until that race were on difficult courses like the Wasatch 100 and the Massanutten Mountain Trails 100. The Mohican 100 provided me with the opportunity to run a race in Ohio, which is where I grew up, and allowed me to have my parents and sister crew for me since they still live in the Cleveland area.

Although the 100-mile trail championships was a target race for me, I didn’t really focus on the race in the Spring because my first goal to run a good race at the Massanutten Mountain Trails 100 in May. Unfortunately, I did not finish that race but at least it kept me from thinking about the Mohican 100 too much. I tend to do better when I just go out and run rather than over-analyzing a race beforehand.

I arrived at the starting line at the Mohican 100 a little undertrained and had not run well in any races this year, so I decided to start a little conservatively. I settled into a comfortable pace and just let the race develop on its own. When I was leading after about 20 miles, I realized that this was the national championship, I was leading the race, and I felt pretty good! From that point on I got more aggressive and tried to build up a lead. When I was going through those inevitable low points during the race, it was great to have my parents and sister crewing for me and encouraging me…this was the first time they had all been at one of my races. Although I had a pretty good lead with about 25 miles to go, I started to slow down and was told that Mark Godale was gaining on me. I ran scared for the last 10 miles of the race because that section was all on gravel and paved roads and I knew that roads are Mark’s specialty. It was a great feeling to cross the finish line, break my personal record for the 100-mile distance by about 4 hours, and win the national championship!

How many events (and of what types) do you typically target in a year?

While I will run a couple 100-mile races each year, I prefer to run 50-milers and 50 km races. One benefit of running these “shorter” races is that they do not beat me up too badly and I am able to race more frequently. I generally run about 8 races a year and then like to throw in the occasional relay race and Fat Ass event for fun.

(Sean wins the Finger Lakes 50, 2004, photo courtesy of Fingerlakerunners.org)

I have a ton of VHTRC folks stopping by my blog. Do you run with this group regularly?

I run with the VHTRC group as often as possible. They are an amazing group of people who put on several well-organized and well-supported races each year, get together on a regular basis for training runs in the mountains, and have several irregular events each year (i.e. the Eagle Run, a run where spotting eagles is as important as the run itself). VHTRC members seem to have a healthy perspective regarding trail running. While they can be competitive runners, they are also a fun group who enjoy a social group run (often with Gary Knipling as a guide to point out the various types of wildflowers we encounter on the trails of Virginia) followed by a party.

When did you start trail running? Have you always been an athlete?

I have always enjoyed playing sports and focused on soccer as a kid. I ran some in high school, but did not start to run competitively until after I graduated college. When I was in graduate school out in Arizona some friends introduced me to trail running in the mountains around Tucson. From the moment I started running trails I was hooked! The addiction took hold quickly and I found myself running trails as often as possible. Running on trails through the mountains is just so much more enjoyable than pounding out the miles on city streets!!

It’s hard to imagine you fit time in for job and family. Can you tell us a little about what you do outside of trail running, and how you keep it all balanced?

The fact that I am single allows me to schedule my training however I see fit. Also, the company I work for has been very supportive of my running habit.

I have been very lucky in that the company I work for has allowed me to have a flexible work schedule, which provides me with the opportunity to coach high school cross country and track. I have been coaching high school sports with Courtney Campbell for about 5 years now. I love watching the kids improve throughout the course of a season and over their 4 years of high school. During the track and cross country seasons, my weekday runs are simply whatever workouts we do with the kids (along with the occasional trail run after practice). While my weekly mileage drops off during these periods, the intensity of my weekday runs increases as I try and keep up with the varsity runners!

When I am not running, I can often be found biking, hiking, or skiing. All of my recreational activities compliment each other, so I am actually doing a lot of cross-training without really thinking about it.

What inspires you to run? And keep up the training?

One of my inspirations for running is simply enjoying nature. I enjoy getting to the top of a tough climb at sunrise or sunset and taking in the view of the surrounding mountains, or jumping into a cold mountain stream after a run on a hot summer’s day.

Another inspiration is that running provides me with the opportunity to have some control over my body. I developed epilepsy as a teenager and have been having seizures on a fairly regular basis ever since. As an epileptic I cannot control when I have seizures or how my body reacts during a seizure. Being able to go out and run 50 or 100 miles provides me with a sense of control.

Do you ever do road races, triathlons, or other types of events?

I used to run marathons before I got into trail running and ultramarathons, but I haven’t run any kind of road race in several years. I still have hopes of breaking 2:30 for the marathon (my current PR is 2:35), but I don’t know if and when I will make the time for that. Trail running is just so much more enjoyable!

What are some of your favorite races/locations?

While I have enjoyed running races all around the country, a few of my favorites include the Wasatch 100 near Salt Lake City, the Crown King Scramble 50km in Arizona, and the Bull Run Run 50-miler near Washington DC.

Lastly, a few training questions. What’s a typical training week look like for you? How many miles? When do you add in speed work?

I have found that my body performs best on a relatively low-mileage schedule. During the winter and summer I generally run 60-70 miles a week and my two key workouts are a weekly tempo run of 8-10 miles at sub-6 minute pace and a long trail run on the weekend of 20-30 miles. During the spring and fall, my weekly mileage drops down to about 60 miles a week, my speedwork is dictated by whatever the track and cross country teams are doing for practice, and I get in a long run of 20-30 miles on the weekend.

