Sunday, December 30, 2012

A Great 2012! Happy New Year, All...

(Quinn and Sophie Jane ham it up with Dad and Mom in the Tahoe snow)
I hope this finds you all well, and enjoying a little downtime as 2012 draws to a close. What a crazy year it has been! So many wonderful trails, an abundance of shared smiles and triumph, all sandwiched into a wicked full dance card. We are blessed to have adventure at every turn.

It all started with a great winter romp through the Pacifica hills at the inaugural Brooks Falls 50k...

...then a new half marathon PR at the San Francisco Half Marathon (1:16:23) set me up for a great run at the hilly Austin Marathon (2:46:05)...

...then a casual Way Too Cool 50k, where ITR teammate Gary Gellin crushed the course record...

...the Boston Marathon was a hot one this year, 20 degrees hotter than the Presidio 10m in San Francisco the day before...

...and I really had fun at the Providian Relay, my first try at a team distance format...

...there were a few hiccups in the season, such as a broken toe, a stomach virus, Hurricane Sandy canceling the NYC Marathon, an unceremonious end with the team I had known for five years, funemployment, and a DNF at the superb Black Hills 100 (my own fault after riding Harley's all day before), but took it all in stride...

...we saw heroes rise and heroes fall, Race Directors come and go, and unfortunately had to say goodbye to a few warriors along the way (Robert and Linda, Micah, Michael)...

...I enjoyed some new cycling adventures at the Auburn Century, the Tour de Menlo, and the Guardsmen Century...

...and had a couple of trips to Europe for the uber-weather challenge of the Ultra Tour de Mont Blanc in Chamonix, France, as well as an opportunity to talk about ultrarunning with all the entrepreneurs at Le Web in Paris this winter...

...combined with a few more great local races in Half Moon Bay, Redwood City, the naked Bay to Breakers, and Woodside, it was a wonderful year! Best of all, friends and family stayed healthy and active, with plenty of adventures all their own.

So what awaits for 2013?!? So many possibilities!!! The Excel spreadsheet is up, and the lottery results are in, so let's get that schedule together. Oh, the places we will go!

Happy New Year, everyone!

- SD 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

What's Behind Career Achievers' Love of Marathons? (Fortune)

Laura Vanderkam of Fortune Magazine wrote an interesting article that looks at the correlation of marathon and triathlon participation and high income households. Some interesting tidbits:
  • The number of U.S. marathon finishers increased from just shy of 300,000 in 2000 to 525,000 in 2011, according to USA Marathon. Roughly 2.5 million people participated in a triathlon in 2011, a huge leap from just under 1.5 million in 2008, according to the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association.
  • In 2006, Mary Wittenberg, CEO of New York Road Runners (which stages the ING New York City Marathon) told the New York Times that her average runner's household income was $130,000. USA Triathlon says the average triathlete's household income is $126,000. (the Ironman guys once told me that the average regular Ironman athlete spends $22,000/year on the sport)
  • Studies have shown that pulling rats off of high exercise routines shows symptoms similar to drug withdrawal. 
Healthy? Not healthy? The article explores a lot, and concludes that as long as you have an identity outside of sports, you're likely okay. Definitely worth a read!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Woodside 50k Winter Wonderland

Last Saturday, I had the pleasure of joining 200+ runners for Inside Trail Racing's Woodside 50k/35k/20k/10k in my hometown of Woodside, CA. It's always a thrill to have a few new friends over to play in my backyard, and thanks to the brave volunteers who put up with the sub 40 degree temps, we all had a great time!

(Huddart Park trails taken with a Lytro camera - try clicking to refocus the picture!)  

I had a little trouble getting to the starting line thanks to a house of sick kids (and my funemployment-adjusted internal clock), but was able to chase after the 50k runners about 15 minutes after they had left the start. Isn't it always the case that the closer you live to a race, the more you struggle to make it in time? It reminds me of being at the start of the 2005 Helen Klein 50m and hearing "3....2...1....go!" while sitting on a port-o-pottie.

