Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Video Interviews with Western States Top Finishers

If you haven't seen it yet, be sure to check out the great video interviews that Bryon Powell at iRunFar did with most of the top finishers. They are uncut, fresh off the finish, and have some great insights.

Link here.

Congrats to everyone who ran, crewed, and volunteered. I sure enjoyed watching from afar!

- sd

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Return of the King: Interview with Hal Koerner (Competitor.com)

Duncan Larkin does a great interview with Western States defending champion Hal Koerner at Competitor.com. Hal talks about how potential snow on the course changes things up, where he sees the competition, possibly taking some time off States to pursue his love of trail running at other races. Interview here.

For those not following Bryon Powell's great interviews, be sure to check his Q&A with Nikki Kimball, Devon Crosby-Helms, Meghan Arbogast, Joelle Vaught, Hal Koerner, Geoff Roes, and Tony Krupicka. Don't forget to enter his contest to predict the winners!

Good stuff, Hal! Best of luck this Saturday...

- SD

Sunday, June 20, 2010

10 Make the US Mountain Running Team at the 2010 Washington Hill Climb

Records fell and 10 runners were named to the US National Mountain Running Team at the 50th annual Mount Washington Road Race (aka, Mt. Washington Hill Climb) this Saturday. The finish times for this 7.6 mile climb may look slow, but this course is brutal (including a 22% incline at the end!).

(The brutal grade at the end, photo courtesy of Jim Johnson)

All 10 slots (6 men, 4 women) for the 2010 US National Mountain Running Team were awarded at this race, rather than having multiple qualifiers like in previous years. I bet it made for some great all-or-nothing tactics! The team will compete in the World Mountain Running Championship this fall in Slovenia. Here's who is going:


1. Chris Siemers, 29, Arvada CO, 1:00:22
2. Eric Blake, 31, New Britain CT, 1:00:40
3. Joseph Gray, 26, Lakewood WA, 1:01:31
4. Rickey Gates, 29, Woody Creek CO, 1:02:34
5. Max King, 30, Bend OR, 1:02:34
6. Tommy Manning, 34, Colorado Springs CO, 1:03:27


1. Shewarge Amare, 23, New York NY/Ethiopia, 1:08:21
2. Kristin Price, 28, Raleigh NC, 1:11:13
3. Brandy Erholtz, 32, Bailey CO, 1:12:53
4. Nicole Hunt, 40, Deer Lodge MT, 1:12:59
Chris Siemers, a Chicago-bred flatlander, managed to out-kick past winner Eric Blake in the final mile to win. It was Siemers' first attempt at the race. Shewarge Amare, the Women's champion, had to borrow a pair of shoes and singlet just before the race, but it didn't stop her from setting a new course record in her first attempt.

The press release has a lot of great details - head there for more!

Shout out to the 12 Team Inov-8 members who toed the line, Joe Gray for his outstanding performance, and Max King for making the team just one week after winning the USATF Trail Half Marathon Championships.

- SD

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Dirty Half Marathon On A Perfect Oregon Day

Last Sunday, I had the great pleasure of joining 800 runners for the 9th annual Dirty Half Marathon in Bend, OR. This always-sold-out trail half marathon got the extra bonus of being the first ever USATF Trail Half Marathon championship, which was bound to bring out the fastest runners around. So once I realized I was (mostly) healed from my bike accident last month, I cashed in some frequent flyer miles to join in on the fun.

We couldn't have asked for better weather, and judging by the sheer glee of the locals all over downtown Bend the day before, it's been a long time comin'. I love overhearing conversations like "what should we do?", "I don't care, as long as it's outside", "yeah, let's just sit and soak it in". The streets were filled with beautiful people sunning like lizards, only breaking the sound of the breeze for the occasional shout when Team USA scored a goal at the World Cup match. I stopped by Foot Zone to get my packet, and Fleet Feet to congratulate Rod Bien on his awesome Miwok finish. Both stores were packed with eager adventurers gearing up for a summer that finally arrived.

(A pre-Western States Scott Wolfe and pre-Bighorn Jeff Browning fit in a training run under a welcome sun)

At 8am, the first wave of runners toed the line and RD Super Dave gave us some last minute instructions. There were some wicked fast people here, including locals Max King, two-time winner Lisa Nye, super-master Paul Parsons, Ian Sharman (who just keeps getting faster every year), and always-a-contender Jeff Caba. The USATF championships brought some new faces too, such as the Truillo twins from Eugene, marathon superstar (and wife of Todd Braje) Sopanga Eap, Winter Olympian Morgan Arritola, XTerra star Fujio Miyachi from Japan, and Eric Bohn up from Flagstaff. The gazelles warmed up along the fire road as the rest of us made small talk, and soon enough we were called to the start.

