Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Want to help save the ocean just by going for a run/walk? Check out "Run For The Oceans"...

Want to help save the ocean just by going for a run/walk?

adidas and Parley for the Oceans have teamed up once again for hashtagRunForTheOceans, where together we can raise up to $1.5 million just by going for a walk/run between June 8-16. Just download the Runtastic app, and join the challenge! For every kilometer run, adidas will contribute $1 USD to educate youth about the problem of marine plastic pollution and inspire positive action (capped at $1,5M). I hope you'll join us! Link to get started -> hashtagrun hashtagwalk hashtagtogetherwecan hashtaginspire hashtagrunning hashtagrunfortheoceans

Sunday, May 26, 2019

My First Week Living In Austria

(Linz, Austria, along the Danube River)
Hello from Austria, my friends! Or as they say here locally, "grüß Gott" (pronounced "gruhsse got"). I've been living in Linz for just a few days now, and have developed a special appreciation for this German/Austrian phrase. In many ways it captures the endless whirlwind of intricacies one must navigate when moving to a foreign country.

I first heard the term "grüß Gott" when a local greeted me at the airport. Like with any new phrase, my first step was to type it into Google Translate, my new digital best friend. After 10 minutes of figuring out how to type the "ü" and the "ß", The Google replied with an even more confusing answer of " means 'greet God'".

Wait a "grüß Gott" a religious term, a polite greeting, or somewhere in between?

My wannabe romantic world traveler self (likely the same self that decided moving to a foreign country was a good idea) kicked in. If a Muslim friend greets me with "as-salamu alaykum", I know it as "peace be unto you", a phrase with religious history, but really just a polite formal/informal greeting. A Hindu friend may use "namaste" ("I bow to the divine within you"), which I consider a bit deeper on the religious scale, but likely somewhere in the middle of greeting and deeper meaning. But if an American greets me with "Praise Jesus", I know for sure they are off the spectrum on the religious nutball scale, and likely about to hand me a pamphlet.*

I decide it is best to try out this new phrase in real life, seeking clarity in the embarrassment and corrections guaranteed to follow. I say "grüß Gott" to a German guy next to me, and he replies in English with "I hope not anytime soon!", an obligatory smart ass smirk and giggle to match. Ummm, yeah...even more confused now! I later ask a friend in Linz, who explains to me that "grüß Gott" is indeed an informal greeting, but only recognized in Austria and southern Germany as part of a local dialect. The German man I spoke to, likely from northern Germany, was kindly mocking my phrasing, as well as an accent that is already bending towards the oberösterreich (Upper Austria). The Austrian locals, however, do appreciate anyone using this term over the more formal, and German, "Guten Tag" ("good day").

(The church in my neighborhood, Postlingberg, sits on top of the hill)
(Drive by!)
Yup, welcome to my world. I'm two words in, and already on a multi-day stumble to understand. ;-)

But to no surprise to my fellow adventurers, I am loving the journey. Everything is so new - the food, the trails, the rituals, the sounds, the people - one has to steep deeply in the curiosity crucible just to get through the day. I ask simple questions of strangers with abandon, and am delighted with any comprehensible response. And, of course, I NEED to understand those responses now, for this is where I live. The exhilaration mushrooming from that rooted commitment is beyond anything I've experienced in vacation or travel excursions, and well worth the habitual humility. I feel like I'm eight years old again, needing to know, absorbing knowledge like a dry sponge, and collapsing in my bed each night, fully drained. Naps seem to be back on the agenda as well.

The solitude is nice too. I can't overhear conversations, watch TV, read the newspaper, listen to the radio, and all the Internet ads are gibberish, so there are few distractions. My true friends grow stronger, while hundreds of sorta-friends fall away, which turns out to be an immense gift of quality time. I have purged my material belongings to the essentials that fit into two suitcases, so I quite literally have no baggage. The whole experience is deeply cleansing for mind, body, and soul. My only local friends are those yet to be made, which will happen in time, but until then, each waking hour has a welcome meditative stillness.

(An inviting spot on the Traunsee Lake near a local trailhead)
And the god, the trails. Steep and vibrant, full of new flowers and birdsong, with "Huttes" every few miles where you can refill, refuel, watch families play, and meet fellow mountain folk. If your long run wassn't long enough, you can pay 20 Euro for a cot, wash your clothes in the sink, and start again in the morning with a full breakfast. No bears or mountain lions, although I did have a swan face me down when I got too close to his mate (they are HUGE in person, btw). It is all glorious beyond expectations, and the smile lines sunburned into my face are quickly establishing permanence.

