Saturday, January 28, 2012

New Trail Goodies for 2012 Spotted at the Outdoor Retailer Show

Cielestia Calbay of Competitor Magazine has a great recap of the hot products spotted at the Outdoor Retailer Show in Salt Lake City, UT, last weekend. Be sure to check out the whole article (Part 1 and Part 2).

A few of the things that look impressive to me:

Pearl Izumi’s $180 Ultra Barrier WxB Jacket which not only looks comfy, but has a few new features like an abrasion print on the shoulders to keep your pack from moving around. What a great simple innovation!

The $80 Eton Mobius solar charger for the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S fits on the back, and lets you know when you're fully charged. Genius. (video review)

Instafire is a new innovation in fire starting that allows you to carry fire in your hands! Owner Gary Banner says, “It’s a mixture of volcanic rock and wood pellets. The rock absorbs seven times its weight of our burning elements. A cup of InstaFire will burn from 20 to 25 minutes, with a flame 10 to 12 inches high.”

The New Balance Winter 110 training boot has a flexible, water-resistant gaiter that you can fold down or up in changing conditions. Sounds perfect for snowshoeing.

Goal Zero's Sherpa 50 portable battery has been reduce in weight to a half a pound, meaning campers (and aid stations!) can now power refrigerators, laptops, stereos, and more absolutely noise free. Well, except for the stereo, of course. Sounds like an aid station must! I vote for the beer fridges at every aid station, and we do the ultra version of the beer mile.

Columbia is now using their thermal reflective Omni-heat technology in footwear, such as in the Master Fly multisport shoe. I bought Christi one of the battery-powered heated Columbia jackets for the holidays (it is called the "Snow Hottie", after all), and it's lined with the super-warm, water resistant Omni-heat layer. The jacket is a little spendy, and a tad bit Tron Goes Skiing, but you thank your lucky stars when you get six hours of delicious battery-powered warmth seeping into your bones. Another aid station volunteer gear must!

Fria has a new pack for dogs...think they make them in pug sizes?!?

The new Zipfy Mini Luge super-fast sled. Yeah? Oh, hell yeah. I can see it now...Zipfy + GoPro Camera = a whole new genre of blooper/crash videos.

Photos courtesy of and Salt Lake's City Weekly.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Inaugural Brooks Falls 50k

Last Sunday, I had the great pleasure of joining ~100 trail runners for the inaugural Brooks Falls 50k put on by Inside Trail Racing. A little rain, a little wind, and a lot of smiles made for a perfect start to the 2012 season!

The Brooks Falls 50k is a hilly monster that climbs over 8,000' vertical in a two loop format in San Pedro Valley Park in Pacifica, CA. The weather had been challenging the few days before (my house had no power most of the weekend thanks to storms), but fate intervened just in time for our 8:30am start and gave us a relatively clear day to get our groove on. This was certain to be one of those races where the volunteers were the true heroes for braving the weather while we gallivanted about - so nice of them to give us an excuse to have some muddy fun!

(Tim Long gives us last minute instructions)

(Racers prepare while Jason Wolf shoots the duck)

(Ultra Runner Podcast's Eric Schranz capturing the inaugural event)

(Hanging with teammates Gary Gellin and Sarah Lavender Smith)

(Jill Homer, Beat Jegerlehner and friends keeping it fun)
I was stoked to see many familiar faces ready to put in some miles while the rest of the San Francisco area was gearing up for the NFC Championship game between the 49'ers and the NY Giants (sorry 'bout that, Niners). My Inside Trail Racing teammates Gary Gellin (tackling the Half Marathon) and Sarah Lavender Smith (30k) were ready to blaze the shorter distances, while ultra regulars JR Mintz, Darryl Haber, the wicked fast Leigh Schmitt, Beat Jegerlehner, ultracyclist Jill Homer (also UTMB-bound!), and recent ultra-convert Jason Wolf joined two dozen others for the 50k. At 8:30am, the Tim's sent us off for the first big climb.
(Jason hams it up)

(Sarah charges the hill)
(Scenic single track)
(The foggy trees were really cool)
It didn't take long for us to settle into a rhythm through the dense foliage along the creek, and I tagged along with Jason Wolf, Darren Young, and a pack of 30k runners as we zigged up the single track. Views of the ocean caught our glances, while the wet rocks would snap us back to attention with little slips here and there. As we broke out onto the fire road near the top, Gary Gellin and Jonathan Gundersen were already returning, setting a crazy pace for the half marathoners.

