Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Decaying Teeth of Endurance Athletes (Guest Blogger Dr. Larry Dunlap)

My dentist friends tell me that they are seeing notably poor dental conditions in their patients who are endurance athletes. There are no scientific studies proving this situation but there are very good scientific reasons to suspect that their observations are true. The relatively poorer teeth of Americans in general are due predominantly to the exposure of the teeth to sugar and acidic pH. The worst teeth are seen in children who are put to sleep at night with a bottle of sugar containing beverage and have frequent access to similar beverages during the day. Some of these children lose all of their baby teeth to decay before they reach school age.

There are numerous well documented medical studies that show the deleterious affect of soft drinks on dental enamel. Non-cola beverages fared worst and dental problems were greatly accelerated by both regular and dietetic drinks, though the absence of sugar lessened decay. Recently sports drinks have been added to the studies with the surprising finding that they result in enamel deterioration equal to or worse than the non-cola beverages! Several different mechanisms are at work but the main problem is that almost all of these products contain phosphoric or citric acid. Other organic acids such as malic and tartaric are often present as well. These acids are very erosive to dental enamel due to their ability to chelate calcium. They are efficient buffers and keep oral pH well below the optimal salivary pH of 6.5 to 7.5. The threshold level for the development of dental caries is below Ph 5.5. Enamel demineralization occurs with prolonged exposure to lower pH or frequent cycling between optimal pH to below the threshold value. Sugar content facilitates bacterial proliferation which, in turn, promotes plaque and potential gingival inflammation at the gum line. Sports drinks and soft drinks are just not healthy for our teeth

If Darwin were alive today he would probably comment that we evolved as omnivores with infrequent fluid intake. Nothing in our dental design could anticipate the ability to sip an acidic sweet beverage multiple times during the day as well as at meal times.

Unfortunately everything in our training manuals tells us that we need to have fluids and calories on a regular basis during endurance exercise. These practices also have been scientifically documented and most of us can personally vouch for their validity. Who hasn’t experienced “hitting the wall” when failing to take in adequate replacement nutrients and/or electrolytes. Our healthy endurance habits however prove to be very unhealthy for our teeth. We are doing exactly what mothers are told not to allow their children to do which is to frequently ingest an acidic, sugar containing beverage. We may even swish these beverages around in our dry mouths in an effort to rehydrate the oral mucosa which at the same time insures an optimal bad environment for our teeth.

So far attempts to alter energy drinks with calcium and other elements that would prevent deterioration of tooth enamel have been generally unsuccessful. We are stuck with using products that are bad for our teeth. The choice here then becomes how to use them most effectively.

It turns out there are ways to drink which are going to be helpful in avoiding this degradation of tooth enamel. We need to drink rapidly and attempt not to bathe the teeth in the process. Most importantly, we can follow ingestion of any sugar containing beverage with a rinse of normal water. Our saliva brings the teeth back to a neutral pH which is healthy for the enamel. Calories and electrolytes can also be ingested as capsules which, with adequate water, provide similar physiological resuscitation without creating a bad environment for the teeth. Lastly, of course, we can see our dentist regularly and can consider fluoride treatments or application of a polymer-based protective resin to give our dental enamel an enhanced barrier against the ravages of beverages containing acids and sugar.

Consider that you are telling your great-grandchildren about the epic physical achievements of your youth. Won’t those children be more impressed when the words come from between teeth that you don’t have to take out at night? Endurance runners with their physiological needs are put in a position where their rehydration habits can have a devastating long term affect on the teeth that may initially be subtle and not fully noticeable for 5-l0 years. To counteract these factors an endurance athlete has to be particularly good about following the rules learned in grade school. Floss frequently, brush after meals and use a fluoride containing dentifrice. Drink sugar containing beverages in a way that minimizes contact with the teeth and follow them with a cleansing rinse of tap water. Be aware of these subtle subversive processes that may be a long term threat to your chewing and your smile.

Larry Dunlap, MD

[Dr. Dunlap is a marathoner and ultramarathon volunteer who also happens to be my Dad; he will be running the Boston Marathon this April!]

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Allure of Western States - Too Much Information?

What is it about the Western States 100 Endurance Run that gives it such allure? That draws ultrarunners to its hot canyons like moth to flame? Is it the rich history of the event? The “family” of runners and volunteers who come back year after year? The popularity that fills the event, breeding only more popularity? Certainly all of these contribute. But as a first time States runner, I think I have found another culprit. There is TOO MUCH information about this race.