(One of many inviting Huttes)


Routine will find me soon enough, I'm sure. Each day I pick up a couple of new phrases, and I already no longer require the English menus at restaurants. My new job starts tomorrow, and Christi and the girls will be joining me in a few weeks. I don't need a map for the local trails, although there are still more than enough wrong turns to keep them insatiably new. The adventure continues!


- SD

* No offense to those of deep religious belief - I say this with the deepest respect to those who devote their lives to a greater purpose. The freedom to craft one's worldview is one of the great gifts of the human condition.  I am certainly a top 5% nutball in my beliefs as well. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Boston XV - A Fountain of Inspiration At The 2019 Boston Marathon

There are few races that fuel the soul of a runner as deeply and consistently as the Boston Marathon. The rich history, great performances, wild card weather, and unstoppable energy permeating from first time runners and ever-cheerful volunteers/spectators always draws out our best. This cauldron of inspiration cannot be explained, nor contained, only experienced and permanently absorbed. It has now pulled me back for fifteen consecutive editions, and the 2019 race (my "Boston XV") once again exceeded all expectations. The perfect closure of my American chapter before we begin our European life adventure. 

(Picking up the race bib - Corral #1 this year!)
I had a loaded Patriot's Day weekend ahead of me as I stepped off the plane on the Saturday before the race. First, a chance to meet some soon-to-be colleagues at adidas, where I will be employed when we move to Austria in late May. Then to the 5th birthday party of Like The Wind magazine, the most original and artistic voice in the running world today, to meet founders Simon and Julie Freeman and their cadre of collaborators and see some running-inspired art. I only had enough time to stop at the Expo to get my bib (#574!) and watch Tiger Woods make his extraordinary comeback at The Masters at one of the Expo booths. So many great vibes of courage and redemption, it was easy to shrug off the forecast of crazy thunderstorms rolling in for race day. With all this inspiration, how could we be stopped?!?

(Runners watching Tiger's historic 5th Masters)
(Meeting Simon Freeman, co-founder of Like The Wind magazine, in person)
(Runners listen to guest speakers at the Like The Wind birthday party)
(Slothie, my stuffy travel buddy who always finds his way into my suitcase,
is far more interested in the Game Of Thrones Season 8 Premiere)
Race morning found us boarding the buses in torrential rain and flashes of lightning, but with an expected forecast of clear skies within hours. Would we make it?!? It would be close, so we all dressed for every possible outcome. For those of us who were here last year, the 60+ degree temperature was already a huge improvement over the hypothermia insanity of 2018. 

The bus ride to the start was, once again, a great way to meet runners from all over the world and hear their stories. Ismael from Egypt started running after rehab from hip surgery and now found himself at his first Boston just two years later. Becky from Minnesota was on her second Boston, looking for some redemption after last year. Fred from Florida was running his way to spiritual and physical health post-divorce, back at Boston after a 10 year hiatus. Matt from Ohio took the new Boston standards as a challenge to shave five more minutes off his PR, but had trained so hard he had his sights on a solid 25 minute improvement (which he would get!). Each story of triumph and courage more powerful than the next...I could listen to them all day. 

By the time I found Corral #1, it was obvious I had massively overdressed. The rain had stopped, the temps settling in the mid-60's, and Hopkinton was hot and humid...the siamese twins of exercise-induced heatstroke. I made the decision early to run at cruising speed, and just enjoy the ride. At 10:02am, we were off! 

(Overdressed in a motorcycle rain suit and muck boots...can't be too careful after '18!)
(Nice and warm in Corral #1)
(My buddy, Bob Weinhold, finds me on the NBC TV coverage...taking pictures, natch!)
(And we're off!)
It was a tad warm for us non-acclimated runners, but perfect weather for cheering and spectating. No surprise, Boston was out en force at every stop! I gave high fives to the kids of Ashland, recognizing a few of them as the toddlers who once held out orange slices in these very same spots. Santa was there in Natick, per usual, and we got our 14th consecutive selfie! I was sure to put in a good word for my girls, and let him know of our new Austrian address. ;-)

(Santa is looking good!)
The women of Wellesley were in full force (mile 12), and we could hear the scream tunnel sirens for a solid mile before, pulled us in like a tractor beam. I leaned in to exchange a smooch, and then saw something I couldn't believe - a sign with my name on it! "All Day Long I Dream Of Scott Dunlap"...that's it folks, I have officially jumped the shark. I suspect fellow athlete and Boston runner Shannon Hogan and her clan were behind it. Such a unique thrill, thank you! ;-)

(Love you, Wellesley!)

I crossed the halfway in 1:26:54, comfortably on a sub-3 pace despite all the photo shenanigans. As I settled into a rhythm for the hills of Natick (mile 15), I stared down at the three stripes in the center of the road that lead us to the finish....those three stripes will certainly be leading me beyond Boylston this time!

