Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Great Gifts for Trail Runners - 2014 Holiday Gift Guide

Looking for some great gift ideas for trail runners for the 2014 holiday season? I've listed a few favorites below, from the fun to the ree-diculous. Be sure to check the comments at the end for other reader recommendations as well.

Happy shopping, and I hope you are all enjoying the holidays!

Tribute to the Trails Calendar ($23)

Easily my favorite gift to give (or receive for that matter) is the annual Tribute to the Trails calendar. Uber-photographer and trail runner Glenn Tachiyama (along with Wendy Wheeler-Jacobs) has consistently put out the most beautiful trail running calendars to raise money for the Washington Trails Association, and 2015 is a worthy follow up. The gorgeous full-page shots (check them all out here) compliment a complete calendar of ultrarunning events, and include coupons to win free entries to 30+ races! Few things can spice up the drab cubicle life like a constant reminder of epic trail runs hanging on the wall. I buy 3-4 each year, and have never received too many! You can pick one up at ZombieRunner, Rogue Valley Runners, or other stores for $23.

Ian Corless' Trail Calendar ($30)

Can't get enough calendar action? Ian Corless (of TalkUltra fame) is taking pre-orders for his calendar as well, featuring a dazzling selection of top tier runners flying down the most epic european mountainscapes. $30 (20 euros) and you'll be inspired all year long!

Knee Replacement X-Ray Tree Ornament ($23)

Ha, ha! Yup, it's a real thing. Props to Mark Remy for finding this one!

Epic Bison Bars ($3)

Somewhere between a protein bar and beef jerky lies the Epic Bison bar, a delicious and filling meat-based snack. I use them a lot for those days I can't fit in a lunch and need to a filling treat. This season you can get bison with bacon and cranberry...so good, once it hits your lips! Available at local running stores, or direct at epicbar.com.

Endless Pool Spa with Treadmill Option ($23,900)

One percenters need look no farther for that dream gift - the latest Endless Pool spa has a current that runs from one end to the other so you can swim in place, plus an underwater treadmill for recovery days. Your friends can even chill in the back seats while you run! MUST HAVE.

adidas miCoach Training Shirt with Built-In HRM ($62)

I love heart rate monitors (HRM's), but can never get the strap to stay where it's supposed to be. This new shirt from adidas (created by NuMetrex) has the HRM sewn in, and allows you to get that sexy Iron Man look rolling. Available at NuMetrex.

Victory Drop Bags ($45-85)

Once you have a Victory drop bag, you wonder how you ever suffered through all those other drop bags. Ultrarunner extraordinaire Victor Ballesteros' three drop bag configurations are the new gold standard, and all of them also work well as a back-of-the-car gear holder. This gift will definitely get used!

Re-StringIt Drawstring Re-Threader ($15)

I gave a few of these out last year, and they got rave reviews. If you've ever had to re-string a drawstring through your shorts or hoodie, then you are going to love this little gadget. It turns the 15 minute frustrated inchworm routine into a 30-second non-issue. Available at re-stringit.com.

Injinji Performance Toe Sock ($13)

Injinji's toe-wrapped socks are always a conversation starter, and for many (like me!), a life saver in the blister department. The latest sock from the toe-obsessed gang at Injinji are snug and breath really well. Now available in argyle, hawaiian, blue, green and other festive colors! Available at injinji.com.

0.0 Running Sticker ($3)

I personally find the 13.1/26.2/etc stickers annoying. This one, however, is pretty funny.

Outside Shower ($800-$5,500)

Few gifts have produced the harmonial bliss between me and my non-trail-running spouse of 21 years like her gift of an outside shower to me earlier this year. Dirt and dirty clothes stay outside, and I get to be naked in the sunlight on a regular basis...what more could a trail runner ask for?!? At one point, I went 40+ days showering only outside, and it was amazing. Well worth it!

T-Shirt Quilt ($250-400)

Another great marriage-saver is the T-Shirt Quilt, which empties your shelves of race t-shirts to create a 7x7 (=49) King Size cotton quilt. I got my first one from a desperate need to create closet space, but we quickly found out that we use the quilt all the time (it's just t-shirts after all, so spill away!). Added bonus - when you are at a kid function wishing you were running instead, you can just glance through the shirts and relive those memories! Available at CampusQuilt.com.

Duracell Instant USB Charger ($29)

A great idea for the electronic obsessed, this battery can quickly boost a USB-driven device like an iPod or Garmin watch to get through the race. A good item for your drop bag!  Get it at Drugstore.com.

Custom Race Bib Coasters ($22)

Want to keep a memorable race bib around? Immortalize it on four coasters! Take a picture of a friend's race number and send it to Mile Stones via Etsy.com for a fun coaster puzzle.

Running Books ($9-30)

It's hard to go wrong with a running book or DVD, and there are some great new ones for 2014. Hal Koerner's Field Guide to Ultrarunning, Sage Canaday's MUT Runner DVD and Kilian Jornet's Summits of My Life DVD's are a few of my favorites.