Most ultramarathons give you the basics - a course description, map, and some previous finish times. But do some research on Western States and you are quickly drowning in information. You’ve got DVD’s, Google fly-overs, videos, dozens of personal race reports, training guides, podcasts, split times, training clinics, and even a fancy new video splash page. Whoa! Once you get through it all, it's hard not to fall in love with the event.

I often find myself having the explain my passion for States to other endurance athletes that aren't familiar with ultras. The conversation typically goes like this:

Athlete: Is Western States the hardest 100-miler?

Me: Well, no. That would probably be Hardrock or Badwater.

Athlete: Oh. Is it like Ironman Hawaii where all the best athletes compete for a world championship?

Me: There are certainly lots of top athletes, except many great runners still can't get in due the lottery.

Athlete: I see. So why is this the best 100-miler again?

I typically will explain that States is "our Boston marathon, our Wimbeldon, a race with deep history that makes it one we all want to do". Then I point them to the multitude of resources and let them get sucked in all by themselves. I know they will find all the elements of a great story - history, challenges, heroes - in whatever media speaks to them.

Greg Soderlund and the Western States volunteers are to be commended for assembling all the great information about the race. It certainly makes it easier to train. But I will say that it also makes the race much more intimidating for first-timers. I will often start by searching for specific information about a section of the course, and then walk away from my computer as a panic attack kicks in. This can happen in training too, when a running pal will say "you better do 54 minutes between Foresthill and the river crossing, or you'll never crack 24 hours". Wha? Do I need to track each split to the minute (panic, panic)?!? Probably not, but when there is too much information, you can certainly head down that path.

I am excited as ever for Western States. I hate to say it, but having it delayed another year probably just boosted the allure for me. I am training hard and hoping to make the most of the day. Thanks to all the information, I should arrived trained, ready, and not too scared about what lies ahead.

This post is another synchroblog, so be sure to check out the others writing about what they love the most about Western States:

Bryon Powell Loves It All
Craig Thornley Talks About the Western States Family
AJ Wilkins Loves The "It" of the Race
Sean Meissner Shares His Memories

- SD

Sunday, February 15, 2009

My Lactic Threshold Test Results (Feb, '09)

A few weeks ago, I spent the morning with the Stanford Human Performance Lab (HPL) to do some lactic threshold testing and get a benchmark for the early stages of the training year. Although I'm usually not a "train by the numbers" guy, I thought it would be good to figure out if I'm at least in the ballpark with my target heart rate ranges. Exercise Physiologist Phil Cutti was my guide and task master.

Phil first had me lay down on the "Dex" machine (a Lunar iDXA DAX System made by GE Healthcare) which used low level x-rays to get a full body scan of my body fat levels. It took about 10 minutes of sitting still for it to spit out an x-ray image of me with some disturbing numbers. Sixteen percent body fat? That's 4-5% higher than last year at this same stage! It's the nightly ice cream, I know it! Damn, I seriously need to shed some pounds.

(The "Dex")

Not so fast, said Phil. The Dex is extremely accurate in measuring body fat, including areas that aren't usually measured with a caliper test, such as fat around your intestines and in your muscles. In short, it's not fair to compare the results of the Dex with a caliper test. We then had a good discussion about what is the best target body fat % given my age, target race of 100 miles, the risks of dieting while training, and the potential to turn all this fun training into a five month hunger-driven grumpfest. Phil emphasized that overall fitness should be the goal, not a certain weight target, and I certainly shouldn't push to the point of risking getting sick or I would never make it to the starting line. He also pointed out that my weight - 156 lbs - was only 3-4 lbs higher than my "race weight" from last year. In short, my normal training schedule will probably get me down to 150-152 lbs and it may not be worth stressing to get any lower.

The Dex readout also had a lot of other information, although it wasn't clear how to use it for training purposes. For example, I'm carrying more lean muscle mass and fat on my left side, which might indicate asymmetry in my stride or leg length. My BMI is in the normal range. My android (fat above the waist level) to gynoid (fat below the waist level) ratio was 0.86, indicating less risk of cornary disease. Hmm, good to know, I guess.