(RD Super Dave gives a few pointers)

(Solar-powered runners ready to go!)

The shotgun sounded, and the first wave runners made their way down a one mile section of fire road before hitting the single track. The speeds were amazing, and I soon found myself in roughly 30th place. I wasn't in peak shape by any means, but I had that post-injury elation that comes when you do your first pain-free race. I'm back! The mile markers had us at a 6:15 mile/pace, but some hills and turns were coming our way that would slow that down.

(Sprinting down the fire road)

The single track was really fast, and all of the corners had wonderful banked turns that kept our velocity moving forward. I cruised along with a trio of locals Lisa Nye, Stephanie Howe, and Dave Webster, all of whom were eying competitors up the trail. The hunt was on!

(Dave leads us into the single track)

The trail was remote and quite, with the occasional bluegrass band and cowbell-banging supporters. Even with all of us runners snaking through the trees, the peaceful calm pervaded. You would never guess we were only a few short miles from town. Lisa Nye broke out on some uphill, and the rest of us let Stephanie Howe pull us up the hill with her long cross country power strides. The first aid station (mile 3.5) gave us a chance to rinse the dust out of our mouth, and before we knew it, the second aid station (mile 6) filled us up and pointed us down some fire roads. Dave Webster opened up, and I followed him, suspecting he was 40'ish. A little grey hair is all I need to see to keep me motivated. ;-)

(Who needs amps? These guys run on solar power...and hops)

(Stephanie Howe opens it up on the fire road)

At mile 8, the turns got tight and footing got tricky, and we witnessed a handful of face plants up and down the trail as the pace picked up. Scott Wolfe went by us like we were standing still, offering encouraging words as he streaked by. I ran with Don Gallogly from Corvallis, OR, and we started passing runners and moving up.

(Dave leads us into one of the very well-manned aid stations)

Don was also a Master runner, and I began to wonder if he, Dave, and I weren't the "competing for 3rd Master" group. I knew Paul Parsons was way up there somewhere and suspected at least one more Master in between us. Hmm, could it be? Well, if so, better put on some pressure. 3rd is a medal, yes? YES!!! Oh, the things I will do for hardware. ;-) My legs were ready to go, so I swung wide and ran down a berm along the single track to pass the pack we were with. Don followed.

We were really moving now! It felt like a 6 minute pace, and we were picking off runners left and right by passing on the outside. I moved up alongside a pack of three, noting that one of them was another Master, and attempted to pass on the berm again. A bit risky, but it seemed to be working.

Then I ran out of berm, and stepped right off the side of the hill. Oops.

I managed to catch a tree in the chest before hitting the ground, just like a Road Runner cartoon. I hit the ground on all fours and buried my camera into the silt (RIP, camera #9). Don slowed to offer help, but I waived him on. Regardless of whether I needed it, there's no time to slow in a half marathon! Go get that medal!!!

There is a crucial 20 seconds after face planting where you can get up and keep moving, so I sprung up and tried to convince myself I was good. I felt okay, but every passing runner said something different - "you're cut on your face", "you're bleeding down your arm", "your neck is scraped". By the time the adrenaline hit, I figured I had lucked out with all superficial wounds and turned up the speed again.

(Heading to the finish, photo courtesy of Richard Bolt)

I caught up to Don and Dave at Mile 11, and they were pleased to see me upright. The last little climb at Mile 12 brought a few to walking, but the three of us, along with Bend local Mark Robins, kept the pace fast. I didn't know how long my adrenaline power boost would last, so at the soonest opportunity I surged around them (no berm this time) and put the pedal to the metal. They did not respond, so I kept going and picked off two more runners. The speed carried me to the finish just in time for me to see the third USATF Master finish right in front of me. Alas! I still ran 1:28:25 for 27th place, 4th in my age group, about 40 seconds ahead of our little pack. Turns out Dave was no mere Master, but was in his fifties - he rocked it!

(Max King steals a Jamba Juice from the finish line bananas, photo courtesy of Richard Bolt)

The killer Dirty Half Ale from Deschutes Brewery and live band eased the pain of missing an age group podium finish by 2o seconds, but hey, that's how it goes. In truth, the performances were so good today I would have to have been going a lot faster to post a worthy time. For example, Max King set a new course record of 1:11:03, as did Sopanga Eap with her 1:22:22 (see full results). Holy trail spikes, Batman! All of the finish times were evidence that a USATF championship means business.

(Sopanga Eap, 2010 USATF Trail Half Marathon Champion)

(Max King, 2010 USATF Trail Half Marathon Champion)

(Richard Bolt poses with 70+ champions Jim Bevins and Don Hildebrand, photo courtesy of Richard Bolt)

I soaked in the sun, and stopped by the medical tent to clean out my wounds. I'm not sure which comment from the medical team was better - "I think you lost a nipple" or "this stick is still sticking out of your chest, let me pull it out". No stitches or anything serious, and compared to the many bloodied knees that came in after me, not even close to the best road rash of the day. Note to self - it's okay to hug trees, just not while running full speed.

