Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Ultrarunner Loses Two Toes To Frostbite at Frozen Otter

Andrew Wells paid a heavy price for his win at the Frozen Otter Ultra Trek two weeks ago - he lost two toes to frostbite! Yikes. Otter pops, indeed.

You can read the whole story here.


Work Out and Drink Up (Time Magazine)

The latest article in Time Magazine from Dr. Sanjay Gupta says that the best way to combat heart disease is to BOTH exercise and drink alcohol (although not at the same time). You can read the full article here.

The big a-ha for this round of studies is that test subjects that did moderate exercise and drank 1-6 alcoholic drinks per week had a 50% lower risk of heart disease, whereas those who just exercised had a 30% decrease. Both exercise and alcohol affect the heart in the same way by helping increase HDL (the good cholesterol) and clean the circulatory system's pipes.

I love the studies that say alcohol and caffeine are good. Time to get your drink on! ;-)


Friday, January 25, 2008

NearbyNow CEO In It For The Long Run (San Jose Biz Journal)

The San Jose Business Journal did a professional profile on me, and I thought it was neat how they incorporated ultrarunning into it. Lindsey Riddell is a talented writer, and Dennis Hendricks braved the storms and trails to take some great pics. Read on...

NearbyNow CEO In It For The Long Run
By Lindsey Riddell, 1/25/08 (edited by Scott for clarity)

In his 38 years, Scott Dunlap can pinpoint several transformational moments.

There was the canceled meeting on Sept. 11. There was the scene of that bike accident where Dunlap was one of the first to arrive. There was that first 100-mile race where he went down at mile 96. There was the birth of his daughter.

Dunlap says he's realized he's been given a gift. And he's using that gift to test his limits, to connect to people, and to, as he puts it, "Live in this world and not on it."

And now his company NearbyNow Inc. aims to change the way people shop, making malls searchable by Internet and cell phone and bridging that gap between offline and online retail.

It's a big gamble. But, if he can pull it all off, it might be his greatest transformation yet.

"NearbyNow is one of those that is still up in the air," says venture capitalist Howard Hartenbaum, a NearbyNow investor. "It could be really big. For other companies, people might be happy if we make two times our money or if it's big, then 10 times. NearbyNow, if everything works, could be a multi-billion dollar business."

And that probably won't end up being the most amazing accomplishment by the blogging, screenwriting, ultramarathon-running millionaire.

Born to a doctor father and a university professor mother, Dunlap was a music composition major at the University of Oregon with an aptitude for writing software, but more of an aptitude for selling it. Andersen Consulting gave him his first taste of the tech world.

He got an MBA from Stanford University in 1998, and interned at Netscape Communications Corp. during his MBA study where he met Netscape executive Ben Horowitz, former vice president at America Online Inc., and Netscape founder Marc Andreessen. Dunlap then worked as vice president of e-commerce solutions for E.piphany Inc., a software company, until it went public in September 1999. In the same month, Andreessen and Horowitz summoned him to Loudcloud Inc.-- the company that eventually became Opsware Inc. before being acquired by Hewlett-Packard Co. last summer -- which helped Fortune 500 companies like handle their Internet traffic.

The move would make Dunlap a millionaire by age 32.

After four years of start-ups and IPO's, he wanted to slow down and catch his breath.

Around Sept. 2001, Loudcloud was preparing to sell part of itself to Electronic Data Systems Corp. It was at that time Dunlap would take a severance package and "get my life back."

At the time, he didn't realize how lifesaving that decision would turn out to be.

While at Loudcloud, Dunlap had gone to New York nearly every week to meet at one of the smaller World Trade Center buildings with a group of investors, investment bankers, and work associates. When he quit on Sept. 8, 2001, his meeting for Sept. 11 was canceled. Three of the people he'd met with regularly were killed that day in the terrorist attacks.

Dunlap had a hard time reading newspapers or watching television for some time after that. Instead, he hiked, admitting he'd never been "much of an athlete. "

And when his wife got him an abnormally active pug dog named Rocky a few weeks later, Dunlap took up trail running.

"People would always say to me: 'You shouldn't run your pug like that,'" he says, "but I was just trying to keep up."

The trail became a kind of therapy for Dunlap, a way to regain focus and keep life in perspective.

"On the trail, I had a lot of time to digest what had happened and that's when I realized I'd been handed this big gift," Dunlap says. "We spent the next couple of months running every trail from San Francisco to Santa Clara. And I got really fast."

