Wednesday, October 31, 2007

How awesome is Rich Busa?

The Nashua Telegraph did a profile on 78-year-old Rich Busa, who is still running strong. He has completed 8 Vermont 100's, finishing the last one at age 72 in 2002. Rich tells a great story about running since 1953, including tidbits like "kids today think plastic has been around forever; if you wanted to run with a bottle (back then), it would be a glass bottle", his days as a minor league baseball player, and hallucinating that firewood is a pack of raccoons in the last miles of a 100.

You can read the full story here. Hope to meet you, Rich!

- SD

Monday, October 29, 2007

Official 2007 Trail Runner Magazine Trophy Series Results

Although I was right about Dale Reicheneder being the first repeat winner, my guesses weren't as good on the Ultra side of things. It appears that the 24-Hour Race format was key to winning the Ultra division this year (which would make sense - points are based on miles, and get a multiplier based on finish place, so a 100+ mile win at a 24-Hour race is worth tons). Not so sure about their comment that Dale won by "a handful of points" - looks to me like there was a healthy 100+ point margin.

Plus look at who won the random drawing to be on the La Sportiva Mountain Running Team - our very own Mark Tanaka!

Here's the official announcement:

Trail Runner Announces Final Trophy Series Results- Oct 25

Diane van Deren and Dale Reicheneder dominate North America’s largest trail-running series

OCTOBER 25, 2007, CARBONDALE, COLORADO—Trail Runner magazine, North America’s leading publication for off-road running, announced the winners of the fourth annual La Sportiva Trail Runner Trophy Series this week on After the series wrapped up on September 30, results from 115 races, ranging from 5K to 150 miles, were collected and points for 21,000 Trophy Series participants tabulated to determine the final standings.

Diane van Deren of Sedalia, Colorado, dominates the Ultramarathon Division standings with 1356 points, with no other competitor (male or female) breaking the 1000-point mark. Van Deren capped off a busy summer, including eight ultras, with the 24 Hours of Frisco in Frisco, Colorado, on September 23. There, she logged 114 miles for the women’s victory and 456 Trophy Series points.

Christine Crawford of Whitewater, Wisconsin, is second with 885.8 points after a speedy 4:35:36 second-place performance at the Rock Cut Hobo 50K in Rockford, Illinois, in September. Third overall, and men’s Ultra-Division leader, is Jim Orr of Toronto, Ontario, who tallied 834 points after winning both the Dirty Girl 24 Hour race, where he covered 108.5 miles, and the Sulphur Springs 100-miler, in Ancaster, Ontario, with a time of 17:14:53.

Dale Reicheneder topped the Marathon and Shorter Division once again (he was the 2005 champion), after competing in 19 races and scoring five age-group victories. The 41-year-old litigation attorney from Malibu, California, held off defending champion Hugh Davis and Brian Beckort, both from Tell City, Indiana, by only a handful of points to become the 2007 Series champion.

Canadian Janice MacKay of Sault Sainte Marie, Ontario, capped off her successful racing season, punctuated by three age-group wins at the Keweenaw Trail Running Festival in Copper Harbor, Michigan, with a second-place age-group performance at Mount Hood, Oregon’s Timberline Marathon in 4:20:57. MacKay’s six impressive trail-race performances kept her ahead of second-place Julie Gerke of Basking Ridge, New Jersey, who won her age group at the Odyssey and Running Fit Trail Marathons, and Donna Gering (Ironwood, Michigan), in third place after four Trophy Series events.

Top male and female winners in the Ultramarathon Division and Marathon-and-Under Division’s 10 age group categories will receive prize packages including gifts from Trophy Series sponsors La Sportiva, Injinji, Spenco, Julbo, Mont-Bell, Kahtoola and Petzl.

Mark Tanaka of Castro Valley, California, is winner of the randomly drawn Grand Prize of an honorary position on La Sportiva’s Mountain Running Team. Tanaka will receive four pairs of La Sportiva running shoes plus a team-apparel package including socks, headlamp, singlet, running T-shirt, shorts, warm-up jacket and headwear. La Sportiva will offer this same Grand Prize in the 2008 Trail Runner Trophy Series.

Pick up a copy of Trail Runner’s January 2008 issue to read more about the male and female division winners. This special Trophy Series issue will also include the 2008 Trophy Series Race Directory, a special Take Your Mark story highlighting three outstanding races belonging to the series and training and nutrition articles to get you primed for race day.

Plans for the 2008 Trophy Series are already underway. Race directors interested in being a Trophy Series race should apply before November 12, 2007 here.

