Sunday, November 20, 2016

Holiday Gift Guide for Trail Runners (2016)

Got some trail runners on your holiday gift list? Here are a few of my favorite gift suggestions to stick under the tree (or menorah, Festivus pole, etc) including a few new ones for 2016 and some classics that always seem to please. Enjoy!

Holiday Flavored Gels ($3-11)
Stick a couple of these in a trail runners stocking, and they can squirt a little holiday cheer into their mouth on the next long run. Untapped Maple is pure maple syrup (yum!), and Gu has flavors like Mint Chocolate and Salted Carmel that ring in the cheer. VFuel also has a nice Salted Carmel Apple.

Fruit of the Loom Professional Sweat Suit ($50)

Some sweats are cool, and other are the talk of the race! Fruit of the Loom has four selections in their "Professional" line that must be seen to be believed. Choose from Wall St banker, casual preppy, or the above Corporate Cowboy that says "this ain't your first rodeo".

Dirtbag Runners Apparel ($20-70)

News flash - all trail runners are kinda dirtbag. Why not flaunt it with some swag from Dirtbag Runners? These folks know their stuff, as noted by the quality products like this Oiselle Running Short.

National Parks Annual Pass ($80)

An $80 pass that gets you into 2,000+ national parks? That's a damn good excuse for a road trip.

Hover Camera Passport Auto-Follow Drone ($599)

Selfie sticks are so, like, 2015! Why not get a one pound drone that can fit in your backpack, and will auto follow you up your favorite trail and do a 360 around you on a mountain top? I've been having a lot of fun with mine. If you want to go bigger drone, rumor has it that eBay is going to mark down certain DJI products like the Phantom 4 by 40-50% this week (in case you need 1.7 mile range, crash avoidance, and 35 mph top speed).

Flecston Reflective Wings ($11)
Although probably more of a street runner thing, these reflective wings are really easy to spot and pretty awesome in a FTD sort of way.

66 Audio Over-The-Ear Headphones ($54)

If your trail runner listens to music, they most likely have earbud style headphones. I've been using these lightweight over-the-ear headphones from 66 Audio, and love rotating them in for some extra bass, a little warmth, and a new look. When most headphones cost $150-200, these are a steal at $54. 

Technical, seamless underwear called "Rundies" that say fartlek on the butt...honestly, I don't think I need to say any more. Seven pair, each with a different run theme and color. The designers at Giselle are geniuses!

You know those benches you see in parks and open space preserves that are dedicated to someone? It turns out for 5,000 clams, you can gift one of your very own! An heirloom for your loved one and all the trail runners who frequent the same trails, this is the gift that keeps on giving. 

Victory Sportdesign Drop Bags ($40-85)

By far the gold standard for drop bags, 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.

Fitbark ($70)

It's a FitBit for your dog, complete with an app that lets you see who is getting more exercise. No fair they get twice as many steps with four legs!

2017 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. This stunning calendar also includes lottery race entries for over two dozen races, and proceeds fundraiser go to the Washington Trail Association, so you know your dollars are going to a good cause. I buy 3-5 each year!

BioLite NanoGrid ($79)

The NanoGrid is a lantern and flashlight with two detachable lamps that can quickly light up a tent or impromptu aid station. It also comes with its own solar charger, making it an Outdoor Magazine Gear of the Year favorite. The hanging Luminoodle camping LED light ($29) from BioLite is also a lot of fun. 

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!

T-Shirt Quilt ($250-400)

Tired of your roommate or spouse stacking race t-shirts?  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.

Tiger Lady Self Defense Claws ($29)

Did your girlfriend read the November issue of Runner's World with the five page story on all the ways women get harassed while running, and promptly freak out? Look no further than the Tiger Lady, a handheld self-defense tool with retractable claws made to maim and "built with special channels in each claw to capture DNA to assist in making a positive ID". Whoa. Then do NOT surprise her. Ever.

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?!? Each summer I go 70+ days showering outside only and it is HEAVEN. Well worth it!

tentree Apparel ($35-75)

The folks at tentree have great looking mountain and forest themes in their t-shirts, hoodies, shorts, and jackets. Bonus - they plant 10 trees with every purchase, and you can log your code to find out when they are planted! Almost 10 million trees to date...

Running Beyond, the Book ($29)

Master photographer Ian Corless released his long-anticipated book this year, and it was well worth it. HUGE photos of epic ultras, sky running races, complete with profile charts and notes from participants that will ensure this one gets handed around at the holidays. There are plenty of other good running books too - take a look at Dean Karnazes' Road to Sparta, Shalene Flanagan's Run Fast, Eat Slow, or Krissy Moehl's Running Your First Ultra, or help long-time ultrarunner John Morelock with his medical bills by purchasing his book of ultrarunning tales, Run Gently Out There.

On the Track Prefontaine Necklace ($35)

Steve Prefontaine's sister has original art and jewelry designed to capture the spirit of Pre, all at affordable prices. I heard that it enhances large mustaches and sideburns as well. 

Icebreaker Apparel ($40-240)

You likely already know Icebreaker as a brand that makes super soft and warm Merino Wool base layers, but if you haven't followed them in the last year or so, you haven't seen the dozens of new designs and patterns that make these welcome additions to the wardrobe. Bonus - you get a huge warm thank you hug when they put it on!

Subscription to UltraRunning Magazine ($29.95)

This is the magazine we all pour over, likely before we even make it from the mailbox to the house, and wonder why there can't be an issue every week. Now with outstanding color, their own national competitions, and the usual awesome reviews, writing, and training/nutrition advice, an annual subscription to UR (now 25% off!) is a safe bet for any trail runner.

