Monday, September 27, 2010

Masters Win at the Flagline 50k/USATF 50k Trail Championships

This Saturday, I had the great pleasure of joining 100 ultrarunners for the inaugural Flagline 50k in Bend, OR, which was the 2010 USATF 50k Trail National Championship. Thanks to perfect weather, a wonderful course, and great support from volunteers and other runners, I managed to come back from a low point and pick up my first Masters National Championship. As excited as I am for this result, it does not compare to the pride I felt for being a part of the ultrarunner community after witnessing the camaraderie and honor among the front runners at the finish line when dealing with a race mishap. Now THAT will be a story I will tell for years to come.

The Race

The 7:30am morning sun barely cut into the 40-degree mountain air as we all made our way to the starting line just outside of the Mt. Bachelor Main Lodge entrance. It was predicted to be in the low 80's by the afternoon, but pre-sunrise the nip in the air is mountain crisp. A perfect day for racing…let’s get going!

Max King hitches a ride to the start
I was stoked to catch up with a couple of Inov-8 teammates at the starting line, two of many last minute entries from wicked fast trail runners. Yassine Diboun, who has been ripping it up all over the Pacific Northwest this year, took a break from his new 1-month old daughter to bring his amazing descending skills to the race. David James, the 14-hour 100-miler, also came up all the way from school in the Caribbean to get a taste of trails at 6,000 feet. All of us shared congrats and good-lucks with other potential front runners, including 2009 100k National Champion Eric Skaggs, Jen Shelton, 2x Western States 100 champion Hal Koerner (fresh off his RD duties at the weather-beaten Pine to Palm 100), Max King (double victory at the XTerra Nationals and Bigfoot 10k last weekend), 50k and 100k world champion Kami Semick, Tahoe Rim Trail 50k multiple winner Julie Young, Super Master William Emerson, Derek Schultz (from PA!), 70+ superstar Don Hildebrand, and the usual gang of ridiculously fit Oregonians. At 8am, Race Director Super Dave and USATF guru Richard Bolt sent us off to chase the sun.

Yassine Diboun is all smiles
70+ Racer Don Hildebrand going the full 50k today
Jen Shelton, Eric Skaggs, Max King, and David James
Derek Schultz and Me
The pace was slow at first, which gave me the rare chance to run just behind Skaggs, King, Diboun, James, Koerner, and a handful of others. Their strides were effortless, taking advantage of the slight downhill on the fire roads to leap in unison like a pack of deer. It was quite a site! Let’s face it – the raw talent of these guys puts them in a league of their own. When we hit the single track, Skaggs kicked into high gear and they all put on the chase and disappeared into the pines.

And we're off! Photo courtesy of Bend Bulletin
I ran with Derek (in his day-glow Brooks jersey), who was pulling us along at a fast 6:30 min/mile clip, not a whole lot slower than what we ran at the 14-mile XTerra Nationals the week before. Derek shared that he only began running 50k’s this year, and was still figuring out how to “race” them rather than “run” them. But he looked comfortable and was still aerobic in his effort, so even this fast pace looked right on. We refueled at the first aid station (mile 8), and headed up the first long climb of the race.

Derek pulls a line of runners
Following Derek through the pines
The trails were super-fast, and Derek and I felt all alone for miles romping through pockets of warm sun and 40-degree shade. Before too long we caught up with another Brooks runner (also in a day-glow jersey), and I smiled at how much the two outfits stood out among the miles of green and brown of mountain pines. Guess what, mountain critter residents, humans coming through!

Derek and I catch up to Headphone Guy
About two-thirds the way up (mile 12), local Jason Moyer went by us while Derek pulled over saying his rhythm wasn’t feeling right. I wished Derek well, knowing I would see him again before too long. I caught up to the other Brooks runner and asked if I could pass, but he was wearing headphones and wasn’t budging. Headphones? Guess that’s both good news and bad news. Headphone Guy appeared to be the only other “grey hair” in the front 10, so I knew I had to keep him in sight. But headphones are also illegal in USATF Championship races, so this guy wasn’t going to be a contender for the national title. I had seen this before – folks that like to just run the race their way, and not caring much for USATF stuff, cruising with tunes and fine with having an “open class” non-Championship finish. When we crested the hill, he turned and saw me and plunged the downhill with incredible speed. I cheered loudly for him (not that he heard it), applauding his prowess at the single track descent. Phew! I’m glad I don’t have to try and keep up with that.