2007 Trophy Series Standings Highlights

Top Ultramarathon Men
1. Jim Orr, Toronto, Ontario, 834 points
2. Karl Meltzer, Sandy, Utah, 800 points
3. Akos Konya, Oceanside, California, 700 points

Top Ultramarathon Women
1. Diane Van Deren, Sedalia, Colorado, 1356 points
2. Christine Crawford, Whitewater, Wisconsin, 885.8
3. Anita Fromm, Manitou Springs Colorado, 509.6

Marathon and Shorter Age-Group Winners, Men
10-19 years old—Clint Hugie, Salt Lake City, Utah, 107.1 points
20-29 years old—Dan Dehlin, Marquette, Michigan, 285.5 points
30-39 years old—Brian Beckort, Tell City, Indiana, 460.4 points
40-49 years old—Dale Reicheneder, Malibu, California, 683.2 points
50 and over—Heath Hibbard, Montrose, Colorado, 319.1 points

Marathon and Shorter Age-Group Winners, Women
10-19 years old—Alanna Wildman, Milaca, Minnesota, 104.8 points*
20-29 years old—Rachel Post, Plymouth, Michigan, 144.1 points
30-39 years old—Mary White, Kirkwood, Missouri, 166.8 points
40-49 years old—Julie Gerke, Basking Ridge, New Jersey, 209.6 points
50 and over—Janice Mackay, Sault Sainte Marie, Ontario, 346.6 points

*Wildman had the same number of points as several other women in her age group, but was named the winner for logging the fastest marathon time of 4:41:43.

Please click here for full results.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

How much can the body endure?

Emily Battle of The Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg wrote an article about folks doing double- and triple-Ironmans. Yowza! Can't imagine what a 78.6 mile run feels like after a 7.2 mile swim and 336 mile bike ride. A couple of ultra runners and doctors chimed in - "ultra-runners often talk about the key to their success being their ability to numb themselves to the pain they feel as the miles build up." Worth a read.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Dale Reicheneder Is The First Repeat Winner of the Trail Runner Magazine Trophy Series

Although the official results haven't been posted, it appears that 41-year-old Dale Reicheneder has won the 2007 Trail Runner Magazine Trophy Series for the Marathon-and-Under division after a hotly contested battle with 2006 winner Hugh Davis from Tell City, IN. This makes Dale the first TRM Trophy Series Champion to repeat, after winning in 2005. Congrats, Dale on Being The Trail Runner Magazine Trail Runner of the Year again!

(Dale brings it home in Bragg Creek, Alberta)

Janice MacKay from Sault St. Marie, Ontario appears to have won the female division for the Marathon-and-Under Division, while Karl Metzler (Sandy, UT) and Christine Crawford (Whitewater, WI) pick up wins in the Ultra Division.

Monday, October 22, 2007

An Interview with Scott Dunlap, Ultrablogger!

Atlanta-based trail runner David Shoenberg has switched seats and interviewed me on his blog. It was a lot of fun being on the other side of one of these! If you stop by and read it, be sure to leave David a comment and wish him well on his recovery. I'm hoping to see him at the Santa Barbara 9 Trails at the end of November.

- SD

Ultra Centric 24-Hour - The Last US Championship of the Year

Still running strong in the tail end of the season? There is still one US Championship left on Nov 16th, 2007 - The Ultra Centric 24-Hour Championship in Grapevine, TX. This year features over $26,000 in prize money for those who can master the rhythm of the two mile loop, plus some longer and shorter formats to tempt others.

This is the 22nd running of the Ultra Centric, and the second year as the US National Championships. New this year are 6-hour, 12-hour races to join the existing 24-hour and 48-hour formats.

Can the American Records be broken? Race Director Robert Tavernini says "yes", particularly if some of the great 100k and 100m US ultra runners give this format a shot, as well as the excellent 24-Hour runners returning from last year. Philip McCarthy has already run 153 miles in this years Drummondville World Championships, in Quebec, Canada. A similar performance could topple the winning result of 146.4 miles from Alex Swenson at the Ultra Centric last year. Get a top finish with 135+ miles, and you might get a spot on the US National 24-Hour Team.

Based on the results of the San Francisco One Day this weekend, there might be a contender nearby!

Athletes Over 40 Hurdle Past Records, Stereotypes (Denver Post)

The Denver Post did an interesting article on the success of 40+ year olds in endurance sports, featuring Marshall Ulrich (multiple winner of Badwater), Bernie Boettcher, Matt Carpenter, and more. My favorite quotes:
"They aren't winning despite their age. They are winning because of their age."

"What we are seeing is a new phenomenon in that we have athletes who are basically athletes their entire lives," says Chris Carmichael, Colorado Springs training maestro to Lance Armstrong and a former pro bike racer who finished his second Leadville 100 this year at the age of 46, this time in less than nine hours. "They just keep on going. They just keep on getting more efficient with their use of oxygen. After years and years of aerobic training and competing, they are, in a sense, smarter athletes."

Take Bernie Boettcher. On his 45th birthday last month, the Silt legend reset his master-class record and logged his fourth overall win at the Imogene Pass race above Telluride. It was his 267th race in 260 consecutive weeks. In those five years of every-weekend racing in sneakers and snowshoes, he's tallied 115 wins and 208 master-class wins."At the end of suffering, there is a reward, and it's a really neat feeling to overcome that suffering," says Boettcher, his blue eyes
gleaming beneath his trademark wide-brim straw hat. "After a while, that feeling is irresistible. You plow on through because you know it's so good."
You can read the full article here.


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Loving the Lake of The Sky 33m

Last Saturday, I had the pleasure of joining 60 trail runners for the 4th annual Lake of The Sky 33-Miler in Tahoe City, CA (LOTS). This challenging and scenic out-and-back is one of only two trail races on the Tahoe Rim Trail (TRT) each year, providing one last opportunity to enjoy the TRT before it is buried in snow for the next five months. Cool weather and hearty volunteers combined for a perfect day, and at least one course record would fall before we enjoyed the feast at the finish.

