"Perhaps the genius of ultrarunning is its supreme lack of utility. It makes no sense in a world of space ships and supercomputers to run vast distances on foot. There is no money in it and no fame, frequently not even the approval of peers. But as poets, apostles and philosophers have insisted from the dawn of time, there is more to life than logic and common sense."
- David Blaikie

Monday, July 21, 2008


London has some great parks. On Thursday of last week's Europe trip I set out from the Hilton London Metropole and wound my way down into Hyde Park and then up to Regent's Park (pictured). A bit more pavement connecting the parks than I'd like, but once you get in the parks there are generally nice soft surfaces that can be found.

My original plan, on advice from Willow, was
to run around Hyde Park, then over to Regent's Park, then to Primrose Hill for a good hill, through the neighborhood of Belsize Park up into Hampstead Village, and then on to the Heath for another hill and a run through the woods. And then back in reverse. Unfortunately I ran out of time, but now I've got something to look forward to on my next trip to London.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


I found a lovely park just a block from my hotel in Milan today and managed to get out for a run on crushed gravel. I have no idea what the history or significance of this park is. From the signs I gather that it is called the Giardini Pubblici Di Porta Venezia.

My original thought was to head out to Como where there are some killer hills and beautiful views, but with so little time in Milan it seemed silly to head out for a daytrip. Besides, gotta save something for next time...

Over the Alps

The visibility was spectacular on the flight from Amsterdam to Milan giving us some amazing views of the Alps. According to our pilot, Mont-Blanc is out there somewhere in this picture.

The Ultra-trail Du Mont-Blanc is run here, a 103 mile ultra with over 30,000 feet of elevation gain. Just for kicks I checked out the UTMB entry process for 2009 here.

Qualification requires a demonstration of success in trail ultras with significant elevation gains. They have an interesting point system whereby the difficulty of your qualifying runs is estimated by adding together the distance in km and the elevation gain in meters divided by 100. For example, Bighorn 100 was 161k and 5334 meters of elevation gain: 161 + 5334/100 = 214.

Qualifying runs have to score above 65 and present a significant altitude gain and/or a sufficiently technical course. Races are worth 1 point for an estimate effort between 65 and 89, 2 points for 90-129, 3 points 130-179 and 4 points beyond that. A total of 4 points is needed to qualify, which can be accumulated with multiple runs (e.g. four 1 pointers, one 4 point run, etc. I *think*), So, looks like Bighorn 100 works as a qualifier for 2009 and 2010.

After seeing it from the plane UTMB is definitely on my 5 year wish list along with Western States, Wasatch, and Hardrock!


I had a few hours in Amsterdam after a some business meetings on Monday. Not enough time to find any trails, but there are some nice old streets with lots to look at (snicker). This picture was taken in the heart of the Red Light District. Very different scene at night...

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Trailheads Summer Survival Trail Running Series

The 1st run of the Trailheads Summer Survival Trail Running Series was a big success last night! We had about twice as many people as we expected - somewhere around 80. Most indicated that they had never run in the Carolina North Forest before and many were very new to trail running. As you can see from the picture, the demographics were somewhat varied, but I'd say the majority of the runners were women in their 30s.

Big thanks to Squonk for organizing this and leading off with a nice lecture on trail running, active environmental advocacy, and how running in the wilderness amplifies nature's resonance

For more information on the series see trailheads.org. What and Why of the series below...

What: Accompanied runs beginning at 5K (ish) or 45 minute duration. Comfortable pace. No runner left behind. Series culminates with a 90 minute outing with some navigational challenges thrown in for fun! Each outing will briefly kick-off with a speaker on subjects ranging from injury prevention and core building to basic gear, hydration and cross-training. Important: these outings are NOT races.

Why: Summer heat makes running challenging. Did you know that you can expect it to be 10 to 12 degrees (F) cooler on trails than pavement on summer evenings? Get to know the dirt trails in Carolina North Forest and understand trail running fundamentals that can be applied on any trail, any time of year. Learn how to run confidently and safely "out there" to more fully appreciate the importance of Carrboro and Chapel Hills' "island of trees."