Jason Moyer knows how to stay cool
The next aid station (mile 17) was swarming with angels in cowboy hats, who helped me locate my drop bag to shed my gloves and glasses and get a few extra gels. While I refilled the water bottle, Kami Semick went by with two other runners. The scenery was gorgeous here, with blogworthy rolling fire roads heading towards the creek beds. I leaned into the grade for about two miles, slowly reeling her in, but then started feeling a bit nauseous. It took less than 20 seconds for the light-headedness to bring me to a complete stop, where I promptly upchucked my breakfast.

The cowgirl angels take care of us
Hmmm…what’s this all about? Vomiting on the downhill? That is definitely a new one. I was on top of my hydration and electrolytes, and it wasn’t quite hot enough for heat-induced GI issues. My food was my usual food…all my usual excuses were coming up donuts. I started running again, but if felt like I was stuck in 3rd gear. Altitude, maybe? Overtrained from all the Ironman two-a-days the last month? Not that it mattered at this point. Best to just take another salt tab and keep moving.

Lush pines that go on for miles
The grind back up the hill was slower than I would have liked, but I was running most of it. The slow down did give me a chance to look around and see more of this gorgeous Oregon backcountry that seemed to know no bounds in any direction. I felt lost, but not scared. A true escape!

Stephanie Howe crushes the single track
I was soon caught by local Nordic superstar Stephanie Howe, who was also struggling with stomach issues. This was her first 50k, so she was doing her best to pace herself. Everyone we passed from the early start group were also complaining of wooziness, so I figured it was altitude-related and everyone was dealing with it. Weird how that actually gave me some comfort. Stephanie and I worked together up the hill, walking a few short climbs, and got back to the aid station (mile 22). We drank as much water and flat Coke as we could take in, and Stephanie rocketed off ahead of me.

Just point towards Mt. Bachelor and go!
It was getting warm at this point, but the fast fire roads made it easy to keep a steady pace (despite some heavy camper traffic). The Inov-8 X-Talons were definitely the right call, and I was able to turn over my legs quickly. I caught Stephanie as she was getting through another tough spot, but she was soon on my tail again. We entered the last aid station (mile 26) together, and I was feeling almost 90%. I gave myself permission to push hard again and jumped on the last section of single track.

About a mile up the trail they were re-marking the course, so I gave a quick “thanks for doing a great job with the trail markings”. They stared back at me with blank looks (I would later find out why), and I joined a chain of friendly mountain bikers to charge up the last climb. They let me know I was about a minute behind the next dude, and I wondered if it was Headphone Guy. I picked up the pace, but it wasn’t enough to hold off a charging Derek Schwartz who was back from the dead and running 6:30 min/miles again. By the time I hit the road (mile 30), Derek was a day-glow spot in the distance. I was so excited for his comeback! I watched him pick off one more runner on his way to the finish.

Derek zooms by
Last mile!
I passed Hal Koerner, who was walking in and he let me know that many of the front-runners had been directed off-course by a volunteer. “Get moving…you may have moved up eight places,” he said with his trademark smile. Oh, no! That’s not the way to have a top finish. I cruised into the finish chute in 4:28:38 in 11th place, and was immediately congratulated on being the Masters winner. Super Master William Emerson finished just a few minutes behind me, with Stephanie Howe (2nd woman) and Jen Shelton (3rd) right behind him.

Squeezing in just under 4:30
My excitement for the win was soon replaced with awe when I heard what happened ahead of us.

The Finish

Apparently, the course markings had been vandalized around mile 28 (where I had seen them re-marking the course), and the volunteers who reset the markings mistakenly sent the front-runners down the wrong trail. Eric Skaggs went first, with Max King following but realizing he was off course and taking a detour back. Unfortunately, the following six runners also went the wrong way and soon found themselves prematurely out on the road section after cutting through a confused horse camp. Max ended up out front all by himself.