Dunlap wasn't just fast, he won the Trail Runner Magazine Trophy Series in 2004 for marathon-and-shorter distance, the largest trail running competition in the nation. And he eventually worked his way up to ultramarathon distances -- 26.2 to 100 miles and beyond -- something even the most famous ultramarathon runners like Dean Karnazes, author of UltraMarathon Man, and a personal friend of Dunlap's, have noticed.

"The thing that distinguishes Scott is his range. From short distance all the way to the 100-miler, he's very competitive at all levels," Karnazes says.

And like with his running, Dunlap shows brain range, too.

His blog about ultramarathon running: A Trail Runner's Blog ( gets 80,000 unique hits a month. Forbes magazine named it the Best Health and Fitness Blog on the Web in 2005. He's also written four screenplays, one that got optioned just after he started NearbyNow in 2006, timing that made Dunlap unable to pursue its production.

After two years as head of worldwide marketing and product management at Avolent and with three years ultrarunning guiding him, Dunlap decided to return to startups as an entrepreneur-in-residence at Redpoint Ventures in 2005, this time with "a much clearer focus and vision." Soon after, NearbyNow was born.

The idea for the searchable mall came to Dunlap on a shopping trip with his wife to the Stanford Mall. She wanted a pair of boots she had seen in a magazine and was going store-to-store.

The venture capitalists who have backed NearbyNow believe Dunlap's vision for the company could literally transform the way people shop.

"I thought, if I could just search the inventory of every store from my mobile phone, find that pair of boots in her size at a store they have here, I'd be out of here in 30 minutes," Dunlap says.

From that idea sprang NearbyNow, an Internet/consumer/mobile company that stores mall inventory data and allows shoppers in the mall or heading there to find exactly what they're looking for either through their computer or their phone. Shoppers can even reserve merchandise to pick up later, ensuring their size and color will be available when they walk in. And retailers can send text coupons and ads to shoppers through their phones.

Dunlap just had to overcome the first few challenges to prove that it worked. No. 1: getting stores to share their inventory data. And once they did, figuring out how to mesh all the data formats together into one giant database.

Once he convinced the stores within the malls that luring high-intent-to-buy shoppers was valuable, and soothed the fears of mall operators by promising his company would not use the inventory data for e-commerce purposes, they agreed to give him the information.

Then he recruited a team of founders from E.piphany and Loudcloud to figure out how to read all of that inventory and make it searchable.

"There's a $1 trillion trend of people who research online but buy locally," Dunlap says. "If we get it right, there's no need to sell to Google, Yahoo, or eBay. We can become a very large company, and create whole new ways for retailers to connect with nearby customers."

Draper Fisher Jurvetson was the first venture firm to invest, followed by Draper Richards and both were attracted to Dunlap's desire to do something market-altering.

"When we met Scott we said: 'This is a guy with a really big opportunity, who was passionate about it, and knows what he wants. He isn't in it for the short term,'" says Emily Melton, who led Draper Fisher Jurvetson's investment in NearbyNow.

NearbyNow, which has raised $7.5 million in funding, offers its service in 200 malls and expects to raise a Series C round of funding this year. It is already used by millions of shoppers each month.

Hartenbaum says he liked Dunlap from the first time he met him because of Dunlap's strong and convincing belief in himself.

Dunlap may have been born with that. But he might have developed it through those transforming moments of his life. On his first 100-mile run, Dunlap fell and injured his leg at mile 96, then hobbled for 2 hours and 20 minutes to the finish line. He calls the experience "refreshing in that I found out I had much more in me than I would have guessed."

"He has a clear vision for the future and doesn't waiver from it," says Hartenbaum of Draper Richards.

You can try out the NearbyNow service at these shopping centers in the Bay Area - Westfield Valley Fair, Westfield Oakridge, Eastridge Center, and the Westfield San Francisco Centre. Just search, click a product, and check to see if it is in stock.

[Note - I did edit this story a bit to correct spelling, a couple of factual inaccuracies, and add hyperlinks.]

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Check out this documentary video of a tribe that practices the ancient rite of "outrunning their prey". Many aspects sound like an ultramarathon - the "trance-like state of concentration", relentless 8 hour pursuit to the point of exhaustion, and respect for the spirit that persevered.

Of course, in the end he gets his kill, so if it's not your kinda thing don't click PLAY!

Kudos to Tim Lawson for the link.

- SD

Monday, January 21, 2008

Inov-8 Expands Team

Inov-8 has expanded their team for 2008, and I now find myself in the company of many incredible athletes. Good thing they grandfathered me in. ;-) You can check out their new team site here.