What are your favorite foods/race snacks?

My body does not seem to tolerate solid foods very well during races, so my race foods are Clif Shots and Ensure. My favorite aid station food, which I have only found at one of the aid stations at the Bull Run Run, is an ice cream sandwich.

Do you cross-train at all in other sports, or stay specific to trail running?

During my off season (usually Dec. – Feb.), I make an effort to do some weight training. That is my only attempt at making a conscious effort to cross-train. However, my bicycle is my main form of transportation, so I get some exercise that way each day. I also hike, ski, and play soccer, but I do that simply for fun and variety and not with the goal of cross-training.

A lot of the blog readers love to hear about “lessons learned” (ie, things that didn’t go right that perhaps they could avoid). Any you would like to pass on?

I have found that since I started taking Succeed tablets (salt tablets) I have not had any problems with cramping.

Another lesson I learned was that I can’t be afraid to go out too fast. In my early races I would start very conservatively in order to save energy and protect my legs for later in the race. This often backfired since going slow often resulted in more pounding on my legs. Also, I have never figured out how to save energy for later in a race. I am always exhausted in the later stages of a race, whether I have started a race fast or slow. The key is to simply find a comfortable pace and stay with it as long as possible.

Any tips you would like to pass on to somebody trying their first ultra? How about a first 100-miler?

While I enjoy racing and the competitive aspect of our sport, I think it is important to remember that ultrarunning should be about enjoying a day in the woods, taking in the scenery around us, talking to other runners, and encouraging others.

What’s next on the race/run agenda? Any plans for ’06?

I am currently taking a short break from racing to regroup, refocus, and let my body recover from some nagging injuries. I hope to come back strong in 2006. I will start the year off at the Uwharrie 40-miler in NC in Feb., followed by the Old Pueblo 50-miler in March and the Bull Run Run 50-miler in April. One new challenge I would like to attempt in 2006 is to run a multiday event. I am planning on trying to break the record for the Tuscarora Trail (250 miles) sometime next spring.

Thanks for a great interview!


Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Trail Runner Magazine Launches "Inside Dirt" E-Zine

Trail Runner Magazine subscribers and Trophy Series participants were greeted this morning with an e-mail announcing "Inside Dirt", their new e-zine (a magazine delivered via e-mail). What do you guys think - is an e-zine worth $1/month?

The scoop is for $1/month (basically $1/newsletter), you can receive an 8-10 article newsletter that follows a similar layout to Trail Runner Magazine (minus the pictures, apparently). The inaugural issue included stories about the Lean Horse 100, snowshoeing, finishers of the Grand Slam (4 100-mile races), and runner-submitted articles about the Sahara Desert Stage Run in Egypt, Teva Mountain Runner Chris Lundy, wildlife, recovery, etc. All of the articles were well-written, similar in length and scope as TRM. FYI, they are soliciting articles for future e-zines.

Personally, I seem to suck in as much trail running/ultra running news as I can get, so the more the merrier. I'm curious to see if y'all think it's worth the $1/month. I chatted with a few runners over e-mail today, and here's the pro's/con's we came up with:

Pros: The writing is of high quality and hearing from other runners is always great. It also seems like a more natural distribution for updates to the TRM Series, and on upcoming races. Although the first e-zine didn't have hyperlinks, it seems like a natural way to lead people to other web sites to learn more. One runner also picked out that even if you don't subscribe, there is an "unsubscribe" in the e-zine, which allows you to get off the TRM e-mail lists (apparently this has been hard to do in the past).

Cons: This first issue is very text heavy, and many of us agreed that TRM's outstanding pics are a big draw for their magazine. Perhaps this will change in the next e-zine issue. A few of the runners I spoke with said they didn't think it was worth $1/issue without the pics, but then we had a long discussion about "what is worth $1". Blogs, Flickr, Race Sites, and Running Clubs/Groups mean a lot of content and pics are free, there's just no promise as to when and how it's delivered.

I know hundreds of you subscribe to my blog through the Feedblitz e-mail service. What do you guys think? Would you do Inside Dirt for $1/month?

- SD

Saturday, November 12, 2005

The Run Less Taken (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)

My favorite quote in this story is "it's like discovering running all over again".

- SD

The run less taken

Uncrowded trails through woods are a natural for a relaxing jaunt

Posted: Oct. 16, 2005

La Grange - Jenny Bichler had a skeptical look on her face, and for good reason.

The wind made her shiver, the smell from the pit toilets made her cringe and the plan to run 13 miles through the woods made her nervous. Plus, having all this fun required her to get out of bed on a gray Saturday morning, earlier than she would for work.

At that moment, Bichler was starting to think her friends had been right about the craziness of this experiment with a new physical pursuit: trail running.

But her anxiety couldn't keep pace with Ray Scolavino's enthusiasm.

"You're going to be feeling great, and at the end, you're going to want to do it again," Scolavino assured Bichler, his classmate in a Badgerland Striders program for beginner trail runners.