What Max did next was extraordinary. Approaching the finish, he slowed to a stop and asked what happened. Upon learning of the situation, he waited 50 feet from the finish until the others caught up. They then agreed to cross the finish line as a group in the order they were at the moment the wrong turn was taken – Eric Skaggs (for the win), Max King (voluntarily taking second), Yassine Diboun, David James, Jeremy Tolman, Jason Moyer, Zach Violett, and Kami Semick (1st Woman). It turns out that Josh Nordell (10th), Derek Schultz (9th), and me were the first to approach the turn correctly marked.

Can you believe it? Stopping at the finish to get the right order? That’s an honor code right out of the Tour de France. Simply amazing. It’s hard not to gush with pride to be in a sport with champions like these.

One beer-soaked mug, one check, one Masters National Championship - a damn good haul!
As I sat with the others in the sun, sipping beer and cheering the other finishers, I saw the day-glow shirt of Headphone Guy come across the finish about an hour after my finish. After a short conversation with the RD’s, Headphone Guy (aka, Tim Monaco) explained he had also been sent off course and wanted to be “moved up” in the rankings ahead of me to claim the Masters Championship. I explained that I didn’t have a problem with examining his finishing place (although it is a bit weird to have a made-up finish time, unlike the others who accepted their actual finish times), but that running with headphones is clearly against the USATF rules for National Championships. A compromise was suggested to put Tim Monaco‘s name in 9th place (with a fictitious time), but that it wouldn’t be counted towards the USATF Championship due to the headphone infraction. In the spirit of camaraderie shown this day, it felt like a good solution.

I gave an extra pat on the back to Derek Schwartz, and congratulated him on overcoming his low spot to finish strong. Sometimes that’s the greatest gift of an ultra – getting into trouble, and then getting back out so clean you fly to the finish. It doesn't feel good when it happens, but you feel like a superhero at the finish! Had Headphone Guy been in sight, Derek would have reeled him in too. In my heart, that 9th place finish belongs to Derek. But 10th at a USATF Championship race ain’t so bad either.

I caught Max King on the way out and asked him what went through his head near the finish. He said “it was simple, really…Eric was crushing it all day, and it was not my best day. Eric was in a league of his own, and there is no question among any of us that he deserved the win today.”

Well Max, I think this may be your best finish ever. ;-)

Thanks to Super Dave and his awesome crew for putting on a great inaugural race. It took a lot of work for these guys to get a brand new race going, and get the 50k Trail Championship back on the USATF schedule. You did a great job! If you like a fast course in a beautiful place, I would highly suggest putting the Flagline 50k on your calendar for next year (rumored to be the 50k Trail Championship again). Just don’t expect Max to be waiting for you before the finish in 2011.

- SD


  1. Great story!! These guys show us what ultra running is all about. Thanks for sharing, and congrats on your masters win!

  2. A reason why I love our community and this sport. That is very sportsman like of Max. When did they announce it was the 50k Championship? Pretty recently I suppose since I had been looking and looking all year to see where it was so I could run it! Oh well, sounds like a great race and a good one for the future calendar!

  3. Scott,
    Congrats on your Master's win. there is a lesson to be learned in there, for sure. What comraderie. Great story, thanks for sharing.

  4. Devon -

    Sorry we missed you at this one! The 50k Trail Championship race sort of snuck under the radar this year. There hadn't been a 50k TRAIL Championship for a few years, so I don't think most people were in the habit of looking for it. The date and city were announced by USATF in January, 2010, but the course wasn't formally announced until August.

    It's definitely a course you could rock - very fast trails, with just enough climbing and descents to slow down the road runners. I'll be back for sure, and hope to see you there!


  5. Here's a paraphrased version of the article in the Bend Bulletin that ran the following day:

    Flagline 50K Trail Run

    Max King approached the finish-line tape Saturday at the West Village Lodge, seemingly about to win yet another running race, this time the Flagline 50-kilometer Trail Run National Championship.

    But he stopped just a couple feet from the tape and turned around — something was not right.