Mark Lundblad is our new Team Captain, and has assembled a roster of top notch talent including:
Current champs at the marathon, 50k, and 50-mile distance, former 100-mile champions...whoa! I look forward to running with them in 2008!


Saturday, January 19, 2008

Anybody want an entry to Way Too Cool 50k?

The PA/USATF Ultra Grand Prix schedule was posted last week, and to my surprise, the Way Too Cool 50k (WTC) is not in the mix for 2008 (but the Sierra Nevada Double Marathon has been added, which is great). No big deal, I thought, but I soon found myself indifferent about running WTC. I'll be running those same trails all year long, and there are other races around that same time that I have yet to try. It seems a shame to claim a spot in one of the most popular 50k's in the nation when I'm "indifferent".

So given that, if anyone would like my slot at WTC (Greg Soderlund is very cool about transferring entries), just send me an e-mail at scottdunlap (at) yahoo (dot) com. Just reimburse me for the entry cost and it's all yours! First come, first serve...


UPDATE - The entry has been claimed! For those of you still looking, keep your fingers crossed. I'll let you know if I hear of others.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Soaring Through the Angel Island 25k

Last Sunday I had the great pleasure of joining 320 runners for the Angel Island 8k/15k/25k put on by Pacific Coast Trail Runs. The 25k zigs through every trail and road on this little island just outside of Tiburon, CA, producing postcard views and sun-drenched smiles in all directions. It was a fantastic way to kick off the year!

Runners packed the Angel Island ferry at 10am, eager to take advantage of the great running weather (55 degrees and sunny). There was little evidence that just last weekend this little oasis was battered by 100+ mile/hour winds and a full coastal storm! There were plenty of familiar faces on the boat, and most were saying what I was thinking – it’s a bit too early in the season to be racing, but how can we turn it down?!?

(Enjoying the ferry ride to Angel Island)

Christi and Sophie joined me on this race, and I was thrilled to have a cheering section for the three different laps. We didn’t have much time for pleasantries – as soon as we unloaded, Wendell was calling the 25k runners to the starting line. By 10:30am, we were off!

The course shot right up some stairs and single track before leveling out about a quarter mile in. Ray Sanchez, a 40-year-old boxing champ from the Sacramento area, led us up the stairs before slowing on the paved road. Ray was hoping to take it a bit easy – he had a 135 mile race in Brazil coming up in a few weeks! As we opened up our strides on the access road, about five of us went off the front at a 6:30 mile/hour pace.

(Ray Sanchez leads us out)

(Heading up the stairs/single track; photos courtesy of Christi Dunlap)

The sun hit our face as we climbed the first set of hills, and the San Francisco skyline sprouted in the distance. We passed a few of the Immigration Stations, structural history of the early/mid 1900’s when Angel Island served as the “Ellis Island of the West” and welcomed immigrants to the US. We also saw the beaches where the Miwok Indians had fished thousands of years before that. The lead pack dropped to three – Jason Wolf, Jeff Scrubbs, and myself – and we each took turns pacing at the front. As we saw the Golden Gate bridge and Mt. Tam, we knew we were about half way around.

(Jason Wolf takes on the first big climb)

It was great to run with Jason, whom I hadn’t seen in ages. One fateful day about six years ago, he was at the registration for the San Jose International Triathlon when his teammates didn’t make the registration cut-off time. I hadn’t registered at all and was trying to beg my way into the sold out race, so I filled in for his swim and bike teammates and he took the run. Took the run indeed – much in thanks to his 34 minute 10k time, we won the team competition! My prize crossbow is still hanging in the garage (a creative use of the gift certificate prize that allowed for “any one item up to $250”). I knew Jason was capable of one helluva top speed, especially as he is peaking for Ironman Arizona in April this year. I figured I would just keep pace with him while I could.

(Jeff Scrubbs keeps a strong pace as the Bay Bridge passes in view)

As Tiburon came into view around mile 3.5, I walked some short climbs and Jason quickly gapped me as he sprinted by. I kept him in sight as we trounced down the single track and back into the start area. Christi and Sophie cheered as I entered the aid station, and Jason’s family practically did the wave (he and his wife have three kids). Jason smiled, nodded at me and said “that’s what it’s all about right there”. No kidding! Perhaps this was our secret weapon. We refilled, and headed back up the stairs for lap #2.