Scolavino has the evangelical devotion of the newly converted.

(Badgerland Striders Jenny Bichler (left), Ray Scolavino and Jeff Weiss share the Nordic Trails outside of La Grange - Photo by Tom Lynn)

Trail running has been a revelation for the 40-year-old college teacher, who competed in short road races for 20 years.

"Trail running is a whole different style of running that I didn't even know how to do," he said. "It's like discovering running all over again."

A torn Achilles tendon pushed Scolavino off the roads and onto the trails about four years ago. He quickly embraced the new path for his old sport for the same reasons that others prefer the dirt over the pavement.

It's easier on his body and better for his mind.

"You really just get lost out there," Scolavino said. "I could think about things, as opposed to being distracted by cars and noise. I could relax."

It's that same sort of immersion therapy that draws Kathy Ableidinger onto the trails.

"It takes you 100 percent away from your reality in life," said the 31-year-old from Greenfield. "It takes you away from all your stresses. Living in a big city, we tend not to do that as much as we could or we should."

Ableidinger is an ultra-marathoner who often runs the hills at Lapham Peak near Delafield.

She calls the Nordic Trails near La Grange her favorite among the trail-running options in this part of the state.

That's where Scolavino and Bichler had gathered on a recent Saturday morning for their run as part of the Badgerland Striders program.

Veteran runner Marty Malin leads the seven-week session, guiding new runners and those looking to improve with tips on technique, equipment and nutrition.

Malin coaches the runners to slow down and encourages most to walk, rather than run, up steep hills.

Even while walking, trail runners build leg strength and maintain elevated heart rates.

On the downhills, Malin reminds his pupils to take small steps and sometimes follow a serpentine path to reduce their forward momentum. He cautions them not to dig in their heels on the slopes, unless they prefer to skid downward on their backsides.

Standard running shoes are sufficient on most of the trails in the nearby state forests and county parks, but trail shoes provide more protection from rocks and roots and a bit more stability.

Ableidinger straps a type of cleat onto her shoes for running in winter, while another veteran trail runner, Tim Zens, puts screws into the soles of his shoes to improve traction.

Zens, 49, is a former bicycle racer who completed his first running marathon, the Lakefront Marathon, on Oct. 2 in Milwaukee.

He logged most of his long training miles on the Ice Age Trail in Waukesha County and on the trails in the Kettle Moraine State Forest.

The Scuppernong Trails, near Eagle, and the loops outside of Greenbush in the Northern Kettle are among his favorites.

The various hiking and cross-country skiing trails throughout the state forest have loops ranging from roughly two miles to nine, with the option of mixing and matching hills and flats for long and short runs.

The Ice Age Trail, which winds through both areas of the Kettle Moraine State Forest, draws groups of trail runners.

They are a mix of hard-core endurance athletes, like Ableidinger; those just trying to stay in shape, like Zens; and cross-country skiers training for the coming season, like Greg Wyder.

"It combines two passions," said Wyder, a 56-year-old Shorewood resident. "I love to run and I love to spend time out in the woods.

"You always come away from it feeling refreshed and relaxed."

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Ojars Stikis runs a marathon quadrupled (The Austin American Statesman)

Take it from this 70-year-old ultrarunner, the ultra bug can grab you at any age!

- SD

Ojars Stikis runs a marathon quadrupled
At 70, he finds marathons are no longer a challenge

By Carolyn Feibel


Sunday, November 6, 2005

The unathletic -- even the normally athletic -- might regard Ojars Stikis with a sort of horrified admiration: He runs 50-mile races. He runs 100-milers. He has run through snow and lung-searing cold for 30 hours straight. He runs through black nights, alone in the woods, so tired that he suffers delusions of bears and monsters lurking just beyond the narrow beam of his headlamp.

The world of ultra running is full of extremes, where people like Stikis push their bodies and minds to unheard of limits.

But wait. It's even more extreme: He's 70 years old.

In August, Stikis, an Englewood, N.J., resident, placed first in his age group in the Vermont 100 Mile Endurance Run. That honor earned him a nomination for "GeezerJock of the Year" from GeezerJock magazine.

Stikis, a study in modest understatement, brushes the honor off as almost inconsequential.

"Big deal," he says. "I beat out two other 70-year-olds. I think I won by five minutes."

Ultramarathons -- races much longer than the traditional 26.2-mile marathon -- have always attracted older athletes, Stikis says.

"Their speed days tend to be over," he says. "Whatever glory they can get now in their age group is outlasting someone else."

Ultra running requires endurance: in your heart, lungs, knees and feet. The chief opponent is pain. Hours and hours of pain, and psychological swings that can mirror the rocky hills and muddy valleys of the trail.

"As you're running, you swear you'll never do this again," Stikis says. "You always feel that. Once you stop running, and you walk away from the race, you start forgetting."

"I think humans don't have a good memory of pain," he adds.

If they did, they probably wouldn't continue in a sport that causes vomiting in many regular participants, that requires you to urinate in the woods and forgo sleep and carry water and protein bars on your back so your body doesn't fall apart completely.