(Good thing I have a back up nipple! But as Christi would say, "that's nothing...talk to me after you've breastfed for six months")

(This guy was my hero - he brewed the Ale just for the race, my perfect perscription)

My thanks to RD Super Dave and his awesome crew of volunteers and sponsors. Congrats to Max King (good luck at Mt. Washington!), Sopanga Eap (get that Olympic qualified at the Seattle Marathon!), and everyone who came out and enjoyed the day. The Dirty Half is an amazing race and I hope to be back again. Actually, I'll be back in two weeks for the Pacific Crest Half Ironman! Bend, OR, I just can't get enough of you.

- SD

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Faster as a Master - An Interview with Rob Evans

For most people, entering the Masters ranks means saying sayonara to PR’s and the glory days of old. But for some, like 43-year-old ultrarunner Rob Evans, it may just be the beginning. Rob has had a string of great finishes this year, including 2nd overall at the Tahoe Rim Trail 100m (USATF/RRCA 100-mile championship), just a few minutes behind winner Erik Skaden, 2nd Master at the American River 50-miler, a 2nd overall/Masters win at the Quicksilver 50-miler, as well as a Masters win at the Napa Marathon (RRCA National Marathon Championships). Rob is now zeroed in on the 2010 Western States 100-miler on June 23rd, where he hopes his new fitness will do well among the most competitive runners on the planet.

 (Rob takes charge at the 2010 Quicksilver 50-miler)

I caught up with Rob to ask him about how he manages to be “faster as a master”.

1) Congratulations on the great times you have posted this year. Your 20:46 at the 2009 Tahoe Rim Trail 100 (2nd overall, 1st Master), 6:37 at AR (13th overall, 2nd Master), 6:54 at Quicksilver (2nd Overall, 1st Master), and 2:46 at The Napa Marathon was a clean sweep of Masters wins. Are these pr's for these distances/courses?

Yes, they are. I had not done a marathon in nearly 10 years, the last one being the Silicon Valley marathon and I ran a 2:52. I have done the AR50 3 times, each time having cramping problems, so this was my fastest. The Quicksilver 50 was a first. Felt great to run that time. Really focused on having it be a training run for Western States but also wanted to get a feel for my fitness on a hilly trail course. Last year I was really stoked to have done that 20:46 at the TRT100 course. My focus was on the USATF/RRCA Masters 100 Mile win. I would have never thought I could get 2nd overall!

2) To what do you attribute your newfound speed? Are you training differently as a Master?

My training this year has been incredible. My primary problem in the past has been injuries. I have had a few stress fractures and a few episodes of ITBS. The first go at Western States back in 2005 I had such a bad case of ITBS that I could not run even a quarter mile during May. Last year I had really bad ITBS before and after the AR50 where I had to take several weeks off. It appeared that when I got over 80 miles per week I got injured.

This year I really focused on diet, stretching and doing electronic muscle stimulation (EMS). Peter Defty has really helped me with my diet. Both Kate (my wife) and I started a high protein, high fat, low carbohydrate diet back in January. After 3 weeks of “hell” we started feeling fantastic and our recovery was incredible. We both have been using VESPA which I have found gives me consistent energy and helps with my fat metabolization. I can run 30-40 miles on 2 VESPA’s and 2 gels without any problem.

My key races for the year were the Napa Valley Marathon, AR50 and WS100. I did a 2 week mini taper for each race and focused on my ability to train hard the week following the races. I was able to run 100 mile weeks directly following Napa, AR50 and QS50 without any problems. Again, this is very new as historically I would have to take a down week to recovery after a hard effort, this year I have been strong and able to run well after a hard effort.

With my diet and the EMS (I use the Compex EMS Recovery Program after every run) I have been able to run over 100 miles per week since March. The EMS thing is something I tried about 8 years ago on the recommendation of my chiropractor. After Napa I got a little Achilles Tendonitis from the flats I was wearing, this COMPEX thing got rid of it in two weeks while doing 90-100 miles per week.

I think my marathon time is better 10 years later as I have been doing ultra marathon training with some traditional marathon components. On weekends I will run 30-40 miles on Saturday and 10-20 on Sundays. During the week I have been doing track workouts and tempo runs. For a while, I was doing regular very fast tempo runs on Thursdays with Mark Lantz, and it was a tremendous help to have him push me like that. I can’t thank him enough.

With the focus on the diet as well as recovery components, I have been strong and injury free. It has been awesome…

(Rob on his way to this 2nd place finish at the 2009 Tahoe Rim Trail 100-miler)

3) Your target race for 2010 is Western States. Coming off the 3 day training weekend, how do you feel?