No worries. This was the last race of the season, and the goal was to enjoy the simple pleasures of good friends, great trails, and the blissful quiet of the forest. Plus this way I get to meet everyone!

(Not a lot of traffic at the start when you're 15 minutes late)
(Emily Lopez, Magdalena Hurtado, and Mary Smith from Brentwood, CA, tackling the first big climb)
(Pat McKenna shares a smile on the way up)
(Fast movin' on the single track)
The temperature was brisk, and the trail conditions ideal for weaving our way through the redwood canopy up the 2,000' climb to the top of Huddart Park. The 50k and 35k runners had started together, so there were plenty of ad hoc packs working as teams. I was pleased to hear the conversations were about running, nature, the holidays...a welcome distraction from the tragedy in Connecticut that had shell-shocked the world the day before. Perhaps it is because the tragedy is so jarring, it is beyond words, and requires a deeper healing brought only through the shared solace of Mother Natures embrace. Let her show us that our roots must be wide to keep growing tall.
(Keeping a brisk pace in the winter cold)
(PG+E cut a few new sections of Huddart, but the views were nice)
(Michael Weston is rockin' and rollin' through the redwoods)
I refueled at the aptly-named Dunlap Aid Station (mile 6, in my driveway!), where the volunteer elves were hard at work keeping runners fed while support teams were doing their best to stay dry. I had no trouble staying warm in my Icebreaker wool shirt and orange Dunkin' Donuts hat (from the 2011 NYC Marathon), and the Hoka One-One's were eating up the trail debris like all-terrain skis. So far, so good!

(Aid station in my driveway! Christmas came early!)
(Jennifer Telles smiles up the climb)
(The Aldrich's find a common rhythm)
(Ah, gorgeous single track)
(Old growth, young souls says Lori Clerkin)
(Awesome blogger Jill Homer and I try a simul-shoot)
(Beat Jegerlehner gives me a few tips on keeping your camera the Iditarod 350)
PG+E had cut a few more swaths from the hillside, and the fresh scars gave us regulars some new views. The tempo was fast, but not quite as fast as Elliot Wright who came blazing back leading the marathoners. Too fast for my camera!

The Wunderlich aid station (mile 12) was quite cool, and the volunteers urged us to get down the hill to cut the cold factor. I tagged along with Clare Abram, who was charging the hills and having a great race, and she told me all about the craziness of volunteering at The North Face 50 last weekend. This race will be a piece of cake compared to that!

(Soft and leafy trails)
(In the land of giants)
(Flamingos indicate an aid station is coming up!)
As I took the long descent into Wunderlich Park, I eased into a familiar rhythm tempered from thousands of trips down this same trail over the last decade. It is as familiar as kin, yet every step is a welcome surprise. One run, a hundred runs, a thousand...I can never get enough.

The front runners were heading back up as I started the lollipop loop that marks the halfway point, with Oakland's Phil Shaw and Sean Handel from Moss Beach leading the way. That means they were a solid 40 minutes ahead on top of my 15 minute faux-pas! Phil seemed to be moving the fastest, but the others kept him in sight. I met some nice horses and their people on the return back up, and they were delighted to see so many people out and about on this winter day.

(Winter berries add a side of red)
(Michael Towle leads the climb back)
(Sean sneaks through the redwoods and ferns)
(Making new friends in Wunderlich Park)
One more refill at the Wunderlich aid station (mile 21), and I found a nice cruising gear to head back. The iPod was cranked with Soundgarden's new album, King Animal, and Chris Cornell's voice pulled me through the canyons.

(Climbing along the single track)
(Gravity is our friend!)
The volunteers at the Dunlap aid station (mile 26) were still all smiles, despite a light rain starting to fall. It was tempting to head back up the driveway to my toasty hot tub, but I knew there would be plenty of soup and good cheer at the finish. Clare Abram caught up with me again, and we charged down Huddart Park towards the finish, grunting a bit when we realized ITR had routed the course the "hard way" (to the bottom of Crystal Springs and back up) vs the "easy way" (taking the road, and no more uphill). But no problem - we arrived soon enough, with the clock reading five o' something.