Not to mention the danger of bears, snakes, ticks and falls. When you're so tired that you forget to lift your feet, you trip over tree roots or rocks, Stikis says. Judgment becomes clouded. In every race, you fall. Stikis has been lucky to escape with cuts and bruises; other ultra runners break bones.

So why do it?

"There's no simple answer," he says. "I guess I'm a person who likes to keep challenging myself and keep raising the bar. It's just scary and there's some attraction in that."

Stikis didn't start running until he was 51 and his blood pressure and weight increased. He began at the gym, but soon started pounding the streets of Manhattan, where he worked as a computer guru for financial companies. At age 55, he finished the New York City marathon.

Once in the marathon world (he's run about 30), he started hearing about ultramarathons, and couldn't resist the challenge. "You can't quite believe it goes on," he says.

So he tried one, and lived. And actually made friends. "You're thrown together with people and they enjoy the same pain and joy you do," he says. Once, in a Vermont race, he ran through the night with a dentist from Alabama, the two chatting and running the whole way.

Stikis has a lot of stories to share. He was born in Latvia, but the turmoil of World War II swept his family from their home, and they ended up living in displaced persons camps in Germany for years.

When he was 10, the family immigrated to Australia. Stikis played sports and became an avid musician, playing baritone sax and flute. At 26, he moved to the U.S. to follow his jazz heroes and work as a musician. Instead, he learned how to program computers for Citicorp back when computers were a novelty. He spent 25 years running his own computer consulting business for financial corporations.

Now, his life consists of a little day trading in stocks and running. That includes training for races, traveling to races, buying clothes and shoes, and recovering after races.

Stikis typically runs five to 10 miles every day, and "once in a while" will increase the length to 15 or 20 miles, often along the rocky and steep trails of Palisades Interstate Park in Alpine, N.J.

Marathons no longer bring the same thrill of accomplishment. "I use marathons as a fun run, a training run if you like," he said. "Marathons are becoming -- let's face it -- pretty commonplace."

Commonplace for ultra runners, maybe. The most competitive among them continue to look for even harder and longer races than 100-milers.

There's the nonstop 135-mile Kiehl's Badwater Ultramarathon, which starts in the desert of Death Valley and climbs 4,700 feet to Mount Whitney in California. Or they can try the 124-mile Jungle Marathon, which takes place over five days in Brazil. Runners are told to climb trees to escape from dangerous wild boars and to shake branches to drive off hungry jaguars.

Stikis says he's never run more than 100 miles, but confesses that he's intrigued by a multiday 3,100-mile race.

"It's nibbling at me, it's daring me," he says.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Going Long at the Helen Klein 50-miler

Last Saturday, I joined 200 runners in Granite Bay, CA, for the Helen Klein 50-miler (HK50). This was my first 50-miler, and I was hoping to finish in less than 9 hours to get a qualifying time for the Western States 100. Given the perfect weather and relatively flat out-and-back course, the odds were as good as they were going to get.

(Helen Klein sets the pace at the HK50, photo courtesy of Ultrarunner.net)

How I arrived at deciding a 50-miler was a good idea is still beyond me. These are the races where “kidney failure” and “brown outs” are badges of courage (if you don’t know what a brown out is, just try running a marathon without water and check your shorts). Just a year ago, I had thought a marathon was more than enough. But somehow after hanging out with all these ultra people, a 50-miler not only seemed rational, but a must. Why? Well, to qualify for a 100-miler, of course! Yes, I know, I know, we all need help. As one runner told me, "any idiot can run a marathon, but it takes a special kind of idiot to run an ultramarathon".

The HK50 race was small, but I saw a lot of familiar faces as I pulled into the parking lot. The HK50 is the last race in the Fuel Belt Ultrarunner.net Series, as well as a championship event in the Pacific Association Ultra Grand Prix Series, and one of the last qualifying races for the Western States 100 for 2006. Race Director Norm Klein introduced a few champions as the 7am start drew near – Sebastiao Da Guia Neto (broke 150 miles in a 24-hour run), Helen Klein (at 82 years old, just finished the Tahoe Triple Marathon), former WS100 winner Gard Leighton, Barbara Elia who running her 300th ultra, age group world record holder John Keston (here to attempt to break the 80 yr old + 30k world record), course record holders Michael Buchanan and Bev Abbs, and more. I also knew that Mark Lantz and Marty Hoffman were duking it out for the Fuel Belt Series Overall Championship, so it was going to be a star-studded event.

It didn’t take long for me to pull my first rookie move. After getting a “double latte” for the “double marathon”, I had to make a quick stop at the bathroom. Unfortunately, I wasn’t the only one, and a few of us were doing that “gotta go now” dance as we waited for the only men’s stall. When my turn finally arrived, I heard runners chanting in the background. What are they chanting? It sounds like “4, 3, 2, 1”…uh, oh. I think I just missed the start. Doh!

No worries. I went down the path to the race start and started the race about 5 minutes late. What’s five minutes when I plan on being out here all day? Plus this gave me the chance to meet a few more people along the way. As we all cheered each other on, the runners quickly spread out along the American River trail, miles ahead. Very cool.

