Friday, October 18, 2019

Run Wild! Come Run Against a Wild Snow Leopard To Help Raise Awareness...

Can you outrun Uulin the Snow Leopard?



Join adidas Runtastic and hundreds of thousands of runners for the Run Wild Challenge, and on Oct 23rd you will compete against a real, wild Snow Leopard! You will even get updates on his daily activities, and where and why he is traveling. It’s all to raise awareness for endangered species, along with our partners, the United Nations Environment Programme, the Snow Leopard Trust, and the Internet of Elephants.

I hope you will play along!

Thanks, ScottD

Monday, October 07, 2019

My World Record(s) Run at the 2019 Berlin Marathon (It's All About The Lederhosen)

(Kenenisa Bekele goes 2:01:41 at the 2019 Berlin Marathon)

The Berlin Marathon has long been famous as THE course where world records are broken. The last seven fastest marathon world records have all been set on this wicked fast course, including the incredible 2:01:39 by Eliud Kipchoge last year (and Bekele coming within 2 seconds of the WR this year!). This race consistently brings the greatest running talents from around the globe for fame and glory, and in 2019, I got to add my name to that distinguished list of world record holders. Twice. And I got to do it in lederhosen. ;-)

I have never tried a costume run before, but have enjoyed watching fellow ultrarunners Ian Sharman and Michael Wardian trade off for "fastest marathon dressed as Elvis" or "fastest marathon in a Spider Man costume" over the years. I have also noticed the London Marathon growing in fame as a place where 30+ runners attempt various marathons records, bringing more people into our sport through meme-driven curiosity, and entertaining us with records such as dribbling two basketballs, juggling, or dressed as a Pokemon character. The 2019 Berlin Marathon was scheduled to be where Runtastic would launch our new apps (the first big launch since I joined as CEO/General Manager five months ago), so when a co-worker suggested that it might be fun if I attempted the world record for "fastest marathon wearing lederhosen", I signed up without thinking too much about it. The record stood at 3 hrs 39 minutes, and I was in 2:50 shape...how hard could this be?

And thus began my education. ;-)


Lederhosen, for those who have not yet had the pleasure, is a traditional Bavarian/Austrian outfit comprised of leather shorts (most often with shoulder straps), a gingham shirt, tall socks, and a felt wool hat. Most would recognize it as Oktoberfest attire, with a few variations to represent different regional areas. Americans can only find lederhosen in costume shops, but here in Upper Austria and nearby Southern Germany, it is common enough that there are stores in every mall. My parents would be quick to point out that it's not my first experience in lederhosen, thanks to a 3rd grade "folk dancing" after school activity that haunts me to this day with embarrassing photos. Little did I know I would be adding to that collection!

(Chevy Chase immortalizes lederhosen in the movie European Vacation)

About a month before the race, I swung by one of those local stores and got myself an "authentic" set of lederhosen. Sehr gut! As we found out from Guinness World Records, it was required that the kit be "traditional" (although running shoes okay), and not a Halloween costume version or ClimaCool-optimized race kit (sorry, adidas). I was told to wear them for a few days to break them in, so I did, and quickly learned one obvious thing... LEDERHOSEN IS NOT GOOD FOR RUNNING.

My hip flexors could barely make it 5k without throbbing in these tight fitting deerhide shorts, and my form was atrocious. The "wolf" (German for "chafe") would certainly be a factor too. Concerns about a finish time quickly become concerns about finishing at all. Added to this, we found out the "fastest marathon wearing lederhosen" record had been lowered to 3 hrs and 20 minutes the previous month, and that the forecast in Berlin was for rain. Oh, and did we tell you that you need to create a short video every 2k to prove your outfit was intact for the whole race? Ack!!! I needed help!


(Ready to roll!)

My co-workers found me a local custom lederhosen tailor, and through broken German phrases and hilarious drawings, she devised a new outfit for me. Slightly larger legs, lightweight bone buttons, a more flexible deer hide, and all within the confines of traditional garb. It was still going to be difficult, but with her help, I at least had a shot!

(WR's going down at Berlin!)
I only had a few days to practice with the new lederhosen in Berlin, and in running around the city, I was able to meet other "costume runners" (like me, they are pretty easy to spot). It turns out there would be 20+ world records in contention at the race, and two other men looking to break the same lederhosen record at Berlin. Although I was a faster runner, they were much more experienced with costumes, so this would be interesting. How fun! We will have a lederhosen podium.