I got my annual beer at the bottom of Heartbreak Hill (mile 20), and weaved through the carnage of walking runners in the final six miles. The sun had come out now, and those few extra degrees seemed to be enough to bring dozens of runners to a stop. I opted for lots of water on the head, knowing the adidas Ultraboost 19 shoes and Injinji toe socks would drain well and keep my feet from getting thrashed. The heat wasn't stopping three runners in the M60-64 age group that were all within 100 yards around me, tactically eyeing each other for the first was going to be a sprint finish! We made the historic left onto Boylston and the M60+ warriors all dropped the hammer, leaving me in their wake. Now THAT'S how you finish Boston!

(Past the new memorial)
(Home stretch down Boylston St)
(The finish!)
(The awesome volunteers set me up with medal glad they had a sunny day for once!)
(My volunteer masseuse gets my calves back in shape...still the best kept secret at the finish line)
I crossed the finish line in 2:56:48 for 1953rd place, all smiles, and plenty of fist bumps all around. The streets were filled with the roar of 100,000+ spectators, cheering runners in by the hundreds now. What a fantastic day!

I soon found myself sharing fish and chips and beers with other finishers and family, watching how the professional races unfolded. Lawrence Cherono and 2-time champion Lelisa Desisa ended up sprinting the final stretch, before Cherono edged Desisa out by only a few seconds (2:08), and Kenneth Kipkemoi a few seconds later. The closest podium in history! Americans Scott Fauble and Jared Ward both had epic races, hitting the 2:09 standard and placing 7th and 8th, respectively. Wow! Worknesh Degafa had won the Women's race (2:23), with Jordan Hasay making the podium in 3rd (2:25), and Desi Linden in 5th (2:27). Once again, very impressive efforts all around.
(Lawrence Cherono edges out Lelisa Desisa in the final yards of the closest finish in Boston Marathon history, epically captured by Neil Powell)
As I numbed up my legs with one last celebratory cocktail, I found myself screaming at my phone as my friend Chris Devine slogged his way through an injured 5-hour marathon to get his first Boston medal. Winners, finishers,'s pretty amazing what we can accomplish when we set our minds to it. Thank you, Boston, for giving us the grandest of stages! My next adventure is a big one, but my confidence is now #BostonStrong. 

(The XV Beacon hotel is happy to help me ring in my 15th finish)

(One more in the books...wunderbar!)

Monday, April 01, 2019

The Dunlaps Are Moving...To Austria!!!

The Dunlaps are moving...TO AUSTRIA!!! Yup, you read that right. And not an April Fool's joke!

(Three stripes on the shirt, three stripes on the flag!)
A few months ago, I started thinking about how powerful it would be to connect 1 billion athletes around the world with a new kind of digital experience. Little did I know it would set me on a path to a dream job working as an exec at adidas, located in Linz, Austria! The family is game for a new adventure, so we will be moving in a few months.

I hope to get a chance to see many of my Bay Area friends one more time before we go (runners - the Inside Trail Woodside Crossover 50k this weekend, and the Boston Marathon next weekend are my last two US races). If you find yourself in the Alps, be sure to come visit! I'll be racing in the SkyRunning Series starting this June.

And if you've ever wanted to own the Woodside house that is the first aid station for the Woodside 50k, Crystal Springs 50k, Whiskey Hill 50k, etc., infamy awaits you! But you better touch base soon...

Let the adventure begin!!!!

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Are Endurance Sports A Luxury Good?

Are endurance sports becoming a luxury good? What is driving so many of us to go "extreme"? One of my theories, and a way to explain the 15+ year growth of endurance sport participation, is that authentic human contact, in authentic common struggle, becomes a luxury in an always connected world.

Now that 75% of adults are connected to the Internet through mobile devices, it only takes a few taps to virtually connect to others and their adventures. And it feels good to do so. But over time, those virtual connections on social media can subconsciously replace the face-to-face time with friends and family that we took for granted. An hour on social media becomes an hour we didn't spend on our own adventures. We become attached to nothing, connected to everything. The events in our life that feel "real" become all the more important.

The New York Times recently ran an article called "Human Contact Is Now A Luxury Good" that peels back the onion a bit more on this, with some fascinating insights. Screens are appearing everywhere in all stages of life (learning, living, dying), and for all but the very wealthy, our entire life experience is now mediated by screens. Technology was once only accessed by the being able to avoid technology is the true sign of luxury.

Personally, I think technology can do a lot more to encourage authentic adventures and face-to-face connections (and I don't mean Tinder). I suspect this will be a foundation in the next wave of our connected experience

To encourage you to get outside some more, here are some happy faces from the Baytrailrunner's Whiskey Hill 10k/Half/Marathon/50k I caught this weekend:

Latest Excursions