I haven’t been training differently for the 50-miler, so I was wondering if my legs were going to hold up. After hearing Andy Jones-Wilkins talk about his back-to-back 25 mile weekend runs to get used to “running on tired legs”, I knew there was a chance I was going to fall to pieces. So I didn’t set a time goal other than “less than 9 hours”, and just let my body run the pace it wanted to. After five miles, I settled into a comfortable 8:15 min/mile pace. It felt easy, although it was much faster than I needed for a 9 hour finish.

I put my iPod on (Linkin’ Park, Gorillaz, Santana, Ben Harper, and Zero 7…a very long playlist!) and kept humming along, trying to run on the dirt shoulder of the trail as much as possible. The aid stations were well stocked (as Norm Klein said, “if we don’t have it, that means Safeway doesn’t sell it”) and volunteers were very friendly. At around 16 miles, I caught up with Chase Duarte from Texas, who was doing his first 50-miler in a few years, also hoping to qualify for WS100. He was pacing with Rena Schumann, an ultra/volunteer regular, who was effortlessly cruising along. One volunteer told Rena she was the 3rd female, but she just smiled knowing there was a long way to go.

At mile 20, I caught up with Vance Roger, who was “banking some time” in the first half before settling into a more comfortable pace. Vance was also hoping to get a WS100 qualifying time. We hit the mile 21 aid station together, and started to see the leaders on their way back (already?!?). Michael Buchanan had a 90 second lead on Glen Redpath, with the 23-year-old phenom Chikara Omine just a few seconds behind in third (Chikara had finished his first 50-miler ever just two weeks before, getting 2nd at the Dick Collin’s Fire Trail 50 with an amazing 7:02). All three were well under a 6 hour pace. Not too far behind them were Beverly Abbs and Kami Semick, dueling it out for first female.

At the turn around, my watch read 3:22, which given my 5-minute bathroom delay, was clearly too fast. But my heart rate was still good, and my stride had shifted into an impact-minimized shuffle, so I just kept going. I ran into Alan Abbs, who told me that he and Bev had just finished the Whiskeytown 50 the weekend before, and that he was also going to fly out east to pace his sister in her first marathon…this guy is amazing! We talked playlists for a bit (he correctly pointed out that Linkin’ Park is a bit aggressive for the first part of a 50-miler, compared to his Warren Xevon).

By mile 38, my pace had naturally slowed to just under a 9 minute/mile. It was interesting to feel how my body “downshifted” after 35 miles – no pain or anything, but I suddenly felt like slowing by about 30-40 seconds per mile. I was starting to get really hungry, and the Hammer Gel just wasn’t cutting it. I looked at my watch and realized it was lunch time – no wonder! I asked the aid station volunteers what they would recommend, and they said the favorites were peanut butter sandwiches, potatoes, and m&m’s. I tried some of everything, practically pulling up a chair to stuff it all down.

After “lunch”, I felt really good. The bland potatoes and flat Coke were particularly tasty (I guess that’s what 40 miles does to you). Rena Schumann, Joseph Swenson, and Erik Skaden all passed me in the last eight miles, most of them sticking to the same pace they started with. We all hit the “hills” in the last five miles, and shuffled our way to the finish line. I crossed the finish line in 7:06 (10th place), well under what I needed for WS100.

Michael Buchanan had held on for the win in 5:45, with Chikara Omine just two minutes behind him. It just boggles my mind to think of keeping a 2:45'ish marathon pace for 50 miles, but that's exactly what these guys were doing. Kami Semick had passed Bev Abbs, who was feeling Whiskeytown and decided to slow down considerably, but still winning the master's division. Rena Schuman stuck to her guns for a 3rd place finish, her third sub-7 hour finish here at the HK50. Mark Lantz edged out Marty Hoffman (although Marty had gotten 4th in the 50k, it wasn’t enough for Mark’s 6th place 50-mile finish) to win the Fuel Belt Ultrarunner.net Series, and everyone got to celebrate with a Thanksgiving turkey dinner. All in all, a great experience.

For those of you considering a 50-miler, I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how achievable it is if you just listen to your body, keep taking in fluids, and eat solid food throughout the whole race (Chikara had shared with me that he learned this early on – solids from the start). I hadn’t changed my marathon training at all, and it was comfortably within reach. The runners high is amazing too – it’s hard not to smile!

I filled out my lottery application for Western States, so keep your fingers crossed for me!

A special thanks to Norm Klein and his eternally happy volunteer crew for making my foray in to the 50-miler world so easy. I am just now realizing that Norm has been helping me all season - he was a volunteer at Rucky Chucky, Run on The Sly, RD for the HK50, and more. It's clear this sport wouldn't be here without the passion of folks like he and Helen. For that, I am very grateful.

(I will post more pics as soon as I get them…)

- SD

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Grand Slammed (Skagit Valley Herald)

A nice article about Krissy Sybrowsky, the youngest woman to ever complete the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning. She and her husband, Brandon, are also known to race and direct shorter ultras in the Pacific Northwest.

- SD

Grand Slammed

(Photo by Topher Donahue, Krissy Moehl Sybrowsky, four races and 400 miles later, ultrarunner is youngest woman to finish)

SEATTLE — Completing a single 100-mile race in a summer is quite a feat.