(Heading down the Chinquapin Trail as a light rain falls)
(Clare cruises in)
As we warmed up with chicken soup and snacks, Sean let me know how the race unfolded up front. Phil Shaw had dropped the gang on that climb out of Wunderlich, winning in 4:05, with Sean (4:15), Michael Towle (4:26) and a few others right behind. Caroline Barichievich won the Women's division in 5 hours, and Clare Abram (5:09) got second. Elliot Wright (3:04) prevailed in the 35k, with Nettie Halcomb Roozeboom (3:30) taking the Women's title. Fun was had by all, and no issues with hypothermia or anything! Nice job, everyone.

I got one last handful of Cheez-It's, and hiked back home to plug in my Jawbone UP and laugh about "Scott clocked a workout of 48,954 steps and burned 5,383 calories". Hmmm...think one of us can crack 100,000 steps at the Miwok 100k? ;-).

(Screenshot of the Jawbone UP's interpretation of the Woodside 50k...can you see the three aid station stops?
It sure was fun to see everyone and wish them a happy holiday season. We have much to be thankful for, especially those of us with the time, health, and good fortune to climb mountains, hang with fun people, and build a close relationship with nature. Thank you, ITR and your great volunteers, for a fun race and a day of adventure!

Best to you and yours...


Friday, December 14, 2012

Treadmill FAIL Compilation - Watch Your Step! (Video)

As winter settles in, many of us dust off the treadmill for our daily runs. Just make sure you pay attention - the only thing worse than trail/road rash is the belt-sender-esque treadmill rash. Yikes!


Wednesday, December 05, 2012

One Ultrarunner's Journey to Measure The Human Spirit - Presenting at Le Web Paris, 2012

Today, I had the pleasure of presenting at a great conference in Paris called Le Web. put on by two amazing people (and runners!), Geraldine and Loic Le Meur. Instead of talking Internet and start-ups, I got to talk about ultrarunning! Specifically, my attempts to use GPS, HRM, Jawbone Up, and other technology to track what is happening in a race and see if I can "measure the human spirit" and learn more about those awesome euphoric moments that we all know so well. The theme of the conference was the "Internet of Things" - all of these new devices that measure and connect to the Internet, like watches, refrigerators, homes, and more.

Here are the slides and my slide notes below. I hope you enjoy it! If I've missed anything important, please do add a comment. I hope to give it a few more times.

Slide 1: Thank you for having me. This is a fun treat for me to be here with you, talking about running. Like many of you, I am an entrepreneur. I have done five start-ups, and am currently at Tenth Dimension Design Labs where we help start-ups and luxury brands develop organic growth strategies. But as you heard from my intro, I also like to run. A LOT. [Photo courtesy of Marc Soller] 

Slide 2: Like 'Forrest Gump' a lot. This guy is my hero. And I find the more that I run trails... [photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures] 

Slide 3: ...the more energy, optimism, and enthusiasm I have for everything in my life. Start-ups, family, friends, music, screenplays, everything. Why is that? Shouldn’t I be more tired the more I run? Where is that energy coming from? What is the source of that power? And with the Internet of Things, maybe it can be measured and understood? This is the journey I would like to share with you today, and hope to leave you with a few thoughts on how to tap into that in both your personal and professional lives. [photo courtesy of Chris Spread] 

Slide 4: Is the destiny of the Internet of Things to make us lazy? You may recognize this picture from the movie WALL-E, where the ultimate evolution of technology enables mankind to never leave their lounge chair, get media served up to them 24x7, and drink cupcake in a cup. Which now that I think about it, sounds absolutely delicious. But joking aside, we all know that convenience is king. Every company presenting here today is making it easier to do something. It is natural to take the path of least resistance. Does this mean laziness is our technology-driven destiny? [Photo courtesy of Pixar] 

Slide 5: Why do any of us do anything hard? Why would Benjamin Cichy build a rover that can land on Mars, when he can make more money monitoring water flow in a government run utility (unfortunately true)? Why does Scott Harrison and Charity:Water try and solve the African Water crisis when he could have sipped Crystal and flashed his Rolex all night as night club promoter? Why strap yourself to a parachute and surf waves backwards with the gang at Mai Tai, drinking gallons of seawater in the process, when you could just sit on the beach and admire? (these are all presenters who were before me) Loic and Geraldine (Le Web creators and directors) – why not just do a webinar instead of create Le Web? That technology exists, and everyone here uses it.