I'll save you the blow-by-blow of the next 42.2km, but will point out these highlights in case you have a future WR attempt on your mind:
  • There's no such thing as too much Vaseline or Kinesiotape when costume running
  • Injinji over-the-calf compression socks can be worn with traditional lederhosen (thanks, Injinji!)
  • One unexpected benefit of lederhosen - lots of big pockets!
  • Another unexpected benefit - free beer handed to you at all times
  • Time it took for the lederhosen to shred my race bib - 22 minutes (see aforementioned pocket)
  • Most runners give high fives, but apparently some runners are not very motivated when passed by a runner in lederhosen (kudos to the international clientele of the Berlin Marathon, who taught me a lot of new swear words)
  • When the rain comes down, you quickly find out that those who chose lightweight costumes have a significant advantage (tip o' the hat, negative-splitting fastest marathon dressed as a leprechaun)
  • Rain-soaked lederhosen outfits weigh 12kg when fully saturated
  • Brand new rain-soaked lederhosen drips brown water down your legs, and is very hard to explain in German
  • The kids on the course loved it!
(Finish and start, outfit complete!)
In the end, I set the marathon (3:04) and half marathon (1:29) world records for wearing lederhosen, and sealed my infamy (records pending approval). Well, at least until some Germans see what this crazy American did and takes back the record! All in all, a fun new way to experience the marathon. It turns out it took a team of people to get pictures, submit forms and videos, and make it official, so my thanks to Team Runtastic for all their help. 

What's next...fastest Ironman in lederhosen? Now that would be impressive. ;-) 

Prost to y'all from Austria!

- Scott




Saturday, July 06, 2019

Climbing Alps At The 2019 adidas Infinite Trails World Championship

When one picks up and moves to Austria, the term "local trail scene" quickly takes on epic proportions. Big mountains, epic events, and cheering crowds that line courses that venture beyond the clouds...this is how they roll. The 2019 adidas Infinite Trails World Championship (aIT) was my first event as a local, and HOLY COW did it deliver on all fronts. Super fun, but I clearly have some work to do to step up my local game!


The aIT is a unique event held in Bad Gastein, Austria, a gorgeous valley town in the eastern Alps. Teams of three complete a relay of 25k/60k/40k (and a final 1k loop together), as well as a Prologue 15k two days before where the combined times of the three runners determine when they start on race day. No matter what your distance, there was going to be plenty of vertical ahead!

(Team NBG - Nik, Dave, Allan, and me)
(The course)
I was a last minute substitute for "Team NBG", a group of athletes socially connected through the adidas Nuremburg office. Like many of the 200 teams registered, we had plenty of country flags represented - speedy German Allan Fortuny would start us off with the 25k, the American (me!) would take on the 60k (subbing in for injured Team Captain Nik Benzer), and Dave Kerr from the UK would bring us home in the 40k. We all met for the first time just minutes before the Prologue 15k, where we got slotted as team #60.

(The Prologue was steep!)
(Tim Olson gets a quick photo with the NYC adidas Runners as the sun comes up)
It's hard to capture the rave-like scene that is the start/hand off area of the aIT. Searchlights beckon through the night, the beats are pumping, and the staggered race format means everyone gets a roar from the crowd. Professional runners such as Luis Alberto Hernando, Timothy Olson, Ekaterina Mityaeva, Yngvild Kaspersen, Holly Page and Sheila Avilés are there to run and cheer, as are adidas Runner clubs from Tokyo, Chengdu, Cairo, New York City, London, Berlin, Sao Paulo, Cape Town, and more. A truly global celebration, and I was loving every minute!

(Allan is stoked!!!)





I came to the 4am start to see Allan off, then hung around to chat with runners in the start queue. Jessica Zapotechne (whom I had met at the Boston Marathon) had an all-women crew from NYC, while my new friend Sum Singh Mattu from London was one of many tackling his first trail run ever. Wow! Kana Nagayama was running anchor for her mixed team from Japan, while Boulder, CO-runners Anthony Lee and Bailee Mulholland would be joining me on the 60k loop for their respective teams. We all spoke about the weather factor - it was already 80 degrees, and likely hitting the mid-90's by the time we were to finish.

(Allan tags me for Loop 2)

(And I'm off!)

Allan blazed through the 25k, coming in 17th (!) to give me the hand off just as the sun was coming up. I got my cheer and a few hundred high fives from the crowds, and climbed up to a "weg" (path)  above the valley floor to cruise ~10k to the first big climb, Graukrogel. One of the runners I paced with, fresh off the Mozart 100m a few weeks before, was super excited for this climb because it "gets so technical". Hmmm, not sure if I caught that in the briefing! There was a section on that map that said "no poles allowed", so perhaps that is what he is referring to?