Imagine completing four in the span of about three months and you have the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning.

It is an undertaking so brutal that in the 19 years since its insidious inception, it has been accomplished only 187 times. Of those 187 finishers, 161 have been men and 26 have been women.

This year, nine runners completed the harrowing task, of which, two were women. One of those was Burlington-Edison High School graduate Krissy Moehl Sybrowsky.

Sybrowsky not only conquered the Grand Slam, but at 27 she became the youngest woman to do so.

“It’s kind of fun because going into the last race, I was kind of sad because the other three had gone so well,” Sybrowsky said. “I was sad to see it come to a finish. I am happy, however. It feels like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders.”

Sybrowsky’s feet are probably just as happy, feeling great resting at home in Ellensburg.

“But crossing that final finish line, I really didn’t feel like, ‘Oh, it’s finally done!’ It was just another finish line,” she said. “A couple of weeks later, I finally had the energy level to look back at what I did.”

So, just what did Sybrowsky do?

She completed the four oldest 100-mile trail runs in the U.S. — the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run, the Vermont Trail 100 Mile Endurance Run, the Leadville Trail 100 Mile Run and the Wasatch Front 100 Mile Endurance Run — in the same year.

Sybrowsky, sporting bib No. 28 for each race, did it with gusto.

“It wasn’t hard to put the shoes on again (for each race),” she said. “Actually, I could feel myself getting excited again and I could feel my body recover.”
Photo by Ben Ditto
Krissy Moehl Sybrowsky races along the rocky trail at the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run.
In the end, she was the top woman to complete the Grand Slam, placed second overall and ran the second fasted elapsed time for all four races (88 hours, 11 minutes, 48 seconds) ever by a woman.

“I wanted to complete it sometime soon,” Sybrowsky said of the Grand Slam.

“I wanted to do it while I was in my 20s. Now I am the youngest lady to complete the Grand Slam by four years. So that is kind of cool.”

Sybrowsky never had any doubts she’d finish.

“I was going to do it no matter what,” she said. “There were some times when I had some questions. A lot of people that don’t make the Grand Slam do so because they can’t make the time cutoff. You have to be at certain aid stations by certain times.

“When my knees were hurting, I definitely did the math,” Sybrowsky explained. “That was really my only doubt. But I made it.”

Sybrowsky was spurred on by several individuals. None was as persuasive as her mom, Peggy.

After Sybrowsky told her mom she was interested in completing the Grand Slam, Peggy took matters into her own hands. She crewed on her daughter’s team a year earlier at Wasatch and knew what attempting the Grand Slam was going to entail. She told her daughter she’d be willing to crew at all four of the races.

All that despite the fact that her daughter had yet to decide whether or not to give it a shot.

“I told her I’d think about it,” Sybrowsky said. “In the meantime, she asked me the dates of the races. The next thing I knew, she had all her vacation scheduled around the Grand Slam. I was like, ‘Well, I guess I’m going to be running the Grand Slam this summer.’”

And with that, the odyssey began.

Western States 100
Sybrowsky was a little nervous about the first race in the series. There were other factors besides the 16,000 feet of elevation gain and 18,000 feet of loss that awaited her.

“I was super nervous,” she admitted. “It’s a really competitive race. It’s an event. The event has a presence all its own. There were huge expectations.”

Expectations such as her husband Brandon telling her that he expected her to win it.

“No pressure there,” Sybrowsky said. “But I felt I ran a really smart race.”

The race began with an ascent from the Squaw Valley (Calif.) floor (elevation 6,200 feet) to Emigrant Pass (elevation 8,750 feet), a climb of 2,550 feet in the first 41¼2 miles. From the pass, following trails used by gold and silver miners of the 1850s, runners climbed another 15,540 feet and descended 22,970 feet before reaching the finish line in Auburn.

“The climb was definitely the prettiest part of the course,” Sybrowsky said. “I actually really enjoyed it. The rest is just really well-groomed, single-trail of soft dirt. Not a lot of rocks.

“It’s not super-technical from a runner’s standpoint. If you’ve got quads (leg muscles) and the mentality to go, you can run it.”

The trail passes through remote and rugged territory, accessible only to hikers, horses and helicopters.

Of course, Sybrowsky’s mom was there, along with other supporters.

“It was really nice to have so much support,” she said. “For all those people to come and support me, it felt good.”

Brandon paced her for the final 16 miles.

Vermont Trail 100 Mile Endurance Run

Three weeks after crossing the finish at Western States, Sybrowsky toed the line in Vermont.

She’d end up as the first women finisher.

“This one, I won,” Sybrowsky said with a smile. “It’s more of a road race because 70 percent of it is on Forest Service roads, which are two-track wide. There was a little bit of mud in the first three miles, but after that it was really like running on a highway.”

The Vermont race wasn’t easy. It boasted about 15,000 feet in elevation gains and losses and the temperature reached the mid-80s.

The course pushed Sybrowsky to the brink.

“Surprisingly, I lost my quads,” Sybrowsky said. “I think I got behind on calories at one point at about mile 60 and I started to feel it. At about mile 90, I couldn’t run downhill.”