Slide 6: Ask this enough, and you'll inevitably hear the response "because it's my passion". Not a hobby or an interest, but a true passion. Something that demands a life pursuit, giving all your mind, body, and spirit can conjure, and you give it willingly. You’ll take 1,000 brush strokes to get the sunset just right in a painting, then crumple it up and do it all again. You’ll break 1,000 eggs to make that crème brulee perfect. You will spend 15 hours/day making your start-up the best that it can be, so deep in the code that your dreams look like the Matrix, and never question the devotion it takes. Tireless discipline. Courage and persistence. Anything to make that ambition a reality. But those who know will tell you it feels nearly effortless.

Slide 7: Passion is Powerful. It can overcome every obstacle, every no, every impossibility. It gives the human race our greatest breakthroughs and our heroes. Our Olympic champions, our Tour d-Eiffel and Arc de Triomphe, Cezanne’s and Da Vinci’s, our Steve Jobs, our Bill and Melinda Gates.

Slide 8: Passion is Infinite. It never stops. It knows no bounds. And passionate people can’t contain it in just one discipline – it leaks into every part of their life, injecting it with energy and optimism. Passion is amplified when it is shared. In the heat of competition, in a heat of a crowded start up garage office, in the heat of the data center for sites like Pinterest and Evernote who capture passion for others. You can feel it when you enter a start-up. It’s palpable. Just like in rooms like this one, where we all share and encourage each other.

Slide 9: I believe passion is the core of the human spirit. Passion is the greatest energy source I know, and can lead to all-natural euphoric moments. It’s that perpetual euphoria that I want to know more about.

Slide 10: Can passion be measured? There’s only one way to find out. And that’s to dive head first into your passion and measure everything you can.

Slide 11: My passion is ultra running, something I share with ~40,000 fellow warriors around the globe. These are long distance running events of 30-100 miles, usually over the craziest terrain Mother Nature can put in front of us, such as difficult mountain passes, deserts, river runs, you name it.

This is a picture of Anton Krupicka, one of the hero’s of our sport, wearing all the necessary items - shoes, shirts, and a water bottle. That's it. And it could be argued that these items are also unneeded if running naked was more socially acceptable. I should note that we don't all look this fit (although I wish I did); since ultrarunning is as much a battle of the mind and spirit as it is a challenge to the body, lots of body shapes can find success.

Ultrarunning is exhilarating. It is incredibly challenging. It is the purest test of the body, mind, and spirit I have found, and like Forrest Gump, I just can’t get enough of it.

Slide 12: Technology has enabled a number of new ways to measure what is happening in an ultra marathon. The “Internet of Me” can track your movement, sleep cycles, and more thanks to companies like Fitbit, Jawbone, Nike, and Striiv. Advancement in the area has been amazing. Just last week, Basis Science announced the Health Tracker which includes a galvanic skin sensor on the back of the watch to capture perspiration, skin temperature, and even emit an LED light into your veins to measure heart rate. Simply amazing.

Slide 13: You can also now track the world around you in what I call the Internet of Now. Fluid monitors can track your water input, and watches from Polar and Garmin can give GPS, alititude, temperature, and more. One underappreciated technology is the instrumentation of the race itself. Here is a disposable D-Tag which when strapped to your shoe (anyone who has run a large 10k, half marathon, or marathon will recognize these), will not only confirm you've done the whole course, but also post to Facebook in real-time to let your friends know every checkpoint. I’ve had fun hacking this with to send me back a text and let me know where my competition is.

Slide 14: The trick of course is to not go “full Borg” (Star Trek reference) and lose track of the essence of running. But it can tell you a lot about what is happening during an event, and give some insight into those moments of euphoria I seek out. It can also help me explain the different characteristics of road marathons and trail ultra marathons.