    Turns out, King realized he had taken a wrong turn and he did not feel comfortable crossing the finish line ahead of the runner who likely would have been the race’s true winner, his friend, Erik Skaggs, of Ashland.

    So King waited for Skaggs, who reached the finish area with about three other runners, 23 minutes behind King. They had all taken a wrong turn as well, but King, who lives in Bend and is familiar with the trails, just knew how to reach the finish faster and not get lost. The five runners all decided to cross the finish line together.

    After some discussion, the runners decided that the final results should reflect their positions at the point at which they were directed off course.

    The wrong turn had little effect on the women’s competition, as Bend’s Kami Semick won easily with a time of 4:18:26. Stephanie Howe, also of Bend, finished second in 4:33:11. Jenn Shelton, of Ashland, placed third in 4:36:41.

    “I hit Century and that’s when I knew I was off course,” King said. “So I just came in on Century Drive. I just knew the right way to go when I got to the wrong place. I knew (Skaggs) was in front of me and he would have beaten me anyway. I knew I had gone the wrong way, and I figured he had gone the wrong way, too.”

    Skaggs said he knew something was “horribly wrong” when he came to a horse camp and there were no course markings.

    “It’s pretty frustrating, but that’s what happens in trail running,” Skaggs said. “You can only be so upset. It’s really frustrating to be that far in and committed, because you’re going so hard and you’re focused... Other than that, the race was sweet for the first year.”

    Skaggs said he was not convinced he would have beaten King had the runners not gone off course.

    “You never know, that’s the unfortunate part,” Skaggs said. “I had a minute and a half on Max, but he’s a strong runner.”

    King, who is preparing to run the Baltimore Marathon in three weeks, maintained that Skaggs would have won the race even without the mishap.

    “I wasn’t going to finish ahead of him,” King said. “We just decided to split it up how we were at the last aid station. Nobody was going to pass anybody at that point anyway — we were all pretty spaced apart by quite a bit. I think it would have finished like that.”

  6. Scott- Congrats on your Master's victory! It rarely sounds like you're even making an effort. Karma will be back to visit Max, he'll get his win.

  7. Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed browsing your blog posts.

  8. Tremendous stuff Scott, yep this is the stuff that got me hooked on the trails. Selfless people just doing it out of pleasure. By the way, can you explain the "Masters" to me as I am unfamiliar with some of the jargon relating to US trail races. Great run once again and thanks for the honesty and humour in your reports.

  9. Great race report. And an amazing finish. Glad to hear there's honour to go around at the elite level of the sport I love.

    You've just inspired me for my race this weekend. :)

  10. Thanks for stopping by, all!

    Malcolm - USATF (as well as other US sports governing bodies) refer to Masters as athletes that are over 40 years of age. The USATF Championship races typically have a cash prize for the Top 3 Masters athletes, as well as the Top 5 overall, for both men and women. It's about the only way us old guys can get a payday.

    USATF allows for duplication of prizes too, so it's possible for a fast Master to get two paychecks for placing in the Top 5.

    USATF Championship medals (like the one in the picture above) are awarded to the Top 8 overall, as well as the Top 3 for each age group in 5-year spans (40-44, etc.). You can pick up a couple here as well for a top finish.

  11. Cool, that really helps as your blogs and some others have really grabbed my interest even further. My friend Liam Dolan is going to Hawaii to so keep an eye out for him, he is the Irish record holder for the Ironman. Good luck and health to you and yours. Thanks Scott.

  12. Great post and congrats on your race!

  13. What a great recap. Congratulations on the Masters National Championship! I love the stories and pictures. I am currently training for my first 50K and am a bit nervous as my IT band is acting up. This inspired me to just do my best. Thanks!

  14. When I went by that intersection (~12:30pm) there was a mountain bicyclist blocking the wrong way and 2 other volunteers making sure I went the right way. I was too tired to wonder why there were so many people there...

  15. Good pictures, Scott. I will say again - wonder how fast you would have gone without a camera.

  16. Scott -

    Does this mean you are in contention for the "USATF Masters Ultrarunner of the Year"? You sure do a lot of their championship races. But I'm not sure if that award is reserved for runners who compete on the world teams. Do you know how it works?


