Thursday, November 19, 2015

Gift Guide for Trail Runners (2015)

Hmmm...what to get that trail runner/ultra runner on your holiday gift list?!? Our sport has little need for gadgets and gear - we likely all have the basics already. Yes, we have that DVD. Yes, we've read Born to Run! Grrr...I bet we are so hard to shop for.

So here are few non-standard gift suggestions from the inexpensive to the outrageous that you can put under the tree (or menorah, or whatev) for that mud-loving runner in your life. Enjoy!

The Flip-It Running Belt ($29)
This stretch fabric running belt holds everything from an iPhone 6 Plus, to a set of keys, to snacks and trash with no fuss. It can be easily added to any running outfit (handy for those of us who have lots of pocket-less options), and I continue to be surprised at how much you can put in these without any jiggling. A great stocking stuffer! Try coupon code FLIP15 for 15% off.

The SoloShot2 Tracking Camera Mount ($399)
Does your runner friend take endless selfies? Get them the SoloShot2, a self-guiding tripod attachment that hones in on a remote control tag you carry on your body, rotating and panning to follow your movements to get that perfect Facebook-worthy shot. Just put your camera on the mount, and the SoloShot will keep you in frame. The remote lets you control the shutter and works from 2,000 feet away. And just like're out of the lets-take-a-selfie routine! Well, sort of...

Victory Sportdesign Drop Bags ($40-85)

The Victory Sportdesign Drop Bag is one of those "how did I ever live without one of these" kind of gifts for ultrarunners. They carry EVERYTHING is an easy-to-access design, and look awesome, particularly when you dress it up with custom panels that have your name and race number. I have the BEAR II, and it's been with me through dozens of races, not to mention is my go-to trunk bag in my car. An awesome gift for runners and volunteers alike.

GoPro Fetch ($60)

Put this harness on your four-legged friend, and get a dogs-eye view of the world with the attached GoPro camera. Guaranteed to give you a new perspective on your favorite trails!

2016 Tribute To The Trails Calendar ($20-23)

Another "gold standard" trail runner gift, Glenn Tachiyama's visually stunning annual calendar can light up any drab cube or laundry room with glorious visions of west coast trails. Now in its 10th year, this stunning calendar also includes lottery race entries for over two dozen races. If that's not enough, it's all a fundraiser for the Washington Trail Association, so you know your dollars are going to a good cause. I buy 3-5 each year!

The RollingFWD Vibrating Roller ($199)

A fun new twist on the foam roller, the RollingFWD has a built in rechargeable battery that powers three different vibration settings from mild to deep therapy. Available in 18- and 30-inch versions.

Injinji Toe Socks ($10-23)

I'm a huge fan of the Injinji toe socks (and am sponsored by them), which have saved my toes from blisters for over 150+ races. This year there are some great new winter designs, available in warm NuWool, Over The Calf compression style, and fancy pink, green, and blue colors. I can never go wrong with this stocking stuffer!

Squirrel Colugo 2 Wingsuit ($1,700+)

Do you have a thrill seeker friend who just won't shut up? Get them a wingsuit and a GoPro 4, and odds are you won't have to listen for much longer. Considered the A-grade wing suit for parachuting nuts, the Colugo 2 is only for the craziest. But the videos are outstanding. (honestly, watch this one for the most amazing descent of Chamonix I have ever seen) I feel a VK + Wingsuit duathlon in the works...

Jaybird X2 Sport Headphones ($180)

If your runner likes to get their tunes on, they will love a good quality set of headphones. The Jaybird X2 Sport Headphones have great bass and mid-range sound for a low weight unit, a number of add-ons to customize the fit into your ear, and their unique SignalPlus technology helps reduce annoying Bluetooth drop off. The new battery in the X2 lasts 6-8 hours, and it is covered for life against sweat-related malfunctions.

Custom Race Bib Coasters ($22)

If your runner friend has a few proud finishes for the year, here's a way you can immortalize their race number for years to come. Stick it on four coasters! Take a picture of a friend's race number and send it to Mile Stones via for a fun coaster puzzle.

T-Shirt Quilt ($250-400)

On the other side of the spectrum are us runners who have stacks of old t-shirts filling the shelves.  Look no further than the marriage-saving T-Shirt Quilt, which creates a 7x7 (=49) King Size cotton quilt out of old race T's. 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, be sure to order before December 1st for Santa to get it to you on time.

Outside Shower ($800-$5,500)

The mother of all marriage saving gifts is the outside shower, which my wife graciously gave me a few years back. 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?!? This summer I went 70 days showering outside only and it was HEAVEN. Well worth it!

Lily Drone ($800)

By 2018, we will all have drones battling each other for the perfect video angle on a mountain side trail. But for now, drones are only for the nerdiest of nerds, requiring hours of set up and some decent flying skills. One glimmer of hope is the Lily Drone, due in August 2016, which could very well be the simplest user experiences the drone industry has ever seen. Just throw it in the air, and let the video roll...

The Functional Hoodie ($80-150)
As the winter chill comes around, I find a good performance hoodie quickly becomes my go-to piece of clothing. I like a hoodie base layer, like the new Patagonia Merino Midweight Hoody (or the even lighter Merino Air) or the many selections from Icebreaker, which are super light but warm you right up when the temps drop below 45F degrees. For a more universal shell, the new Voormi High E Hoodie is a good one, with its integrated wool/synthetic that repels water. If you're in a rainy climate, the inov-8 Race Elite Race Shell FZ* is the go-to in my closet thanks to the comfy hands and snug fit. 