I had a great training weekend. It was my last really hard effort before States. On Saturday I ran 48, Sunday 19 and Monday did from Forest Hill to the Auburn High School (38). The last day I ran it in 5:30 which was great. Frankly, I am a bit tired as last week I got 130 miles in, however, I do not have any indication of injury, just fatigue. The goal for this weekend was to simulate, as best as I could what I will feel like at States the last 38 miles. I ran well.

4) Were you always a runner? Judging by a few of your tattoos, you were once a cyclist too.

I have been doing endurance sports since the late 80’s. I lived in Japan from 88-91 and watched the World Championship Bicycle Race when it was there. I got hooked on the cycling thing and raced road cycling for San Jose State University’s “A” squad for awhile. In 1991 I got picked up by a team called, “Bontrager/Boss Racing” and raced expert cross country for awhile. I also did a little cyclo-cross. Racing bikes took a lot of time to be competitive. You cannot just have a bad few moments like in ultra running and pick it up later. If you get dropped – it is over. So when I went to graduate school I started running to stay in shape. Well, I have an addictive personality so after I finished my Masters Degree I started doing marathons etc. I am sure you know how that goes. My first Ultra was the Quadruple Dipsea. I loved that race.

I have a couple cycling tattoos, some God tattoos and a few others. I am grateful for God and have Isiah 40:31 tattooed in Kanji down my spine. That verse, along with Jasper Halekas, helped me win National Masters 100 Mile Championships last year – thank you God and Jasper.;-)

5) In the last couple of years, you've gotten married and relocated to Pollack Pines deep in the mountains. I've seen Kate's name popping up in race results. Are you the new power couple of trail running?

You know, it is funny – people are asking, “what is in the water in Pollock Pines?” Kate was a great runner in the UK. She competed at the National Level in Cross Country and Track and Field when she was a teenager. She is a fantastic downhill runner. Her first trail races were faster than mine (she did the Quadruple Dipsea as her first Ultra and ran a 5:10). She won her first road marathon this year (Avenue of the Giants). We love the mountains. I really wanted to get out of the bay area and live closer to some high altitude running. 3400 feet is perfect, just a little snow and only a few miles from the high Sierras.

 (Kate picks up a win at the Avenue of the Giants)

6) What does a typical training week look like for you? Any favorite foods/drinks for racing? How do you like to celebrate after a big race?

Lately, since I am focused in 2010 Western States 100, my typical week is about 95-105 miles. I continue some track workouts and tempo. I broke this season down into two sections: flat 50 mile training (AR50) and Canyon Ultra stuff (WS100). I have been doing triple canyons for a couple of months. I also integrate 2-3 total recovery runs per week into my schedule. They are 8-12 miles at an 8-9 minute per mile pace. My tempo has been around 6 minute miles. Prior to Napa my track 800’s were 2:42 and now they are around 2:47-2:50. We will see how this does me for States. My training is outstanding and if I have problems at the race, I can at least say to myself that I did everything I possibly could. When I race, if I don’t do well I am ok with that as long as I tried hard.

My favorite drink is Amino Vital. They are an awesome company and have been working with me for several years now. I love the taste and it sits really well with me. For gels, I really like the Crank Gels as they are a bit more fluid like than other gel products and I can take them down well when I cannot eat during the last 40 of a 100 mile race. I also do PB&J and most anything at an aid station.

I like to celebrate after a big race with a very large, rare steak, potato with sour cream and cheese and a few good movies in bed. I don’t drink alcohol or party at all but love watching movies and sitting around. I have got the best wife and dogs in the world. They give me a lot of joy.

(The family)

7) What motivates you to train and race so much?

Well, I do believe I am an addict – I never had any major issues with it, but quit drinking completely in graduate school. I saw my addictive potential and just stopped. However, I have this genetic thing to go hard, fast and do crazy things. I have progressed in this endurance world over 20 years and think this will be my last year competing in ultrarunning for awhile. We are in an adoption process and I cannot see how I could spend all this time training with a little one. If I cannot be competitive, I will just run trails for fitness. I am not the biggest fan of racing as it does stress me out. As Kevin Swisher said on Saturday, “you put too much pressure on yourself”. He is right!

About 4 years ago I fast-packed the John Muir Trail (JMT) with my good friends Brian Robinson and Sophia Lewis-Robinson. I really enjoyed that trip. I think in the future, I may find other ways similar to the JMT to get “fed” on the trails. I truly experienced God above 10,000’. I think I may try to do it a bit faster and maybe do some other things like the full TRT or the High Sierra Route. Those sound like a lot more fun than training for a 100 mile race.

Man, I am tired just thinking about it!

Thanks for the time, Rob, and good luck at Western States!

- SD