Race Directors Extraordinaire Robert and Linda Mathis had warm coffee ready to go as we all gathered inside to wait for the sun to warm up the 35-40 degree pre-race temperature. The volunteers were all smiles, and unless you asked, you wouldn’t know that they braved all kinds of rain and wind in the last 24 hours to get everything ready. The forecast today was for sunny skies by noon, which should lift the temperature to the mid-50’s.

(RDE Robert Mathis at the trailhead)

I packed far too much clothes, prompting Beverly Anderson Abbs (2-time winner and Women’s course record holder for LOTS) to nominate me as a finalist for the “too much gear” award. Joking aside, she was probably right. I had a Sugoi t-shirt, sleeves, vest, hat, gloves, and shorts, as well as a Nathan lightweight shoulder pack stuffed with Clif Bloks and Jelly Bellies, and twin big gun water bottles (26 oz each). Compared to her and Alan (t-shirt, tunes, water bottle and that’s it), I looked like I was going on a camping trip! Plus with my silver gaiters and shoes, I was becoming Eric Clifton-esque in my color selection. Alas. I guess I was still a bit nervous that I might be reduced to walking at some point and wanted to be safe (and seen?).

(Racers get a fast brief in the cool morning air)

As we made our way to the 7am start, I caught up with some familiar faces. Peter Lubbers was fresh off winning the Tahoe Super Triple (two marathons, one 72-mile loop around Tahoe) for a second time, and I had no idea how he could even stay upright, let alone run. Gretchen Brugman was ready to roll, and probably longing for her canine companion who has joined her many times on this trail. Rory Borio, who won the Silver State 50k earlier this year, was ready to give Bev Abbs some competition, as was Julie Young and Claire Gilles. Jack Driver was resting this year, but would be running the first aid station. Tony Overbay and Bruce Eisner were going for their first ultra, getting many pats on the back for fully embracing the ultra-insanity with a 7,000’ vertical run on their first try. As 7am arrived and the sun peeked over the mountains, Robert sent us off!

(Chris Grauth makes his way through the pack on the steep single track)

The first four miles are up, up, up, quickly sorting out the “acclimated” from the rest of us. Bev Abbs and Rory Bosio set the pace right out of the gate, and were joined a mile later by Chris Grauth, a marathoner and Leadville 100 veteran from Boulder, CO. All were stepping cautiously since this was the most technical section of trail, enhanced by the frost that had built a slippery layer on most of the rocks. As we hit the first aid station (mile 2.5), Bev, Rory, and Chris (already bleeding apparently) shifted into a higher gear and disappeared into the distance. A chase pack of myself, Alan Abbs, Jason Horne, Julie Young, Tom Wion, Ken Reid, and a triathlete went after them two by two.

(The sunrise peeks over the clouds)

As we broke through the cloud layer, the sun melted the frost and lit the trail in fresh sparkling dew. The mountains and clouds on both sides engulfed us in a dramatic naturescape (yes, I’m inventing words, but it was that awesome!). It was still brisk (high 30’s) but that prompted us to keep the pace up. We all got off balance at some point, whether trying to sneak a peak at the view on a highly technical trail, hitting a snow patch, or just the usual trail trolls grabbing a shoelace here and there. As we descended down to the second aid station (mile 7.5), the trail was more frozen dirt than rocks and easier to navigate. Norm Klein was happy to hand out soup, and probably needing a bunch himself to stay warm. I filled the water bottles and went chasing after the five in front of me.

(Our visiting triathlete steps gingerly on the frosty rocks)

The frozen ground made for a fast surface, but a bit harder on the heels. I was trying out the new Inov-8 320’s on this race, which have more heel support than their 315 brethren, and was happy to have some extra cushion. I ran along with Tom and Ken, who were setting a fast pace in the descent. Tom knew the trail well, and was happy to dish out tips and let us know what was coming.

(Julie Young leads a pack over a peak)

The Greg Kihn Band (“I love you jeopardy, baby”) summoned us into the Watson Lake aid station (mile 12) where Dave Cotter and Kevin Bigley had a turkey feast waiting, complete with sweet potato pie. I wasn’t hungry for solids yet, but promised I would take a sample on the way back. I recharged the water bottles (intake was 36 oz/hour) and hit the trail with Tom. We quickly found we were a good match, since he was much faster on the downhills and I wanted to run the flats and smaller uphills (the steepest climbs had us both walking). In fact, the steeper the downhill got, the faster Tom would go! He said it was because the training ground near the Fleet Feet Sports he managed in Carson City was super-technical and steep. I dubbed him “the mountain goat”, and tried my best to keep him in sight.