I got some flack from the other runners for donning my "moon boots", the Hoka One One Mafetes, but I have to tell ya, there's something very interesting about these shoes. They don't seem to make me faster, but they cut my recovery time in half and make the downhills a lot of fun to bomb. I was curious to see if they had enough traction to hold up in wet and muddy conditions, so this was a good race to try them out. A short sleeve wool shirt, sleeves, and ear warmers seemed to be enough to fight off the wind and rain, while Injinji wool socks kept the toes warm.

(Levitating in my moon boots)
I ran into the first aid station along with Ultra Grand Slammer Franz Dill, who was telling me he had his name drawn for Western States for a third time in a row. Geez! I felt like taking him down to 7-11 to buy some lottery tickets. Darren Young joined us for the next double-hump loop, after stopping to move some course markings that had led a few astray, and we braved the rainy wind that got a little bit stronger with each pass.
(Franz Dill, trail runner and daddy extraordinaire)

(Darren Young bears the number - and stride - of The BEAST!)
It was fun to catch up with Franz and hear about how his family cheered in the New Year from the emergency room, thanks to his son taking a fall at the playground (all is fine). Ah, of the few things scarier than the Ultra Grand Slam! Franz led us back to the aid station, then bid adieu to finish the 30k while Darren and I went back up the big mountain again. The volunteers were holding on tight to the aid station canopies threatening to take flight with each burst of coastal wind.

(Volunteers hang on tight!)
My climbing felt strong, and I suspected it was the weekly 10x800 routine giving my legs some pep. It appeared I was in 4th place behind a raging fast Leigh Schmitt, Jason Wolf, and Jan Rohde, a runner from Hamburg, Germany, who had relocated to pursue research at Stanford. Leigh and Jason were a solid 20 minutes ahead, so I paced to catch up to Jan, and then embraced my Moon Boot Powers to pass him on the descent. The rain started to come down harder, so I stashed the camera and put on the iPod when I got to the aid station.

I caught Jason Wolf just before hitting the fourth climb, and he was walking back citing some knee issues caused by slipping on the mud. I nodded, knowing I had skated into a few of the switchbacks myself. Too bad - Jason has really done well in his first six months on the ultra scene, including a 7:02 at the Last Chance 50-miler. I think we'll be seeing lots of him this year!

(Darryl Haber getting it done)
The rain picked up again, but it couldn't wash the ear-to-ear smile from my face. Something about this event was bringing me back to the humble roots of why we love this sport. No sponsors on my shirt, no 500+ people at the start, just a gaggle of outdoor enthusiasts making the most of a great winter day. No one captured this spirit more than Chris "Russ" Thomas, who had come all the way from Overland Park, Kansas, to join us for the 50k. You could NOT get the smile off that guys face, and every time I saw him, I found myself grinning for miles. The volunteers would later tell me that he used to weight 400 lbs and caught the ultrarunning bug last year...that guy is my hero!

(Beautiful Pacifica below)
I made the most of the last lap, slowing a bit to navigate the muddy sections, before arriving in 4:54 for second place. Leigh Schmitt had won handily (4:32), with Jan (5:10) and Darren (5:17) coming in soon behind me. Audrey Reyes (5:39) won the Women's division, as did Sarah Lavender Smith in the 30k. Gary Gellin put down a huge time winning the half marathon (1:34).

As I warmed up with chicken soup, it donned on me that I had finished ~20 minutes faster than doing an easier course here four years ago. I'm not sure if it's the training or the crazy shoes, but something is working well! With that, I said my thanks to the volunteers and headed home to watch some football.

Bravo to Inside Trail Racing for a great inaugural race (and nice t-shirts!). They have plenty more races on their agenda for the year, so if you're in the mood for some low-key outdoor fun with great people, this is the place!