Slide 15: To give us a starting point, here is an altitude chart of the Boston Marathon, one of the oldest and best known marathons in the world. At mile 21 is the infamous Heartbreak Hill, feared by runners and responsible for hundreds of thousands of hill repeat workouts around the world. At the last Boston Marathon, I burned 2412 calories, about as much as an average adult burns in a day. I took 27,488 steps, about 4x the daily average, and consumed 50 oz of water, not nearly enough, but there you go.

Slide 16: If you compare the Boston Marathon to a typical ultramarathon like the Woodside 50k near my home in California, you can see right away it’s a different beast. While only five miles longer, the terrain is much more dramatic which requires 50%+ more calories, steps, and water. If fact, what you take in (calories, water, electrolytes) now becomes a big part of the race, and determines your success as much as your raw speed. But this still does not compare to the granddaddy of ultrarunning, the 100-mile run.

Slide 17: Here is the Boston Marathon and Woodside 50k compared to the Wasatch 100-mile run in the Wasatch mountains of Utah. Note that you start at 5,000 feet and do more climbing in the first 10 miles than most people do in a month, burning nearly as many calories as the entire Boston Marathon. Then you only have 90 more miles to go! The numbers start to tell more about the effort required. Over 15,000 calories means you are doing the equivalent of burning almost 5 pounds of fat in a single day. 130,000 steps is nearly 2x the weekly average for a your day-to-day life, and the goal is to finish in less than 24 hours if you can. It took me 27 and change in this race. It is truly a beast.

Slide 18: Wasatch is a tough race, but not nearly the toughest. The Hardrock 100 in Colorado starts near 10,000 feet (~3000 meters), and goes to 14,000 (~4000 meters). And the Leadville 100 never goes below 10,000 feet. Last summer I did the Ultra Tour de Mont Blanc, a circumnavigation of Mont Blanc in France, Switzerland, and Italy, (when weather cooperates, that is) and saw these kinds of numbers. And although it’s nice to lose 5 lbs in one day, this isn’t why we do ultras.

Slide 19: This is why we do ultras.

Slide 20: And this is why we do ultras.

Slide 21: When you’re out in Mother Nature, the proportions are staggering. See if you can find the runner in this picture! Each mountain seems impossible, but you break it down, and you do it. And there are glorious moments of euphoria when you do.

Slide 22: One thing I’ve noticed is that each of these races has a similar path to that moment of euphoria. Here’s a perceived exertion scale, where you feel good to euphoric, or bad from rough patch to “please kill me now”. I make a note every 30 minutes about how I feel, and lo and behold, a recognizable pattern occurs.

Slide 23: It's an oscillating cycle. The farther you go, the higher the amplitude, and the more condensed the cycle time.

Slide 24: I've come to know to the down parts as the Wall, the Pit, and the Abyss. You’ve heard about “hitting the wall” – when your body says no more, usually around mile 20. Runners feel this when your body starts giving you clues to stop, like side stitches, cramps, headaches, you name it. But if you get through it, you find a rhythm where you actually feel better than when you did at the start.

Next comes“the Pit”. When your body couldn't get you to stop, your mind goes next by conjuring every "you can't", "you're not good enough", and "you're a loser" you've heard your whole life. You would be surprised how much of that crap is back in your subconscious. I've heard nah-nah-nah's from 4th grade recess. But soon you figure out you can turn it off like a spigot, and that you control those voices in your head, if they are negative/positive, etc., and that you can also choose to just have the silence of your steps.

When the body is tamed and the mind is silenced, you hit "the Abyss" (for me around mile 70-85). This is where you are forced to dig deep. Who am I? What is my purpose? What is my place in this universe? If you want to get out of the abyss, you have to shed yourself of any emotional "drag". You can't be stressing about a board meeting, a fight with your spouse, your teenager's grades on the math test, nothing. If your brain and heart are cluttered at the start, you don’t make it. You have what we call a "DNF" - Does Not Finish. Some DNF's have to happen because, well, you might have broken a foot or can't keep any food down. But most ultrarunners know that a majority of DNF's occur because your mind and spirit weren't ready. You quickly learn the key to success is to start lean with your emotional baggage.