(Tom and Ken set a fast pace through the morning fog)

After two miles of fast running, we tackled the last climb the turnaround. Chris Grauch went by so fast I couldn’t get my camera out. Bev Abbs followed about four minutes back, then Rory Bosio, Alan Abbs, and Jason Horne all within 10 minutes. That put Tom and me in 6th and 7th, and we were quite pleased to hit the turnaround in 2 hours 45 minutes. I grabbed a PB&J square, refilled the bottles, and let Tom lead the way back down. In less than three minutes, I lost the mountain goat completely. ;-)

(Tom disappears into the snow-dusted trees)

One great thing about an out-and-back is you are rarely alone. There were lots of smiling faces on the trail, and everyone said they were feeling good. Ray Sanchez, Rebecca Duffy, George Ruiz, Tony Overbay, Paul Charteris - all were smiling away and moving fast. About a dozen high fives later, I caught up to Tom and we entered the Watson Lake aid station (mile 21) again where I gorged on sweet potato pie and Coke. Sooooo good!

(Kevin Bigley and Dave Cotter present their feast at Watson Lake)

(All smiles on the trail today!)

Jason Horne was also at the aid station, taking his time and suffering a bit from the altitude. I had a few altitude moments in the last couple of miles as well, prompting me to institute the “tunnel vision equals walking” rule on the uphills. I took off ahead of Tom and Jason, but they hollered me back after missing a turn. Whew! Thanks, guys!

(Working the downhill)

Although the course was supposedly less vertical on the way back, it sure felt like a lot more uphill. I had always wondered what my Dad meant when he said “when I was your age, we walked to school every day, uphill both ways, in the snow!”, and apparently there are trails like that. ;-) With all the uphill, I put some distance between me and Tom, but knew it would only take a few sections of downhill for him to catch up.

(One of the many distracting views on the trail, this one looking over Truckee)

At mile 22, the runners high kicked in big time. Oh, how I long for this moment in every race! My heart rate slowed, the rhythm took over, and my strides felt long and natural. The trail became an extension of my body, and with every step, every breath, I was connected to the earth. I was in awe of my surroundings, this tapestry of million-year-old stone, hundred-year-old trees, and this-years-plants curling up for the winter, and the glorious insignificance of one runner making his way through. It made me wonder – Could anything ever feel this good forever? Would anything ever feel this good again? All I ask of you, Mother Nature, is to promise not to stop if I say “when”.

Wait a minute – that’s a Foo Fighters song! Usually if the insight rhymes, it’s a sure sign it’s stolen. ;-)

(See?!? This trail is gorgeous!!!)

The smiling face of Norm Klein at the next aid station (mile 25) pulled me from my daze, and he helped fill my water bottles one last time. Norm was a great sport for being out here in the cold all day, and was happy to pour soup for some local hikers as well. He mentioned I was in 4th – hmmm. That means someone could be off course.

The last hill was a grind, but I gave it my all hoping I could build a big enough gap for the inevitable Tom the Mountain Goat. The runners high kept me company, as did the Foo Fighters song now running through my head. When I hit the last four miles of technical trail, my legs had enough to blast through it, but my technique wasn’t up to snuff. A mile into it, I heard “THERE HE IS! I’M COMING FOR YOU!” as Tom chuckled and went by me in a flash. It was helpful to follow him for a while and watch his technique – he picks a line like a downhill mountain bike with 7” of travel and throws his weight forward with ease. As he shared with me, he has solid leg strength so he can “have faith” in charging down. Although I couldn’t keep his pace, I did notice I was running the technical downhill faster than usual after running with him, simply by being more aware of my center of gravity. I crossed the finish line a few minutes behind him in 5:51:49, good enough for 5th place.

(The mandatory self-portrait)

Chris Grauth had won the race in 5:16:12, despite taking a fall early in the race. Bev Abbs took 18 minutes (!) off her course record to place second in 5:21:22, while Rory Bosio battled stomach issues in the second half but still finished strong for third overall (5:45:22). Alan Abbs had been the one to take the wrong turn (the same spot I did), and came in about 6:15 while being a great sport about the wrong turn. One thing I noticed about Alan and most finishers – there was plenty of blood and dirt showing! That technical section claimed shins on both the way out and back. I think Julie Young should get the award for best battle scar.

(Winner Chris Grauth lets his wounds heal in the sun at the finish)

We feasted on homemade vegetarian chili, pork roast, scalloped potatoes, and pie, and shared stories of a great day on the trails. Everyone commented that this race has a wonderful layout for a 50k-ish distance, with a few easy stretches, a few really difficult sections, and a finish challenging enough to be proud of. I was so impressed with the course markings and aid stations too – really a top effort by all. My thanks to the RDE’s and volunteers for braving the cold and putting on a fantastic race! I will certainly be back.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Running of the Bulls 5k

Last Sunday I had the pleasure of joining about 400 runners for the Running of the Bulls 5k in Palo Alto, CA.

<-- One of the bulls, former Olympian Doug Consiglio

This race/walk has a fun format to go with the Pamplona-style theme – about 2 minutes after the start, five elite runners dressed in bull/cow costumes come chasing after the pack. Everyone wondered – could we finish before they caught us?!?

In the spirit of the event, I donned a Spanish matador costume. I figured if the bulls caught me, I could whip out my cape and let them charge me before pulling it away (Ole!). This was a fun run after all, and I always enjoy goofing around in costume just before Halloween. But I definitely wouldn’t want to be the next person to rent this costume. ;-)

(Jean Pommier and Matador Scott)

Before the race, some local coaches and elite athletes put on a kids track clinic. Joy Upshaw-Margerum, a coach for the Jack Rabbit Track Club for kids, performed the orientation before turning it over to some of the elites such as 3-time Olympian Robert Weir, Masters Champion Tim Dempsey, and Pole Vault Gold Medalist Kris Mack.