Digitsole Heated Insoles ($200)

For the runners/volunteers familiar with frozen feet, the Digitsole Warm Series offers a new solution with their digitally controlled heated insoles. You can even adjust the temperature in the iPhone app, and track your steps all day long.

InknBurn Capris ($85)

Add a little pizzazz to the wardrobe with one of the many outrageous and beautiful selections from INKnBURN. A capri is a great addition for Fall/Winter (like the Wildflower above), but check out all their shorts and skirts too. It always brings a smile to my face to see these in action!

The GoalZero Sherpa 100 Solar Charging Station ($600)

Trail nerds, get your sun energy rolling! This three-panel solution weighs 5 lbs, but can power everything that a digital camper could need. No aid station will ever be the same!

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, 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!

The RinseKit Portable Shower ($90)

If you've ever had to do the quick creek rinse or gravity-powered hanging shower, you know there isn't enough water pressure to get that muck and poison oak oil off your body. Behold the RinseKit portable shower, which provides up to three gallons of pressurized water that can fit in your trunk. You can even fill it with hot water for a mini-shower!

A Coupon Book for a Catered Run (Free!)

Got a friend who is short on time, but long on a need for adventure? We all do! One of the simplest gifts is to give them a coupon book with all the things they need to make it happen - get someone to watch their kids, make an aid station and a map, create a finish line and snacks. and round up their friends to have a once in a lifetime experience. Extra points for a homemade trophy! Easy and super fun.

ZombieRunner Gift Certificate ($5-500)

I've never met a trail runner who couldn't drop $100 in Zombie before their coffee gets cold. Definitely will prompt a smile. Also an easy gift to buy and send instantly, and their online store means it can be spent just as fast!

Got any other suggestions? Leave a comment and let us know!

Happy Holidays! - SD

* Note - I am sponsored by inov-8, Injinji and others. so no surprise I am a big fan of their gear!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

UltraRunning Magazine Launches North American Race Series

How do you stack up?

That's how the announcement read for UltraRunning Magazine's new Race Series announced via email this morning. In action from May, 2015 to April, 2016, the new Race Series includes all North American ultras (50k, 50, 100k, 100m) using their compiled race results and costs nothing to enter. In fact, if you've run a North American ultra since May, you are already in the results!

The new Race Series uses a "complex formula" to determine your overall score, then breaks that down into one of seven regions as well as age groups for each gender. They say prizes will be offered for all 146 categories, with overall winners getting a ticket to the 2016 Western States 100 Endurance Run.

The "complex formula" includes a number of factors for determining your score for each ultra, such as Finishing Time, Race Distance, Gender, Place, Strength of Field, and Size of Race. At first glance, it has a bias for frequency of races (particularly longer ones), but that feels like the UR Mag vibe to me. The focus on North America provides another bias, and one that will likely handicap some of our best runners who often choose peak races overseas. But when you do see the top ranks for each region, I see a lot of names I know are hard core.

Take a look...and you in there? What do you think of the scoring system and results?

Pretty fascinating. Hats off to UltraRunning Magazine for leveraging their knowledge to try something new!


Friday, November 06, 2015

Race Lotteries for 2016 - Where Will You Place Your Bets?

It's that time of year again - ultra lottery season! Put your name in the hat for entry into some of our sports most popular events, and let the Lottery Gods determine your fate. I know many of you have your favorites - here are few dates to track for the ones I know of: 

Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run, June 27, 2016 (Lottery Nov 7-14, Drawing Dec 5). I've got 64 tickets this year! Let's hope it's enough.

Way Too Cool 50k, March 5, 2016 (Lottery Dec 1-10). If you don't get in, get on the wait list right away...historically this race has been able to accommodate a lot of wait-listers. 

Lake Sonoma 50m, April 9, 2016 (Lottery Dec 1-13, Drawing Dec 15)

Gorge Falls 50k, April 9, 2016 (Lottery Oct 22-Nov 12, Drawing Nov 19). Note the 100k is sold out.

Bull Run Run 50m, April 11, 2016 (Lottery Feb 1-8)

Miwok 100k, May 7, 2016 (Lottery Dec 1-10, Drawing Dec 12)

Massanutten 100, May 14, 2016 (Lottery Jan 1-8, Drawing Jan 12)

Mt. Washington Road Race, June 18, 2016 (Lottery Mid-Feb with $5 lottery fee)

Mt. Hood 50m, July 9, 2016 (Lottery Jan 4-9, Drawing Jan 9)

Hardrock 100, July 15, 2016 (Lottery Now-Nov 22 with $12 lottery fee, Drawing Dec 1)

Tahoe Rim Trail 100m, July 16, 2016 (Lottery Dec 6-20, Drawing Jan 1). Note that the Tahoe 200m no longer has a lottery, and is open for registration!

Eiger Ultra Trail 100k, July 16, 2106 (Floating lottery depending on entries, typically Oct/Nov)

Badwater 135, July ~28, 2016 (Lottery/application Jan 19-Feb 2, Selection Feb 12)

Leadville 100, August 20, 2016 (Lottery Dec 1-31 with $15 lottery fee, Drawing ~Jan 15)

Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc, August 20, 2016 (Registration Dec 16-Jan 5 with 1.5 euro lottery fee, Lottery selection Jan 14 if needed)

Waldo 100k, August 20, 2016 (Lottery Mid-Februrary)

Cascade Crest 100, Aug 27, 2016 (Lottery Jan 1-Feb 10, Drawing Feb 13)

Wasatch 100, September 9, 2016 (Lottery Dec 1-Jan 4, Drawing Feb 7)

Ironman Hawaii World Championship, October 8, 2016 (No more lottery - it was illegal!)


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