A start up has a similar journey. The Wall is that first product, which as we all know, is very challenging to get live. The Pit is when you finally have a few dozen customers telling you to go in a dozen directions all at once. The Abyss is when you have a near-self-sustaining business based on a completely new business model that everyone is doubting (think Andrew Mason at Groupon). You gotta start lean and be focused, or you will never make it. Don't DNF, guys, get there. And just like in ultramarathons, the support of your fellow warriors can help make that difference.

Slide 25: If you do get through the abyss, you reach the point of euphoria that I’ve been trying so hard to measure and understand. And it’s fascinating to see what the data says about this moment, typically 70-85 miles into the race for me.

Slide 26: One of the most amazing things about this state is that your heart rate actually lowers 10-15% WHILE your speed increases 10%. Your body reaches an optimal state of moving forward, right at the same time your mind is in pure bliss with just the rhythm of your steps. And this is after running 70+ miles! When I share this with elite athletes, they say "yeah, that's called 'flow'". When I talk to Buddhists, they call it Mushin. Yogi's tell me I am enlightened, and can control my body. Coaches tell me I am "in the zone". But the thing is, they all know what I'm referring to - this human condition is well known to many, and can be achieved through meditation, fasting, prayer, practiced visions, and more. After getting feedback, I'm realizing you don't have to run 70+ miles to get there. Now that I know the state I'm reaching for, I can get a taste of it with a 30 minute run in the forest. Similarly, when I see a hot start up like Torbit working hard in many directions and wondering if they are "crushing it", I can help them see what an effortless rhythm feels like. Practicing your passions pays dividends, sometimes literally.

Slide 27: One fascinating piece of feedback that I received was that it could be a chemical called "anandamide", which was discovered in 1992 at Hebrew University when researching the effects of marijuana (shout out to the stoners!). Professors at UC Irvine are investigating the effects of anandamide and how, combined with a healthy dose of dopamine and endorphins, may explain how the body creates that ideal euphoric state with endless energy, pain cessation, and suppressed appetite/caloric needs.

Slide 28: The biggest question I get from others is “what does that feel like”. The best way to explain it is through a quick story. In 100 mile races, we often have a friend who “crews”, meeting up with us every 5-15 miles to make sure we’re doing well. At mile 85 at the 2010 Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run, my brother-in-law Brian asked me how I was doing. This is what I said (see slide). It seemed to best encapsulate what I was feeling, this connection to all the living things around me, and it's still the most accurate description I've found. I know it sounds a little out there, but it feels AMAZING.

Slide 29: So, aside from the fact that Scott is seriously off the deep end, can we derive any conclusions? This journey has just begun for me, but since it is a passion, it will certainly continue. I'm very excited to collect more data in 2013 and beyond, and to see what the Internet of Things can bring to the table to help us understand it.

I have learned a few lessons of life in general in the process of shedding emotional baggage for these races as well, and would like to share those with you.

Slide 30: Encourage passion in those around you. If you already know your passion, or if you have children, this may seem obvious. Given that I'm talking to 3,000 entrepreneurs, it's likely preaching to the choir. But you would be surprised how many work environments I have seen where people don't even know the passions of people they have sat next to for years.

I’ve found two easy ways to do this. First, just ASK them. Take a co-worker out to lunch, ask them about their passions, and keep an open mind. I've learned more about cricket, spoon collecting, quilting, kitesurfing, building classic motorcycles, what it takes to run a food truck, salsa dancing, poetry, photography, countries and cultures of the world, and more by doing this. It's better than cruising Quora or TED, I tell you. Second, if you are a CEO or Manager in particular, ask them when their next vacation is. If they don’t have one, hound them until they do. Give them free vacation days to pursue their passions if you have to, but don’t let them get eddied in the mundane. One day off will produce man-weeks of results. At my last two start ups, it was mandatory to have a vacation planned for just this reason.