(Kids of all ages loved the Track Clinic)

Grace Upshaw, the 2007 National Long Jump Champion and a 2004 USA Olympic athlete, showed a bunch of kids the basic balancing and strength skills of long jumping, while Robert Weir and others showed a group how to do high kick drills. It was fun to watch (see videos below), and the kids were having a great time!

I ran into fellow ultrarunner Jean Pommier, who was fitting in one more quick warm up run before the International 20k in Paris next weekend. He lined up at the start with about a dozen serious-looking runners hoping to cash in on some of the prize money. The race announcers introduced the bulls and cows – 7-time All-American and Canadian Olympian Doug Consiglio, 5-time NCAA Champion Brand Houser, Olympian Kate O’Neill, and more. I got the feeling we were going to need more than 2 minutes!

(Bull Brad Houser with Cow Sally Houser and Calf Will Houser)

(The fastest cows on the planet!)

(Local cross country runners donning their Halloween gear)

At 9am, we were off and running down the streets of Palo Alto. The field quickly spread out, with the track junkies up front, joggers and strollers in the middle, walkers in the back, and kids everywhere in between. Some of the kids were putting their newly acquired track skills to work, and having no trouble keeping a fast pace. Within a couple of minutes, we were all turning our heads to look for the bulls.

I hit the first mile in about six minutes, and could see the front runners already a good two blocks ahead. So far, no bulls. I was beginning to wonder if “matador” was Spanish for “master of chafing”, since this costume was already starting to rub me raw. No worries though – at only 5k in distance, this race would be over before the coffee I left at the starting line got cold.

(Look out! Here comes a bull...)

Mile two came in about 12 minutes even, I had heard the shouting behind me saying “bulls are coming!”. Before I could whip off my cape, a brown streak went charging by at full speed. That was Bolata Asmeron, a top-ranked 5k runner who just ran a 13:40 last Saturday, so I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised! I stopped to get some pics of the next set of bulls, but they were a ways back, so I got back in the race.

(Grab the bull by the horns and RUN!)

I picked up the pace along with two stroller-pushing dads duking it out for “first stroller” division. Before we knew it, the finish line was in site. I crossed in 20:22, about 34th place. My matador costume had seen better days (and smelled oh-so-peachy), but was much improved when they presented me with the cowbell finishers medal. What a great idea! The park sounded like a barnyard and everyone clanked their way through chutes to the root beer float stand.

(Bulls and Matadors, friends at the finish!)

It was 9:20am and my race was already done! That went by fast. Some of the runners had finished fast enough to cool down already, such as winner Tommy Schmitz (15:30), Women’s winner Kris Passo (17:45), and Jean Pommier who got 5th (16:47). It seemed odd to be finished so early in the day - such a change from the all-day affairs of most ultras! But this gave us all plenty of time to get to know the neighbors, have some snacks, and meander on down to the Palo Alto Farmers Market for breakfast. I guess that’s what “fun runs” are all about – short and pleasant enough that fun is guaranteed! Throw in a costume, and you’ll end up with smiles that last all day.

(Sophie thought the cowbell was the best race shwag ever!)

Sophie enjoyed the cowbell tremendously, and we spent the rest of the day checking out the pumpkin patch. All good fun! My thanks to the Race Director and volunteers for putting on a great race!

- SD

Humidity and Heat Shuts Down the Chicago Marathon (AP)

Record-breaking heat and humidity forced Race Directors to cancel the Chicago Marathon about 3 hours into the race. Those that hadn't made it to the halfway mark were told to stop (like John Ruberry) - those that had were asked to stop because "we're out of ambulances". I have never been to Chicago when it's 88 degrees and humid, but it sounds pretty bad. But these Chicago runners are tough - of 35,867 runners at the start, 24,933 finished, Kenya's Patrick Ivuti edged Morocco's Jaouad Gharib to win in 2:11.11, and Ethiopia's Berhane Adere (2:33.49) finished just three-tenths of a second in front of Adrianna Pirtea of Romania. You can read more from the Chicago Sun-Times here.

(Chicago firefighters help cool runners, photo courtesy of AP)

Unfortunately, one man died on the course - Chad Schieber, a police officer and father of three from Midland, Mich., who was running with his wife. All my best to his family.

- SD

Friday, October 05, 2007

Scott Jurek repeats at 246k Spartathlon

Seattle's Scott Jurek won the 246k Spartathlon in Greece for the second year in a row, finishing the 156 mile race in 23:12:14, the 7th fastest time in the 24 years that the race has run to honor the run Pheidippides made almost 2,500 years ago. Jurek's time was roughly 15 minutes slower than last year, but an hour ahead of a star-studded field with many former winners:

1. Scott Jurek (USA) 23:12
2. Piotr Kyrulo (POL) 24:29
3. Valmir Nunes (BRA) 25:37
4. Jens Lukas (GER) 25:48
5. Markus Thalmann (AUS) 26:34
6. Eusebio Bochons (ESP) 27:40
7. Nobumi Iwamoto (JPN) 28:17
8. Takehiro Matsushita (JPN) 28:36
9. William Sichel (GBR) 29:01
10. Ryoichi Sato (JPN) 29:25

Akiko Sakimoto (JPN) won the Women's division in 31:09:24, 21st overall. You can read more here, and get results here.