From there, Phil led me to the world's most insane treadmill (it goes to 20 mph, just in case Usain Bolt drops by) and explained the process for the lactic threshold test. I would run 6 minute intervals starting at 7mph; normally this is done in 4 minute increments, but since my target race was ultra-distance he thought it best to lengthen the interval. After each interval I would step off the treadmill so he could take a small blood sample from my ear lobe, and then he would increase the speed 0.5mph and I would do it again. While I ran, he would measure the lactic acid content of my blood, as well as ask me what my perceived effort was. We would continue this until I couldn't complete a six minute interval or indicated I was ready to stop.

It began slowly, which gave me a chance to get to know Phil a bit better. For many years he was an elite cyclist until he broke his back in an accident. He has since made a long and amazing recovery, and even completed the North Face 50k last year. His passion for understanding the body's ability to perform and heal were contagious. I didn't even mind that he was making me bleed every few minutes. ;-)

(The tools of the trade - a Lactate Pro blood monitor and HRM strap)

For about 90 minutes, I pounded away on the treadmill until I finally said going beyond a 5 min mile pace would risk me projectile vomiting all over their clean lab. In retrospect, I probably should have eaten breakfast sooner in the day. ;-) After a quick warm down, he sat me down with the results. First he shared an analogy of the body to a machine that helped frame the discussion. It went something like this:

Chassis (what you're dealt with) -> Body shape and size
Engine (ability to process) -> VO2Max and Lactate Threshold
Horsepower (how fast/hard) -> Pace/Power Output
Miles Per Gallon (how long on the same energy) -> Running Economy

So there are many things to consider when training, and this test was specifically focused on the engine. We spoke about how I am currently in an aerobic phase of training, so I haven't been pushing to the red line at all and that should be taken into account.

(The blue line is my heart rate at each speed, the red is my lactate concentration)

He showed me the chart, and we talked about how the goal of training is to push the red curve down and to the right by specifically addressing two areas - aerobic training to increase my speed at the same lactic levels, and LT/speed training to improve my overall lactic threshold. The results indicated the following training ranges:

Aerobic - 131 to 151 bpm (roughly 8-9 mph on a treadmill)
Threshold - 151 to 164 bpm (roughly 9-10 mph on a treadmill)

I noticed two things right away. First, my current aerobic training zones (125 to 140 bpm) and pace were too low. After speaking with Phil about how I had gotten those ranges from a VO2 Max test two years ago, he basically said it was likely I was improving both my aerobic capacity and running economy over that time period. But he also emphasized that it's good to have some long runs where I stay on the low end of the aerobic range to help train my body to process fat. Second, my current threshold training zones (162 to 170 bpm) were too high. So basically I needed to go a bit harder in aerobic training, and could go slower on my harder runs and get a similar benefit.

Phil spent 20 minutes with me to explain how these aren't hard and fast rules since there are other benefits of training beyond these ranges. For example, a hard track workout may exceed the threshold heart range, but give tremendous benefit to running economy and turnover (my "miles per gallon"). He also had lots of other little tidbits, and was careful to explain how his recommendations for me are different than what he would tell a 20-year-old on the track team because (a) my ability to adapt and recover are different, and (b) the ultra distance has a very different set of needs than a 5k/10k.

Phil was generous with his time to answer all my questions about training levels, recovery, calorie intake, stride efficiency, and how to adopt these track-based learnings to the ever-changing trail courses. We agreed I would come back again in a few months to get another checkpoint and dial in my target HR and speeds for Western States.

I felt energized to train with all this new knowledge, and the clarity of knowing there are some things I can affect by sticking to a plan. It may be worth the $200 just for the boost of morale! Now back to the trails...

- SD

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Kicking Off 2009 at the Jed Smith 50k

Last Saturday, I had the great pleasure of joining ~100 ultrarunners at Gibson Park, CA, for the 31st annual Jed Smith Classic 30k/50k/50m. Dubbed the "Fastest Ultra in the West", the Jed Smith is a 3.3 mile figure eight loop course with just enough hills, dirt, and road to give your legs and mind some variety while cranking out the speed. The weather was near ideal, and by the end of the day records would fall, new PR's would be set by some, and good times would be shared by all.