Jan 22
Brooks Falls 10K, Half Marathon, 30K, 50K San Pedro Valley Park Pacifica, CA
Feb 25
Chabot 10K, Half Marathon, 30K, 50K Lake Chabot Regional Park Castro Valley, CA
Mar 18
Rodeo Valley 8K, Half Marathon, 30K, 50K Rodeo Beach, GGNRA Sausalito, CA
Mar 24
Woodside Ramble 10K, Half Marathon, 36K, 50K Huddart County Park Woodside, CA
Mar 31
Redwood Peak 10K, Half Marathon, 30K, 50K Redwood Regional Park Oakland, CA
Apr 28
Folsom Lake 10K, Half, Marathon, 50K Folsom Point Folsom, CA
May 6
Big Trees 10K, Half Marathon, 30K, 50K Joaquin Miller Park Oakland, CA
May 20
Tilden Trail Adventure 10K, Half Marathon, 30K, 50K Tilden Regional Park Berkeley, CA
June 3
K2 Summit 10K, Half Marathon, 35K, 50K Cool – Auburn Cool, CA
Jun 16
Pacifica Foothills 10K, Half Marathon, 30K, 50K San Pedro Valley Park Pacifica, CA
Jun 30
Inside Trail Endurance Challenge 50K & 50 Miles GGNRA & Mt. Tamalpais Rodeo Beach, CA
Jul 7
Mt. Diablo 10K, Marathon, 50K Mt. Diablo State Park Clayton, CA
Jul 22
La Sportiva Table Rock 25K GGNRA & Mt. Tamalpais Stinson Beach, CA
Aug 4
Santa Cruz 10K, Half Marathon, 30K, 50K Henry Cowell S.P. Santa Cruz, CA
Aug 25
Big Trees 10K, Half Marathon, 30K, 50K Joaquin Miller Park Oakland, CA
Sep 9
Auburn Trail Run 10K, Half Marathon, 35K, 50K Cool – Auburn Cool, CA
Sep 16
Marsh Land Trail Run 5K, 10K, Half Marathon Coyote Hills Regional Park Fremont, CA
Sep 30
Redwood Peak 10K, Half Marathon, 30K, 50K Redwood Regional Park Oakland, CA
Oct 7
To be announced soon 5K – Half Marathon

Oct 14
Briones Crest 10K, Half Marathon, Marathon Briones Regional Park Lafayette, CA
Oct 28
Falcon Crest 10K, Half, Marathon, 50K Folsom Point Folsom, CA
Nov 4
To be announced soon Half Marathon – 50 Miles

Nov 11
Mt. Tam 10K, Half Marathon, 30K, 50K GGNRA & Mt. Tam Stinson Beach, CA
Dec 15
Woodside Ramble 10K, Half Marathon, 36K, 50K Huddart County Park Woodside, CA
Dec 30
Rodeo Valley 8K, Half Marathon, 30K, 50K Rodeo Beach, GGNRA Sausalito, CA

Monday, January 23, 2012

Oldest Ultrarunner in the USA? (Meadville Tribune)

The Meadville Tribune has a great article on Francis Albaugh, whom at 90 years young continues to race track, road, and ultras. UltraRunning Magazine says he may be the oldest active ultrarunner in the US, and he has 446 races under his belt even after starting late at age 57. It's a fun read - check it out here.

My favorite quote:
“When I run, I feel good,” Albaugh said. “If I would stop running, I would just slow down physically and mentally. When I run, I’m awake and alive.”
The fountain of youth! And check out his pic...this guy looks good. Who else can sport a midriff and tattoed arms at 90?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Chrissie Wellington Says "No Ironman" for 2012

Four-time (and current) Ironman World Champion Chrissie Wellington is taking 2012 off from Ironman to "pursue other interests", citing an interest in charity work and promoting her new book. Wow! That's a serious champion who can walk away with the current world title, world record, and a perfect record in the sport (13/13). I know a lot of Ironman fanatics, and asking them to part from their beloved sport is like asking them to change religions.

I thought for sure she was announcing a plan to get to the Olympics, a la Chris McCormack in 2010, but it sounds like she has even greater ambitions. Wishing her all the best...

- SD

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Goodbye and Thank You, Team Inov-8!

Team Inov-8 for 2012 was announced on their blog yesterday, and it appears I'm no longer on the roster. Sigh! It's been a wonderful five years and I have had a blast racing with so many talented runners. The 2011 team in particular was simply amazing, and I loved racing with Yassine Diboun, Gary Gellin, Sam Robinson, Katie Caba, Jim Johnson, and others as they all had exemplary seasons. Thank you for a "good run", Inov-8, and I wish you the best for 2012 and beyond.