(Scott Jurek celebrates at the finish, photo courtesy Glenn Tachiyama)

Monday, October 01, 2007

On The Record with Jon Olsen (An Interview)

When I say “the record”, I mean the extraordinary course record that 32-year-old Jon Olsen set at the 2007 Rio del Lago 100-mile (15:32, an hour faster than the course record he set the previous year) in his third consecutive win there in three years. This Modesto, CA-based ultrarunner has been clocking wicked-fast times in local California courses for the last couple of years, including wins at the 2007 Pacifica 50k (4:45), 2007 Sequoia 50k (4:42), three top-20 finishes at Western States (fastest of 19:19), and top three finishes at the 2006 Quicksilver 50-mile (2nd, 7:02), 2006 Helen Klein 50-mile (2nd, 6:05), 2006 Tahoe Rim Trail 50k (2nd, 4:51), and the 2007 Miwok 100k (3rd, 8:35). Somehow he keeps getting faster each year, despite being an active father of two and managing a career as a teacher.

I caught up with Jon during his recovery from the Rio 100 to hear about the race and see what’s next on his race schedule.

First, congratulations on your course record win at Rio (RDL)! Can you tell us a bit more about how the race went for you, and any changes in strategy from the previous two years?

This year was much different than the previous two years because I didn’t race between RDL and Western States (WS). I decided instead to train for RDL as opposed to just running it. I also decided to take the lead from the gun. I wanted to be aggressive this year and try not to hold anything back. The weather allowed me to use this as a viable race strategy. However, early in the race I didn’t hold to this. I allowed Mark Tanaka to catch up near Rattlesnake Bar and we ran through the Power Plant aid station together. Then Mark said to me “Jon, with this weather you should just go for it.” He reminded me about how I had been running the race to this point, which was mostly running scared (likely due to my blow-up at WS this year), so I ran angry for the next thirty miles. Even when my stomach shut down at about mile 60, I didn’t slow down and ran consistently. I finished knowing there were about 15 minutes more to take off the record, but those are the things that will get me out training and trying to get better.

It looked like you had an awesome crew at RDL . Who are these folks, and are they the same ones who crewed you at previous RDL’s and States?

My two older sisters, Lori and Michelle, are my crew. They have crewed for me through three WS and three RDL’s. They love it. I know most crews dread the job but they thrive in it. They have it down to an art. They are also the only people besides my wife, Denise, that can put up with my race attitude and my complaining. I know with this crew I have an advantage over the field at any race I compete in. I also have fast and experienced pacers like John Souza, Jeff Lozano, Lewis Ase, and Wesley Porter. They have had a hand in many of my best performances.

(Jon's sister Lori helps Jon to a record-setting 2007 Rio)

You mentioned that you “blew up” at States, but I saw that you finished 17th in 20:26:41 (third sub-21 hour finish). That’s a remarkable time, but it sounds like things didn’t go as planned?

I have some tough memories of WS this year, particularly what accumulated between miles 81 and 93.5. Up until then I was having the race of my life. I don’t think I was ever out of the top fifteen, and for most of the race I was in the top 10. I came into the Foresthill aid station in seventh place with two runners ahead within five minutes. I passed the Korean runner coming out of Cal 1 and arrived at the river in sixth place (and had just ran the Cal section fifteen minutes faster than last year). As I’m crossing the river I saw Andy Jones Wilkins, but had expected he would pass me. As I am walking up to Green Gate I passed Lon Freeman and I found myself in fifth place, which was nice but temporary, I expected. When I arrived at the Green Gate aid station, I drank a whole can of soup and immediately knew it wasn’t settling well. Within a mile the soup reared its ugly head. AJW passed me as I was fertilizing the soil and offered his help but I told him to keep running, that I will be fine. Well, for the next ten miles I tried to get my stomach right but I couldn’t. I still however find myself running and not slowing too much, and still in sixth place.

About a mile out of Browns and I had no energy left and my electrolytes were ridiculously low. I found myself walking and stopping and walking and stopping. I tried to sit down multiple times but my pacer wanted me to keep moving. I finally arrived at the Highway 49 aid station in bad condition. This is my running club’s aid station and they immediately put me in a chair, which soon led to the cot. Well, after laying there for 1 ½ hours I was finally able to keep some food down so I walked the course from there. Crossing the finish line brought joy but at the same time I felt a huge disappointment fall over me. It was a tough race.

(Jon cranks through the 2007 Western States, photo courtesy of Don Lundell)

What other 100-milers have you run previously, or do you primarily focus on these two?

I have only run one other 100 mile race and that was the 2006 USATF 100-mile National Championship at the Rocky Raccoon 100. It is my only DNF and on arguably the easiest 100 mile course in the US. Otherwise, I primarily center my year around Western States and RDL.

(Jon in high spirits at the starting line of the Pacifica 50k)

You have had some impressive results at ultras of all distances over the last couple of years. What are your favorite distances and races? Do you throw in road races or marathons as well?