(At the start of the 50m)

This wasn't going to be a record-setting day for me much in thanks to having (yet another) cold, but I was looking forward to seeing everyone. One of the great things about a loop course is that you actually DO get to see everyone many times throughout the day, rather than just the start. The Jed Smith 50k is also the first race of the PA/USATF Series, which I'm hoping to make a solid effort towards this year. I turn 40 in a few months, which throws me into the Masters ranks, but thanks to the new USATF rule I can still race in the 30-39 category as long as I score some points as a 39-year-old this year. So the goal for this race was (1) see how long I can hold a 7 min/mile pace to test my aerobic training, and (2) finish to get some official points on the Board. And, of course, get a few good pictures!

(Jean Pommier snaps a photo of the 50-milers)

I carpooled up with Jean Pommier, one of those super-fast Masters runners that makes turning 40 such a daunting milestone (Jean, you are supposed to get SLOWER when you hit your 40's!). Jean has been recovering from some IT band issues, so he would likely only beat me by 15-20 minutes today. ;-) We unloaded our gear, quickly noticing the setups of the more experienced loop runners. Chairs, tables, coolers, food, pre-filled bottles, iPods, clothes for every weather possibility - a fully customized aid station!

(Custom aid stations along the loop)

The 50-milers headed out first, and Todd Braje quickly set the pace up front. Todd clocked a 5:47 at the Helen Klein 50-mile in November under much tougher conditions, so we knew he had the speed. Right behind him were Sean Meissner, Michael Kanning, and host of other speedsters cutting through the morning fog.

(Todd Braje sets the pace up front)

A half hour later, the 50k runners headed out to chase. Chikara Omine, Thomas Reiss, and Michael Fink set an aggressive 6 min/mile pace and quickly put themselves in a three man race. The rest of us warmed up on the quick out and back before ditching our hats and jackets to begin one of nine loops. I stuck with gloves and sleeves for the first lap, and opted not to pick up the water bottle quite yet. Let the fun begin!

(And we're off!)

On the first lap I got a chance to see just about everyone (with the exception of Jean, whom I didn't see all day since he was 5-10 minutes in front of me). It's so impressive to see so many different people adding adventure to their lives with some ultra distances. Joe Palubeski was smiling his way through the 50-mile, while 73-year-old Bill Dodson charging the 50k and Rena Schumann was well on a 4:30 pace. Soon the 30k gazelles were released, guaranteeing you would pass and be passed all day long. I hit the first lap in 23 minutes, right on pace.

(Enjoying the first loop)

It was exciting to watch all the races unfolding in real time. Todd Braje was a man possessed, running his own race out front for the 50-mile. Sean Meissner was also looking good, fresh off his win at the Redding Marathon. My quick split calculations said both of these guys were running faster than all but the top 3 in the 50k and 50m! Chikara Omine led the 50k with Thomas Reiss just 50 feet behind, and the power strides of Michael Fink within striking distance. I would certainly be lapped by all these guys by the time I was done. Lap two came in at 23 minutes and change, as did lap three. My nose was running more than my legs, but I was holding up!

(Sean Meissner sets a blistering pace for the 5om)

The Buffalo Chips volunteers were awesome, getting us through the two well-stocked aid stations quickly and efficiently. Occasionally I would get a "split" letting me know how far ahead of me the next 50k runner was. Apparently I was around 8th place or so, and Jean was a half lap ahead on a similar pace. I stayed focused on my pacing (much in thanks to the song "Love Train" by Wolfmother running through my head), and finished lap 4 in 24 minutes. I dropped my gloves and sleeves and picked up my iPod to find a slightly faster song to obsess about. ;-)

(Three reasons to watch your custom aid station closely)

Gibson Ranch has lots of farm life around, including horses, llamas, pigs, and the ever-hungry geese that don't hesitate for a second to go for your M&M stash. As I rounded lap 5, a few geese even stepped onto the course to harass a few runners. I guess we are the ones trespassing!

Lap 6 (mile 20) felt a bit more strained for me. Although my sinuses were cleared up, my stomach wasn't feeling great and my face was radiating heat like something was wrong. I was also starting to get the twitching cramp-on-the-way feeling in my feet every time I hit the pavement. I did the math in my head, and quickly came to the conclusion that I was down on my hydration. Of course! I had yet to pick up the water bottle, so I was only grabbing a few 4 oz cups on each lap. On top of that, my cough/runny nose was producing a lot more liquid than usual. In short, I was getting too distracted! (who, me?) No worries, it's a lap course so I can pick a bottle up soon enough.