(I stick with Jason as we enter the aid station; photo courtesy of Christi Dunlap)

Jason tore up the stairs with a vengeance, and by the time I reached the top he was long gone. The second loop was shorter and steeper, but runnable single track. I kept my turnover high, making sure I kept my heart rate in the aerobic zone. As I hit the top of the climb, my Garmin 305 was saying the race was already half over. Already?!? I haven’t even had lunch yet. Clearly I’ve spent too much time in the ultra distances. ;-)

(The Golden Gate Bridge on a clear day)

The descent on the second loop was great fun, largely because we mixed in with the 15k runners. Everyone was having a great time, running in ad hoc groups down the single track trail. Somebody said I was about 2 minutes back from Jason, which seemed about right. I suspected he would gap me some more on loop #3, which was even shorter and steeper than the first two. Still, it was worth a shot to keep up the pace so I made a quick stop at the aid station and charged up the last loop.

(Sharing smiles with the 8k/15k runners)

(Coming in on loop #2)

Up, up, up we went right to the island summit. The last section to the top was an out-and-back, and Jason came charging down about a quarter mile ahead of me and still moving fast. I took a short pause at the top to suck in the 360 degree view before chasing down Jason one last time. I was surprised my lungs were holding up as well as they were, considering I hadn’t done any speed work since October. I guess that aerobic training actually does help! It seems weird that going slow can make you fast, but it must be doing something ‘cause I should be gasping by now.

(Jason descends from the summit)

I kept the strong pace down the last descent, finishing in 1:52, good enough for second place. Jason had finished a full 4 minutes ahead of me (!), and was already packing up the family to head back on the next ferry. 50-year-old Lawrence Berg finished third just a few minutes behind me, and soon a pack of 25k runners started trickling in. Lindsey Maclise had an impressive 2:06 to win the Women’s division.

(All done! Time to join the party)

Christi, Sophie, and I made our way through the exhausted runners sunning on the dock to catch the next ferry back to Tiburon. A few folks were talking about 16-year-old Nathanael Litwiller from Concord, CA, who had set a new course record in the 8k (33:13), nearly five minutes ahead of everyone. Adam Carlson of San Francisco had set a course record for the 15k as well (1:11). Despite the early time of year, some folks were ready to GO FAST (as Ricky Bobby would say)!

(View of SF from the top)

It’s hard to say what was making me smile more on the ferry ride back – Sophie laughing at the boats, the epic morning run, or the start of another great year of trail running. Regardless, Angel Island had filled my soul until it spillith over. My thanks to Wendell, Sarah and the volunteers for a wonderful day!

- SD

Sunday, January 06, 2008

So Much for Miwok

It's been an interesting weekend up in the sticks where we live - a storm brought five inches of rain, 50+ mph winds, and a multi-day power outage (this storm later dropped nine feet of snow in the Tahoe area). But on Sunday morning I fired up the generator for one purpose - to go online and register for the Miwok 100k. If I learned anything from Way Too Cool, it's that you have to be fast.

Not that I was worried - Miwok usually takes a couple of days to fill. But I know a lot of folks didn't get their slot to Western States, so I figured I should log in within the first hour to get a slot in case there was a rush.

Huge mistake. I logged in at 8:30am, and it was closed! So much for Miwok this season. The Beta was excruciating - multiple logins, never recognizing an account I've had for years, etc. (and apparently I'm not the only one) - but honestly, it was my fault. I should have learned to log in 10 minutes early (since tends to start early, like Way Too Cool) and get in ASAP.

Oddly, I didn't feel too frustrated. I have lots of great races on the agenda, and the Miwok 100k was already dangerously close to the Quicksilver 50m. Maybe the online registration Gods are telling me to head up to my hometown of Eugene for the Eugene Marathon instead. ;-)

I did make it out in the storm for a couple of runs. Very exciting! Here's a quick video right before I headed out. The winds were about 40 mph, and it was raining like crazy. Huddart Park was deafening with the sounds of nature, such as raging streams, creaking redwoods, and wind forcing it's way through everything. Way fun!

And for those catching the details, I am wearing the new Injinji gloves which are super cool. They are lightweight, and seem to fit my hands just right.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Great Videos of Close Finishes

Sometimes you gotta give it all you've got at the end. Here are a couple videos that show the true spirit of champions duking it out to the finish.

Head-to-head at the 2005 ITU World Cup Championships in Switzerland:


The Women's finish at the 2007 Chicago Marathon (aka, why you should always look over your shoulder in the final 500 yards):

A compilation of some of the great distance running finishes in history (Prefontaine, Billy Mills, Alan Webb, Hicham El Guerrouj, and more):


- SD

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