So should I pick up another sponsor? Maybe Skechers? They seem to work well for Meb Keflezighi yesterday when he won the 2012 US Olympic Trials in a PR 2:09:08 at age 36, joining Ryan Hall and Abdi Abdirhaman (his 4th Olympic Team!) on the 2012 Olympic Marathon Team. Or perhaps Nike or Brooks? Their champions did well in the Women's division, with Shalene Flanagan setting an Olympic Trial record of 2:25:38, and Desiree Davila and Kara Goucher coming in soon after to complete the team. It was great to watch on TV yesterday - this is easily one of the strongest marathon teams the US has ever put together.

Let me know if you have suggestions for a new sponsor (scottdunlap [at] One of my 2011 sponsors told me that the logo on the blog and boost in Google PageRank was worth $70k in advertising to'd think that would worth some free shoes. ;-) As long as it's a brand I love...but looking at my overpacked garage of shoes and apparel, I don't think that limits it much.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Dave Mackey, Ellie Greenwood Win UR Mag's UltraRunner of the Year

In one of the tightest votes in the history of UltraRunner Magazine, Dave Mackey won the UltraRunner of the Year for 2011, while Ellie Greenwood picked up the Women's award. Dave had a stunning season, with wins at Miwok (CR), American River, Where's Waldo (CR), Bandera (CR, USATF Champion), a Top Ten finish at Western States, and more. Ellie dominated Western States, American River 50, Chuckanut 50k, and others. Lots of detail about these guys and other top finishers at UltraRunning Magazine.

Check out how close it came on the 21-voter panel (numbers in parentheses show the number of #1 votes). You know you're kicking ass if Michael Wardian comes in second...that guys never comes in second. ;-)
BTW, reminder to set your DVR's this Saturday at Noon on NBC for the Marathon Olympic Trials so you can watch Max King, Josh Cox, Chris Lundstrom, Michael Wardian, Devon Crosby-Helms, Caitlin Smith, Chris Lundy, Sopanga Eap, Joanna Zieger, Mary Coordt, Jenn Shelton, Kasey Enman, Tyler Stewart, Kim Dobson, Susannah Beck, Megan Lund, and many other trail/ultra speedsters. Rip it up, you guys!


Monday, January 09, 2012

Planning My 2012 Season's that glorious time of year to pick out anchor races for the season! The calendar sits before us overflowing with potential for adventure, new friends, and soon-to-be-stories to tell, and all we have to do is choose a path. Few things lift my spirits as much as this annual ritual (see '06, '07, '08, '10, '11). A full calendar of endurance events continues to be the best proof I am choosing to live IN the world instead of ON it.

I was very pleased with my 2011 season, particularly since my "life event" calendar was jam-packed. Baby Quinn arrived (now 10 months old!), as did Ace the Pug, and 5-year-old Sophie Jane is growing up faster than ever now as a kindergartener. My career enjoyed a Silicon Valley hyperspeed tour through unemployment, entrepreneurship, and now a big company job that is surprisingly fun, with a few scares of relocation thrown in for good measure. It used to be that my "life" was fairly predictable, and I looked to outdoor endurance events to inject adventure. Now it seems my race calendar is the rock while my life is in perpetual whirlwind. Either way, I am blessed that all parts of my life feed my soul with new experiences.

So, how to create a calendar of events that will continue to inspire and challenge? Which experiences in the previous year filled my soul the most and where do I need a change? Is this a year to tackle championship events and PR's like 2010, or an exploratory year like 2009? Should I mix in some tri's and cycling events, or just focus on running? Can I even get IN any of the events I want to do? And how can those events keep the blog fresh and interesting?

Here's where you will find me in 2012:

Brooks Falls 50k, 1/22 - The first race of the new Inside Trail Racing event company, and an interesting chapter in trail running for the Bay Area. The entrepreneur in me wants to help any new company that can fill a need, and the Bay Area never seems to saturate the need for trail races. I haven't been to this location since 2007 and am eager to tackle its coastal hills again.

San Francisco Kaiser Half Marathon, 2/5 - Home of my half marathon PR (1:16:48, 2010), and a good speed check before my first 'A' race. I'll be coming off a crazy five country trip from work just hours before, but what can you do? Maybe jet lag is the secret ingredient to going fast.