I noticed on this lap that Thomas Reiss had dropped, and Michael Fink was picking up speed. But it didn't look like enough to catch Chikara, who was still clocking 6 min/miles and looking light on his feet. I heard that Jenny Capel was winning the Women's division and was executing her usual late charge to gain some ground on me and others. Todd Braje was still well out front for the 50m, cranking out his tunes and giving well-wishes to all of us he passed.

(The sun broke around 11am, much to the delight of the farm animals)

I didn't quite finish lap 7 when the foot cramps started to slow me down. They seemed to hit as soon as I hit the pavement, and would subside with a little extra motion once I was back on the dirt. I finished the lap in 28 minutes, grabbed my bottle and some S! Caps, and slowed a bit to get back on track. Only two more laps to go, so I knew I could get there.

Chikara flew by me as I hobbled my way around lap 8, and he was all smiles at the finish line (PR of 3:08!) when I headed into my last lap. Lap 8 took me nearly 30 minutes, so I was definitely losing ground. I looked over my shoulder and saw Eduardo Vasquez dropping everything to sprint as much as he could for the last lap. Soon enough he flew right by me with his sites set on catching Jean.

(M30-39 winner Eduardo Vasquez and Jason Reed who snuck under 4 hours)

The last lap was a humorous attempt to hold off foot cramps, running with my toes curled harder than the wicked witch of the east. With a mile to go, Jenny Capel caught me and I did my best to keep her in sight as we rounded the last corner. I was shocked at my finish time - 3:57 for 6th place, and 2nd in my age group. My mind could only remember that last lap, and I had completely forgotten that I had cruised the first 2/3 fairly well! I took a seat and grabbed some food, catching up with Chikara (3:08), Michael Fink (2nd in 3:19, just a minute off the Masters course record), Jean Pommier (3:51), Eduardo (just 10 seconds behind Jean - almost caught him!), and Jason Reed (3:59). 63-year-old Ernest Takahashi clocked an amazing 4:17 to win his age group. The 30k also had some great finishes, with Mark Murray winning (2:00:02), just a few minutes ahead of Mike Bailey (2:03), and Mary Ohren (2:19) holding off Charise Parker (2:23) to win the Womens division. Everyone either had a stellar day or a rude reminder that it's time to pick up the training for 2009.

(Chikara grabs a drink after his amazing 3:08 PR)

Before the shock of the spectacular 50k times could wear off, we heard that Todd Braje was about to finish the 50m. He crossed the line in a course record 5:30, absolutely spent, but now qualified for the US National 100k team. The small crowd erupted in cheers! Todd is definitely one of the best in the sport, and I hope he decides to represent the US at the 100k championships. Soon after Todd came two more outstanding performances, with Sean Meissner grabbing 2nd in 6:19, and 17-year-old Michael Kanning taking 3rd with a stunning 6:23, nearly a half an hour off his PR. Amazing! Leslie Antonis won the Womens division in 7:52.

Jean and I said our thanks to the RD's and volunteers and packed up to head back home. This was a good checkpoint race for both of us, and we clearly have some work to do to be ready for the Way Too Cool 50k in March. But it was invigorating to share the course with so many runners and see the outstanding performances of so many. Thanks again to the Buffalo Chips and all the great volunteers for a fabulous race! 2009 is already shaping up to be a great season.

- SD

Friday, February 06, 2009

The Ultra Athletes: What Keeps Them Going? (SF Chronicle)

The San Francisco Chronicle ran a story today about ultra athletes, which included some great quotes and pics from ultrarunner Jasper Halekas (who knew he had one short leg?), ultracyclist Tina Waitzman (go Furnace 508!), and ultraswimmer Suzie Dods (28.5 mile swim around Manhattan...whoa).

It really does sound crazy in this context. ;-)

- SD

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

One trail to rule them all - and it goes by my house!

The Midpenninsula Regional Open Space District, which manages some of my favorite local open space areas in the Bay Area, is aggressively buying land to link a single trail from the top of the hill to the coast. That means I could walk down my driveway and cruise single track all the way to the ocean! Love it.

Below is an article about it from the Half Moon Bay Review. Sounds like a few locals still have questions.

- SD

PS - If you love the idea of running from Skyline to the Sea, be sure to sign up for Skyline to the Sea 50k on April 26. It was a lot of fun last year!