  17. Head phone guy have done a nice job convincing yourself that you deserved that Masters win, but you and I know that you got your butt kicked. By my calculations I was a good 10 minutes ahead of you and there is no freakin way that you or Derek were gonna catch me. In all fairness, all the top 7 runners should have been DQ'd and I should have been ranked back at 4:45 (my actual finish time - not an hour behind you, after running an extra 4 miles). I did the right thing by going back and completing the course and I think it undermines the integrity of all USATF championships if they make up the rules as they go. It is the athletes responsibilty to know the course-period. Doesn't matter that the markers were moved. If the first runners wanted an official time, they should have run back up the freakin' hill like I did. Doesn't matter who is "supposed" to win or who "deserves" to win, it's a race and there are rules to govern it. So the "headphone" thing isn't an issue, even though I think it's pretty lame that you made such a issue about it. You won the Masters (and 2nd place overall) fair and square, but not because of the headphones DQ, you can thank the volunteer for putting me off course for your win. Derek is the National Champion. A lot of big talk about comraderie and honor for someone that would go to such lengths to get a win. If you really think that the top 7 deserve their places, then you gotta believe that I deserved my place, and the Championship. No hard feelings, just thought you should know the truth. Unfortunately, I was the only one to know the whole situation because I was lucky enough to be the last one to get off course. FYI - I also had no clue that you were the recipient of the Masters win when we were talking to the USATF official. I though William was first in, so it was a bit confusing to be having that conversation. To say that your talking to me after the race was deceptive is an understatement. Be straight with people and you will get respect. Peace, Tim Monaco

  18. Tim -

    I appreciate you sharing your comments here.

    You shared these in the post-race discussions (which for clarity, did include me, Tim and the race/USATF official - I could have been better at explaining that), and I thought you had some valid points about which rules are strictly enforced and which ones aren't. It's certainly not a clear cut outcome no matter how you slice it.

    And I would like to say that I applaud you retracking your steps and fully completing the course. A big takeaway for me in this whole experience was to make sure if I'm ever in a situation of being diverted off course, to do exactly what you did. Your example made for good principle.

    I'm sorry to hear that you feel that breaking the headphones rule was not a big deal, but I agree it's not worth delving into. What's done is done. I hope we have a chance to race again together soon (no headphones, correct course) to put it all behind us.

    Lithia Loop is the USATF Trail Marathon Championship in November in Ashland, OR - based on your downhill prowess, I suspect you could make mincemeat of the 2:54 Masters CR. I hope to see you there.


  19. I have to say, while I'm not crazy about Tim's 'tude, I have to agree with his comments about the rules. I love the sportsmanship shown at the race, and its a perfect example of why I love this sport. But at the end of the day, for a race that wants to call itself the Trail National Championship, you have to have guidelines that specifically govern foreseeable issues, like runners getting off trail. Changing the rules, no matter how well-intentioned, is not the right thing to do. That said, no headphones is a rule, and Tim is out of line in my book for willfully violating it and expecting to even be recognized as a finisher.

    Anyway, that nonsense aside, great story and post Scott, and congratulations on a great run! Checking a new story on your blog is always a highlight of my day.


  20. Headphone guy here again - Just for the record, I was not aware of the headphone rule and I willingly accepted the disqualification once I was made aware of it. I did not willingly violate that or any other rule. Also, I didn't say that I though the headphone wasn't a big deal. A rule is a rule. What I said was that I thought it was lame that Scott made an issue about it when he was clearly preaching about who were the "rightful" placements in the overall standings (as deemed by USATF). Double standard folks, that's all. Thanks, Tim

  21. Good points, Tim. And duly noted.

  22. Well, the headphones rule was put into place to stop the potential for giving aid via wireless communication, eg where someone was, place, cadence stats, like they use in the tour.

    Otherwise, it is pretty lame.

    Here nor there but I do hate that rule.


  23. Dude, you make me so jealous I live in a trail abyss like Houston, Tx. It could be much worse, but I also could live in Bend.