I do very little road running. Each year I run the California International Marathon for fun, but this year I am going to pass because I have raced so much already. Regarding my favorite race distance, that would be 50 miles. It is just long enough that it provides each runner for those ups and downs in a race. The runners that are able to handle these most efficiently are rewarded. However, 50 miles is just short enough that you can attack the course.

Even though 50 mile races are my favorite, my two favorite races are longer. I have only run Miwok once but it is already one of my favorite races. The weather is almost always beautiful that time of the year and the course has a great mix of pavement, single track, technical single track, and fast dirt roads. And the beauty of the course is off the charts! This makes Miwok one of my favorites, but my #1 favorite would be Western States. I know it has a lot of hype, but there is no other race I compete in that gives me goose bumps at the start line. It is the single most competitive race of the year. If you finish in the top 20 in that race, you can feel confident you are a pretty good runner.

Can you tell us a bit about your training? What is a typical week look like? Do you do any regular cross-training? Any changes to your training in the last couple of years?

As everyone probably knows, I am one lost pound away from being in the hospital (ie, thin). But all kidding aside, my body doesn’t handle downhill courses very well because my leg muscles are non existent. The single biggest change I have made in the last year is lifting weights twice a week. I feel it has made a huge difference. I increased my mileage this last year going into Western States. I typically put together strings of 70 mile weeks running five times a week. Then, I would peak with one week in the 80’s. This year, however, I strung together about five weeks in the eighties and had a peak week in the 90’s. I hope to continue this in 2008.
Here is a typical training week for me about eight weeks out from a hundred. Monday- off, Tuesday- 12 to 13 miles medium, Wednesday- 12 to 13 with 3 x 2 mile repeats incorporated in, Thursday- 10-12 easy, Friday-off, Saturday- 30 miles out of town with hills, Sunday- 20 miles easy flat. This would put me at 85 or so miles. It is hard to train for hilly races because Modesto is pancake flat so I have to go out of town for any hill work. I do rig my treadmill to simulate downhill running but it isn’t as easy on the body as running on dirt.

How do you balance time between training and your family? Are your co-workers at your school supportive of your crazy hobby?

Most of my co-workers know of my secret addiction. I teach mathematics at Prescott Middle School. It is hard to hide it because in 2005 and 2006 my principal, Tom Freeman, put my lunch and pre-period back to back. This allowed me to run during school. As you might tell my principal is one of my biggest supporters. My co-workers would see me out there and so did my students. They became very interested in my passion and I would even get some kids to run with me during their lunch time.

Scott, as you know balancing running family and work is always difficult. This becomes especially difficult when are training for 100 mile races in which you want to be competitive. I can tell you that it doesn’t work without a very patient and loving wife. I can’t count how many times Denise unselfishly put her needs aside so I can train, as has my family for that matter (Nathanael is 2, and Lauren is 4 months old). Knowing this, I try to get most of my runs done before work. I have a running partner, John Souza, that I run with about three or four times a week and many of those runs begin at 5 in the morning. This allows me to come home from work and be home. The weekends, however, are a different story.

Planning helps. In December each year my wife and I sit down and map out the year. We list any races and any weekends I plan to do a long run out of town. Without this planning and the early morning runs it wouldn’t work. My wife is awesome!

What motivates you to train so vigorously? What is it that you enjoy the most about ultras?

I know this sounds clich√© but I want to be the best ultra runner I can possibly be. I haven’t been bashful in saying that I would like to win Western States in the next five years. I don’t know if I can or even if it is possible, but I want to put myself in a situation that I have that chance. I am not being egotistical, that is just my goal. I am not out here just because I like being out in nature (although it is nice). I run ultras because it challenges you like no other sport and it gives me a chance to be competitive. At the end of the day the man or women who wins did so because they were the toughest, not necessarily the fastest. In fact, the runner with the fastest marathon pr doesn’t usually win. I am out here to compete. That is what pushes me to train.

Do you run with a club or regular training partners, or do you train solo most of the time? Has the cross-country team at your school roped you into their training?

I am a proud team member of “Team X” (what used to be Team Vasque) We have begun getting together as a Nor Cal group and train periodically. Other Team X members include Jasper Halekas, Jed Tukman, Carrie Sisk, Mark Lantz, Emma Davies, and Ethan Veneklasen. I am also a proud member of the Shadowchase Running Club in Modesto, California. They run the Highway 49 aid station at Western States. Many people might know Barbara Elia and Linda McFaddan who are also members of Shadowchase.

I do much of my training with John Souza. He has transitioned to ultras this year, and has already qualified for and signed up for Western States. If I run with anybody it is John, otherwise I am on my own. John is ironically a cross-country coach at Davis High School in Modesto. I think they are currently ranked third in the state. I have run with the team a few times but I haven’t yet been pulled into coaching, even though I eventually aspire to be a cross country coach some day. I plan on starting a cross country program at my middle school next year.

Have you always been a runner? When did you get started in ultras?