Slide 31: I’m not a fan of the term “work/life balance” because it implies opposing forces. You can be passionate about your work, and allow passion to boost it. Think only in terms of life balance, and how one source of passion can invite adventure into every part of your life. If you ever hear somebody say the term "work/life balance", here's what I want you to do. Hold out your arm, open your palm, and slap them across the face. This works particularly well with Human Resource people, who tend to be the biggest abusers of this phrase. They mean well, though. Just tell them it was my idea. I'm sure they will understand.

Slide 32: I suspect you have all heard the phrase “this isn’t a sprint, this is a marathon”. Well for some of us, a marathon is a sprint. And when that’s the case, you gotta pack lean. In life, this means letting your passions ask the hard questions. Don’t wait for a cancer diagnosis to find out what drives you, just find out. Shed the worthless negative emotions of guilt, envy, hate, and regret to lighten your load. Be ready for the next challenge, and be hungry for it. In start-ups, this also means taking the time to ask the hard questions early with all of your employees, as well as your initial customers. Not just what you are going to do, but what you’re not going to do. Wicked focus. Disciplined strategy. Get lean.

Slide 33: When you identify the known pain stages (wall, pit, abyss) in advance, they don’t seem as bad. Celebrate them. When everyone around you is gritting their teeth, and you’re the one saying “yes! We’re in the PIT!”….then everyone knows an upswing is on the horizon. Passion will get you to that point of euphoria. 

Slide 34: There is no greater feeling than life success through the rigors of passion. If you're not on this path, you need to change direction. Now. Find a passion, embrace it, let it spill over into your lives. Then keep going, because like Forrest Gump knew, it will feel effortless. We all live ordinary lives until a passion comes along and turns it into a fairly tale. Live your life to have good stories, my friends.

Slide 35: This was quite a treat for me to talk about passion and ultra running, and I hope that it was a refreshing break from API's, platforms, and Internet gadgets. Thank you again, and I hope to see you on the trails!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Max King, Mike Morton, Connie Gardner And Other Champions Named USATF Runners of the Year

The Mountain/Ultra/Trail running (MUT) council of long distance running has named the 2012 USATF Mountain Runners of the year, Ultra Runners of the Year, Trail Runners of the Year, Trail Championship Series winners, and Contributor of the Year.

The following individuals will be recognized at the USATF Annual Meetings in Daytona Beach on December 1.

(Sage Canaday winning the 2012 Mount Washington Road Race, photo courtesy of Dennis Coughlin/AP)
Mountain men open: Sage Canaday, Boulder, CO, is the recipient of the Lyndon Ellefson Memorial Award as the Runner of the Year in this category. Canaday won the 2012 USA Mountain Running Championship by winning the Mt. Washington Road Race, clocking the fastest time ever by an American. He finished in 5th place at the Jungfrau Mountain Marathon, leading the USA mountain team to a second-place finish in the Long-Distance World Mountain Running Challenge. And in his debut 50-mile trail race, Canaday won the White River 50, breaking the course record by nine minutes.
(Dave Dunham, photo by Scott Mason)
Mountain men master: Dave Dunham, Bradford, MA, dominated his 45-49 years age group in mountain running and cross country in the Northeast in 2012, as demonstrated by his winning his age group in the USATF New England Mountain Running series and taking first place in his age group in USATF New England Mountain Running Championships. Dunham also excelled in running on trails, roads, and track.

(Morgan Arritola competing at the World Mountain Running Championship)
Mountain women open: Morgan Arritola, Ketchum, ID, achieved her Runner of the Year award by winning - with but one exception - every race she entered in 2012. The exception was a stellar achievement in itself: the individual bronze medal at the World Mountain Running Championships; Arritoa led the USA women to the team gold medal.

(Laura Haefeli, photo courtesy of
Mountain women master: Laura Haefeli, Del Norte, CO, led the master’s field at the USA Mountain Running Championships at Mt. Washington, where she was the 4th place woman overall and set the age 44 course record. She was the top female master as well at Loon Mountain, finishing 7th overall and qualifying for the USA world mountain team.