  24. As far as Butt Kicking goes, from reading the results, Kami Semick is the USATF National Champion Open Women, Masters Men and Masters Women if she ran the complete course. I think the both of you should sign your prize money checks over to her ;-)

    Ignorance of the USATF rules are not an excuse. I think everyone who went off course should have been disqualified if the rest of the participants were made to finish on the original sanctioned course. As a race, if you are going to accept the support of the sanctioning body of your sport, then you must follow the USATF Competition Rules. There should have been representation from the USATF at the event to enforce these rules.

    All of you, as USATF Members, have the right to file a protest on any rules violations. If you want to get familiar with the process, as well as USATF Competition rules, you can find them here:

    I agree with RogueValleyRunners with regards to the headphones rule. That said, from reading the race report, it does seem that Tim didn't have his volume at a reasonable level to communicate with his competitors, that, or he simply was choosing to ignore requests to pass, only he knows. I do think that Scott unfairly assumed that Tim wasn't in contention for the USATF based on Headphones being present, or simply knew he had the Rules card to play if Tim beat him.

    Did the Age Group, Masters and Open competitors in a mass start race not have bib numbers on the back of the jersey's indicating they were competing in the USATF Division and which Age Group they represented?

  25. The difference in finish times between you and Headphone Guy at last years Lithia Loop Trail Marathon would make a showdown at this years event epic. I hope he accepts the challenge. It will be the most anticipated race within a race of the year.

  26. I'm fascinated! Unbelievable!

  27. Runners that go off-course and do not complete the entire race course should always be disqualified. I thought that was a rule that was always followed. I have been in many XC races where runners went off course and were DQ'd. How can you be a national champion if you didn't even run the course or the correct distance? Instead of stopping at the finish and "reordering" themselves into the correct finishing order, they should have admitted they ran off-course and taken themselves out of the race. I would be livid if I was behind them and ran the entire distance.

  28. Hey Anonymous People -

    Thanks for your comments! I think in general opinions are much better respected if you sign your name to them. It makes for good, authentic dialogue.

    Given the traffic coming to this page, it's clearly a hot topic.


  29. Stephanie Howe9/30/2010 02:12:00 PM

    Hey Scott,
    Great recap! And congrats on your win- you ran an AWESOME race & deserve the victory!
    Again, thanks for helping me along the way- I definitely needed a little encouragement towards the end! See you again soon!

    Stephanie Howe

  30. Nice to see all the lively commentary...another important note to clarify is that Kami Semick right in front of me and was among the top 9 runners that went off course and she chose to follow the 7 in front of her to the finish without returning to complete the course. I was the 9th and last person that went off course before the flags were reset, and the only one who run back up the hill to complete the course. The person who posted the comment about her finishing isn't the only one that thought that was what happened with Kami,our local paper the Bend Bullitin also reported the same info. Just wanted to set the record straight. Peace, Tim Monaco

  31. Oh, about the Lithia Loop....we'll see if I can make it. I am considering running Fire Trails 50m next weekend and I also have plans to attend a seminar in the Bay area the weekend of Lithia. Likely that I won't make it, but you never know...

  32. I post as anonymous because I don't post often and thus I don't know any account information. Posting as myself.

    Anonymous said...
    Runners that go off-course and do not complete the entire race course should always be disqualified. I thought that was a rule that was always followed. I have been in many XC races where runners went off course and were DQ'd. How can you be a national champion if you didn't even run the course or the correct distance? Instead of stopping at the finish and "reordering" themselves into the correct finishing order, they should have admitted they ran off-course and taken themselves out of the race. I would be livid if I was behind them and ran the entire distance.