I am glad you asked. I haven’t always been a runner. I actually only ran one year in high school. My first passion was football. From the time I was eight, I wanted to play division 1 college football. This dream was realized in 1995 and 1996 when I attended The University of Texas of El Paso of a full ride scholarship. In 1995 I was the starting punter and in 1996 I was the starting punter and place kicker. After my college football days I didn’t have anything to fill that competitive void. In 2000 I decided to run my first marathon and the rest is history. I peaked in the marathon in the summer of 2004 when I ran a 2:41 marathon at the Rock n’ Roll marathon. I was soon dreaming of Olympic trials, but that ended three weeks later at Western States when I decided to volunteer to work my running clubs aid station at the 2004 Western States 100 mile race. The rest was truly history.

When you flew by me at Rio around mile 55, I saw you down a can of soup. Can you tell us a bit about your food and drinking strategies for a 100-miler? When and where do you eat solid food, if at all?

It is funny you bring up the chicken noodle soup because that was my kryptonite at WS this year. I had been drinking the soup straight from the can instead of diluting it with water and that proved to be too much for my stomach at the end of a 100 miler. I usually stick to simple foods like gels, pretzels, bananas, and chips for my quick carbs during a 100 mile race. I will about four times during the race consume a bottle of Boost diluted. This is my main calorie and protein source, and it has worked well for me. I do better with liquid forms of food as opposed to solids.

(Jon is paced during the 2007 Western States)

When you blazed through the 2006 Helen Klein 50-miler (2nd in 6:05:19), you had your tunes cranking the whole way. Do you race a lot with tunes, and what do you like to listen to?

It is funny because Greg Crowther in his race report from Miwok nicknamed me “skinny music man.” I don’t really rely on music too often. I actually handed my music over to my crew at mile 38 or RDL. I find that I run faster and smarter when I am not listening to music, but when I am listening to my music you will find Cake, Van Halen, Jay Z, Nelly Furtado, The Verve, and Justin Timberlake on my play list. It is funny because I would prefer listening to a random college football or pro football game instead of music if I had a choice.

Funny! Timberlake has made his way onto a few ultra playlists. I will be trying States for the first time next year. Any tips you would like to share with a rookie?

I am jealous! I wish I was in already. I don’t consider myself experienced at 100 milers but I have a few things I live by. The first thing is to eat and drink early and often. Once you get behind it is hard to catch up. Also, the first thirty miles at WS are difficult. Take your time and make sure you come through Robinson Flat feeling good. This is very important because some fast sections follow Robinson Flat and you can make up a lot of time between Robinson and Last Chance. Next, take your time on the downhills in the canyons. If you run them too hard you quads will be toast before you even reach the halfway point. Walk the uphills through the canyons. The goal should be to get to Michigan in one piece. The first two years, I had difficulty when I got to Michigan Bluff but last year I came into Michigan with some energy and was able to ride it to the river. Lastly, remember if you get to Foresthill and you aren’t suffering, the last 38 is very run able and will be spent passing a lot of people.

I see you’re signed up for the San Francisco 24-Hour Run on Oct 21st. Will that be the first time you’ve done a 24-hour race?

Yes, this is my first 24-hour race. I have always been fascinated with 24-hour races, and decided this year to try one. I have no expectations. Well, I am lying - I do have expectations but I just don’t know how well my legs will have recovered from RDL to realize them. People think I am crazy to do this four weeks after a 100 mile race but I am really excited. I am sure this will be the toughest race I have done to date. I hope to come out more mentally strong than I was going in.

I have no doubt that will happen! What else do you have planned for the season? What are you hoping to tackle for 2008?

I have a lot of rest planned. This will be the last race of the fall and winter for me. I will take November and December off and begin the healing process, so I can begin training for a summer 100. My hopes are to get through the WS lottery. If this happens, I will run Quicksilver or Miwok in preparation. Otherwise, I will run the Tahoe Rim 100 mile. For the fall I plan to take a year off from RDL and go outside my comfort zone. I may try Angelas Crest or the San Diego 100 mile. I am also thinking about even maybe trying the 72 mile run around Tahoe. Unfortunately I really don’t know my plans. I am at the end of a very long year and after the 24 hour I am just looking forward to rest and recovery.

What else would you like to accomplish in ultrarunning over the next year, decade, etc.?

In the next year I would like to place in the top five at WS and or win the Tahoe Rim Trail 100 mile race. As for long term goals, I would like to win WS in the next five years. Moreover, depending on how this SF One day race goes, I would like to run on the AUA 24 hour national team.

Thanks so much for the interview, and congratulations again on the third win/course record at Rio. Best of luck at the SF 24-hour! - SD

Haile Gebrselassie Sets Marathon World Record at 2007 Berlin Marathon

34-year-old Ethiopian Haile Gebrselassie set a new world record for the marathon with his 2:04:26 win at the 2007 Berlin Marathon this weekend. This took nearly 30 seconds off the previous WR set by Paul Tergat at the 2003 Berlin Marathon. It works out to be a 4:45/min mile - yowza!

(Haile Gebrselassie shows his WR mark, photo courtesy of REUTERS)

"Geb" is considered one of the nicest guys on the marathon tour, and has broken many records in the 5k, 10k, and marathon distance on his way to four world championships, two Olympic gold medals, and numerous wins. Those that say he is the best endurance runner to ever have lived now have one more piece of evidence. RunnersWeb has a bit about Geb's upbringing on their site.

Gete Wami of Ethiopia won the women's race in a time of 2:23.17, successfully defending her title. A great race day for Ethiopia!


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