Milestone Pod Mileage and Shoe Tracker ($25)

The gang at Milestonepod.com has created a mileage and shoe tracker that can be purchased for the low price of $25, a great way to step your tech-avoiding friends into the fun world of tracking. 

Personal Running Tour (Free!)

If you don't have the cash-ola, give the gift of time with a guided trail running tour of your favorite park. Set the date, make a plan, bring some snacks, create a hand-written card that sums it all up...voila, an instant free gift. And one that will certainly be treasured! If you have a friend who is constantly too busy with kids to do those long runs, give him/her some hand made gift certificates for babysitting. Trust me - they will guard them with their lives.  

Holiday Flavored Bars/Gels ($0.50-$3)

When you eat as many of these as we do, a little Peppermint Stick or Spiced Pumpkin Clif Bar is a nice break. On sale now at REI

Aero-Press Coffee Maker ($30)

It's a little crazy how good coffee tastes from this handy little device that fits right in with all your camping gear. Available at ZombieRunner.

Gift In Your Name to iRunFar, UltraRunnerPodcast, etc. ($TBD)

If your trail runner obsesses about race coverage (like we all do), consider making a donation in their name to iRunFar.com, UltraRunnerPodcast.com, or one of the other many passion-driven media outlets we thrive on. Every dollar makes a difference for these guys, and the gesture will be well received. A perfect gift for the runner who has everything!

Action Wipes ($3+)

Ever try to take a full shower with baby wipes? I know I have, and they don't quite do the trick. Action Wipes is here to save the day with their full body wipes. Check out their web site for the full story!

Tory Birch Gold Fitbit Bracelet ($195)

Let's face it, there is nothing fashionable about ANY of the rubber-lined fitness trackers out there (sorry Nike, Jawbone, Fitbit, Adidas, etc). Tory Birch has a solution for the fashion-constrained - a gold bracelet that holds your Fitbit and allows you to walk Manhattan's Upper West Side with nary a smug glance from your upper crust neighbors. Available as a bracelet or pendant at Nordstrom's.

ZombieRunner Gift Certificate ($10-100)

I've never met a trail runner who couldn't drop $100 in Zombie before their coffee is even ready. Definitely will prompt a smile. Also an easy gift to buy and send instantly.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Max King and Ellie Greenwood Win 2014 IAU 100k World Championships In Record Time

(Max King breaks the tape and becomes the IAU 100k World Champion, photo courtesy of Bryon Powell)
American Max King and Great Britain's Ellie Greenwood were able to hold off the global competition and crazy heat to win the 2014 IAU 100k World Championships in Doha, Qatar, earlier today. Max's 6:27:44 finish took nearly 3 minutes off the American Record (previously Tom Johnson's 6:30:11 in 1995), and was ~100 seconds ahead of 2nd place Jonas Buud from Sweden.  Spain's Jose Antonio Requejo (Spain) was third in 6:37:03, and American's Zach Bitter (6:48:53, 6th) and Zach Miller (6:51:30, 9th) also made the Top 10. Both winners set the tone for their teams - Team USA took home the men’s team title, while Team Great Britain secured the women’s team victory.

(The KING! Photo courtesy of Bryon Powell)
Ellie Greenwood had a solid day, holding the lead for most of the race and finishing in 7:30:30, a solid eight minutes ahead of Japan's Chiyuki Mochizuki. Great Britain's Jo Zakrzewski was third in 7:42:03. American's Meghan Arboghast (7:52:12, 8th) and Pam Smith (7:59:11, 10th) made the Top 10.

(Ellie Greenwood dominates to win the IAU 100k World Championships, photo courtesy of Bryon Powell)
Want to get the blow-by-blow, as well as get pre- and post-race videos with competitors? Head over to iRunFar.com, where Bryon is covering the event live and producing all the photos I am stealing. ;-)

Congrats to all the great competitors!

- SD

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Beer Mile World Championships on Dec 3rd - Are You Ready?!?

The first annual Flotrack Beer Mile World Championships will happen in Austin, TX, on December 3rd this year. My big question is...who is going to represent the ultrarunners?!?

I mean, honestly, who could be better at doing four laps with a beer per lap than an iron-stomach, beer-loving, already-can-run-fast-when-dizzy ultra runner? The competition is tough, however - track and field elites are coming out in droves, meticulously training their way to sub 5-minute finish times. But I suspect we've got a ringer out there somewhere.

The Beer Mile is no walk-on event. Lance Armstrong, no stranger to competing while under the influence (as well as a former Michelob Ultra spokesperson), only made it one lap in his attempt to qualify. But with proper training, you might have world champ potential. Just ask Austin local Chris Kimbrough, who at age 44 (and with SIX kids!), just set a Women's WR of 6:28.

Chris Kimbrough Breaks the Women's Beer Mile World Record

Lance Armstrong Bails On First Lap In Beer Mile Attempt

If you know of an ultra runner going, let me know so we can cheer them on! I can't wait to see the head-to-head competition...they better bring some buckets for the finish line. ;-)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The 2015 Ultra Lottery Season - Which Race Will Choose You?