  33. Mitch Thompson
    Just for the record. I help superdave with several of his races including this flagline 50k. Much hard work and hours went into putting on this race. The course was flagged on friday. Early saturday morn i rode the course ahead of the runners on my mtb bike to make sure all flagging was in place. Which it was not. Five intersections near the swampy lakes area were missing flagging entirely removed by some a-hole late friday eve. I barely got the flagging replaced before the first runners came thru. Humping it as hard as i could i made my way up flagline backwards to 370 and down to happy valley and back up to the 370 aid station once again. I think its faster to run flagline backwards than ride it. Any way all flagging was correctly in place when i came thru the flagline tie metolius wendigo intersection and i didnt feel it neccessary to tell the volunteers how to do their job. From the top of 370 i rode down to the flagline tie pacing eric and max along with jeff browning on his bike. At the tie turn off 370 i chose to take the road back around to dutchman as not to cause cross traffic on my bike. Big mistake. Unknown to me the flagging was moved after i came thru the first time and racers were now being directed down the wrong trail. Its hard to argue with someone who is actually directing you down a trail you can only assume they are sending you the right way. Thats the difference the runners didnt just run off course they were sent that way by a race volunteer! The frustration felt by all involved pales in comparison with the frustration felt by superdave and myself because painstaking effort was put forth to keep this from happening. I feel as though i failed all those who went the wrong and i give them my sincere apology. The sportsmanship shown by most made me feel proud to be a part of the event. So please no more childish bickering, no hard feelings, keep the competitiveness friendly.If it all boils down to a medal and some cash then your not out there for the right reasons anyway. Keep running enjoy life and i promise this will not happen at next years flagline 50k so come back and square it up then.
    Peace out
    Mitch "Bitch" Thompson

  34. I will never understand why people remove course markings. It's not only being vandalous, but it risks the safety of others who enjoy the trails. It's a shame trail race organizers have to always deal with that factor.

    That being said, some of the most beautiful trails I had ever seen were after taking a wrong turn at the Wheres Waldo 100k. The occasional directional mishap is just part of the experience.

  35. Well Scott, the comments are now longer than the story! A fascinating read so thanks for all who commented.

    It sounds to me like the issue isn't wrong turns, finish order, or who beat who. Everyone seems to have done a good job dealing with the adversity in front of them, whether it is quickly correcting a course marking/direction, reordering the finish, etc. For that, Scott, I like the tone of your blog story. You always focus on the positive.

    The main controversial issue here is the selective application of USATF rules by the USATF official (whom was on site, if I read correctly). You have a number of top finishers, including the top male and female, admittedly not completing the correct course route, and most likely not even completing a full 50k distance. I would think the USATF offical would be obliged to enforce this rather than wait for the individuals to enforce it on each other, if anything just for the integrity of the term "USATF Championship". Is the official's job to enforce the rules, or just field complaints? It's probably worth a whole different story/thread that I'm sure will frequent the chat boards.

    Regardless of the USATF issue, it looks like the Flagline 50k is (1) beautiful, (2) fast, and (3) worthy of putting on my calendar for next year. It's a great addition to the Oregon ultra schedule and for that I thank Dave, Mitch, Jeff, and all the other volunteers who put the time in to get something like this going.

    My 2c, Noah Murphy

    It's interesting to me that

  36. Nice blog post as usual - plus a little bonus drama on the side for good measure - but I just have to wonder, what distance runner has not heard of the USATF no headphones rule? Sure it's a lame rule, but it is quite well publicized amongst those who run long distance. If you're a contender I would think you'd leave the music at home for that particular race.

  37. I have also been lost due to vandalism. I retraced, and after hours of seeing no-one except aid station workers I did put on headphones. Later I passed someone and I can't tell you how incongrous it was for them to give me grief about the headphones. Back of the pack, middle of nowhere, beauty, challenge, suffering, and they want to enforce a rule? One that Hal and many others that live on trails detest? Unless it gives an advantage, or creates a safety hazard thats going to impact me, I'm going to think it petty to make a big issue of someone else wearing headphones. What's next, no peeing in the woods?
    Speaking of rules, following the directions of race officials is mandatory. So for the period of time that people were being directed towards horse camp, it could be argued that was the official course.
    Closing thoughts:
    Max is one of my favorite athletes, although Eric Skaggs would have done the same thing.
    USATF has problems-granting championship to a 1st year event, headphone envy, struggle to make a "championship" meaningful.
    It was good to see you at Lithia Loop.

  38. More great discourse on Craig Thornley's blog.

    So nice to have all of you TrailRunner and Ultrarunning Magazine readers stop by!


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