Austin Marathon, 2/19 - My first 'A' race for the year will be to head to Austin, one my favorite cities, in hopes for a fast road marathon, some good beer and queso, and sampling the sounds of Sixth Street with friends. I wasn't able to get close to my marathon PR this year (2:45, 2009), but consistently ran in the 2:50 range, so I'm going to ramp up the speedwork and see if I can't lower my marathon PR a few minutes. Perhaps I can tap my inner Jean Pommier and continue to get faster through my 40's - he clocked a 5:43 at the Last Chance 50m at age 48!

Robert and Linda Mathis Memorial Run, 2/25 - A casual run in Auburn, CA, to honor two amazing people from the ultra community we recently lost in a DUI accident. No watches, no numbers...just good peeps and closure. It's 9am at the Auburn Dam Overlook if you are interested.

Way Too Cool 50k, 3/5 - One of the biggest and fastest 50k's around, and the first of the "Spring Classics" that lead up to the June/July ultra peak season. I look forward to seeing the backs of heads of many fast people as I return to Cool, CA, and try the revamped course. I find it very helpful (and humbling) to have my ass handed to me by faster people early in the season (that means you, Gary Gellin) to remind me why I need to go deep in the pain cave on regular speedwork days. WTC can be an early season smack down.

Boston Marathon, 4/16 - I'm continuing my streak (this will be #8!) and joining that party from Hopkinton to Boston once again. I never seem to get tired of this one, especially when meeting all the first-time Boston runners who worked so hard to get there. No plans to run with anyone in particular, so let me know if you'll be there!

Providian Relay, 5/5 - A team relay is something I've never tried, and the 199-mile Providian Relay from Calistoga, CA, to Santa Cruz, CA, is one of the best. I've joined up with a team of fellow PayPal colleagues who run the gamut of experience levels, and suspect it will be a great bonding experience. I offered to take miles 100 through 150 so everyone can get some sleep, but apparently that defeats the "relay" concept. ;-) Still, it should be a blast!

Auburn Century, 6/3 - No Western States for me this year, but I can get 100+ miles in the golden hills of Auburn, CA, by tackling the super century cycling event. Much of the course uses the access roads a crew would use for States, which I know are gorgeous and steep. Plus how cool is the shwag? Gotta get that jersey for sure. I'm hoping my usual clan of cycling dudes will be able to join in for a Gentleman's Weekend.
Black Hills 100m, 6/23 - The good folks of South Dakota have invited me out for the second running of the Black Hills 100 in Sturgis, SD, and it looks like a beautiful race that could become a welcome alternative for the masses who don't get into States. I don't consider myself a competitive 100-miler by any stretch of the imagination, but few things get me out of bed to train like having a hundy on the calendar. Christi and I have fond memories of our last trip to South Dakota, and would love to show our kids Mt. Rushmore, the Badlands (maybe finally update my pic atop my blog?), buffalo, Deadwood, Devil's Tower, and...oh, yeah, fit in a 100-mile out-and-back with 18,000 ft of climbing. Can't wait!

Tahoe Rim Trail 50k, 7/21 - One of the most gorgeous trails around, and a race I long for every year. Signed up for the 50k, but may go longer if needed for my next big race.

Ultra Tour du Mont Blanc, 8/31 -Yup, I'm heading to the big showdown in Europe! I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the two sunrise experience at the Wasatch 100m, and find myself yearning for another mountainous multi-morning adventure. Work is going to take me to Europe right about this time, so why not stick around for a 63,000' vertical, 100+ mile, three country tour? This will easily be the toughest race of my running career. I'm super stoked!

CIM Marathon, 12/2 - I'm unsure how much recovery will be required for UTMB, so my schedule is fairly open until CIM in December. I've still never done this flat and fast road race - curious to check it out.

Woodside 50k, 12/15 - No better way to cap off a season than a jaunt in my own backyard. Looking forward to sharing my home trails with all of you!

No tri's on the schedule this year, although I'm keeping options open. I just didn't see any that were a "must do" that fit the calendar. Like most years, I will pepper this schedule with other local races as time permits. In 2011, I had a great time tackling the local marathon circuit with last minute entries (San Francisco, Oakland, Half Moon Bay, Napa, San Jose), Bay to Breakers, and a couple of local 50k's. We are blessed to have so many options in the Bay Area.

Let me know if you're going to be at any of these races, and I'll be sure to get your picture for the blog! Great pictures will likely be the most important yardstick for success for 2012.