It's lottery season again in the world of ultrarunning! As our sport continues to grow (up 345% in the last 10 years), the clash of limited space/permits and high demand has put more races than ever in the lottery game. There's even the semi-disappointing trend of non-refundable "lottery fees" popping up a few races this year. Regardless, it's time to put your name in the hat for your favorite races and see how the Lottery Gods determine your fate! The Western States 100m lottery is on right now (already nearing 2,400 entries with two days left). So don't hesitate - put your name in!

(Don't miss the lottery deadlines!)

Below are a few links to popular races that have lotteries:

Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run, June 27, 2015 (Lottery Nov 8-15, Drawing Dec 6)

Way Too Cool 50k, March 7, 2015 (Lottery Dec 7-17, Drawing Dec 21)

Lake Sonoma 50m, April 11, 2015 (Lottery Dec 7-17, Drawing Dec 21)

Bull Run Run 50m, April 11, 2015 (Lottery Feb 2-TBD)

Miwok 100k, May 2, 2015 (Lottery Dec 6-10, Drawing Dec 12)

Massanutten 100, May 16, 2015 (Lottery Jan 1-8, Drawing Jan 12)

Mt. Washington Road Race, June 20, 2015 (Lottery Feb 17-March 15 with $5 lottery fee, Drawing March 18)

Hardrock 100, July ~11, 2015 (Lottery Now-Nov 23 with $10 lottery fee, Drawing Dec 1)

Tahoe Rim Trail 100m, July 18, 2015 (Lottery Dec 7-21, Drawing Jan 1)

Badwater 135, July ~23, 2015 (Lottery/app Jan 2-10, Selection Feb 12)

Leadville 100, August 22, 2015 (Lottery Dec 1-31 with $15 lottery fee, Drawing ~Jan 15)

Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc, August 24, 2015 (Registration Dec 17-Jan 6 with 1.5 euro lottery fee, Lottery selection Jan 14 if needed)

Tahoe 200m, September 11, 2015 (Lottery Dec 1-21, Drawing Dec 31)

Wasatch 100, September 11, 2015 (Lottery Dec 1-Jan 4, Drawing Feb 7)

Ironman Hawaii World Championship, October 10, 2015 (Lottery Now-Feb 28, Drawing April 17)

Hurt 100m and Gorge Waterfalls 50k lotteries have already occurred. 

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Emily Harrison Wins IAU 50k World Championship Trophy Final

Flagstaff, AZ's Emily Harrison brought home the gold at the IAU 50k World Trophy Final in Doha, Qatar, last weekend with a blistering time of 3:32:27 in 88 degree heat and 60+ degree humidity. The event featured the fastest runners from 17 countries, and came down to less than a minute between her and Great Britain's Joasia Zakrzewski (3:33:20).

(Emily Harrison breaks the tape for her win at the IAU 50k Worlds)
"Because of the heat and humidity, Ian (Torrence, her coach at McMillan Running Company) and I decided that going for any records or fast times was pretty much out the window," said Harrison, already the 2014 USATF 50k Road National Champion with her 3:16 time at the Caumsett 50k earlier this year, "The goal going into the race was to win and to conserve as much effort as possible. I didn't do anything crazy to prepare for the heat and was banking on being able to keep my effort within reason on race day in order to not bury myself."

Harrison was the favorite, but she stayed with the pack for the first three of ten laps. Around the third lap, Canadian Catrin Jones made a move, but by lap six, Harrison moved her way back into the lead and kept it to the finish. Zakrzewski, fresh from running the marathon at the Commonwealth Games made her way through the field as the race went on, and held second to the finish.

(Cashing the big check!)
"I will be back for the 100k World Championships in a couple weeks, which is being held at the same venue/course. This was a great opportunity to preview the course and prep for the 100k."

Congrats, Emily, our 50k National and World Champion!

Top Women:
1) Emily Harrison USA 3:32:27
2) Joasia Zakrzewski GBR 3:33:20
3) Catrin Jones CAN 3:37:54
4) Rita Nordsveen NOR 3:45:18
5) Neza Mravlje SLO 3:48:39

The Mens race also posted some amazing times given the hot conditions. Collen Makaza (ZIM) took claimed gold (3:00:40), followed by Phil Anthony (GBR, 3:01:26) and Harm Sengers (NED, 3:05:01). Makaza, Anthony and Elijah Biwott (KEN) took the early lead with Michael Wardian (USA) running close to the pack. At about the 3rd lap into the 10 lap course, Paul Martelletti started challenging for the podium finish as well, before settling comfortably in fourth place. At about the 30km mark Makaza increased the pace of the lead group, dropping Biwott (who pulled) and creating an 80+ second lead he kept to the finish.

Michael Wardian finished 6th with a time of 3:18:06, and will also be returning for the IAU 100k Worlds.

Top Men:
1) Collen Makaza ZIM 3:00:40
2) Phil Anthony GBR 3:01:26
3) Harm Sengers NED 3:05:01
4) Paul Martelletti GBR 3:11:05
5) Gary O’Hanlon IRL 3:14:34

Latest Excursions