District announces plan to link Purisima to the sea

Two-year design involves purchase of four open space parcels

By Greg Thomas [ ]
Published/Last Modified on Wednesday, Jan 28, 2009 - 10:54:03 am PST

Hikers, bikers and equestrians could have new paths to explore two years down the line if a plan to acquire 1,300 acres of land south of Half Moon Bay comes through for the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District.

The idea is to buy the space in between the Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve and the Pacific Ocean by 2011, a venture that would allow for the connection of the Bay Area Ridge Trail and the California Coastal Trail.

The corridor consists of four consecutive parcels of rolling hillsides, spotted with agricultural plots and a few residences. The parcels include the University of California’s Elkus Ranch Uplands, Blue Brush Canyon, Lobitos Ridge and Purisima Farms Uplands. District officials outlined the plan for about 30 stakeholders at a special meeting Thursday at Elkus 4-H Ranch.Several raised concerns pertaining to public use, trail routes, maintenance and the fate of the homes and farms currently operating on the area in question.

Bob Marsh occupies a sizeable chunk of property adjacent to the Purisima Farms tract. He wanted to know whether there would be adequate signs and fences to clearly delineate public and private property and keep cattle, horses and people from roaming rampant.

Open space officials said that until all four purchases go through they’re holding off on announcing any large-scale comprehensive designs.

The initial plan, District Senior Real Property Planner Sandy Sommer said, is to “maintain status quo” of the properties. “Farmland will continue to be farmed … After we go through a very public process thinking about what the future holds, we’ll start looking at other possibilities, but for now we’ll be keeping the things there that are there.”

That means little will change any time soon for the handful of residents, the farmers, the livestock and the natural habitat in the corridor.

“We’re going to try to find a balance between preserving the environment and allowing the public to recreate on the land and (maintaining) the agriculture,” District spokeswoman Leigh Ann Maze added.

Officials have their sights set on the 450-acre UC Elkus Uplands parcel first, and could wrap up the purchase as early as springtime. Purchase of the three remaining parcels would follow as district resources and time would allow, District Real Property Manager Mike Williams said.

The price of all four properties is estimated at $11 million. At the meeting, Williams said officials have applied for two state grants that could cover as much as $6.5 million of that amount.

Officials will discuss moving forward with the Elkus property purchase at a meeting in March, and say they might buy Blue Brush Canyon as early as summer.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Good Fun at the PCTR Awards Ceremony

Wendell, Sarah, Aaron and the Pacific Coast Trail Runs (PCTR) crew did a marvelous job at their first annual Awards Ceremony for the 2008 Trail Run Series. Winners and their families convened at Heather Park in Walnut Creek, CA, for t-shirts, coasters (a PCTR signature award), raffle prizes, food, and an optional fun run.

(John Fors and Ray Sanchez cheer the award winners)

(Keturah Morejohn picks up her Age Group award for the Mini Prix)

(Sarah and Wendell, masters of ceremonies)

Will Gotthardt and I were able to surprise them with some gifts in appreciation. One was a book of photos and quotes from the year (this was my "special project" that you all helped with - thank you, everyone!), which you can take a look at here. After the ceremony, everyone came up and signed the book to share their thanks!

(Click here to preview the first few pages of the book)

I know some of you asked about how to get a copy, and thanks to the generosity of those who sent photos, you can click above and order one. I would recommend the "premium paper" and "Imagewrap" options, since that was the layout I designed it for. I put the book together using Here's the dedication from the first page:
This collection of photos and quotes is a gift of appreciation to Wendell, Sarah, and Aaron for their passion and dedication to Pacific Coast Trail Runs, and the amazing season we had in 2008. Thank you for giving us all the opportunity to easily add fun and adventure to our lives.

- The runners, hikers, and walkers of PCTR
Will also presented Wendell and Sarah with a gift certificate to their favorite restaurant (thanks to many contributions), a "100-Mile Man" sweatshirt for Aaron (who completed 100 miles at Across the Years), and Starbucks gift certificates to some of the regular volunteers. The best part of the surprise gift was the generous, and well-deserved, standing ovation from the crowd in appreciation of the hard work and passion they put into every race.

(Will presents the 100-Mile Man sweatshirt to Aaron, photo courtesy of Norbert Leinfellner)

(The book prompted lots of stories to recollect, photo courtesy of Monica Brennan)

It was a lot of fun to see everyone in their "street clothes". Thanks again, PCTR!

- SD