(Mike Morton at his American record-breaking 172 mile run at the World 24-Hour Championships)
Ultra men open: Mike Morton, Lithia, FL, has won the Ted Corbitt Memorial Award for his selection as the USATF Men’s Ultra Runner of the Year. “Ultra” does not begin to describe Morton’s impressive season in 2012. He won the World 24-Hours Championships, breaking the American record with a distance of over 172 miles. Morton also won the notorious Badwater ultramarathon, a race of 135 miles in Death Valley, California. In addition, Morton had multiple sub-14-hours finishes in other 100-mile races, breaking course records along the way.

(Roy Pirrung)
Ultra men master: Roy Pirrung, Kohler, WI, competing in the 60-64 years age group, once again won multiple USA titles to become Runner of the Year in this category. Pirrung won the national championship in the USATF 50km Championships at Caumsett Park, Long Island, NY, then came back to win another national title in the Burning River 100-mile USATF trail championships near Cleveland, OH.
(Connie Gardner on her American Record setting run of 149.3 miles at the 2012 World 24-Hours Championships, photo courtesy of IAU)
Ultra women open: Connie Gardner, Medina, OH, had another blockbuster season in 2012, to win the USATF Ruth Anderson Award as Runner of the Year in this category. Gardner won the USATF women’s 50-mile national championship in both the open and masters classes. She won both the open and masters first-place prizes at the USATF women’s100-mile trail championships. And Gardner led the USA women to the team gold medal in the IAU World 24-Hours Championships, taking home the individual silver medal for second place; in doing so, Gardner set a new American women’s record of 149.3 miles.

Ultra women master: Connie Gardner doubles this year as Runner of the Year in this category, to go with her award as Runner of the Year in the Ultra women open class.

(Max King at XTerra)
Trail men open: Max King, Bend, OR, for the second consecutive year, is the trail men’s open award recipient. King repeated his victories from 2011 in this year’s USA Half Marathon Trail Championships and USA 50km Trail Championships. He was the winner of the XTERRA National Trail Running Championships, the Siskiyou Out Back 50km Trail Race, the Ultra Race of Champions 100K, and the Transrockies 3-day event, among other fine race performances.

(Tim Van Orden)
Trail men master: Tim Van Orden, Bennington, VT, is a repeat winner in this Runner of the Year category. Van Orden finished as the first masters competitor in the USA Marathon Trail Championships, the USA Half-Marathon Trail Championships, and the USA 50km Trail Championships. In addition to his running, Van Orden competed at the highest levels cross country skiing and snowshoe racing.
(Stevie Kremer)
(Megan Kimmel winning the 2012 Continental Divide USATF 10k Championships)
Trail women open: Co-winners in this Runner of the Year category are Stevie Kremer, Crested Butte, CO and Megan Kimmel, Silverton, CO. Kremer won the Jungfrau Marathon in Switzerland, the 2012 world championship race, and placed 7th in the World Mountain Running Association Championships. Kimmel won the USA 10km trail championship in course-record time, and finished a close second in the USA Half-Marathon Trail Championships.

(Julie Thomas, photo courtesy of the Deseret News)
Trail women master: Julie Thomas, Canby, OR, was selected as Runner of the Year in this class with a pair of outstanding age-group performances. She was the gold medallist for women in the 40-49 group at the USA Trail Marathon Championships (9th place overall), and the silver medallist for women in the 45-49 group at the USA 50km Trail Championships (8th place overall).

(Jason Bryant, photo courtesy of La Sportiva)
USA Trail Championships Series Winners: Megan Kimmel, Silverton, CO and Jason Bryant, Elkin, NC are the USATF Trail Series Champions for 2012. These individual series winners are the athletes who garnered the most points in the 2012 annual USA Trail Championships (sub-ultra) series of events. The events include the 10km, half marathon, and marathon trail championships.

(Tom Raffio)
Contributor of the Year – Tom Raffio, President of Northeast Delta Dental, Concord, NH
Northeast Delta Dental and Tom Raffio, the firm’s president and chief executive officer, have been avid and generous supporters of the USA mountain running. Northeast Delta Dental has been the primary sponsor of the USA Mountain Running Championships for the past three years and has committed again to be title sponsor for 2013.

For a list of past winners in the other categories, please visit

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