(Here comes that sun!)

(Graukogel, here we come!)
Poles, btw, are essential for euro style trail running. Not only is it steep (like, 20+ DEGREE STEEP) but it's also not out of the question to have snow drifts, wild rocky meadows, and many stream crossings along the way. We had all of the above on this first climb, so I was grateful for the extra support the poles provided.

(Ah, that feels nice!)

15km in, the course markings headed up some scree to the spine of the mountain, and I began to understand why there was a "no poles section". It was straight up, all hands required! I slowed to keep myself together, easily losing 40 places along the way as the locals danced up the granite slabs.

(To the top!)

(Here is the "no poles" section...I see why! Photo by Ian Corless)
(Made it!)

I made the turn at the top, and got some high fives from runners while plunging down the steep meadows to cruise up the next valley towards the second climb (23k). This was taking much longer than expected, but then again, I didn't know what to expect! Welcome to the Alps, yo. Course markings were immaculate, and there were plenty of volunteers, so no worries.

(Whip out those poles!)

(Hop, hop, hop! Volunteers having fun)

Allan was a welcome site at Bockstein (30k), urging me to take more electrolytes as I chugged a liter of 50/50 water and Coke, desperately catching up on calories and hydration. I apologized for losing so many places, but he just laughed and told me to have a good time. Our Team Captain, Nik, was apparently putting in more km's than all of us helping his friends at various points on the course. This was all about fun!

(Climb #2)


(Watch your step!)

As we approached the spine of Stubnerkogel (42km), there was a long mountain meadow that took some group hollering to keep everyone on track. I quickly figured out if I saw marmots and squirrels, I was probably too far off the main route. The volunteers rang huge cow bells to get our attention, filling our hands with snowballs as we passed.

(On top of the world! Thanks for the photo, Nik)
As I reached the top of Stubnerkogel, a guy took my picture...hey, wait, it's Nik! Ha, ha...he really is everywhere! I told him I was beat, but still smiling and moving well.

(Cow photobomb!)
The final descent was mostly solo km's into the heat of the valley, aside from a few cheers of well-shaded mountain climbers sipping on g'spritzers at all the huts on the descent. This really is a great experience for everyone!

(The finish is right there...how far could it be? Ha, ha)
By the time I handed off to Dave for the final 40k leg, I had left him with just a few precious hours of sunlight. Ten hours for 60k! But over 14,000 ft of vert, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised. Dave sprinted into the hills, eager for his first trail run of this distance, and I collapsed in the shade with other finishers. We cheered runners until what remained of our voices cracked into whispers.



At 10:30pm, my alarm went off (good thing I set it!), and it was time to head back to the finish line for our final 1k loop. Dave came in looking great! We had plenty of time before the cut offs, which had already knocked out more than half of the teams, so we soaked in the last 1k as a team. Today, we would finish! 58th place, not too bad.

(Getting it done...there's no better feeling)

(Now time to chill!)
I spent the next morning soaking in the pools of the Alpentherme, joining Billy Yang, Jason Contino, Anthony Lee, and a cadre of sore runners up and down the kiddie waterslides. We all agreed this was a race for the ages. I know I will dream of these mountains for weeks, months, perhaps forever. Thank you, adidas Terrex team for making it happen!

The adventure continues...


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 -> https://www.runtastic.com/rfto/SD 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 "...it means 'greet God'".

Wait a minute...is "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 on the extreme end of the religious nutball spectrum, 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!", with a 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!)
I'm two words in, and already on a multi-day stumble to understand. Welcome to my new reality. ;-)

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, tugging sleeves with simple questions, needing to know the answers, and collapsing in my bed each night, fully drained. Naps are 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 the commonplace digital distractions of the USA have vanished. My true friends grow stronger, while hundreds of sorta-friends fall away, which turns out to be an immense gift of quality time. I quite literally have "no baggage", having purged my material belongings to the essentials that fit into two suitcases. 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 grace.

(An inviting spot on the Traunsee Lake near a local trailhead)
And the trails...my 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 wasn'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)

(Refuel!!!)

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!

Tchüss!

- SD






* No offense to those of deep religious belief - I say this with the deepest respect to those who devote their lives to a higher 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 to 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 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 a sufferfest 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 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-70'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 held out orange slices in these very same spots years ago. 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 their siren song 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!)
(DUDE...NO...WAY!)

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 crawl. 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 move...it 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 #15...so 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 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 to cheer my friend Chris Devine slogging his way through an injured 5-hour marathon to get his first Boston medal. Winners, finishers, comebacks...it'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 life 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!)


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