Suunto Spartan Ultra ($599-899)

We are in the golden age of fitness watches, with amazing new products from Garmin, Fitbit, Polar, and more. Some like the Suunto Sparta Ultra in copper are sleek enough to wear with a suit, and you can change the look and feel of the screen with ease. 

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!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Are We Trail Running, Or Are We "Forest Bathing"? Understanding the Japanese Practice of Shinrin-Yoku

Ever since I started trail running on a daily basis, I have felt a noticeable improvement in my well being. I feel less stressed, I get sick less often, and I've found a spiritual calm that keeps my optimism brimming through the seasons. Many of you have shared similar experiences, and one has to look no farther than the smiles at the finish of a trail race (and growth of the sport) to know it is pervasive. That magical combo of exercise and the great outdoors creates a meditative synergy that works wonders for the soul, and we just can't get enough.

We aren't the only ones tapping into the healing powers of the outdoors, it appears. Japanese doctors, long time proponents of meditation and exercise, have been taking a closer look at the power of forests. The Japanese practice of Shinrin-Yoku, or "forest bathing", involves contemplative walks through the woods to reconnect with nature, and has proven to lead to decreased stress, natural mood elevation and even a stronger immune system. Take a luxurious walk, engage all five senses, inhale the "phytoncides" emitted by plants, and your body and soul get stronger.

The Japanese government continues to investigate and promote the healing properties of nature. One study conducted across 24 forests in Japan found that when people strolled in a wooded area, their levels of the stress hormone cortisol plummeted almost 16 percent more than when they walked in an urban environment. Even after just 15 minutes of walking, subjects' blood pressure showed improvement. But one of the biggest benefits may come from breathing in those chemicals called phytoncides, emitted by trees and plants. Women who logged two to four hours in a forest on two consecutive days saw a dramatic reduction of stress hormones, and a nearly 40 percent surge in the activity of cancer-fighting white blood cells.

In one of my favorite parts of the studies, research has shown that the emotions of pleasure and happiness are elevated with an increase in tree density within specific settings, even in urban settings. The bigger and denser the trees, the higher the scenic beauty scores. Yup, that sounds about right! I suspect this also contributes to the sense of awe that we feel when immersed in the grandiosity of Mother Nature.

Perhaps this is just confirming what we all intuitively know. Get outside, engage with nature, and you will feel healthier and more connected. As silly as it sounds to say "forest bath", it fees accurate! It's also a good reminder we don't always need to always be running, and that a 15 minute stroll is more than enough to improve your day. I'll be taking a few pauses on my runs this week to make sure all five senses are fully engaged. Smell the pines, taste the pollen in the air, feel the ferns, hear the creeks, watch the know, take a forest bath. ;-)

Happy bathing!

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Playing in Purisima (First Video with Hover Camera Drone)

Took my new Hover Camera out for a spin to try the drone auto-follow capability. This thing is going to be a lot of fun!


I'll give it a few more test drives and write up a review in the next few weeks. With GoPro recalling their Karma drone today (after 16 days of selling), and the DJI Mavic having so many production issues that pre-order customers won't see it until January, 2017, the Hover may be one of the only consumer auto-follow drones available this holiday season.

Want me to check something in particular? Leave a comment and let me know.

Thanks, SD

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Lotteries Opening Soon for 2017 Races

Ultra lottery season is on us again! Put your name in the hat for entry into some of our sports most popular events (or all of them like I know many of you do), and let the Lottery Gods determine your fate. Here are some of the more popular lotteries in case you would like to give them a shot! 

Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run, June 27, 2016 (Lottery Nov 5-12, Drawing Dec 3).

Mount Mitchell Challenge, Feb 25, 2017 (Lottery completed Sept 1).

Way Too Cool 50k, March 4, 2017 (Lottery Dec 1-11, drawing Dec 12). 

Bull Run Run 50m, April 8, 2017 (Lottery begins Feb 1).

Lake Sonoma 50m, April 15, 2017 (Lottery Dec 1-15, drawing Dec 17).

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

Miwok 100k, May 6, 2017 (Lottery Dec 1-10, drawing Dec 12)

Massanutten 100, May 6, 2017 (Lottery opens Jan 1)

San Diego 100, June 9th, 2017 (Lottery opens Jan 1)

Mt. Washington Road Race, June 18, 2017 (Lottery Mid-Feb with $5 lottery fee)

Hardrock 100, July 17, 2017 (Lottery Now-Nov 20 with $12 lottery fee, Drawing Dec 1)

Tahoe Rim Trail 100m, July 15, 2017 (Lottery Dec 4-18, Drawing Jan 1). Note that the Tahoe 200m no longer has a lottery, and is open for registration!

Eiger Ultra Trail 100k, July 17, 2017 (Nov 4th, for last 100 slots in 51k and 100k)

Angeles Crest 100, August 5th, 2017 (Lottery completed Aug 8th)

Leadville 100, August 19, 2017 (Lottery Dec 1-31 with $15 lottery fee, Drawing ~Jan 15)

Waldo 100k, August 19, 2017 (Lottery Mid-Februrary)

Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc, August 26, 2017 (Registration Dec 15-Jan 14 with 1.5 euro lottery fee, Lottery selection Jan 14 if needed)

Cascade Crest 100, Aug 26, 2017 (Lottery Jan 1-Feb 4, Drawing Feb 11)

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


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