She described the pain she felt when running downhill as “the muscle separating from the bone.”

The race ended with a 200-meter drop to the finish line. Sybrowsky managed to laugh all the way down.

“I was just trying not to topple over,” she said. “I was sitting way back and remember laughing so hard because it was so comical. For a course that is really known as the easiest of the four, that one definitely hurt the most.”

After crossing the finish line, her father, Dennis, carried her to the medical tent.

Leadville 100 Mile Run

An out-and-back course in Colorado, Sybrowsky ran up and over 12,600-foot Hope Pass not once, but twice.

“This race had the toughest start for me,” she said. “I think it was something like 40 miles before I really felt good. Then I started feeling pretty good right before Hope Pass, that was at mile 45, I think. My system for some reason just wouldn’t go. But I just kept going.”

Leadville allows participants to use a “mule” — pacers who carry all of a competitor’s gear.

One of Sybrowsky’s pacers did more than just lug her necessities.

“She wouldn’t let me stop,” Sybrowsky said. “We were on this downhill road section and I was just walking, feeling miserable, and she just kept running. I was like, ‘OK, I’ll just go with her.’ She pulled me back around and I got my head on straight.”

Three pacers shared the run with Sybrowsky. Each one kept her eating and moving.

Running an out-and-back race can seem tedious. Sybrowsky, however, doesn’t mind retracing her steps. She explained that the trail is always different.

Plus, she said knowing exactly when you reach the halfway point is a positive.

“But it is hard,” she said, “knowing that you have to repeat what you’ve just done. It does kind of prepare you for the different sections of the race. There is a three-mile road section in Leadville and it’s just long and straight. Mentally, that can kill you if you aren’t prepared for it.”

Sybrowsky usually listens to music while charging along. However, her iPod died in Leadville. Luckily, her pacers kept her occupied.

“Leadville was hard, but to have it turn into such a good race was great,” she said. “At the end, my tendons were really starting to hurt. I only had a few weeks before Wasatch and I really started to wonder how that was going to be.”

It would be tough.

Wasatch Front 100 Mile Endurance Run

The Utah race tested Sybrowsky like no other. A mere 30 miles into it, Sybrowsky was ready to be done with it.

“My knees started hurting and knowing that I had 70 miles to go and that I had to finish, it was rough,” she said. “There was never any doubt that I would finish, but it was how long and how bad was I going to hurt.”

Peggy was waiting for her daughter at an aid station. This time around, Sybrowsky broke down.

“My poor mom,” she said. “When she looked at me, she could tell how bad I was hurting. That really brought it on. I started to cry, telling her it hurt so bad.”

Fortunately for Sybrowsky, David Horton, who had just finished running the Pacific Crest Trail in record time, was a member of her crew. He looked at the shape Sybrowsky was in, asked a couple of questions, handed her three ibuprofen and told her she’d feel better at the next aid station.

That turned out to be the perfect prescription.

An hour and half later, Sybrowsky was running strong.

At mile 62, she was only 20 minutes off the pace she’d set a year earlier. She decided she’d try to make up those lost minutes.

It proved to be a tactical error.

“Twenty minutes, I can make up 20 minutes,” Sybrowsky recalled. “So I pushed really hard and then all of a sudden everything just sort of fell apart, not my knees, but my breathing, my mental state. I just couldn’t go.”

At mile 93, the temperature was 23 degrees.

Brandon ran the entire race at her side. A ultrarunner himself, his legs were undertrained for running the course’s entire length. On the flip side, his wife’s legs were overtrained and she was about to crash.

In the end, the two sort of found a middle ground.

“He’d normally kick my butt,” she said. “He stuck with me. This was the most time we’d spent together in a couple of months. But it was crazy. I’d run through certain sections of the course and I’d remember how fast we’d ran them the year before. But this time, I was going so slow.”

Something else happened at Wasatch.

“I’d never had the sun come up on me,” Sybrowsky said. “I’ve always finished sub-24 hours. But we came in 261¼2 hours, so the sun came up on us while we were out there. I was like, ‘Whoa, this is a little different.’”

Their dog, Azul, herded them across the finish line, nipping at their heels.

The next Slam

Believe it or not, Sybrowsky is looking forward to running the Slam again — in about 10 years. Or she may set her sights on the Rocky Mountain Slam.

While the Grand Slam is the four oldest 100-mile races, the Rocky Mountain Slam is the four toughest. It includes the Bighorn, Hard Rock, Wasatch and Bear races.

“I have other goals to reach,” Sybrowsky said. “One is to try Hardrock, which is the toughest 100-miler. It has 33,000 feet of gain. There is a 48-hour cutoff, so that shows you how tough it is.”

Another is to get some rest.

“This is a very selfish sport,” Sybrowsky said. “It’s been all about me. Now it is time to give back (to family and friends).”

In the meantime, she’ll simply reflect.

“This was a whole different experience,” she said. “But that is what long distance races are. Some have said it is like an entire life summed up in a single day. There are so many ups and downs and different emotions and pain and elation. This is just something different that I love to do.”


