"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

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Marin Headlands

My West Coast trail running bender concluded today with a return to one of my favorite spots in Northern California - the Marin Headlands. I picked up in the Tennessee Valey where I left off on my last visit to Marin Headlands, and headed North to Muir Beach following the outbound course for the Miwok 100k.

It was a tough week of travel and business meetings, but I thought I'd be ready to rip with a few days rest and all the hill running this month. Wrong. I took a lot of pictures instead.

Miwok 100k registration opens 1 week from today, but the drawing isn't until mid Jan. I think I'll toss my name in the hat but there are other lotteries I'll be in simultaneously, so this could get weird.

Back to the East Coast on the red eye tonight.

lost in the woods

During a pre-dawn run this past Sat Dorph (aka Adam Byerly) and I happened upon a UNC student lost in the woods of Carolina North Forest. It was very dark, shortly after 5:00 am, and she had been wandering around for several hours after partying a little too hard the night before. We guided her out safely and resumed our run, not thinking too much about it. Later in the week I got this lovely email from her...

Hi Joe,

I am the girl that you helped out of the woods early Saturday morning last weekend. I have been trying to think about how I could possibly put into words how grateful I am to you and your friend, but I just don't think there is a way. If you hadn't run into me on the trail, I don't know when I would have ever made it out. I wandered into the woods around 1:30am after a stupid night out with friends and don't even remember entering the woods. Needless to say, I learned a huge life lesson that night and it really forced me to take a step back and re-evaluate some of the decisions I have been making lately.

I don't want to blabber on, but I just wanted to say THANK YOU SO MUCH! It really meant a lot to me what you said about how you hoped someone would help your daughter in the same way should she ever be in a situation like that (which I doubt she will and certainly hope she does not!). She is lucky to have such a caring father.

Thank you again,
(name removed)
Isn't that sweet?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Columbia River Gorge (Portland)

After scoping out the Cascade Crest 100 course I drove town to Portland for more business meetings and more adventures on the Pacific Crest Trail. Fellow IBMer and Bighorn pacer extraodinaire, Darin Swanson, sent me some great info on running in the Portland area including this little gem, Herman Creek...

Darrin says, "Out on Highway 84 towards Mt Hood is the Columbia River Gorge which is snaked with trails and hills. Herman Creek / PCT which is some real hills. About 1 hour from town.
We park at Herman Creek Campground and the start of the Herman Creek Trail http://www.fs.fed.us/r6/columbia/trails/trail_406.htm

  • Drive up to the Herman Creek Campground and stay right to get to the trail parking.
  • You start at the Herman Creek trail which is right at the parking lot by the campground
  • This will climb a little to a power line easement.
  • Go through the easement and continue on the trail.
  • The next junction has a trail going up to the left and one to the right.
  • Take the one "down" to the right.
  • This will take you down to the creek and over a bridge.
  • Continue up the next side till you come to a 'T' with the Pacific Crest Trail (we call it Pain Junction :-) )
  • Taking a left you will climb.
  • At around 1.5 miles you will see a sign for the Hatfield Wilderness Boundary on a tree (old wooden sign)
  • At about another 1.5 miles you would reach Tea Kettle Spring (should have a sign as well)"
This was a great hill workout and the mossy, ferny Pacific Crest Trail here just can't be beat.

Cascade Crest 100 Course Recon

I got out on the course for the Cascade Crest Classic 100 this past week while on a business trip to Seattle. Scoped out a nice campground at Kachess Lake and then ran the first part of the course up to Goat Peak and a few miles out and back from Stampede Pass toward Meadow Mountain.

The CCC100 Runners manual describes the climb from the Start up to Goat Peak as "not trifling". Essentially the same elevation gain and mileage as the climb up to the Escarpment at the beginning of Western States, but with more difficult footing and with a 10 am start the heat of mid-morning could definitely come into play.

As you pass by the rock outcropping on Goat Peak you can basically see the entire course to the North and East. From here you settle in on the Pacific Crest Trail for some great ridge running, eventually looping back around to the Start/Finish. Yep, add this one to the must do list.

Wasatch 100

I had the honor of pacing my friend Geoff "Ringo" Scott at Wasatch this year where he completed his 17th 100 Miler and 2nd of the 2008 season! Wasatch is an amazing course and with iPhone in hand we had a blast sending live updates from the course to the Trailheads and taking calls and txt messages of encouragement at all hours!
(excerpt from my email to the rest of the Trailheads Sept 6th)
"Ringo set off this morning on a 100 mile journey from Layton to Midway, Utah through some of the most beautiful scenery in the Wasatch Mountains. It was a beautiful start under clear, starry skies. We're far out of Hurricane Hannah's reach and the start was at a very comfortable 50 degrees and 35% humidity. With the sun rising now it's shaping up to be a spectacular day! Winds out of the South around 10 mph means it will get nippy up over 10,000 feet later tonight and we're expecting some frost, but nothing like Gumbi's recent adventure at Leadville.

The Wasatch 100 is one bad mother of a course. Just driving around the mountains here is intimidating. With over 26,000 feet of elevation gain, its no suprise that Wasatch ranks an 8.5 out of 10 on the difficulty scale (second only to Hardrock). This fills one of the few remaining holes in his Ultrarunning resume that includes 15 100 milers and Badwater 135M!

Mrs. Ringo and I will be heading out to see the Reptile at the Francis Peak aid station at mile 18.76 shortly. The plan for the day has me jumping in from mile 39.4 sometime this afternoon and pacing to mile 61.68 where Mrs. Ringo takes a turn and I get some rest. Then I pick back up around the wee(zyling) hours of the morning at mile 75 and try to keep up with him to the finish."

Ringo looked good as he came through Francis Peak, but even more impressive was Caroline Scott's crewing!

I was dying to get out on the course and mile 39 didn't come soon enough. The views from the course turned out to be even more beautiful than I anticipated. We made great time from Big Mountain Aid Station at mi 39 to Lambs Canyon at mi 53 and then put on our cooler weather gear and headlamps.

From Lambs Canyon to Millcreek 61 was some of the best night running I've done. There was a nice quarter moon, perfect temperatures and it was just magical out there with occasional city lights views of Salt Lake City.

At mi 61 I turned over the pacing responsibilities to Caroline who would get Ringo through to Brighton Ski resort around mile 75. I drove up to Brighton from Millcreek and took a short, restless nap in the back of the car.

The Wasatch course dials up the intensity in the last 25 miles. From Brighton the course heads up a steep climb over 10,000 feet. We hit the top right around dawn and it was just spectacular.

The "100 miles of heaven and hell" for Ringo came to an end after just over 34 hrs. I was exhausted after only45 miles!

I've definitely got this race on my must do list. I think the sub 24 "Royal Order of the Crimson Cheetah" is going to be tougher than the Rusty Spur though...