Western States 100 (June 25-26)
Finish time: 20 hours,
53 minutes
Results: 4th woman, 31st overall

Vermont 100 (July 16)
Finish time: 18:41
Results: 1st woman, 8th overall

Leadville 100 (August 20-21)
Finish time: 22:03
Results: 2nd woman, 13th overall

Wasatch Front 100 (September 10-11, 2005)
Finish time: 26:34
Results: 3rd woman, 24th overall


Results: 1st woman, 2nd overall
Total Time: 88:11:48 (2nd fastest female ever to complete the Grand Slam, behind Ann Trason’s elapsed time of 79:23:21)

Vince Richardson can be reached by phone at 360-416-2181 or by e-mail at vrichardson@skagitvalleyherald.com

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Trail Runners Kick Off The Telegraph Trail 50k (Durango Journal)

Trail runners kick off double

October 9, 2005
By Gregory Moore, Herald Sports Writer

For most, running just the first leg of the Durango Double on Saturday was plenty.

(Karen Scott of Florissant, the winner of the women’s Telegraph Trail 50K, celebrates with daughter Madison Lambros, 7, at the finish line near the Durango Community Recreation Center on Saturday. She finished the 50K in 4:47:13. Madison also is the daughter of Stan Lambros; photo courtesy of Yodit Gidey, Durango Herald)

For some, competing in the Telegraph Trail 50K or the Horse Gulch 25K on Saturday was just the tune-up for today's Durango (half or whole) Marathon.

But for all, Saturday was a great day for a trail run.

"It was a perfect day, and what a great course," said 25K overall winner Scott Drum, 35, of Gunnison. Drum hammered the course in 1 hour and 48 minutes, and was actually surprised to find himself alone at the finish line.

"I didn't expect that, really. I thought there'd be some more local runners out in front of me."

The next two finishers were local. Durango Herald news editor Dave Buck finished second (1:53:21), and Durango High School grad Daniel Crane - who now competes as part of the Colorado State triathlon team in Fort Collins - was third (1:53:53).

Crane is back in town with four other members of his CSU team, and as of Saturday morning was contemplating adding Sunday's half marathon to his schedule before heading back to school.

"I don't know," he said after Saturday's race. "Right now I think that idea might be downright dumb, but I'll see what my legs feel like later."

Fort Lewis College student Meredith Donner was the first woman to cross the line with 2:07:24 on the clock.

"I'm usually just riding my bike when I'm up on Telegraph Trail," Donner said with a big finish-line smile. "But it was great up there (Saturday), and I was cruising."

In second place for the women was Jennah Keidel of Fort Collins (2:13:34), one of Crane's companions, and another front-range runner, Laurie Zuehlsdorff of Longmont, was third (2:16:24).

The first 50K finishers rolled in to the finish at the Durango Community Recreation Center after the 25K group had finished with its award presentation.

(Men’s 50K winner Brian Scott of Lakewood checks his time after stepping across the finish line Saturday. His time was 4:19:13; photo courtesy of Yodit Gidey, Durango Herald)

Brian Scott, a recent arrival to Lakewood, finished the 31-mile race in 4:19:33, an impressive time in his first ultra-distance run ever.

"I've done a few Ironman triathlons," Scott said as he relaxed in the finish area. "On the way back down I wasn't really sure how I was doing so I just put my head down and went for it. This is such a gorgeous day that I think it took my mind off the run."

Karen Scott, 37, of Florrisant (no relation to Brian) was greeted by her family as she crossed the line first in the women's 50K in 4:47:13. An experienced ultrarunner, Scott was a member of the U.S. 100K team that finished first at the world 100K championships in Lake Saroma, Japan, in June.

Her Durango run was much better than her difficult experience in Japan, Scott said. "But it was still an honor to qualify for that team," she added.

While a few of the less experienced trail runners wandered off course in the Horse Gulch area, and a few more sported some road rash on elbows and knees from slips and falls on the rocky areas of the course, it was hard to find a finisher of the 25K run who was not ready to laugh about the experience afterward.

"Between all the wrong turns, the turning around and the running the other direction, I think I just did a 30K," said one finisher, who declined to give her name.

Carol Cain, 70, the senior member of a group of five friends from Houston who are taking on not just the 25K but today's half marathon as well, said it was frustrating to lose track of the course, but hard to get too upset about it on such a beautiful day.

"I'll be right back out (today) after a massage to get my hip working again," she said.

And all the adventures weren't confined to the novices.

Durango runner Stephen Parziale, an experienced and formidable ultrarunner, was back at his car in the rec center parking lot dropping off some extra clothing when he heard the start of the race.

"I was dead last going through the start," he said, "and when we got to the bridge, everybody was slowed down to a walk.

"I remember thinking, 'This is not good.'"

But for Parziale, all's well that ends well. He passed virtually the entire 50K field to finish second overall to Brian Scott.

Saturday's sunshine, crisp temperatures and fall colors didn't just impress the out-of-towners. Locals Amy and Rob Milofsky, one of several husband and wife combinations in the 25K, both agreed that the autumn scenery added to the trail-running experience.

"This is such a beautiful course this time of the year, and the trails were in great shape," said Rob, who resides near the race course in Sky Ridge.

"This is just a backyard run for me. I love it."

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